Sunday, 27 August 2017

All Things Rowan Autumn/Winter 2017

Rowan Autumn/Winter 2017 season is here! So I thought I'd take a little tour through my new acquisitions with a quick catch up on my Rowan projects too.

I have a subscription to Rowan Magazine and I particularly enjoy the Autumn/Winter editions. There is a free gift with the subscription and I chose the "mohair haze" and four 25g balls arrived with two patterns by Martin Storey for a hat and wristlets. The magazine also came with a newsletter and a Members' Exclusive Collection of patterns.

Having seen the beautiful gift yarn I recalled a pattern by Kim Hargreaves called Mist which is a lovely slouchy ribbed hat in her book "Still" and decided that I would use two of the balls combined with fine lace to knit that instead of the Martin Storey pattens although I might be able to make the wristlets from his pattern with the other two balls of yarn.

I'm making some progress and am intrigued to find myself knitting a new stitch to me which is creating the interesting rib in this hat pattern. The hat is knit in the flat and seamed.

Rowan Magazine is usually divided into stories and this edition has two: Kinship - which is a story inspired by Rowan's original roots, housed in a beautiful old woollen mill and the surrounding landscape of the stunning Yorkshire Dales.

And Dawn til Dusk - which was inspired by knitwear that can take you from the office to evening drinks or slouchy layer pieces that can be worn for an afternoon stroll or as a cover-up over evening wear.

I have already fallen for a cheery scarf design by Martin Storey called Veiled which will look great with my winter coat.
The other designers featuring in this edition are: Lisa Richardson, Sarah Hatton, Marie Wallin, Jennie Atkinson, Galina Carroll, Emma Wright and Georgia Farrell.

As well as the patterns there are articles and I very much enjoyed the one about Churchmouse Yarns where they sell tea as well as wool! That's a perfect combination in my view.

The newsletter comes out twice a year and usually has a free pattern and a couple of essays or interviews as well as details of new yarns and books. It takes a look at the new Autumn/Winter 2017 season, talks about catwalk trends, looks back at previous editions, compares heritage Rowan with the Rowan of today, gives a list of Rowan magazines and brochures and lists workshops at John Lewis. It packed with articles and also runs a fun competition with a signed copy of Lisa Richardson's booklet Timeless Cocoon as the prize.

The interview with Martin Storey was very interesting and I do think the beautiful oversized scarf in the feature will be very popular.

As well as the newsletter there is the Members Exclusive Collection which contains five patterns by Martin Storey and Lisa Richardson.

 I particularly liked this one by Martin Storey which is knit in Alpaca Soft DK which is one of the new yarns:

The Timeless DK booklet is a collection of six designs by Martin Storey and has some very pretty everyday cardigans which I think will look stunning in the new alpaca soft dk which Martin says is his favourite of the new yarns as it looks fabulous in colour work, cable and textured stitches and is lovely to knit with. I can't wait to try it.

I think the colour palette is so pretty. It is a soft mix of extra fine and super fine merino wool and baby alpaca.

Bibi, the pattern below is my favourite and the model, Lara looks gorgeous in it. It has two dots which Rowan suggests has simple techniques with straight forward knitting and introduces various shaping techniques and is for the knitter with a little experience.

Then there is another new yarn called Cashmere Tweed and the booklet that accompanies that yarn has seven modern Scandinavian and Icelandic inspired patterns. I love the hat and scarf on the cover. Cashmere tweed is a premium yarn made with virgin wool and cashmere.

Here is another beautiful pattern with a lovely celtic colour work pattern designed with a very contemporary feel.

So now for a little Rowan works-in-progress update. I am working on Amaryllis from Marie Wallin's book Springtime which uses both fairisle and intarsia techniques and which I am hoping to have completed before starting Marie's new Fairisle Club 3 in November when we will be knitting the cardigan called Lerwick.

So a busy knitting time ahead but first I must go on an enforced knitting break as I have developed some problems with my left thumb joint (I am a right handed knitter) and I am so glad there are such a lot of new Rowan publications to keep me occupied while I heal!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Marie Wallin's Fairisle Club 3

Tour de Fleece in July was very hectic and now it is all over I am happily signed up and looking forward to Marie Wallin's Fairisle Club 3. We will be knitting her new pattern Lerwick which is a stunning multi colour work edge to edge wrap cardigan. 

There is an active group over on Ravelry where we are all getting very excited in anticipation of our yarn Spindrift of Jamieson's of Shetland arriving.

I was lucky enough to spend a very happy time at Jamieson's on the first Shetland Woolweek holiday a couple of years ago. We had an excellent guided tour and were able to spend a long time choosing wool in the shop afterwards. I chose some beautiful tweed material and aran yarn. So I will be delighted to see the colours Marie has chosen.

In the meantime, I am putting together a few bits and pieces to make a Marie Wallin section in my craft room and to go with the Fairisle Club 3 "Lerwick" project. So far I have put together a folder for anything I print off including newsletters. I have found a notebook and a notions bag and when the wool is here and the project underway I have a couple of fun ideas to decorate my folder some more - it's the creative gene - it is difficult to keep it under control!

I have some shade cards from Jamieson's and have been spending time getting to know the colours and imagining how the wools for this project will look.

We start the knit along at the beginning of November and I have a colour work cardigan Amaryllis by Marie under construction which I would like to have completed by then.
I'm also gathering up some books to put in my Marie Wallin corner and getting ideas for even more projects.
So it looks like a Marie Wallin filled time ahead knitting-wise and that is going to be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tour de Fleece 2017 Team Sasquatch

::Well we are off! I have joined Team Sasquatch on Ravelry which has been set up for those who love podcasts:: 

I was part of this team back in 2014 and spent a couple of year's with Team Fondant Fibre but wanted to catch up with some of my stash this year and felt I would get a lot of motivation from Team Sasquatch.

I set my goals and decided on my projects and introduced myself on their group page. This is week one of the tour even though we won't officially start until Saturday 1 July through to Sunday 23 July.

I am not planning on finishing every project but my goal is to achieve a finish on at least one. I will be using my spindles and my spinning wheel and will be using a variety of fibres.

So week one completed!

Monday, 27 February 2017

Visiting a Silk Weaving Workshop in Myanmar

I was so lucky recently to enjoy a visit to Myanmar (which some people will know as Burma). The beautiful country of the golden stupas and pagodas, temples and monasteries.

Whilst we were there we visited a silk weaving workshop where women still make the traditional Longyi which is a two metre stretch of fabric worn wrapped around the lower body by both men and women. It is a very versatile garment which can be wrapped so that it can be used as a hooded jacket, a sling for carrying a baby or a backpack for a water bottle. It can be wound so that it becomes a hat on which large trays or baskets can be balanced. It can also be pulled through the legs to become shorts which are useful for playing football or when going out in a fishing boat.

The men's garments are called pasos and the ladies a htamain. The ladies wear theirs tied in a different way to the men and are generally much brighter silk colours and patterned in contrasting colours. There are cotton ones for everyday and silk for more important occasions like weddings. 

Here are some photos I took and you will see how they are still using traditional methods and there are no computerised processes at all. I was very surprised to learn that almost every longyi you see is made in small workshops like this one and all by hand.

Silk really does hold colour better than any other textile as you can see in this cabinet of thread waiting to be used.

 Here are the bobbins wound up ready for the start of a new project.

As you can see from this weaving they are making other items from the silk weaving and this could be for a table.

Although the looms are very large, the ladies sit side by side and there is a nice atmosphere created by the very hard working women in the workshop.

These are very dexterous hands - just look at all those shuttles.

A view of the back of the workshop.

Trying to get the right shot of the looms in use.

The equipment is very traditonal and all hand worked.

Working with both her left and right hands at once.

 The wonderful colour combinations you can achieve with silk.

Here is the silk on the bobbins for the machine above.

I didn't crop that lady with her head in her hands out as she looks as if she is overwhelmed with so much choice. These are all the finished longyis in the shop area.

And here I am in my beautiful blue htamain on our boat the Princess Panhwar. I opted for an easier version which has long pieces of material which you wrap round and tie. I didn't think I would be able to manage the traditional way. You have to make sure your pattern lines up on the edges. I found it very comfortable to wear but I did wear another long skirt underneath as I thought it was a bit see through. I bought mine from a stall in a temple we visited as I was very taken with the two toned effect of the blue material which shimmers very prettily in the light. We had an entertaining afternoon when the staff modelled the different ways of wearing the longyi and showed how to tie them.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

If Tigers Were Bears and Fingers Were Thumbs

I'd love you just the same, February.

Today is the start of the Love Along knit along

I needed a special yarn to work on for this lovely knit along with Dani of Little Bobbins Knits and one which would allow the subtle design in the pattern by Amy Meeks "Love Along Socks" to show up well.

I remembered a knit a-long I started way back in 2012 with Laura Linneman of The Knitgirllls Podcast called "Mittens for Me". I was using two beautiful yarns and the lighter one seemed perfect for this new sock. I had managed to finish one of the mittens and I might still have enough left to finish the second even after I have made these socks.

The mittens had a beautiful cuff which used a vikkel (or lateral) braid and an unsual ribbing section. Laura's patterns are always fun to knit and I just can't say why I stopped working on them and consequently lost momentum to start the second and finish them. These mittens were co-incidentally part of a February knit a-long so I only hope I don't get second sock syndrome as well as second mitten syndrome for this knit along.

The Angel Sock yarn was from The Natural Dye Studio but is, unfortunately, no longer available. It is unbelievably soft and feels very luxurious. Yesterday's post has details of the composition. These will obviously not be socks for wearing out and about but for hygge moments indoors when I want to cosy up and have a gorgeous, warm pair of socks to cherish my feet with.

So the knit a-long has started and I have made a contrast at the cuff with my Christmas Eve Sock Cast On yarn to make a link to my last knit a-long with Dani which started in December 2016 and I finished in January 2017.

If these socks take a long time I won't mind as working with the yarn is a comfort in itself.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Speeding On By - January's almost over

January 2017 didn't seem to want to slow down and now I find myself at the end of the month looking back to see what has been achieved and looking forward to what direction I'd like to take.

The start of the year brought some very unhappy times for me and I really drew strength from my knitting and crafting projects which allow me a few hours to let my mind be peaceful.

On Christmas Eve in December last year I joined Dani of Little Bobbins Knits podcast for the annual Christmas Eve Sock Cast On.

I chose a simple lace pattern Lacy Anklets by Melissa Morgan-Oakes and a lovely yarn from Elm Tree Yarns called Fezziwig's Party who is, as you know, a delightful character from Dickens' wonderful Christmas novella, A Christmas Carol.

These socks have a lovely cuff which reminds me of the dancing from Fezziwig's Party.  I chose an ivory sparkle yarn to make some contrasts on the cuff and toes.

My next knit-a-long is another one of Dani's for February and it will also be a pair of socks, this time Love Along by Amy Meeks. I have chosen to abandon a pair of mittens from way back in 2012 and to use the yarn for these socks. The yarn was the truly beautiful Angel Sock and is a Sport/ 5 ply 70% Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere goat 350 meters/100 grams by The Natural Dye Studio.

I knitted a cute little Christmas mouse called Snowball Buddies by Susan Claudino which I saw on Jooles of Sew Sweet Violet's podcast. I do love both the podcasts mentioned and have noticed lots of new ones appearing which I am hoping to have a look at.

I have been having a lot of fun with my sewing and have been making progress on two quilts and a quilted Christmas table runner.

I've also made myself a project bag which was a first for me and I am quite pleased with the outcome but there are areas which could be improved next time I make one. I need to make sure that both layers of seams are sewn together which is difficult on a project like this.

Another craft I've been enjoying a revival of interest in is cross-stitch and I was delighted to work on this very deep stash project and must now think about getting it framed. It is a sampler called Oyster Catcher and I bought it many years ago at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexander Palace.

In the garden I have been very lucky in having a new greenhouse put up and it has really become my 'baby' keeping me very busy.

I painted the old potting table and have had a lot of fun planning what to plant and growing some vegetables through the late winter months.

I sowed some Autumn sweet peas and planted a lot of paper white narcissi as well as some tulips and for vegetables I have parsley and a couple of spring cabbages which I just pick a few leaves at a time. My most satisfying grow was two bags of potatoes which were so tasty. I also had some beautiful chrysanthemums in pots to enjoy.

So the things I plan to achieve this year are:

  • to continue to enjoy cross-stitching
  • to learn a new craft (I have in mind wool punch work)
  • to use up stash where possible
  • to sort out and re-organize my work space
  • to expand my blog to include my other creative interests
  • to continue to enjoy sharing my projects on social media and to take part in a-longs relevant to the season
  • to watch and learn from new podcasts
  • to finish as many already started projects as I can.
That will keep me very busy but having a lot of fun too. 
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