Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Knit a Poem with The Poetry Society

Excellent! - we're in The Guardian, us knitters of letters for a giant poem. 800-ish knitters have agreed to take time out of their busy sock- sweater- shawl-knitting to contribute to the Poetry Society's Knit a Poem project, which will go on display in October. If you look closely at the mosaic on the linked page, you will see my green and purple knitted E. In case you don't have your specs on, here's a bigger version:


I have offered to help do the sewing-up, so I may just get a sneak peek at what the secret poem is...

In the meantime, I have to decide what my favourite poem is (they've asked us to send in our letters along with this bit of information). If you are inclined to read some knitting-related poetry, you can check out the Knitted Poems thread on the Knit a Poem group boards on Ravelry or check out the Knitting Poem of the Week on the Poetry Society's website.

Monday, 17 August 2009


Well gosh, it's been a busy knitting week here, keeping myself "employed" (even if not gainfully so). The Tender cardi (rav link) chugs along as ever - almost finished with left front woohoo! And the Herringbone Jacket is only moments from being finished, but I was so disappointed with the acrylic-ness of the yarn, which entirely refuses to drape at all whatsoever, I have all but given up hope. Maybe if I just finish it already and then pop it in the washing machine, all my fears will be allayed. Maybe.

But yet another pair of booties for yet another baby have been completed and wrapped up (literally). Maybe it's just that the people that I grew up with are now of baby-making age, but they sure do seem to be coming along fast. Here they are (the booties, not the babies):

And wrapped up:

I also went on a couple of yarn expeditions this week. On Thursday I decided to make my way to Putney (south west London) to check out Stash Yarns. I decided that it was such a nice day that I couldn't bear to get on the underground and to take the bus instead. Buses are a fantastic way to get around London - you actually see the places you are going through to get from A to B. Unfortunately, the journey from Allergic to Wool headquarters to Putney involved not one, but two buses. The journey on the first bus to Richmond was lovely though. The bus route goes along the River Thames and across Kew Bridge through some lovely neighbourhoods. I spotted to interesting places that I had never knew were so close - the Steam Museum and the Musical Museum. One of these days I'll keep myself occupied by giving them a visit.

It was all a lovely-dovely journey until I got to Richmond and couldn't find Bus No 2. I wandered in circles all around the bloody place, dodging designer prams and sticky-fingered children (reasons that I typically avoid Richmond), in search of the next bus. I eventually did find it, the only redeeming moment of the whole experience being that I stumbled upon the building where Virginia and Leonard Woolf set up the Hogarth Press.

Finally on Bus No 2, I arrived in Putney ready to gobble up 2 skeins of Malabrigo Merino Worsted, the praises of which are infinite on Ravelry (I think the word "heavenly" is used more than once). I had it in mind for a Liesl (yes, I have jumped on the bandwagon) and I was getting very excited as I jumped off the bus, ready for my yarn-reward for my journey. But it was not to be. The Stash people were on holiday and the shop was shut. I could only think, "I would have run the shop for them if they had only asked! I would happily be paid in yarn!"

Next day, I was rested and ready for more west-London yarn adventures. After lunch in lovely Chiswick's Turnham Green with a friend, I embarked upon a mission to two, yes two, yarn shops. First on the agenda was Sloane Square's Peter Jones. Basically just a John Lewis department store with a different name, the shop's website describes its haberdashery department as "Haby heaven with over 3000 buttons, hundreds of metres of ribbons and dozens of needles, no wonder its one of our most visited departments." Needless to say, I was excited. But again, disappointment. It wasn't closed, but it wasn't nearly the "haby heaven" they described. The department was probably smaller than John Lewis' on Oxford Street and carried all the usual Rowans. I did pick up a few balls of Rowan Pure Wool Aran, which is now ready and waiting in my stash to be transformed into the Knit.1 Dutone Cardigan.

I then took a long walk along the river, past Chelsea and Battersea (had never seen the Battersea Power Station so close and it was a little spooky somehow) and ended up a the lovely Socktopus. Now I am not much of a sock knitter. I know there are some really die-hard sock knitters out there, who just can't get enough, but I am definitely not one of them. Plus I have one-sock syndrome, and that's just a waste of time. So I wasn't banking on Socktopus being the be-all and end-all of yarn shops for me, but I have to say it was really lovely. A bit out of the way and tricky to spot, also pretty tiny, but full of truly wonderful yarns, any of which I would have been happy to take home. Sadly there was only one. But what a one it was. The lovely Handmaiden 4 ply Cashmere:
I pondered for quite some time over what to do with this one lovely (expensive) skein. Of course this is where Ravelry does its magic - I searched for just what to do with 170 metres of a variegated cashmere 4 ply and I came up with Christine Vogel's Drop Stitch Scarf. Here it is so far:

The cashmere isn't terribly smooth, so I am not yet convinced this is the right pattern for the yarn, but the colours are really coming out beautifully, so we'll just wait and see.

I ended my entirely employed week yesterday with a really wonderful Sunday. For once the sun was out in London, and Murray and I started the day with the most amazing (and filling) brunch at Christopher's American Grill. I have been missing "American" food recently (and no, I don't even eat hamburgers) and this was the perfect comfort food. All the right things were on the menu, and as I couldn't rightly get both the blueberry pancakes and a Maryland Crab Cake, I opted for the latter - amazing! Murray had Huevos California which he loved, but I have to say, even though they didn't look like American sized portions, they sure felt like it after the meal. Murray had to run along to work, so I occupied myself at Somerset House for the afternoon.

Somerset House has really become a London institution and there are so many great things about it. Considering it was once a private stately home, it is amazing just how accessible it has become to the public. I have gone along to see films at their Summer Screen in the courtyard more than once, been ice skating there at Christmas twice now, just generally sat around enjoying the fountains and of course been to the Courtauld Gallery (one of my very favourite galleries in London). This time around, I enjoyed the sunshine watching all the kiddies run through the fountains, digesting my meal and then tore myself away from the spectacular weather to have a look at the Courtauld's current exhibition Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops. It was great - I really recommend it if you are a fan of textiles, craft, design, the Bloomsbury Group, etc - and also if you're not! I caught a free lecture/tour of the exhibition (apparently run every Sunday during the run of the exhibition at 3 pm) which was really informative and well done. The Omega Workshops basically were focused on (from about 1913 - 1919) providing textiles and home goods (mostly "useful" things like dress fabrics, ceramics, rugs, etc) with a focus on anti-mass-production, hand-made objects. The workshop itself was also the shop, so that customers could see and think about how things are made and the work and craftsmanship that goes into things. So relevant for today! Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf's sister, was one of the prominent designers at Omega, and although there isn't any knitting featured in the exhibition, she did occasionally design her own knitting patterns, often at the request of Virginia. Go along if you can!

That's definitely enough from me today; I'll just leave you with a favourite quote provided by the tour guide at the exhibition from Omega's founder, Roger Fry. A quote that's relevant to all knitters and crafty people even now:
"The artist is the man who creates not only for need but for joy, and in the long run mankind will not be content without sharing that joy through the possession of real works of art, however humble or unpretentious they may be."

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


I haven't posted very often on this blog, well, ever, but I find myself in a position recently (read: unemployed) where I can finally get into it properly. The word unemployed itself is interesting... I wouldn't say I am unemployed in the strictest definition of the word exactly; I have found a million ways in which to "employ" myself - it's just unfortunate that none of these ways have managed to make me any money!
Catching up on Jessica Fletcher and Cabot Cove, Maine aside, I have been doing things that I always meant to do and wanted to do but never had the time or the energy. This includes the main reason that I originally financially unemployed myself - finally knuckling down and working on a PhD research proposal and applications - but also things that somehow remind me how to enjoy life. Growing herbs, pumpkin, tomatoes and strawberries in the garden, making real food, taking photos, listening to music, meeting friends, and knitting, knitting, knitting. (And some crocheting and dressmaking too.)

Somehow having back the energy that I lost commuting an hour each way on buses and tubes every morning has made a huge difference and I wonder that I ever thought I would miss it! And so it's time to catch up. We all know Mrs. Fletcher knows how to enjoy the simple things in life (I suppose witnessing as many murders as she has would give you some perspective) and so I felt it only right that I finally document some of these things that make me happy.

Herringbone Mesh Jacket (Amy O'Neill Houck)
Now, believe it or not, the above is set to become a sweater. Hopefully I will have proof of this soon. For now, it is a slightly confusing, but surprisingly easy to crochet hunk of pretty cheap yarn (Robin Aran with Wool 400: 25% wool, the rest acrylic). I bought the yarn ages ago thinking I would make a huge blanket, but obviously more luxurious, fascinating knits came up. And being without finances as I am, I have just recently decided to use up that stash and hitting two birds with one stone, tidy up that corner of the living room that Murray tries not to look at. Brenda Dayne, of the Cast On podcast was talking about this on her last show and basically said even if she tried to just use up all her stash - without buying any more yarn - she probably wouldn't be able to in her lifetime! Now, it hasn't got so bad for me - yet. But might as well start using it while I still have a chance. But my Liberty gift coin still lurks in my wallet, waiting to be spent in exchange for the most beautiful yarn, for the most beautiful project - but gift vouchers don't count, right?
Anyway, the sweater grows. (Confession: I may have allowed myself an episode or two of Murder She Wrote while hooking). Some notes on Ravelry. Also on the go are: Saartje's Booties done Fleegle-style for a friend of the family's baby due early September and the Tender cardigan by Kim Hargreaves.

All this while listening to the lovely Bon Iver and eating (read: getting fat on) some easy, way too quick homemade chocolate fudge. Bliss.