Friday, February 21, 2014

I'm not gonna lie...

I haven't knitted anything in four days. The jumper with its fat yarn is mushed up somewhere by the side of the bed. The socks - I think one is lost down the couch. 
I've been a bit distracted by the sunshine. It's just a bit too hot to be handling yarn. I'm worried that it will all start felting in my sweaty hands. And for once, the sea is actually warm enough for me to swim in. I've made a point of being going to the beach for a quick swim, either in my lunch break (it's literally a 30 second walk) or after I finish for the day, for four out of the last five working days.
My hair has become a tangle waves. I'm considering giving up brushing. I think I've brought half the beach home in my shoes. 

While I haven't been knitting, I have been taking some time to think about knitting and my plans for the cooler weather.

Inspired by the blog I am Kate, I have been reading up on ways to dye stuff naturally. I have a stack of undyed yarn sitting in the stash just waiting for colour, and I'm going to get experimenting. I'm fascinated by the idea of cool-dyeing things with beetroot and black turtle beans (apparently this can make blue - who knew?) Between the blog and Jenny Dean's book, Wild Colour, I should get some good tips and hopefully some exciting results! I ordered some alum mordant from Hands Craft Store in Christchurch, so I'm almost ready to go. I just need to get a big stock pot so I don't ruin my kitchen ones.

I'm also keen to get into some more stranded knitting again so I've turned to Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting to get some tips on techniques and traditional patterns. And then there's the reupholstering-a-chair plan. This one is a longer term project - I need to get a chair first - but Contemporary Upholstery by Hannah Stanton is really helping me with ideas.

Hope everybody is keeping cool, and if you can't craft in the heat, go to the beach!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The handmade gift exchange + light reading

Over the summer break I was knitting away at a pair of Long lovely Mittens for my good friend Margot who lives in London. A mutual friend is in New Zealand at the moment, and he will be taking those mittens back to the UK with him next week. His arrival though brought with it a very exciting gift. Margot is a bookbinder. Not only do I think that is the coolest profession ever, I feel extremely privileged that she has taken the time to make me something extremely amazing. A book. Knitting is easy. Bookbinding is just amazing.

The details are just exquisite. The cover is made with pink suede and and it's all tied together with royal blue ribbon. The binding is made with matching strings along the spine. Inside the cover, my name has been stamped in the corner. I didn't spot this little detail at first - I was so excited when I discovered it!

Now I just need to figure out what to write in it. The pages are unlined so I'm not confined to anything in particular, but whatever goes in here will be special!

I'm really enjoying making things for friends and trading them for something crafty in return. Crafty friends really get the amount of time and effort that goes into making stuff, and I love seeing the results of their amazing talents.

I think this will be something that I do more of. 

Speaking of books - my reading list has expanded over the weekend. Another friend has gifted me a spare copy of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries. As winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, I'm looking forward to reading the second novel from New Zealand's biggest name in literature right now.

And as well as a bit of fiction, Pompom Spring 2014 has found its way to my new house!
As usual, I want to knit everything. I think I need to completely clear my Ravelry queue and just knit Pompom patterns. Maybe I will as soon as I've finished Beaubourg.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting - a review

I was very excited when this book turned up in my letterbox before Christmas. It was designated to be my relaxing holiday reading, until the moving-house drama happened and we suddenly found ourselves using our two week break to hunt for a new home. 

It turned out that this book turned up at the right time. It was the antidote to a stressful holiday. Each night of the holiday I'd read one of the stories in bed and it was a great read that helped me put everything into perspective.

Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting is excellently edited and pulled together by Ann Hood. 
The book is paced to not throw all the emotional stuff at you at once - essays on teaching a child to knit and struggling to figure out how to knit are placed between tales of failed marriages, moving to new towns and the intergenerational connection that knitting can bring.
Knitting is the constant thread between each story, and it shows that it can be a constant comfort (or frustration) in all circumstances. 

There are a few big-name writers in here - Barbara Kingsolver to name just one - and it's great to get an insight into these writer's lives and how knitting fits around their other craft.
Definitely worth a read! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

And finally, some progress on Beaubourg

I've had some knitting time this weekend. I haven't quite got as far as I intended but still, I'm pretty close to finishing the back of my Beaubourg sweater. It's easy, no think knitting which is just what I'm needing at the moment.

It seems odd to think that I'm looking at the right side of the fabric with this pattern. I'm so used to knitting stocking stitch with the little V's being intended as the right side, instead of the purl bumps. It's a great texture though and it's just right for this sweater.

All up it is knit in three pieces - back, front and cowl which is sewn on at the end.
I'm thinking I might just pick up the stitched around the neck instead though to save sewing.
The sleeves are dolman, so they are made by casting on extra stitches once the body is knitted, and it's all knit as one piece. Even less sewing = bonus.

Have you had much chance to knit over the weekend?