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New Pattern! The Beauty of the Rain Shawl

It’s taken a while but I’m pleased to say that my new shawl design The Beauty of the Rain is now up on Ravelry 🙂

The Beauty of the Rain Shawl.jpgThis design was born after a visit to The Sheep Shop in Cambridge and the purchase of some Lotus Yarns Tibetan Cloud yarn in the delicate Cornflower Haze colour. The yarn is 100% yak and sooo soft, it’s a dream to knit with.

tibetan_cloud_fingering_medium2

I had recently done a swatch of the Starlight Lace pattern and I thought this would look quite pretty in a shawl.

Starlight Lace.jpgSo in my usual fashion I dropped everything else and cast on!

dsc01873I broke up the lace pattern with sections of stockinette and the lines inbetween became zig zags…

beauty-of-the-rain

And I added some beads 🙂

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Amanda at Dissemiknit for tech editing this pattern for me, and to my lovely test knitters on Ravelry who gave lots of valuable feedback and provided some great photo’s. One of my testers MkatRuby asked if it would be ok to add beads to the picot bind off, and the end result is so pretty I have had to cast on another one so I can do this too!

BoR Picot beads.jpgPhoto by MkatRuby taken from the pattern project page.

borAs for the name of the shawl, it’s named after one of my favourite songs by Dar Williams. I wanted the beads to look like little drops of rain which is why they aren’t on every lace section.

If you fancy a listen, here it is.

Until next time, happy knitting! x

 

knitting

The Great London Yarn Crawl

Last weekend I joined with fellow yarnies and took part in the Great London Yarn Crawl. Organised by Yarn in the City the event has been running for 4 years now and it’s a day for crafters to take a tour of some of the wonderful haberdashery and yarn shops that London has to offer.

There were 12 teams this year, each with a planned route to visit 3 or 4 shops. I was on Team Mosaic, one of the 4 shop routes.

On Saturday morning, my friend Vero and I braved the rain and caught the train to London where we were to meet the others at a coffee shop in Angel and get acquainted over tea and cake, and receive our goodie bags full of yarny treats!

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The first stop on our route was Ray Stitch, a sewing and haberdashery shop in Angel, Islington.

ray-stitch

Full of beautiful fabrics, buttons and books…I was very tempted to buy a pattern and some fabric but I stopped myself as I know it will lead me down a whole other rabbit hole! So I settled for a selection of pretty buttons and scissor charms.

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Next up was Loop. I have visited this shop before and already knew it would be where I spent most of my budget for the day…this shop is yarn heaven!

loop

Just look at all these pretties…

loop-yarn-shop

Needless to say I didn’t come out of there empty handed. I bought 2 skeins of Dye for Yarn which I want to match up with some Hedgehog Fibre yarn I already have. And I got a pretty little needle measurer too  🙂

dye-for-yarn

And the one thing I had been lusting after for ages….a Japanese knitting stitch book! I have been trying to find one of these for ages but they are not easy to come by. This was top of my list for the day and I was over the moon to find it!

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We stepped out of Loop, back into the rain and found a pub for lunch.

Fully refreshed we carried on our journey by Bus to Stoke Newington, the home of Knit With Attitude

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Part of the shop was also a gallery with interesting art prints, jewellery and gifts. If you ever find yourself in Hackney this is one shop well worth a visit, and the staff were so friendly and helpful too!

The last shop on our route was another 2 bus rides away, across to North London to Fringe.

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A real treasure trove of a store, there was so much to see – and they also had a pop up event with knitwear designer Erika Knight!

fringe-london

As we walked into the shop we were handed gift bags by the staff containing 3 balls of vintage mohair yarn. The lady told us that one day a man came into the store with bags of yarn which belonged to his late wife. She had been a knitwear designer and made some beautiful garments that had appeared in magazines.

fringe-yarn-shop

Just…wow!

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Her husband wanted her yarn to go to people who would appreciate it, so he donated it to the shop. Isn’t that a lovely gesture? Unfortunately we don’t know the name of the designer but I’ll certainly be putting her yarn to good use at some point in the future.

vintage-yarn

And so, weary but happy we caught a train back to Moorgate where all of the teams came together to wrap up the day, show off our new purchases and have a well deserved drink! There was also a raffle to raise money to the supported charity, Refuge.

It was a brilliant day, very well organised and I met some lovely fellow knitters too. Now to get that lovely new yarn on the needles…

Until next time, happy knitting! x

knitting

Hello! Knit’s Been a While…

…I’ve missed you! Regular readers will know that just one post a month is not unusual for me but in between I do try and keep up with reading your lovely blogs and I’m sorry I have been MIA and not stopping by to say hello. I had every intention of checking in after hols but the longer I left it the more I put it off as I knew how much I had to catch up on…But it’s time to bite the bullet and jump back in!  So I hope you will forgive me if I haven’t stopped by for a while, I hope to rectify some of that over the next few days.

So although I have been out of action in blogland I can assure you my knitting needles have been very much in action. Do you want to see what I have been working on? Yes? Oh good, I hoped you would say that!

First up – holibobs! We had an amazing  2 and a half weeks on the beautiful Greek island of Alonissos. It was pretty much the perfect getaway with lots of sunshine, reading, beach times and of course, knitting 🙂 I got into a lovely routine of getting up each morning and spending an hour or so knitting on the veranda. Bliss…

Morning Knitting

I took 4 projects with me, the Ilene Bag that I didn’t quite manage to get finished before we went away, the Happenstance Shawl, the double knit Kitty Cushion and a new design that I had started working on.

Ilene Bag

The Ilene Bag by Hannah Ingalls is a great pattern, it’s a simple k2tog, yo lace pattern worked in the round and the finished bag was perfect for beach essentials! And it’s a free pattern on Ravelry too 🙂 I just had a few rows at the top and the handle to finish when I got there but that only took a few mornings to do.

Ilene Bag

Knitted Bag

I would have preferred a slightly longer strap, but I ran out of yarn – but it has stretched a bit with use. This is a great pattern, well written and easy to follow. I already have another one on the needles which will be a Christmas present 🙂

Happenstance

This is a lovely pattern by Romi Hill from the Kate Davies Book of Haps. I cast on using Moorfields Alpaca yarn and it was my travel project for the journey to Greece. As soon as we arrived, instead of unpacking we headed out to the veranda to take in the last of the evening sun over a glass of wine – and a few more rows 🙂

Evening KnittingOver the next few days I even managed to knit some of it in the paddling pool!

Pool KnittingUntil disaster struck….and I ran out of yarn!

IMG_0323So then it was onto the next project, and time to learn how to double knit!

Kitty Cushion

As soon as I saw this super cute pattern by Nicky Barfoot I knew it wouldn’t be long before I cast on. The only thing that held me back for a while was the fact that I had never done double knitting before but I figured that holiday would be the perfect time to get to grips with it . Armed with a free Basic Double Knitting Ravelry tutorial by Cassie Castillo I cast on a small swatch to practice on first. It turns out it was nowhere near as complicated as I had built it up to be, so I jumped in and before long this little face began to emerge.

Kitty Cushion progressI I found it helpful to place stitch markers at each colour change, just to keep track. He is now off the needles and ready to be blocked and sewn together this weekend.

As for my new design, that didn’t get very far…it wasn’t going to plan and I didn’t have my laptop to work out the changes so this is now frogged and its back to the drawing board!

IMG_9828So that’s what I have been up to. What about you? It’s time to put the kettle on and find out!

knitting

Knitting Pretty

I’ve had lots of lovely knitting time lately, June has been a quiet month compared to the May madness, so without further ado here is what has been occupying my needles of late 🙂

First up, the Helix socks are FINISHED!! I stayed up late last night to be able to cast them off and block them this weekend. So here they are pre-blocked. I am so happy with how these turned out, it felt like they had been on the needles forever.

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They weren’t the easiest thing to make as it got quite fiddly with the cable needles and I had to frog them back a few times where I messed up the lace pattern. But for my first attempt at two at a time toe up socks I am over the moon with them 🙂 The yarn is gradient cakes from Rosie’s Moments, specially dyed so that the colour changes are identical for each sock.

Rosies moments sock yarn

One project I haven’t made so much progress with is the double knit Kitty Cushion. I have now finished the back section.

Kitty Cushion

But realise now that I shouldn’t have jumped straight into the front without knowing what the flip I was doing when it comes to double knitting! I have made it this far…

Double Knitting

I’ve got the hang of getting one colour on each side but it’s the colour changes that are foxing me. So I have parked that one for now and downloaded the free Basic Double Knitting Tutorial by Cassie Castillo so I can practice.

So what am I working on now? Well this gorgeous book by Kate Davies Designs and Jen Arnall-Culliford, featuring patterns from a host of different designers arrived last week…

Book of Haps

There are so many beautiful patterns in this book – I want to make them all! But I am starting with Happenstance by Romi Hill. And it just so hap-pens (if you’ll excuse the pun!) that I have the perfect yarn in stash. A while back I won this lovely Moorfields Alpaca yarn on the Bakery Bears podcast.

Alpaca YarnI only cast on this week so haven’t got very far…but just look at that lovely squishy garter stitch, this is going to be one cosy shawl 🙂

Happenstance.PNG

And do you remember my post about the shawl pattern I was trying to write up? Well I am pleased to say that it’s now back from my tech editor and apart from a few amendments I need to make it’s good to go! Here is a sneaky peak at the pattern…I’ll be looking for test knitters in August when I am back from my hols so if you are interested please let me know your Ravelry name.

Beauty of the Rain Shawl.JPGI’ve also had another shawl, a cowl and a hat go for tech editing so I am excited that I will be able to release some new patterns in Autumn.

Oh and I have also been doing some work on my knitting course, C&G module 5 that I have been stuck on for far too long now. I WILL get that done 🙂

So that’s what has been occupying my time and my needles. What about you?

Happy knitting! x

The Month That...

May…The Month That

…And this is why I can’t do weekly posts, I can’t even keep up with the monthly’s haha! Let me cast my mind back and round up the month that was May 🙂

Ely Cathedral

My Mum and her friend are keen photographers so when they mentioned getting together for a photography day I jumped at the chance. We decided to visit the pretty Cathedral City of Ely in Cambridgeshire. It was a beautiful day so we sat outside and had lunch by the canal.

Ely.JPGBefore making our way up to the Cathedral.

Ely Cathedral.JPG

The Cathedral has origins dating back to the 11th Century and the City (it’s called a City due to the Cathedral, but really it’s the size of a Town) was developed around it. It is a truly beautiful place, and we were so lucky that on the day we visited the choir was practicing for an upcoming concert. To hear the voices sing as we walked around was quite something else!

Ely ChoirThere were so many interesting things to see and photograph…Ely Cathedral Pics…and I came away feeling so inspired that I am using some of the images to re-do my C&G Course Module 5… after 2 attempts at my accessory design I am DETERMINED to get this module ticked off once and for all!!

C&G Knitting.jpg

A Weekend in Portsmouth

On the last May bank holiday weekend Mr. A and I took a trip to the seaside town of Portsmouth – famous for it’s Historic Royal Dockyard which houses HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, the remains of The Mary Rose, and other national treasures.

The reason for our visit was thanks to my Mum gifting us a wine tasting voucher for Christmas. We chose to visit the Three Choirs Vineyard, just a short drive from Portsmouth and make a weekend of it 🙂

During the afternoon we got to sample 3 white wines which were each paired with a complimentary cheese.

Wine Tasting

These were the wines we tasted, my favourite was the middle one – May Hill, it was a bit sweeter than what I usually go for but paired with the cheese it was absolutely delicious!

Three Chiors VineyardIt was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and needless to say we came away with a few souvenir bottles 😉

From here we headed to our B&B which was in Southsea, next door to Portsmouth. It was such a beautiful day that after checking in we hot footed it straight to the seafront.

SouthseaJust look at that sky!! We had a lovely time sat on the promenade, eating ice cream and watching the world go by…and in the evening we went for dinner and a few cocktails 🙂

The next morning after a hearty hotel breakfast we made our way to the Historic Royal Dockyard. Our first port (if you’ll excuse the pun 😉 ) of call was HMS Victory.

Victory Portsmouth

Launched in 1765 HMS Victory is the world’s oldest naval ship still in commission, she even still has her own crew! She is most famous for being the flagship of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar on 1805, and the place where he met his demise (the spot where he was shot is marked with a brass plaque on the deck). She was moved to Portsmouth in 1922 where she has been preserved as a museum ship.

With a crew of 821 and 104 guns on board during the Battle of Trafalgar it’s hard to imagine what life and conditions would have been like during battle. Especially when it took 20 men to man each cannon in very little space!

Warrior Cannons

There are still 8 original guns onboard the ship – and these are the kind of things that would have been hurtled through the air…

Cannon missilesAnd imagine trying to get to sleep here…

Victory Hammocks

No thank you. A Sailors life would not have been for me!

We also visited the HMS Warrior 1860 warship and HMS M.33 – a warship from World War 1. The Dockyard also houses the 16th Century ship The Mary Rose, which sank in 1545 and was reclaimed from the sea in 1982. However the exhibition is not yet open to the public until later this year…still, it’s a good excuse to go back one day!

So that was May…oh and we also had an amazing weekend in Porto, Portugal which you can read about here if you like 🙂

I’ll hopefully be back at the weekend with a long overdue knitting post!

knitting

Note to Self. Remember to Make Notes!

Last year I visited the Sheep Shop in Cambridge and came away with 2 skeins of the most gorgeous Lotus Tibetan Cloud 100% yak laceweight yarn. It’s sooo soft and dreamy I just couldn’t resist!

Tibetan_Cloud_Fingering_medium2.JPG

I knew right away that it wanted to be a pretty little shawl and thought I would have another go at designing a pattern. I decided to make a thin crescent shape shawl, one that increases 4 sts at the beginning and end of each right side row and 2 sts every wrong side row. After looking through some stitch pattern books I was drawn to a diamond design shape ‘Starlight Lace’ from the Barbara Walker – Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns book.

Starlight lace

So armed with charting software, notebook and pen I started to put the pattern together and knit the shawl as I went along, writing everything down as I did it…well I say everything… I kind of wrote things down on various notebooks, on my phone, on scraps of paper and on the computer pattern too and I even remember on a couple of occasions thinking ‘I don’t need to write that down because I’ll remember that’. Of course you will Jem! What was I thinking….and to make matters worse I finished the shawl and then decided to wait another 6 months before attempting to write the pattern up :-/

I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago, after searching high and low for a missing notebook and swatches…I couldn’t put it off any longer or it would never get done!

And it wasn’t that bad once I got back into it, the bits of scribble I had started to make sense and I was eventually able to piece the pattern back together. I did have to cast on quite a few swatches though mainly to keep track of the edge stitches as the stitch count varies on some rows.

BoR Shawl.jpg

But I think I cracked it. It’s now gone for tech editing so fingers crossed it’s all ok….

The beauty of the rain

And here’s a little peek at the final design. Next step is to get some decent photo’s 🙂

Beauty of the Rain

I’m off to buy some more notebooks tomorrow 😉

Happy knitting! x

Travel

A Weekend in Porto

So Mr. A worked his socks off and won us a trip to the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal!

Thursday

After meeting some of the other winners in Gatwick on the Thursday morning we boarded a plane and arrived at our hotel ‘The Yeatman’ in the late afternoon.

The Yeatman Hotel.JPGAnd wow! What a stunning place…

The Yeatman Hotel PortoThis was the view from our room…View from the Yeatman.JPGAnd this was the view from our bath!

View from the Yeatman Bath

After welcome drinks on the terrace and a quick freshen up we headed to the lobby to be transported to our venue for evening dinner on the beach – via tuk tuk’s! What a perfect way to get a taste of the city!

Porto.JPGAnd what a perfect way to end our first day, with drinks and dinner at a beachfront restaurant 🙂

Porto Beach

Friday

It was an early start on Friday as we departed Porto by train to visit the Douro Valley, an area famous for it’s wine and port production. Our destination was the Quinta de Pacheca wine estate where on arrival we were met with a guide who told us all about how the wine was produced and the traditions that are still employed to this day – such as harvesting the grapes by hand and squashing the grapes by foot (which involves a military style march for a couple of hours, followed by ‘freestyle’ squashing – where they get the music on!)

It was then time to visit the cellars and sample some of their fine produce…

Quinta da Pacheca Wine estateAnd we were even able to make up our own bottle of Port to take home…

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….bottled, corked, sealed and labelled, all by my own fair hand 🙂

A sumptuous BBQ style lunch followed in the restaurant overlooking the vineyards…it was such a pretty setting. After lunch we hopped on a boat that took us partway up the Douro river, another chance to take in the spectacular scenery.

Douro River.JPGOn Friday evening we were taken to one of the oldest wine lodges in Porto – Grahams Wine Lodge for a tour and a spot of Port tasting.

Port tasting

We tried (from front to back) a Ruby six grapes reserve, a 30 year old tawny port and a 2000 vintage port. My favourite was the vintage 🙂 And speaking of vintage…

A vintage year

….apparently 1977 was a fine year 😉

Another beautiful dinner followed in the Barrel Room restaurant which overlooked Old Porto. Needless to say we slept well that night!

Saturday

Saturday was our day of leisure in which to explore Porto. But before we hit the streets we had chosen to do an additional activity in the morning – the Rib Boat Experience…

Porto Rib Boat

What started off as an exhilarating ride up the river with a few donuts thrown in then saw us tearing out into open sea bouncing over waves and clinging on for dear life! Talk about blowing the cobwebs away!

Fresh faced and a little wonky legged we then headed into the heart of Porto, taking a cable car up to the top of the Dom Luís bridge to take in the spectacular views.

The Dom Luís Bridge.JPG

DSC02425.JPGWhilst Mr. A and the others headed to a cafe on the waterfront, I was keen to seek out a LYS for some souvenir yarn 🙂 So camera in hand and armed with the shop finder on the Ravelry app I went exploring via the backstreets.

As I climbed my way up the city I couldn’t help but stop to take photo’s of the beautiful tiled buildings lining the roads and streets.

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IMG_8072Here are some close up’s of the tiles, or ‘Azulejo’s’ that I passed along the way…

Portugeuse House Tiles.jpgEventually I reached my destination – the Ovelha Negra yarn shop…

Ovelha Negra Yarn shop.jpgBottom right is the souvenir yarn I purchased…a gorgeous BFL & silk in a soft brown, a merino and cotton blend in the turquoise and 100% Portuguese wool in orange. I was one happy bunny 🙂

We headed back to the hotel late afternoon in order to prepare for the Saturday night celebratory gala dinner -time to dust off the posh frock!

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The venue for the gala dinner was the Old Customs House of Porto (now the museum of transport and communications)

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Photo taken from http://www.localporto.com/transport-communications-museum/

It was a short trip to cross the river by boat before we arrived, to be greeted by a lady wearing along fronted dress that ran all the way down the steps.

IMG_8149Apparently this is a Portuguese custom, but I didn’t find out the tradition behind it at the time and I can’t find anything on the internet, so if anyone can shed some light I would be really interested to know what it means?

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During the evening each winning dealership was congratulated and presented with a gold lion trophy in an awards ceremony, and what followed was a fantastic night of celebrating with great company, great food, great wine, great music and lots and lots of dancing!

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Sunday

So the head was a little sore on Sunday…but what a brilliant night! We were lucky in that our flight home wasn’t until the late afternoon so we had a bonus day, and the sun was shining!

Keen to make the most of the last few hours I grabbed the camera and headed out again. If you are a returning reader you may recall my obsession with abandoned buildings and boy, Porto had plenty of those to keep me happy! But imagine my delight when wandering the cobbled backstreets around the hotel I came across the Parque da Quinta das Devesas…

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Quinta das Devesas.jpgThe gardens of this abandoned Casa have been turned into flower gardens, unfortunately they weren’t in full bloom yet but I can imagine how beautiful it would be in the height of summer…

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It was a truly beautiful and peaceful place and I feel so lucky to have accidentally stumbled across it.

I headed back to the hotel to join the others for lunch and soak up the sun until we had to say our goodbyes…

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What a weekend…the organisation and attention to detail that went into pulling this event together was phenomenal. Thank you Peugeot and thank you to my amazing husband for winning such an incredible trip xxx

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