Friday 14 March 2014

Time to Say Goodbye

Today is the day I say goodbye to this blog and hello to my new website.

If you've been following the blog, you'll need to update your RSS feed and if you're looking for the podcast, you'll find it over there too.

See you there!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

It's almost here....

There's been some pretty exciting work going on around here that I can finally give you a sneak peek of....

the new website!

This weekend, the website will go live and host it's first podcast. It's a website that will have a layout that separates blog posts, podcast episodes and also my professional pages.

I can't wait to show you. It's very shiny!

Monday 10 March 2014

The Art of Play

Well I had to write a post dedicated to Play eventually right?

It's no secret I am devoted to Play (capital intentional) both as an adult and for children. For me, play is about learning, being free and giving yourself permission to explore. Having a small toddler has reinforced any thoughts I had that Play is really so much more than 'free time'. Watching my little scientist actively learn concepts, acquire language and develop her understanding of the world has been mesmerising. 

The confusing thing for me is a constant barrage of suggested activities that come up on my various social media feeds. On one hand I'm delighted by ideas of what I can do to occupy a little girl always hungry for fresh experiences but on the other I'm left wondering if constantly finding activities makes it hard to just be free and Play?

There are very few times in a toddler's life (or indeed any age) when free time is just that. No chores, no routines, no need to be somewhere, no instructions, rules or boundaries. My Tot is a strong willed little person which will shock many of you I'm sure. While taking her to swim classes tires her out and gives her a vital skill there's always an exhaustion on both our parts at the bag packing, changing, wrestling into the buggy, navigating transport and 'please for the love of god, let's not be late AGAIN'-ness to it all. 

Last week I had two fun experiences that left both of us refreshed and content all day. I wanted to share them with you as I think sometimes simple, self directed Play is overlooked in value. I'm not here to preach, by all means work those pipe cleaners into an Easter scene and bake a million cookies (share them with me though, ok?). I just wanted to show what fun you can have by letting your child lead the way. 

We visited the V&A Museum last week as we had visitors from overseas. As soon as we got there, the Tot was keen and ready to point, discuss and explore. We initially tried to keep up with our friends who were having that kind of 'check things off a list' whirlwind visit that left me exhausted. However, the Playful Tot has a way of making things clear that she has her own agenda....

Yep. This is a zoomed in picture of my Tot, point blank refusing to keep up. She tottered to a doorway and stood for a long time enjoying the different lights between the rooms, the shadows that fell and of course, lots of people watching. I waved our friends on and instead crouched at her eye level and asked 'where shall we go next?' What followed was 2 glorious hours of a toddler tour of the museum. I honestly had no idea that there were so many plugs, or how wonderous those low fences are to a child of diminutive stature. She slept like a log and woke to babble away about the sculptures we saw and the magic truck we discovered. 

Pleased, I applied the same rules again but this time omitted the epic journey across London. Suited and booted with pockets ful of snacks and drinks, I took us just outside the house and plonked her down. With a little trolley to steady her or collect treasure with, we spent a good hour or so mooching along the path near our house. The thing that struck me most was the language that developed. Given the complete freedom to stop and comment or ask questions about things at her eye level, we talked about all sorts of new things. In the buggy or sling, we talk about things I can see or I deem interesting enough but from her position as leader, the Tot was able to open up a whole new world that I might otherwise have overlooked. 

It's a scary thing to just do nothing. We're programmed to feel we need to do MORE. The Tot however, is showing me and everyone else that if we trust her, she'll develop her own understanding just fine. 

Here's my top tips for self directed play:

- Take your time- This isn't something you allow 15 minutes for before you move on to the park. You might not make it to the park but that's ok. 
- Don't interrupt- This is key. We feel a need to narrate, explain or intervene at the tiniest frustration. It's ok. Learning doesn't need to be in a straight line. When we interrupt to add our explanation, we're changing the experience from theirs to ours. 
- Make safe- Toddler freedom comes with its risks. A busy roadside is not the best place to let your toddler be completely in control. Make sure things start off on the right foot by carefully choosing where you start your toddler led journey. 
- Permission- The Tot constantly looked up for reassurance, permission and guidance. I tried very hard to communicate to her that it was her choice. As time went on, she got bolder, stronger and more accomplished with her decision making. 
- Food and water- No toddler (or tired parent) functions well on low rations. Make sure you're well stocked so you don't have to pause when fully immersed to hunt out rice cakes. 
- weatherproofing- rain or shine, we go out and I take a splash suit and a jumper just in case. There's no reason a little rain should get in the way. Quite the opposite, the Tot is fascinated by raindrops on things. 
- Change your point of view- Ever sat in the floor at your gallery? Do it. See what your toddler sees. You'll honestly be amazed how different things look (or how many plug sockets there are). 

It's a weird skill to learn: the art of doing nothing. It's a vital one. Go forth and Play!

Friday 7 March 2014

For the Love of Writing

A few nights ago I was melancholy. There were various events over the last week that left me listless, dissatisfied and a little emotionally raw. In the past I kept a journal which I poured my soul into but having stopped the habit years ago, picking up a pen now feels overwhelming.  I felt like that was what I needed though and while the blog helps my urge to write and tell tales, I don't have that same release any more.  

I started at an empty page wondering where to start. I needed to work through, cataloguing things to find a pattern, a catalyst and hopefully reach a resolution. I didn't know how to any more though. I was overwhelmed by the words I suddenly didn't have and still, there was this noise in the background, making it hard to focus. I wanted it out so I could move on. Nothing BIG was wrong. I was just blue and struggling to move on. 

So I put out a plea via Twitter, Instagram and Ravelry and found others who kept journals. A few different systems were suggested:

- Bullet Journalling (I NEED this in my life too, also I need something reflective too though..... how to incorporate?)
- One thousand Gifts. (while not religious myself, I found the idea of finding joy in each day interesting.... this could easily be included in the Bullet Journal format)
- Every few days, writing highlights and notes, collecting pages, adding details through tickets or photographs (note: I would love a polaroid for just this reason)
- 5 year diaries. A small note each day that you return to year after year. My grandfather has done this for decades. I hope to inherit these as I understand the preciousness of the daily act. 
- A journal with additional clips and sticky notes, colour coded for different types of note such as knitting, anxiety and shopping lists. I liked this idea a lot. 
- Doodles, yarn swatches and a visual index of things that have provoked a reaction. 
- Journals with prompts such as quotes or images already on the pages.
- Describing your immediate setting as a way to launch a meditative entry. 

I've been left with lots of ideas that I like so I wanted to share them with you. I might try and develop a 'system' and share it again, inviting you to join me. 

Do you write? And if so, how? Come tell us over in the group. There's more than just me who'd appreciate the inspiration I can assure you!

Monday 3 March 2014


With Spring rapidly approaching and the start of a new month, it is fitting that today I am welcoming Alana Dakos as this month's blog and podcast sponsor! Today is an especially good day because it sees the long awaited release of Alana's latest Collection, 'Botanical Knits 2'!

'Forest Foliage', (c) Alana Dakos
Here's a teaser for those of you who can't wait:

'Continue to embrace the beauty of nature with Botanical Knits 2. In this follow up collection, traveling cables, organic textured stitches, and lacy stitch patterns make a reappearance, along with easy to read charts and written pattern instructions. From the cables of a heavy sweater coat to the delicate stitches of a lace shawl, the essence of plant life is worked into each of the 4 sweaters and 8 accessories included in this book'.

'Bare Branches', (c) Alana Dakos
Botanical Knits 2 is available as an ebook ($18) or to pre-order in print ($22 plus shipping). Everyone who pre-orders the book in print will receive a complimentary ebook to download right away. Those who pre-order will a;sp receive a botanically inspired gauge measuring bookmark as well as a new complimentary knitting pattern designed by Alana Dakos with their book shipment in June. To get your preorder, simply click on the button in the side bar. 

The Botanical Knits Ravelry Group has KALS for each of the designs which you can find here

'Thicket', (c) Alana Dakos
Want to find out more? I'll be featuring the latest Collection in the next podcast and you can win a copy. So join me on 16th March 2014 to celebrate Botanical Knits 2. I can't wait to share it with you!

Sunday 2 March 2014

Episode 51: Unravel- Part 2

Show notes:

Are you joining us for the BIG LOVE ALONG? There will be prizes from our sponsor Inspiration Knits as well as Whimzy yarns. Check out the blog post here.

I'm moving home! Keep an eye on the blog for details of where to look for blog posts, podcasts and professional service information very soon!

This episode is all about Unravel!

Louise from Inspiration Knits
Katie from Hill Top Cloud 
Susan Crawford
Sweet Georgia, Purlescence and the Knit Along
Wendy Fowler Pottery 

Sadly Eliza Conway doesn't have a website but if you are interested, please do contact me and I can put you in touch with this wonderful story teller. 

Stay tuned for part 2 coming very, very soon!

Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Noise Trade
Unsuccessful by Hilary Saunders, available on Noise Trade

Saturday 1 March 2014

Episode 50: Unravel... part 1

Show notes:

This episode is all about Unravel!

Jeni from Fyberspates and her new yarn Cumulus
Coopknits and her latest Collection, Toasty
Emily from Tin Can Knits
Belinda from True Brit Knits
Jen AC 
Tilly Flop Designs
Victoria and David from Eden Cottage Yarns
Meghan from Pom Pom magazine
Miss Elle Knits from Jumble Jelly and podcast fame
Tom of Holland and the Visible Mending Programme
Anna Maltz and the Ricefield Collective
Ruth from Rock and Purl and Kate Heppell from Knit Now and her own design fame

Stay tuned for part 2 coming very, very soon!

Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Noise Trade
Strings by Anna Barnett  available on Noise Trade

Friday 28 February 2014

Eden Cottage Yarns

Well I think it's fair to say that I fell in love last weekend. I'd long suspected that this would be the case but my 'favourite of favourite' circle of indie dyers just made room for another: Eden Cottage Yarns

Victoria's booth was like a siren song that all weekend I popped back to, sighed and wished myself in a better place knitting wise. I wanted something in every yarn weight. I could just see the projects with her gorgeous sense of colour and great selection of yarn bases. 

In her own words, Eden Cottage is the "home of semi-solid colours, from muted pastels, to stone-washed mid-shades and rich, jewel-tones. The yarn is dyed with an emphasis on simple but gorgeous colours, as well as sustainability, and ECY has become synonymous with a muted palette of semi-solid shades". Victoria is not kidding. Her stand at Unravel was like a wardrobe full of knits waiting to happen. Everything was just so wearable. 

I brought a sweater quantity home, my single yarn purchase all weekend. I wanted to save myself for something I truly wanted and apparently, I truly wanted Oakland DK. This is New Zealand Polwarth, handdyed in the 'Midnight' colourway. 

I think it's destined to be a Hooray Cardigan by Veera Valimaki. I've been wanting to make one for ages, ever since I saw the thick cables on the front. I think this bouncy and crisp feeling yarn will give great stitch definition and I'm excited to try a new-to-me fibre too. It made adding it to my stash feel much less naughty somehow as I didn't have any other Polworth. See? Totally justified!

(C) Veera Valimaki

Thursday 27 February 2014

Big Love

So how are you feeling today? Are you feeling the love? 

Over in the Playful Group, we've been sharing some gorgeous stories about selfish knitting, unselfish knitting, knitting memories, crochet dreams and spinning to die for. Why? Because we're all about the Big Love Along I'm currently hosting. There's even prizes just for entering!

Rules are simple:
  1. Kick off when the Ravellenics end
  2. WIPS and double dipping allowed.
  3. You have to be a group member
  4. You have to tell us your BIG LOVE story.
So what will it be? A skein you’ve loved for a long time? A technique you adore? Fibre you’ve lovingly spun for a friend? Something loving for YOURSELF?
Tell us!

We have some gorgeous skeins donated from Whimzy yarns who collaborated with our sponsor this month, Inspiration Knits, to bring fabulous kits to Unravel. You can read all about the patterns Louise recommends Whimzy for here
On the left is Sokkusu O(O for Original), a 100% Superwash Merino base in the 'Summer Storm' colourway. On the right is 'Johanna' on Silkie Merino, another fingering weight yarn but this time 50% Superwash Merino, 50% Silk. To lucky winners will get a skein each, drawn at random from the FO thread. 

Another Way (c) Inspiration Knits

Then whether you have a hankering for 'Another Way' or a different design of Louise's, you can choose a pattern if you're the 3rd lucky winner in this solidarity along! 

The along has already started and I think I'll close the FO thread at the end of March so come on over and join in the chatter!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

In Praise of Scones

Yesterday was another miserable wet day. I sighed, pulled out the waterproofs and we headed to the park muttering the words 'hopefully it won't get too wet'. When the rain started coming down horizontally, we retreated to cover and munched rice cakes while we gloomily surveyed swings we weren't going to go on again that morning. 

This is having a toddler. Wet days become about the less horizontal parts you manage to grab before retreating to whatever fun you can find indoors. Rain, unless it's 'soak you through to your knickers' wet is not necessarily a deterrent. However, I draw the line at horizontal and soggy knickers. 

Instead, we tried baking......

For our toddler sized baking session I chose scones for 2 reasons: no raw egg, and you can hide goodness in them such as sweet potato, courgette or in this case, Marmite and cheese. I also learned that anything you mix with your hands then 'cut out' is a hit too. 

I use a basic scone recipe but sub in a little wholemeal flour (about 50g) and if I have it in I also use buttermilk too. It makes for delicious fluffy scones. 

Having had a complete success with this activity, here's some top tips for cooking with toddlers:

- Food safety- think dry goods rather than raw eggs or cross contamination. Hands go everywhere and often in mouths!
- Simple tasks that we found easy: greasing the tray, squashing butter, sieving flour, stacking bowls and measuring spoons. 
- Have everything you need ready before you even start- even the washing up bowl of soapy water!
- Make a game of washing up. Washing up is great water play and helps you deal with the tidy up. I use sensitive washing up liquid anyway and she loves the bubbles. 
- Don't wear anything you care about getting dirty (see picture above for further explanation)
- Allow enough time. Flour is great sensory play so let it fly safe in the knowledge you don't have to be anywhere soon
- Secure seating: balancing acts and hot stoves/ flour are not a good combo. We used the tray of the high chair which made clean up easier too. 

Most importantly though is enjoy the scones together afterwards. That's surely the best bit about baking??

You can find a sugar and salt free recipe, suitable for toddlers and babies here

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover, Fenella and Susan Crawford

I feel like I have weeks and weeks of blogging and podcasting material thanks to Unravel. I'm on about day 2 of recovery though so today is an indulgent, lingering kind of post about all things Susan Crawford

I've always loved to see Susan's booth at shows. It's a wonderful setup full of gorgeous samples, books and yarn but the thing that strikes me most, without fail, each and every time, is that I step in and feel like I'm in someone's sitting room. She brings wallpapered walls and period pieces to display her vintage inspired finery and the effect is not lost on me. I feel the crowds disappear and wish I was wearing a string of pearls EVERY TIME. I'm transported to another era and my mood is instantly lifted. 

Susan always looks the part, showcasing her designs and more often than not a fabulous, authentic hairdo too but I'm afraid to say it was her husband that stole the show this year. He was modelling the Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover that Susan designed, complete with hat and tie. This picture will give you an idea of why I sighed every time I looked down the hall and saw him in that booth of charm and wonder. I longed to show my Grandmother; I felt like I could hear my Grandfather humming 'We'll meet again' each and every time I saw him. (Which my Grandfather does interchangeably with 'Here We are Again' and it's a habit I adore)

(c) Susan Crawford
If you haven't heard about this wonderful sweater and the project surrounding it, you really should go and take a lookIn the wake of the popular Wartime Farm BBC TV series, you can now knit your very own authentic Fair Isle Sleeveless Pullover, modelled on a 1938 original and as worn by Alex Langlands no less! For each pattern sold, a £2.50 donation will be made to the Women’s Land Army Tribute Campaign to help raise money for a permanent memorial to these forgotten ladies and their untold toil during the World Wars. There's a kit available featuring Susan's wonderful yarn that she's developed to help you achieve the most authentic garment possible. 

Talking of yarn, I was mid interview with Susan when I spotted this little bit of deliciousness peeking at me.....

This is Fenella, the newest recruit to Susan's unique yarn range. Susan understands that vintage inspired patterns require vintage inspired yarn as the modern day equivalents often don't behave like their predecessors. With this in mind, Susan has been working with British Wool supplier John Arbon Textiles to develop a yarn range that will allow knitters to create garments with authentic colour choices and achieve that perfect fabric. 

Fenella is a 2ply that knits as a 3 ply, a weight that many vintage patterns call for but has all but dyed out in modern milling. Available in 124m (135yds) per 25g, this is 100% pure new British wool, (70% Exmore Blueface, 30% Bluefaced Leicester). It's amazing and I'm currently pondering what it wants to be when it grows up. I guess I will have to indulge myself by curling up with one or two of Susan's inspirational books and see what I find eh?

All in the name of research and recovery. Obviously. 

Monday 24 February 2014

Unravel and everything after

Sleepily I'm typing in a sun spot of the house, pondering a gorgeous weekend. This weekend was a big one to say the least. I might be over tired as a result but Unravel was completely worth it this year. What a rush!

Highlights for me:

- The Sweet Georgia girls completely fangirling Victoria from EdenCottage
- Susan Crawford's stylish booth and winning smile
- Fyberspates new yarn, Cumulus, sitting like little tribbles at the stand

Plume by Lisa Mutch in The Uncommon Thread yarn

- The way my shawl was an instant point of conversation each time I made a new acquaintance. 
- Coopknits just next door with her explosion of pompoms
- Eliza Conway gleefully telling me stories of vintage knitting finds and the wonderful reactions they cause. 
- Emily from Tincanknits campaigning for me to attend Edinburgh Yarn Festival (haha)

Knitted Stuffed Heads!

- The knitting decorations
- So much banter, good will and fun from all the vendors. It was truly a brilliant event.

I'm going to be blogging about a few things I brought home and editing 2 podcasts worth of audio this week because sometimes you just don't want something to be over. 

Although my fourth cup of tea begs to differ. 

Wednesday 19 February 2014


Sometimes amongst all the chaos, the constant movement and the endless (endless) work, you need to stop and be still. Taking time for yourself is always hard but it's something I struggle with even more as a mother of an oh so Playful Tot. However, unless we take risks we don't know where our boundaries lie right?

I've been scrunched up into myself lately, brow furrowed and just living for the afternoons in with the Tot, rolling around on the floor and completely lost within each other. I've loved it. With Unravel coming at the weekend though and so much social strength needed to cope with crowds of people and banter, I knew I needed to push myself a little. 

With a trusted friend I tried something new..... Art, lunch, let the girls run wild and then? Stillness. 

I wonder if it will stick?

Sunday 16 February 2014

Episode 49: Big Love

Show notes:
Will you be at UnravelUnwind?
A big thank you to Michelle from BC Yarnings for helping out with prizes. We love you!
Are you joining us for the BIG LOVE ALONG? There will be prizes from our sponsor Inspiration Knits as well as Whimzy yarns. 

The winner of Scrumptious Collection Volume 3 is Knitterlynina. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Off the Needles
Pyrite Socks by Carol Feller in Juno Fibre Arts Buffy Toughie in the 'Wanderer' Colourway.

On the Needles
Hickory by Cecily Glowik MacDonald using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky.  
Simple by Alice Plummer in some rather special handspun

Future Knitting
Dancing Socks for the Big Love along. Candy Skein Yummy Fingering in the Rainbow Fruit Chews colourway. Gratuitous stash link
Jeck Socks with CarbonSoup of the Fibre PigeonHole podcast. 
Unravel plans abound. My queue!!

Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Noise Trade
Ce Jeu by Yelle , available on Noise Trade

Friday 14 February 2014

New Articles!

Not one but TWO magazines arrived on my doorstep yesterday, heralding the news that two new articles were just published. Great stuff.

The first is about Anna Maltz, a fabulously talented designer that I know as a friend but who also happens to be involved in lots of fun things, including the Ricefield Collective. You can catch that in the most recent issue of pom pom magazine.

The next is a feature about the lovely Asti and her set up with Juno Fibre Arts. I had the pleasure of visiting Asti last summer and really enjoyed writing this article for The Knitter. You can find that in Issue 67.

Happy reading!

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Slow Burning

A discussion picked up on Twitter the other day about the pleasure in a slow and steady knit. It was quite apt given the garment I just finished and FINALLY took pictures of but I'll talk about that a bit more in a minute.

What we agreed was that while wearing knits was wonderful, it's always with slight sorrow that we bind off. I find myself eager to get to that finishing point, to have my hat, to wear my shawl, to share it with other knitters who will 'ooohhhh' and 'ahhhhhhh' along with me at the clever pattern features and gorgeous yarn. However, I always feel slightly bereft at the point of cast off. I wish I was at the beginning again with all that fresh promise. I love the first few sessions of knitting on a new project. It's like making a new friend.

It's often when you're at the end that you've really hit your stride and can do the pattern repeat instinctively and of course, that's when it all speeds up and you're suddenly almost at the Bind Off. To be fair, there's also been projects that I've cast off and thought 'Oh thank God, I'm never knitting that again!' As a general rule though, slow meditative steps in our knitting should be celebrated as much as the 'quick knit' and the instant gratification that it promises. There's lots of workshops out there for you to speed up your knitting. I know I'm slow but I love every piece just as much.

If hats are fast and dirty, sweaters and socks are slow burners for me. I just don't knit that fast. It irked me when I first learned to knit as I wanted all my sweaters to be handmade and never to have to buy socks again. This is absolutely ridiculous at the rate I knit and even this far into knitting, with a back catalogue under my belt, I'd not make such a silly pledge.

It was rather lovely though to photograph these two slow burning projects at long last because I took them at a very steady pace which means I adore wearing them all the more.

Julissa in Miss Babs Yowza!
The first is my Girl Crush Sweater. I settled for photographing it on my sister (oh she had a lot of modelling to do that weekend) so this doesn't quite show it's full glory, but still, a special sweater all the same.This sweater saw me through the discovery that I was pregnant, the big move from North to South London, settling into a home full of some pretty enormous DIY projects, the arrival of my daughter and then finally settling into Motherhood and feeling I had run a marathon! Each stitch has a story and I smile each time I reach for this sweater. I will always think of the many moments I retreated into its' comforting lace and cables when there was some huge changes going on in my life.

Pyrite Socks in JFA Buffy Toughie
Then, finally, there is the Pyrite Socks and I adore them. I bought the yarn after a visit to Asti's farm and each time I look at the beautiful colours I think of that magical countryside holiday with close friends and our family. Meeting Asti was the icing on the cake and we've formed a friendship that I treasure.

So I am now slightly lost and a little perturbed about my next knitting plans. The Ravellenics always unsettles me, making me feel that I should run to keep up and then, as is so often the case, I shrug and retreat into my slow, plodding knitting and remember that I'm just not that way inclined. I prefer to be the person coaching the team; I'm better suited to enjoying other people's glory than my own. I won't even model my own sweater for goodness sake!


Sunday 9 February 2014


OH this weather! Yes, I've kicked off a blog post talking about weather. I'm so British right now but do you know what? This wet weather is getting me down. Layers, miserable walks, no freedom for toddlers and absolutely no decent light with which to celebrate FOs. 

Luckily I had a skein of this wonderful stuff. It's Vivacious DK in the 'Sunshine' colourway and it has cheered some really miserable days let me assure you. I worked on two hats, ripping one back because I couldn't find a rhythm and starting afresh on the Evernia. It was the right decision because a) it had lace and b) POM POMS!

The yarn held up really well to so much pulling back so I'm hopefully it will wear well. The hat is a little slouchier than I'd ideally like as I cast on with the wrong needle size but a brim that can be pulled over your ears in this weather is no bad thing let me assure you. It looks even slouchier in these pictures because it's worn by my sister who is a dot of a thing in comparison to me. She was a good sport to let me snap pics on a sleepy Sunday morning after the Playful Tot had kept her awake all night. Ahem. 

Tori has written a fab pattern with multiple options. There's charting and writing instructions and everything is crystal clear and WORKS. I actually feel quite addicted to hat knitting right now. A designer I know proposes that a hat is the perfect medium for trying things out and practising technique. She's absolutely right as I got my Lace fix with the instant gratification of a hat rather than the sobbing that would have gone with full on Lace shawl. 

Oh and the variation in colour between pictures? Yeah that would be the lack of light and need to photoshop it to oblivion in order to see any stitches. urgh. Roll on Spring. 

In the meantime? More hats!

Friday 7 February 2014

Traipsing Vines Wrap/ Shawl

A little while ago a pattern appeared in my Ravelry library with a lovely note. I was in one of my frantic rushes to meet a deadline and I believe there was some teething too so I forgot to share it. Luckily, I had said 'please remind me if I forget....' So here is the post I should have shared a little while ago. 

(c) Three Irish Girls
The pattern is the Traipsing Vines Wrap/ Shawl by Arlin Chondro-Halim of the Lost Geek podcast. It's a really beautiful design that I instantly liked but even more so when I read the kind notes attached the gift pattern. 100% of sales of this pattern during the month of January and February 2014 will go to relief efforts of Manado flash floodJakarta flood, and Mt. Sinabung eruptionFunds will be directed to local Red Cross and local evacuation sites. 

It's a beautiful pattern for a great cause. It's also brilliant because it solves the problem I always have of wraps etc slipping off. Hidden half-length sleeves keep the wrap in place without distracting from the overall look. From the front, the shawl can look like a long cardigan if you let it down, or it can look like a regular shawl if you wrap it around your arms. Isn't that clever?

Please do go and take a look and download a copy. I'm currently pondering what DK yarn I might purchase at Unravel to work it up in.... And what fancy occasion I should showcase it at. 

Thanks for the pattern Arlin and I wish you luck wit your fundraising efforts!

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Episode 48: So soon??

Show notes:
Will you be at UnravelUnwind?
Are you joining in with Team Playful? For those not wishing to participate with the Ravellenics, there's a KAL starting over in the Suburban Stitcher's Podcast Group.

I review Scrumptious Collection Volume 3 thanks to being part of the Blogger and Podcast Tour. Please leave a comment in the Ravelry Thread for this episode to win a digital copy by 15th February 2014. 

Off the Needles
Evernia by Tori Gurbisz Fyberspates Vivacious DK in 'Sunshine' colourway.

On the Needles
Hickory by Cecily Glowik MacDonald using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky. 
Pyrite Socks by Carol Feller in Juno Fibre Arts Buffy Toughie in the 'Wanderer' Colourway. 
Simple by Alice Plummer in some rather special handspun

Playful Parenting
This time I talk about mark making, prewriting skills and the love of writing. This one's not just for parents but educators too!
Pinterest Board for writers. 
Pinterest Board for Playful Activities
Developing writing through play

Fly, Fly, Fly by Adrina Thorpe, available on Noise Trade
In My Dreams by Nate Cronk , available on Noise Trade

Saturday 1 February 2014

Featured: New Sponsor, Inspiration Knits!

We have a new friend for the blog and podcast! Please welcome Louise, the designer behind Inspiration Knits. You can find lots of amazing accessory patterns that are just perfect for using up stash and playing with colour. What's more, we have a coupon code and who doesn't love one of those right?

Louise aka Inspiration Knits and her 'Trust Me' design

I asked Louise a few questions to help you get to know our Playful new friend...

What was your favourite childhood game?
I played a lot of different card games and board games when I was little. I used to play basketball competitively (read: very competitively). When I was a student, if I wasn't in the textiles studio you'd find me on a basketball court.

What is your favourite Munch or Schlurp?
Good chocolate, good coffee and good wine. Great food, in general. I'm a cliché. I prefer quality over quantity. Having said that, I probably wouldn't turn down cheap chocolate! I really am a dreadful coffee snob. I won't drink instant coffee unless I'm ambushed with the stuff. If I suspect I'm being offered instant, I'll always choose a cup of tea instead because it's harder to fake.

Do you have a current knitting crush (can be yarn crush)?
Hmmm. This is difficult. I have loads of things I want to knit, and loads of yarns I want to try. Pick any hot indy dyer and you'll probably find I want to try all their yarns - right now! I'm not into the big brands because it can feel a bit bland by comparison. Some of the character will have been squashed out by the corporation, or at least that's how it makes me feel, which isn't good for my creativity.

'Song of the Sea'

 I have been slightly obsessed with Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico over the last year. Finally, I have it on my needles. I'm making an ombre version of Song of the Sea. It feels amazing - my kids keep cuddling it, which is terrifying when I've crammed the stitches onto slightly-too-short circulars. I am a card-carrying environmentalist at heart, so I always have my eye out for environmentally-responsible choices that don't involve sack-cloth and sandals. This yarn is undyed and is all-the-more spectacular for it.

Having said that, I'm also obsessed with Fyberspates' silk colours. Whether blended in Silk Twizzle or Faery Wings, or all on its own in 100% silk, the way the silk fibres take Jeni's colours is truly spectacular. That's my colour obsession right now.

What is your favourite ever FO?
I don't think I can choose one! I have a few things I do wear all the time though. I've a small triangle shawl in Handmaiden SeaSilk in Hemlock which is wrapped round my neck for half the winter. It's so soft and the colour is perfect. I'll take the fifth on the pattern I followed. Suffice to say, was a real eye-opener as to how full of errors a free pattern can be!

If I'm in a rush, I grab my Song of the Sea snug cowl instead because it's so easy to throw on under a coat. It's warm round my neck but not bulky. Mine is in Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply in a one-off colour called Sea Green, appropriately. I love that yarn.

With little kids, fingerless mitts are essential. I absolutely adore the pair of Blue Sky Alpaca mitts a lovely friend made for me last Christmas. They're soooo warm, and purple!

Midnight Ocean (c) Inspiration Knits

Midnight Ocean gets compliments whenever I wear it, so it makes me feel proud to have designed it. I wear it if I need to look presentable. The sparkle in the Fyberspates Sheila's Sock really lifts it. My grey Stay Awhile in Sokkusu O is my new alternative for dressing-up. Both of these are perfect day-to-evening. Their versatility is probably why I wear them so much. 

And finally...... Your knitting nemesis?
I hate badly written patterns, but that's more of a bete noir than a nemesis.

There is an individual who writes about knitting in a popular magazine. They're probably closer to a nemesis. My husband tries to stop me from reading their contributions because I get so angry about the poor quality of the writing and lack of basic grammar. I suppose reading these pieces does at least encourage me to knit…so that I can calm down! 

I think I am particularly sensitive to bad writing and long sentences because I try so hard to make my patterns clear. I confess that if I see a really long sentence I have to count the words. I know that's really geeky but I can't resist it if I see a possible new record. The writer I mentioned holds the current record with a 62-word sentence. Yes, unsurprisingly, it was completely incomprehensible. I know I break the rules when I write, but I do it knowingly and for effect; I just hope it comes across that way!

A big thank you to Louise for joining our Playful tribe and taking the time to answer these questions. Louise will be donating a pattern of the winner's choice to our Big Love along that will kick off at the end of the Ravellenics. What's more, she's offering 10% any of her patterns with the code playful at the Ravelry Checkout. Go forth and knit!