Wednesday, October 31, 2007

So cute!

Yesterday I got home from a busy day at work to find the cutest package waiting for me:

My secret pal has done it again - she is so great! The sock is so adorable on its mini blocker and in such lovely colours - just up my street. It was sent from this etsy store - so sweet! It went straight on to my keychain and has been with me everywhere! Thank you so much Dorene!

We have a meeting at school tomorrow about the Christmas fair and I have been working on some ideas. I finally finished the knitting on Birch for the raffle last night and now need to block it. I have been flirting with some ideas for knitted things to sell and made a hair bobble with two flowers, which I am pleased with:

I am also planning to have a go at some corsages tonight to see what I can come up with. It is not just me doing all the work, but I am doing a lot of planning for the stall so hope that it all comes together in the end!

While in town yesterday I managed to pick up a copy of the holiday issue of Vogue:

which looks to have some great patterns in it. I haven't had much of a chance to read it yet - that is a pleasure to come once I have done a bit of test knitting for flowers tonight!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Half-term break

We took advantage of the half-term break to use a raffle prize I had won at a summer fair for two nights' bed and breakfast in a Young's pub. Rather than stay somewhere on the South Circular (most Young's pubs are in south London), we investigated locations further afield and plumped for Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset. The Dunstan House Inn offered reasonable accommodation and Burnham-on-Sea was a good base for exploring:

Only a few miles away are the famous Wookey Hole caves, which I remember visiting on a school trip. Since I last went there, they have turned the legend of the witch of Wookey Hole into a bit of a theme park and I felt disappointed that the guide told us scary tales of witches in the caves, frightening the children. The caves are scary enough and I think people sometimes underestimate the power of children's imagination - why feed them tales of witches when the caves would be enough on their own? The first cavern is beautifully lit with pink and blue lighting as you walk into it and it looked quite magical as we went in. The caves are still used for maturing cheddar cheese (the constancy of the temperature means that they offer the perfect environment - although the smell is very strong on the way out!). There is a paper mill adjacent to the caves and the children were able to have a go at making paper too. The paper is made using cotton rather than wood pulp, which means that it has a lovely quality to it and is guaranteed to last at least 500 years without yellowing. (I managed to leave my camera in the car for much of the holiday, which is why there is a dearth of pictures!)

We also visited Wells cathedral, which was beautiful, and the service that was under way at the time added to its tranquil atmosphere. On the way back we visited Avebury, a truly wonderful landscape, and part of Wiltshire's exceptional neolithic heritage:

Much of the original excavations were funded by Alexander Keiller, who made his fortune from marmalade.

On Thursday I took the children to Claremont Landscape Garden in the drizzle just to get some more fresh air. We thoroughly enjoyed doing the Halloween trail around the grounds, which were very picturesque even on a cloudy day:

I had many plans for my knitting over the weekend and made some progress on Birch for the school raffle in the car:

I did get distracted (as usual!) and decided that I would knit my Mum something for her birthday - rather last minute as it was her birthday last week! We went to see her today, by which time I had finished this (please excuse the poor photos - it seems very dark at the moment!):

A scarf in the handspun cashmere I bought at Ally Pally. The pattern is a variation on the Misti Alpaca Ribs and Ruffles scarf, although I used more stitches on the width. It is soooo soft and has a lovely quality when knitted up, although it is quite fuzzy and has not got good stitch definition. She loved it, and has just bought a new coat, which it will go with perfectly!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

More Ally Pally goodies

Today is the first day I seem to have had to catch my breath and I need to knuckle down to get a journal edited before half-term next week. But before I do, I have realised that I forgot to post a photo of the Habu I bought at Ally Pally. Easily forgotten, as it is squished into the tiniest of parcels, I bought two balls of their lovely hand-dyed cashmere and should have enough for a decent-sized scarf, although it is hard to believe from the tiny balls!

I also ordered the kit for Plisse from Kangaroo, as I have had my eye on this Hanne Falkenberg kit for ages. I ordered it in aubergine but wanted to see the colours for real before I made my final choice - Ally Pally was a great opportunity to do that!

It was also great to see the knitted river from iknit, which has grown since I last saw it - it really is a hopeful statement to try to change the imbalance of resources in the world:

Somewhere in there are squares Hila and I knitted last year.

I did make it to Stash to knit yesterday and was given this lovely skein of Knitwitches yarn by Jill and Tessa for driving them to Ally Pally:

And Fiona gave me a gorgeous Diptych candle - such luxury - I feel quite spoiled! Thank you, all.

Nic has kindly pointed out that she didn't design the Miss Potter mitts on the cover of Yarn Forward - it was another Nic - sorry both of you for the error!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The past few days have been frantically busy but have also been great fun. Sabine and Kris came over from Berlin and Munich to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. Kris came to stay after she had been to the show but Sabine and I went together, along with three other knitting friends, Jill, Fiona and Tessa. I had such a great time!

The morning Sabine arrived I was spoiled rotten by my Secret Pal Dorene when the postman brought this fantastic skein of Handmaiden Casbah through the post, sent by Socktopus. Everything about this parcel was wonderful - the silver package, the pink tissue paper, the utterly luxurious cashmere and wool yarn, and the completely adorable stitch marker, which I just love to bits! I had never seen this yarn before and the colours are so intense and the yarn is so soft that it is just gorgeous! Thank you so much, Dorene!

This was the start of a yarn-filled weekend. Before we even got to Ally Pally Sabine gave me some gorgeous chocolate (which we ate before I could take a photo), some wonderfully aromatic coffee and some fabulous shawl patterns, including the Mountain Peaks and Seraphim shawls, which I have been eyeing up.

Ally Pally was just wonderful. There was a really fantastic range of stalls and so much to see that we barely managed to look at everything we wanted to in the time we had (and we had the whole day!). I even met Alice from Socktopus while we were there - the stall looked fabulous - so much temptation!

I was very taken with the Knitwitches yarns and couldn't resist this silk:

There were all kinds of yarn I hadn't seen before. I resisted the qiviut but succumbed to the yak yarn by Shokay, which I am planning to knit the Baby Yoda jacket with:

The Natural Dye Studio had some truly wonderful colours and both Sabine and I couldn't resist the silk - it has a fantastic sheen to it and each strand is so beautiful. Mine is now a hot contender for the Seraphim shawl:

Sabine designs patterns and has had a few published in both Magknits and Knitty and so we visited Kerrie at the Hipknits stall, where I couldn't resist the new issue of Yarn Forward, which looks great. I just love Nic's mitts on the front cover!

And I simply couldn't resist this handspun cashmere from Shilasdair:

Kris came to stay on Friday night (she went to Ally Pally on Thursday) and Sabine, Kris and I had a lovely day knitting and chatting with Michelle, Nathalie and Zoe at Stash. Here I am with Kris and Sabine:

Kris also brought me this fabulous yarn from Wollmeise - some laceweight and some sock yarn, and the cutest project bag which she had made herself:

While at Stash I managed to finish my shrug for my sister, and tonight I met up with her and gave it to her (it is her birthday next week). She loved it! I am so pleased, and it is a great fit - it really suits her! Here is a friend modelling it before I wrapped it up:

I can cross that off October's list!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Very Mooreish

Yesterday the weather was beautiful in the morning and, as Paul was heading off to work, I decided to pack a picnic and take the children to Kew. There is a big Henry Moore exhibition on at Kew at the moment - the largest outdoor exhibition of his work ever held in London. I must admit that Kew is a perfect setting for his curvaceous sculptures, which sit quietly in the landscape, looking stunning:

Although I like his figure work, particularly the imagery of mother and
baby (like this one),

I love his sculptures that play with space and shape, like this one, based on an elephant skull:

and this one, which is a representation of a totem head

We didn't manage to see all of them, but the exhibition is on until March and we can go plenty more times as the seasons move on. I think the idea is to see how the sculptures alter in the changing landscape, so it will be interesting to revisit them many more times over the next few weeks and months.

Already, it is colder and the squirrels are already becoming braver in their quest for autumn snacks. The children kept trying to give this one bits of their lunch and nuts they found in the gardens:

My sister's shrug is making progress - I have almost finished the body and hope to finish it and pick up the border for the ribbing tonight. The yarn is so pretty and is lovely and springy - it is great to knit with and the colours are beautiful:

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More SP goodness

Hot on the heels of my secret pal's first package was her second, which I excitedly ripped open to discover this:

Wrapped inside the beautiful scarf (knitted in Elsebeth Lavold's silky wool using the Midwest Moonlight pattern, which I love, from Scarf Style)

was this lovely yarn:

Some lovely cotton (for all my baby knitting!) and a simply gorgeous skein of silk in wonderful shades of purple - so pretty! I love it all, especially the beautiful scarf which I have been wearing a lot since it arrived! I have to confess that I have been doing a little bit of research and have tracked down my pal - thank you so much for this wonderful package Dorene!

Rather belatedly, here is an update on September's knitting plans:
1. Finish baby present for a friend. Done - this was Nic's kimono for Pete!
2. Start and finish another baby gift for another friend. Done - she is coming home today so I will be able to give it to her tonight. I knitted yet another kimono, this time in a gorgeous shade of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted

and found this pretty ribbon on our trip to Tunbridge Wells that I think sets it off nicely:

3. Plan and start my sister's birthday present. Done (although I need to get on with this - her birthday is on the 25th of this month!). I have decided to knit the Dream in Color shrug

and have started it and have knitted three repeats of the zigzag pattern, so some progress has been made.
4. Complete 10 repeats of a Birch shawl for the school auction. Not done. I have started this and knitted one repeat but have got sidetracked by a few other things that were more urgent.
5. Finish fronts of Seville bolero for me. Not done - I have worked on more pressing projects instead.

Knitting distractions this month were the Koigu cardigan, which I have made some progress on and find rather irresistible (although it is quite slow going as the yarn is so fine). But the yarn is so mesmerising to knit with that it almost makes me want to be monogamous to this project! I have, however, been able to tear myself away to knit something for my cousin's new baby:

and again have used some lovely new ribbon:

And I found time (just!) to knit a poncho for one of Edward's friends who had a birthday party last weekend:

This is knitted in Rowan Big Wool with Colinette Chicago for the fringe.

I have been busy making plans for October:
1. Finish the shrug for my sister's birthday.
2. Do 10 repeats of birch on the shawl for the school raffle.
3. Knit 10 flowers for the school fair.
4. Start scarf for ISE5.
5. Start gift for Secret Pal.

Looking at this list, I think I am probably being optimistic about how many hours' knitting time I will have as I am working more hours throughout October and November and also have the distraction of the Knitting and Stitching Show next week. I am so excited about this, especially as Kris and Sabine are both coming to stay with me. I can't wait!