Sunday, 27 November 2011

Whats the worst that could happen!

I could be left with a lot of sock yarn, and that would be terrible! (said tongue in cheek)

For some time I have been aware of a few of our members of the knitting group not being able to come by good quality sock yarn. Whether it was from not being on the internet or not being able to go easily to other yarn shops or just lack of time. And I'd been mulling over an idea for a while, which was to provide sock yarn and double pointed needles so that they could enjoy the wonders of sock knitting and glove making. I decided to start small, very small, although the idea is to make a profit from this venture, rather than a loss, it will never give me an income on which to live, but will, hopefully, provide a small income and a service to my knitting group and others that may become interested along the way. From small acorns and all that.

I decided to start with Opal sock yarn, I love Opal, it wears like iron, I still have all of my pairs of Opal in very good condition that I knit when I first started knitting socks approximately five years ago. I think its soft and becomes softer in the wash and the colours are lovely.
My box of sock yarn arrived, "Crikey!", I thought, "thats a big box".
But it was okay as it was mostly packaging.
See not much at all. The other advantage of staying small is that the sock yarn will always be fresh and not mangled as can sometimes be seen in local yarn shops, along with I can stay current and buy the latest colours and designs so no one becomes bored.

It was quite appropriate that Janice who was my first member of the knitting group over two years ago purchased the first ball of wool. I thought there was something very nice about that.
Of course Kitty wasn't going to be left out of the action and when asked which colourway she preferred out of these two skeins it became extremely obvious that she liked them both. Which left Carie in the awful predicament of having to choose, which like Kitty she couldn't - like mother like daughter! - so she had them both. There were smiles all around.
Last night I was invited to a local creative event involving fibres at which I was able to promote my sock yarn and the knitting group. I had a lovely time and was able to talk about all things woolly for hours on end.

Well fingers crossed that my little venture is met with positivity, I do hope so.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A sense of Christmas.

I seem to have been surrounded myself with all things Christmassy this weekend. Last weekend I wandered over to Decorative Cloth and found to my delight that they had some boiled woolen cloth in. I quickly came up with an idea and bought enough fabric to delight son no.2 with a home made stocking advent calendar. I was designing whilst I was choosing, it was really good fun.

So this Saturday was my first opportunity to sit and get down to business.
I was quite surprised at just how long it took to draw around the template that I made and cut the stockings out, even though I had cleverly decided to cut two out at a time, which then matches the pair perfectly.
I then chose which order they had to come in, which was critical because,
I was choosing which colour fabric square would work best before
machine embroidering the numbers on before attaching to the stockings. They are starting to look so much fun.

Unfortunately my sewing machine has stopped play. Its thrown a wobbly and the tension discs have stopped working correctly, I have tried everything and spent two full days on it and have had to admit defeat, its going in for a service, its still under guarantee so its not a problem. The spare ancient sewing machine was moved around during the window fitting, by hubby, I eventually found the 'ingenious spot' in which he placed it, he however, did not remember to place the 'very important' plastic briefcase that I 'always' keep with it, so I can't use my machine in reserve as I don't have its oh so very important electric leads, spare feet, bobbins etc. Bitter, I'm not bitter, frustrated may be a better choice of word, I was hoping to get this finished for the 1st of December, for obvious reasons. On the plus side, whilst taking my machine in for repair, it does give me another chance to ooh and aaah over the machine of my dreams in front of him, I'm not getting my hopes up, but a girl can dream.

So on Sunday afternoon I was kicking my heels and we decided to take advantage of the warm dry day to have a little wander around Birmingham to look at the German Christmas Market which had just come to town. I love it, its all so very festive, it gives me goose bumps and shivers down my spine all at the same time.
It was very busy,
and very pretty
and we all had a lovely time. If you do go, make sure to have a look at the Himalayan singing bowls, the chap on the stall had us all entranced and when he played with the largest bowl, the sound was so deep and low, almost out of ear shot, it was like an ancient god calling to you. Amazing, I loved it, - I didn't love the price tag though!

Monday, 14 November 2011

From the ashes rises the Pheonix

When I knitted the first hat from this pattern for son no.1 he was tickled pink not least because the snow on the ground was at least two inches thick and he needed something warm whilst he was tinkering with cars. He proudly wore it to work and his boss exclaimed that it was indeed a very fine hat and was very impressed that his mum had knit a hat like that. I felt quite warm and perhaps just a little smug.

Fast forward four months, just breaking into spring and the 'boys' at work played a little game of hiding the hat, which culminated in the new boy (new that day!) putting the hat in the microwave and turning it on. The hat burst into flames in two area's but being wool self extinguished once the microwave was turned off. We were left with a very burned hat and were very annoyed - I am being polite here!

I was asked to knit another hat that the boys at work would pay for. So I quoted the full price for yarn, minimum wage and approximate hours it would take, all that cabling does take time. The message came back via my son that they wouldn't pay that, I think they were a little shocked at the price, and by this time we had calmed down somewhat, knowing that it was just boys being boys, so I said okay a bouquet of flowers and the cost and postage of the yarn. This was deemed fair by the boys at work and I left the knitting of it until the weather turned colder.

Son no.1 only had one request, that it must be identical, absolutely identical in every way.

Thank goodness for Ravelry as I had recorded everything I needed to be able to achieve that. Although if I am honest, I think the tension is just a gnats whisker tighter than the previous hat, although I think this may be because of the reasons above of why I was reknitting it.

Son no.1 proudly wore it into work, only to be told that only black hats were allowed these days, - back to the drawing board!

This was knit in Rowan Pure Wool Aran in Grey from a pattern called Knotty but Nice by Natalie Larson.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Simple Pleasures

Two Sundays ago we were racing into Birmingham to see the Lost in Lace exhibition that I spoke about in my last post. Unfortunately we didn't make it in time and had to see that the following weekend because we realised it had been far too long since breakfast and we needed somewhere to eat. Out came the iphones and we thought we would give Yo Sushi (we are addicted at the moment!) a go in Brindley Place as we had never been there before.

Wow, what a space! Its wonderful. So much of interest, we got their late in the day so didn't have the time to appreciate all of what it has to offer, we are going back sometime soon. There were many restaurants, art galleries,


canals,

fountains

and small boys paddling at the end of October.

Interesting architecture,

in the shape of a very interesting cable pattern.

A happy hubby full of sushi,

and a contented Mandycharlie debuting her latest hand knitted hat,

made from a pattern called Simple Pleasures Hat written by Purl Soho in Berroco Ultra Alpaca in purple. Its very cosy, yet soft and light, perfect for the autumn.

Brindley Place has such a great vibe, it was the tiniest of city breaks but we came back home completely refreshed and eagerly planning more adventures to come in this wonderful space.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Lost in Lace in Birmingham.

Last Friday we trotted over to Birmingham to see the Lost in Lace Exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. For the first half an hour we stayed firmly entrenched in hubby's car as the rain drops were so heavy they were bouncing up six inches after they had hit the pavement. Eventually we got into the museum, the boys went off for another look at The Staffordshire Hoard whilst I had a look at the lace. This gave me the time that I find is necessary to slow down to a pace which engages the arty side of my brain. I rather like it when I can just, if I listen very carefully, hear my own breathing, rather than the clod hopping sound of a boisterous teenager bouncing around a wooden floor whilst making audible sighs as to just how long his mother is going to be. It gave me time to appreciate the art of lace on a completely different scale.

I will show you just a couple of exhibits as it is a small show and I can't give everything away. I thought this was rather spectacular, and immediately saw the use of it on a commercial scale where it could be used for partitioning of open plan buildings.

And I loved this, envisioning the garden on this side, the allotment end of the garden on the other.

And then the boys came back, there was this one exhibition where you entered a very small room which then went black as ink and waited for the lights to shine upon the lace with different colours and angles. I thought son no.2 might like this and he did, but only because I was trying to take a photograph of him in the pitch black and he kept moving. So the game at which he giggled was to catch him in camera shot whilst he moved as silently as a ninja. It was great fun, I did get this photograph of him.

Which is quite arty in its own way.

The best part was because he had giggled and enjoyed himself, he then went around the exhibition with renewed interest. Perhaps that is the secret to bringing younger people into the arts, sneak a few unexpected twists in and they won't even realise how they have been drawn in.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Fish and Chips.

Thursdays is market day. In the summer I wander around the market purchasing the odd seasonal beauty, although to be honest our allotment more than keeps us supplied. Unbeknown to you all what I am really doing is waiting. I wait patiently during the summer, dreaming of long almost forgotten days that were in the middle of last winter and silently I wait. I say nothing to nobody, it would simply make my agitation worse. Slowly the seasons change, the colours of autumn appear, grow vibrant and then start to fade, the days become colder, I drag woollies out of my wardrobe to pull ever closer around me to keep warm. And still I wait. The days become shorter, making it more likely to be returning from late afternoon shopping trips in the dark, and it is at this point that I can wait no longer, the time is ripe.

I casually wander up to the fish mongers in the market, inspect his wares and then jump into the fray of men and women bustling around his stall. It looks busy but we all know where our place is in the queue.

It was worth the wait.

For the first bountiful feast of these dark blue beauties.

They were clean, tasty and very plump, and came all the way from Cornwall. They say mussels should only be eaten with an R in the month, but modern methods mean you can have them all year around, my self, I think they need the cold to plump them out and recover from breeding. From November to late February or March if the weather was like last years is the perfect time for mussels. And what could be better in the dark and dismal days of winter in landlocked Warwickshire than the smell of the ocean tantalising your taste buds as well as your memory. And then just for good measure adding the tang of a splash of malt vinegar and a little sea salt on your hot crispy chips, making it tricky to decide which mouthful to have next, the crispy, hot, salty with a whiff of vinegar chip or a plump, fat, mussel dripping with a buttery, winey, slightly garlicky liquor accompanied by the clean fresh ozone smell of a winters day walking on the beach.