Tea Party Time

On Saturday, 17 October I attended a tea party hosted by the ever-exciteable Jess of Ginger Twist fame and the talented Claire Devine at Pekoe Tea in Stockbridge. The party was to launch the tea hat collection patterns created by Claire which were knit using Jess’s yarn.

The event was a sell-out, and those who paid extra for a pattern and yarn joined together with the virtual world in casting on a tea collection hat. Having enough on my plate at the moment, I chose not to join the knit along. There was still plenty to entertain though. I brought along my current knitting project and settled down to knit with friends. The evening included tea cocktails (as I was driving I was unable to partake in this), a selection of tea and macarons.  We were also given a whistle stop tour in tea education and had the chance to try on the collection of hats. It was a rather an interesting evening in great company.
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Socks

I recently completed my third ever pair of hand knit socks and I am very pleased with them.

They are certainly an improvement on when I started knitting socks. My first attempt was a recommended pattern, Spice Man and some inherited plain blue sock yarn. I had double pointed needles, cast on and knit. So far so good … except it wasn’t good. I had a terrible ladder up each side of the socks. I bought a couple of circular needles and continued. Yes, there was an improvement, but I was still left with the original ugly ladders. I put the sock down and stopped. My heart wasn’t in this project. I went on to knit other things. I eventually frogged that sad little partial sock and was given a great tip – knit socks you really want to. I realised that I wasn’t fond of the yarn so had no desire to try and knit those socks again. I passed the yarn on to somebody else. The pattern is still useful in that it has good basic measurements for knitting socks that I’m told can be adapted to many sock patterns.

My next attempt was a wonderful match of pattern and yarn. I LOVED the yarn, the pattern was a delight to knit. Finally, I had a pair of socks. They are a little on the tight side, but nonetheless I am pleased.

My next sock attempt was a pattern test. My first ever pattern test. I powered through whilst on holiday. I faced constant distractions and made many mistakes. The yarn wasn’t quite right for the project – the socks were tight and the yarn had very little give.

The next pair of socks were made from a yarn I bought from a dyer in the US. I fell in love with its name – World Map. I went for a pattern that was the perfect match. Every colour change was to be purled. I purled the green so the socks became a topographical map.

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The colour changes were quite subtle and so it was quite hard to sometimes see where I needed to switch stitch. I love the idea of the pattern and yarn, but if I were to do a project like this again I’d want more obvious colour changes and I’d probably use a different plain sock pattern and just adopt the purled colour change into that particular pattern.

This leads me to my latest finished socks.

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They’re still not quite perfect, but I am still very pleased with the end result. I bought the yarn at the very first Indie Burgh Yarn Crawl. I loved the colours and they reminded me a little of those images of cherry blossom on a pale blue background. The colours are actually to represent Ginger Twist Studio, Be Inspired Fibres and Kathy’s Knits. I decided the yarn should become socks, and then I found a pattern for tabi socks. Yes, yarn and pattern are a fabulously pleasing combination.

This pattern had and easy to remember pattern repeat and they were quick to knit.

I’m almost too scared to wear the final result. They seem too pretty to wear or hide in shoes. I’ll get over that 😄

I’m now onto knitting pair of socks number four. I found a sweet little pattern specifically created for those 50g skeins of Koigu.

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The pattern is easy enough to remember, the yarn is pretty, but I’m not sure any socks will ever be as great as my cute little tabis.

Elephants

I’ve always loved elephants, but since I got together with Rod they have become even more important to me,. Rod grew up in Kenya so to him, elephants are a little piece of home. He even used to run a bar in Nairobi called The Pink Elephant. Not long after we got together I asked my friend Mel if she would knit me a pink Elijah if I bought the pattern for her, followed shortly by a request to knit another in grey. I wanted to surprise Rod with a pink elephant,  his own little mascot. I fell in love with Elijah and wanted one of my own too. This was all before I had the ability to knit, and in exchange I sent Mel a box of goodies,  including some lovely yarns. Mel did a fabulous job on our elephants and Pink and Elijah often join us on our travels, sometimes posing for photos along the way.

More recently my Aunt and Uncle, seeing our elephants, asked if I would knit them each an elephant. Of course, now I can knit, but at the time of asking was still a bit scared of anything that looked vaguely complicated so gave a non-committal shrug. I stored the request for elephants, promised myself I’d make the elephants when I was able.

At the start of the year I decided to match as much of my stash with patterns as possible.  This was difficult but enjoyable all the same and in the matching process I decided that a small skein of Yarn Yard’s Clan in a lovely mottled purple would become an Elijah.  I worked my way through a few progjects and soon Elijah could no longer be resisted … I was ready to tackle Elijah. 

I had to look at the instructions to start Elijah,  a lighter circular cast on, but couldn’t work it out so resorted to a YouTube video for help. Once I got the cast on out of the way I was soon flying. I worked on the head whilst watching a film
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And then before I knew it Elijah had formed a body
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Legs
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Arms
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And ears
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I even added a tail, even though the pattern doesn’t, by threading six 30cm strands of yarn at bottom level, plaiting them and tying in a knot.
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I loved knitting this little elephant, even if he was a bit fiddly in places. I love this flump so much I want to keep him, I was even encouraged to by friends, but I stayed strong. I named the elephant Tembo, Swahili for elephant,  and decided that he would become Uncle Geoff’s. I have a pale blue sparkly yarn coming over from Australia in August, thanks to a lovely friend, which will become Aunty Anne’s Elijah,  although I think this one will be a girl. Maybe she should be renamed Elle and have a little flower over her ear just to make sure everybody knows she is a girl. Hmmm … maybe Tembo should have a little bow tie.

I have now acquired another couple of skeins of Yarn Yard’s Clan, in pale green and peach, from a fellow knitter and Elijah fan and have already decided that the green skein is going to become a surprise Elijah for a friend living in Martha’s Vineyard who sponsors an elephant at the DSWT. Rod then said he needed another elephant,  one for his desk, so I think little Peaches will go to Rod.

Ive never knit any project more than once,  but I now have three more Elijah’s lined up and I can’t wait to get on with them. However,  in an attempt to not tire myself of the project I didn’t rush straight into knitting another elephant and instead went for some socks … but I’m dreaming of Elijah. This really is a great project.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

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Blimey! What a weekend!! The second Edinburgh Yarn Festival is over and what an absolute blast. It was a non-stop, fun-filled weekend and I can’t wait until the next EYF already … although I still need time to catch my breath a little.

My involvement started on Friday morning as a volunteer helping to get everything set up – taking boxes to the venue, filling EYF bags with leaflets, helping exhibitors with set up. This was all cut a little short for me as I had to collect Rod from hospital, but the glimpses of what I saw had me really excited for the weekend.
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Saturday morning was an early start – I was collected by taxi and whisked off to collect the teachers from their hotel. What a lovely bunch of teachers and they seemed to be appreciative of somebody to make sure they got to the venue okay. We had a quick breakfast at the venue and a bit of a natter. It was really nice to be able to get to know the teachers a little.

My next volunteer duty was to help out at one of the external teaching venues, the Risk Factory. it was only a couple of minutes walk from the Corn Exchange and very easy to find (especially having been there once before on work business). My fellow volunteers were already at the venue to check students into their classes so I ran around the classrooms checking everything was in order, checking when the teachers were ready for students to come in and then help direct students to the appropriate rooms. I was certainly kept fit as I ran up and down the stairs. There was excitement in the air as the students scurried off to their classes. I scurried off to my first class too.
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I had decided to sign up to one of the Teapot Trust classes – the fair isle brooch class. It was a bargain price and I thought it would be great to give me a few hints and techniques given that I have set myself the goal of completing something in fair isle this year. The class was full and we all sat around the large table with yarn and pattern and set to work. The yarn I had didn’t quite work out for the project, but I think I got the hang of fair isle in this simple pattern. Fingers crossed my first proper fair isle project does work.

Back to the Risk Factory to see everybody out of their classes, tidy up the classrooms and get ready for the next round of classes. I was very impressed with the Risk Factory as a venue, and it was nice to be able to get some fresh air as I moved between the Corn Exchange and the Risk Factory. Everybody settled into their classes it was now time to hit the marketplace. I had already looked at the list of exhibitors in advance, but I was really quite happy just running around and looking at all the stalls, so much so I couldn’t really tell you many of the exhibitors who were there. I bought a few bits and pieces – not too much really as I’d planned for Sunday to be my shopping day, Saturday I was more involved and focussed on volunteering.

A couple of us volunteers then headed for the bar next door to watch the England v Scotland rugby match. Pleased to say that my side won the game … much to the disgust of many in the bar!!!

In the evening we had the Ca-BAA-ret to look forward to … an evening of entertainment from Felicity Ford AKA Knitsonik, telling us about how her Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook came to be. Her presentation was delightful and funny and interesting all at the same time. I was particularly interested in Felicity’s breakdown on the true cost to knit a box of Shreddies!
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The evening was rounded off with a pub quiz. We scratched our heads and puzzled over many of the questions and rounds, but I am pleased to say that our team won. It was a rather tricky quiz, and earning about half the total marks available we really were surprised to win, but boy were we chuffed to bits, especially when we were each handed a little project bag with two skeins of Yarn Pony.

Sunday started in the same way as Saturday – collecting teachers, ensuring they were fed and coffeed and sent to their classrooms. Here I thought my volunteering was over, but there was one little task left – handing out tote bags to the first 100 through the doors. Those were some very happy people heading quickly towards me – so nice to make somebody smile over such a little thing and I’m sure it set their day off to a good start.

Now my volunteering really was over. I met up with my friend Hester and a little later we were joined by Jackie and we hit the marketplace together. We worked our way along each aisle, stopping at the stalls that caught our eye. Having already done a quick run around on Saturday I already had a rough idea what I was after. The marketplace was just a wonderful sight – so much to see, a real feast for the eyes … and fingers as we fondled the yarn! I was mighty impressed with the marketplace. Don’t get me wrong, the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival had a wonderful marketplace, but the festival was so popular that there was such a crush to see any stall. The new venue has allowed for much more space, and although very busy, the set up was much improved.
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Another great improvement was the availability of space to sit and eat/drink and knit. There was a large room filled with tables and chairs and I could see I was not the only person glad of a chance to stop and look over the new purchases and have space to knit and chat with friends. There was also the podcast lounge with comfy sofas so I dropped by for a short time before needing to head to my class.
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When classes for the Yarn Festival were announced I had decided I’d not take a class, but then the more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to take one to get the full festival experience. One of my other goals for this year is to darn a pair of socks belonging to Rod. They hold sentimental value so I really want to give them a new life. There was one space left in Master Darner Tom’s class on the Sunday afternoon so I booked it – that single space was a sign, right?

Tom’s class was interesting as he explained different types of darning and when to use them. I love that he does not hide his darning as he wants to show that something has been used and served time. I was also impressed that he would happily darn anything – even an item of cheap clothing that many would just throw away once it had served its purpose. What an interesting idea that even though somebody could not give as much loving time as they liked to finish off an item of clothing properly, Tom would still lovingly darn that item of clothing.
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My final haul from EYF 2015:

  • 3 x Ullcentrum 2 ply in Petrol
  • Joes Toes suede soles
  • A large pair of socks for rod and a woven brooch to go with my Vasa from Laura’s Loom
  • Pattern for Pyukkleen
  • Ribbons and buttons from Textile Garden
  • A gorgeous ring made from an old knitting needle from Yellow Bear Wares – reminds me of my nana’s knitting needles
  • Stitch markers from Spin Pretty as a thank you gift for Rod’s cousin
  • A gift for a very good Aussie friend … but I couldn’t possibly say what for fear of prying eyes!!
  • 2 x YarnPony Posh Pony in Saline (quiz prize)
  • 1 x YarnPony Mustang in Concrete (volunteer gift)

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Festival over and I can truly say that this was an amazing weekend. I was honoured to be able to volunteer and help the yarn festival be so successful, but that volunteer work was only a very small part – Jo and Mica deserve a lot of praise for making this the wonderful event that it was.

Roll on Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016!

So here I am, a knitter

From a young age I enjoyed arts and crafts. When I got to high school my enjoyment of arts and crafts died thanks to a horrendous art teacher who didn’t make art fun in any way and didn’t appreciate that I might just be able to paint a picture in 80 minutes and be happy with the results. Instead I was made to sit for three more weeks and ruin the picture I was happy with to make the teacher happy leave him in peace for three more weeks so that he could sit and read a newspaper rather than give me a different project.

I didn’t really pick up any form of craft again until education was out of the way. I started out with feeling the need to do something … but wasn’t sure what. I looked at courses offered in the local area. I liked the look of the sewing class so signed up. I made a bag. I wasn’t overly happy with the end result, but it wasn’t too bad considering I hadn’t ever made anything on a sewing machine before. I decided to take another sewing class and make an item of clothing. Again, the results weren’t great and I never actually finished the project, but you have to start somewhere and learn from your experiences.

I love pretty papers so tried my hand at making paper, and the next logical step seemed to be to bind paper into a book. I found instructions on the internet and gave it a go. I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t see myself churning out books.

I then found a felting class so took a six week block of felting. I loved that you got very quick results. I started making felt brooches from pieces of wet felt I’d made. I even managed to sell a couple of those brooches. I did a second block of felting classes to try some different techniques.

My mind started drifting back to sewing again. My friend Kate is pretty nifty with a sewing machine and offered to teach me to make a shopping bag. We went shopping for fabric. I had no idea there were so many gorgeous fabrics. Kate made a great teacher and our first session was a great success. We have since made a few bags together, and we even created a pattern together which I love.

I still felt a little empty though, these crafts didn’t satisfy my requirements. The problem was that I had two jobs at the time and really needed a portable craft. Knitting scared me a little LOT, but I fancied the idea of a yarn based hobby so I opted to learn crochet instead. I signed up to a magazine series to learn to crochet. I loved it, but still I didn’t feel entirely satisfied. I looked at my crochet and the problem was that it did not give me the kind of fabric I wanted to be able to make clothing/accessories. At around the same time my friend Lindsay posted on Facebook that she was interested in going to a knitting class and she wondered if anybody wanted to join her. Umm … me?

Let’s go back in time again. My Mum asked me if I wanted to learn to knit when I was about 11 years old. Sure I thought, that sounds like fun. Well, my Mum cast on for me and showed me how to knit. I did. Then whenever something “complicated” needed doing, the project went back to my Mum, she worked her magic and then I was on my way again. Knit knit knit. Mum cast off for me, a little bit of sewing and my first piece of knitting was complete. I had made a bootie, a single lonely bootie. I never did make its twin. In my mind all I could think about was that knitting was complicated as I had to take my knitting to Mum anytime something other than straightforward knit stitch was required.

I have many friends who knit and I felt inspired by the beautiful projects being churned out. I wanted to be able to do that. So, Lindsay and I signed up for the knitting class – a two parter at a local yarn store. If the craft still wasn’t for me then I hadn’t invested too much time or money. Vala was my teacher, and she was great. I understood everything she said and demonstrated. When Mum first taught me to knit all those years ago it would have been with the yarn in my right hand. When I went to Vala’s class I was taught again with the yarn in my right hand, but I carried the yarn in my left hand straight away. It turns out that I prefer continental knitting over English knitting … gasp … but I am English!!

So here I am, a knitter. Something I never thought I would be, but come March this year it will have been my craft of choice for four years.