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Monday, May 29, 2006

WWKIP Day Tee Shirts

DH and I spent part of today trying out the transfer for the WWKIP Day Tee Shirts.

The logo was available at the WWKIP Day site so we didn't need to do any designing. The W H Smith transfers, however, proved to be a disappointment. It wasn't clear from the packet that they're the sort of transfers that are ironed on just like a patch when what we really wanted were the ones where the design is actually imprinted on to the material. We have, however, managed to source some Canon transfers which are exactly what we want. The tee shirt that's been transferred with the W H Smith transfer will do as a spare for the day for anyone who needs a tee shirt at the last minute. Don't worry, Mary Lou, the one that's been done isn't the one you gave me! It's one that I bought from QS for myself and yours will have one of the Canon transfers.

Here are the very large needles that I'll, hopefully, be using to knit an i-cord scarf with on the day.

I'm getting quite nifty with the backwards knitting now though I must admit I've been practicing on normal size needles initially!

What are others doing for WWKIP Day? If you haven't got anything planned yet, click on the "Show Your Sticks 2006" link in my sidebar for an audio clip that may or may not get you in the mood!

Update: Just realised that saying that I'll be using the gigantic needles to knit an i-cord scarf might sound a bit strange!!! An i-cord scarf would definitely be what one would call a SKINNY scarf, would it not? hehe What I really meant, just in case there's any doubt whatsoever, is that I'll be making a ball of i-cord to knit with on the gigantic needles to make a scarf. Perhaps it was obvious, anyway. "Yeah, don't call us, we'll call you", I hear you say. Okay, I'm going now . . . . .

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Pink Palace and Other Happenings

The photo below shows how I've been spending a lot of my spare time since I last posted. First we have the start of the Posh Yarn silk/cashmere mix beaded lace scarf. I was going to start on the raspberry pure cashmere Posh Yarn first to make the Victorian Shoulderette but then changed plan and decided that the beaded scarf would take precedence. The beads arrived from Earth Faire but those that I'd ordered for the beaded scarf got lost amongst the knitting colourwise, hence I discovered that it's probably better, when knitting with beads, to go for a contrast rather than something that tones. The ones I used in the end are Jaeger beads and are black with a sort of cobalt blue iridiscence.

Click to enlarge

I think the Pink Palace is in danger of becoming my second home!

The photo below will give you some idea at least of the treasures within. The drawers you can see in the photo are packed full of every bead you can imagine all arranged according to colour theme . . . . .

. . . . . and the workshop at the Pink Palace was fab!

First Nathalie went through the various tools and techniques that we'd be using before we were let loose to choose the beads, pendants, wire, chain, thread, thong or whatever our little hearts desired to make up the piece of our choice. As I was very much finding my way with the techniques and tools, I decided not to plan too much and made a deliberately asymmetrical (in that the beads just went where I decided to put them as I went along) four stranded necklace. The result is the blue concoction in the top photo.

I enjoyed this so much that I decided to buy the tools and design board the following day and I'm in the process of making another necklace (this time more planned).

The book you can see in the first photo is my favourite book at the moment which I've been dipping into over the past week. I bought it on my recent visit to Fibrecrafts and it's Handknitting Techniques from Threads Magazine. As the title implies, it consists solely of knitting related articles from the magazine "Threads". There are some fascinating articles in here including knitting in the round on straight needles, etc, and even an article on knitting the perfect rib including (are you reading this, Katie?) a very lucid explanation and clear diagrams on how to do the tubular bind off for double rib!!! A few of us have been having trouble deciphering Montse Stanley's explanation of this technique!

The beaded jacket I'm designing now only requires a sleeve and the right front to be knitted and, of course, all the i-cord for the twisted i-cord edging. The knitting of all this i-cord doesn't seem quite as daunting now since I bought the i-cord maker from Silkwood Yarns.

Metres and metres of i-cord can be made very quickly at the turn of a handle and, if DH actually does as he's promised and makes an adaptor to fit between an electric drill and the handle orifice of the i-cord maker, it'll be even easier as, in effect, I'll have an electrical i-cord maker. (Thanks to Les of Silkwood for this tip!) The i-cord maker will also come in very useful for WWKIP day as a big ball of i-cord is just the thing for knitting a scarf on the gigantic knitting needles that I also bought from Silkwood.

Regarding WWKIP day, it's all become a bit of a pain as regards the venue as we're at present unable to get a firm okay on the booking and are left in limbo wondering whether we'll have an indoor venue or not. This means that the making of the banner may not be necessary so it's really brought things to a halt until we know. We're still going ahead with the tee-shirt transfers though as, we'll be keeping a close eye on the weather and, if we can't secure an indoor venue, we'll be procuring a couple of benches on the High Street and knitting with our gigantic needles or chopsticks or whatnot alfresco style. I've been practicing the backwards knitting technique so that I don't have to turn my knitting each row with those very big unwieldy needles!

Preparations for the November Cancer Charities Craft Fair are coming on a treat and my own knitting has now been added to by a mammoth contribution from Mary-Lou consisting of several boas made on the Sirdar Loopa . . . . .

. . . . . and a couple of moebius scarves (the blue scarf on the right of the two moebius scarves was donated by Tricia) . . . . .

. . . . . as well as a beautiful Fischu.

Tricia's also, at present, knitting a feather and fan lace skinny scarf (her first lace project) from some of the donated yarn.

The yarn for the charity knitting keeps being added to and DH is now becoming a bit concerned about the amount of yarn or charity knitting he keeps coming across in the most unlikely places! The trouble is I find it difficult to resist a bargain and these big balls (oo-er) were added to the charity yarn stash recently.

From left to right, we have a 450g ball of pure mohair and a 400g ball of aran weight wool/acrylic mix (these cost £1 each from a charity shop) and a 400g ball of variegated aran weight wool/acrylic mix that cost £8.95 from C&H Fabrics.

I think I must be on creative hyperdrive because I've rescued my sewing machine from its cobwebbed corner where it's spent the last 16 years.

This is a fantastic computerised machine that can even do machine embroidery but apart from making an embroidered table cloth when I first received it as a wedding present, I've not done anything with it since! I'm a complete novice as regards sewing so I have a lot to learn!

I'm also going to be joining our local branch of the Embroidery Guild and have in my diary the next date when there'll be a talk on silk ribbon embroidery. I've become a member of Rowan International, too, which I do believe makes me now, officially, a Rowanette and I've decided to buy the Knitware software. So, as you can see, I've not been resting on my laurels!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

An Eventful Week

Sorry about the big gap between posts and thanks for the concern shown in the comments, which I found really touching :-), but everything's fine. DH and I both had a week off from work and I just didn't get time to blog!

It's been quite an eventful week including my dad's 80th birthday and, as well as lots of non-crafty stuff that DH and I did together, I did manage to also fit in an inordinate amount of crafty bits.

Maidstone Knitters

At our last meeting we discussed what to do on Worldwide Knitting in Public Day which coincides with our June meeting date. I liked Braintree Knitting Group's idea of knitting with the gigantic needles and mentioned it at the meeting. After some discussion we decided that some of us would knit with gigantic needles, some with chopsticks, some with french knitters, and some would just knit in the ordinary way. We'll also be making a banner (already in hand) and we'll be wearing tee shirts with "Worldwide Knitting in Public Day" transferred onto them. Tricia was checking out venues which will be confirmed tomorrow on Maidstone Knitters' blog where the arrangements for WWKIP day are discussed in more detail.

Mary-Lou brought some wonderful items along for the November Craft Fair (a fischu and several loopa boas) which I'll take a photo of for my next post and she also very kindly gave me a container to store my beads in. It must have been a day for gift giving because I was given some herby home baked bread, too, by Sharon and I gave out the bear stitchmarker tins. I also took some photos of Sharon's bobbin lace.

The Pink Palace is a new outlet for beads in Maidstone and, here, I bought a selection of beads and booked a place on their next jewellery making workshop. Also, in Maidstone, we saw a South American band performing in the High Street but, by the time we retrieved the camera from the car, they were packing up and I only managed to get this photo.

Somehow they didn't look anywhere near as authentic in their tee shirts as they did when they were doing their traditional dancing in animal skins but I guess they did get rather hot and who can blame them for ripping those hides off as soon as their performance was over.

A trip to Fibrecrafts, a crochet workshop, a scoot around several charity shops where I unearthed two enormous balls of yarn at £1 each, an evaluation of knitting pattern design software, the craft fair at Leeds Castle and the knitting of several hats and a loopy boa for the Charity Craft Fair were other features of my week.


At Fibrecrafts I bought several books including a couple of Cat Bordhi's and a couple of Sally Melville's as well as a woolwinder and two skeins of gorgeous hand-dyed cocoons yarn - one in summer fruits and one in spring blossom.

Crochet Workshop

The crochet workshop took place at John Lewis at Milton Keynes. I found it difficult to work with the hook in the conventional way, probably because I've been crocheting for about 35 years and managing to do all the stitches in an unconventional way. However, I'll keep at it and, with practice, it is improving.

Leeds Castle Craft Fair

Shame it was such a horrid windy and rainy day but it didn't seem to stop people coming out in their droves to visit the craft fair at Leeds Castle.

On the walk in the castle grounds to reach the fair we saw this peacock . . . . .

. . . . . and these Ardenne horses

There were only two stalls selling yarn - one mainly fun fur and acrylics - and the other, Silkwood Yarns, where I enjoyed checking out all the gorgeous hand dyed yarn . . . . .

. . . . . whilst Morris Dancers went largely unnoticed by me but were dutifully photographed by DH.

I bought a beautiful skein of the most wonderfully soft natural undyed angora which is handspun by Tess from the fur of Silkwood's much-loved bunnies. an i-cord maker with a handle, a knitting loom and a pair of those gigantic knitting needles (the latter two items which are handmade by Les who is a wood turner) as well as another item which is a secret for the moment. And, somehow, I was tricked by Les and DH into posing with one of the bunnies.

The bunny was so soft and cuddly but, I think, a bit nervous about being handled by a total stranger.

I've hit a hiatus with the beaded jacket as I've run out of beads and more are on their way from Earth Faire. I have, however, managed to knit two of Woolly Wormhead's rollin' berets and Elizabeth Zimmerman's Watchcap, the pattern of which I found in the old magazine article (photo on left) that Beverley sent to me some time ago.

I believe the pattern's also in EZ's book, 'Knitting Without Tears'. It's knitted in prime rib in very thick yarn and on enormous needles which makes for a very soft, fluffy and squidgy hat. The yarn for the Watchcap was a bargain bin find costing only 60p and the yarn for the two rollin' berets was from the donated yarn.

Note the inventive use of vases and kitchen roll holders which will have to suffice until the polystyrene display heads that I've ordered actually arrive. The pink/white/grey hat on the left didn't get any i-cord but the purple variegated one was more fortunate and got a little i-cord topknot for its trouble.

The loopy boa I made (again from the donated yarn) isn't very colourful but I'm having to do what I can with what I've got as far as donated yarn goes and I decided that a neutral boa might not be a bad thing. This one's made from a mixture of black, white, grey and navy yarn.

Right, I'm off now to cast on for the Victorian Shoulderette in the cashmere Posh Yarn.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Beaded Jacket and Green Bag

I've been semi-successful in my attempts to concentrate on only one thing at a time and finished the back and one sleeve of the beaded jacket I'm designing for the Charity Craft Fair.

Click to enlarge

Here it is roughly pinned and draped as best I could over the dress form. I decided to go for a fitted design so the body is shaped and the sleeves are set in. I'm also now considering a twisted i-cord edging (a bit of which is pinned to the bottom). It's not twisted perfectly but I just wanted to get an idea of how it might look. I think I'm now beginning to lean more towards a simple edging like this rather than an ornate one as I feel the beads and lace on the main part are ornate enough in themselves without the addition of a very fancy edging.

Below is a green bag which I've almost finished to celebrate Project Spectrum's May' colour.

Pattern: 'Arctic' from Emma King's 25 Bags to Knit (with some modifications)
Yarn: Main part in DB Merino Chunky/pink flowers in Rowan Big Wool
Handles: 'Madeleine' (615 108) made by Prym

I've put one of the handles in position for the photo but they both still need attaching and I need to get some nice bright funky lining and either some vilene or plastic canvas to place inside the lining for stiffening. The green yarn is the result of frogging a scarf (below) that I'd almost completed but decided wasn't really doing anything for me so to the frog pond it went.

I also wanted to mention the floss threaders/bead threaders again as I feel such an idiot. The ones I ordered from Express Chemist are larger than the ones that Ellen at Earth Faire sent me and are really too large to go through the holes of beads suitable for knitting. I hadn't noticed this and sent some to Cherry. Apologies, Cherry, I'll send you a replacement but please be careful not to lose it as I only have a few of the original ones. Next time I order some beads from Earth Faire, I'll add a note to Ellen asking her the name of the make of the dental threaders that she sent which are perfect for the job. I can then google for them and, hopefully, will be able to order some online and provide the link to anyone who's interested. I've also edited the earlier post in which I mentioned the threaders as I wouldn't want anyone else ordering them to use as bead threaders.

Dreamcatcher asked about the dress form and I answered in the comments section that it's available from John Lewis but it might also be helpful to know that it's an Adjustoform dress form and you can find more details here

In other news, Ruth (Woolly Wormhead) has two gorgeous new hat patterns for sale here. I've purchased both and Ruth has very kindly given me permission to use these and her free hat patterns for Charity Craft Fair knitting.

The sun is shining and all is well only marred by the fact that our agenda in the coming week includes clearing out the garage. More welcome plans include a trip to Brighton to visit that wonderful bead shop that I keep hearing about. Can someone in the know please advise me exactly where it is in Brighton? With the Craft Fair in mind again, I might be able to get some of the red, teal or hot pink coloured beads that Acrylik suggested would be good with black yarn for knitted Goth style bracelets. There's also a crochet workshop on my agenda in which I hope to, at long last, learn how to hold the hook properly. I've been crocheting for years but would really like to learn how to hold the hook in the correct way as it should help with both speed and evenness of tension. If there's an opportunity, I'd also like to have a look around Fibrecrafts which is not too far away from where we live . . . . .

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pure Silk Lacy Scarf

I saved this one for finishing in May as it's green (Project Spectrum's colour of the month).

Shown here, with Toledo from Rowan 37 which I knitted last year, it's Debbie Bliss's Lacy Scarf from the Pure Silk Collection knitted in, of course, DB Pure Silk. A very quick and easy knit that takes only two skeins and the perfect light and skinny scarf for the summer.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sweeps Festival

Having promised to post about our afternoon at Rochester Sweeps Festival, here goes. The Sweeps Festival was revived in 1981 but the history behind it is that it was celebrated by the sweeps traditionally on 1st May each year and was the only day of the year that they could leave the soot and dirt behind and have some fun. The day started with Jack-in-the-Green (a seven foot character) being awakened at dawn on Blue Bell Hill, Chatham, and Jack would walk with the sweeps in their parade. A Jack-in-the-Green ceremony is still held these days though the closest resemblance to Jack-in-the Green that I saw in the parade on Monday was a man walking along inside a bush! I suppose this makes sense though when one considers that Jack-in-the-Green was regarded as the traditional representation of the burgeoning forces of spring

He seemed very jolly, all considered, and kept stopping to ask people watching the procession if they were enjoying themselves!

I adore Rochester at any time as it's a very atmospheric sort of place with a wealth of historical buildings but the Sweeps Festival really enhanced these qualities. The festival, which spanned over the whole bank holiday weekend and culminated in the procession, included concerts (one being a Fairport Convention concert on Sunday), guitar and percussion workshops, and various folk bands in most of the pubs.

I started off by having a mooch around some of the shops and enhanced my stash of necklaces and pendants for the Charity Craft Fair by buying a few more at 50p apiece.

Then we walked around for a while and passed by the Castle . . . . .

. . . . . before settling down in the Kings Head where Dammit! were playing.

There were hand painted idioms on the walls here and there as you can see from the photo above but this one, particulary, in the photo below, grabbed my fancy.

Just as I was photographing the wording, the guy you can see at the left of the photo walked by and apologised profusely because he thought he'd spoilt my photo. I assured him it was quite okay and that he hadn't spoilt it at all. Later, when I looked at the photo, I thought, "Hey, bruv! He looks like Eastenders' Grant Mitchell"!

Dammit! performed a medley of folk songs, and a few drinks later, (a fair few drinks later, in fact) we reached the finale to which I joined in with the best of them and sang along with gusto!

Her eyes they shone like dia-monds
They called her the queen of the land
And her hair was slung over her shou-eld-er
Tied up with a black velvet band . . . . .

And then we left the twilight world of the bar and all that communal body heat and caterwauling singing for the comparative cool and light of the streets where we found a small gap in which to stand amongst the throngs of people lining the edge of the pavement in anticipation of the procession. Eventually, we heard the sounds of drums, accordians, melodeons and other instruments as well as the tinkling of the Morris Dancers' bells and the procession rounded the corner from the Castle Gardens into the High Street. Much entertainment followed via the colourful display of the various morris dancer sides and their enthusiastic clicking, clacking, skipping and, at times, stumbling, as they gradually danced their way along the High Street.

Here are a few photos of the parade to give you a taster. Just click on the images to enlarge if you want a closer look.

Then back home we went and, after reparations including a pot of strong coffee, I finished the amulet bag (speaking of which, it's now packed up ready to go to dreamcatcher, and will be posted tomorrow).