Saturday, 10 January 2015

Hold on to your hat!

I'm sitting here at my desk, writing, looking out at a bright and blustery Saturday afternoon thinking about my fellow knitters experiencing the gale force winds in Scotland and hoping that they have all found a cosy place to knit and ride out the storm.

If the wind isn't too fierce I do like to go out walking in it and feel the cool air on my face. However, I find having my hair flapping around in my face quite maddening so the perfect knitterly solution is, of course a hat. After years of claiming that I really don't go in for hats I have to admit that they are becoming much more of a wardrobe staple than they used to be.

You will have seen this hat before - it's the Atherfield Hat which I designed specifically for teaching students their first steps in knitting in the round and discovered that despite the fact that my usual style of knitting is small items on small needles, I really enjoy the instant gratification of a simple hat knitted in chunky wool.

So I thought I'd make another one. These are both made in Woolyknits Lofty available from Wild and Woolly. The green hat is made in Olive and the red one is Cranberry.

Of course then, Loop took delivery of the very lovely Madeline Tosh Home which is a beautifully soft chunky yarn in the usual gorgeous Madeline Tosh range of colours so before I knew where I was I had made another two! They are knit in Hosta Blue and Tern. The yardage with this yarn is a little shorter than the Lofty so I omitted a couple of rows of ribbing to ensure that I had enough yarn.

Let it not be said, however, that I have completely abandoned working with fine yarns. I bought Toasty, the beautiful hat book by Rachel Coopey from her at Unravel back in February and thought it was time to try one of the beautiful designs. This is Ripon, for which I used Eden Cottage Hayton 4ply in Steel.

I absolutely love the way that the hat comes together at the crown.

I can definitely see more hats in my life. My friend Rachel very kindly gave me the latest Woolly Wormhead Mystery Knitalong hat pattern as a surprise gift so whilst I have missed the knit along I have some gorgeous yellow yarn set aside and am planning to cast on just as soon as I get a few other things off my needles. 2015 is certainly going to be the year of the hat as far as I am concerned!

Monday, 5 January 2015

2014 - worth mending

As is traditional at this time of the year when the nights are at their longest I have been gathered in with my loved ones reflecting, remembering and looking forward. I am so lucky to have a family who will let me take time out from my daily life and spend time with them collecting my thoughts and resources ready for the year ahead. They remind me as we reminisce how whilst many things stay the same but also as I watch my niece and nephew grow into their teenage years how things move on and life changes.

It always aids reflection to be able to sit and contemplate views like this.

Or this.

 2014 has been a year of mixed fortunes. Work wise I feel really fulfilled. My freelance career has grown slowly but solidly. I have exhibited at craft shows in my own right and have had the opportunity to work in some interesting places such as the RAF Museum in Hendon and the Stepney City Farm. I've developed new knitting classes and released more patterns both in magazines and independently. My enthusiasm for knitting and the impact that making things by hand can have within the community continues to excite and inspire me.

2014 has also brought sadness and difficulty. I lost a cousin and supported a dear friend through both marriage and the death of her husband in the space of less than a year. It reminded me that whilst building my career is important as I need to put food on the table, the most valuable things that I have are the people that I am lucky enough to have drawn around myself. They may need patching up and looking after now and again but are all the more precious and beautiful for all that.

In this spirit I used some of the quiet time that I have had over the last week or so to make a few repairs to well loved pieces of knitwear such as my grey Vitamin D cardigan here which I managed to tear a small hole in.

Or this pair of socks which fell victim to the shaped instep of my favourite Birkenstock clogs.

I'm certainly not claiming to be the world's most competent darner but it is something that I am determined to practice in 2015.

For me it's a really important skill. We all put hours of work into making things for ourselves and our loved ones and get great pleasure from wearing them so it makes sense that we don't just discard them when they start to show wear and tear. 

While I was concentrating on my darning I took the time to think about the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. I'm not really someone who makes New Years resolutions which set impossible goals and end up making me feel rather guilty. Instead I think I am simply going to make sure I look after what I am lucky enough to have, whether it be my good health, my good friends or my good warm socks!