Monday, 28 February 2011


I went to the wonderful Unravel at the Maltings in Farnham, Surrey on Saturday.  Walked round and round all day, spent money, met some lovely people and was thoroughly inspired, tired but happy at the end of the day. 

I bought the sari silk above on the Knitting4Fun stand.  A really popular stand with some very patient chaps running it. 

Joyce Meader's talk on the development of knitting and patterns over the last 200 years was full of information and laughs.  She generously brings along a small part of her huge collection of knitwear and patterns for everyone to see. If you ever get the chance to see  her, don't miss it. 

I revisited the Threshing Barn stand five or six times.  The buttons in the picture were bought there.  Then  I hypnotised myself at Textile Garden's stand, drawn in by the beauty of more lovely buttons. 

I also made purchases at Fyberspates, Tallyarns and Artisan Yarns and the High Weald Fibre Factory. 


Sunday, 27 February 2011

I walked into my parents house last Saturday and there on the refectory table was this beautiful tableau of heaps of rug wool and a primula plants in a basket.  I felt like I had walked into a photoshoot for Good Housekeeping or Country Living.  It made me slightly uncomfortable.  As if Martha Stewart had sneaked in.  (I like her style, but it's a different world and doesn't translate into my family.  Our style of interior decorating is more along the lines of Albert and Harold Steptoe).

The rug wool would felt beautifully.

Friday, 25 February 2011

About Garter Stitch

Bunny is wearing a garter stitch scarf and three snowdrops.

The scarf is very easy to knit - it's only about 2 cm wide and I only cast on 5 stitches using Double Knitting yarn and 4mm needles.  I just kept knitting until the rabbit said it was long enough.  He is very small. 

If you wanted a scarf for a bigger animal try casting on more stitches until you have the width you want.  Although we all knit our stitches to a slightly different size (tension) a scarf 5cm wide might need 15 stitches (3 stitches per centimetre).

Garter stitch (knit stitch or plain knitting) is stretchy sideways.  So, it is very useful for some things and not so for others.  Its name comes from the way it was used to make long woollen garters which were wrapped around the tops of stockings.

It's sometimes called White Stitch because the white squares in a knitting chart represented the knit stitch.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

This year my slugs will be teetotal

Damp and chilly and uninspiring these days, but signs of life.  Catkins are on the hazel and the snowdrops are awake.  The head had fallen from this one and inside it was a little slug.  You can see the very tiny hole where it had started to chomp at the fallen flower. 

So, it's getting warm enough for slugs.  Suppose I'd better start setting up the beer traps again.  I'm trying them on cola this year.  They were very picky about the beers, wouldn't go for the cheap ones and it doesn't seem quite right to keep giving the good stuff to the slugs.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Garter stitch

Knit stich (garter stitch), the very basic stitch of knitting can get you a long, long way and using a few little tricks and embellishments you can make something quite special.

If you have managed to cast knitwise you have pretty much mastered the moves.
Take a look at the videos below to see how easy garter stitch is. 

Monday, 21 February 2011

Did you manage to cast on?

Lots of people find casting on a bit tricky to start with.  The people who used this beautiful pattern must have started by learning that.

I love sharing knitting with others and if  you need help, do ask around.  You will be amazed how people leap at the chance to share their love of knitting. 

You can find lists of knitting groups in many knitting magazines and on the Web.  They usually welcome new members and will be happy to help you out.

As for the video in the beginner cast-on post.  After looking at it I realised I had been doing it slightly wrong for 40 years.  I wasn't doing that final little twist.  Who knew?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Spider silk

A spider's web on a frosty morning woven between a tractor and an old wheel.  Bit of a theme of spiders right now.  Thinking a lot about craftsmanship,  obsession and eccentricity.

In an old copy of (1964 edition) of the Handbook of Textile Fibres by J.Gordon Cook I found the following.

"Many attempts have been made to use spider silk as a textile fibre...a Monsieur Bon of Languedoc in France collected enough silk from spider cocoons to spin into a yarn.  He made silk stockings and gloves from the fine grey silk and exhibited these at the Academy of Science in Paris in 1710."

The feasibility of a spider silk industry was explored, but,

"The spiders were temperamental and unco-operative; they became excited and resented the food received so much that they ate each other instead."

Apparently the idea was revived in 1864 by an American army surgeon, Dr. Wilder who 'milked' the silk from the spider.  A pair of stockings made from this spider silk represented the life's work of nearly 500 spiders and the stockings were so sheer (and so expensive) that they were of little practical value.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Casting on

I love knitting because it lets you create your own fabric.  You decide on texture and colour.  It can be tight, or holey, light or heavy, big or small.  If you can knit a strip you can do anything with it that you could do with a strip of fabric.  Don't worry about rules, don't worry about complications.

Beginners are often daunted by casting on.  Keep it simple.  Try a pair of  short or mid length 4mm needles and a ball of smooth (not fluffy), brightly coloured double knitting wool.  The label may say DK.  The bright colour helps you see your stitches.

There are many ways to cast on and the best ones for beginners are the Cable Cast-on and the Knit Cast-on.   This video from knittingtipsbyjudy is one of the best I have seen.  It shows the Knit Cast-on.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Wet February

So, what do you do on a cold wet day in February when you feel it's time for something different?

Well, I don't know what you do, but I started this blog.