Thursday, 26 June 2008

Shilasdair, ME and SP12 3rd question

Today we had a trip to Shilasdair in Hallin, Waternish, in north Skye. I've wanted to go there for a long time. They were looking for an apprentice last year and, if I lived nearer (it's 61 miles away from me), I'd have jumped at the chance. I'm not sure they would have been looking for such an old apprentice though...! Eva showed us the vats of yarns she was dyeing and told us about some natural dyes. It was incredible to watch the effect of indigo, how it oxidises and changes from yellow to blue... I had no idea...! Her yarns are just gorgeous and I particularly loved the baby camel hair yarn!! It was soooo soft. As was her cashmere - wow! And such beautiful colours. The shop is so well laid out with rows of different colours in different weights: Shetland wool - Aran and double knitting; cashmere mixes in double knitting; baby camel. I was in heaven. And my brain seized! Not enough time to decide - What should I buy? How much should I buy? What would I knit with it?!! In the end I bought some yarn for a gift and a 50g skein of cashmere in a gorgeous green for myself, for a loose lace scarf for the winter - £10 but worth it just for the joy! I'll take a photo in daylight (it's nightime now) and add it later. I swithered between green and my usual purple and others wanted me to get a turquoisey green but I went with the green I wanted - a yellow green - and was so happy later that I'd got it, so I knew I'd made the right choice. Ooo green makes me happy!
I was also delighted to find an undyed silk twist that should (I hope) be perfect for the bridal shrug in Vogue Knitting Spring Summer 2008 that I've said I'll knit for Donna's wedding in August. The pattern called for Tilli Tomas' Rock Star which is extremely expensive! I got 500g for £45. Use double, Eva and I worked out it should be enough. I hope so. It'll be a gift from all of us at RTT.
* * * * *
On the ME front, that was a 120 mile round trip and I did the driving. I also had a car full of people, which is a bit of a novelty for me and what could have been a major distraction and stress addition. It was only about 15 months ago that I made my first big (lone) journey - a 75 mile round trip - and it exhausted me. All these little landmarks show how my health is improving. And there was torrential rain on the way back. I'm not saying I wasn't tired though...!
* * * * *
Special Pal Question #3: What would you consider the perfect amount of stash?
Interesting question, considering how my brain froze at Shilasdair today. I concluded that I'm a little averse to collecting yarn and building a stash - it feels greedy and covetous! - and I don't like the idea of having a load of yarn just piling up. I didn't want to buy just a little for some future unknown project. I think I prefer to know what I'm knitting and to buy the yarn to go with it. However, I know that if I found something I couldn't get online and didn't expect to see again, I would snap it up (if I had enough cash!). Perhaps the yarn at Shilasdair wasn't unusual enough...
So, in conclusion, my perfect amount of stash would be one that topped up with enough for the next project while I'm still knitting the last one! Oh and a side stash of bits and pieces in all sorts of colours and textures for those ad hoc times when you need just a little for a trim or something! Clear as mud?!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Coming out from under the bushel

Following a conversation at RTT last week about keeping your light under a bushel and a conversation yesterday about my children's knitwear designs from the 80s, I took in a large pile of photos that I compiled about 10 years ago (and have since added to) to remind myself that I am creative, and showed them to 3 of my colleagues. It's my intention to add all these photos to this blog, once I've scanned them, as this is simply an online 21st century version of what I intended when I compiled that group of photos. They go all the way back to 1979, when I designed my first jumper at the tender age of 23!
It wasn't a comfortable experience for me, I have to say, although my colleagues were suitably appreciative and actively enjoyed what I'd done, especially my cakes! As one of them said, "It's not showing off when people enjoy what you do!" It's a good idea, for me at least, to remember that creativity is (can be / I like it to be!)...

Monday, 23 June 2008

Secret Pal Week 2 question & armwarmers contd

I'm a bit late with this as either I didn't get the original email or it went into my junk folder and I missed it. Here's the question:
As a kid, what did you look forward to most about summer vacation/break/holiday?
Hmmm... I don't think I can remember so I'm going to have to think back and try to remember what I liked!
  • Spending time with my dog, Rikki.
  • Getting to lie in in the mornings.
  • Sunshine.
  • Most of all - our holiday on the Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde. Happy happy memories - cycling across the island to Ettrick Bay in the bright sunshine, trying to keep up with my brother!; long sandy days there with Mum relaxing and the dog permanently in the water; Rikki in his pool, a large water outlet on the seashore; candy floss in Rothesay; swimming at the pool in Rothesay; the fun fair! And that wonderful feeling of coming home at the end!! LOL

I used to get bored in the holidays and looked forward to getting back to school!

Reading other SPers memories made me remember my most favourite memory of all - waking up in the bed-in-the-cupboard and hearing children running past the window (the room was on the corner of the street and had a window on each corner wall) and remembering that I was in Port Bannatyne. I don't think I have another memory to match that...! Oh and the loo was in the close / stairwell outside, shared with the family next door!

* * * *

I seem to have got it right at last with the armwarmers. I took the first one in progress into RTT today and had someone try it on. It fit perfectly and was much admired. I am delighted! You guys will have to wait until it's finished!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Lace armwarmers - ish

After 3 evenings of working out this pattern, I thought I'd made a good start last night. But it's actually too big. As they're not for me(!), I will have to aim much smaller. Time to work out by gauge, methinks. Still, I'm enjoying getting my teeth into something. The body of the armwarmer is a simple yo k2tog rib with a panel of stacking hearts down the length of the arm. I'm aiming for the Tartan Heart Festival at Belladrum in August, where Rag Tag will have a stall thus the hearts!

Back to housework!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Life is very busy...

but I am about to embark on creating a pattern for lace armwarmers. For the summer, don't you know?!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

SP12 Question of the week

What is your favorite summertime drink??

I rarely drink anything other than tea (Earl Grey and black tea mixed) and real coffee but if I want a refreshing cold drink when I'm out, my choice is soda water and lime.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Secret Pal 12 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Hmmm... I dunno... there are so many out there that I've not had a shot at yet. I love Colinette Point 5 and I also love very fine yarns and I loved knitting with Lana Grosso sock yarn, I think because it was good quality wool, oh and the Regia I knitted with not long ago (the Kaffe Fassett one) was lovely to knit with. So I don't really have a favourite...

What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Acrylic! I'm not averse to manmade fibres but I do prefer natural, especially wool.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

My old metal needles are in my mum's original storage place - her old girdle tube!! My new bamboos (bought very cheaply on eBay) are in a Pringles tube (the next best thing to the girdle one!), my bamboo circulars are simply in a bag. I also have a set of single pointed bamboo needles in a needle whatsit - folding fabric thingy!

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn?

I don't remember when I started knitting. I know we did it at primary school so possibly age 7? I'm 52 now so that's a good 45 years. I don't remember if I learned at school or if my mum taught me. I know she was there to pick up the stitches(!) anyway and was lots of help as I learned and progressed. I remember knitting my first cardi (long line!) when I was about 11 or 12 (I still have the pattern).

Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?


4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Er, yes, but wouldn't you need to have my password to view it?

5. What's your favorite scent?

At the moment I love rose oil and wear the Body Shop's one every day.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Oh gosh, yes, wish I didn't! I like Turkish Delight, good chocolate, chocolate with nuts and/or raisins and/or toffee... and I like fudge.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

Funny you should ask that! I spun my first ball of yarn last week (see below!) and would love to get into spinning more. It's my new ambition to own my own flock of sheep so I can spin and knit their wool!

Other crafts - felting, sewing, beading, almost any needlecraft. I want to teach myself to crochet and have gathered all the bits but not made a start yet. I also want to do freeform crochet and knitting asap! I like calligraphy, drawing and painting, paper engineering (pop-ups!), cake decorating (modelling), almost anything arty.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Gosh, that's a thought! My laptop can play mp3s but not my stereo.

I really do like all kinds of music (except heavy metal and middle of the road), but especially soul. I'd love to hear more Christian soul (good stuff like Mary Mary!). I love some classical and opera too. I love Duffy at the moment and Amy Winehouse (soul again, you see?). I like good country and western (am a big fan of Hank Wangford!), Elvis Costello and Arabic pop!

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

I love colours. Full stop. I drool over Pantone charts! Purple is my favourite, closely followed by lime green - a nice fresh lime green (Crocs lime green is disappointingly not fresh, for example, nor what I would call lime!). I like lime green and turquoise together - happy colours. I don't think I hate any colour, though I maybe wouldn't wear orange!

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I'm divorced and my daughter and young grandson live nearby. I had 4 cats for the best part of 16 years until a few months ago but there are - phew! - no pets now. Well, for just now! I'm seriously seriously contemplating rescuing / adopting a couple of dogs soon... I LOVE dogs, much more than cats, believe it or not, but I have a very painful foot and a slipped disc so am not very physically fit at the moment...

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Me no like mittens or ponchos, not on me anyway. I love hats and I love scarves.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Oh! What a question! I like knitting socks cos I love knitting on dpns. I really liked doing some fingerless gloves last winter (and should be getting on to doing some more for RTT). Anything really complicated - the more complicated the better. I get bored to tears doing lengths of stocking stitch! I love colour work too, like fairisle and intarsia. But I have to admit that, as I get older (or perhaps it's the effect of ME on my concentration) I like to knit smaller items as they're finished quicker!

13. What are you knitting right now?

Hmmm! I'm trying to get finished my Orkney Pi KAL which I've turned into a cardigan.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Oh yes!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Hmmm... straight bamboos at the moment. While I like the continuity of knitting with circulars I find it really aggravating that I have to constantly move the knitting round! Silly, I know...

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?


17. How old is your oldest UFO?

Oh... about 3 1/2 years... the Aran cardi I designed for myself when I first moved to the chillier-than-Edinburgh Highlands. The fit wasn't quite right - I actually made it a bit too big! - and I lost heart. I intend to turn it into a jacket so really must finish it some time. Oh but it's in acrylic! That was another thing that's discouraged me - I knitted a mini Aran with the same design for my grandson and it has not washed well... It's not like I didn't know acrylic stretches... but it was a bargain at the time and it is a lovely colour - speckled deep blue.

18. What is your favorite holiday?

Oh gosh, I don't have one. I live in a most beautiful part of the world and near the sea, and this would be my perfect holiday destination! Also I've not had regular holidays as an adult.

I guess a favourite holiday would be to be pampered or be catered for in a hotel or nice guesthouse.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Not really, though I absolutely love and am fascinated by floating pens and have a very small collection of those.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

Anything unusual that's not easily available in the UK. I'm dying to try the Cirkeltroje (that's what inspired me to change my Orkney Pi into a cardi), but will do the Hemlock Ring when I get the chance and adapt it for a cardi. I've had the yarn lined up for that for months!

I don't have a LYS so all my shopping is done online. I haven't tried many of the really good quality yarns that are around, other than Colinette and Tofutsies and sari silk (yum!!). I'd like to have a go at some of ColourMart's yarns!

At the moment I want almost any of Nikki Epstein's books on borders and finishes. There aren't enough hours in the day for what I want to do!

What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I subscribe to Simply Knitting, mainly to keep up to date with what's available in the UK and also for the knitters at RTT. I would subscribe to Vogue Knitting if my local newsagent could get it for me!

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Crochet; entrelac (I have a pattern that's about 25 years old and I still haven't tried it!); very complicated lace; magic loop; natural dyeing; Koolade (Koolaid?) dyeing; painting yarn. Er... I'm sure there's more but I can't think...

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes, though I've not done many (I never seem to have enough time...). My foot is 24 cm long, roughly a UK size 6. I have very wide feet with very high insteps (shoes are always difficult!).

23. When is your birthday?

25 March.

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?


Tuesday, 3 June 2008

My first spun wool

Today at Rag Tag n Textile, I tried spinning for the very first time and spun my very first ball of yarn. Well... Donna turned the spinning wheel for me and what I had spun was plied with some yarn spun by the teacher already but, still, I did a third of the work! It really was a lot of fun and now I covet a spinning wheel. Here's a photo of Donna passing on her brand-newly acquired skills to me!
Addendum: that night I put a "wanted" on Freecycle for a spinning wheel (or two!) for me and RTT, and within an hour I was offered one!! It's for RTT though so I still covet one for myself!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Secret Pal 12

I've been accepted for Secret Pal 12. Woo hoo, I can't wait. It will be a lot of fun.
I really do need to keep this blog more up to date, and upload some photos too. But right now I need to get on with my knitting!