Possibly my favourite finished knit ever!

Back in February last year I cast on a sleeveless vest from a pattern by Japanese designer Kazekobo

Working simply from charts showing the colourwork design and basic cast-on and shaping details I set off on this intrepid journey. And back in May of this year I cast off! Just in time for one of the driest, warmest summers we’ve had in Suffolk for a fair while ;-)

So, a few months later, on the cusp of ‘vest weather’ it’s finally time for the big reveal!

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Knit using Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper weight yarn, I will admit to spending a loooong time playing with colour. I knew I wanted the base shade to be shade 1280 – a lovely heather grey/blue – and I had a vision of this combined with beige and brown for the gorgeous slipped rib hem and neck bands…

The others just gradually fell into place with a few false starts. There’s certainly no easy way to select complimentary shades from a huge range like J&S present! There is a handy guide to choosing shades for Fair Isle knitting on the Interweave web site which offers some basic guidelines on contrast and shading…

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One of the most amazing things about Fair Isle knits is the reverse side! Isn’t is beautiful…

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The black & white photo shows the play between light, medium and dark shades really well.

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And finally, a gratuitous puppy shot… because you’re worth it ;-)

Head over to Ravelry to see all the details, including shades used etc…

Join us…

I’m really excited to announce that we’re joining up with Tend Magazine this November for a fabulous Knit-along Camp!

If you’ve not yet come across Tend, it’s a quarterly downloadable magazine which, in its own words, “hopes to nourish the head, the hands and the heart – by providing articles for our intellect, projects to keep our hands busy, and moreover beautiful, aspirational things to inspire our hearts.”

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KNIT-ALONG CAMP

So, what is a knit-along Camp? 

Starting on 1st November we’ll be knitting the lovely Sea Urchin Hat published in Issue 3 of Tend Magazine.  As well as sharing our knitting progress, we’ll be embracing the new season through recipes, tutorials and crafts. Do you also sew? Are you reading a fabulous book? Do you need recipe inspiration? Then join us as we get into the Autumn spirit…

The details…

when: 1st – 30th November 2014

who: TEND magazine & Meadow Yarn hosting

where: a private facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/TendMeadowYarn/

including: a weekly PDF for all members to print off and keep, videos of stitches to learn, discount codes for yarn and notions, recipes and sewing tutorials, fabric giveaway, Nikki McClure box giveaway, yarn giveaway, book giveaway, things to do and make, a place to meet and chat, a chance to learn new skills.

what you need to do to join in: go to the facebook page and ask to join. On the 1st Nov a PDF will be posted to the group file section which only members can access, and you will read through and work from there, joining in with the group as and when you feel able.

Young farmers…

The boys have varied ideas on the subject of ‘what they’ll be when they grow up’ ranging from ‘computer game designer’, through ‘zoo keeper’ via ‘wildlife photographer’ and ‘lego designer (this one being particularly high up the list!) but the smallest boy has pretty much always wanted to be a farmer… Regularly heard starting sentences with ‘When I’ve got my farm..’ he has a clear mental image that involves pigs, horses, hens and lots of fields of wheat and barley that he will harvest ‘the old fashioned way’ (we’ve watched a lot of ‘living history’ programmes in the last couple of years ;-) ) The rest of us will, incidentally, be allowed to ‘help’ him on his farm and also to buy his flour and bread (free labour and a ready market, a savvy farmer no less!!)

So, when we get the chance a couple of times a year to join up with other ‘home-edders’ and visit a local organic arable and livestock farm we very much enjoy ourselves…

This week was all about their recent wheat harvest. We looked at the grain being stored ready for sale, we learned about the different varieties, old and new and about the things that need to be considered when farming organically versus conventionally. We learned it’s a tricky business and after a very wet Winter & Spring, as we had this year, we wondered how on earth farmers survive! We walked the field and found some stray stems. Being an old variety it is long stemmed and the ‘straw’ can be used for thatching.

Apologies for the awful photos, I travel light with my ancient iPod ;-)

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farm4 farm3 farm2We checked temperature (no more than 15 degrees is ideal), we tested the moisture content (again, 15 is the magic number), we hunted through samples for common weed seeds (dock and thistle are common) and evidence of insect damage (none thankfully!) and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The icing on the cake was getting to bring away some grain from this year’s harvest – and as it’s the perfect time to sow Winter Wheat we now have our very own ‘field’ of Wheat for our own little farmer to cultivate… if we’re lucky we might have enough for a loaf of bread. How wonderful!

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Plump! {Flump…}

I received this beautiful sample skein of yarn from Sarah at Babylonglegs with our last delivery…

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It’s ‘Mesmerino’ which is a DK weight superwash merino that is absolutely *divine*! I carried it around with me for a few days while I decided how exactly to ‘test’ knit it (well, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it!!) and came to the conclusion that it was begging to be transformed into a snug, warm hat for Autumnal walks across the marsh with leaden skies the perfect backdrop to compliment its amazing ‘shades of grey’. For that is the name of this delightful shade – the photo above is a bit ‘blue’ having been taken with my ancient iPod camera!

I settled on ‘Plump’. A pattern from the new Amirisu collection that I stumbled across being ‘favourited’ all over Ravelry. A garter stitch fabric with an interesting construction and a quirky shape, it seemed like the perfect match for my squishy skein of grey… so I cast on.

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And ta-da! Just four days later it’s ‘finished’ …

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With just a little yarn to spare! And as I hoped, showing off this yarn to its full potential. The garter stitch allowing the amazing tonal variation to sing out with every little ridge & bump…

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Now… you’ll notice that I haven’t got as far as breaking the yarn and weaving in the ends…

This, my friends, is because as I neared completion I started to sense that this might be quite a large hat. Now, I have quite a large head, hats are often too small, or at least pretty snug so I didn’t worry too much. As the pattern provided for two sizes – Small-Medium and Medium-Large – I had carefully measured my head before casting on to confirm, as suspected, that I do indeed have a large head and would need to knit the Medium-Large hat to accommodate my 22″ head circumference – and only just at that!

When I began to suspect that the hat was a big’un, I measured my tension. “What?” I hear you cry, you didn’t knit a swatch before you started? Well, no, I didn’t. I figured that it would take almost as long to knit a gauge swatch as it would to knit the hat so I just plunged straight in. I can hear the tutting and “told you so’s” from here but, my readers, hold your tongues….

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My gauge is absolutely spot-on! More spot-on than I think it has ever been before! Both stitch and row gauge are identical to those specified in the pattern notes. So it should fit perfectly yes? Actually, it should be a little on the snug side as my head is technically right at the top end of the size range for the M/L hat…

(I even remeasured my head and it really is that big!)

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Well, all will be be well then surely…

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Look, it’s perfect! Aside from those pesky holes that I should have closed by picking up the wraps from my ‘w&ts’… the pattern didn’t specify and I chose to follow blindly rather than trust my knitter’s intuition!

plump4 Oh well… not to worry. I can pick up the wraps and close those pesky holes when I re-knit the hat…

For it is indeed much, much too big ;-) As I walk it slides slowly down my (big) forehead and sits snuggly over my eyes…
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I’m not sure quite why it is too big. The gauge is right, the finished hat does measure up to the schematic in the pattern notes and my head really is big. It’s a mystery…

Anyway, while pondering the mystery I’ve already turned the ‘finished’ hat back into a ball of yarn…

ballI will re-knit it. In fact, I’ll be casting on again this evening because I think it’s a great hat. I’ll be knitting the Small-Medium size, possibly using a smaller needle size as well. Because, although my gauge was ‘perfect’ it was unwashed/steamed and as this is superwash wool I would expect it to grow when washed.

Will I knit and wash a gauge swatch before trying again? Probably not…

I should also add that I’ve completely fallen in love with the yarn which is amazing to knit with and creates a fabulous fabric. I’ll be placing a big wholesale order forthwith and plan to squirrel away at least one sweaters-worth for myself ;-)

ps. the ‘Flump’ referred to in the title is indeed a reference to the kid’s TV show that readers-of-a-certain-age will surely remember fondly. I called to mind one of these little fluffy hat-wearing creatures as my ‘Plump’ slid slowly down over my eyes. I’m pretty sure ‘Pootle’ had a hat that did the same in an episode I last saw in 1977 ;-)

The perfect antidote…

As the evenings draw in (it was *dark* at 7:40 here yesterday evening!!) and the mornings start misty and cool I always mourn the passing of another summer. As a ‘yarn peddler’ I have an internal emotional tussle each year as Autumn envelops us, for I am truly a ‘summer soul’… Sandals, blue skies, elderflower cordial, skin warmed by the sun, Swallows & Swifts, paddling in the sea… these are the things that make me truly happy (and knitting of course ;-) ). So, as the inevitable passing of my favourite season becomes more and more apparent I need to look to the little things that remind that Autumn is a wonderful season too…

Of course, I need look no further than my needles. And Autumn is surely the season of the shawl… time to air the myriad that have been carefully stored away for many months, time to be grateful for the cosy warmth as the first cup of tea is still sipped outside whenever possible, time to sit knitting in the evening relishing the additional comfort of some fine gauge shoulder apparel…

And, of course, time to knit some more!

This is the gorgeous Pebble Beach Shawlette

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Designed by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade, it was the winner of the Unwind Brighton Design Competition back in June and I bookmarked it straight away, knowing that it was destined to hit my needles as soon as it was on general release…

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By a serendipitous coincidence, just as the pattern became available we had a surprise delivery (also resulting from the Unwind show in Brighton) of Sweet Georgia ‘Tough Love’ Sock yarn and so pattern and yarn became intrinsically linked in my mind and I had no choice but to cast on the first shawl of the ‘season’ in this lovely yarn…

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The yarn is a ‘proper’ sock blend of Superwash Merino (80%) and Nylon (20%) and is hand dyed in a range of layered tonal ‘jewel’ shades that would, of course, make jaw-droppingly beautiful socks but are also absolutely made for shawls, scarves and lightweight sweaters…

DSCF4356I chose ‘Slate’. Imagine wet slate on a Welsh hillside, glimmering with subtle mauves among the charcoal greys and you won’t be far off. This is a wonderfully complex shade that will coordinate with all manner of cardigans, jackets and eventually coats as we head further into ‘knitting season’…

The pattern was a dream to knit. My favourite combination of simple repetition and interesting construction (it starts with a few stitches cast on and knits out from the centre top…) it positively flew off the needles. Go on, knit yourself one and join me in celebrating the arrival of Autumn with a new shawl…

All the details of my knit are here on Ravelry.

Purple Patch… Part 2!

We found ourselves taking a stroll (with puppy!) around Westleton Heath last Sunday. Having dropped the oldest boy at an RSPB wildlife club at nearby Minsmere we took the opportunity to introduce Miss Monty to one of our favourite walks…

It was all quite purple!

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Armed only with my ancient iPod as a camera I still couldn’t resist trying to capture the spirit of the heathland…

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So, apologies for the quality but hopefully you get the gist!

The boys romped off with the puppy (who was moving too quickly to grab any useable photos!)

And we found a handy ‘tree chair’ to take a break…

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He’s up quite high…

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Monty found lots of friends to frolic with (her preference seems to be a big Retreiver or Labrador to have a splash around in a muddy puddle with and she was in luck!) and a friendly postman in his little red van waited patiently while we corralled excited puppy and even shared with us that he was en route to an old hunting lodge buried deep in the forest and the track we were walking on was the remains of a Roman Road that led to the (then bustling) port of Dunwich. Our walks are always full of interesting people and places!

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We saw some wonderful fungi, including this perfect Fly Agaric, as yet unblemished… a sure sign that Autumn is almost here!

Miss Monty ended up looking pretty much like this – it would appear Springers quite like muddy water…

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No… you can’t come into the house!

Ah, the benefits of a ‘stable’ door into the kitchen!

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Purple patch…

I don’t ‘do’ purple…

Never have…

It’s just not me…

Except, I recently found myself wearing purple plimsolls… and fondling skeins of Madelinetosh Vintage in ‘Briar’

So maybe I do ‘do’ purple after all. I think it might be the fading ‘red’ hair that has brought me round to a shade I always avoided in my youth? Yes, that hair was once a rather lovely shade of Auburn believe it or not! (maybe I’ll have to dig out some childhood pics to prove it – even Chris doesn’t quite believe me as when we met it was bleached white blonde and it never really got back to its natural shade before the ageing process kicked in and I started heading rapidly towards natural ‘white blonde’!!)

Meet Lady Marple

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It definitely felt Autumnal at 7am this morning and the leaves of the Liquidambar (Sweet Gum) tree outside our back door are ‘on the turn’ already. A soft mist hung over the marsh and as Miss Monty and I did a circuit to make sure all was well with the world I was glad I’d picked up my new cardigan in the rush to get the very excitable puppy out of the door (before the excitement resulted in a puddle on the floor… oh puppy, you are delightful but I could live without the puddles on the floor!)

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It’s a pattern from Nadia Crétin-Léchenne – available to download via Ravelry as a PDF – and utilises the same lace pattern that I used when I knit my sister a cardigan a year or so ago. I’ve always had visions of recreating her cardi for myself but I’m not one to knit things more than once so hadn’t quite got around to it. This was the perfect solution. Knit in a heavier (than last time) worsted weight yarn it was super quick and therefore also super satisfying to knit. I think it will be the Autumn staple… especially as the trees around us do their magic and we slowly see our world turn shades of purple…

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And yes, I do still need a haircut and no, I hadn’t ironed my linen shirt… life is far too short!

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 It’s also perfect for contemplating the endless breakfast possibilities with a hungry 8 year old ;-)

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All the details of my knit are here on Ravelry.