art, cats, craft, knitting, travel, Uncategorized

30 Day Knitting Challenge – Days 11-16

Unfortunately I had to go away with work unexpectedly for a few days and therefore have to catch up now on my 30 Day Knitting Challenge.

Day 11: Do you have a “Knitter Hero” or someone that is just way too awesome for their own good? Do share!

My knitty heroine is Lauren O’Farrell AKA Deadly Knitshade – a graffiti knitting artist with a fabulous sense of humour, she also loves cats, so what’s not to like!?

This is one of my many favourite pieces…  A Phone Box cosy from her book Knit the City.

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Day 12: Where do you keep your stash?

My stash is finding itself strewn across the house – it started off in my purpose-built Tardis cabinet but has now stretched across to the bottom of my dresser and to many different nooks and crannies downstairs.  It hasn’t yet trickled upstairs yet but I think it’s only a matter of time…

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Day 13: Do you have yarn that you love but can’t find a project for?

I love Noro yarn and bought this bargain-tastic lot recently – but not yet found a project for them all…

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Day 14: What’s the worst yarn/fiber that you’ve worked with and why?

When I started knitting and crocheting, i started with a lot of cheap acrylic double knitting yarn to practice – such as the one for this mobile phone cover which I made for my friend…  I rarely work with acrylic now.

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Day 15: What was your least favorite pattern and why?

I tried this Eyelet Scarf in Jarol Heritage 4ply, which I was never very happy with, but looking back it is not as bad as I thought…

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Day 16: Have you ever had a knitting related injury?

When I first started knitting, I found it very hard to wrap the yarn with my right hand, as I am naturally left-handed, however after a few teething pains it became bearable over time.

My worst injury was a series of small, odd-shaped bruises on my legs and shoulders, which I could not work out where I had got them from.

Eventually I worked out that I was using needles that were too long and was pushing them into my legs or shoulders to help move the yarn along sufficiently!  I soon moved onto better yarn and needles which resolved the issues.

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art, craft, crochet, garden, knitting, nature, photography, sewing, summer, travel, yarn

End of a Lovely Crafty Week

This week I’ve been off work – holidaying at home – with some lovely days down on the South Coast with Mum and Dad and then back home via a day-trip to London.

It’s been super-busy but then again the time has flown by – can’t quite believe I’m back to work on Monday…

The start of my week was with Mum – I wasn’t feeling great so we did a bit less shopping / visiting and a bit more crafting which was fine by me.  I started on a crochet shopping bag and Mum showed me these clever little pouches which hang on a door handle and can be filled with anything you don’t want to lose – i.e. keys, crochet hooks, cat biscuits, or whatever!

I then travelled back to Wiltshire and had a day trip to London (about 2 1/2 to 3 hours on the train) to see my cousin Cathy and visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.  As a keen amateur astronomer, I was desperate to see the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition – having meant to go every year for the last few years.  This view is from the steep climb up Greenwich Park to the Observatory.  In the distance is Canary Wharf and the edge of the City of London.

The rather unimportant-looking line below is the Greenwich Meridian – from which all time zones are measured here on planet Earth!  This is the home of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), although technically we are now on BST (British Summer Time) which is +1 hour and will revert to GMT in October for the winter months.

Greenwich is a lovely part of South London – very near where I used to live, but as often happens, I only visited it once in the 9 years I lived there!  There are lots of cafes and meeting places and the park was spectacular.  Nearby is also the National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark (the only surviving 19th century tea clipper) but we didn’t have the time or energy to visit this (it was a really warm day!)

Finally I was back to Wiltshire with some crafting and catching up with friends.  I went to Frome with my friend Anna and bought this cute bunny pencil sharpener (I won’t reveal where the hole for the pencil is!)  We had breakfast in the Garden Cafe and these gorgeous ferns appeared to be creeping up the wall as if to make their getaway…

I bought these glow-in-the-dark Toadstool lights for the garden in Worthing and can’t wait to try them out (the garden needs a bit of work first!)

I couldn’t get away without doing some yarn shopping – in Frome I happened to ‘pop in’ to Marmalade Yarns and buy these gorgeous fibres…  Firstly some Autumnal shades – Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply silk/merino mix in a shade called Burnt Orange but that I would describe as more of a conker / nutmeg mix – and secondly Skein Queen 4ply merino in Squash which is a slightly more red / orange – both delicious and perfect for a delicate shawl / wrap or scarf.

Finally, some Debbie Bliss Angel Prints laceweight in a blue/green/red/grey-brown mix – this is for Mum to make another gorgeous knitted scarf – we saw a technique at John Lewis in London last December – using a large and a small needle to produce a really beautiful finish – delicate but effective.

I bought myself some Angel Prints in December, but never got started on it.  Perhaps this weekend will be my time to get another knitting project on the go!

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The naughty Neapolitan Salvator Rosa

Ever since I was a wee nipper (well since I lived in London in my 20s) I have been rather intrigued by the Italian painter, poet and philosopher (can I have a ‘P’ please Bob?) Salvator Rosa.  I first met him – well, his oeuvre, since he’s been dead over 300 years – in the National Gallery with the brooding, enigmatic self-portrait Philosophy

 

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Always having been a big fan of the dark, passionate type, I find his enigmatically grumpy face quite alluring – especially teemed with the inscription which loosely translates as “be silent unless what you have to say is better than silence”.  How true, I tell myself!

So, having again visited him recently, why do I like Rosa?

  1. He was mega talented.
  2. In his time he was incredibly popular and famous, yet no-one knows who he is – don’t we all enjoy having something secret that we don’t share with anyone – oh bugger, you all know now…
  3. His life (and paintings) are dark, brooding, mysterious – I like!
  4. He eschewed dull biblical paintings – on the whole – in favour of bandits, creatures of the dark, mythology and witches.
  5. Rosa was a rebel and refused to conform to popularity, causing arguments and localised stomping off and slamming of doors etc.
  6. Amazingly he was also an accomplished poet, philosopher, actor and musician.
  7. He scares schoolchildren (see below!)

In my latest visit I vox-popped (oo-er) the public and the guard on duty told me that schoolchildren are either terrified of, or intrigued by probably his most famous painting – Witches at their Incantations

 

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This painting does really need to be seen in the flesh, as a rather lovely beardy Frenchman told me “très creepy” – well actually that’s not what he said – rather “dark, interesting and creepy”.  Just like me, I wanted to add whilst gently stroking his beard (but I didn’t).  He then proceeded to gesticulate (in a Marcel Marceau-style mime) what I could only describe back to him as “droopy witches boobs”.  How disappointing…

Some other hippy-dippy folk thought it was “a conversation piece” and “nice to see something dark and disturbing for a change” – other than The Levellers perhaps?

The Dutch chap I spoke to was tremendously knowledgeable about the use of light as a positive juxtaposition of the dark subject matter.  I just stared and nodded as if I understood him.  I didn’t feel able to share with him my favourite part of the painting, the hideous frog-like apparition in the bottom right hand corner, who bears more than a scary likeness to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.

 

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So if you are in Londinium pop into Room 32 of the National Gallery and have a look at these two paintings (not Steven Tyler though, but if he’s there see if he can spot the family resemblance).  At this time there are two other Rosa paintings there, so you will be spoilt for choice!

Happy art and crafting!

 

Lou

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Knitting and Stitching Show Madness!

Well, it’s a week since I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia in London.

My Mum was kind enough to come up with me and left me with a little present in the form of a nasty cold!

So I’ve been feeling a bit sorry for myself, what better way to cheer myself up other than having a gander at the lovely stash that I brought home with me!

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Olympia before, for the uninitiated, it’s an exhibition centre in Kensington, West London.  I love this old photo – much has changed in the area, but Olympia remains pretty much as it is here.

 

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I was a bit remiss in taking photos on the day – blame my yarn obsession for that!  As we arrived we only just had time to book into a needle-felting class which began immediately…  We were making a bee – mine wasn’t quite finished and a bit, erm, shall we call it ‘rustic’ so I haven’t taken a picture of it to post here!

As well as the expected suppliers and manufacturers, there were a few fun surprises.  The lovely people at Toft had brought their crochet jungle with them (sadly I didn’t get a picture!) full of monkeys crocheted by newcomers and experts alike – with funds and awareness-raising of Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital and Noah’s Ark Hospice.

Another fun thing was the Knitted Farm – some of the work was quite remarkable.

 

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This was a competition organised by the Show and the winners can be found here.

I was thrilled to see a stall there by Cats Protection – I worked for them for several years before I moved down to Wiltshire.  I also met up with an old friend who was manning the stall – she arrived just at the same time as I found the stall – what a happy coincidence!

So, onto the really fun bit – all of the wool / yarn…  I did go a bit mad, I had a budget and only slightly blew it!  But what I did get was such lovely and unique pieces and yarns which I have never seen before as well as some bargains…

Firstly my bargain yarns – I got four balls of Sirdar Escape DK as well as three balls each of King Cole Galaxy Chunky – all for £20 – bargaintastic!

 

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Next up is some beautiful yarn by the Japanese firm Noro – a gorgeous mixture of 45% Silk, 45% Kid Mohair and 10% Lambswool.  The overcast weather here in Wiltshire has dampened the colours of this – it is absolutely glorious.  The colourway is a mixture of blues, green, purple and yellows.  I’ve wanted to try Noro yarns for ages – I have a great respect for the craft skills of the Japanese people.  One day I hope to go to Nippori in Tokyo – my dream craft destination!

 

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This Debbie Bliss Winter Garden is a tweedy mix chunky yarn made from 30% Llama, 30% Merino Wool, 20% Silk and 20% Linen.  The colours are gorgeous – rich purple and a russety conker colour.  Makes me think more of Autumn than Winter!

 

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These next yarns are made from recycled Sari silk and are such beautiful, vibrant shades, unfortunately again my overcast weather doesn’t really show them at their best!  I’m looking forward to working out what I can do with these…

 

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Further rummaging was needed to find the next ones – by this point Mum had given up and gone home.  I couldn’t resist these from the Little Knitting Company – 80% Cotton and 20% Cashmere, they have the most lovely feel to them.

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Finally I went a little mad at the last knockings, buying (left) Debonnaire Silk/Lurex mix in jewel colours (regular readers will notice a pattern here!) from Ehdknits and last, but certainly not least, my most favourite stall was Watercolours & Lace – (right) – such wonderful hand-painted and dyed natural fibres.  I bought two and then went back for another one – I couldn’t resist!  I bought Cashmere Silk lace in the softest purples and blue-greens, a Baby Alpaca/Silk mix in soft rose pinks and at the back a Merino Fine Lace in gorgeous blue-purple, reminding me very much of Delphiniums.

This is such a beautiful shop, I heartily encourage you to seek them out at a Fair or even buy online.  I can’t think of a more gorgeous range of quality yarns.

 

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So that was the sum total of my first Knitting and Stitching show – lots of beautiful wools and yarns to be going on with.

When is the next one!?!

Happy crafting

 

Lou x

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