Thursday, 27 September 2012

Out of my way Luvvies!

One of the entertaining things about living in London is that every so often the word goes out around the knitting community that volunteer knitters are required for some sort of event. I am by nature curious and these opportunities often lead to finding out about organisations from the inside out, to be a participant rather than an observer. When Stitch London asked for knitters for an event at Tate Britain last weekend it seemed like just that sort of activity.
Apparently, a group of young people have been curating a participatory event where they choose an artwork and organise activities around the theme of a  piece in the current exhibition of Pre Raphaelite artists. In this case the chosen work was 'The Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse. Taking a stanza from the  poem of the same name by Alfred Lord Tennyson:
'She knows not what the curse may be
And so she weaveth steadily'
I found myself teaching anyone who came by how to use a tool I remember from my childhood, a Knitting Jenny or Nancy as it was known in our house to make cords.


These cords were used to make this spider's web.

 One of the things that I do recall from childhood was that after producing a metre or so of this cord, being the utilitarian that I am I would start asking myself what on earth I was going to do with the stuff. Coming up with a blank, this was the point at which I put it aside and went off to do something else. If only someone had shown me that you could make things like this horse's head, perhaps I might have carried on. You may not be able to see because of my rather blurry IPhone photography but this piece is made entirely of cord made on the Knitting Jenny and painted.

All in all whilst rather tangentially connected with knitting I had a really good time chatting with people and taking part in this event. Thanks to Stitch London for coming upwith the idea We were told that of all the activities happening as part of this project ours was the most popular.

Best of all, I was especially entertained when I got home and read what it said on my identity badge. I'm not just a knitter - I'm a performer!

Out of my way luvvies!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


As readers may know my Dad died in January this year and I have been really touched by the warm and kind messages that I have had. Over the past months my sister and I have been involved in the bitter sweet task of clearing our family home on the Isle of Wight ready to sell it as we really can't justify keeping it on.
Although some things haven't been easy it has been good spending time with my sister and going through things that have brought back memories, deciding what we can let go of and what must be kept. Out went all my school books - was I really that bad at French? Out went the Weeping Boy picture and the flying china ducks - yes, we really did have some of them. There were, however some treasures that we couldn't possibly part with.
Here is one of them. My grandparents always had wire haired terriers like this one. They were working dogs, every one of them was called Pat. But that isn't why I am keeping this battered old tin.

I'm keeping it because it's the family button tin, handed down from my grandmother to my mum and now to me. Many of these buttons tell stories of garments long worn out but with the buttons carefully saved to be used another day. I can remember as a small child being allowed to play with the button tin, hunting for the pretty and unusual ones amongst the everyday white shirt buttons and brown jacket buttons.

I will treasure this tin and add to it my own collection. For me, this sort of inheritance is far more meaningful than anything else.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Keep it Simple

 You know, I used to be a pretty regular blogger, never stuck for knitting related stuff to blether on about. I thought it would be easy to get back into the swing of posting as my enthusiasm for all things knitting related is greater than ever but I was still a bit stuck.

Then I realised that I was probably over thinking things and really, all I needed to do was what I have always done - talk about what I'm making, and given the amount of stuff I have 'on the needles' at the moment should give me enough material to keep me going daily from now until the end of the year...

For  a change, however I thought I would talk about what I have on the spindle. I am lucky enough to have a lovely spinning wheel, which I do enjoy using but I have found recently I am using a drop spindle more and more. I spend quite a lot of my days on the move and not having a car I find that a nice lump of roving, and a drop spindle in a bag can really deliver beyond its weight in entertainment when trying to travel light. Here is my current project.

The roving is a Shetland/ silk blend divided into four pieces, each on dyed in the same graduated colour sequence from Katie at Hill Top Cloud. I bought it at Woolfest this year. Katie laughed when I chose it saying that knowing my colour preferences she could have picked this one for me!

Here are some of the singles spun on an IST spindle by Ian Tait with an elm burr whorl from this year's Fibre East Festival. One of the nice things about festivals is to be able to buy directly from crafspeople who are equally passionate about their craft. The elm in this spindle is gorgeous with faults through which the light shines which add to its character. Ian said that he had the elm for ages feeling that it was almost too good to cut into then realised that it's there to be used. A lesson for all of us with skeins in our stash that are almost too precious to knit - go on - get them out, choose a pattern and go for it!

 One of the pleasures of spindle spinning is that you don't have to fill a couple of bobbins before you can add variety to your day with a bit of plying. There are lots of different ways of doing this - I tend to wind mine off into a centre pull ball and ply from both ends of the ball. This yarn is made from two of the 25g pieces spun from dark to light then light to dark so that the colour change would stay loosely intact when plied from the middle.

So far so good - let's see how the second half turns out.