what I did on my holidays (Easter 2011 edition)

knitted a Valkyrie Vest
Valkyrie Vest
I made a few mods to get the fit I wanted, details on ravelry project page.
Valkyrie VestValkyrie Vest

thanks to Vikki for taking such great photos , I am appointing her my offishul garment photographer from now on

It’s knitted from Drops Alaska & so was perfect for the Purl City Yarns’ Scandivian Night (celebrating the arrival of yet more Drops yarns yay).
Scandinavian Night at Purl City Yarns

Oh & I did occassionally do stuff other than knitting over Easter …
what I did on my holidays (Easter 2010 edition)
1. help my father-out-law celebrate his 80th birthday, 2. finally finished my pink socks, 3. ate icecreams at Benone beach, 4. walked in the Ness Woods, 5. saw bluebells in the Ness Woods, 6. oohed & aahed over the new bebbeh sheeps, 7. visited Ballycastle (& shopped for dulse for RubbishKnitter & Barry’s Tea for spinninggeer), 8. saw the sun set on the hills of Donegal, 9. skimmed stones at Marsden Bay, 10. knit on the beach, 11. got hot in the Durham Botanic Gardens hot houses, 12. sat in the spring sunshine with bff & bff’s mam


at last

Bauhaus Fair Isle finally finished
pattern: Bauhaus Fair Isle by Mary Jane Mucklestone ; yarn: Dalegarn Falk; ravelry project page

Also known at the Never Ending Fair Isle Jumper of DOOM as it took soooo long to finish. I love knitting fair isle, that wasn’t the problem. Part of the problem was running out of yarn & having to order more. The main problem was how unwieldy I found it to knit in top-down sleeves. The work was so big and heavy, too big and heavy to just do the odd row from time to time. I didn’t even want to get it out unless I had a good chunk of time free to work on it. I think that I would generally rather knit in pieces & seam (now I have finally cracked mattress stitch, seaming holds little fear).

Now to try & knit a Valkyrie Vest before Easter ….


talking of blogs …

… as we were at the LYS where I’m now working part-time, I had a deeply guilty conscience about ignoring mine. So time to blow the dust off and post a quick update.

For most of January I spun on my drop spindle. Right now I love spindling, I love the simplicity and portability of hte tool as well as its tradition and antiquity. No doubt I will be lusting after a wheel soon enough, but for now I am happy with my drop spindle. OK, spindles, as I now have 3.

Some yarns I’ve spun …
shetland black handspunflat whitebilberryeastlands blues

And some things I’ve knitted from yarns I’ve spun …
bilberry swirlone day handspun mittshandspun swirl

I’ve also had my first go at dyeing yarns but that’s for another post.

spinning yarnz

For the past two years my bff has been threatening to teach me to spin. I couldn’t risk letting her – there was no way I would ever graduate if I got another fibery habit.  But having completed the final course for my degree in October, I found a spindle in my Christmas stocking
new spindle

along with a pair of hand carders and some merino tops. So I spent Christmas day (and many days thereafter) playing with my presents, and eventually (and thanks to various online tutorials and videos), made yarn!


I have already managed to make Real Yarn, plied and everything.  All the tutorials caution new spinners to make sure to add enough twist; I think I took this too much to heart and ended up with very twisty yarn.  But it’s still yarn, and I think I have enough of the green merino for fingerless gloves.
first plied yarntwisty merino handspun
So mostly I have been spinning since Christmas, not much knitting except for sshhh sooper seekrit project for Purl City Yarns design contest).

There was however much knitting and other crafting at the end of last year, here’s a quick catch up on some recent(ish) makes, including Christmas knittings
Christmas & other makes
1. Tavish’s booties, 2. Fagin Gloves, for DrM, 3. beanie, for son, 4. day of the dead bag, 5. Ishbel, for mum, 6. limpetiole, for sis, 7. dolls house shawl, 8. cats’ Xmas present, 9. Lennard-Jones socks, for Ethel


Wishing everyone a brilliant Christmas, and virtually sharing our festive biscuits with you all. Will try and be a better blogger soon.

yarn business ethics 101

The purpose of this post is to alert anyone thinking of spending money with

  • Yarn Gathering of 14a Earlsdon Street, Coventry CV5 6EG (not to be confused with other knitting shops with the same/similar name); company number 07171339, registered office 6 Church Road, Coventry, CV8 3AR*
  • ebay seller jowatso21
  • any business with britishyarn.org.uk or yarngathering.co.uk* in its web or email address or using the email address yarngathering@gmail.com*
  • or any other business run by Joanne Watson and Douglas Watson (Jo Watson and Doug Watson) of  Coventry

to read up on their business history first.

Like much of the rest of the knitosphere I watched this summer’s Knit Camp drama unfold on ravelry and elsewhere with ever increasing horror and incredulity. I didn’t blog about it, because, well, this blog isn’t about teh dramahz. I’m blogging about it now because in spite of everything, Jo Watson (the person responsible for the knit camp debacle) is still trying to make money from knitting and knitters.

In case you missed it, and as I did not attend Knit Camp, I give you the words of just some of those who did:

or read Dye Studio Queenie’s summary.  It’s pretty clear that organisation was chaotic, communication with tutors and paying customers poor to non-existent and tutors left unpaid – not only their fees, but out of pocket for their travel expenses. Plus, due to the organisers not having appropriate immigration clearance in place in time, Lorillee was refused entry to the UK and removed from the country.

No apologies or explanations were forthcoming.  Soon after Knit Camp those owed money were informed that the organising company responsible, ‘Events by British Yarn’, was insolvent and little or no further money owed would be paid.  Knitters being knitters, a whip round was organised which raised enough money to at least reimburse tutors for their out of pocket expenses.

But now it seems Jo Watson never left the yarn business.  While people are still owed a lot of money by one of her companies,  and other people have donated money to help the unpaid tutors, she has reopened for business.  The online arm of her shop has reappeared and she is also selling on wool & knitting items on ebay.

There is nothing Jo Watson is selling that you can’t buy elsewhere, from more responsible and ethical knitting businesses which do not have a history of leaving people out of pocket. Some of my favourites are over there on the right; there are lots more besides.

Spend your money wisely, knitters (and crocheters and spinners, too, of course). And if you have a blog, consider posting something about this sorry affair on your blog too.

* updates added 17/11/10

look where I went today

Purl City Yarns
Purl City Yarns, Manchester’s new LYS, opened today! To much excitement amongst us Mancunian knitters. Until now there has been no proper wool shop in the city centre and we are so happy to have one this amazing.

prettyThere’s a wonderful range of yarns, from reasonably priced workhorses, through designer yarns to fantabulous indie dyed gorgeousness.  Featuring lots and lots of sock yarns om nom nom. And wickedly tempting alpacas – I say wicked because I recently discovered I am allergic to alpaca (sobs). But oh wow the cottons! I’ve never met Austermann Algarve before – that’s some of it over there <—. For some unknown reason most yarn manufacturers produce cottons in “summery” ie pastel/muted/Bor-ING colours. Not Austermann, their cotton comes in a stunning range of colours. 

And there’s more yarny goodness to come – the Malabrigo and Lorna’s Laces and Skeins haven’t arrived yet!

Don’t just take my word for it, rubbish knitter loves it too (plus she has better photos than me).  And so does I dream of crafting – but she’s a bit biased, she works there. Here she is having a hard day at the office.
Even better, visit it yourself next time you’re in Manchester. Or make a special trip. We’ll take you for tea in North Tea Power afterwards if you like.

What was that? What did I buy? Have you seen my stash? Why on earth would I need to buy more yarns? retro OK of course  it turns out I do actually need more yarns (yes need I said, NEED) and came home with this (remarkably restrained, I thought) bag-ful, for Sooper Seekrit Project.

last weekend

My Open University project report is submitted at last. I am so used to spending my weekends hunched over books & netbook, watching the sunshine through the window, I hardly know that to do with a free weekend. We can even go away on the odd weekend (when son can be torn away from capoiera, MC club, drama group, rugby and D&D).

So last weekend we headed up to the North East to stay with my BFF and help another Dear Friend celebrate his birthday. Major baking was in order; I am all about the muffins and have even started experimenting with savoury ones.
We went to the coast, to the gorgeous Marsden Bay and its very lovely limestone, ideal for DF to try out the pirate hat I made him.
pirate hat
piratespattern: We Call Them Pirates by Adrian Bizilia (free ravelry download); yarn: James C Brett Pure Merino shades PM9, PM7, PM10; needles3.25 mm, 3.00 mm; ravelry project page.

I was a bit worried about the tension on this, as I do knit slightly loose anyway and was using DK instead of sport weight, but it came out perfect.

I do love knitting hats, you can just spot a couple of others in this picture.
looking out to sea
(that’s a Guimauve and an Into the Valley).

I blame Granny G

muffinsbanana nut muffins
Our house has seen an outbreak of baking activity in the past couple of weeks, due to a combination of son watching Great British Bake-Off and me listening to Granny G’s most excellent fibery cakey podcasts.  We’re sort of celebrating me finishing my course and also getting ready for up-coming birthday and fund-raising baking.  And it’s actually pretty quick and easy to turn out a batch of muffins, if you’ve got a food processor and wash up as you go along
chocolate muffinscupcakes

So we’ve made several batches of muffins, including a first wobbly attempt at cupcake icing.  Most are straight out of recipe books but I do have some variations of my own.  Here’s my recipe for today’s special, banana nut muffins.
banana nut muffins


I have a new cardigan, complete with zip.
kool kotton kopy kat kardigan
pattern: improvised; yarn: James C Brett Kool Kotton shade KK12; needles: 3.25 mm & 3.75mm rav project page

I made it up as I went along, trying to copy an old cardigan I already own. One of my favourite features of the old cardigan is the two-way zip. After reading up online and with plenty of virtual handholding, I installed my first-ever zip-in-knitting.
zip bottom zip top
oh and that on my head is my new beret. I have fallen in love with wearing slouchy hats in summer-ish yarns, this latest one is Phannie crocheted from Kool Kotton.