Archive for August, 2008

Another picture-heavy post: I had the camera out so I figured I’d catch up on all the things that were piled up on the ‘things to photograph’ pile!

First up is some fibre which came my way last week on birthday day, this was from Hailey, hand-dyed from Pippi Knee Socks in a colourway which reminds me of Handmaiden’s Origin - it’s always been one of my favourites. Thank you Hailey!


Next was Alpaca from Mel (Yogicknitter). She found this for me at Bluefaced, lovely lovely soooooft alpaca in gorgeous caramel colour. The second picture is some more that Andy himself popped in for me - I love the variations in the colours!



Michelle arrived back from the US this week with a pile of dishcloth cotton, it has taken me a while to find the perfect pattern - I wanted one I could do over and over without getting bored, but withough needing the pattern forever either. I found this browsing Rav and immediately loved it! I can just about get through one without the instructions now.


Sweden also yielded some fibre and yarn, lopi-style yarn in a foresty green, and local batts, natural grey. I wanted more of the green actually, as I have something blanket-ish in mind, but that was all that was left. I might spin the grey to match and combine them somehow.



International post has done its job and I can now show you another August birthday knit:


Amanda and I were paired up in a birthday swap two years ago, and we’ve stayed great friends. Fibrey parcels fly back and forth around this time of year :-D This is the Branching Out scarf, made in handspun merino/tencel which Amanda sent me last year for my birthday. More details on the project page.

Finally, one quarter of a pair of socks. This is my current handbag knit, Shur’tagal from The Inside Loop. Designed by the Lovely Alice.


I’ve just started the heel, hopefully good progress will be made at the pub later today! Oceanwind Knits is now my new favourite sock yarn - although I’ll reserve final judgement until I see how it wears.

Coming tomorrow! A sneak preview of the next biggest thing. Here’s a little teaser to get you guessing…


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I’ve wanted to go to Sweden ever since I studied Swedish at uni, and was very excited to finally arrive in the country and have the chance to practise a bit of language (most of which of course, I’ve forgotten after 12 years). I have also studied Scandinavian history and a bit of Nordic textiles in the past and my interest was fired up.

Ostermalm waterfront

Modern central Stockholm though - it’s hard to put a finger on. It’s very clean, very neat and tidy, straight streets and shiny shops. The transport is efficient and everyone smiles and speaks perfect English. Somehow, it didn’t feel quite real. It was almost like when you see a movie about a city, or on a smaller scale, a reality show - where you know someone’s been around before you and tidied up and cleaned the toilets but left just enough clutter lying around so it looks kind of true-to-life, or when the real estate agents take photos and they warn you to remove 75% of your personal belongings before they come. I think I’m explaining badly, and don’t get me wrong, we had a great time. Maybe I’m just used to travelling to European cities and seeing a bit more disorder and debris. And the feeling of general order and tidiness is probably merely a positive reflection on how efficiently Sweden is run.

Nobel Museum

Stockholm’s gory mediaeval history provided us with plenty to do - we’re not really into walking around looking at paintings and sculpture, but show us a dungeon or an armoury and we’re right there. We wandered around the Royal Palace in the Gamla Stan (old town) for a day, visiting the ruined foundations of the original fortress and learning the rather gruesome history of Sweden’s rulers since the Viking era. The armoury, in a different part of the palace, displayed such illuminating articles as the shirt Gustav III (II?) was wearing when he was assassinated - complete with bullet hole and blood-stains. There were more suits of clothing, also complete with bullet holes, and the stuffed skin of the horse another king was riding when killed in battle (also complete with bullet hole in the neck). It was very cool!

Palace Guard

Also on the path of history, but this time more in my line than Neil’s, we spent a day at the Skansen open-air museum. Enclosed in a huge park, it consists of original buildings brought from all over Sweden. Farmers’ cottages, manors, mills, shops etc. There were loads of staff around dressed in costume and ready and willing to answer questions and demonstrate traditional crafts and discuss the history and displays. I want to include more detail about what I learned - so I’m saving it for another post.

Soldier's Cottage

On the same Island as Skansen is the Vasa Museet - a purpose built museum as big as a stadium housing the restored warship the Vasa, which sank on her maiden voyage in the 17th century. They finally found her and hoisted her up and after 40 years of restoration she’s on view. Apparantly, she was the inspiration for the ship in Pirates of the Caribbean. The Swedes still liking their gory displays, you can see the skeletons of the drowned sailors which they found with the ship. Preserved and documented with loads of information about their characteristics and possible features etc. If you’ve ever watched Bones, it was just like it - reconstruction of the facial features and bone tests to tell what the person’s diet consisted of etc. Very cool.


Apart from the museums, we wandered about and enjoyed brilliant weather. Sat in cafes, ate meatballs explored the winding little streets of the old town and its tourist shops. We bought kitchenware, ate smoked salmon and drank vodka. Prices were atrocious, Neil was paying £5.50 for each bottle of beer in one restaurant we went to, but quality of food and service were both excellent.


Yarn shops were plentiful, I bought some lopi-type yarn and some local carded batts, will take photos tomorrow. I saw mostly English yarns, like Louisa Harding, but there was also plenty of others: Jade Sapphire and some handpainted yarns in one shop, and some gorgeous Danish yarns. The ladies in the shops I visited did their best to answer my questions about sheep breeds and wool types etc, but I think I need to do some more reading to find out everything I wanted to know.

Wool Shop

I’d love to go back and study more history, and more textiles - definitely take a course here sometime, and generally just revel in Nordic-ness. It suits me rather!

Post boxes? No idea

We only had three days due to a latish flight on Saturday, but we managed to squeeze a fair bit in. There’s loads more pictures, plus commentary on our Flickr photostream.

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Women in the UK were given the right to divorce their husbands from 1857, members of the House of Lords aren’t allowed to stand for parliament unless they resign first, and the patron saint of Wales is David.

Today I’m sitting my ‘Life in the UK’ test - basically to prove that I’m ‘English’ enough to be allowed to stay when my visa expires in October. By the way, I did get stopped last night at passport control: “Ma’am. you are aware that your visa will expire in less than two months?” “Gulp, yes, I have my test tomorrow, I promise!” The passport guy actually probed a bit further, in a nice way though. I guess they get the ‘I’m doing it tomorrow’ answer a lot.

Having done a few practice tests online (*most* of which I passed) I have decided to devote a little time in the next few hours to studying (ugh!). I truly would like to avoid the possibility of failure, and the £34 repeat test fee, not to mention the scary horror of wondering whether I will get through all this in time to have my new visa stamped and in my hands by the time I need to leave for SOAR.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience - I know I have a bit to catch up on. Appearing here in the next few days (assuming I pass) will be: a parade of birthday goodies; a couple of blog awards I’ve achieved and need to pass on; photos and commentary from our weekend in Stockholm; recent spinning; and a more detailed post on what I learned at the flax mill we visited on Monday.

Until then, wish me luck - and send good test vibes!

ETA: I passed! Woo :-D Thank you all for the vibes/karma/prayers etc! I don’t know until my letter comes how many I got wrong, but one question was a blatant guess and there were about three I was unsure of. Other than that though - pretty easy. Big sigh of relief.

Btw, if you’re curious about the sorts of questions I got asked - you can take a practice test online here. I’d love to know what real Brits score!

Oh, and for people who are even more curious/bored/masochistic I found a similar test for Australian citizenship here. I scored 9/20 :-P

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The Inside Loop posted this morning with some fab Autumn patterns and articles.


Pop over and check it out!

 - - -

Thanks also to everyone who left birthday wishes yesterday. I had a great day, there were more cupcakes, and homemade muffins and squidgy parcels. I know there’s people who will want to see :-D so I’ll get busy with the camera later today.


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32 is a very cool age to be :-D (well, if you’re a geeky nerd that is). I checked this morning and still no wrinkles, Woo!

Kate wins the Best Bunny Award:


Mmmmm cherry cupcakes, from Nigella I think she said, and my huge cosy shawl.


From VLT, knitted in Drops alpaca. More details on Kate’s blog. I’m wrapped in it today in this most awesomest of summer weather. Thank you!!

I chose not to tempt the weather today, so I’m staying in to spin this:


Mmmmmmmmm luxury blended batts from Franquemont Fibers, a present from Ali :-) who is going to come round to keep me company, along with the other usual suspects.

If you can’t make it around today then have a beer for me :-D

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Thank you so much to everyone who took time to complete the survey. It was really interesting reading through all the data, particularly the comments from the last two questions. I was glad to see that a lot of the answers fitted with plans I already had for the site, but I also got some valuable suggestions and new ideas for direction.

You may have noticed that the home website has a new look, there’s still some parts to finish off but the templates (thanks to Grit and Michaela!) are in place and it’s navigable. If you want a peek, check it out at, but if you can wait - give me another day or so to get it looking really snazzy!

And of course, what you’ve all been wondering about - the prize draw! 43 people left a comment (although 65 completed the survey - 22 didn’t want yarn?) returned me a number, drumroll…


Comment number 35 was Elizabeth! Congratulations :-D You didn’t leave me your email address Elizabeth, so I hope you’re reading this and will get in touch.

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Yesterday’s class was great fun, and everyone was making actual yarn within half an hour! We moved on quickly from park-and-draft and the new spinners were able to ply their yarn and start their next spindle-full.



It is awesome to watch a person’s face as they learn a new skill and feel that fantastic sense of achievement when they see the limp fluff turn into something bouncy and knit-able. It makes me remember just why I became a teacher in the first place.



This beginner’s class is running again in September, and Alice and I have scheduled more classes for later in the year, including a Mohair special, just in time for fleeces to arrive from the kiddies on the farm. Pop over to Socktopus to book your spot now.


With thanks to Alice - chief photographer!

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The website is still bare bones, but I have now got the class schedule in place. There are still places in many of my September classes and I will be scheduling more for November after I get back from SOAR.

Click here for classes.

If you’re interested in a class or date not on the list - please email me, I’m sure we can work something out.


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For some reason, August always seems to be filled with birthdays. Family birthdays and yarny-friend birthdays often warrant some knitted goodness, especially in places where August happens to fall in the middle of winter.

These projects will be winging their way south tomorrow, almost certainly not in time to make it to the birthday pair on Monday, but still not too late I hope.




Project notes Pattern: Treenah, by Megan Marshall from Issue 1 of The Inside Loop. Crocheted from Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca silk, 3 skeins, 4mm hook. This was a great project - easy to follow charts and enough happening in the pattern to keep it interesting without being too hard. I think I shortened the pattern a bit maybe, I just kept going until I ran out of yarn. It’s plenty long enough though.



Project notes Pattern: Koolhaas, by Jared Flood from Interweave Knits Holiday Knits (but I bought it from Knitting Daily). Knitted from half a skein of Malabrigo Merino Worsted. I never measured my gauge and it was perhaps a bit loose with this yarn as the women’s size is plenty big enough for Neil. I love the attention to detail in the decreasing particularly - the crown spirals down to a perfect finish.

I have one or two more August gifts, but they are destined for people who hang around here - so there’ll be no pictures just yet ;-)

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Thanks so much to everyone who has answered the survey so far in yesterday’s post- it will be open until Sunday. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the draw! It’s been really interesting watching the stats and reading everyone’s answers - as I suspected, a lot of things coming up in the suggestions are things I have in mind already. So I’m on the right track. For those who asked about the spin-a-long, yes it will be back :) hopefully soon, and in a slightly different format.

The website is a bit of a mess at the moment I’m afraid, but the blog won’t be affected (except sidebar links may not work), and all the tutorial downloads etc. are still available. Patterns are all now on Ravelry.


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After eighteen months of faffing around and telling myself that ‘all new businesses take a while to get established’, I have taken the bull by the horns and started listening to that inner voice. What’s it saying? “Do it properly - this is a real business”.

So this is what’s been happening today:


And I need a little help from you guys out there! Please take a few moments to fill in the survey below. It’s anonymous, but leave me a comment to say you’ve done it and I’ll enter you in a draw for a yarny prize. Survey closes this Sunday evening UK time.

There’ll be a lot more new stuff going on around here - including a total overhaul of the website. All your input and constructive criticism will be much appreciated.


P.S. Pollen seems to be lying low for now - I slept flat last night Woo!

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