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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Empty needles syndrome

You know how many women get 'empty nest syndrome' when thier kids leave home. Well I get empty needles syndrome. It's not like I've ever got completely empty needles. Plenty of projects on the go. but everytime I finish a big project, like a secret project or another big project that I've worked intensively on, I suffer from 'empty nest syndrome'.  I usually feel relieved and happy the project is finished but kind of sad and empty and restless. I never really know which project to get on with even if I have plenty of great things on the needles, or ugent projects waiting ot get started.

So today I finished a desing for Yarn Forward. I had to post it today and finished it this moring, so just in time. I'm really pleased with the end result and I wish I could show you a sneak preview but I can;t but it'll bei n Yarn Forward issue 27.

I did eventually manage to decide on which knitting to pick up next. I decided to rip back the last few rows on my Baby Surprise Jacket, I did that last week but hadn't got going with it again yet. this was mainly due to mislyaing the pattern but I found it today so I did a few more rows. I also got started on some swatching for new projects. This is the one thign about designing that gets to me sometimes. you always have to plan ahead and keep on top of planning new designs, submitting to mags and swatching and sketching for new ideas.

I'm hoping to finish my BAby Surprise Jacket tomorrow. I'm meeting a friend who's knitting one too. She's not gotten that far on it yet. I'd hopedto finish mine so she could see it finished but perhaps i'll manage to finish it when we meet for lunch tomorrow.

I've listed some Falkland Merino top today. Only 4 colourways but aren't they lovely:
The fibre is so soft. I pulled off some small bits to test spin. I  had planned to do it tonight but my laptop has been on a 'go-slow' tonight so have run out of time. I've been awake since 3.30am, jsut couldn't sleep and kept htinking about my garment that needed finishing so got up and got knitting. And finished it by 7am. But it means that I'm not barely functioning.I thought I'd watch the Leader's Debate while doing some spinning but I'm going to quickly block out a shawl, which I should have done last night, then go to bed.

The shawl I'm blocking is lovely and knitted by Pixie. It'll be in a magazine soon so I can't share any pics. The good news is that in May I have very few deadlines, altbough June and July are incredibly busy, so I need tgo get ahead a bit. But I will have some time to start some bloggable projects. I'm desperate to start a new lace shawl. I've got plans for two designs and have done som charting. the last couple of shawls I've designed for magazines Pixie has been knitting for me, she's just finjished one and is doing one now, as she's so much quicker than me. But I need to knit some serious lace, I' having withdrawal symptoms.

I've got some other things I wanted to blog about but I'm too tired and my typing is getting bad. Check out hte shop update instead.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spinning Action

 I've been spinning but more about that later. First, I taught a workshop at Spin A Yarn and Joyce gave me a copy of The Knitter. In their gallery feature this month they're featuring Spin A Yarn customers. Joyce sent in a box of various customers knitted items and the magazine chose the ones they wanted to feature.
My Midnight Stolewas featured and I love the photo they took of it. Less happy with hte photo Joyce took of me a few months ago to accompany this feature.
 One of the other knits featured was Yvonne's shawl. Yvonne came on one of my Advanced Lace knitting classes some time ago, which she mentioned in the write up accompanying her shawl, thank you Yvonne. Doesn't her shawl look lovely in the Noro sock yarn?

 I've done some spinning. I finally finished spinning the natural grey merino I've been working on for about 6 months. I'm not sure if I'm as happy with the finished yarn as thought I would be. I tend to end up with far too much twist but this yarn is softer than the yarn I normally spin and fairly even too considering I spun it over such a long period of time. Still not sure if my plying is very good. I'm more or less self-taught when it comes to spinning. I attended a beginners spinning workshop but I already knew most of the thing that were taught when I attended.  I could do with an intermediate class. I don't know if I do short draw or long draw and I end up wiht the same thickness whatever I do. I've not washed this yarn yet, so will be interesting to see how it changes after washing. I'm thinking I might knit a hat and scarf set for Simon.

The grey merino skein is on hte right below. Blogger has changed the way photos are uploaded and I don't like it.

I was keen to keep my spinning mojo going. I've got some gorgeous fibre in my stash including some stunning natural camel, dark grey alpaca, merino/seacell (got lots of that) cashmere, and some other things. I'm thinking I may get startged on that camel soon. But in my spinning basket in the lounge i had these 3 lots of colourful fibres (picture on left below). They're all from Touch Yarns and wer ebought at Spin A Yarn a couple of years ago.  I've only got a small amount (probably 50gr) of each and I waswondering if I could combine them but I'm not sure. the two on the left are mohair and merino blend, not sure what the red one is.

I've started spinning the plum/grey blend on hte left and it's spinning up beautifully. I'm trying to spin it as fine as possibl. I'm hoping to end up with a thickish laceweight yarn.

I want to practice spinning laceweight yarn as I think I may spin the camel laceweight to make the most a luxurious yarn.

I'll have some fiber in the shop tomorrow. I dyed some Falkland merino fibre on Monday and it looks gorgeous but I ran out of time to photograph it. I'm planning to test-spin some tonight. II've been struggling in the past to dye fibre successfully. I've never been 100% happy with what I've spun but I think I may have cracked it.

I've just finished a shop update. Some gorgeous, bright summery colourways in Merino Plus Sock, Silky Merino Lace and Bambino Lace. Click here for al the new arrivals. Here's some of my favorites from tonight's update:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pattern Spotlight

I've spent some time this week re-doing my pattern pages on my website. I had some of my patterns listed in my shop, which was fine but it meant I had to e-mail the patterns manually when I got orders. this is extra work for me and means customers have to wait for their pattern. Adn if it's over the weekend, when I rarely go online, they had to wait a couple of days. not good. A few months ago I managed to work out how to list pdfs for immediate downloads on m ywebsite. It's a bit long and drawn out process to do and I had the instructions all written down. Ofcourse i realied earlier in the week that I lost the instructions when our laptop crashed in February and we lost everything on the harddrive. Fortunately I managed to remember how to do it. I made the odd mistake but I got there in the end. So far I've been concentrating on listing my lace shawls and scarves. You can see all the patterns available for immediate download here.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be listing more of my patterns. I'm also planning to feature a weekly 'Pattern Spotlight'. This week's pattern spotlight is the Rosebud Stole. I first designed this for Yarn Forward. It was one of the first designs I did for Yarn Forward. I did two versions, one in Posh Yarns Eva 2ply and one in my own Cashmere Lace (which is dis-continued). Unfortunatley I don't have any photos of those two versions. But I did have the design re-knitted in my Merino Lace (which is discontinued) and Vanessa modelled it for me:

The last year I got Pixie (who knitted the Merino Lace version too) to re-knit it again using my Angel Lace.

 I love this colour. Teh Angel Lace version is lighter than the Merino version and much airier. This design can be knitted in any lace yarn which has 800m per100gr. My Bambino Lace would be a perfect choice and I'll have more Bambino Lace in teh shop next week. This week's batch has all sold out I think.

Anyway, back to the Rosebud Stole. If you're new to lace knitting and worried about tackling a bit lace shawl, this project would be perfect. The lace yarn is not too thin. the needles used are 4mm. For a denser fabric use 3.75mm or 3.5mm but you will get a smaller stole. The stole is knitted in one piece from cast on to bind off. Why not give it a try today? To see this pattern and my other patterns available for immediate download click here.

Tomorrow is emily's birthday, she'll be 12. We're having a sleepover party tonight and she has 3 girl friends here. We've eaten pancakes, watched 'My sisters keeper' which had  several of us with tears in our eyes. the girls are now watching 'Up'. I'm hoping they will be asgood as Vanessa and her friends were a week ago and be quiet so I can get a good night's sleep. tomorrow we're off to buy Emily's birthday present, a fish tank.

I've done lots of knitting this week and have made good progress on my current secret project.  I've also done lots of swatching for new projects. I've been itching to start a nice big lace project. I've not done a lace shawl in ages. I've done some charting and got an idea for a semi-circular shawl. I've got the chart worked out and I'll try to find time to swatch over the weekend. I'm plannign on adding beads to this one. With a lot of deadlines over the next 2 months I'm not expecting this to be a quick knit.  I've had Pixie do most of my lace shawls lately as she's so incredibly quick but this one i really want to do myself as I'm craving some delicate lace. My aim is to get it finished so I can release the pattern in time for Woolfest. I'm hoping ot get a new delivery of Amazing Cashmere Lace and a new Angora Lace next week and I'm thinking I may do this shawl in Angora Lace. And as it won't be secret project I can share the progress with you all. Dont' expect to see too much until beginning of May as i have a deadline due end of April and that will require all my attention for the next few days.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shop update

I'm in the middle of doing a shop update. I've listed most of the Fantasy Sock Yarns. Lots of gorgeous, juicy, summery colours. Socks are the perfect project when it's warm as they're small and portable.  And Fantasy Sock is the ultimate sock yarn. It has merino for softness and stretch, cashmere for incredible softness and nylon for strength. Thsi gives you an incredibly light, soft sock yarn which is amazing to knit with. I've been knitting a small sample sock today using Fantasy sock. The sample sock is for my sock knitting workshop at Spin A Yarn tomorrow.

I've also got some Bambino Lace to list. I'm hoping to get this listed tonight but i may run out of time. If I do, the rest will be listed on Wednesday. Bambino Lace is perfect for lace. I've got a shawl coming up in Knitting magazine this summer using this yarn.
And finally, this will probably be listed on Wednesday and is the gorgeous, luxurious Exotic Cobweb Lace which is perfect for excuisite lace shawls.
We had a another great day yesterday and after church we headed for the beach and had a lovely afternoon. I brought some yarn to knit some swatches but forgot my needles, so I read my Knitting magazine instead.
Take a look at the shop update.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Iknit Weekender

I'm very excited to announce that I'll be teaching at Iknit Weekender this year. this event takes place in London on 10 & 11 September. I'll be teaching two workshops on Friday 10 September. I'll be teaching an intermediate lace class where we'll cover provisional cast on, reading more advanced lace charts and working an applied border. I'll also be teaching a workshop on how to knit two socks at a time. This was very popular at the UK Ravelry Day in  Coventry last year and we'll learn how to knit two socks at a time using magic loop method,  learn how to  cast on, knit in the round, work the heel and toe on magic loop. this is very different when you've got two socks on the needles rather than one. sounds like fun? Each workshop is 3 hours long. You can book here. The line up of workshops and teachers are amazing and I'm really excited about this event. We're planning a long weekend in London. Simon and the girls will go out and about in London on the Friday while I'm teaching then we'll have a day out all 4 of us on the Saturday and Sunday morning before returning home. I would have liked to attend the show on the Saturday too. There will be lots of stalls and there may be one or two workshops I would have liked to attend but a big of sightseeing sounds like fun too.

On the design front there are lots of exciting things happening. I've been commissioned 4 designs for Artesano using Manos Silk Blend, which I may have mentioned once or twice before, is my favorite yarn for sweaters. There are also several new designs being submitted to magazines over the next few weeks. I'm working on autumn/winter ideas now and it seems strange to be working so far ahead. One magazine editor mentioned Christmas the other day and it made me want to scream. LOL. But mags need to plan ahead so that's fine.

The above was written yesterday, Friday, but I ran out of time to finish it. Vanessa has her birthday while we were on holiday so we decided to do her party last night. She wanted a sleepover. We've not had a sleepover here for 3 years as the last bithday sleepovers we had were such a nightmare. Teh girls didn't sleep at all and I spent most of the night walking up and down the stairs to hte lounge to tell them to go to sleep. I warned them thouroughly. Vanessa had 3 friends and they're all lovely girls. I went to bed about 10.30pm and asked them to be quiet as our bedroom is just above the lounge were they were sleeping. At 11.30pm, I went downstairs again to ask them to talk a bit more quietly. I then fell asleep and didn't hear them again. Think they fell asleep just after 2am, which isn't bad for a sleepover. Next week it's time for Emily's birthday sleepover.

All week the weather has been pretty good although it's gotten cooler than it was last weekend. We had a lot to do at home last weekend so didn't get to enjoy the sunshine too much. So we made the most of it today. Simon loaded the kayaks on to the car and we headed up to the moors to an old quarry called 'Golddiggings'.

the quarry is incredibly deep and very, very cold even in middle of summer. Two months ago it was half frozen over, so you can imagine the water is still pretty cold. It's about 20 mins walk from the village of Minions. But taking the kayaks meant we couldn't walk, so we drove across the moors on a dirt track. It was incredibly bumpy and we hit hte underside of the car a few times but we did manage to get there in the end. Who says you need 4 wheel drives in Cornwall?!
The girls spent ages mucking around on the water with the kayaks.

Sam, our dog, kept wading in. Last summer when we went up there, she swam several times. I tink the water was too cold for her today but Simon pur her on the front of the kayak.
He didn't go too far out. But the kayak wobbled slightly and Sam jumped out and swam ashore. I wasn't quick enough to get a pic though. Think she was cold afterwards as she kept rolling in some tall grass to dry herself off and afterwards she wasn't too keen to go too close to hte water.
Someone else was brave enough to go for a swim too:
That's Vanessa. Even with a short wetsuit it was freezing. She still had her life jacket on from the kayakking.

What did I do while all this was going on? I sat in my comfy chair with my knitting.

I knitted a couple of swatches for new designs. I've got several magazine and yarn company submissions to get ready for next week.

I finished my first crochet design for Inside Crochet on Friday. I'm very pleased with the finished result and wish I could share it with you. I think it's due out in issue 9. I've had another design commissioned too. I dyed teh yarn for that yesterday and crocheted up anotehr swatch in the actual project yarn this evening. After spending the last week exclusively crocheting, the only knitting I've done is one tiny swatch early in the week, I thought I'd be keen to get back to knitting this weekend and I've done quite a lot of swatching for new designs but I couldn't resist picking up the hook and start swatching for a new crochet design this evening. I'm really addicted to crochet now. I never thought I'd like it this much.I wasn't particularly keen on it as a child and I'm very glad I took the crochet classes last autumn to re-learn the craft properly. I'm not starting to think about designing crochet garmetns. You get a very different fabric from knitting and it's very itneresting and a new challenge for me.

I've also done a bit of machien knitting this last week. I knitted a new design for myself which I absolutely love. I won't share pics yet as I'm thinking about submitting it to Machine Knitting Monthly. I want my machine knitting mentor to look at it first and give me her opinion. I'm going to a machine knitting club at her house on Monday and there will be several machine knitting experts there so it'll be interesting to see what they think.

This is turning into a very long post. If you're still reading, well done! There will be shop update tomorrow or Monday. I've dyed lots of Exotic Cobweb Lace, Bambino Lace and Fantasy sock yarn in some yummy, summery colours.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Manos Designs

I've mentioned before the designs I did for Artesano using their new Manos del Uruguay Lace yarn. I've got the official photos now and they're gorgeous. I loved working with this yarn.

First up is Leanne, a lace scarf with a knitted on end borders. The scarf features an easy diamond lace pattern and starts with a provisional cast on. End borders are knitted on sideways afterwards. The scarf takes just one 50 gr skein but you can make it wider or longer quite easily.

Next up is Chloe, a short sleeved delicate top with a round neck line. The lace pattern makes pretty scalloped edges.  By the way, I love the photo of this one. Lyaing on all those hanks of what looks like Silk Blend to me, is my dream. Just look at all those pretty colours.
the last design from me is Adele which is a slightly longer length top with a v-neck and a choice of 3/4 and long length sleeves.  this is my favorite and if I had time I'd love to knit one for myself. Pixie knitted this one and the scarf for me and she did a brilliant job as always. 
I love hte way the designs have been photographed and styled. I've seen the other designs in the collection too and they're all gorgeous. Can't wait to see them in the shops. Not sure exactly when the patterns adn the new yarn will hit the shops but I think it's sometime this month or it may already be in teh shops. Not sure.

I've got lots other things to blog about but they will have to wait till another day. My main priority today is to catch up on e-mails and do as much work on my first crochet design for Inside Crochet as possible. Later this week I'll reveal my new design for Let's Knit and some machine knitting I did this weekend.

Friday, April 09, 2010


That just about describes our week at Spring Harvest. We had another briliant week this year.  This was our 4th year going to Spring Harvest and last year was the best so far and I must admit I didn't think this year could beat it but it did. The speakers were brilliant. the main Bible teacher was Pete Greig who is director of 24/7 prayer which I think is part of the Alpha ministries. I've never heard him speak before but he was very good. Very easy to listen to. the main worship leaders were Tim Hughes for the first half of the week and Ben Cantelon for the 2nd half of hte week. Both are from Worship Central/Holy Trinity Brompton.

The day started with the Big Start in the Big Top which Simon and the girls attended and I watched on the chalet TV. Then at 10am it was the Bible Reading which is basically an nearly hour long sermon/teaching session on a bible passage, this was lead by Pete Greig. Simon watched it in teh Big Top and I watched it from the chalet TV. I struggle with some of the seating at events like this and if I attend every session I end up in a lot of pain so watching the TV in the chalet is a good alternative for me. After the Bible Reading there were 4 learning zones to choose from, they were based on 4 different learning styles. The first day we went to the 'Activist' zone and although the two people leading it were very good it was too much interactive, get into groups and talk to starngers. We didn't like it so for the rest of the week we went to the 'theorist' session instead which was a lecture style session led by two men I don't remember the name of. The learning zone sessions expanded on the topic of the day.

In the afternoons there were a selection of seminars to choose from. I hadn't planned to attend very many but there were so many intersting ones to choose from that I ended up attending at least one seminar every afternoon and on a couple of afternoons I attended two which was a bit too much. In teh evenings there was a big Celebration service in teh Big Top with fantastic worship music and inspirational preaching from a variety of speakers. Worshipping God in a tent with thousands of others is an amazing experience.

It was physically exhausting week but spiritually refreshing. And although I'm sooo tired, I feel really refreshed. It brought be so much closer to God. The main theme this year was 'Different Eyes' and it was all about ethics and how to see the world through new eyes. Your world view does change when you give yoru life to God and this week was intended to teach us to try to live life like Jesus would. Not an easy task. The seminars included topics such as war, the digital life, beautiful living (3 seminars on living ethically and environmentally friendly - we went to two of the sessions and it was very thought provoking), abortion and euthanasia, and lots of other stuff. I felt the teaching was very practical and useful.

I did manage to get some knitting done during sessions. I worked on Simon's Debbie Bliss cardi. I'll take some photos tomorrow. In between sesssions I worked on my current secret crochet project. No photos of that yet. I also did a few rows on a sock. I didn't manage to get as much knitting/crochet done as I'd planned though.

I've listed all hte excisting yarns in the 'Spring Fling' Sale this morning. I need to clear some space for some new seasons yarns. I've got some very exciting new blends planned. I've listed some new Silky Merino Lace yarns too. I have got a few skeins of sock yarn to come too. I thought I had more to list but I must have remembered wrongly. I'm planning to dye yarn on Monday so there will be a bigger update towards the end of next week.

Here's the new Silky Merino Lace:

Royal blue:
Fruit Loop:

Regular readers may have noticed I've changed my blog template again. I wasn't happy with the layout and functioning of the new template. It was pretty but wasn't working properly so I've gone back to a plain layout.

I'll get some knitting pictures next time and some pics of my fancy new laptop. It's the first day I've used it properly today and I love it. At the moment we're at Simon's parents house and I've used it on their wireless network (we don't have wireless) and it's great. More about that next time though.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Missing in action

I've been quiet for a long time and there are very good reasons for it. The last 2 weeks have been the most hectic weeks so far this year, almost as bad as the weeks leadin up to Christmas. I've been planning blog posts all week, there has just not been any time to sit down and write it. So let's do a round up of the last 2 weeks.

Last week I taught a workshop at Spin A Yarn. That seems like ages ago now. I can't even remember which workshop it was, but I think it was easy lace knitting. I only had 3 ladies which was unusual but lovely. Very nice relaxing day and i think they all enjoyed it. Then on Friday I headed up to Spin A Yarn again to attend a 'Knitting backwards' workshop with Freddie, who is a Rowan consultant from John Lewis on Oxford Street. There were 5 other ladies on the workshop and 4 of them had been on at least one or more of my workshops in the past. They all found it hysterically funny to watch me try to tackle knitting backwards. I struggled quite a bit to start with and it slowed me down a lot. I'm normally a very fast knitter. But I did entertain the others wiht my hopeless attempts. I did get the hang of it after lunch and got a bit quicker. Not had time to practice since though. We started an entralac square and I did want to finish it but perhaps I'll do it after Easter.

On Sunday I dyed the sock club yarn and on tuesday i decided I didn't like it and over-dyed it. Now it looks great but it's still wet. I'm hoping ot get the last lot dry tonight and will be packing it up tomorrow and it'll go in the post on Saturday before we go away.

Stupidly, i'd organised a child protection training eveing at church. I'm in charge (wiht a friend) of child protection in our group of 3 churches. We spent Saturday afternoon and Monday evening planning for it. I oculd have done without all this extra work this week but the training event was a big success and 29 people turned up.

Yesterday and today I've been typing up my 2 patterns which was due yesterday. They were both finallyh e-mailed off this evening. Emily has been home sick since Tuesday too. On top of everything I've been trying to keep up with hte laundry but still have lots to wash and iron before we go on holiday on Saturday. Tomorrow we're off ot Plymouth for a couple of hours as Vanessa needs jeans and Emily needs trainers before we go away. Then home to do some grocery shopping (we're selfcatering while away and i'd rather do the shopping here than get caught in the Easter madness at Minehead on SAturday), iron and pack. And get hte sock club packed. First think SAturday morning I'm off ot hte post office with the sock club parcels. The sock club is bigger this month than it's been for a year. which is great.
I've done some knitting too. Lots of secret knitting on my project which was due yesterday. And lots of knitting and crocheting on swatches for new designs as this pile shows:
I've also finished my Baby Surprise jacket.  I'm happy with it and it's so clever but there is one small point i don't like. Fortunately it's close to the end so I'm planning ot take it on holiday wiht me and re-do the last few rows.

I'll also be taking a secret crochet project which will be my main project. I'm really excited about this as it's my first commissioned crochet project. I'd planned to get some one to do it for me and if you're one of the crocheters who volunteered ages ago and is livid with me for not getting back to you as promised hten I apologise. I'll e-amil all those who volunteered when I get back from holiday. I've just been commissioned another crochet project too.

I'm also taking simon's cardigan which I started in Spain last September. I'll be finishing the back and getting started on the front. This will be my relaxing knitting while we're away as it's just stocking stitch. And I've still got my Fantasy cable sock (can't find a pic of it right now) on the needles. I did a couple of rounds on it today, so htat will come along and as i'm just past the heel turn I'm hoping to finish it. That's all hte knitting/crochet I'm taking. I know how busy Spring Harvest is and there will be limited time to knit/crochet and I need to get the crochet project done. So I don't want too much to distract me. I'm taking this due of yarn with me for the crochet project. the pic's not been edited so is a little dark but I love the colours.

I'd hoped to do a shop update before we go away but I've just not had time. The shop will stay open while we're away but nothing will be sent out til we come back. Any orders made tonight or tomorrow will be posted on Saturday as I've got to post the sock club parcels anyway.

These pics are unedited but here is a sneak preview of some of the Silky Merino Lace that is waiting to be added:

I suppose I ought to tell you a little bit about Spring Harvest for thos who don't know. We're going to Butlins at Minehead for 6 days of Spring Harvest, which is a Christian holiday with lots of amazing speakers and worship. We're having the same worship leader as last year and he was brilliant. There are bible teaching and other teachign sessions in the morning while the kids are at their clubs. I tend to watch these on the telly in the chalet. Seating is more comfortable there than in the Big Top. In the afternoons there are lots of seminars and talks to choose from. Or we just relax and enjoy the site. In the evening the kids go off to their clubs again and we go to the Big Top for a big celebration service with amazing worship music and a special guest speaker each night. This finishes about 9pm and after that there is a selection of late night music events and other shows to choose from. It's all great and very spritually refreshing and being in a Big Top (circus tent) with thousands of other Christians worshipping is amazing.

Happy Easter!