Knit and Natter 7th May

Another crop of makes from our Knit and Natterers were on show on Friday,.

T is crocheting colourful wraps (shown above) for the yarn bombing installation we are taking part in this summer. We hope to identify a site within Alnwick Garden that we’ll be able to decorate with our handiwork. One suggestion was the Chatty Bench – a designated place to sit and chat, which would fit in with what our group is all about. We found out that this was right next to the toilets though, which put us off somewhat! We are now looking for somewhere else but wherever we end up it will certainly stand out with Tracey’s crocheting!.

A has crocheted a baby blanket.

She knitted this baby top (which has a matching hat too).

We’ve seen a lot of R’s gorgeous hexagon patchwork as it has grown over recent weeks. She’s not the only quilter in the group though. This week L showed us a quilt she’s been working on. The fabric prints, in lilac shades, have a butterfly theme.

The reverse is deep pink with polka dots.

Y has had a busy week but has not neglected her knitting. She’s been working on this cabled cardigan.

I’m still spinning alpaca and have tried dying some of it.

All in all a busy week for the group.

Knit and Natter 29th April

We had another lively session on Friday. Y has completed this amazing sweater for husband, C, made from his handspun yarn. isn’t it amazing. Y joined us from her car as she was out of the house – even the car has some of her handiwork in the form of this crocheted rainbow.

A borrowed my knitting loom set to have a go and made this baby hat. We agreed that loom knitting can be a real yarn guzzler, with several strands needed to get a decent finish.

L has been loom knitting for ages and uses chunky yarn when she can – here are some of her adult hats.

She’s also working on this pretty pink striped blanket.

S has made this barn owl motif, which will be added to a banner depicting endangered wildlife. The banner will be on show at the forthcoming Climate Change Summit.

She’s also finished a pretty baby cardigan and found the perfect buttons.

R’s patchwork is getting huge!

I’m still spinning alpaca for a jumper for myself.

Knit & Natter 23 April

We had a small but select gathering online for our Knit and Natter Group on Friday. As you can see, we are all keeping busy!

R’s hexagon patchwork (pictured above) is growing rapidly.

A is also working with hexagons – in crochet, being pieced together to make a pretty blanket in shades of pink.

L is making this knitting T shirt top.

We recently heard about an opportunity to take part in a yarn bombing event at Alnwick Garden. We are all rather excited about this and T has started already. This colourful scarf will look amazing wrapped round a tree!

I’m still spinning alpaca fleece. I’m working towards a sweater for myself.

It’s always great to see what everyone is working on.Knitting,crochet

Spinning With A View: Alnwick Garden

I’ve always enjoyed knitting with a view. This usually entails a drive to the beach. I sit in the car watching the waves (and knitting) while K walks the dog. I recently acquired a battery pack for my little e-spinner, so I can spin yarn anywhere. I took it outside for the first time today for some very scenic spinning at the Alnwick Garden.

We wandered up to the walled garden first of all. In spring this part of the garden has a spectacular display of tulips.

There are a couple of secluded little secret gardens, sheltered by tall yew hedges with a central pool and fountain.

I stopped at a bench here and spun some of the alpaca fibre I prepared. It is such a peaceful spot.

Our next stop was the Cherry Orchard. Here 329 Taihaku cherry trees are planted on a steep slope. At the moment the cherry blossom is at its peak and it is breathtaking.

Every branch is smothered in white flowers which are alive with bees feasting on the nectar .

A path snakes down the bank through the trees in a series of hairpins, past benches and swing seats. I stopped here for a bit more spinning.

On we went past the poison garden and stopped for a coffee on the lawns in front of the grand cascade.

I’d packed my spinning into a little old picnic hamper which also balances on the front of my scooter so I can set up on there.

It was a perfect spring day, with hardly a cloud in the sky and warm in the sun out of the wind. I’m looking forward to a lot more more al fresco spinning this summer.

Baby Beanie

Some friends of ours have a new baby boy so I knitted this hat from my handspun alpaca. The pattern is the Maine Baby Hat – available free on Ravelry. I’ve made it before, but not this version, which has a central knotted pigtail

After the decreases, when there are just a few stitches left, these are knitted into an i-cord. It’s the first time I’ve used this technique and it’s quite easy to do. The i-cord is cast off when it reaches 4 inches long, then you tie a knot in it.

The alpaca yarn makes it lovely and soft and warm.

Do you have a go to pattern that you knit when there’s a new baby among family or friends?

Faux Cable Headband

Having seen the cable bobble hat I made with my handspun alpaca last week, daughter asked if I’d make her a headband – she’d seen some similar to this, so we had a look at some patterns and she picked out a few – this one is the Twisting Taffy headband from Drops Yarn (a huge selection of Drops Patterns are available free on their website). She wanted it in natural white undyed alpaca, so I spun a bit more and got started.

The pattern said to use circular needles back and forth, but that always seems a bit pointless to me so I used straight ones. The pattern is not a true cable, but it was fun to do and the pattern repeat is only 4 rows so you don’t lose your place.

The hardest part was the twist, halfway along the strip. – You put half the stitches on a cable needle, knit the rest in pattern, then knit rest off the cable needle. As there are a lot of stitches this is extremely tight so if took me a few attempts (knitting this part more loosely). Once that’s done you just carry on with the second half of the strip, cast off and sew the two ends together.!

Daughter loves it – she wore it for a walk on a very cold day over the weekend and she says it really keeps her ears warm!

Alpaca Cable Hat

I finished this hat last week. The pattern – Hello Yellow – is available as a free download from Ravelry. I’ve now sent it off to our friends who own Wispa and Aero – the alpacas that keep me supplied with gorgeous fibre to spin.

I spun some more yarn especially – a 3 ply (I’m loving playing with my new Christmas presents, especially the ball winder)

The hat has a deep band in twisted rib.

The cable was quite straightforward to do and I love the way it looks.

To finish I used the pompom maker to make a nice fat bobble. I’ve added a press stud to make it detachable.

This is going to be so warm!

New Year Knit and Natter

Friday was the first meeting of the year for our online knit and natter group. As always there were some lovely projects in progress.

My fellow spinner finished these pretty striped socks during the session.

Before Christmas she was running out of yarn for a green sweater she was knitting for her son – she ended up having to spin 200g more, but got it finished. She’s also been crocheting some cute little dolls to go in a dolls house.

She is selling one of her traditional spinning wheels and I am very tempted to buy but I really need to think about space and weight before I buy a traditional wheel – I’ll stick to my little Electric Eel Wheel Nano for now. It easily fits in a drawer so no storage problems.

Having made a load of Christmas decorations in December this member is now back to her waterfall front cardigan in this gorgeous pink shade.

This blanket is progressing well in beautiful vibrant raspberry shades – it’s a really stunning variegated yarn.

I’m finishing off a cabled hat made from my handspun alpaca. I just need to attach the pompom – I’ll used a press-stud so it can be removed for washing. This is going to be lovely and warm to wear.

It was good to see everyone after the Christmas break. We talked about how well the COVID vaccine is being rolled out in this area – local sessions are working really well. Jane from the Social Prescribing team at the GP practice, who runs our Knit and Natter sessions has been helping to run the immunisation sessions. I hope that everything goes to plan and those concerned are able to work through the different age/risk groups and get to me – I can’t wait!

New Year Cast Ons and Knitting with a Rather Different View

No sooner than I’d finished off a couple of projects last week I was itching to get something on the needles so I started a couple of new projects.

The first one is the Hello Yellow hat which is a special request from my lovely friend who keep me supplied with alpaca fibre. It’s a cable beanie with a pompom, knitted of course in undyed alpaca spun from her own alpacas, Wispa and Aero.

I’ve now completed the deep edging band which is knitted using a twisted rib., so now I can start the fun bit – I love cable!

I spun some more yarn for the next bit and had great fun using my new gadgets, especially the ball winder.

I also cast on another pair of socks last week – I couldn’t resist this yarn – it’s one of the limited editions from the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature range – Silent Night, in shades of blue with a subtle metallic silver thread running through it.

Socks are my go to project if I’m going anywhere – I can slip it in a bag if I find myself needing to wait around anywhere – often I’ll sit and knit in the car with a beach view whole K walks the dog. When I cast this sock on I had a rather different view: Alnwick Cricket Club’s Pitch.

It was quite a special occasion. I was waiting in the car while my mother was getting her COVID vaccination. She is in her eighties and therefore in the first priority group to receive the vaccine. The Cricket Club is being used as our local vaccination centre and everything was extremely well organised. As we drove up cars were asked to stop by a steward in ahi-viz jacket – it was so nice to see that it was one of the managers from Alnwick Medical Group who used to attend our Knit and Natter Group. He explained to my mother what would happen and directed us to a colleague who guided us into a parking space. Mum was checked in (she had a pre-booked appointment), temperature taken and directed to a waiting area, with screens between the chairs to maintain COVID safety. She was then called over to a nurse, who administered the injection and after that to a heated marquee at the back of the building, where she was handed a timer and waited for 15 minutes (a precaution in case of adverse reaction). At every stage a member of staff sanitised her seat as she vacated it. Everything was running like clockwork and before long she was back in the car.

I’m so glad Mum has had the vaccine and will have some protection from the virus. An important day indeed!

New Year Resolutions: Looking Back and Looking Forward

The turn of the year is an opportunity to review those resolutions from a year ago and make new ones. Who could have predicted what 2020 would become?

At the beginning of the year my blog was only a couple of months old. I was creating content every day and that was mostly knitting related. I’d started it as part of my plan to learn a new skill every year. I set some knitting and crafting New Year resolutions last January

  1. Make a Santa hat. I completed this last January, though I had fewer occasions to use it with no choir or ukelele gigs this Christmas. I never knitted a Bah Humbug version for K (who I described at the time as my personal Grinch). Maybe this year?

2. Knit a Christmas Jumper. I cast this on in April when the Pandemic had taken hold and it became my lockdown project. I bought the yarn online and remember quarantining the parcel for 72 hours before I opened it. I stopped knitting altogether at times but finally completed it in late August. I’ve loved wearing it this Christmas.

3. Keep on stash-busting. I had set out to use scraps of blue and grey yarn to make a cape/poncho but it didn’t workout. I pulled it out and redesigned it as a jacket which I finally finished a couple of days ago! This has made a smaller impression on the blue and grey parts of the stash than I’d hoped. I need to think about a project that will use another part of the stash.

The other craft materials I’ve accumulated got used too. Quilting fabric was made into masks and I used seaglass to make mosaic coasters and Christmas baubles. I made pheasant feather baubles too, and driftwood candle-shades, wax melts….

I still have piles of material in the craft room, so the stash-busting is ongoing.

4. Finish as many UFOs (Unfinished Objects) as I can . I completed a piece of tapestry during lockdown, which suited my state of mind at the time. Now it’s finished I’m not sure what to do with it as I don’t like it enough to frame or make into a cushion. I also finished a cobwebby scarf, a needlefelted unicorn from a kit among other things. There are still more projects to finish but I’m getting there.

5. Tidy up the craft room. This is ongoing and very much linked to 3 and 4 but at least I don’t have to share it with Son’s drum kit, which has been sold. he’s more of a guitarist these days.

6. Get out more – with my knitting. I had resolved to spend more time sitting in a car with a nice view while K walked the dog, but as lockdown began and there were no essential journeys allowed, driving to the beach stopped – later it was hard to get anywhere near as more and more tourists arrived in the area. I did get out more on my scooter for local dog walks and that reconnected me with nature, particularly wildflowers, and I started regular Wildflower of the Week posts on the blog. As Summer turned into Autumn the blackberries and sloes ripened and I got into preserving and making fruit gin liqueurs.

7. Improve my photography. I began using lenses that clip on to my mobile phone, including a macro lens for close ups of flowers. I also use tripods and remote shutter controls so my pictures are sharper. Still lots of room for improvement though!

8. Learn brioche. This was achieved when I made hand warmers, both 2 and one-coloured versions. I love the soft squishy feel of brioche stitch.

Of course I did other stuff this year. I have learnt a new skill : spinning yarn since I got an e-spinner for my birthday – with more equipment for Christmas I think this will take up a lot of crafting time in 2021, especially with all the gorgeous alpaca fibre I’ve been given.

So here’s my list of crafty intentions for 2021 – they deliberately include more of the same ongoing items, and some new ones.

  1. Make a Bah Humbug hat for K (like a Santa hat but in black).
  2. Continue stash-busting, including another big project, to be decided.
  3. Finish more unfinished projects
  4. Continue to sort and tidy the craft room
  5. Continue spinning, including a jumper for myself
  6. Get out more to knit if and when I can
  7. Keep improving the photography
  8. Learn how to dye yarn and fibre (this could be my new skill for 2021)
  9. Use natural fibres and upcycle/resuse/recycle wherever possible

I think that’s enough to be going on with!

Finally, a very Happy New Year to everyone who reads this. We got through 2020 and what it threw at us so we are well equipped to deal with anything this year sends our way. I remain hopeful that things will improve with the rapid rollout of vaccines. Here’s to a safer, calmer 2021.

Have you made any New Year resolutions?