Where do you knit?

Please note that the car was safely parked, ignition off, handbrake on!

One of the things I love about knitting is that it’s so portable – no bulky equipment required – you can take it almost anywhere. It’s easiest with a reasonably straightforward project, so you don’t need to follow instructions carefully. That way it’s possible to knit the odd few stitches or rows any time you find yourself with time to kill. It works pretty well for me, especially on circular needles, as long as I’m not using stitch markers, which have a nasty habit of dropping on the floor!

That’s why you’ll find me knitting in a supermarket car park on most Thursday mornings. That’s when I take my Mum to do her shopping – I sit and knit while she buys her groceries, much to the amusement of my daughter and her work colleagues. Their office is nearby and I sometimes see them on their way to buy lunch.

I’ve knitted on trains, ferries, in doctor’s waiting rooms and often in the car (always parked), sometimes in places with spectacular views, often in supermarket carparks!

Where do you knit? What is the most unusual place you have ever knitted?

Singing about sheep and celebrating the landscape.

It’s been a busy couple of days with some knitting connections, though rather tenuous!

Yesterday I went to a choir rehearsal – my former workplace , Newcastle City Council, has had a staff choir for several years. I am a founder member of the choir and still involved since I retired. We have been practicing for a lovely civic event. Every year the mayor of Bergen, Norway, one of the City’s twin towns, presents the City with a beautiful big Christmas tree and this year we are one of the choirs who will be singing at the presentation ceremony. Here’s more about Newcastle’s relationship with Bergen and its other twin towns .

This year’s Lord Mayor is originally from Sheffield and has asked us to sing the Yorkshire version of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night (sung to the tune of On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at) , so we were working on that. There are lots of verses to get through, but the arrangement is lovely (in four parts) and I’m enjoying singing soprano on this one. It’s not too high and we get some nice harmonies and echo the ‘flocks by night line’ I haven’t got a recording of us but I found this which gives you an idea of what it sounds like

After singing about sheep (or shepherds) yesterday, Today I saw lots of sheep while I was driving to The Sill – the amazing Landscape Visitor Centre, close to Hadrian’s Wall at Once Brewed. The Centre includes a youth hostel, cafe and gift shop and an interesting exhibition about the landscape and its connections to farming, leisure, industry and conservation. It also has the most stunning views across some of Northumberland’s hill country towards the Wall, especially from the roof, which is easily accessible up a fairly gently sloping path. On my last visit I spent ages using the augmented reality technology which enables you to “fly” over the local landscape and beyond .The Centre is well worth a visit.

I was meeting up with family and our friend M, who is herself a skilled knitter and has even knitted Fair Isle with the locals while visiting Fair Isle itself! We had a delicious lunch and then I sneaked into the exhibition, while the others were chatting in the lobby area – they noticed a lovely moving projection onto the floor of animal and bird footprints and birds flying by. The sheep in the exhibition weren’t very fleecy though!

Here in Northumberland the hills are steep and covered in poor soil. It’s hard to grow crops like cabbages and corn, but super for sheep, so…..without this landscape (and the sheep and their wool) we’d be cold!

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Another Kind of Yarn

Not a knitting day today, but very much about yarns of a different sort: stories….. tall tales of fiction!

Had coffee with friends H & D this morning. H incredibly imaginative and writes fantasy fiction. I’m the nerdy one that helps with the editing and gets it published on Kindle. Her first book, Secrets and Guardians is full of strong characters and twisty plots set in strange lands with mystical forests

More details on Secrets and Guardians are here

She has now written two more to complete the trilogy, so I’m in reading/editing mode , prior to the next two being launched on Kindle. It’s rather good getting a preview too. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.

I wonder if I could read and knit at the same time …….

Stashbusting Blues

As my stash of yarn is getting ridiculous and I need the space, I’ve embarked on a new big project – I do seem to have been knitting a lot of small items like hats, socks and baby clothes recently. That’s the way it goes – at any given time I usually have about three things on the go – a large item, usually for myself to wear; something small, which could be for me or a gift for someone else or for a charity; and something simple that I can do at knitting groups when the other stuff is too complicated for me to knit and natter at the same time!

I have a really useful cape/poncho which I wear loads in the winter if the weather is dry – it’s made of fleece fabric with fake fur trim on the collar and sleeves – not waterproof but lovely and cosy – `I’m going to try a knitted version, so I’ve measured it up and done lots of calculations (my first attempt at designing a pattern really). I originally thought about crocheting it, but I don’t think that will drape as well as a knit, so I’ve acquired extra long 5.5mm circular needles and sorted out a load of oddments of yarn in various shades of blue, grey, cream and white. For the body of the poncho I plan to use several strands at once – 2 of double knitting, more for thinner yarns. and mix the shades up to get a sort of marled, stripy effect.

I’m beginning with the collar, which will be in a single colour – I’m going with a sort of button-up polo neck style, so it can be worn buttons closed right up the neck for added warmth or left with the buttons open. I’m using a deep slaty blue 4ply with a hint of purple that’s left over from a crocheted shawl and 3.25 mm needles. It’s worked in k2p2 rib and incorporates some vertical buttonholes on one edge

Whether it works out or not remains to be seen – watch this space!

How I recovered from One Sock Syndrome

About 4 years ago I ended up in hospital just before we were about to go on a family holiday. It didn’t seem right that they should all miss out, so when I was out of surgery, I insisted they went without me. Off they set for Wester Ross , North West Scotland while I stayed in hospital. We spoke on the phone every day and came back with loads of presents including a pattern for kilt stockings. “It looked challenging,” they said. “We know you like making complicated things.”

A few months later, much recovered, I bought some sock yarn, got the double pointed needles out and made a start. It was a two-colour design (the Gairloch pattern – read about it here http://ichscotland.org/wiki/gairloch-pattern-stockings ) It didn’t look too difficult, but oh my goodness when done on the double pointed needles it was a nightmare! I eventually got to the end of the first sock, but had absolutely no urge to continue.

Four years later my knitting friend, Carol is knitting loads of socks – trying to keep up with the demand from her family who love them. She’s using circular needles – I had to try it. What a difference! So much easier that double pointers.

There was no confusion about splitting a pattern repeat between needles, or wondering what on earth to do if I got to the last stitch on a needle and had to knit two together. It was easier to control the tension too. I tend to knit tightly to start with and have to be especially careful to keep things loose when I’m using two or more colours. Needless to say I finished the second stocking much quicker! Here they are, modelled by K

One Sock Syndrome Cured! I have one less UFO (Unfinished object)!

A few weeks later we were back in Scotland, visiting Gairloch Museum – the new museum had it’s official opening while we were there in July. It’s well worth a visit (read about it here https://www.gairlochmuseum.org). There’s actually a display of Gairloch Pattern garments in the museum (and they sell the pattern I used in the gift shop).

Gairloch Pattern knitted items at Gairloch Museum

To prove to myself that I wasn’t just finishing a project and I’m really ok with socks, I recently made these.

I picked up the yarn at Alnmouth Wool Festival because I just loved the colours – it’s Opal Safari in shade Botswana – I got a free pattern from the stall and it was a breeze, despite the tiny little 2.5mm circular sock needle – . I love them – definitely cured!

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Knit and Natter 2.

My local GP surgery has started running a variety of activities beneficial to health, through their social prescribing initiative. The knit and natter group are thriving – it’s a lively group with a purpose – dozens of items have been made for good causes by the group over the last few months – they meet on Friday afternoons.

One of the GPs has done voluntary work in a clinic in Zambia, where baby clothes are scarce, to the point that newborns had to be wrapped in newspaper for warmth. We started by knitting “fish and chip baby “tops, blankets, bootees, hats to go to the clinic and others nearby.

We continues with this and have also been making items for premature babies at RVI, Newcastle, hats for the homeless and twiddle muffs for dementia patients. Here is what group members have made in the last week alone

There’s more waiting to be posted off to where it’s needed.

My tiny contribution this week was a pair of bootees made with yarn left over from a pair of socks I knitted recently.

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Knit and Natter 1.

I’m in two knitting groups: a weekly one and a monthly one, both Fridays – today was one of those Fridays!.

The Knit and Natter Group I’ve been in longest is at The Amble Pincushion https://amblepincushion.co.uk – which sells all sorts of yarn, fabric, haberdashery and craft materials – it has the most amazing range of stock for it’s size. The group meets in the upstairs training room (there is a programme of workshops and courses too) on the third Friday of every month from 10-12. It costs £4.50, including tea/coffee/biscuits and entry into the raffle, and 10% discount in the shop on the day,

A while back we reviewed some cotton yarns for a knitting magazine and our verdict appears in this month’s edition.

We nattered about our pets, our parents and of course our knitting – Anne was on hand to help with problems and queries. We were also celebrating the arrival of a new grandchild for one of the group. Here is our work in progress: two ombre shawls, a red aran cardigan and a Santa Claus tree decoration for the new baby (not in the picture) – the dark blue piece at the bottom is my current experiment – if it works out I’ll tell you more another time.

Angels

The last time I saw my knitting friend, Anne, she invited me to join a Coffee Craft and Chat session at her house as part of an “Angel Extravaganza” . We would be knitting and trimming angels with Christmas messages, to be hidden in and around Ellington, Cresswell and Lynemouth.

I arrived at Anne’s today not really knowing what to expect, but found a house full of very busy women, enjoying a well-earned lunch break with tasty homemade soup, scones, cakes and biscuits (timed my arrival perfectly!) I managed to knit an angel, added a pair of spare wings (thanks to Anne’s neighbour, Jude) and had a thorough lovely afternoon. Everyone was great.

The local church had initiated the project locally and distributed patterns earlier in the year .You can find the pattern here http://www.christmasangel.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Christmas-Angel.pdf The knitters had been making angels ever since and over 500 have now been completed. I wonder where mine will end up?

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About me

When I was tiny my mother taught me to sew and and my grandmother taught me how to knit and crochet. I’ve been making things ever since and I love trying out new crafts.

I live in Northumberland (within sight of the sea), with husband, son and labrador. My daughter and my mother both live nearby. We love it here, Sometimes the scenery even inspires my crafting!

There is usually a story behind the things I make and I wanted to share these stories. I hope you enjoy reading them.