Sunday, August 26, 2007

A grand day out

Or rather, two grand days out. Yesterday we went up to Cumbria, firstly to Sedbergh and the Charter Market, and to meet up with the folks from the Sharpe Appreciation Society who had been invited to participate. Sedbergh is England's third Book Town, and as such has a number of specialist and general bookshops. The market was part of the Festival of Books and Drama. We spent a very enjoyable hour or so wandering around the market stalls and some of the shops. The "Sleepy Elephant" is a rather wonderful combination of books and crafts, and specialises in books about the needle arts. I found this inspiring book amongst them:

After my exploits in Noro I couldn't resist this, it's very inspiring, and I have plans to attempt at least one shawl, possibly something like this:

At one of the craft stalls I found this rather lovely project bag:

We also visited Westwood Books where I picked up three Elizabeth Gaskell novels, including "North and South". We hadn't planned to go anywhere else after Sedbergh but found ourselves with plenty of time to spare, so we headed north, firstly out of Sedbergh towards Kirkby Stephen along the most glorious route. The landscape was stunning and the weather for once was very pleasant and sunny. This time of year the heath/heather is out in full bloom and you can see the amazing patchwork of greens and purples stretching out in front of you.

We picked up the M6 again further north and headed towards Caldbeck. For a bank holiday, the traffic was light, although it did look very busy on the local roads as we passed under the exit for Keswick. The area between Windermere and Keswick does unfortunately become very busy at weekends and holidays, and probably most of the time in the summer. We have spent more than one occasion stuck in large amounts of traffic! Caldbeck is the home of the Wool Clip, and of course not far from the home of Woolfest. It is housed in converted mill buildings along with two other shops and a cafe. As you might expect, the shop is full of fibre! There are also yarns, handknitted garments, rugs, and all sorts of things. I've been thinking of getting a drop spindle for a while, so I bought a drop spindle starter kit, along with some Wensleydale locks dyed in rich sunset colours, and some dyed Masham fibre:

I got a needle felting kit for my birthday and I bought the fibre more with this in mind, but I'm looking forward to trying out spinning with the spindle! It came with some Blue Faced Leicester and Black Welsh Mountain fibre. There are some instructions, but I'm going to do a little more research before trying to spin!

Last Sunday we had another day out, although the weather wasn't quite as kind. We went to the VW Festival at Harewood House near Leeds. The rain had made the event field into rather a mud bath in places, but thankfully it did stop raining not too long after we arrived. Later on, we went up to the house itself, which is just incredible inside in the state rooms, and fascinating under stairs in the old servants quarters and kitchens. Outside in the terrace garden, the RSPB were stationed with binoculars, as this is one of the sites where red kites were re-introduced. The species was almost wiped out in Britain but is now staging a remarkable recovery. We saw two kites circling high above, and one a little closer over the lake. We've seen them in Wales, too, while travelling across Powys in the mountains.

More photos in the gallery.

Thank you so much to everyone who has commented on the Noro entrelac scarf. It's a really fabulous use for Kureyon in particular - each shade contains such rich colours, very saturated, and this I think is partly why it works so well.

In answer to terri's question, I do think entrelac is actually quite easy, once you get the hang of how it is constructed. It's very logical, and really only comprises of basic knit and purl, and standard increases and decreases. If you have a slipped stitch selvedge it makes it simple to pick up stitches for the next block evenly. Definitely give it a try - use a practice piece first time to understand how it fits together. It took me an age with my first go, but once I'd worked it out and found a good pattern, I was flying along.

This week I've been working on Yelena, and am not far off finishing the first front piece. It's not the fastest knit, being in 1x1 rib, but at least it's on 6mm needles! I'm trying not to cast on any new projects at the moment, but so many patterns are calling to me!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Entrelac scarf in Noro Kureyon

I love this scarf! Essential details:

Pattern: adapted Lady Eleanor Stole from Scarf Style
Yarn: Noro Kureyon
Shades: one skein each of 154, 164, 159, 157, 128, 138, in this order
Needles: 5mm bamboo straights
Finished size: 10 inches wide x 80 inches long
Pattern mods: four base triangles instead of seven

I started off with the Danica pattern from Knitty, and ended up frogging my first laborious attempt at the entrelac. Howver it did give me the general idea of how it worked, and once I picked up my copy of Scarf Style I found I could knit the rectangles and triangles a lot faster. In fact if you are thinking of trying entrelac this is a very well written pattern, and it makes it very easy to pick up the stitches each time, by slipping the first stitch of the decrease row - creating a nice selvedge. Entrelac looks incredibly difficult but once you've had a quick practice, it's easy to get the hang of. I found I didn't need to look at the pattern after a while as it's very logical.

There are more photos in my Flickr gallery. Each skein was knit in its entirety before starting the next - you can chop and change around every few tiers too. I used felted joins each time I started a new skein, and to rejoin yarn after removing the inevitable knots. Three skeins came from stash, and I initially only bought two more - then decided I needed a sixth! The scarf is lovely and warm and comfortable, it had a good soak first in Ecover wool wash, then in the fabric conditioner, and it does make quite a difference to the knitted fabric. I'm looking forward to some colder weather so I can wear this!

Finally, thank you so much to everyone who commented on my previous post, I am very touched! I do try to answer comments at some point, by the way, given the time constraints it's likely to be the next time I blog rather than right away - but I do try especially if someone is looking for a pattern link or a specific piece of information. of course, Blogger doesn't help as you can't directly email back, so if I can't track you down on your blog, I'll generally add something to my next post :-) I'm really looking forward to catching up with everyone on Ravelry - only around 1100 ahead of me today!

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Quite a lot of knitting

I thought I'd dust off the blog and post up the various knits I've completed this summer. You can always find a full set of FO photos on my new Flickr account, by the way. Having signed up and uploaded lots of photos in preparation for Ravelry, I've found it's a fantastic resource and will be adding to the galleries there regularly.

In chronological order:

One Skein Wonder in Noro Kochoran

This used around one and two thirds skeins - I made the sleeves longer and finished them with a 2x2 rib to match the border around the body.

Dashing gloves in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

Made as a gift - they used approx. three-quarters of a skein per glove.

Antoinette cardigan from Rowan 39

Yarn is Rowan Cotton Rope, shade Cyclamen. It took 15 skeins rather than the 14 specified. There is a "modelled" photo on the Flickr gallery.

Bergere de France Hooded Jacket

Finally finished! It does actually fit quite well, after I feared it would be much too small. With hindsight I'd have made size 3 rather than size 2, now I know how the sizes actually translate! Again there's a modelled pic on Flickr.

Currently on the needles is an entrelac scarf in Noro Kureyon, inspired by this beautiful scarf showcased on whip-up. This photo was taken last week, with a full first section using shade 154, then half way through a skein of 164:

I'm now almost finished with the fourth skein out of six. I'm concentrating on knitting this at the moment, my other two WIPs are the Smooch top from the ASC book and the Yelena cardigan which has been stalled for a long time! Here's the almost-complete back of Smooch:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is using the ASC that came as the gift when I renewed my Rowan membershop this year. I bought an extra skein from Jannette and amazingly it was the same dye lot!

The stashalonging is going quite well. I've bought a few skeins of handpainted yarn along the way, and 3 Noro Silver Thaw in the Stash sale. I had a rather large day off when on holiday in July, but stuck to the list I'd taken with me:

We have: 10 skeins of Rowan Damask in Molasses, destined for the Tulip top; a pack of Summer Tweed in Shark on sale in Sheepish in York; and 6 skeins of Wensleydale Longwool DK for the top-down cable raglan from IK. I also snagged the Happy Hooker book and the new pattern book for Twilleys Freedom Spirit and Freedom Wool. There are some fabulous patterns in the latter and I have plenty of FS in stash! This week I've bought the three new pattern books from Debbie Bliss, I particularly like the Luxury Collection. I also got the new Bergere de France pattern book (508) again with some lovely tempting patterns.

I'm very pleased with the new Rowan collection 42, I love the Doon Coat in Kid Classic, and the Fyne tunic in Felted Tweed. There are a good dozen or so patterns in there that I would make.

As far as Ravelry is concerned, there are currently 2120 people ahead of me in the queue. I'm almost done with uploading photos to Flickr in preparation, I have one last cache of stash to photograph. Although I have a spreadsheet with my stash listed, having the photo sets together is great, as the colour and texture speaks to you rather more strongly than a written list can!

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