Creativity multiplied…

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Dervla gave me a lovely notebook for my birthday with a blank page opposite every lined page, perfect for designing. I went for a coffee and brownie break in Browns and felt it was time to get an idea out of my head and onto paper and the needles. Apart from the spectacular flat whites and excellent quality edible goodies, I find this cafe visually very pleasing. The furniture is plain, pale, solid wood, there’s no clutter, there are bottles of water on all the tables, the staff are delightful and there are always beautiful flowers. I think the style of the flowers defines this place. They’re in simple vessels and are always understated and uncontrived. Love-in-the-mist (Nigella damascena), modest tulips and ranunculus in the softest shades of peach and lemon are featuring at the moment.
I find it really important to be surrounded by inspiring things to set the mental scene. So I had great coffee, awesome brownie, my beautiful and practical notebook, my Moomin project bag, a few pairs of Chia Goo needles in different sizes to test a range of gauges, a ball of ridiculously awesome madelinetosh sock yarn and…my wonderful Kaweco Sport Classic fountain pen.
I got this pen, and its twin brother Clutch Pencil, at probably the loveliest art shop I’ve ever been in. The Art Shop in Abergavenny, South Wales, is a place I can spend hours, with its art materials, books, jewellery, ribbon and cards downstairs and the gallery upstairs. They stock some gorgeous ceramics by local artists too, another thing I can’t resist. If you’re ever passing that way it’s definitely worth a visit…and there’s a yarn shop only a few doors down featuring some of the regulars, such as Rowan, plus some hand-dyed, organic Wensleydale gems from a local supplier. A great time to go is in September for the Abergavenny Food Festival. The pretty town is buzzing with artisan producers and those consuming their wares. There’s also a fantastic party in the castle on the Saturday evening – this year I learned to bhangra dance – random but LOADS of fun!

Socks – what’s the point?

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Whilst writing the title to this post I had a sense of dread pass over me that sock-knitting obsessives the world over would be sending me negative vibes.
I’ve asked myself the question, ‘what’s the point?’ because these are the reasons I usually knit…
* I always want to be doing, making, busy, ALL the time
* I find a yarn that makes me go wild. Touching said yarn, usually with other obsessives, is accompanied by phrases such as, oh my goodness, it’s GORGEOUS; look, look, see how soft it is; TOUCH IT!; this colour is AMAZING; but I’m on a yarn ban; I’m not allowed to buy any more yarn; I’m going to make a cardigan; I have to have it now
* I get sucked into the cardigan and shawl black holes on Ravelry
* I want a lot of said yarn on the outside of my body, right where everyone can see it and say ‘oooh, that’s GORGEOUS’
* I am not really interested in keeping the fruit of many hours of my labour inside my shoes/boots/bed

But something’s shifted. I went to Unravel and touched a lot of socks on Rebecca Coopey’s stand. Dervla and I bought the book Coop Knits Socks and the rest is history. My first pair, which I predict will be finished tomorrow, is called Mixalot and the pattern can be downloaded HERE. Dervla’s already a seasoned sock knitter and pops a pair out in a couple of weeks, in between other projects. She convinced me that I should have a go because putting your feet into hand knitted socks is like putting your feet in squishy slippers.

So now I admit to having a mild interest in sock knitting. Not wild, crazy obsessiveness but these are the reasons I’ve come to think socks will feature periodically in my knitting future…
* They’re tiny so you can even take one on a night out for unexpected knitting moments and longer tube journeys
* Socks are a good place to experiment with intricate pattern and texture
* Colour combos ahoy!!
* Relatively quick, even for a duffer like me who spends as much time sitting back and looking at her knitting as she does actually progressing it
* A very legitimate reason to buy more Koigu – the yarn equivalent of macaroons

A pattern that needs designing…

I bought these socks a couple of weeks ago from & Other Stories and every time I put them on I think how beautiful they are. They have a fine, rose gold thread running through the latticework and the sole, plain peachy toe and heel and a concentrated line of gold across the top of the toe. I’m going to write a pattern so I can replicate them and will share here when it’s done.

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These delicate socks epitomise contemporary prettiness and I can’t wait to whip up some more

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Lots going on…

I don’t know where to start. Spring is here and the blossom and good smells are making me happy. I’m moving house soon. Work and life are very busy. I’ve just sold my home by the sea which I’m a bit sad about but generally at peace with. Last Friday evening someone picked me up, threw me over his shoulder and dropped me on my head. I have broken bones and lots of time to think.
My wonderful colleagues sent me the most gorgeous bouquet and it’s beautified my bedroom and cheered me up. One of my yarn stash boxes is nearby and the contents strangely coordinate with the flowers! Trying to stay cheerful.

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Ranunculus, aconitum, sweet-scented stocks, pussy willow, lysianthus, clematis & viburnum

Sun, sea, sand & scrambled eggs

This weekend has been lots of fun. I had my knitting friend Rebecca come to stay. Robert and I are back for a couple of weeks at home by the sea and Rebecca spent time in Bournemouth while she was training so we invited her for a coastal bonfire weekend. We totally missed the bonfire and fireworks display we’d planned to go to – long story – but the knitting, gossiping, eating, drinking and beach walking boxes all have large ticks in them.

Showing off our woolly wonders on this crisp autumn day

On Saturday we tried out a lovely new cafe in Westbourne called The Kitchen where we went for breakfast and ended up staying all day! Rebecca and I settled into a perfect seat in the big window with lots of natural light (good for the planned knitathon, obviously) and treated ourselves to mocha and scrambled eggs on toast served on chopping boards. Yummmm!

Big decision…

This little beauty was another treat picked up at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace a few weeks ago.

Wound into a deliriously amazing ball – NiMu Langstrath in colourway India

Problem is, I can’t decide what to do with it. I tried Stephen West’s Dustland legwarmers but the lovely texture was lost in all this colour, likewise the colours couldn’t really shine through, they just looked jumbly.
More later…off to watch Skyfall!

Totally snuggly & pretty chic…

I have an issue that I bet some of you have too. When the weather gets a bit chilly and my hair’s not looking at its best I think, yes! I can put a hat on! I don’t need to wash my locks – I can just disguise them under some gorgeous yarn. I get to wear a lovely woolly creation and no-one knows there’s a bit of dagginess going on underneath.

So, all’s well until I decide to go for a coffee or a bite to eat. I’m not a comfortable indoor hat wearer. So I keep my hat on, feel conspicuous and overheat. Or I take it off and my hair’s worse that when I put the hat on. I try to fluff it up, it’s better for two minutes, then it looks gross again.

Well, the solution to this no-win situation has arrived in my life. Yes people, I can have warm ears, disguise rubbish hair, go for an unselfconscious coffee, feel smart and not get so hot that my face goes all red and shiny. This is it – the Misty Turban…

Warm ears with alpaca loveliness
Warm ears with alpaca loveliness

It’s knitted in Purl Alpaca Designs DK that I got at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. It’s one of Purl’s patterns too – I tried it on at the show from the many samples they’d brought along. It was a super-quick knit and made it onto my Ravelry project page quicker than any other in Lucindaloops’ history! If you’re inspired to keep your ears warm in style you’ll find the pattern here or here.

About the yarn. Now the turban’s finished the thing is seriously gorgeous, has monumental squidgability and a beautiful pearly inner glow. To knit with though, I can’t say this yarn generated overly joyous feelings. It’s quite a ‘splitty’ twist but that I can cope with; the thing that really started to p me off towards the end was the straw. At some stages I was having to stop every few stitches to extract foreign matter. Maybe I just got a rogue ball and I’m thrilled with the finished result, I just don’t like knitting with spiky bits of farm!

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