All posts for the month August, 2014

Hats Galore!

Published August 27, 2014 by Jackie

Oh my goodness, looks like I’ve not posted in a while, so I need to yarn-bomb the place a bit!

Been on a hat-mission lately ~ there’ve been a few special colleagues leaving work of late, and I’ve been making hats for them. Firstly, Dan got himself a Stephen West Hat, Westward, and then Roger the woodsman, a special chunky Moorit hat from the Book of Wool. Tracey got a lovely silver silky merino garter stitch hat, pattern called Rikke, to which I added a precious baby-alpaca pompom from Toft (ethically sourced fur from baby alpacas, and the softest thing in the universe).

There’s another hat ready and waiting, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise ~ if you’re on Ravelry, you know where to look! Oh and another DK/worsted weight Rikke in the making for a colleague, this time from Rowan Lima, a strange chained alpaca yarn, lovely and squishy tho. (Jenners sale is a grand thing, don’t you know?)

Did I mention I’m off to Shetland in early October for Wool Week? There’s a hat needed for that too, Hazel Tindall’s special SHetland WOOl weeK hat, nicknamed Shwook! Her intention is that everyone coming makes one to wear… I started my third last night! I’m there for five days, and at the moment I am plotting colours for the fourth one… will I make one for each day?

Seriously, they are quick! Fair Isle is addictive, and you can’t leave it at one row, you have to complete the 3 rows that include the colour you just picked up. And then the next bit… and the next bit. There are only maybe 50 rows in a beanie hat before you start on a rapid decrease, so before you know it, the hat is done in a couple of days.

(Is it ethical of me to wear some of these hats just the once, and then give them away as Christmas gifts? Will anyone know? Ooops they will if they read this blog!)

First was meant to be exclusively in J&S 2-ply jumper weight. I bought five colours, but two didn’t work, so I dug into my fabulous bag of mini-balls (thanks Mica!) and replaced a dark charcoal with a lovely conker brown, and a beautiful opalescent shade with a single row of bright orange Rennies Shetland. The resulting hat is really bright and striking! It’s also closer to the original pattern charts than the other two. But that’s the beauty of Fair Isle, you can adapt as you go!

The second hat is heavy on the pinks and purples. A very bright Rowan Scottish Tweed ball caught my eye in my Shetland stash box, and I put that together with a wound-off cake of lavender from a cone of Shetland I found in a charity shop and passed on. (I think I might regret that now) Added an oddment of bright magenta that came from Cathy, cream from the magic mini-ball bag, and another, a surprising variegated Shetland yarn in pinks, magentas and dark purples, from Colorimetry, that was also in the mini-ball bag!

Surprisingly for a yarn that is oiled, and therefore quite ‘thin’, the hat is much bigger than the first one, so I think it may need tossed in the washing machine to shrink a bit, as well as strip the oil out. If it also felts a bit, never mind, I can stretch it into shape.

For my third, I’m going back to the original colours that I bought, and am using the lovely opalescent shade as a main colour, and working the motifs in the bright turquoise and grassy green, with the dark teal as a contrast to each. I shall decide on the centre-line when I get there! Oh and just for some interest, I worked a two-colour cable cast-on in turquoise and green!

And the fourth? That ball of charcoal needs used, and I think it would work well with dayglo pinks and oranges! We’ll see! I need to find my lost J&S stash first, I know there are lots of pinks in there.

(oh and I started another Vivid, for my great-niece Marnie, who is finally getting to stay overnight with her father! The wonderful thing about a special blanket is that it can stay on her bed in his home, and she won’t grow out of it either ~ back to the stash of Rowan Aran for that one, deep purple garter edges, and every other colour for the centres! I shall make it as big as I can!)

ps I shall endeavour to add hat photos to this post shortly!
pps here’s one of my Shwook hats ~ or is the plural ‘Shweek’?


the one that’s not about knitting

Published August 7, 2014 by Jackie

It’s Edinburgh, and it’s August! Does that say it all?

My dear friend Moira and I started planning our August at the end of March, when we booked the first six pairs of tickets for the International Festival, and it’s finally right here, right now (okay actually starting Saturday but the Fringe is upon us, the nightly Tattoo fireworks have started, and our first four, no FIVE! shows are under our respective belts).

For a while, I never bothered with Fringe or Festival, although I did see lots of Fringe comedy in my early 20s, it was mostly because my younger brother would visit. Now I say go with the flow, it’s fighting it that causes you heartache.

Now, I gauge my August by how many tickets get bought for the International Festival, as against the number of Fringe performances we see. Perhaps we should further differentiate between Fringe and DanceBase? But I also get quite defensive now of the Fringe, and constantly remind people that “it’s not just comedy, you know!” I suppose comedy is hot right now. Ach well, each to their own.

We don’t usually get too heavy with International Festival, mainly looking at dance and theatre productions, rather than opera and classical music, tho I’m not averse, just nothing takes my fancy this year. But I’m particularly looking forward to seeing The James Plays over three consecutive nights. Follow the link and you’ll see why.

(Just a quick aside here for people who think the International Festival is not for them… three tickets for The James Plays, ok it was a deal, but they were £12 EACH for almost 3 hours of world class theatre EACH NIGHT. Average Fringe prices this year seem to be around £15 for ONE throwaway hour ~ draw your own conclusion ~ nb I do not include DanceBase in this sweeping generalisation)

But last weekend was one of those crazy weekends that Edinburgh throws at you every now and then. Friday evening spent in a very hot and steamy Coburg House at their Open Studio private view, followed by a very marvellous meal at The Vintage in Leith. Just somewhere we’d stumbled on, and they had a table. The fish n’chips was superb, but the star of the show was a very wonderful Comte Brulee that Lesley had on her charcuterie platter, and I ordered as an alternative, with oatcakes (make that home-made oatcakes) instead of a cheeseboard later.

Then DanceBase, on a wet and miserable Saturday, proved to be a little oasis of calm in a frenetic city. We started with marvellous TakiMaori at noon, felt welcomed into their family, even if they got scary enough to make a small child cry at one point. We then headed downtown for Ruby Wax in the Assembly Rooms, where all around was peoplepeoplepeople and crazy and very wet. Ruby’s show, which ended with some blissful meditation for a couple of minutes was worth it tho.

Back to DanceBase for KuraKurawan, beautiful, serene Taiwanese dance, followed by the very entertaining Swing, deserving of all the acclaim it has gathered, both here and in Dublin last year. Great observational humour and loads of characters from just two cast-members, who pretty much danced non-stop for the hour too… And finally, not pre-booked but still available, the absolute star of our evening was Salon Mika. The most exhilarating end to an exhausting day, I can do no better than point you to the DanceBase page that has a big red button with Buy Now on it!


Published August 4, 2014 by Jackie

How to resolve list issues? Delete delete delete!

I think some of last week’s list anxiety was brought about by not finding inner satisfaction with my pattern and yarn choices for gifts. Gifts that no-one was expecting me to either make or give, but gifts I wanted to make and give, nevertheless. And adding to my projects was simply stressing me out too much.

What changed, I hear you ask? Simple. Firstly I deleted the Ravelry projects that were not satisfactory, and ripped out ones I’d started that weren’t working, and will throw the yarn in the proverbial box of frogs that’s by the back door. It will re-surface one day as something else entirely. And secondly, I got such good feedback from the second hat that went to London as a leaving gift! They are much appreciated at least.

It also helps hugely that, meantime (over the last few days), I have created two beautiful hats for two colleagues who will leave soon, so I’m now ahead of my game. Not only that, they are blocked (where appropriate) and are ready to wrap!

And while I am loving the thick teal Rose Red that I’ve made, I am also resisting temptation to even see if it matches one of my favourite shawls. I can always make it again in a heartbeat if I want! And the lovely Cape Cod grey Rikke, with the grey alpaca pom-pom, is just so pretty and ethereal, and perfect for the recipient.

Happy Happy Joy Joy, as we sang in Mika’s Salon on Saturday.

Oh and while I’m reporting progress, another 4 squares of the denim cotton Vivid are completed, so making good and steady progress there, I think 40 now, out of 64 I’m aiming for.

I’ve picked up Fiona’s sock, and hopefully will turn the heel fully today, and then it becomes easy bus-knitting for a few days.

My dear friend Moira has, on the other hand, presented me back with the socks I gave her a couple of years ago, and asked if I could darn them? Ah no, but having found the bag of yarn I used for them, I WILL cut the threadbare feet out to a point where they can be recovered, and work some interesting new feet, probably some reinforcing colourwork across the ball of the foot where the holes are just now, to match (as best I can) the colourwork round her ankles that is still pristine. (I shall post my progress on these, and fully document with photos too)

To be honest, I am touched that she loves her socks so much that she wants them mended. That’s true friendship for you, she deserves to have them fixed.