Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Knitting, Stitching and Comfort Food Show...

What a fabulous start to a new phase of my life, the last week has been. 16th November was the last day of the past 13 and half years of my 9-5. I am going to undertake temporary work until I sort my ideas out for the next phase of my life.

The first week of my new life began at Kings Cross, on Tuesday 20th - catching the 11:10 train to Leeds, and then the connecting train across to Harrogate. A kind train guard helped me and two bags onto the Harrogate - little did he know he would have been even more useful on the way home... As I tried to retrieve my knitting from my bag - he commented 'No one does that anymore do they?' I explained, and showed the socks I was knitting. he liked the colours - much nicer than the yarn his Mum and Sister used to use.

Walked across The Stray - with my trusty map and directions provided by Wye Sue to the house we were to share for the week. As I got nearer (after having taken a wrong turn and getting hot and bothered) I saw Sue and Yvonne, funny that we all arrived together. It took some time to figure out how the central heating worked, and even longer to figure out the idiosyncracies of the hot water!! Yvonne's first shower, and my first bath a little on the cool side!

WyeSue had arrived, via Coldstream Mill, and we had extra guests... three cones of gorgeous silk (two of which you can see in the picture).

Being tired - we only ventured out (it was also raining and very cold) to the local Sainsbury - where ingredients for Sausage, mash, fried onions and beans were acquired. A yummy first meal in our new home for the next week. I cooked and the others cleaned up, with the help of the dishwasher!

Wednesday morning, down to the Conference centre where I helped WyeSue put up the KCG stand. I really enjoy doing that sort of thing, and the finishing touch was the positioning of 'Sue's Knickers'. You need to go to WyeSue's blog (see link alongside - no I have not yet learnt how to put them into this text) to see about those! Here is a picture of the resulting stand.

Yvonne had made sure that all we needed for the 4 days teaching of Knitting and Crochet, had arrived at the Relax and Knit stand. This year we also had a back board on that stand - which did give us protection from the awful draught from the back door of the hall.

Then to a serious shop at Asda, and the ingredients for a delicious lamb and apricot stew, Chickpea and Potato curry, and Yvonne's delicious Meatball recipe. We also acquired the ingredients for an ice cream dessert both Yvonne and I had seen on Nigella Lawson's TV show; and a packet of chocolate eclairs at the hefty price of £1.

That evening we had Yvonne's delicious meatballs for dinner, plus the ice cream, which we really really wanted to eat, which meant the only way was to microwave for a short time, turn it out onto a plate and using the carving knife and fork... It was incredibly delicious.

You can also see here, my bargain haul of Appleton's Crewel Wool - from the Oxfam Shop in Harrogate - absolutely delighted with that and Yvonne came away with a cone of red yarn.

Further bargains were had at TK Max - where I acquired a new knitting bag, what you might call a 'bling' bag! and Yvonne a beautiful purple cashmere sweater.

Of course we just had to show these delicious dishes:

In the picture collection here you can see the improvised mortar and pestle, (cereal bowl and the sugar bowl!) what you can't see is the black peppercorns jumping out of the bowl! Chickpea and potato curry and delicious bread from Betty's. The last shows, WyeSue, Lindy and Yvonne, sitting down to delicious food. With the small team we were, and a little effort, we all agreed, far preferable to the B&B and eating out every night - which is the usual experience of a show for many of us.

We did of course go to Betty's for supper one evening, and also had a great fish and chip supper with Sarah and David of CraftyNotions, and also, Lindy and two Chris's from KCG. Seriously the best fish and chips for me in many years - the batter on the haddock quite delicious and I ate it all. Here at home I almost always discard it. The fish and chip evening was a hoot, lots of silliness and giggling, more of the ice cream etc.

For more information about this picture, again you will need to go over to WyeSue's blog to see the reason for this and the end result. It was huge fun, even if I had to get up 15 min early, shower and breakfast quickly, so that I could sit and crochet the edges so that we would be ready for the gift giving first thing the next morning.

Of all the fun and the hard work that it can be teaching for 4 days, with shopping breaks - the highlight for me was siting down with Mary of Jamieson's, who helped me to sort out where I was going wrong when knitting the corners of my hap shawl (which corners I have knit and unpicked 3 times now. ie. dealing with knitting and then unpicking back to the central square around 400 stitches, each time!

I knit a small square of Jamieson's Ultra (lambswool & shetland blend) and sat with Mary whilst she guided me through, showed me how to sensibly mark the actual corner stitch, and I knit a few rows so I could see the end result.

Mary was also working on a Hap, which was in several pieces, all partly connected. She showed and talked me through how she knits and constructs the shawl in the traditional fashion, vs the modern fashion I chose to use to knit mine. Isn't it great when you're read but not quite grasped the principles, but someone shows you practically, how to do it, and the missing pieces in your understanding finally slot into place. I could see how it works and will knit my next shawl using this method.

Getting home began rather ominously... We figured we needed to offload the bags and me to the far side of Harrogate station for the train to Leeds. Yvonne went across to the ticket office to buy her ticket. There I sat with three bags of mine, and two of Yvonne's, in my very bright pink, but warm and cosy Land's End coat. I had sat for a few minutes, took out my knitting and then I heard this:

'It is my solemn duty to tell the lady sitting on platform 2, in the pink coat, that if she requires the Leeds train, she is on the wrong platform."

My then vague recollection of last year catching the Leeds train from the same platform that I had arrived on rang true. I calmly began to move the very heavy bags across to the lift (thank goodness there was one) - when he piped up again: "There is no need to rush (I was not rushing) there is 20 minutes til the train."

Then I saw Yvonne appear from the ticket office - obviously laughing hard!! She came back across and we hauled all our bags over to platform 1. I went in search of the gentleman, shook his hand and advised him -"You don't get service like that in London." Thankfully the rest of the journey was uneventful and I even managed to get home from Kings Cross, via Thameslink train and taxi in less than an hour!!

Now life gets serious again - a very messy, overfilled flat to cull, and CV etc to write. A fabulous time had by all and special thank you to Sue, Yvonne ie. the other two founding members of the Jamieson's Fan Club - and to Elaine and Mary of said Jamieson's for the icing on the cake of the week.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Seaside - in November!

Saturday was a really lovely day. Set out with - we went to visit at the seaside.

Well it was - as they say 'a grand day out'. We had a nice drink and long chat about sewing machines, then off to the Museum at Brighton for the Indigo exhibition. The exhibition is fabulous - really nice textiles, lots of
information and you can watch the video of indigo dyeing in W Africa (but that is 50 min long) so am going to wait til I can buy a copy. Apparently there is a part II of the exhibition - at the Hove branch of the museum.

Then we had lunch in the basement of a very nice Italian cafe/restaurant. Pizza, Lasagne and Pasta and some
sock knitting going on too.

Then came dessert. There was mango dessert, a pie type thing with chocolate (forgive me Brigid) I can't recall what that was as I was a little overwhelmed by the tennis ball size of the profiteroles I had ordered - with what seemed like half a gallon of yummy chocolate sauce.

I did take a funny picture of Jan and Brigid taking photos of their dessert and I did - they are my witnesses - take a photo of mine before I attacked it. Also cos it was funny - I took a photo of the after - as in after demolition!! However, the camera in it's infinite wisdom has lost those pictures, as well as the nice one I took of Jan and Brigid against the beautiful sunset.

After lunch we walked down the seafront along to Hove. Beautiful sunset, calm sea, balmy evening, no breeze. It was a perfect day and most gratifying to see how Jan is loving her new life at the seaside.

Do need to go back again - so we can do part II of the exhibition and a bit more knitting and nattering.

A really great day, travel not too painful - once we got ourselves on the correct train... and most enjoyable company.

Here are a couple of pictures of the sunset that the camera did decide to keep!!

The last picture is to celebrate another very important event last week. My youngest niece was 1 on 31st October, a lovely birthday party was organised by my sister with witchs, devils and assorted ghouls invited. A good time was had by all - and here is the birthday girl with her favourite present - supplied by doting big brother.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Liberty Treats - Yum Yum


Small gathering at Liberty last Thursday, including two new girls, sent along by the Relax and Knit people at Ally Pally. Here is a picture of Yvonne who heads up the Relax and Knit volunteers, with Yasmin who was new to knitting - but did really well mastering the basics.

They're enjoying the yummy's given to us by the cafe. Little pastry cases with chocolate filling and candied orange peel tops - delicious - but I'd already eaten a big piece of chocolate cake along with my healthy apple juice...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Knitting and Stitching Show


Great day yesterday at Alexandra Palace at the annual Knitting and Stitching Show. Once again I volunteered a day on the Relax and Knit stand. Always great fun - but it can also be VERY hard work. The day started with one of the highlights for me - sharing a teachng table with Prudence Mapstone - famous for her wonderful freeform knitting and crochet. Lovely to have Prudence teaching along with us. We also had a lady over from Sydney on holiday - Jan - who also came along and volunteered - at her first ever visit to the show. Word about our good work is reaching far and wide.

Later in the day a chance to catch up with all sorts of people both on the embroidery/textile art side and the knitting side of things.

A few things acquired during the day - very restrained for me at this show:)

Some interesting resin type things that would be good scarf holders of attached to the ends of cords for bag closures; silky scrunchy bits and green threads for the embroidery side of thigns - from Dale and Ian at Threadstudio - where we had an interesting Rugby discussion; mohair from Knitwitches and also some from Fybrespates and

my favourite buy of the day - now that I no longer believe knitting with set of double pointed needles is like wrestling with porcupine quills ggg.... Sox Stixs from Lantern Moon - I love their things - so yummy. You can also see my little black sheep also from Lantern Moon - but you can't see the Ladybird version - which was a pressie for Beth - which she received last night - whilst myself, Beth and her baby sister took over my nephews bedroom to watch the match on his big TV. Both Beth and I were very excited watching the match and made more than a few rude remarks about the French (well you know in the spirit of the game...).

A bit more sock yarn - from Get Knitted and also from Drops - with a great website Garnstudio with hundreds of really nice knitting patterns available for download - completely free of charge...

and lastly - here are a few images of our stand - really great stand this year - and we w
ere not right next to any very noisy and repetative fashion show this time. We were in the Great Hall - sorry I didn't get to take more pictures of the show etc. I am going to Harrogate for the full 4 days in November, so hopefully can get a few more pictures there for you - and see a few more of the exhibits that I missed yesterday.

Thats Roberta on the left - one of the regular volunteer team, and in the lilac top in the middle Yvonne who is our Leader and guide and does such a grand job each time I can't put it into words. Yvonne is a walking knitting encyclopedia and born to do this wonderful job. I so admire her skills and dedication to this craft that she truly loves.

And I HATE blogger - why does it have to be so damn difficult to upload photos in the right place in your text, and why has it underlined this last part of my post when I did NOT ask it to do so...

I almost forgot, towards the end of the day we had another visitor - Xenobia Bailey - who Yvonne immediately knew - as a friend of Yvonne's had previously stopped Xenobia in the street in New York to admire a coat that Xenobia was wearing at the time. Wow can she do great things with corchet!!!

and she asked Yvonne if she might come back on Sun
day for some knitting tuition. Here's a picture of Xenobia in a great outfit. Ever since I have been doing this volunteering, I have met so many great and incredibly creative people - it really is so inspriring.

Saturday, September 01, 2007



Been very busy since last posting - yes months ago. I decided to do rather than write about what I might do...

Have been dyeing - which I love more and more than I ever did - and I still have SO MUCH to learn. Been doing a little piecing (patchwork) with some of my dyed colours. a little knitting etc etc. Still dabbling and doing bits here and there - and of course some of the dabbling I had my helper Beth (niece) - who loves the new dyeing method with all that measuring and pouring.

We have together done several value gradations of our favourite colours.

Also took nephew, his girlfriend and his little sister - my niece Beth to Istanbul for a long weekend - where a fabulously wonderful time was had by all and Beth was completely delighted as it was the first time she had been on a plane.

My real achievement over the past few months is that I completed a piece of work and entered it into Festival of Quilts - Quilt Creations Category.

A few years ago I used to atttend a masterclass 4 times a year with Cherrilyn Tyler and a small group of fellow students. One of the ladies lived near our venue and those of us who stayed B&B were often very kindly invited over to dinner on the Friday evening of our weekends. These evenings were huge fun and quite delicious.

We became 'Footlose on Friday' and decided on a group entry to Festival of Quilts at Birmingham in the summer of 2005. We each made a shoe and a shoe bag - the idea being a shoe shop. All the usual pains of working to a deadline etc - but ultimately we enjoyed it.

Last year I did not enter anything. But this year's entry we had decided on corsets - and as I've always wanted to make a textile art one - I joined in again.

I chose Byzantium as my source material - all the photos and sketches etc etc Ihad collected over several visits to Haghia Sophia in Istanbul.

I looked through all my accumulated books, postcards, photos etc and chose my colours. I went to my new colour Bible from my class back in April and chose those colours, the recipes and dyed my colours in cotton lawn, silk organza, cotton scrim and viscose/silk velvet. I was SO pleased with the results - the colours I really wanted and it was so easy.

I did some sketchwork and some samples of stitchig around a mosaics theme, and I had a pattern for a 16th century corset that I wanted to use as my 'canvas' for the embroidery etc.

Delighted with the end result - which was achieved after a week and half of early mornigns to bed ie 1 or 2 each mornign, and the last night 04:00 to bed!!!!!!! For once though I wanted to push through and finish it rather than give up - I knew this was going well and part of the cause of the very early to bed mornings was that I was off sick with a very nasty stomach bug for almost a week - during which time I had zilch energy to move the project on so I lost a significant number of hours that had to be made up.

Anyway - I was pleased with it on display at the show. I should also say that the person who won the Amatuer award for that section was a fellow member of our little group, Joy and her piece based on coral reefs was a delight and I was so happy to learn that she had won - an extra treat as she had been quite poorly for a while - so something definately to lift the mood. My friend Pam and I attended the show and took great delight in calling her on the phone as we stood next to her piece and watched other people's delight too.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Colours to Dye for... Pt 4 - I achieve my Holy Grail

believe it or not the above is a picture of my personal Holy Grail. For more years than I care to admit - but going back to City and Guilds days - and I finished that course in 2000, I have been seeking the perfect shade of AUBERGINE (US readers that translates to EGGPLANT). This photo on my screen looks a little brown - but in real life it truly is aubergine. Can you tell I am a little mad about this colour gggg...

I have achieved burgundies, or shades of purple, or brownish burgundies - but never AUBERGINE. The piece to the left of the Aubergine is a very pale version , then a piece of viscose/silk velvet dyed with greys and then a piece of silk - in which the red took hold very quickly and the blue washed away - so no aubergine on the silk. I know now, how silk reacts differently to procion than cotton.

There is a little story to my aubergine:

When we as a team resorted our final samples after our marathon sample dyeing exercises, we had one missing. We'd pressed them all and sorted into order.

Looked and looked and couldn't find it. I then decided to go back into the dye room and have a look there. The samples were small - maybe one had fallen under the table. I found a bucket of red that had not been emptied. I emptied it and there was our missing fabric. It was then washed and dried and there it was. The PERFECT shade - my long sought Aubergine.

Can you imagine how happy I was. I know had a recipe for Aubergine and I understood why I had not acheived it before.

I wondered at times - before I left home - whether I was not a little mad to be flying over to the USA for a colour / dyeing course. All I can say was that the course and I were destined to come together one day.

As a friend wrote to me today. The ability to be precise gives me huge freedom. it certainly does.


Colours to Dye for... Pt 3 results

Part way through our dyeing - a batch out of the dryer. This was a magical week. colour everywhere... I was truly in heaven - and not the only one who thought so.

We wandered around the room ooohhhing and aaahhhing at the contents of all those buckets.

Some oranges and yellows etc etc - THE END result... Part of the story. To give all credit to Carol and her awesome course I will not show any more detail.

A gradation of green.

Colours to Dye for... Pt 2

Beautiful tall trees alongside the barn. Lovely countryside.

This is the fabulous wet room where we did our dyeing.

We were awash with buckets, bottles and tubs. For water, soda, salt and dye.

We stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred. We even did relay stirring - we needed even colour not mottled. It seemed like a chore - but we made it fun and had an ace timekeeper in Kay (on our team) and it was most definately worth all the effort.

Colours to Dye for... Pt 1

This is Nancy Crows Gorgeous Barn. It is where I spent a week recently, studying with Carol Soderlund. The barn has a fabulous wet room for dyeing etc, a classroom alongside and upstaris there is a gorgeous studio for stitching and non wet work, and also a kitchen and dining room. We were fed the most delicious food cooked up each day for lunch and dinner by Margaret - who flies over from Seattle to cater for the classes that Nancy runs at the barn. Margaret also 'cooked up' delicious snacks for afternoon tea.

The Course we studied was 'Colour Mixing for Dyers'. Carol is a superb and passionate teacher. Her passion really is colour and everyone really seemed to catch the colour bug. We were learning to control our colour mixing in a more precise way than I've ever come across with creative dyeing before.

This is the fabulous classroom at our disposal for the week. 20 people on the course.

These sunflowers are made by Nancy Crow's husband - aren't they fabulous.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Majestic Lions Keeping Warm


I know I'm overdue for a report on the fabulous weekend away in Yorkshire spinning and knitting and loads and loads of shopping. Sorry - haven't sorted pics etc properly - as I get my final installment of the fibre/yarn mountain I bought back tomorrow evening - going to pick it up from the lovely person who bought it back in their car. All will then be revealed.

However, today I paid a visit to Trafalgar Square - it was very cold and windy - but I had to go. My favourite Lions - every since we used to visit them when I was quite small - along with a visit each time we visited the Lions - to St James's Park to feed the ducks from the bridge.

The lions were getting warm cuddly scarves - knitted to raise money for Cancer Research - a cause close to my heart as my Dad died of cancer.

Here are some pictures of the very beautiful majestic Lions looking fabulous in their warm cuddly scarves. Certainly put a smile on my face today.

You can read more about this project at