Sunday, 11 September 2016

Philomena's Elephant


Trips to the library used to be fraught when Flo was tiny. Books went flying off the shelves, screams and shouts would be had and I would sheepishly leave with her under my arm without taking out a single book. Now that Flo is much more able to go into a public place without causing mass destruction the library has become a much more fun and interesting place to be. We’re slowly getting to the point where I can actually look at some books myself! 

A few weeks back I managed to get away from the kids section for 2 minutes and grabbed the book Edward's Menagerie off the display shelf. I have a friend's baby to make something for and the projects looked like a nice challenge as well as a lovely gifts to give. The book is full of the cutest soft toy crochet patterns which are pretty easy to follow if you have a basic grasp of crochet, which I just about do. There are about 40 different animals to choose from, but I went with the Elephant as I had some left over John Arbon Knit By Numbers in a lovely grey colour and who doesn't love an elephant?

My basic crochet meant that this project demanded my full concentration and so I had to basically do it with my head down, no talking or watching TV for the whole project. Thankfully as crochet is pretty quick it only took a few silent sessions to complete the pieces with a further session to sew up and embellish with a tail and eyes. 


My friends baby was born and named Philomena shortly after I completed the little elephant. I can't say Philomena seemed pleased with the elephant as she could hardly focus on her own mother at the time of me giving it to her. But I'm sure in years to come it will be flung across her bedroom during a flight test, snuggled whilst watching films and be ridden on by Barbies. 

There was one small snag with this project, which was that I was having such a good time making the elephant I forgot that it was a library book and was fined £2 for a late return. Perhaps I should stick to letting Flo choose the books. I'd be more likely to renew them on time!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Emerald City


A finished object!!!

I won a competition last year with Pom Pom Mag and was sent the most gorgeous yarn; Kismet Fiber Works Refuge Fingering. I got to choose the colourway and couldn't resist the aptly named T-Rex.
Green is really my thing, especially being a ginger.

I decided to make the Hitofude cardigan by Hiroko Fukatsu and over the last few months it's been a pleasure to knit. The yarn is a mix of baby camel and silk which is so slinky-soft! Plus I could get lost in the deep emerald green for days. The repetitive lace pattern was easy to get on with and as it's knit all in one piece it was completely satisfying to watch grow, try on as I knit and have no sewing up to do!


I'm really happy with the finished article although the hot weather is prohibiting me from wearing it at the moment.
I managed to get Flo to take some photos of me wearing it in the garden the other day. This photo shoot was a lot of fun and she directed me about like a tiny, shouty David Bailey. She even demanded that I use her dog balloon as a prop. I of course obeyed. Look what magic occurred. Turner Prize here we come.

 

Friday, 22 July 2016

A New York Min-knit


A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to visit New York for my annual company training session. It's a busy few days of formal training with a few evenings of dinners and drinks together with the fun and intelligent people I have the pleasure of working with. On the last day I was lucky enough to have some time before my flight home to head to Brooklyn and track down the Brooklyn General Store. And, oh, how glad I was to have made it there.


The store was massive by UK standards with one side of the shop dedicated to yarn and the other to sewing. It was a peaceful space and despite the time pressure of a flight to think of I felt at ease browsing the packed shelves. However,  as the time pressure was in the back of my mind I didn't follow my usual tactic of considering my purchases carefully, checking Ravelry, looking for patterns to match the yarn or pondering over which skein I want more than another. This time I simply picked up a basket and starting piling up the yarns I really liked the look of. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't clearing the shelves directly into my basket; I was gauging which skein was talking to me, which ones I was really excited about and trying to find things that perhaps I'd never seen or heard of before.


I only had time for one pass down the yarn side of the shop and so once I got to the end I tipped out the basket onto the counter and took a quick stock check. To give you further context Brexit had just happened the night before which had saddened me to my very core. This yarn was very much being used to a plug a large hole in my national pride at that moment. It was my equivalent of eating a huge bar of chocolate after a break up. I emptied out my remaining dollars from my purse and bought the lot. In all honesty I don't feel a bit guilty about it. Seven types of yarn and a project bag acquired I headed back to the UK filled with yarny joy.



Sunday, 19 June 2016

Northern Yarn



In the last few years the provenance of yarn has become so much more important to the knitting community. Where our yarn has been sourced, processed and dyed is as much a part of some people's yarn shopping as it is for their food shopping. I'm so proud to say that my friend Kate has just launched Northern Yarn which promotes no air miles, no plastic, just good honest wool from the Lancashire region.

I met Kate in 2010 when she moved into my Brother's old flat which was across the road from where I lived at the time in South Woodford. She was pregnant and I knew the move had been stressful so I went over to say hello and welcome her to the area. I also let her know that we had a local mum's knitting group and advised her to join in order to meet people. Before long we had Kate knitting away. She became a yarn lover and good friend to us all.


Fast forward to a few years later when Kate and her family decided to move back to their homeland of Lancashire. We were of course sad to see her go, but it marked a new chapter in Kate's life and this chapter had sheep roaming outside her window instead of the A406 road works buzzing in the background. These sheep that she saw daily inspired her to find local yarns to knit with. Surely there would be tons of local yarn with all this fluff walking about? But she found it hard to get her hards on what she was looking for and so started out on a mission to create a place where people could buy local wool and support farmers from Lancashire.

My favourites from her collection have to be the Teeswater wool which comes in mouthwatering colours. Kate knows the shepherds Freda & Darrell which shows just how local this wool is to her! Also the Lancashire Farm Wool in it's undyed creaminess is just gorgeous.



Take a look and if you're in the Lancashire area it's worth while tracking Kate down at the various markets she sets up stall at.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Knit-Monogamy is Overrated


Up until this year I was pretty much a monogamous knitter. I would only have one project on the go at a time and thought that it was the best way to get projects finished and do them right. I noticed that so many of my fellow knitters did not share my monogamy yet seemed to be churning out more projects than I could manage. I always put this down to them having more time or being faster knitters than me, but earlier this year I decided to give polygamous knitting a go and it was a revelation. Having multiple projects on the go at a time meant that when I got bored or stuck on one thing I'd simply move onto another until I had the interest or strength to go back to the first project.

At the time of my experiment I had cast on the Rock Hopper Shawl from Penguin by Anna Maltz, the Hap Blanket by Ysolda Teague for a wedding present to a friend, a blanket of squares from sock yarn remnants I’d been hoarding for about ten years, and I joined a one skein scarf KAL to complete my adultery.  It was liberating to skip between projects and keep the momentum going on each of them. Every day i would be able to choose which to take on my commute and then later at home I could flit between projects on the couch.



Although I began all of these at the start of the year I still haven't finished all of them. The scarf KAL and Hap Blanket were finished in good time. I need to take some better photos of the blanket but you can see that I tried to match the border to the colours on the wedding invite.


Both the Rock Hopper shawl and the blanket squares are still ongoing projects. I messed up the Rock Hopper and am frankly a little scared of trying to fix it or fudge it, hence why there is no photo of its half-finished state. The blanket is going to be ongoing for the next 20 years I'm estimating. Unless it turns into a baby blanket.

The best thing that being a polygamous knitter has taught me is that it's ok to have UFOs in your knitting pile. It's chilled me out a bit and taken the deadline stress out of finishing one thing before you can cast on the next. I don't think I'll ever go back now. I'm off to cast on something new!

PS: If you're on Instagram you can find me at purlprincess81.

Friday, 3 June 2016

East London Yarn Triangle


Have you heard about the East London Yarn Triangle yet? 

Knit in Public day is coming up on Saturday 18th June and to celebrate it Fabrications, Wild and Woolly and Knit With Attitude have teamed up to bring you an East London yarn crawl, which just happens to be triangular. 

The idea is this; you assemble a group, preferably giving it a name like the Knitting Ninjas or Woolly Wanderers. Then show up together at any of the shops, grab a map which details walking and bus routes as well as some key Hackney knitting spots. Then knit as you travel between shops taking knitting in public selfies of you and your team on the way. Upload at least 3 snaps to Instagram with the hashtag #eastlondonyarntriangle and you get 10% off everything in any of the shops! What a perfect way of both spending and celebrating Knit in Public day.



When I was Knit With Attitude the other day they packaged up my purchases in one of their printed tote bags. When I got it home I realised I now had the full set of tote bags for the East London Yarn triangle - weird huh! Perhaps it's a sign that I need to assemble a team and get yarn crawling. Who's with me?

PS: Velma says "Hi".

Monday, 30 May 2016

Knitting Magazine's - July 2016 Men's issue


I've been writing as Purl About Town since 2008 and have seen the magazine change over time. This year we got a new Editor Christine Boggis and it's been great to see how she's put her own stamp on the magazine. The month it's the Men's issue which I think its a particularly good one.


It's refreshing to see a man on the cover for a change. I wonder if it makes it stand out on the shelves more? 

Inside there are some great articles on male designers including Easyknits and Steven West, both of whom I'm a big fan of.

My favourite feature this month is that several of the male knitting patterns are show on both men and women. 


I think this works really well as we all like to climb into a boyfriend, dad, or male friend's big cosy jumper from time to time. I'm sure there are lots of jumpers that have migrated from one part of the wardrobe to another over time.  I think the designs they have chosen work equally well on both sexes and I just thought the idea was really fresh for the magazine.

Why not check out this month's Knitting Magazine and let me know what you think?