Friday, 1 December 2017

Finding Inspiration From Books and Books That Inspire. . .

Last weekend I traveled to Harrogate for their annual Knitting and Stitching Show. It's a different type of experience in that the proportion of yarn vendors is much less than the usual shows I attend and they are spread out among fabric and embroidery booths (which is not to say that I didn't buy any yarn as one of the booths was Jamieson and Smith, but that wasn't my prime reason for going).  There are lots of displays by talented textile artists which I really enjoy seeing.  Two in particular caught my eye.

Hue is a collective of textile artists working in Hertfordshire, in the south of England. They got together to read Robert Macfarlane's book The Old Ways, about all the paths made by nature, the weather, history and folklore, that one can find - hidden and visible - across the U.K.  While I still haven't read it, I do own a copy and this exhibit has really inspired me to crack it open.

The artists decided to create works out of fabric and stitching in response to the parts of the book that really resonated with their reading experience.  In the photo below, are a number of works in the same size as the paperback copy, re-imagining the cover. These were sold in aid of charity.

This was my favourite with its 3D effect.  I'm sorry I don't have the artist's name - I couldn't see it listed with the work.

Other works in the room included Landmarks; Green Hollow by Elisabeth Rutt. She hand stitched over old maps and felt.

She also created these "Pebblescapes".  Above is Coast and below is Gneiss, with their "darned" pebbles.

This piece is titled An Unquiet Sea by Carola Garvie.  She drew an outline of the Shetland islands on linen and then embellished the sea around it with wool and silk.

This was also this stunning 3D piece  - Where Are the Crickets? by Janette Day-Brown. The bark is created with machine embroidery. 

The second room that really caught my eye was an exhibit by Amy Twigger Holroyd.  One wall was dedicated to showing how to re-fashion or repair a basic child's sweater.  

She also had some amazing embellished knitwear inspired by English cathedrals.  Her approach to sustainable fashion was so creative and interesting that I had to pick up her recent book which will no doubt make for some fascinating and thought provoking reading alongside The Old Ways. Meg, aka Mrs M's Curiosity Cabinet reviewed the book on her latest podcast here.

Speaking of projects inspired by books and books that will definitely inspire, I should be getting my copy of Karie Westermann's This Thing of Paper any day now.  This is a collection of eleven knitting patterns, all inspired by the love of books - their history, their construction, the pure physicality of this most beautiful and powerful object. 

Books and knitting - is there a better combination?  I got to test knit the Rubrication Shawl for Karie and will do a separate post on that shortly, but this book has really inspired me to go to my bookshelves, delve into my stash and celebrate both.  I'll be casting on the Psalter Shawl first and I have chosen colours that reflect my love of Persephone Books.  They are the most gorgeous books I own with their classic grey and cream covers and then that unexpected burst of colour inside as their endpapers reproduce fabrics from the era in which either the book is set or was published.  I shall be using some Titus 4ply and Lichen and Lace in the pewter colourway.  And then adding a third colour - Ripple Crafts' Assynt Storms 4ply which is just a riotous explosion of colour. 


I can't wait to cast on.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

One Week Later. . .

What a difference a week makes.  On Sunday we did the Win-Lose walk with our rambling group.  It was colder, windier, and much muddier. We also had to walk quite briskly to make sure we were down from the hills before the light faded. 

Snow does add some beauty to the landscape however.

All the woollens were on - hat, mittens, cozy cowl.  I also switched out my usual fleece for my Icelandic lopi sweater and while I did sweat going up the hills, my core never felt chilled.  So wool wins the day again.

Friday, 24 November 2017

A Win-Lose Situation. . .

I have done several walks in the Peak District but have always started from Hayfield, as in this classic Kinder Scout walk, or Edale, (see this walk and this walk),  so I enjoyed helping the Liverpud recce an upcoming walk in the area, starting this time from Castleton, which is on the other side of the Edale Valley.

We started our walk down some pleasant country lanes, crossing a few fields of relaxed sheep who were clearly enjoying the late autumn sunshine.  We are heading for Win Hill which is just peeping out over the crest in the photo below.

Below is a photo taken half-way up Win looking back at where we came, and also at Lose Hill (pronounced Luce, I believe), that pointy hill just popping up between the two trees. That will be our final climb.

But first Win Hill.

From the top you can get a nice view of the Ladybower Reservoir.  The colours of the moorland are so rich this time of year.

Coming down from Win, we followed this path along the ridge, getting ever so closer to Lose Hill.  It was just a glorious day - chilly at times when the sun went behind a cloud, but otherwise the perfect temperature for a pleasant walk.

At this point we came down off the ridge, crossed the valley below and started our ascent up Lose, which is quite gradual.  It starts off in woods.

And when you come out of the forest at this gate, you feel as though you're at least half way.

This is the view from the top of Lose looking towards Mam Tor and the Edale Valley.  Again you get to walk along a ridge and enjoy the views . . .

. . . before turning off and heading down, back to Castleton.  You can just see Win Hill in the distance.

Castleton is a really delightful little town but it was too dark when we arrived to take any decent photos. It has lots of lovely shops, pubs and cafes, and their Christmas lights should be on when we return this weekend with our walking group.  Though we only did this walk last Sunday, I'm quite happy to revisit it; I just hope the weather is as nice.

Friday, 17 November 2017

An Interesting Construction Sucks Me In . . .

I swore I wouldn't cast on another 4ply sweater for a little while, having just finished my Ola Yoke and still needing to complete the sleeves on my Carpino.  But then the latest Pom Pom issue arrived and I was smitten with the cover pattern, Tabular, designed by Maja Moller.  It was also the case that I had the house to myself that weekend so there was nothing and no one to stop me from casting on at 10pm on a Friday night. So that is what I did.

The jumper is knit in pieces and then seamed together. You start with the triangle at the top. It doesn't take long, so you immediately want to join those two rectangles of garter stitch, never mind that it's way past midnight by this point.

Then comes a long stretch of stockinette knit back and forth.  I haven't done so much purling in a long time, but when I'm excited about a design. . .

It's quite a cropped sweater which doesn't really suit me, but it is easy enough to lengthen and I appreciated that the designer put a note in the pattern at the point where you could do so.  I added thirty rows, and this is what the front now looks like (the final two rectangles are picked up next but I haven't yet decided on a colour).

I next decided to knit the back. Again, an awful lot of stockinette back and forth. So in order to keep my interest, I decided to stripe it.  It's also useful for counting rows.

The yarn is Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumperweight (grey and beige) and the red is Jamieson & Smith Heritage Light Fingering.  Now I am half way up one sleeve.  I'll finish the second sleeve and then make a final decision on that last colour. Stay tuned. . .

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Very Special Jumper. . .

Earlier this week, I finished my Ola Yoke jumper, designed by the very talented Ella Gordon.  I started the sweater while still in Shetland, and it holds a lot of great memories for me.  The dark charcoal grey is Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight.  Ella herself sold me the cone at J & S headquarters in Lerwick.  The yoke is knit out of a variegated merino yarn by Nova Scotia's Fleece Artist, part of a series of special skeins celebrating Canada's National Parks. The lovely Janet, who was part of our knitting group exploring Shetland (and a fellow Canadian), kindly brought each of us a skein of this very special yarn.

As soon as I saw the colourway - Nunavut - with all its glacial, icicle-like blues and whites, I was reminded of Canadian painter Lawren Harris, in particular his paintings of Baffin Island and the far north of Canada.  I really wanted to use Janet's gift in a garment that would remind me of the great adventure we all had, the friendships we formed, and all the laughs (and there were many).  This pattern and yarn was perfect.

I added a few rows of purple (it's either J & S or Jamieson's of Shetland 4ply - I have long lost the ball band), as a nod to Harris who often includes the colour in his paintings.

I am completely in love with this jumper.  Of all the garments I've knit this year, it definitely has the best fit. The Shetland wool is warm and cozy, and it just feels so good to wear this. The only modification I made was to add a few extra decrease rows for a smaller neckline.  And this will always remind me of a fabulous vacation with a great group of women.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Off the Needles and On. . .

It seems an age since I posted any of my knitting but as I always have several projects on the needles, things are actually getting finished!

I enough scarves and shawls to last me a lifetime, but I just can't stop knitting them. They are my favourite portable project and one always has to have one of those tucked away in the bag!  They are also the best projects to try out new techniques or stitch patterns, or even how a yarn behaves.

This is my finished Strandwanderer, designed by Lea Viktoria.  This is a great pattern for a variegated skein as it really pulls out the individual colours. I also learned to knit backwards which is one of those invaluable skills. I wanted a bigger scarf than my one skein of Ripples Craft yarn in the Tartan colourway would allow, so I added this forest green Debonaire lace (which knits more like 4ply), and gradually increased the width of the striping.  I really like how it works with the other colours.

I won this pattern - Fika by Karie Westermann - in a knit-a-long prize draw, and thought it would be perfect for some skeins of Howgill Tweed from Laura's Loom that have been in my stash for several years.  Sadly, this yarn is discontinued but you could get the same marled effect by using two strands of contrasting or co-ordinating colours.

The photo above is a little washed out, but below, you can see the marled effect and how rich that orangey-red is.  This is a perfect autumnal, sheepy shawl.

September's project for A Year of Techniques was the Wood Warbler Cowl, designed by Martina Behm.  It was such a fun, quick project and ingeniously simple design, that I knit two!  The one on the left used two colourways of Schoppel-Wolle Gradient DK and for the one on the right, I cast on fewer stitches to make it a little more snug, and used the remnants of my Reothart yarn from Uist Wool paired with some Tamar DK from Blacker.

My absolutely favourite recent project though has to be the Eddy Wrap designed by Julia Farwell-Clay.  This was so much fun to knit. I used Kate Davies' Buachaille yarn for both the main body and the scallops and the colours are so cheery and autumnal that I smile every time I wear it. It reminds me of harlequins.

I also have two sweaters on the go.  I've now finished the body and sleeves of my Ola Yoke by Ella Gordon, and am really looking forward to joining them all up and starting the fair isle yoke pattern.  It's going to have a wintery look to it, so perfect for the next few months.

As part of Knit British's Good Intentions Club, in which we are encouraged to dig out neglected patterns and yarn and just knit the darn things, I have cast on Carpino by Carol Feller in this lovely teal Titus 4ply.  I am a little further on than this photo shows; the body is now done and I just have the sleeves and neckline to do. It's going to look great with jeans or a brown skirt.

Oops, and I may have just cast on another shawl too. I have long been pondering a pattern to show off a lovely set of mini-skeins from the Knitting Goddess that I bought at the Leeds Wool Festival.  I have settled on the Lamina Wrap by Ambah O'Brien and this is my current portable project.  The silvery white is the Knitting Goddess's new One Farm yarn and it may well be my yarn of the year - so soft and sheepy. Really enjoying knitting on this and seeing the subtle gradients develop.  Though I really should be knitting mittens.  I actually need mittens.