Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A fantastic time; a definite haul

I think perhaps Yarndale is going to become my favourite yarn festival. It's close to my parents and friends, it's full of friendly stallholders and knitters, it has amazing goodies, and even the weather seems to be smiling on it.

This year, we decided to make the official journey from Skipton Station to the auction mart through the park - which was much less far than I had felt it was when discussing lunchtime options last year! Instead of the 30 minute hike to the edge of town which I had anticipated, it was a 15 minute saunter in the sunshine, reassuringly accompanied by yarny signage all the way to site.

We'd packed a picnic, and I am glad we did - the queues for the Café (which was sensibly sited in the space adjacent to the marketplace itself) were long throughout the day. It also meant we could enjoy some fresh air as we ate the pasta salad I managed to cobble together!

Our plan was to make one exploratory loop of the vendors, and then return on a purchasing spree. That way we could make our decisions in a level-headed and sensible fashion, rather than simply running off with yarn and squeeing madly. We were, largely, successful.

[Left to right: Eden Cottage Yarns Pendle 4ply in 'Copper Bucket', EasyKnits Slink in 'Upstairs', Handmade in the UK by Emily of Tincanknits, Fivemoons Comet MSY in 'Lowering Sky Ooak' and Fivemoons Artemis in 'Can You Hear the Silence?']

I didn't know that I was going to buy a patttern book, but I have heard some fabulous things about this collection, as well as Emily's interview with A Playful Day, and was won over by Bonny, which is going to be knit in the turquoise laceweight from EasyKnits.  TwinkleMou5e (who is the other half of the 'we' in this post!) was even wearing Raindrops for Yarndale! So you see, it had to be, and Emily was very lovely and charmingly signed my copy for me, and then Jon sold me some laceweights... and Eden Cottage Yarns is always a favourite... and Fivemoons had some wonderful stock at Unwind which I didn't buy, and have regretted, so I made up for it. I didn't have planned projects for all the purchases when I made them, but I do now, which has to be a good sign, doesn't it? Now, if I can just stop myself casting on All the Things...

[Gratuitous distracting photo of Alpacas]

The best thing about this festival was just how lovely the people were, and the fact that I was meeting internet friends not for the first, but for the second time. Unwind had given me that opportunity, with its fantastic podcaster meetup, and I'd been attempting to be a bit braver on Twitter and in saying hello to people I know of, so I actually got to chat with Aimee from KnitSpinCake / Harbour City Yarns, Louise from KnitBritish, Jo from Shinybees, Nic from Yarns from the Plain, Jon of EasyKnits and Vicky from Eden Cottage Yarns.

So thank you, everyone, for being lovely, and thank you particularly to the organisers of Yarndale, for creating such a fantastic event somewhere I can get to relatively easily!

Friday, 26 September 2014


If you look at the stash, you might think there was no need to add to it; considering the UFO oubliettes, you might conclude that I'm working on plenty of projects.

Sometimes, though, it isn't the right yarn at the right moment, for the right project. Sometimes you need to knit something very specific (a simple, small, shawl in a nearly-solid neutral). And sometimes, Eden Cottage Yarn posts photos of yarn and builds up temptation a drop at a time until you simply must buy all the yarn, right now!

So this was a project born out of that desire to just get something knit – to finish a project, to add to the wardrobe, to achieve something simple and practical.

Started on a train, it was finished within a fortnight, and pressed into service. Though I've knitted the Alletta pattern several times before, and I do like the variegated versions, I think this is my favourite – the yarn has a soft halo and a beautiful drape to it, while being woolly and robust enough for me to simply grab and go.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

July Pi Shawl

Make that stunning skein of semi-solid yarn into something to treasure: based on Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Pi Shawl, this elegant shawl incorporates all the increases into a few carefully placed plain rows between the lace-work.

 Worked entirely in the round, this circular shawl or wrap starts with just a very few stitches, and grows… and grows. The magic of Pi and of blocking ensures that the shawl is complete at any and all points, so stop when you think it’s big enough, or when your yarn is running low, and you’ll find you have a warm, comforting shoulder wrap.

Perfect under your winter coat, or as an extra layer in the office!


A simple stitch pattern twines its way around the leg and across the foot of this elegant sock. Choose to knit two identical socks (twisting sunwise or widdershins), or create a symmetrical pair.

Rudolfina Accessories

The Rudolfina Accessories set comprises a pair of fingerless mitts and a beanie, featuring co-ordinating cables assorted to the scale of the projects. The mitts take approximately 130m of yarn, and the beret about 170m, meaning the entire set can be knit comfortably from three 50g skeins.
Both knit in the round, the beret alternates wide 'Horn' cables with narrower plaits, decreasing at four points to create an effective four-pointed star pattern.
The mitts feature a smaller 'Horn' cable on the back of the hand, and a plait along the far side (down from the little finger), with the added detail of a simple mock cable pattern over the palm, making the fabric softer and thinner for ease of wear.
Rudolfina Accessories: £3.00


Twisted rib and an old favourite simple lace pattern are combined to create an effortlessly stylish, feminine pair of socks. Knit from the top down with a heel flap, these socks come in three sizes, and use more stitches in the sole than the instep to allow for the extra ease of lace knitting.

Lambert Mitts

Featuring the same simple lace pattern as the Lambert Beret, so that your accessories can by stylish, handmade, elegant and co-ordinated, this pattern comes in two lengths: a small hand-warmer size with Victorian undertones, and a longer armwarmer.
Ideal for a brave beginner to undertake knitting in the round while following a simple lace chart.

  download now for free

Lambert Beret

Knit with less than 100g of fingering weight yarn, and using a simple lace pattern set out in both charts and written directions, this slouchy beret is a perfect autumn/winter knit that can be begun in warmer weather to smarten up a wintry outfit, or knitted in stealth as a stylish gift.

Doric: a simple cowl

A very quick and easy knit. Worked in the round, with less than 100g of DK-weight yarn, Doric uses slipped stitches to create columns of texture on a cowl as wearable for men as women.

Allegra / Alletta: a pair of small shawls

Alletta: a top-down oblique triangle shawlette worked mostly in stocking stitch, with a diamond lace edging. Alletta is a relatively simple knit, which grows quickly, and works well in a range of solid and semi-solid - or even, as you can see, self-striping - yarns! It takes about 400m of a fingering weight yarn.

But that's not all. Alletta is one of a pair of shawls, the other being Allegra. Using the same lace pattern, and knit from the top down once again, Allegra is a right-angled triangle shawlette with all-over lace work. Needing about 400m of fingering weight yarn, Allegra is a great use for a precious semi-solid yarn with a little drape. The sample shown here was knit using Artist's Palette Smoothie Sock, which is a beautiful, beautiful yarn, and very easy to work with.

Either of these small shawls would be a great intermediate lace knit - whether you like a relatively plain knit in stocking stitch but with a bit of interest at the end, or whether you prefer to work out the lace pattern over a small number of stitches first, to gain familiarity before you embark on the bigger project.

Alletta/Allegra: a pair of shawls: £3.00

A work in progress

I'm doing a little work under the hood with this site at the moment, so wanted to pop in and let you know that you may see some oddities - such as layout changes, margin issues or particular flurries of posts - over the next couple of days. Please bear with me - I'm hoping these changes will help improve the layout and navigation of the blog as a whole!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

My City: Hereford

Birmingham is huge; London quite a distance away; but there are plenty of cities in my part of the world – thanks particularly to the wealth of the area in the middle ages, when Cathedrals popped up here, there and everywhere, but mostly here. Cities in name, and in historical signficance, but not quite the metropolitan hubs you might associate with the title. On an infrequent basis, my office send me to Hereford, and I rather enjoy the chance to explore narrow streets, or pop into the independent shops. The high street has its share of the usual chains, and a newly opened retail centre is the talk of the town (though my impression is of identikit offerings which may be convenient but are unlikely to be really exciting).

The Wednesday market is lively as ever, and full of interesting and diverse offerings: from yarn to vegetables to hand-carved wooden objects to antiques to mexican street food, all against a backdrop of modern shops in rather older buildings, and with the Hereford Bull taking pride of place at the end of the road.

The added bonus of Hereford for me is that all of this is on my way from the station to work, so I have to walk past them and catch up a little; an enlivening route, on which caffeine is, if I'm honest, often collected too.

The real treasures of Hereford, though, are on Church Street... from the cafes and music shop to the independent gallery and jewellers. Tucked away, these might seem hidden, but it is a busy route, and relatively well-travelled. For sewers of all kinds, Capuchin yard is a must-visit; Doughty's have a haberdasher's and yarn shop on the Church Street which is well-stocked and useful, but their reputation is built on fabrics, and the fabrics are in Capuchin yard. 

Make your choice between dress and upholstery on the one hand, and patchwork and quilting on the other, and excellent advice, support and pattern help is available in both! Once your need for all the pretty fabric you can carry is exhausted, pop into for a healthy snack or salad and delicious pudding.

My new favourite spot for lunch is Rocket, where the flatbreads are literally warm from the oven, the ingredients fabulous and locally sourced, and the coffee excellent. Even better, the staff are welcoming and creative, and seemed to appreciate the need to photograph a finished object if you are to share it with the world!

If the sun is shining, then it is worth asking for a takeaway, since only 20 m down the narrow street opens into Cathedral close, where picnics may be enjoyed with a view of the Cathedral, and alongside Elgar and his bicycle. While my lunchtimes don't usually extend to a visit, the Cathedral is magnificent, and houses not only the Mappa Mundi, one of the oldest extant maps of the world, but also a chained library – from a time when books were worth their weight in gold.

Plus, you never know when it might be handy to have Elgar model some knitting for you!

Elgar in Alletta