More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Latest on Django, plus beautiful turbans

After all the dramas of yesterday, I'm feeling a bit strung out this morning and slow off the mark. The cat flap remained firmly shut overnight, so when I got up the two kitties were there as usual, pawing the kitchen door, eagerly awaiting their breakfast. However, I'm now really nervous about letting Django out again - I knew I had to so it was with some trepidation that I gingerly opened the cat flap and out he shot like a bullet as if he was on a mission.

Thoughts of I'll never see him again flashed through my mind, but by the time I was having my own breakfast he was back to share my morning toast. As I write this he's sitting plaintively on the kitchen table looking out the window, probably thinking don't know what all the fuss is about. Anyway so far so good, I'm hoping he's learnt his lesson, but sadly it's not for nothing that I call  him a dumb blond -  Django is just accident prone.
Last time we had to rescue him from 80 feet up a pine tree, after a neighbour's dog chased him - couldn't blame the dog as it was his garden!  Only hours of coaxing got him down when we were on the verge of calling the fire brigade. Turns out yesterday he got into the garage by squeezing through a gap in the eaves, but once in couldn't find his way out again.  Duh!
Starting to think we should have called him Gulliver, but don't want to tempt providence, just hoping he's had enough of his travels for now. His first birthday's coming up in a couple of weeks, so maybe after that he'll feel he's sown his wild oats and it's time to settle down. Fingers crossed.
Thumbing through Vogue Knitting yesterday I came across a page I just had to show you. Vintage style turbans, wonderfully styled.  Love them.  Have made a note to include my own version in next book, which I should have been starting in earnest this week... best laid schemes!

Thanks to Robbie Burns for this great phrase.  It comes from his poem To a Mouse of 1786. As it's not long after Burns night, you may like his apology to the mouse, after he upturned a mouse's nest while ploughing a field:

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.

Was also the source for the title of John Steinbeck's 1937 novel - Of Mice and Men

Meanwhile Arlo has just come to tell me that Django's gone out again.  He's very vocal and stepping all over the fingerboard, his way of saying DO SOMETHING! Think it's going to be one of those days...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Django goes walkabout... again!

Completely stressed out this morning.  My mum has been quite poorly over the weekend so there's been much consulting with carers, doctors and the lady herself, trying to get things sorted.  On top of this Django had been missing for 24 hours and when there was still no sign of him when we got up today alarm bells started ringing.  I have a very fertile imagination and was imagining he'd been picked up and transported to some far flung place by cat slavers or worse still killed or injured on a road.

So first thing leaflet duly made, then posted through every letterbox in neighbourhood and all nearby sheds and garages checked.  Was feeling very dejected when the phone rang with a sighting, albeit from yesterday morning. Django had been spotted on the roof of a nearby garage complex.
Rushed round immediately, only to find it was locked.  Scream! Was turning to leave when I just thought I'd give the gate a little push and what do you know, it opened!  Luckily the lock was for show and not engaged at all.  However we found nothing inside the complex and turned round once more to leave.  I don't know why, but something made me look up and what should I see but a plaintive figure of a cat yowling at a first floor window, in a workshop built on top of the garages.  Yaaaay, we'd found him!

However, finding the owners of the workshop proved a little more difficult.  After much Sherlock Holmesing we located where they lived but obviously as it was mid-morning they were at work.  So plan B was put into place, a holding operation,  where we threaded food and water through the sliver of space beneath the door. We could hear Django wolfing the food down, so knew he must be OK.  After more detective work with help from kind neighbours, an assignation was eventually made for 4.30 this afternoon. Fingers and everything else crossed that he manages to stay put till then!
Staying close

Arlo's taken refuge in my knitting basket with some Araucania yarn
Can't decide whether or not Arlo has noticed his friend and mentor's absence.  But just in case he has and is feeling even half as anxious as I am,  he's getting a relaxing, if somewhat manic, stroke. I realise this is mainly to calm my own frayed nerves, which could do with a shot of horse tranquilliser or at the very least a stiff drink.
As there's work to be done strong coffee will have to suffice. I can hear you saying don't do it, reach for the camomile tea, but on the assumption it's impossible to get any more wired and also a bit of what you fancy does you good, I'm reaching for the coffee pot and a flip through the latest VK. More later when hopefully Django will be released and I will be a bit calmer...
ps just spoken to Mum's doctor who assures me she is perking up, maybe I'm on a roll here?
Long suffering with the ever assertive Arlo
Django latest... the dumb blond of the maine Coon world has now been rescued. The owner of the garage met us with the remote for the lock and of course Django immediately shot out with me having visions of him being squashed on the nearby road in the rush hour. However, Philip was too quick for him and rugby tackled him to the ground and placed him safely in the cat box. Whew! Meant to take pic of him at home post trauma (mine not his!) but he's sulking somewhere as the cat flap is firmly shut for now - enough dramas for today!  Found this one taken a few days ago with Arlo sitting on top of him. Maybe he was just looking for his own chair?
What's new?
pps Just found Arlo sitting on top of Django again. I knew he was missing him, though Django's probably missing the peace and quiet of his own private workshop/garage!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Knitting On Circular Needles - Sweet Shawlettes

Knitting On Circular Needles - Sweet Shawlettes:

'via Blog this'
I was over the moon when I read this review of Sweet Shawlettes. Linda was one of the winners on the blog tour - she won the book from Rachel Heron's post at Yarnagogo. Naturally I'm always pleased when a knitter loves my work, but Linda's post almost made me cry as she seemed to have a sixth sense about all the things I was trying to do into the book.

So thank you Linda for your generous and lovely post, I can't think of anyone I'd rather have won it.

LEEK POTATO & ROCKET SOUP
While I remember, thought I'd give you the recipe for the soup I wrote about the other day. Makes enough for six generous portions. This is a quick recipe, great for when friends drop by unexpectedly on a cold day. It will freeze, or keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

3 large fat leeks
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 medium sized potatoes, washed but not peeled
packet of wild rocket
1 large stick celery, chopped roughly in third of an inch (1cm) pieces
tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 flat teaspoons vegetable bouillon


Slit the leeks and wash out any grit. then slice finely. Heat the olive oil in large saucepan, then add the leeks, garlic and celery and saute for a few minutes.  Meanwhile chop the potatoes into rough 1 in (2.5 cm) pieces, When leeks are becoming translucent, add the pototoes, half of the packet of rocket, salt, pepper and bouillon and stir well, adding a little more oil if necessary to prevent sticking.  Boil a kettle full of water and when all veg is hot and seasoned through, pour the water over the mixture.  The water should cover the veg with an equal amount on top.  Put the lid on the pan and simmer for half an hour.
Serve steaming hot, garnished with remainder of rocket, and enjoy with good bread (like these rustic wholemeal loaves Philip made the other day) with or without butter (you can be good, but I can't resist!).  Enjoy!

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Medium is the Message

There’ve been a lot of mentions recently in the social media about the plight of the freelance designer. In fact only the other day I found even the mighty Panopticon, who rounded off my Sweet Shawlettes blog tour yesterday, bemoaning the fact that sexism is rife in the industry, having just experienced a dose of it himself.

From what I’m hearing it seems that many designers are wracked by insecurity and self-doubt, convinced they are being ignored, overlooked or dismissed. Yet rejection is common currency in a freelancer’s everyday life. You’re only as good as your last design and unfortunately there’s always another designer willing to work for a lower fee.

In my experience most knit designers are in the business because they love the craft rather than to line their pockets. Many will work for whatever they are told is the going rate, sometimes even just for the kudos of having their designs in print, which makes them vulnerable to unscrupulous companies who consistently undervalue their work. It’s virtually impossible to make a decent living out of pattern sales alone, unless of course you are lucky enough to be the newest darling of the knitterati.

Cover with original typo
which McLuhan asked his
publisher not to correct
Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message is proving to be an amazingly accurate prophecy. McLuhan's observation that societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication is undoubtedly more relevant today than ever before. Many skills are demanded of today’s designers and it’s virtually impossible to do it all, have a life and not burn out.  We are in the business of innovation and creativity, but we’re expected to do the admin, promotion, marketing, web design, networking etc etc as well – it’s not possible to get help as the money just isn’t there to support it. Therefore it doesn’t matter how good a designer you are  - if you’re not media savvy you might just as well forget it.

I’ve always felt here’s something intrinsically wrong that design should come at the end of the line when the cash is being handed out.  In the 80s that’s why so much fantastic British talent went abroad, where there were companies that recognised good design and were willing to pay for it to set their products apart from the rest. 

It’s a tough old world and competition, rather than co-operation, is encouraged to get the best product for the cheapest price.  There’s no union, and one designer is played off against another, generating an inevitable climate of elbowing your way up the ladder.  Insult to injury is added by the fact that it all happens under the cosy umbrella of knitting, where everything is supposed to be in fine apple pie order.

Franklin and his many, many correspondents seemed to be surprised, indeed outraged at what happened to him.  Whilst I understand the outrage, in an ideal world of course sexism shouldn’t exist, but knitting is a craft not a creed. So I’m never surprised that there are sexist, racist and ageist bigots to be found knitting away with the rest of us. 

Like any other demographic, there’s bound to be a percentage of any ism you care to mention thrown into the mix. After all you wouldn’t expect every knitter to belong to the same political party, so why should they all have similar views on any other topic.  Wherever you are on the infinite human spectrum, you’re bound to be judged negatively by some and there’s always going to be those who will allow that prejudice to affect their judgement of your work.

I salute Franklin for bringing our attention to it, but feel that beating oneself up about it is a total waste of time and emotion.  As designers we need to toughen up, stick together and lead by example, in the hope that the majority of knitters will follow in our footsteps, so that the industry might eventually recognise the true value of creative design.



Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  Knit 1 Chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit in your Hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Cup cakes and leek soup

Lovely afternoon yesterday with Ava.  We made jammy cupcakes and there's nothing like cooking with a three-year-old to get you up to speed.  The aim is to get to the end of the exercise before she loses interest - I often feel like that myself, but the beauty of being three is that you can actually abandon the task.
Slightly rustic, but still yummy!
So... it's plain sailing putting out the pretty cases, weighing out the ingredients, then mixing it all together in a bowl, but then we get to the sticky part - putting the mixture, with jam in the middle into the cases.  Messy job is this year's understatement and Ava doesn't like mess.  So we do our best with the first layer to cover the bottom of the case.  Then comes the jam... well more tricky to get the runny stuff to sit in the middle and not slide down the sides, so Gigi (as all three grandchildren call me) helps a little, then we get at least half way through putting the top layer on before Ava decides she's had enough and skips off to join Philip in some shredding.
First camellia of the year!
Just managed to get the cakes out of the oven in time to collect Izzi from school, which is always a delight as she enjoys it so much. She's always smiling when I pick her up and this time, despite the rain, she danced all the way to the car.  When we got back I noticed the first camellia of the year had opened in the front garden.  Just fabulous!  How can it look so exotic in cold, rainy January?!
Izzi, Ava think Philip's cushion hat is hilarious!
Had the house to myself for an hour after the girls had gone home while Philip was at his yoga class.  I decided to make a quick supper for when he got back, reasoning that I could then also fit in time for a relaxing soak. So leek, potato and rocket soup it was - with a chunk of wholemeal bread, slathered in butter it's unadulterated cold weather comfort food. Will post recipe soon when there's a little more time.  My brain had clocked off for the night when I took the photo, as I now realise it would have been much better on a different coloured plate, but never mind, you get the idea.
Leek, potato & rocket soup
When I say I was home alone, of course I meant except for the kitties.  You may or may not know that Maine Coons are famous for loving water, so unless I lock Django and Arlo up nothing is sacred, not even a bath. Last night I was joined by Arlo, who sat observing the proceedings at the end of the bath, occasionally amusing himself by fiddling with my toes in the water. However, being a cheeky 7-month-old, his curiosity always gets the better of him so I was treated to a rather exciting floor show, which involved him precariously walking along the edge of the bath several times in the candlelight.  So much for a relaxing bath!
Bathtime with Arlo
Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  Knit 1 Chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit in your Hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit

Monday, 23 January 2012

A couple of iconic sweaters

Sweet Shawlettes North American blog tour is in its final week now and it's been incredible to read all your comments. Wish I had a fraction of the number of comments that many of these stellar bloggers attract, it's phenomenal to see how each blogger has their own loyal fan base and so interesting to read the friendly dialogue. I've been putting the permalinks in place as the tour moves along, to ensure it remains easy to access.  It'll be a great resource now that I'm about to embark on a new journey with my next book!

Philip's putting the final touches to the UK and Europe tour, which was scheduled to start on the UK publication date -7th March. However, I've noticed that Amazon and The Telegraph Book Store are already selling it, with publication dates of 12th and 26th January respectively. I noticed that neither  actually have any copies yet, so I do wish they wouldn't jump the gun like this. It's not particularly helpful to anyone, certainly not to the author, trying to promote the book with unreliable publication dates, nor to the consumer, who is left with no realistic idea of when the book might actually arrive.
Bandol by Martin Storey, Rowan Magazine 51
The latest Rowan magazine arrived in the post this morning and my eye was immediately drawn to Martin Storey's Bandol, a restrained vintage-style design with a nod to the iconic Elsa Schiaparelli trompe l'oeil sweater. I'm a huge fan of Martin's work and delighted that he's agreed to do a workshop at the Rowan Mill on our upcoming tour of Lakes & York in May. His workshops are always popular, but we sometimes have a few places for independent participants, so if you too are a fan and would like to attend, get in touch, or better still register for the tour.
Handknit sweater with Bowknot, November 1927
in Black and white wool. Philadelphia Museum of Art.
There's much more on the Museum's site, here's an extract:

In the 1920’s, the sweater was an important piece of clothing for the modern woman who would rather play a game of tennis than sit still in a parlour. But sweaters of the time tended to lose their shape quickly which resulted in a sloppy appearance. In the Spring of 1927, Elsa Schiaparelli noticed a woman in Paris wearing a plain but unusually woven sweater, which didn’t seem to stretch and had what Schiaparelli later described as a
steady look

Schiaparelli discovered that the sweater had been knitted by an Armenian woman using a special double layered stich. Elsa soon recruited the young woman to knit several prototypes for her. Schiaparelli drew a white bow to look like a scarf tied around the neck of a sweater on a black background and had the design knitted into the sweaters. The sweater had its public debut when Elsa wore it to a luncheon that included several leaders of the fashion world. The sweater caused a sensation. A buyer from Lord and Taylor ordered 40 copies on the spot. Although her first collection launched the previous year had been well-received, it was the bow knot sweater which secured her fame.
 


The Schiaparelli pattern can be downloaded on Schoolhouse Press website.


Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  Knit 1 Chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit in your Hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit

Friday, 20 January 2012

Behind the scenes

Yesterday an invite to the Modern Artists Gallery's new exhibition arrived in my inbox. I'm always thrilled to view the cutting-edge work from emerging artists that Peggy presents - she has an excellent eye.  Their newsletter, Mag Rag is often inspirational - don't you just love the doggy painting by Paula Zimmermann  The American Gothic Terriers?
If you live in the South and you're looking for a lovely day out,  the gallery's located on the Oxfordshire Berkshire borders in the pretty village of Whitchurch-on-Thames - beautiful countryside and interesting shopping, what more could you wish for?

Tom Coomber of Artesano Yarns introduced me to the gallery some years ago when he suggested we do a shoot there for a collection I'd designed for him.  It turned out to be the perfect location - Peggy was a wonderful host and very welcoming,  allowing us access to both her gallery and home, which as it happened was full of even more wondrous works.  
Entrance
Piano where we shot Ruby

Always loved Dennis the Menace

Interior
We had a very successful day there, so much so that we returned again to do a second shoot for a subsequent collection. It's a fabulous place for inspiration even if you're not in the market for buying art. It's been too long since I visited, must make sure it's definitely on my to-do list for this year.

Nico in front of New York Night
I rooted out some of the pictures Philip took during one of the shoots, not the real deal, the actual photography was done by David Hatful of Diem Photography, but will give you an idea of the fabulous ambience this place exudes wherever you look.
Ruby

Kiki Vest with Boho Beret
Yoko in the rain with Boho Hat
Yoko  Colourway 2



Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  Knit 1 Chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit in your Hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit


Thursday, 19 January 2012

What goes around...

Little actions that we may not even remember can have a profound affect on other people's lives - or so I've been reading a lot recently in the sometimes platitudinous banners that grace social media sites. 

It got me thinking though, one can never know what's going on inside the head of another. A smile, greeting, or simply having coffee served by a friendly waiter can make a big difference if you're feeling low, especially as with the everyday pressures of life, people often have less and less time, making everything such a rush.

Where's all this leading, dear reader, you'll be wondering. Well... knitting has been very kind to me, allowing me to make a living from something I love. However, there've been good and bad times. In 1988 our production company went bust.  We were squeezed so much by our clients that in the end we were making a loss, even though the order book was overflowing. We lost everything, even our cars, but by some stroke of fate managed to hang on to our home, allbeit by our bootstraps.

I was put in a position where I had to start allover again as an independent designer, without the cushion of guaranteed production, plying my wares on the open market. I needed to establish my own line again which had been seriously neglected while doing so much design and production for large international companies. It had been quite a few years since I attended the New York Pret.  We were seriously strapped for cash and were debating whether or not we could stretch to the plane fare even. It was decided we could, but couldn't afford a stand or accommodation.  So what to do next?
Here's a clue...
After a little deliberation it was decided I'd just get on a plane with some sweaters and walk the floor of the show, trying to get some business. I stayed with a friend of a friend and it was a far cry from the many other times I'd been to New York, when I was working with Polo/Ralph Lauren and other international luminaries and staying in hotels like the Mansfield
This multi-coloured cable is another one...
Green and russet lattice...
Whilst doing the rounds at the show I ran into Susan Duckworth, who had a stand there. I'd met her on a couple of other occasions a few years before when BKEC (British Knitting Export Council) had sponsored our trips to the Pret. I'd always admired her work, she was a front-runner in the Brit knit revival and thoroughly deserved her reputation as one of Britain's leading designers. Browns, Whistles,The Beauchamp Place Shop, Dorothée Bis and Gudule were amongst her clients, as well as doing many one-off designs. I love her story of a couple of her earliest commissions. One was for a seven-foot American footballer, and another was for a dog - a tiny, pampered Yorkshire terrier that lived in Eaton Square. Sue says I made it a richly embossed padded and beaded winter jacket - but at the first fitting the poor creature collapsed under the weight!
Mint cable
Sue also makes fabulously whimsical toys,
including birds based on this design
We got talking and I told her what had happened and why I didn't have a stand and she immediately offered, without any hesitation, to give up a corner of her stand to show my work.  I was absolutely flabbergasted and overwhelmed with gratitude, in fact even as I write this it's hard not to feel emotional after all these years. Such spontaneous generosity! From Sue's kindness, I got enough orders to kickstart the business again. I've never had a chance to tell her how important it was to me so I hope she reads this.
Unlikely coupling of roses and leopard spots
One of Sue's fabulous tartans
Our paths have crossed a few times In the intervening years and Sue has guested on our tours a couple of times. We also ran a week's knit retreat together in 2010 in the Charante Maritime in France. Sue is a true process knitter who personifies happiness through knitting. A woman of many talents, she also works part-time in a boxwood topiary nursery.  Sue says ‘it makes a good balance to be outside sculpting box come rain or shine and then working on my knitting  in my cosy workshop’.  Sounds to me like she’s got the balance right. All the innovative swatches shown above are on her website - pay a visit and view more of her gorgeous, often whimsical, ever colourful designs.

Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  Knit 1 Chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit in your Hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Guitar and banjo pickers

Short post today, my right shoulder has seized up and it's hell to type or even knit!  Woke up this morning with it, funny how these things hit you when you least expect them - or not. Probably I sit too long banging the laptop keys,  so maybe I've got a good excuse to do something else today.

Yesterday my friend,  Joanne Conklin, sent me a clip of Jerry Douglas on YouTube. I'd been telling her about how much I love his dobro playing especially with Alison Krauss and Union Station. His collaboration with Aly Bain on the Transatlantic sessions was a must see for me - best of Nashville and Scotland!

Thinking about great pickers, my mind immediately jumped to Bela Fleck, banjo picker extraordinaire, and I was  delighted to find this old video of them playing together.


The Sweet Shawlettes blog tour of North America is entering the final week tomorrow, but there's still a chance to win yourself a free copy.  Just log onto one of the remaining blogs and enter a comment.  I've loved reading all your comments and it's been a shot in the arm to know that this thing I've been beavering away on for so many months has not slipped unnoticed into the ether. Your feedback is valuable market research for future books for me and it's a bonus that the reviews so far have been overwhelmingly positive. My thanks to everyone who's participated.

Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  Knit 1 Chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit in your Hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit

Monday, 16 January 2012

Harlow Carr colour inspiration

Spent a lovely morning at Harlow Carr, the RHS garden in Harrogate, yesterday.  This wonderful garden defies anyone who thinks that there's no colour in the garden in January.  It was a crisp and frosty morning when we visited and the garden was looking glorious in its winter mantle.  
View across the garden as you enter
The joyous dogwood walk
Bee sculpture lurking on top of the show hive,
where the bees are hibernating at the moment
I was spoilt for choice as to where to point my camera. Loads of berries, gorgeous tree bark patterns and even a few flowers like witch hazel, the plant of the month,  in bloom, all glistening under a touch of frost. 
Frosted berries
Witch hazel
Plane tree bark
Prunus serrula bark
The grasses looked fabulous, winter fireworks upstanding even though chilled to the marrow - a great advertisement for prairie planting.  The sculptures are spectacular in the landscape,  punctuating the garden and helping keep the interest going.
Frosted grasses
Steel sculpture
Hazel hurdles & green willow trellis
   
Frost graffiti
There are plenty of interesting places to sit, though we didn't do too much of that as we had to keep on the move to ward off the cold.  Met with a giant snow shovel in the woodland area.
Philip sitting among upstanding grasses
Add caption
Giant snow shovel
Just as we were making our way back to Bettys, we noticed this poem inscribed on a fine piece of limestone
Brookside poetry
Bettys leaf mould teapot
Inside Bettys Cafe
Our table by the window
Got waylaid in the bookshop next where  as well as a fabulous selection of gardening books, there are lots of lovely knitting books, plus the bonus of plump sofas to sit and read them on.  We eventually did get to Bettys and a  steaming cup of coffee set  us up beautifully for the short journey back to York.  Looking forward to coming back here with our visitors on our Lakes & York knitters' tour - if not before.


BLOG TOUR IN FULL SWING NOW!
Tues 3 Jan  Wendy Knits Wendy Johnson  
 Wed 4 Jan  Knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  Yarnagogo Rachael Herron
 Fri 6 Jan  The Knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan  Rhythm of the Needles  Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan  Knit Purl Gurl  Karrie Steinmetz
                Mon 9 Jan  Craft Sanity  Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan  Planet Purl Beth Moriarty
 Wed 11 Jan  Sunset Cat  Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan  A Really Good Yarn  Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  Knit 1 Chicago  Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan  Go Knit in your Hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting  Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan   In The Loop  Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan  WEBS  Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan  Zeneedle  Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan   Knitspot  Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan   Urban Yarns  Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan  A Friend to knit with  Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan  Tentenknits  Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan  Fancy Tiger Crafts  Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan  Chic Knits  Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan  The Panopticon  Franklin Habit