Bags of Fun!

I was having an absolute blast taking part in Knitting and Crotchet Blog Week – until my final assessment deadline loomed (quite unexpectedly) at work and eclipsed all else. I really enjoyed the challenges and blogging about different topics though, so I’m going to continue – a couple of weeks behind everyone else! – and post on each of the challenges that I missed.

Day 4’s challenge was to blog about our current project bags. So, here’s a peek inside mine. I have a real accessory-buying problem. I hoard anything related to craft like a magpie hoards jewels. This is usually a positive though, because I swear my house is home to a goblin that sneaks along in the night and steals double-pointed needles, tape measures and stitch markers.

I should probably issues an important disclaimer before we proceed – I tidied the bag before I took the photos. Because otherwise there would be a sea of yarn clippings, labels, notes on scraps of paper and sweet wrappers. I’m only pointing this out because I don’t want to lure you into a false opinion of me as an organised crafter. I’m really not.

My project bag is a recent purchase from Loop in London, in the ‘Grey Ditsy’ design. It’s laminated so withstands quite a lot of wear.

These wonderful antique-effect bird scissors are from Yozo, also purchased from Loop in London. I love the old metal effect and the ingenious shaping.

This tin is probably the most useful thing I’ve found on my accessories quest. It’s just a simple, small tin from Paperchase, but could be used to hold pretty much anything. I use it to store some stitch markers, which I always seem to need desperately just when I can’t find any. These stitch markers are so pretty, they’re fruit stitch markers from Tinkaboo on Etsy.

Finally, my ‘posh’ tape measure is from Liberty of London. It’s not too long – only 150cm – but it’s ideal for measuring socks and smaller projects as well as components for tops and jumpers.

Which accessories do you find most useful? I’m always looking for more outlets for accessory-binging…!

6KCBWDAY3 : Photography

It’s day three of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, and today is photography challenge day. The aim of today is to create photos that make the eye linger, something a little out of the ordinary.

I’ve used today to experiment with black and white photography. Usually in my photos I like to highlight the colours and light of the yarn that I’m using, so black and white was something quite different.

The sharp contrasts in the shades really accentuate the textures of the yarn, in a way that sometimes I feel is missing from my colour photography. Every small fibre seems to show up, and the tiny details of the yarn structure really stand out.

I particularly like the way that shadows between the stitches are highlighted by the black/white contrast.

Photography is an art that I’m currently exploring a little more – and today’s brief foray into black and white photography has been so interesting in exploring new ways to present my photos. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s challenge!

6KCBWDAY2 : It’s all about you …

Today’s challenge from Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2015 is to ‘turn the attention from the things we make to the things that make us’.

For my entry, I decided to tell you a bit about one of the places that I love best, the South Hams, which is an area of Devon down on the south coast of England.

Image from Totnes Information Centre (http://www.totnesinformation.co.uk/the-south-hams)
Image from Totnes Information Centre (http://www.totnesinformation.co.uk/the-south-hams)

I’ve been going to Devon every year for as long as I can remember, and I’m told for a long time before that as well. My parents went down to the South Hams before I was born; it’s somewhere I now go with my fiancé for holidays.

It is difficult to quantify what it is about the South Hams that makes me like them so much. Devon is a very outdoorsy place; most of your time there is spent walking in the countryside or messing around on boats and around the water. I’m not deluded enough to think that it’s always sunny there, but even when it’s pouring with rain, cold and mizzley, the rivers and moors are atmospheric and there’s always something to do or somewhere to go.

Salcombe, on the southern tip of Devon. The photos aren’t altered at all – that really is the colour of the water.

Devon has signs like this in roads:

and views like this down town lanes:

It was Devon that started my love of dogs, sitting on an old farmhouse step petting them for hours and hours. It was also Devon that encouraged my love of history, touring castles and forts and big houses with my parents and thinking about the people who lived and died there. When I think of mysteries and crime fiction, two of my favourite reading genres, I think of the Hound of the Baskervilles and local legends of beasts that roam Dartmoor (when I was little, I thought it was called ‘Darkmoor’, which added hugely to the sinister mystery).

Heather on Dartmoor – looking far less sinister than we might expect from the site of the Hound of the Baskervilles.

In short, I think that area of South Devon has influenced me in a huge number of ways; if I’d never been to Devon, I wouldn’t have turned out the way I eventually did. We’ll be visiting again this summer, and if you’re looking for somewhere to spend a long weekend, a few days or a month, I can’t recommend anywhere as highly.

Have particular places influenced your life? I’d love to hear some of your experiences!

If I was a yarn …

This week is Knitting and Crotchet Blog Week 2015, as organised by Eskimimi Makes. To mark the occasion, participants are given blog topics, ‘missions’ that they have to complete each day. It sounded really fun, so here is my first entry. The topic for today is: if I was a yarn, what type would I be?

This pretty much sums up my answer, I think:

Something like sock yarn. Something with a definite role, a plan, a pretty firm intention. Something that’s usually quite straightforward, but every now and then can just about manage something a little more exciting – with a lot of help and usually a few attempts!

Adama

Despite it now being May, it’s been pretty cold here recently. I’ve stocked up on summer knitting and cooler patterns to enjoy when we finally get some heat, but in the meantime I’ve been focusing on finishing some cold-weather knitting projects.

I knew that I wanted to knit myself a scarf or a cowl, but I fancied a slightly different pattern to an in-the-round snood. I found Adama by Hilary Smith Callis on Ravelry, modelled here by one of my lovely flatmates, Charlie.

The pattern was exactly what I was looking for – the finished product looks almost like a regular snood, but the lace pattern and the unusual construction made it more interesting to work. The first half is constructed flat, working back and forth on a circular needle, and then the second half is completed in the round. The finished snood is designed to look like a shawl wrapped around the neck with the ends tucked away – but without those said ends coming loose or hitting you in the face in the wind!

I used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in ‘Charcoal’. The squishiness of the yarn (not sure that’s a technical term, but ah well) means that the snood’s very warm and cosy. The lace pattern is based around a diamond design. Blocking opened it up well, although it’s gradually wearing off a little now so I think this one’s going to need blocking at the start of each season I want to wear it.

The pattern was a different and interesting project that I’d definitely recommend to anyone who wants a break from regular scarf/snood/cowl knitting.

Now, we just need some sunshine so I can start on my ever-growing summer yarns pile…!

Knitterbocker Glory

Yesterday in the UK was ‘Love Your Yarn Shop Day’, a day to celebrate local yarn shops and support small craft businesses all over the country. As it was a Saturday, I commuted as usual from Birmingham to York and then popped along to my LYS, Ramshambles on the Shambles in York city centre.

Ramshambles is a wonderful shop, with two rooms packed to the rafters (literally!) with yarns and yarn-related goodies. They have an especial focus on local Yorkshire and British yarns, from brands such as West Yorkshire Spinners as well as small-scale producers.

I tried to be restrained, I really did, but a lovely glass of ker royale later and I was definitely in a yarn-buying mood.

I picked up a few things that I’ve been after for a while, and also one special yarn that I was pretty excited to get my hands on:

This is the special edition ‘Knitterbocker Glory’ colourway in from West Yorkshire Spinners, sold at Ramshambles yesterday on a special promotion for Yarn Shop Day. It’s a 75% wool / 25% nylon blend that feels like it will knit into a very durable and firm garment. For those who don’t know, a knickerbocker glory is a large ice-cream sundae perfect for eating and enjoying in the heat of summer. I absolutely loved the colours of the yarny version, and will be making these into a glorious pair of self-striping socks at the earliest opportunity…!

Train Knitting

There are many, many drawbacks to living and working 180 miles away from my fiancé. I absolutely love my new job, but I have to commute an 8-hour round trip each weekend back to York to see him.

One of the few perks of this commute is that I get some knitting time on the train. Especially late on Sundays, when I head south and enjoy a few hours of quiet before the hectic week starts again. This is how I spent those hours yesterday:

Ice Cream Socks

Knitting Venue: 19.24 from York to Birmingham New Street

Yarn: easyknits Cherish, colourway ‘ice cream dream’ (Ravelry project notes here)

Pattern: my own simple socks