Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tour de Fleece 2017 Team Sasquatch

::Well we are off! I have joined Team Sasquatch on Ravelry which has been set up for those who love podcasts:: 

I was part of this team back in 2014 and spent a couple of year's with Team Fondant Fibre but wanted to catch up with some of my stash this year and felt I would get a lot of motivation from Team Sasquatch.

I set my goals and decided on my projects and introduced myself on their group page. This is week one of the tour even though we won't officially start until Saturday 1 July through to Sunday 23 July.

I am not planning on finishing every project but my goal is to achieve a finish on at least one. I will be using my spindles and my spinning wheel and will be using a variety of fibres.

So week one completed!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Visiting a Silk Weaving Workshop in Myanmar

I was so lucky recently to enjoy a visit to Myanmar (which some people will know as Burma). The beautiful country of the golden stupas and pagodas, temples and monasteries.

Whilst we were there we visited a silk weaving workshop where women still make the traditional Longyi which is a two metre stretch of fabric worn wrapped around the lower body by both men and women. It is a very versatile garment which can be wrapped so that it can be used as a hooded jacket, a sling for carrying a baby or a backpack for a water bottle. It can be wound so that it becomes a hat on which large trays or baskets can be balanced. It can also be pulled through the legs to become shorts which are useful for playing football or when going out in a fishing boat.

The men's garments are called pasos and the ladies a htamain. The ladies wear theirs tied in a different way to the men and are generally much brighter silk colours and patterned in contrasting colours. There are cotton ones for everyday and silk for more important occasions like weddings. 

Here are some photos I took and you will see how they are still using traditional methods and there are no computerised processes at all. I was very surprised to learn that almost every longyi you see is made in small workshops like this one and all by hand.

Silk really does hold colour better than any other textile as you can see in this cabinet of thread waiting to be used.

 Here are the bobbins wound up ready for the start of a new project.

As you can see from this weaving they are making other items from the silk weaving and this could be for a table.

Although the looms are very large, the ladies sit side by side and there is a nice atmosphere created by the very hard working women in the workshop.

These are very dexterous hands - just look at all those shuttles.

A view of the back of the workshop.

Trying to get the right shot of the looms in use.

The equipment is very traditonal and all hand worked.

Working with both her left and right hands at once.

 The wonderful colour combinations you can achieve with silk.

Here is the silk on the bobbins for the machine above.

I didn't crop that lady with her head in her hands out as she looks as if she is overwhelmed with so much choice. These are all the finished longyis in the shop area.

And here I am in my beautiful blue htamain on our boat the Princess Panhwar. I opted for an easier version which has long pieces of material which you wrap round and tie. I didn't think I would be able to manage the traditional way. You have to make sure your pattern lines up on the edges. I found it very comfortable to wear but I did wear another long skirt underneath as I thought it was a bit see through. I bought mine from a stall in a temple we visited as I was very taken with the two toned effect of the blue material which shimmers very prettily in the light. We had an entertaining afternoon when the staff modelled the different ways of wearing the longyi and showed how to tie them.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

If Tigers Were Bears and Fingers Were Thumbs

I'd love you just the same, February.

Today is the start of the Love Along knit along

I needed a special yarn to work on for this lovely knit along with Dani of Little Bobbins Knits and one which would allow the subtle design in the pattern by Amy Meeks "Love Along Socks" to show up well.

I remembered a knit a-long I started way back in 2012 with Laura Linneman of The Knitgirllls Podcast called "Mittens for Me". I was using two beautiful yarns and the lighter one seemed perfect for this new sock. I had managed to finish one of the mittens and I might still have enough left to finish the second even after I have made these socks.

The mittens had a beautiful cuff which used a vikkel (or lateral) braid and an unsual ribbing section. Laura's patterns are always fun to knit and I just can't say why I stopped working on them and consequently lost momentum to start the second and finish them. These mittens were co-incidentally part of a February knit a-long so I only hope I don't get second sock syndrome as well as second mitten syndrome for this knit along.

The Angel Sock yarn was from The Natural Dye Studio but is, unfortunately, no longer available. It is unbelievably soft and feels very luxurious. Yesterday's post has details of the composition. These will obviously not be socks for wearing out and about but for hygge moments indoors when I want to cosy up and have a gorgeous, warm pair of socks to cherish my feet with.

So the knit a-long has started and I have made a contrast at the cuff with my Christmas Eve Sock Cast On yarn to make a link to my last knit a-long with Dani which started in December 2016 and I finished in January 2017.

If these socks take a long time I won't mind as working with the yarn is a comfort in itself.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Speeding On By - January's almost over

January 2017 didn't seem to want to slow down and now I find myself at the end of the month looking back to see what has been achieved and looking forward to what direction I'd like to take.

The start of the year brought some very unhappy times for me and I really drew strength from my knitting and crafting projects which allow me a few hours to let my mind be peaceful.

On Christmas Eve in December last year I joined Dani of Little Bobbins Knits podcast for the annual Christmas Eve Sock Cast On.

I chose a simple lace pattern Lacy Anklets by Melissa Morgan-Oakes and a lovely yarn from Elm Tree Yarns called Fezziwig's Party who is, as you know, a delightful character from Dickens' wonderful Christmas novella, A Christmas Carol.

These socks have a lovely cuff which reminds me of the dancing from Fezziwig's Party.  I chose an ivory sparkle yarn to make some contrasts on the cuff and toes.

My next knit-a-long is another one of Dani's for February and it will also be a pair of socks, this time Love Along by Amy Meeks. I have chosen to abandon a pair of mittens from way back in 2012 and to use the yarn for these socks. The yarn was the truly beautiful Angel Sock and is a Sport/ 5 ply 70% Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere goat 350 meters/100 grams by The Natural Dye Studio.

I knitted a cute little Christmas mouse called Snowball Buddies by Susan Claudino which I saw on Jooles of Sew Sweet Violet's podcast. I do love both the podcasts mentioned and have noticed lots of new ones appearing which I am hoping to have a look at.

I have been having a lot of fun with my sewing and have been making progress on two quilts and a quilted Christmas table runner.

I've also made myself a project bag which was a first for me and I am quite pleased with the outcome but there are areas which could be improved next time I make one. I need to make sure that both layers of seams are sewn together which is difficult on a project like this.

Another craft I've been enjoying a revival of interest in is cross-stitch and I was delighted to work on this very deep stash project and must now think about getting it framed. It is a sampler called Oyster Catcher and I bought it many years ago at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexander Palace.

In the garden I have been very lucky in having a new greenhouse put up and it has really become my 'baby' keeping me very busy.

I painted the old potting table and have had a lot of fun planning what to plant and growing some vegetables through the late winter months.

I sowed some Autumn sweet peas and planted a lot of paper white narcissi as well as some tulips and for vegetables I have parsley and a couple of spring cabbages which I just pick a few leaves at a time. My most satisfying grow was two bags of potatoes which were so tasty. I also had some beautiful chrysanthemums in pots to enjoy.

So the things I plan to achieve this year are:

  • to continue to enjoy cross-stitching
  • to learn a new craft (I have in mind wool punch work)
  • to use up stash where possible
  • to sort out and re-organize my work space
  • to expand my blog to include my other creative interests
  • to continue to enjoy sharing my projects on social media and to take part in a-longs relevant to the season
  • to watch and learn from new podcasts
  • to finish as many already started projects as I can.
That will keep me very busy but having a lot of fun too. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016


::I feel as if I have been knitting and knitting and knitting but with very little result in the form of finished objects::

::I have been delighted with this Reagan edge to edge cardigan by Isabell Kraemar in sulka legato by mirasol yarns which is a light fingering/3 ply and is 60% merino, 205 silk and 20% alpaca, 251 meters per 50 grams in grey::

::this yarn was on sale in my local yarn shop and so this was a very economical knit::

::the cardigan can be worn either way up but I think is most comfortable with the lace at the bottom::

::I went to a quilting show at Duxford in March and picked up a pattern and some beautiful fabrics to make this craft bag::

::the handles were from an etsy shop in Scotland::they really make the bag sing::

 ::I have been enjoying wearing my frosted leaves wrap scarf which was a free pattern by Louisa Harding (you can make a donation to a cancer charity Louisa supports)::

::I used her amitola grande in 516 iceberg::

::it is an aran/10 ply 80% wool and 20% silk, 250 meters per 100 grams::

::it was an absolute joy to work with::

 ::I used yarn from my 'deep stash' to make the Kate Davies cardigan Manu::

::the shade is juniper and is the naturally dyed Shalisdair luxury and is a DK/8ply in 40%angora, 40% wool and 20% cashmere and has 340 meters per 113 grams::

::the only problem is that over time the natural dye has faded in places giving a strangely mottled look which is apparent on the sleeves::

::I have not worn it yet as I need to put on some buttons::

::the yarn has an oily feel which is not fully gone yet but the whole cardigan grew substantially when wet blocked::it looks and feels very cosy::

 ::Then there were the Christmas Eve socks, I posted about earlier,  which I made for a knit along with Dani of the Little Bobbin Knits podcast::

::we all cast on a sock project on Christmas Eve and knit on them over the holiday::

::this is the Desert Vista Dyeworks Viso yarn which is a fingering/4 ply, 75% merino, 25% nylon and is 422 meters/100 grams in the colour "Zombodys Kissing Santa Claus"::

::the pattern is the vanilla latte socks by Virginia Rose-Jeanes::

 ::Also mentioned earlier were these Jared Flood "Feathercrest" mittens which are now completed and were a delight to knit in Jamieson & Smith Shetland Aran in grey which I picked up in their discounted bin in their shop in Lerwick last summer::

 ::I have been enjoying making another blouse and improving my sewing skills::

::I love the collar on this simple three quarter length sleeve top::

::I bought the fabric which is Swiss cotton at a craft event at Five Lakes which is an hotel and country club in Essex::

::the pattern was "Mademoiselle" by Aimee comme Marie::

::I managed it even with my school girl French::

 ::And here are some future knitting plans which were all purchases from 'unravel' knitting event at Farnham Maltings earlier this year::

::Lake District Alpaca and a pattern for a blanket from Town End Yarns:: 

 ::A pretty little coin purse kit from Natural Knits::

 ::a gradient sock blank from Whimzy::

 ::two skeins of Coop Knit Socks Yeah::

::one skein per sock so I will mix and match heels, ribbing and toes to make some fun socks::

 ::I also bought some Knit Pro Karbonz and Zing dpns to try::

::and how cute is the project bag to commemorate the event::

 ::last but not least of my recent making is this bible cover::

::are you aware of the current craze for bible journalling?::

::you choose a verse of scripture to study and then illustrate it in the bible margins::

::I used a scrap of leather in grey to make a reinforced spine and scraps of fabric for edging and pockets::

::perhaps the feeling of not much knitting is because I have been crafting in other ways - sewing and drawing::

::well, whatever craft inspires, I hope you are having fun with your making::


Thursday, 31 December 2015

Knitting at the end of the Year

::Looking back over 2015 it was an exciting one for me in terms of trying new yarns::

::I have to say that one of the stand out yarns was the Mabel & Ivy Coast::I believe it is wound up in smaller lots from the larger Holst Garn cakes that come from Denmark and you can buy Mabel & Ivy in the UK from Tangled Yarn::It is a 55% Merino/45% Cotton 3ply (light fingering) which is ideal for lightweight summer shawls, baby clothes and light tees:: 

::I knitted some shooting socks for my lovely daughter's boyfriend this Christmas::A first for me knitting for someone else but I did enjoy it even if they were so long and so was his foot length::He chose the bright orange and it is from Regia and they had shaped calves which was new to me and I made long garters too use under the cuffs to help them stay up::It did mean I could sit down and enjoy one of my favourite Christmas films "Young at Heart" whilst working on them::

::The highlight of my knitting year had to be my trip to the Shetland Islands for the Wool Week Holiday::I will never forget the trip to Mousa where we lay down at the foot of the Broch at Midnight to listen to the Storm Petrels returning to feed their young::I was wearing my Baa-ble Headband adapted from Donna Smith's Baa-ble Hat and it started a lovely conversation on the boat back with local knitting girls::An experience I will treasure for ever::
::Enjoying a drink outside the Shetland Textile Museum ::

::On that trip I met with three ladies from Jimmy Beans Wool and I was gifted the Sandy Goes to Scotland hat pattern by them and it was a delight to make in honour of these really wonderful knitters, Sandy, Jeannie and Laura::I met so many really exceptional people on that holiday and my knitting life was enriched beyond measure::

::The Sandy Hat::

::Another highlight has been my inspiring knitting friend Lisette of the Flitter Knitter blog which you can see here::We share a love of everything Louisa Harding, the colour teal as well as seasonal produce, cooking and tea drinking::
::"Chrysalis" cardi by Louisa Harding for a knit along::

::I have had a lot of knitting fun this Christmas too::I knitted some Simple House Slippers by Simone A. with some Gnome Acres worsted in "Mistletoe"::

::I joined in with Dani of the Little Bobbins Podcast's Christmas Eve Sock knit along::I used the delightful Desert Vista Dye Works sock yarn in the colourway "Zombody's been kissing Santa Claus" and they are so evocative of the season::

::And on Christmas Day my Husband and Mother, who both understand my knitting passion, bought me a sheep knitting bag by Quincepie Designs on Etsy and some Millifera 100% super wash merino singles sock in the "Rusty Gate" colour::

::So to round off the knitting year I am spending the morning working on a pair of mittens with some Jamieson & Smith aran I bought in their Shetland shop and reminiscing about my time there and making plans for my New Knitting Year ahead::

::Ending a good knitting year with some cabled mittens::

 ::Wherever you are I hope you have had a great crafting year and wish you a very Happy 2016::

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