Inspiring tradition…

Back towards the end of last year we took delivery of a new yarn that had travelled all the way from the Faroe Islands…


Surely one of the most remote groups of islands in our oceans, the Faroes are situated roughly half way between Shetland and Iceland. That’s remote! As well as some pretty hardy people, the islands are also home to *lots* of sheep… and being situated where they are, they’re pretty remarkable sheep that produce pretty remarkable fleece! Navia Tradition is inspired by the heritage yarns used to knit traditional fisherman’s jumper and Ganseys but has been updated to make it harder-wearing yet softer to the touch. Blended with Shetland and English lambswool, it immediately inspired me to make something that would showcase its special qualities…


A simple slip-stitch cowl using two shades of yarn and available as a free download via Ravelry, the Two Tone Cowl pattern by Annie Claire, was a really quick knit! Just as well, as the weather has been pretty wintery ever since I finished this just after the new year!


I chose the dark bottle green and the natural ‘white’ to compliment my favourite tweed coat and I’ve worn it almost constantly…

The yarn blooms and softens beautifully when washed gently in cool water and it is super warm! Although first appearances might lead you to believe that this is a worsted or aran weight yarn, it knits to a bulky gauge beautifully for warm yet light garments – or you can knit at a tighter gauge (as I did here) to create a dense fabric that keeps every last whistle of the chilly East Anglian wind at bay…


Perfect for long, cold walks with the pooch… and I’m now inspired to cast on a sweater that I think will be the perfect gardening/dog walking top layer for what is sure to be a changeable spring around these parts!

I’ll make sure to keep you ‘in the loop’ ;-)

You can see the full pattern/yarn details here on my Ravelry project page.

Warming up!

My hands… not the weather!

It’s still pretty chilly here in East Anglia and while we haven’t had the volume of snow that more Northerly parts have experienced over the last few weeks there is a fierce wind blowing and Spring still feels a way off (despite what the Crocuses and Daffodils might be trying to tell us!)

Contemplating a new delivery of completely luscious Cadence Worsted yarn from Hazel Knits a couple of weeks ago I became conscious of just how chilly my hands were and I knew just the thing to test the knitterly qualities of this Superwash Merino new-to-us yarn… Mitts!


When a new delivery of gorgeous hand-dyed yarn is calling to me,  it’s easy to locate the perfect sweater pattern only to calculate that the cost of the number of skeins needed could feed our family of 5 for a week! Even a yarn store owner has to rein in the yarn budget sometimes and a warm, squishy pair of mittens (that could probably be knit in a weekend) seemed like the perfect solution to my heart’s (and hand’s) desire!


Cruiser is a free pattern available to download via Ravelry and the simple cable pattern added interest without the need for huge concentration levels. I pottered around the house, attending to needs, throwing meals together, fitting in the odd chore here and there and still managed to complete these in just one weekend – even allowing for some significant ‘unknitting’ when I realised one of my cable chevrons was askew!


The shade is Lichen – which delivers a shot of colour perfect for mittens (and maybe not quite my shade for a whole sweater, which is another advantage of smaller projects I always think?) Perfect! Toasty hands in a flash…


Now, Spring, if you wouldn’t mind hurrying up please… we’d frankly all appreciate a little bit of warm sunshine sometime soon…

Full details on Ravelry – here

Maiden voyage…

Earlier this year we hatched a plan with our best buddies to build something quite special…

Plans were purchased, workshop space cleared, materials acquired, tools readied and then Chris and Jason started building their first… canoe!

It was one of those slightly hare-brained ‘what-if’ discussions over a pot of tea, sitting in the wonderful late Spring sunshine that actually, amazingly came to fruition (because how many of those crazy “well, we could build one” type conversations really do end up happening?!?)

Made from Birch Ply using a technique called ‘stitch and tape’ gradually, over the last 3 or 4 months a canoe has manifested itself in the workshop. Working steadily through the plans, with very few false starts or mishaps a beautiful vessel has been created… and last weekend saw our two families take it for its maiden voyage.

Not quite in the water yet…


The excitement is building as the canoe gets wet for the first time (and none of us have yet ;-) ) Chris and 6 very excited children who all want to go first…


But of course, it’s the two master boat builders who have the pleasure of paddling off for the very first time… Can you hear the cheers?


It floats!


And back in one piece…


Ready for us all to take turns to climb aboard and test her out…


It was a gorgeous warm afternoon and we spent a couple of hours paddling up and down a beautiful stretch of the River Waveney getting to grips with the logistics of an 18ft canoe, six children and a couple of dogs!!


No mishaps, no wet kids (so far!) and a perfectly stable, sound vessel that will surely be the base for many glorious weekends exploring the waterways of East Anglia (and further afield??)


The final voyage… all 6 kids and Chris with his work cut-out attempting to helm ;-)

9Perfect! Such a great way to see even more of the wonderful countryside we are surrounded by… slow paced, everyone can join in and incredibly peaceful (when the children aren’t squabbling over paddles ;-) )

Now they need to build canoe number two… so we’ve a canoe per family and we can venture off together into the unknown!

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!



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…


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


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


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.”



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

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 ;-)





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!



Plump! {Flump…}

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


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.


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


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…


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….

measure3 measure2

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!)


Well, all will be be well then surely…


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…

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 ;-)