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Friday, March 31, 2006

Tithe Barn Craft Fair & Swatch for my First Cardi Design

Well, I've been hinting for a while about the stash enhancement that isn't mine, therefore, doesn't really count. This lot of yarn is for the knitting I'm doing for the Craft Fair in aid of Breast Cancer and Cancer Research Charities and now it's show and tell time so here it is!

Ouch!! I went to Sharon's cottage to "choose some yarn" for projects and was positively encouraged by her to come away with much more than I think I could possibly ever knit by November. In fact, this is not all of what I first came away with (quite a lot of it was returned after sorting!) I went through it and selected only the yarn that I could envisage working with and turning into something and then I separated it into plain (left), pretties, being variegated, etc (right), sparklies (front), and yarn that was present in sufficient quantities to make more than just accessories (centre). It's mostly acrylic with the odd gem thrown in like some nice fluffy mohair or some colourful variegated wool. As the Fair will be held in November, I thought people might be in the mood to buy seasonal type bits and pieces so the sparkly yarn can be used for trims on hats and wristwarmers, mittens, gloves, etc.

All of the yarn was chosen half an hour before one of the meetings to discuss the Fair and I was invited to stay. Well, I have to tell you that the enthusiasm of those ladies was so infectious that I found myself volunteering for all sorts of things. What have I done?!!! The whole project came about after Sharon's mother was left for rather a long time undiagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, she's responded very well to treatment but the experience left both Sharon and her mother wanting to do something to help and raising money towards Breast Cancer and Cancer Research Charities was the way they decided to go. Everyone in the village has responded so generously. All of the yarn for knitting has been donated and is still coming in. One lady's knitting toys, another baby clothes, and Sharon and her mum are making tiny colourful Xmas stockings (dozens and dozens of them!) each of which will have a lollypop inside for children. These will be hung on the Xmas tree and on the rafters of the Tithe Barn in Lenham which is to be the venue of the Craft Fair and, again, has been offered free of charge for the day. This is a very upmarket and salubrious location and is often used for art exhibitions and such like. Here's a photo so you can see just how charming it is.

The emphasis will be on quality and the items will be displayed accordingly. Other crafty people will be making items such as handmade jewellery and Sharon, who runs a high class catering company will be supplying her culinary delights for sale. The butcher is providing sausages free of charge for hot dogs and the list just goes on and on!

Anyway, after the meeting the enormity of what I'd let myself in for began to sink in. Wasn't my next project going to be the Elann lace cropped cardi and what about all the WIPs still to be done? More importantly, I've been hankering after a challenge for some time and the 'Design a Knit' workshop at the Knit Tin with Jane Crowfoot I attended recently just fired me up even more. How was I going to find a balance between the knitting of endless scarves and other accessories until November with this creative spark that is smouldering away, ready to burst into flame at any time? Well, the answer is obvious really, isn't it? I think there's going to be a lot of scarf and accessories designing going on but also there's sufficient of the aqua coloured yarn (centre of photo above) to make a sweater or cardi so I thought I might have a go at designing one.

On first glance, aside from the quite nice colour, this yarn (Wendy Dolce) seemed a bit unprepossessing so, having just bought all four volumes of Barbara Walker's Treasuries from the Knitting & Crochet Guild (I told you I had a bee in my bonnet!), I had a browse to see if I could capture a moment of inspiration.

I also got out my Creative Knitting Folders, a set of 1980's partworks which were given to me by my MIL.

Now, although these are pretty much redundant as far as the patterns go, I find the stitch libraries and techniques sections of this set invaluable. The stitches are clearly shown in colour and the techniques are also illustrated in a very easy to understand way. I had an idea of something a bit fancy (as it's for a Xmasy type fair) and quite liked the idea of a stitch that would take some beads nicely.

I found this under Decorative Loop Stitches. It's Butterfly stitch and I've seen it used with beads before so I made a swatch with the charity yarn and some Gutermann beads which I won't be using in the version proper as they're a bit too heavy and also too expensive in the quantities I would need.

I knitted a reasonably large swatch.

I quite like the look of these beads from Earth Faire but I think I'll order a few different types so that I have a choice. What I'm envisaging is the main part of the cardi done in this stitch but with a lacy stitch for an edging perhaps. The sleeves will be three quarter length and I think I'll give it a vee neck. I've downloaded some knitters' graph paper from here so that I can block draw the template and it'll also make it easier to work out the decreases for the neck shaping. This knitters' graph paper is particularly good because you can enter your row and stitch gauge and it'll download it to the exact size. Normal size graph paper is more difficult to work with as it uses perfect squares and knitting stitches aren't perfect squares. Knitters' graph paper is, therefore, also ideal for motifs, cables, etc, as you get a proper representation as to how it will actually look when it's knitted. I'm hoping that there'll be enough of the yarn left over to make a matching evening bag,

Changing the subject, I've decided to do what I've noticed quite a few others are doing and that's to respond to comments in the comments section of my blog. I will still be emailing people personally, of course, but it's more of a case of sometimes one would like to respond to comments but doesn't have an email address for the person who commented or it's not easy to find and it does seem a bit one-sided not to respond when people have taken the trouble to comment.

In other news, I'm afraid I still haven't done the collar on the Noro jumper (Fitzgerald from Noro Knits) but just to prove it really does exist and isn't just a figment of my imagination, here's a photo of it in its present state of incompletion.

I'm almost certain that the recipient doesn't look at my blog but, just in case he does, I'll refrain from saying who it's for.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ruffled Wristwarmers and Pally Postcards

Yet another fun knit (loosely based on this pattern) are these ruffled wristwarmers.

They're knitted with the yarn that was left over from the other scarf and wristwarmers I've knitted for the Charity Craft Fair to be held in November. I made the frill a lot frillier than in the pattern and it ended up so ruffly that I had to gather it with shirring elastic but I think the effect is rather pretty and elegant.

These fun knits are quick, easy and instantly gratifying but I'm beginning to hanker after a challenge. However, I've recently acquired stash additions (which don't belong to me but are the material of future knits for the November Craft Fair I mentioned). I'll reveal more about this later but, for now, let's just say I need to find some sort of balance between this knitting and my need to really challenge myself.

I received yet another of those wonderful Hikone Screen postcards from my secret pal the other day. I think I've just about cleared her out of her Hikone Screen collection by now! This is one of her favourites and I agree that one could almost imagine the guy in this postcard knitting if only he had another 'needle'! lol My secret pal tells me she has seen the Hikone Screen in reality. How cool is that!

Then another postcard (below) arrived from the pal that I've been spoiling. She now knows who I am because she received my final parcel on Monday and she must have immediately sent this wonderful postcard because I received it this morning. The postcard which is from the Robert Opie collection shows a C1930s advertisement for Milson Knitwear. The back of the postcard informs me that it's part of the Children's Wear Series and that "Generally, children's garments were still being made at home." I find nostalgic stuff like this fascinating in that it can provide an idea of a kind of snapshot in time of life as it was.

Thank you to both pals for making my first secret pal exchange such an enjoyable one. I can't reveal yet who my spoiler is but my spoilee is Linda who originally blogged here but then moved here.

Right, I'm now going to get to grips with finishing off the Noro Silk Garden jumper which started off as an intended Xmas present (oh, dear!). The state of play now is that it just needs the collar knitted and then to be sewn up. I blame the fact that it's stocking stitch throughout which I find, after just a little while, becomes a tad tedious. After that, I'm determined to finish off at least the majority of the other WIPs that I seem to keep coming across. (Ha, famous last words!) I can then assuage my guilty conscience a bit and commence the balance between charity knitting and challenge with an almost clean slate. I suppose the answer could lie in combining the charity knitting with a certain amount of challenge?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

DILs are Good!

DILs (daughter-in-laws for any of you who aren't au fait with Netspeak) are good in lots of ways especially if they're sensible, hence a good influence on your previously wayward son. Also, one's son seems to become more thoughtful on occasions like Mothers' Day. I was happy to receive a Mothers' Day card on Saturday morning but, later on, I got the icing on the cake when the Interflora van arrived with these flowers and balloon.

As my own Mum left this world eleven years ago, I join in with the spoiling of DH's Mum. This year, she was treated to a three-course lunch and the goodies below. There are two handknitted hearts facecloths and some rose handmade soaps which have been arranged in a basket with some white cockle and delphinium shells from Hobbycraft. The arrangement of roses was from Marks & Spencer where we also bought the two boxes of Baklava. These are Middle Eastern sweetmeats made from filo pastry layered with nuts and honey and are one of MIL's favourites.

Click to enlarge

I really like the hearts pattern on the facecloths which I've made before in purple shades.

On both occasions I used Rowan Handknit DK Cotton which means they can be machine washed.

I also made this Knecklace for myself with yarn left over from the facecloths. I ran out of the dark pink for the final row and the cast off so had to use the lighter pink for this but I think it looks okay all the same. What do you think?

I recommend this pattern for anyone who wants a very quick, fun knit (it really is instant gratification). Not only that but it takes so little yarn that you can use up all those odd bits that get saved but you don't quite know what to do with and you can also use any yarn, any gauge. I think it might be nice with a few beads added so might experiment with that.

Anyone who does a lot of knitting for babies, and doesn't mind acrylic which is, after all, machine washable, might like to have a look in their local Sue Ryder Care shop. I got a few balls of yarn for MIL's preemie unit knitting a while ago and she asked for some more. This time they had more different colours to choose from and, at only £1.19 for 100g (less than 60p for 50g) I ended up buying a kilo for £11.90 so that'll keep her busy for a while!

Thanks for all the information on the Coldrum Stones and why the tree is decorated, etc. That is truly a fascinating place and I'll certainly be visiting again soon particularly as spring now seems to have finally sprung.

Oh, and I hope all you Mums had a fabulous Mothers' Day.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

'Style a Knit ' Workshop and Coldrum Stones

I've got so much to blog about since my last post that I think I'll have to do it by instalments! Before I start though, here's the latest of the Hikone Screen postcards which I've received from my Secret Pal. As you've probably guessed, I'm very fond of these postcards and this one's been added to the rest which adorn the mantelpiece here. Thanks, Secret Pal!

On Saturday I attended the 'Style a Knit to Suit You" workshop with Jane Crowfoot at The Knit Tin. As before, DH and I stayed at the Swan Revived Hotel and this time it was brilliant. The staff couldn't have been more attentive and we were even served a cafietere of fresh coffee with biscuits (no charge) after we'd checked out and were trying to kill time in the hotel lounge before the workshop started. DH then dropped me off at the Knit Tin and went to find a pub where he could watch the rugby.

The workshop itself was quite taxing in that there were a lot of calculations to do but it was extremely useful. In a nutshell, we covered how to calculate the number of stitches needed for a garment of a particular size in a yarn at a given tension, how to stagger increases and decreases for shaping and how to represent this information in the form of a block drawing on graph paper. We also practiced block drawing in designing a neckline after taking the appropriate measurements. Adding motifs and cables and calculating yarn requirements were also touched on as were the different plys of yarn and some extremely useful rules of thumb. For instance, did you know that the distance between the start of the armhole shaping of a garment and the shoulder shaping is normally either 20/21/22cm for small/medium/larger sizes.

Refreshments and lunch at the Knit Tin were, as ever, excellent and the usual vast array of quality yarns were on display as well as, seemingly, all of the latest ones. The new yarns I saw included Colinette's Lasso and the Noro "tree bark" one, Ganpi Abaka, as well as the other new Noro yarns, namely Hana Silk and Daria in which a beautiful collar had been knitted which was on display. They even had Debbie Bliss's Pure Silk so at last I got to see and feel it instead of experiencing it in a "virtual" sense on the internet. Other yarns they have added to their stock since I last visited are the Louisa Harding range, Laines du Nord Kiddy Print, FFF Polar, Khrista and Oslo and Gedifra Fiocco, Colorito, Sheela, Capriola and Inizio as well as the new Opal sock colours! Despite all this, I surprised myself, not to mention DH, by managing to be very restrained with my purchases. Here's what I bought apart from one item which is secret at the moment as it's a birthday pressie for someone.

There's a Knit Tin Crocheted Loopy Scarf Kit in a Tin containing a skein of Fruit Coulis Giotto, two skeins of DB Pure Silk (which I couldn't resist buying just a little of), the Pure Silk pattern book and enough Rowan Lurex Shimmer for Lily Chin's Patagonian Night Sky Scarf. My regular readers will remember that I was going to knit this scarf with Jaeger Cashmina but, after some consideration, I decided that the midnight blue of the Lurex Shimmer would look much more convincing (with the beads which are meant to represent stars) as a Patagonian Night Sky than the charcoal grey of the Cashmina. The Rowan Handknit Cotton was a freebie from the workshop.

On Sunday, we went to Trottiscliffe to collect some tapestry and cross stitch kits which were excess to the requirements of one of our local Freecycle members and came home with all of these! Most of them are brand new with one or two that have been started but with all of the threads, etc, still present. I need to sort through these and decide which to keep and which to perhaps offer for the Charity Craft Fair that I'm helping with.

Just down the lane from where we picked up the cross stitch/tapestry kit haul, we noticed a sign for a Stone Age Burial Ground and decided to investigate. At the end of the lane, there was a gate barring all unauthorised traffic so we resolved to take a walk even though it was bitterly cold and we weren't at all prepared for a hike in the countryside. We'd only got a little way along the lane when I decided to have a disagreement with what seemed like half a hawthorn bush which had snapped off from its source and attached itself to my skirt, thenceforth doggedly refusing to release its vicelike grip. In cases like this, there are usually two choices: patient disentanglement of every thorn being careful not to rip whatever it's attaching itself to, or; for those less patient, pulling with all one's might and continuing one's way with shredded clothing. I opted for the first choice and was helped by a couple who happened upon us in our dilemma and kindly assisted. Much hilarity was had by all and when I was finally freed, skirt still intact, they assured us that it was icily cold further on. We decided not to be wimps and continued anyway and it was well worth it because this is what we eventually found.

These are the Coldrum Stones which are the remains of a Long Barrow dating from the Neolithic period.

Further up the steep slope, at the foot of which the Coldrum Stones lie, it was extremely cold with an easterly wind that took your breath away and seemed to cut right through to the bone. I was very intrigued by the sight of lots of ribbons tied in a tree which I thought was a little bit Blair Witchy!

I've no idea what it means but, when I googled, I found that it's referred to as the decorated tree. I need to do more research to find out why. The Coldrum stones are also mentioned on the Druid Network website which states that Coldrum’s name was believed to have been derived from the Cornish word 'Galdrum', meaning a 'place of enchantment'. We agreed that we'd have to return when the weather's a bit kinder because there's no doubt that this is a fascinating place. I also took a photo of the plaque below which gives a bit of information on the stones.

Afterwards, we were really glad to get back to the relative warmth of the car and when we got home we both had some of this.

Piping hot Green & Black's and a good old Belgian Chocolate Eclair. Yum!

Finally, here's a photo of Ellie Paige reclining on her newly acquired Olympic Pink Baby Shawl knitted with love in every stitch by her great aunt.

I thought I'd have some fun with this captioner, the link to which I found on Woolly Warbler's blog. Thank you, Woolly Warbler!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Welcome to the World, Ellie Paige!

In the early hours of this morning, (at 0010 hours to be precise), Ellie Paige made her debut making me a great aunt for the second time.

She weighed in at 6 lbs 12 ozs and this morning I was told that mum and baby were both doing well and were expected home later today. Then, in the afternoon, my brother, the proud grand-dad (hehe) emailed me the photo above. As you can see Ellie is doing her bit in support of Project Spectrum as she's been dressed in pink. Do you think that's why she's looking slightly petulant?!

I've been promised more photos of Ellie showing off the pink shawl I knitted but, as I hung onto it for "show and tell" at Maidstone Knitters on Saturday, it hasn't reached its owner yet! (Tut, tut, not so "great" aunt. Reminder to self - must do better!) Anyway, I've been promised one family photo and one of Ellie either lying on, or wrapped up in, the pink shawl. So, if you're reading this, Bro, just a gentle reminder.

To continue the pink theme, below is a photo of my first contribution to the Craft Fair to be held in November in support of Cancer Charities.

Okay, not completely pink but a pink and blue heathery mix which is made to look more bluish-purple because of the purple Wendy Cosmic trim and, if you're still not convinced, then blame your monitors. The scarf and wristlets are knitted in some yarn which was donated to our group by a member of Freecycle. The scarf is just plain stocking stitch whilst the wristlets are in 1x1 rib and the Wendy Cosmic trim is from my stash.

My personal support for Project Spectrum's colours of the month continues as being, as ever, faithful to the cause, I have a bottle of pink champagne and two glasses polished and ready for when DH returns so that we can wet the baby's head as they say.

Must find the ice bucket when I've finished writing up this post.

Thanks for all the advice regarding the vintage yarn featured in my last entry. Oh, and, Rain, what exactly did you mean in your comment "You wouldn't be KUI in Wetherspoons by any chance?" Well, yes, we were in Wetherspoons but what is KUI?? The only thing I could think you meant was "knitting under the influence". If this is what you meant, then the answer is, yes, I was in Wetherspoons under the influence of some unidentified blue alcoholic beverage that Sharon bought for me because they had no Bacardi Breezers. It was good stuff, though!

Monday, March 13, 2006

This and That

I've not had much time to update the blog lately so there's lots to tell. Maidstone Knitters met again last Saturday and we're gradually growing in number every month. I think this looks a half way decent amount of people considering we've only been going for three months. From left to right there are Jan, Sharon, Cecilia, Holly and Mary-Lou (not counting me as I was acting as group photographer at the time).

Sharon gave us a demonstration in bobbin lacemaking. The lace is made on what is called a pillow (below).

Doesn't it look lovely with all the spangles on the ends of the bobbins!? Here's another shot which shows the spangles a bit better.

This pillow is made of polystyrene and has a rolling section for use with long pieces of lace. Sharon also has two round lace pillows stuffed with sawdust and shaped a bit like a mushroom top and a bolster shaped one stuffed with straw.

The bobbins have the spangles on the ends to provide weight for the tension of the thread and also to help to recognise worker bobbins and to distinguish other important bobbins from the rest. There are three types of bobbins, the normal English type which can be made of wood, brass, bone, or plastic; the Belgian type; and another English type called Honiton bobbins which don't have spangles and are more like thin wooden needles.

There are only two stitches to remember; whole-stitch and half-stitch, and
only four bobbins are worked with at any one time. So, although you may be confronted with a pillow which has 48+ bobbins on, you can concentrate only on the four that you're working with and all the others will be used in succession. All of this information was kindly provided by Sharon who also assures us that, although it looks difficult, once you've mastered the stitches and got used to the terms of pinning up and covering the pin and are used to twisting the threads in a certain way, you will gain confidence and speed. Sharon goes on to say, however, that speed is not the goal. What is more important is accuracy in creating lace which looks pleasing and without any mistakes yet is able to be handled and perhaps worn without falling apart.

Here's Mary-Lou having a go and looking very diligent as she's being guided by Sharon.

In other news, I've got involved in some charity knitting in our village. Another Sharon, who did the food for DH's 50th birthday party, saw my advert regarding Maidstone Knitters in the village magazine and rang to ask if I and/or any knitters in the group would be interested in doing some charity knitting in support of Breast Cancer and Cancer Research Charities. The knitting will be sold at a craft fair to be held in November and all of the yarn has been donated so next week I'll be visiting to choose yarn for projects. I also purchased 6 skeins of Kid Silk Night (two each of black, grey and white) at 25% off normal price from Burford Needlecraft. They're relocating so everything in the shop is available at 25% off. I'm going to use the Kid Silk Night to make three evening stoles as a donation and I've already knitted a scarf and some wristlets (photos to follow when I get a chance to take them in daylight) in yarn which was donated to our group by one of the members of Freecycle .

I started the Fickle Fingers Scarf which is looking lovely but, after knitting up one ball, I quickly realised that two balls isn't going to be sufficient as one ball has resulted in only 17 inches of scarf. Apparently, others have had the same problem and I think that the two balls recommended in Interweave Knits should have, in fact, been three balls. I found the yarn on a few German sites and have emailed one of them to see if they have the same dye number.

Next Saturday, I'll be back at the Knit Tin for the "Style a Knit to Suit You" workshop with Jane Crowfoot (the lady who wrote that excellent book "Finishing Techniques for Handknitters").

Lastly, I acquired this vintage yarn for £7 (approx. 650g of it).

There are twelve 2 oz skeins of the darker one which is labelled English Lady Huski Knit (colour - Blend) and one 2 oz skein of what is labelled Marshgrove Huski Knit Pure Wool (colour - Sungold). Although only the single skein is actually described on the label as being wool, I believe that they all are as, apart from the difference in colour, they feel and look the same and they were all described as wool when I bought them.

My understanding is that they were bought at Marshall & Snelgrove, a department store which was part of Victorian London and which closed in the 1960s. The photo below from this website , shows on the left the corner of Marshall & Snelgrove in Victorian times.

I'm not sure if the yarn is DK or aran weight and would also be interested to know more about the yarn, e.g. exactly how old it is, etc. Apart from the historical interest, I was attracted to it because of the colour as I'm enjoying Project Spectrum and next month's colours are orange and yellow.

I'd be really interested if anyone can tell me more about this yarn and also any suggestions on what I might knit with it? Orange is not a colour I can wear as a top or anything like that. Or, perhaps, I shouldn't knit anything with it and just preserve it as it is for it's historical interest? What do you think?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Red and Pink

I decided to join Project Spectrum after seeing mention of it on Jess's blog and the colours for March are red and pink. This gives me the opportunity to show you some better photos of the pink baby shawl that I knitted for my Olympic challenge. I tried first blocking the shawl with damp cloths but wasn't happy with the result so, in the end, I completely immersed it and gave it a proper wet blocking.

I'm really pleased with the baby cashmerino. It's beautifully soft and has a very nice drape, too.

Isn't it a nightmare trying to get decent photos with the weather so dismal a lot of the time? Here's another one showing the shawl laid out flat which, hopefully, shows the detail.

As I'm fascinated with symbolism including the symbolism of colour, Project Spectrum got me thinking again about what colour means to us which can differ between cultures. I have lots of books and notes on symbolism, some of which include colour, so that got me searching through the bookshelves (which we desperately need more of as currently there are books in front of books on most shelves). A lot of the books and notes I was unable to locate (they may be in the attic) but amongst the things I did find was the Luscher Colour Test which was fun and interesting to look at again.

I thought it might be useful to me, if no-one else, just to remind myself of the meaning of the colours as I work with them through the project so, if you're not into this kind of thing, you might want to skip over these bits.

Pink is a colour that women can feel uncomfortable with even though they may like it due to the traditional acceptance that pink was for girls and blue was for boys, etc, but for this project my intention is to reflect on the colours and their meanings non-judgementally.

It's probably no accident that my niece chose the shawl for her soon to be born baby daughter in pink as cotton candy pink is very much associated with little girls. Pink has been described as the sweet side of red; a weaker, more gentle, form of red. Studies have shown that pink in large amounts can have the effect of creating physical weakness in people whereas red has the opposite effect and may stir up passion and action. Language associated with pink includes phrases such as pretty in pink, a vision in pink, and pink to make the boys wink. Sometimes the phrase pink collar is used in a derogatory sense to describe a female office worker. So, traditionally, pink has been considered a feminine, delicate colour.

What about red? At the weekend, I sorted out my stash and most of it is now vacuum packed which is great because it takes up so much less space. As I was going through I took the opportunity of looking for reds (and maybe pinks) that I could use for projects during March.

There are these two cones. The red is a wool/silk mix and the pink is cotton and angora.

The red is just a tad brighter than I expected so I thought I'd use it mixed with other colours in projects like perhaps an afghan incorporating Kaffe Fassett's Persian Poppies pattern or the floral and striped sweater below right. (Although it has no red in it as such and is knitted in chunky yarn, I like the Turkestan coat on the left, too).

I also came across the claret red Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk (below) that I bought at the Knit Tin to make Lara with.

However, I've since found this free lace cropped cardi pattern which I love and which has several interesting aspects to it which make me want to use the red Alpaca Silk for this instead of for Lara.

It's made on a circular needle top down (new technique to learn);

The circular needles are changed in size three times so that the lace pattern is given the effect of becoming more open with progression;

It incorporates two lace stitches, horseshoe lace (for the body) and Milanese lace (for the sleeves) which I haven't tried before;

It has two different bind offs (horseshoe lace bind off and picot bind off) that I haven't tried before;

The pattern needs to be adjusted as one knits to suit one's own measurements which will be another new experience;

It has beads on the points on the bottom and I love beads!

It's knitted in the round so no seams which means no sewing up and that is just fine and dandy by me because I hate sewing up!

Also in the stash was some Silkwood Yarns hand-dyed fine mohair in very fiery shades. It's not only the colours in it that make me think of fire but the way they merge into one another which looks very flame-like. When I bought this yarn I thought I'd do something with it along the lines of "A World Lit Only by Fire" in the Lavish Lace book which is a scarf knitted in the Shetland lace Candlelight pattern which leads me nicely into my reflections on the colour red.

Below is a depiction of a Mappa Mundi (meaning 'map of the world' though not in the conventional sense) which hangs in my study. It is the type of Mappa Mundi that a homoeopath or other holistic practitioner might have and it's a bit like a mandala in that it depicts wholeness.

At the top is the element of fire which is also associated with the colour red. Red is associated with the base chakra and the adrenal glands. It is a hot, strong colour that can be associated with equally strong feelings ranging from love and passion to anger and warfare and, as such, red has been described as both Cupid and the Devil. Valentine's cards are often mainly red coloured showing the link between red and the emotions of love and passion. Red is also about power and dominance. The red carpet is laid out for VIPs. Phrases such as like a red rag to a bull, s/he saw red, and red hot reflect the symbolism behind this colour. In China, the colour red denotes happiness and prosperity and advocates of Feng Shui might have a large round leaved plant in the wealth corner of their living room under which are three coins wrapped in red paper. Here the red is acting as a symbol of wealth and the object is to attract wealth to the home . . . . .

. . . . . Well, now back to the knitting. I've got three projects almost finished and I don't think I'm going to be able to resist casting on for the Fickle Fingers Scarf with the yarn from my secret pal for very long but the claret red cardigan will be my Project Spectrum' work for March.