Monday, July 28, 2014

A tough week!

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 
He makes me lie down in green pastures, 
he leads me beside quiet waters, 
he refreshes my soul. 
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, 
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

After last Sunday's burglary, I've been reading and praying through this Psalm a lot. It always calms me and gives me comfort when things are tough and this week has been tough.

Saturday started out really good. It was hot and I sat in the garden listening to podcasts and knitting for hours.  

Vanessa was at work and mid-afternoon, Simon, Em and I drove to Bodmin and rode the Camel Trail to Wenford Bridge where we had a break before riding back. 14 miles in total.

We came home and the gate to the back garden was open. Turns out we had an attempted break in while we were out. This time he/they/she (whoever it was) had a proper go at our kitchen door. The dog was home, she does not like strangers and I guess she scared them off eventually. But the back door is broken and we can't unlock it.

It was a shock. We've no idea if its the same person or not but its likely. We're investing in more security and I'm hoping this will deter any further attempts. Our stolen stuff hasn't even been replaced yet.

All in all, it was a rather upsetting weekend. I'm putting my trust in God and praying for protection! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Perfect Summer Knitting

It's been hot here in the UK lately. I love it although this week the heat and humidity did get to me a little bit. But then it's been a stressful week. It seems claiming for stolen items on your insurance is not easy. I'm so relieved we didn't have more taken. The company acting on behalf of our insurance company to replace our stolen goods, is making me feel like a thief. I'm not trying to commit fraud, I just want our stolen items replaced. I really lost my temper with them yesterday. So it's no wonder I've been knitting like mad.

First up, Operation Sock Drawer is coming along nicely with another pair of socks off the needles. This is my 4th pair this year and my goal is to knit 6 pairs for myself. These Zauberball Crazy socks have been on the needles for a while but once I focused this week I got them finished quickly. The pattern is my new Crème Brûlée Socks, which is written to help new sock knitters by including more info than your average sock pattern.

The Zauberball Crazy is available on my website.  The colour I used was 2136. Don't forget the summer sale is on till end of July. 15% off by using code: heatwave

I've acquired some new brightly coloured yarn lately. The ball above is Austermann Step with Aloe Vera and Jojoba oil and the ball below is Sirdar Heat & Sole.  

The Austermann won and I cast on for a pair of Colosseum socks. The pattern is not currently available but I will re-write it, add 2 more sizes and have it available for some time in the autumn. I knitted on this all last night and got 50 out of 70 rounds for the leg done. I did another 10 this morning. The original socks were knitted while on holiday in Spain for Simon and he modelled them on my parents' roof top terrace. Maybe I'll finish these socks before we leave and get them photographed in Spain too. Woolly socks in Spain in August is kind of funny as it's 30C in the shade at 8am. Still, I do usually knit a lot of socks on holiday in Spain, especially on the beach, because it's small and you don't have a pile of hot wool in your lap. Socks are the perfect summer knitting. Not too big and you have warm socks to wear in autumn.

There's been more sock knitting. I finished the first of a new pair of lacy socks recently. And I'm at the start of the heel flap of sock 2. This won't be a new pattern as someone notified me of a similar pattern recently. But I do love this stitch pattern so I may change it slightly and use it for another sock pattern. But I will finish this for myself. It's my own hand-dyed yarn and I love the colour.

There's been some new yarn arrivals lately. First up, 2 skeins from Easyknits. Love the vibrant colours. The top one is more green than the photo shows. Not sure what to knit with these yet.

Last Saturday I was teaching at Blacker Yarns in Launceston. I've always wanted to try the Swan Falkland Wool so I picked up 3 balls of 4ply - 2 purple and 1 green - which will become a shawl. I also got a 50gr ball of green Bluefaced Leicester lace weight for a small shawl. The BFL is on the short list for my holiday knitting.  More about that closer to our holiday.

My friend who I went cycling with on Tuesday thought I needed cheering up and got me this colourful bunch of flowers. I love it! I've put it on our TV table which is currently empty after last Sunday's burglary.

Have a good weekend x

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A great family day out spoiled

So this should have been Sunday's 'Making Me Happy' post but something happened on Sunday that made me very unhappy!

Sunday started quietly. I had been teaching on both Friday and Saturday so I was tired and decided to stay home from church. Simon went to church with Vanessa and I stayed home and did some knitting. After lunch, about 1pm, we headed up to Sibleyback Lake where we spend a lot of our Sundays in the summer. Simon's parents and his sister joined us.

Emily and I cycled around the lake twice, a total of 5 miles. We saw some sheep.

And cycled through beautiful colour. After a break in the sun I headed out on the bike on my own and cycled around twice more. Another 5 miles. Simon sailed, he and Emily kayakked. Vanessa went for a walk with her aunt. We sat around chatting. A lovely family afternoon.

Afterwards we headed to Simon's parents for a family BBQ. We sat in their garden. That's our dog, Sam, and her sister Bracken (at the front). They are from the same litter but look nothing alike.

Simon's parents' garden is lovely and relaxing.

At 9pm we arrived home. I put my bike away and went in the house and put my bag down in the hallway. Vanessa called out from the lounge 'Where's the TV?' I walked in to the lounge and the TV was missing. I went into the kitchen and the kitchen windown was wide open. Yes, we'd been burgled. A lovely family afternoon was suddenly ruined! After a quick look around we discovered that as well as our TV (which we bought last Christmas and which is only the second brand new TV we've bought in 23 years of marriage) Simon's iPad Mini (which he bought at Easter), his phone which also had his credit and debit card, drivers licence and some cash in it was also missing and £5 was taken from Emilly's purse in the hallway.

We checked upstairs and nothing was taken which was a huge relief. I'm not very good at backing up my work and my book is 90% done and if my laptop had been stolen I would have had a complete breakdown!

The police finally left at midnight. Monday morning started with a visit from crime scene investigators. They didn't find much. I spent a long time on hold to our insurance company. I felt numb and was extremely tired. The worst thing about this break in is the shock. All our neighbours I've spoken to since have been shocked too. Our little cul-de-sac is very quiet and we all feel very safe. Noone has alarms. Noone has ever had a burglary in the 17 years we've lived here. 

Yesterday I'd arranged to go cycling with a friend. I was glad to get out of the house and to take my mind off the burglary for a day. We cycled from Bodmin along the Camel Trail to Padstow. It's 11 miles each way. Last time I cycled this route was last autumn and I really struggled on the last 5 miles. This time was completely different. My fitness has definitely improved.

The trail was full of cyclists and Padstow was packed. We looked around and enjoyed a drink and an ice cream in an Italian restaurant overlooking the harbour.

My friend hasn't ridden her bike for over 2 years so she did a great job doing 22 miles on her first bike ride in such a long time. I bet she's sore today.

The weather was cracking but fortunately there was a bit of a sea breeze which cooled us down.

Don't forget the Summer Sale - 15% off yarn by using code: heatwave and buy 2 get 1 free on patterns (no code needed). Valid until end of July. Go on, treat yourself! You're worth it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The BIG Summer Sale!

I've got so much to blog about and so little time. So today I'll just pop in quickly to tell you about the BIG Summer Sale. 

There's 15% off all yarn and shawl pin purchases from the online shop. Think it's too hot to knit in the summer? Try some lace weight yarn and a lacy accessory pattern and you have the perfect summer knitting or if you can cope with something a little bit thicker, go for sock yarn/4ply.

To get 15% off until the end of July, use discount code: heatwave.

Fancy a new pattern to go with your yarn? For the rest of July, there will be 'Buy 2, Get 1 Free' on all my patterns and e-boooks. No coupon code needed. Just add the patterns to your cart and it'll automatically give you the cheapest free. This offer is only valid in my Ravelry Pattern Shop.

Spin A Yarn has sent out their autumn workshop programme now. I'm teaching all my favourite classes. I haven't had time to update my workshop page yet but you can see all the workshop and booking details here.

I'll also be back at Sitting Knitting in Sutton Coldfield and La Mercerie in Cowbridge in November. At Sitting Knitting I'm teaching Norwegian 'Selbu' mittens. Details here. I'll comfirm details for the La Mercerie workshop as soon as I have them.

I'm still teaching workshops this month too. I've got 2 classes - Knitting Short Rows and Steeking - at Social Fabric in Devon and on Saturday I'm teaching Easy Lace Knitting at Blacker Yarns in Launceston, Cornwall. There are still places on all those workshops.

Happy knitting x

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gone cycling!

I've gotten out of the habit of doing my Sunday 'Making Me Happy' blog posts for the last 2 weekends. But what made me happy this last week was cycling and having a weekend at home. Let's talk about cycling first. Last Thursday both Simon and Vanessa had a day off work. I didn't really have time to take a day off but I decided to do so anyway. The weather forecast was good although we did have a tiny bit of drizzle. We decided to go cycling on the Camel Trail, which is Cornwall's number 1 tourist attraction, apparently. It gets very busy on the weekends but week days are a bit quieter. We cycled from just outside Bodmin to Wadebridge and back, a total of 10 miles. And then had a pub lunch before we headed home.

At one point the trail goes past the final stop on the Bodmin and Wenford Steam Railway and the train was at the platform when we cycled past. In fact, the steam engine was changing from the back of the train to the front of the train so we stopped to look (it's the last stop so the train turns around to head back to Bodmin Parkway).. Below the engine had just reversed into the station at the front of the train.

Vanessa is enjoying her new bike.

On Friday I taught a class at Spin A Yarn. Here are my 7 ladies busy working on either the Daisy shawl or Mar Menor shawl, which are my 2 most popular patterns. Spin A Yarn's autumn workshop timetable is about to be sent out. The newsletters were stacked up in the kitchen when I was there on Friday. I wish I'd taken a picture of it as the number of newsletters they send out is amazing. There were thousands of envelopes ready to post. The workshop timetable is already up online. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page and there's a diary. I'm teaching lots of classes including all my most popular ones.

Talking about workshops, last weekend I was at Sitting Knitting in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, teaching 'Design a lace shawl'. I had 12 ladies in my class and we all had a great time. Rachel has invited me back to teach in the autumn so I'll be teaching a Selbu mittens class on 2 November. Sitting Knitting is a fabolous shop. Well worth a visit if you're in the area.

Having a weekend at home was lovely as I'd been away for the previous two weekends and I'm teaching again next weekend (Toe up socks at Social Fabric in Totnes on Friday and Easy Lace at Blacker Yarns in Launceston on Saturday - there are still spaces, click on links for more details and to book).

On Saturday I had a quiet day at home. I watched a bit of Tour de France live, knitted lots of swatches and took a 2 hour nap. In the evening we went out for a meal with friends at a local pub. Here's the stack of this weekend's swatches:

On Sunday afternoon we headed up on Bodmin Moor to Davidstow airfield which is a disused World War 2 airfield and where lots of Cornwall's teenagers have their first go at driving a car. Vanessa is getting keen to learn to drive so she had a go behind the wheel and ofcourse Emily wanted to have a go too. She's old enough to learn to drive next April and Vanessa is planning to take lessons next summer so we could end up with both of them learning to drive at the same time.

Emily and I cycled around the airfield while Vanessa was driving. The runway is very uneven and full of potholes and it was very windy so it wasn't a particular pleasant experience. After the girls had both had a go at  driving, I got back in the car and continued my swatching while Simon flew a kite for a while.

Now I've got to pull those swatches together into design submissions. I've got two deadlines this morning. Look out for this week's newsletter as there'll be a special newsletter exclusive offer.

Have a lovely week x

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Introducing Schoppel

I've been a big fan of Schoppel yarns for a while now. And I was thrilled that I was able to stock these yarns for Wonderwool and Woolfest. We sold lots at Woolfest but there is a little bit left which is now in the shop. As these yarns are new to my shop I thought I'd do a little introduction post.

First up is their delicious 6 Karat which is a heavy lace weight with 600m per 100gr skein. The colours are hand-dyed in semisolid or variegated colours. I'm desperate to design something with this yarn very soon. It's gorgeous to knit with. I'm planning to get Fleur knitted up in this yarn in time for Yarndale in September.

Admiral Cat Print is another of Schoppel's hand-dyed yarns. This is a classic sock yarn with 75% Superwash Wool/25% Nylon. Cat Print is perfect for socks but also for lace shawls. Many of my designs take just 100gr of sock yarn and this is a perfect choice. Over the coming months I'll be having this knitted up in some of my old designs and maybe even design something new.

What about Aurora? 

Or Cora?

I've already re-knitted several designs and designed new designs with Crazy Zauberball. I love this yarn. It's also been my favourite sock yarn this year. My Mum knitted Em a pair of sock for this about 4 years ago which she still wears (although they're getting a bit small on her now) so they make hard wearing socks. I've knitted 3 pairs for myself so far this year with another pair on the needles. 

So what can you knit with Crazy Zauberball? Glacier takes 2 balls and is knitted sideways with short rows and beads.

My Crème Brûlée sock pattern is a pattern written for new sock knitters with extra info to make knitting the socks easier. 

Before this year's shows I had Calypso knitted up in Crazy Zauberball but I keep forgetting to include it when I do photoshoots.

Zauberball and Zauberball 100 is a sock weight yarn with long stripes and beautiful colours. Zauberball 100 is 100% Merino Wool and has 400m per 100gr ball and Zauberball is 75% Superwash Wool/25% Nylon and has 420m per 100gr ball.

I knitted up a new version of Mar Menor with this yarn just before Woolfest. 

A few months ago I had a new version of Simplicity knitted up in Zauberball but I forgot to include it in the latest photoshoot I did with Vanessa so I'll be doing that in the next few weeks but it looks very effective knitted up in this simple shawl which has a choice of a triangular shape or a half-hexagon shape. Perfect shawl if you're new to lace knitting.

Lace Ball and Lace Ball 100 has the same long colour repeats as Zauberball but has 800m per 100gr ball. Just before Woolfest, one of my knitters re-knitted my Piccadilly shawl in a stunning Lace Ball colour. I LOVE this shawl. My favourite colours. We sold lots of this pattern and yarn at Woolfest..

Or what about Goonhilly

If you prefer solid sock yarns, we've got a selection of Admiral too. This is a classic 75% Superwash Wool/25% Nylon sock yarn with 420m per 100gr ball in beautiful solid colours. Perfect for more intricate socks and shawl patterns.

I've added a few more colours in some of the Lotus yarns too. Happy shopping x

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Woolfest & Cumbria

We had a grea time in Cumbria last week. Because Cumbria is a long way from us we always add an extra day to this trip and do a day of sightseeing before Woolfest. On the drive up we try to stop somewhere for a bit of a break, especially if the weather is good. Dunham Massey is a National Trust property near Manchester. It's only a few minutes drive from the M6 and easy to find. It's an oasis in beautiful weather.

It's lovely to take a break from motorway driving and go for a walk around the lush gardens at Dunham Massey. The gardens are huge and there are lakes, streams and a beautiful rose garden.

This was the first time we'd seen the rose garden. I must admit the roses didn't look their best but the scent was wonderful as we walked around the rose garden.

Above and below are two of the photos I took from the rose garden. We've looked around the house a few times now but this year they'd converted some rooms to a World War 1 hospital. The house was used as a hospital during WW1 and it was interesting to learn more about life at Dunham Massey during WW1.

One of the things I love most about Dunham Massey is the deer that roam around the park. They seem fairly tame and you can get quite close to them to take photos. These deer were just in front of the main entrance to the house.

On Thursday we always have a day of sightseeing before we set up for the show in the late afternoon/evening. As our National Trust membership ended yesterday and we're not planning to renew it this year, we decided we ought to take advantage of it this year so looked for National Trust properties in Cumbria. We've been to a couple of properties here before. The weekend before we left, we watched the Beatrix Potter film with Renee Zellwegger, so we decided to make it a Beatrix Potter day.  We visited her farmhouse, Hilltop Farm, which is set in  beautiful little village near Lake Windermere.

The house was tiny and there was a ticketed entry system so we had to spend a bit of the time exploring the garden which was also quite small. There were lots of Japanese tourists there and it was interesting to watch them being thrilled by things we take for granted, like a field with sheep grazing. Living in Cornwall, every field around here is full of sheep and the sheep roam freely on the moors.

The village is full of places referenced in Beatrix Potter's stories. Above is Mr McGregor. I must admit I'm not hugely familiar with Beatrix Potter's books. I hadn't heard of her till I had kids and Simon probably read more Beatrix Potter stories to the girls than I did.

The village was beautiful and it was interesting to look around her house. There was knitting on the table in the sitting rom. And I saw two beautiful old spinning wheels, unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos. After we looked around Hilltop Farm, we headed to the Beatrix Potter gallery at nearby Hawkshead Village. The exhibition changes every year and this year had a holiday theme. After that we headed to Ambleside for fish and chips and drove back to Cockermouth to set up for Woolfest

We had a double stall this year but still struggled to fit everything in.It's important to leave enough room for people to move around so they can access all parts of the stall. Also, there are a lot of visitors in wheel chairs and I try to be concious of ensuring that they can access everyting too.

I did 4 continental knitting demos every day which were well received. I'm working on converting as many English style knitters as possible to continental knitting. By the way my next online continental knitting course starts next week.  Every year at Woolfest, we sell more than we did the previous year. Last year was fantastic in terms of sales and I didn't think we'd improve on that. Wonderwool Wales was a bit disappointing in terms of sales this year and as I'm selling very different yarn from last year that worried me. Last year I sold my own hand-dyed yarn. This year I'm selling Lotus Yarns and Schoppel yarns. So Woolfest was a bit boost to my confidence as sales were up around 40% on last year which was amazing! We sold lots of yarn but also sold lots of patterns. A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this year so successful. I appreciate you all. And a big thank you to the Woolfest organisers, the Wool Clip ladies, who did a great job as always. I'm excited about next year.

Doing a show is exhausing and the long drive home doesn't help. We got home early Sunday evening after leaving Cumbria at noon after a quick stop at Ullswater. 

Yesterday I didn't do much at all. I finished knitting a deadline sweater in the morning. I had to finish it by 11am so I could book a DHL collection in the afternoon. I must admit I was worried about getting it done in time but I did it. So the rest of the day I relaxed. I cast on for a new design using this pretty pink Silky Cashmere Fingering which I've had my eyes on for a while. I picked up the new issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting and sat in the garden knitting, drinking ice tea and listening to podcasts for most of the afternoon.

Today it's back to reality and there's pattern writing and unpacking on the to do list. Half my lounge is full of boxes of yarns and patterns and my cleaner comes tomorrow morning so I need to get it moved. I'll try to get the yarn on the website as soon as I can and my aim is to get it all listed by the end of the week.