Ravelry,and standing up for everyone.

Knitting has often been used in protest – you only have to look at yarn bombing as an example. Over recent months, the knitting world has seen more commentary on gender, Identity, race and recently Ravelry’s stance of banning support for Donald Trump on their site.

My parents brought me up to believe that we are all equal and that our differences were to be celebrated but not feared. I’ve lived in many countries and always tried to integrate into the local community rather than the ‘white expatriate’ community. I thank my parents for this.

I’m posting this to make a stand. No matter your colour, creed, gender or difference to me, you are welcome here and those who pick on these people are not welcome.




Socks, socks and socks

Knitting socks is something you love or hate. It’s a marmite kind of thing. Some people don’t  see the point, others become converts once they’ve worn them, and others want to knit nothing else. 

I taught myself to knit socks top down many years ago using a little key ring kit. I was a novice knitter and didn’t know they were supposedly difficult. Since then I’ve knitted a pair every now and again, and for a brief period I knitted socks at the pace of a pair a week when I travelled to work by bus. 

I recently won a skein of yarn in an Instagram giveaway. The dyer was Dyeforewe. The skein was soft and squishy. I have started using small needles (9″ I think). For some reason socks seem to go so much faster on these rather than double pointed needles and I’ve completed these: 

I’m really pleased for a variety of reasons. 

1) I didn’t have to pay for the yarn 

2) It was gorgeous to knit with 

3) The needles mean that there are no jogs or uneven tension as there are no breaks between needles. I love these socks. 
I think I can happily say that my sock mojo has returned. Next challenges are toe up construction and more heavily patterned designs. What sort of socks do you like knitting? Any patterns you’d recommend? 

Knitting? In this heat?

It’s 4th of July. Here in England we’re experiencing one of our hottest ever summers on record. Here in my little corner of the North, I’m back with a passion, knitting and spinning in readiness for the local annual summer agricultural show. I know I’m mad, but when you’ve got the mojo, you need to roll with it, right?

I’ve been ill lately, firstly with shingles, and subsequently with a stomach virus. Ugh, they certainly helped my crafting mojo to disappear, and although I’m not 100% just yet, at least my crafting mojo’ back.
So here are the latest offerings: 

The Curlew Hat has been designed by a lady called Linda Shearer to support the RSPB’s Curlew Crisis Month. It was a lovely (reasonably) quick knit – in my experience, colour work slows me down quite a bit. I’m not sure whether or not to add a Pom Pom. What do you think? If I was to add a pompom, what colours should I use?  

My second offering is some spinning: it’s Rambouillet fibre. Rambouillet has its origins in Spanish merino back in the 1700s. This fibre I bought pre prepared by a dyer who is no longer dyeing. 

It will eventually be Navajo (3)plied.  I like this method as it makes my yarn more consistent in its appearance, and also I’m not a great fan of the ‘barber pole’ twist effect often seen in spinning – it’s personal choice I guess. I’ve got some art yarn to make too, which means I ought to get a wriggle on!

My last offering today is a shawl I’m making. I’m combining some lovely Semilla extra fino 100% organic yarn from BC Garn with a skein of handyed yarn from Green Lambkin Yarn which is on her sparkly sock base. I’ve  come to love Danish wool ever since I bought some ‘Onion’ yarn from Amy at the Freehold Yarn Company when they first opened. The sparkly yarn was never destined to be socks…..

My most recent purchase was a pair of scissors from the Ernest Wright Company. They are little craft scissors, ideal for having in your sewing basket, or knitting notions pouch. These are Sheffield steel and I heard that the company has recently closed down. I hate it when traditional manufacturers like these disappear from our landscape. In our current economic and ecological climates, I believe that it’s a great loss to everyone when these craftspeople disappear. 

The agricultural show is on in just over 9 days time. Let’s keep my fingers crossed that I manage to finish my items and I’ll update you really soon on whether I win any prizes!

Winter Blues

I don’t know about you, but I have mixed feelings about winter. On the one hand, it’s knitting weather, which is a good thing, but on the other hand, there are less hours of daylight and sometimes there’s very little of that, depending on the weather. I’m not saying I have seasonal affective disorder, but I do find my mood is affected by the weather and seasons. 

This year seems to be slightly different however. I’ve joined a group over on Facebook who are knitting and crocheting temperature blankets. The group is formed of the association of independent yarn shop owners and also their customers. The idea is that we all make a blanket which records the temperature for 12 months. It’s up to each individual crafter to decide what rules they set up for it.  

My blanket rules are as follows:

  • Garter stitch
  • 2 rows per day
  • Divide each month by eyelet rows in grey
  • White = below zero degrees Celsius 
  • Blue = 1-5 degrees Celsius
  • Purple = 6-10 degrees Celsius
  • Green = 11-15 degrees Celsius

January segment looks like this. I’m loving the daily excitement of reading the temperature and adding more rows. The time I read the temperature isn’t always the same – it’s just when I sit down to knit that particular day. The funny thing is many of the group, me included, find ourselves wishing for colder weather, just to have a change in colour on our blankets. 

I’m thinking of doing another one of the year I was born, just to see the effects of global warming. You can get data online from the Met Office in the UK. It’s quite an amazing what records are kept!  It might be some time before I get started though because I have too many WIPs (works in progress) to start anything new.

Selfish Crafting

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of late. Big life changes do that, I’ve found. It’s part of settling in to a new situation and becoming stable again. My Dad moved in with us before Christmas, and oh boy what a difference that’s made to my life – no more worrying about if he’s eating, or safe etc. It’s a mother child relationship in reverse.

Others are exploring issues too: a recent Twitter thread has got me thinking as well. We are very lucky in the West to have spare cash that we can choose how we spend. Some have loads more, some only a little, but we have choice as to how to spend it. But I hear that some people impose their feelings on others and the ugly side of human nature rears its head. We all craft for different reasons. Some do it to make clothes, some like the slow fashion movement, others for something to do with their hands, me – I craft for a variety of reasons – it de-stresses me, I like making things and also I cannot buy things to wear that I like in the shops, so I make my own. My yarn collection, for that is what it is, a collection, is there as I bought it to make things with. There is no contract that states what I will make or when, or even if I ever will. I live in a rural area and my yarn shops are between 5 and 17 miles away so I find it helpful to keep some yarn at home. I often give away my yarn or finished objects but I don’t feel guilty for owning what I have worked hard for.

The debate has been widened though. It’s been taken to a level where the words feminism, male dominance, self-worth and assertive enter the equation. Does your partner belittle your hobby? Do you find yourself justifying your hobby? Do you get paid peanuts for commission pieces? I guess it all depends why you knit, how you value your time and skill and your own feelings of self worth. I’ve come to realise over recent years that I’ve undervalued my skills, charged less than I should have for ┬ámy yarn and knitted items and allowed others to make fun of my “granny” hobby.

Its time for change. No more will I feel guilty for things I worked hard for, or what I’ve created, and I will put the right price tag on my work. PS I will also not hoard to obscene levels of gluttony. That last statement is so subjective. What constitutes a level? Does a carrier bag full of yarn or a whole room of yarn constitute excess? It depends on how prolific a knitter you are and how old you are! What I’m trying to say, and not very well, is that we should only look at ourselves, not judge others. We don’t walk in their shoes and don’t know the details.

i knit because it keeps me calm. Long may it continue to be so.



Norwegian Knitting

As many of you who watch the podcast know, I’m trying out colour work, and specifically Norwegian mittens . I was inspired by Eli from the Skeindeer Knits podcast. She has designed a mitten club called the Selbu Mitten Club, and I’m currently trying to knit a pattern from her collection called the Mebonden mittens. 

I’m on my third attempt, having frogged the previous two incarnations. My first problem was not knowing that when you read charts, if you’re knitting in the round, you only read from right to left. Enter frog number 1. I also decided that the yarn I was using wasn’t right, so I changed from a Blacker yarns DK to a Rowan. 

I have a short attention span and am easily distracted. Enter frog 2 because I got it all wrong and lost my place. 

I’m currently on version 3. The yarn is better. WYS Aire in white and Peer Gynt in red. I’ve lost the white Peer Gynt! 

Frog Number 1 – no discernible pattern. 

Starting again. 

Attempt 3 – the pattern now looks something like it should. 

The plan is between now and my 60th birthday, to learn as many new knitting skills as possible. I want to learn double knitting, brioche, steeking and I’m sure I will find a few more skills to learn. Now I know the basics of colour work, I plan to knit a coloured yoke sweater and then I can learn to steek at the Knit Tea Retreat I’m booked onto this time next year (if I’m allocated that class of course! ) For those of you that are curious, I’m 60 in 2021. I think it’s an achievable target. Let’s see! 

So much to tell you, so little time!

Autumn is here already and with a slight chill in the air, knitting season has kicked up a gear or two. A few weeks ago I went to the opening of Northern Yarn, a new yarn shop in a local town. They stock local to the area breeds and unusual yarns from the local area. As its British Wool Week, they have some exciting offers on, so please do go and check them out! 
A few days ago I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of another yarn shop that is opening in the same town. This is very different to the first! 

Episode 49 Is available now where I interview Amy and she gives us an insight into her aesthetic and a tour of the yarn shop. It’s apt that it’s opening in Wool Week, so if you can, drop in on Saturday 14th October 2017 at 10 a.m. Or if you can’t make it, for whatever reason, you can shop online at www.freeholdyarnco.com