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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

There's just something about Brighton!

On Monday I was feeling well enough again to look forward to a trip to Brighton. I forgot to take my camera which was a bit annoying but we had a really nice time despite the weather.

Part of our time was taken up with Brighton shopping and the first port of call was the Brighton Bead Shop on Sydney Street where I bought a selection of beads with the Goth theme in mind. I also bought some pendants some of which are shown below including some pentagons and some Celtic crosses.

Second from the left is a blacklip shell pendant which the girl said was listed as being called "macabre". I just had to buy it with a name like that! LOL The pendant on the extreme right is a bit like a light catcher - it goes through all the colours of the spectrum as you turn it this way and that. Hopefully, I shall have a wonderfully creative time putting some pieces together with my new supplies.

We had a look in the rock shop (can't remember the exact name but the one just over the road from the Bead Shop that sells crystals). I was looking for a piece of aventurine that was already smoothed with a hole in it to make a special piece for a friend as it's her birthstone but unfortunately the only piece they had for sale was far too big for what I wanted.

A nearby cafe supplied us with a couple of cappucinos and, despite the fact that I've been cutting down for the last two weeks and have lost four pounds, I got the shakes just reading the description of the chocolate brownie dessert and I'm afraid to say I succumbed and it was everything it promised to be and more. Think thick chocolate sauce at the bottom of a tall sundae glass. Then warm pieces of chocolate brownie melting a mixture of chocolate and vanilla ice cream and the whole lot topped with cream and a cherry! I've been good ever since though!

At Bell, Book and Candle I bought a CD, Samsara, which is lovely (you can listen to samples of the tracks here if you're interested); a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead which I've wanted to read for ages but never got around to until now and several other bits and pieces. What can I say? I'm a sucker for this type of shop.

A shop around the corner yielded a plain black fan which will have something creative done with it. In that shop they were selling worry dolls. Apparently, you have to meditate on your worries whilst holding the doll and then put it under your pillow at night and the doll will take all your worries away. Before you ask, no, I didn't buy one.

At yet another shop, there were all sorts of interesting bits and pieces but the thing I was most interested in were the cats. The first, a ginger tabby, I almost mistook for one of those pretend 'ship's cats' that they sell in some shops. It was nestled amongst the shop's display snoozing away without even the quiver of a whisker. It was the second cat that was the most interesting though. This cat, I have to say, was the most beautiful, striking cat I've ever seen - the softest, shiniest champagne coloured fur and blue, blue eyes. I was really surprised when the girl in the shop told me that the ginger tabby was this cat's mother. Apparently, it's suspected that he(the champagne coloured one) has a Persian father.

There's just something about Brighton, isn't there? Now the weather's improved, I'd like to visit again soon.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Thank You, One Skein Secret Pal!

This skein of yarn arrived in the post yesterday morning from my One Skein Secret Pal but, it was so overcast, I waited until today to photograph it.

It's hand dyed sock yarn dyed by my pal and, as you can see, it's gorgeous. It manages to be vibrant (those purples) and subtle at the same time (so many shades and hues but with very gradual transitions so no jarring changes).

A note arrived with it to which my pal had, very thoughtfully, attached a sample of Opal Uni Colour 18 which looks good with the hand dyed yarn.

Thanks, Secret Pal, it's perfect!

Gimme Your Stuff!

Gimme Your Stuff

I've joined Gimme Your Stuff - "a cultural exchange blog where you can swap items of significance to your area with items from others around the world". This is an exchange that is open to everyone and not just to knitters.

Here's what I'm offering:

Handmade jewellery;
English yarn, knitting magazines/patterns and pattern booklets (as requested);
Gorgeous beads from the Pink Palace (see handmade jewellery and stitch markers photo album [which will be added to frequently] to get an idea of the beads available);
English teas;
Sweets, chocolate and biscuits;
Anything else you can think of (open to suggestions).

And here's what I'd like in return:

Yarn (natural fibres) that's difficult to obtain in UK;
Unusual beads and buttons and other craft items;
Some traditional Norwegian knitting yarn in black and white such as Strikkegarn for making Selbu mittens;
Shrinky dinks shrinkable plastic (not the sort that you write on but the type for computer inkjet printers).

UPDATE: Here is some of the stuff I have for swapping.

Click to enlarge

All of these items came from our local delicatessen in Lenham, a village which is steeped in local history and which is adjacent to the village in which I live in Kent (The Garden of England). There is local Lenham honey, gooseberry preserve with cowslip wine, ginger crunch biscuits and petticoat tail shortbread as well as four sugar mice.

There are also four Lenham postcards and a greetings card showing the villages of Kent along with a map which I got from the village Post Office.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Beaded Jacket Finished!

Yes, I know I wasn't supposed to be blogging for a couple of weeks and only a week has passed since I last blogged but I finished the beaded jacket today so thought I'd post a photo.

Design: My own
Yarn: Wendy Dolce (charity craft fair donated yarn)
Beads: Earth Faire
Buttons: Beads used instead (from Pink Palace)

In the end, I bottled out of the twisted i-cord edging because I couldn't face sewing it all on and I read that it can stretch after it's been attached. So, the button bands are just plain double crochet and the bottom and sleeve edgings are crocheted picot edgings.

Here's a close up of the butterfly lace pattern with beads added.

If things had gone as planned, we would be in Wales now helping our DS to celebrate his birthday but the auto-immune condition that I have decided to make an appearance with some boring symptoms so I finished the jacket instead.

I also received the One Skein book in the post yesterday morning.

For those who are still having difficulty getting hold of this in the UK, I got mine from the Knitting & Crochet Guild. I sent a parcel to my One Skein Secret Pal and she seems to be delighted with the contents which I'm pleased about. I'm already planning what to send next month and what to make for the final parcel. There are a few projects I liked the look of in the One Skein Book but I've come up with a couple of ideas of my own on what I could make with just one skein so still pondering!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Time for a Break . . .

Just to let y'all know that I've decided to take a break from blogging for a couple of weeks. There are things that I need to catch up with and sort out. So, see you in a couple of weeks and, in the meantime, don't do anything I wouldn't do . . . which leaves you with a lot of scope! :-)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jewellery Making

Thanks for all the nice comments on my last post. The event did seem to be a success if somewhat exhausting for us but we hope that we've put ourselves out there a bit more and will pick up a few new members from it. Apologies for not doing any links in my last post, too. Blogger was playing up so much, I just didn't seem to get around to it but, anyway, the main thing I'd like to point out is Pixeldiva's link to finger knitting which is so clear and easy to understand. This was a good thing as I left it until the last minute before learning it to teach to others at our event!

Making jewellery is turning out to be such fun and therapeutic, too. Since my first attempt with the experimental asymmetrical necklace, I've made these. First, the 'Greens and Blues' necklace.

I didn't do much to celebrate Project Spectrum's colour (green) last month (well, I did do the DB Pure Silk Scarf and the green bag with appliqued flowers so I wasn't completely neglectful) but, anyway, I rather fancied combining May and June's colours (green and blue) to make a necklace and the above was the result. A four-stranded necklace using nylon coated wire with silver plated findings.

Then I decided to go for pretty and delicate and a bit more demanding so this necklace was born.

With this one, I graduated from working with crimp beads for holding the beads in place to eyepins. Pink, clear and silver beads form the main piece and a larger bead in bead caps, three smaller beads and a double strand of beads in varying lengths hang from the centre. Again, all findings are silver plated.

The Pink Palace has definitely proved to be my second home. I really enjoy going along there and sorting out the beads for my next piece. This is easy to do as Nathalie always has a design board at hand so you can try out different combinations.

Next, I thought I'd try for something Goth in the way of a bracelet as Rain and Carrie Anne thought Goth might be popular at the November charity craft fair. Carrie Anne suggested that black with either red, shocking pink or teal would be appropriate for Goth and I came up with this.

It's suede cord with wooden and metal beads. The beads that are hanging are suspended with waxed cord and held in place with leather ends and the whole thing's fastened with a toggle clasp from which a couple more beads have been attached. Now, the question is have I succeeded at Goth or is this more "ethnic"?!! I'm afraid I'm not altogether an expert on what does or does not qualify as being acceptably Goth looking! If it's not quite the thing, tips please, people! I want to do Goth and I want to get it right. LOL

And just so this post is not completely devoid of knitting, have a look at this exceptional boa that Mary-Lou's friend has made with the Sirdar Loopa for the November charity craft fair.

The colours and the textures of the yarns together on this one are perfect I think. Also, if you haven't yet seen the knitted Ferrari, why not take a look here.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Maidstone Knitters Do WWKIP Day at the Chequers Centre

Thanks for all the good wishes for our plans which I found really encouraging. It's great to have such supportive friends! The event went well and we generated quite a bit of interest with several potential new members saying they would definitely attend our next meeting (including a textile artist who knits with plastic) and a fair few leaflets picked up. It was very hot in certain parts of the Chequers Centre particularly under the glass roofed area so we felt extremely lucky to have been placed right near the air conditioning outlet which meant we were able to keep cool all day. There were the usual minor hiccups such as arriving to find we had only been given a tiny four foot table instead of a six foot one but that was soon remedied by the obliging Chequers staff and very soon we had a whopping great big ten feet of table space as another six foot table was added to the four foot one we already had! Photo heavy post I'm afraid but sometimes, as they say, pictures speak louder than words.

So, here we have Emily working on big needles while Mary-Lou concentrates on the Loopa and Holly finger knits after being taught by moi! Holly cottoned on very quickly and made a fab finger knitted skinny scarf which she's going to add a fringe and possibly beads to the ends of. She was so taken with it, in fact, that she thinks she may finger knit one or two skinny scarves for the November Charity Craft Fair!

Here I am knitting with the gigantic needles. When this photo was taken, I was concentrating on doing a backwards knitting row so as not to have to turn the work! The gigantic needles generated a LOT of interest and double takes. One woman even wanted to record me knitting on them on her mobile phone camera as she said her DH wouldn't believe her otherwise!

A passer-by was so fascinated with the gigantic needles that she wanted to have a go!

Below is Chris making i-cord on the Prym i-cord mill so that I would have a second ball to work with when needed. This also attracted a lot of attention and comments with several people asking where they could purchase one of these handle turned french knitters.

Here's a pic of the stand which was right next to the ice cream parlour (very handy!) and, by the way, I can recommend the cappucino and chocolate double cone!

Below is Tricia doing her bit for WWKIP Day and, like the rest of us, wearing her WWKIP Day tee shirt. Mary also popped by in the morning but couldn't stay as she'd made other plans well before we decided on our event.

We all brought something for the stand in the way of yarn and/or knitted items, magazines, etc, and got asked lots of questions quite a few of which I'm pleased to say came from men. Generally, people seemed pleasantly surprised at the diversity of yarns available now and the knitted items were looked at and admired. Here's a close up of some of the items on the stand.

And another.

And yet another.

That's Cecilia on the right in the photo below. She had planned to knit on chopsticks but couldn't get hold of any in time so resorted to barbecue skewers instead!

Two more of our members, Margaret and Jackie, were able to join us for a couple of hours later in the day.

And here's Chris trying out the gigantic needles.

There were opportunities throughout the day to teach finger knitting and the Loopa. This young girl is already a knitter and stopped by to learn finger knitting.

She may be coming along to our group with an adult which will mean we have three school age members.

Some time in the morning, the Kent Messenger photographer arrived and, in the afternoon, we had a phone call from the reporter. Hopefully, the resulting article will generate even more publicity for Maidstone Knitters.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ready to Go!

Panic over. Through one of DH's contacts, we managed to get some Public Liability Insurance at the very last moment. Phew! Then, in the documentation that I only received today, I discovered that the table that we were going to take in wouldn't be acceptable as it might be a fire risk! Luckily, the Operations Manager at the Chequers Centre was very kind to me and, whereas I was told previously that there weren't any trestles left, he has now put one by for me as well as some chairs and, what's more, has promised to set it all up before we arrive. How nice was that!

So, apart from stressing about all the last minute things, I put all the stuff I could possibly think of taking onto my kitchen table. It's now been drastically reduced as the table I'm being provided with is only 2 feet wide.

Click to enlarge

See my gigantic needles on the right of the photo. I'm now up to speed with the backwards knitting so I don't have to turn my work. I've decided I'm going to knit the i-cord into a scarf and, as it's pink, it'll do towards the November charity craft fair which will benefit Breast Cancer charity as well as Cancer Research. I now also know how to finger knit.

I do seem to have developed a sore right eye today. This happens from time to time and I think is to do with stress. I call it my red eye syndrome. So, if the press do attend and take any photos with me in them, I shall just pretend the camera caused the red eye, so there! LOL

Panic Stations . . .

. . . Have just found out that we need Public Liability Insurance for the day for our little area in the Chequers Centre and we don't have any . . . yet . . .

At last I managed to get Blogger to upload my photos from yesterday. Here they are.

Preemi Cardi (Click to enlarge)

Jewellery Making (Click to enlarge)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Licenced to Knit!

At last we've got the venue confirmed for Worldwide Knit in Public Day. We're going to be in the Chequers Centre (main shopping mall in Maidstone). I'm told that the licence will be emailed to me today when I'll also find out exactly where we've been placed at which time I'll add an update to this post. Any other knitters in the area, please come and say hello (not forgetting to bring yarn and needles, of course!) Everything is now being frantically organised and here's the ball of i-cord I've made to knit with on the gigantic needles.

I'm dead chuffed with it! It was made on the Prym i-cord mill and then wound on my new wool winder to make this neat 100g ball of i-cord! At first it was a bit frustrating as, once you get past a certain length, the twist that forms as the i-cord's made can't untwist itself due to the length. Cynthia of UKHK, however, came to the rescue and suggested I wind what was already made into a ball and wrap an elastic band around the ball. This worked a treat as the twist then unwound itself back to the ball and the i-cord in the ball stayed straight.

On WWKIP Day, we'll be knitting on everything ranging from ordinary knitting needles to chopsticks to two foot long needles to gigantic four foot long ones and some will also be using french knitters. Hopefully, this will grab people's attention. Our WWKIP Day T-shirts are printed and we'll have examples of a varied range of different knitted items on our table for people to see as well as a basket of different yarns to show examples of the many fibres available (wool, silk, cashmere, cotton, angora, mohair, synthetics, etc), novelty yarns (eyelash, ribbon, etc) and variegated, self striping, and self patterning yarns. A selection of knitting magazines will also be at hand for people to peruse. From this, those who are not already aware can see how knitting has taken off and the amount of choice and the sheer diversity available these days. The object is to try to get people fired up about knitting and we'll be on hand with spare yarn and needles and whatever else is required for those who'd like to learn to knit, crochet or use the Sirdar Loopa. We're hoping also to be able to teach children how to finger knit and our skills are being honed in readiness!

We're all sorting out knitted items for our display and I'm including the Birch shawl and clapotis that I knitted for my MIL and which she has kindly loaned me for the day. She's also loaned me a few of her preemie knits. This one's my favourite!

Photo to follow as Blogger is being mean and won't let me upload any more photos at the moment.

It has to be seen in reality to appreciate just how very teeny weeny it is but believe me it is extremely tiny!

Knitting-wise, the beaded jacket and the beaded lace scarf are both steadily progressing. I've also been doing a bit more jewellery making.

Photo to follow.

Presently I'm working on another four stranded wire necklace which uses crimp beads to attach the beads to the wire and a necklace using eyepins which is a little bit more advanced. It's fun!

UPDATE: Blogger is still having problems so again haven't been able to post photos. Our pitch will be in the Clinton Cards area. I believe that this is on the top level but need to check this. We'll be there from 9am to 4.30pm and I've informed the Kent Messenger, the Downs Mail and Maidstone Adscene. All three papers appeared to be interested so we shall see. Hopefully, the event will drum up some good publicity for Maidstone Knitters. I'm now beginning to get "stage fright" at the thought of it all and knitting in public with those massive knitting needles. Must go and practice!!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bags, Beads, Bookcases and Bad, Bad Tee Shirts!

What a gorgeous sunny day it's been today so I took advantage of the sun and spent some time tidying up the garden. Later on, DH and I worked on the WWKIP Day tee shirts. That wasn't so good but I'll come to that later.

Knitting wise, I've got a bit further on with the Beaded Lace Scarf. It's quite slow going as the Posh Yarn laceweight is very fine. I'm really pleased with the way it's turning out though and the PY knits up beautifully.

I'm thinking that this might make a good raffle prize at the Charity Craft Fair and the colour is entirely appropriate as one of the cancer charities that will benefit is Breast Cancer. I'll need to get permission from the designer first though and that's Jackie from Heartstrings, I believe.

The goodies for the Charity Craft Fair stall continue to grow and have been added to by Dreamcatcher who has donated a beautiful boa, a photo of which is on her blog. Thanks, Louise!

The Laurel Burch bag below (which I'll be using as a knitting bag) arrived from Woolly Workshop on Saturday along with the matching clutch also pictured below.

I've been wanting a knitting bag for ever so long but all of the ones I was interested in seemed so expensive. When I saw Tina's Laurel Burch bag, I really liked it and was pleasantly surprised at the price. Tina said she didn't mind me being a copycat so I went ahead and ordered one. Would you believe that I ordered it on Friday afternoon and it arrived about eighteen hours later! I reckon Gill at Woolly Workshop must live right next door to the Post Office! Fantastic service anyway and now I don't have to go to knitting group with a load of carriers any more like a bag lady!

Yesterday I went bag lining hunting again. I'd already made one attempt when Mary-Lou and I met for lunch. We were both looking for bag linings in Maidstone C&H Fabrics. Mary-Lou found the most beautiful silk lining for her bag but I wanted green and wasn't so lucky as there was nothing there that shouted out at me to buy it. I was more fortunate yesterday at C&H at Tunbridge Wells and found a silk remnant at half the original price and the shade, I think, is just right. Here it is in the photo below with the bag (handles still to be attached). . . . .

. . . . . and here's a close up of the silk lining.

At long last, we have some more bookcases and all the piles of books everywhere around the place can now have homes (until these bookcases are filled up as well, that is!

Only the three book cases on the left are new. The one on the right had to be emptied of books (some of which are pictured in the pile below) so that we could move it along to make way for the new unit. Now I can get some sort of organisation going with the knitting books and magazines I've acquired over the last year as well as all the other books that need shelf space. We also have books stored in boxes in the attic which can again see the light of day. Some will be going to Freecycle but, I may, after being influenced yet again by that temptress or perhaps I should say enabler, Tina, also join Bookcrossing.

As for the WWKIP Day tee shirts, suffice to say that the Canon transfers didn't meet expectations. We spent a frustrating afternoon practicing on old tee shirts and spoiling a couple of new ones into the bargain as the transfer only came out clearly on white material. Even when we changed the design so it had a white background, the effect was very muted. In the end, we had to go back to Plan A and use the W H Smith transfers.

We did, however, get the design to look less like a patch stuck on (which is, let's face it, basically what it is) by adding a white surround to the design. I think it's a slight improvement.