Saturday, 24 September 2011


Cassidy is finished!!!

I was inspired by my knitterly friend, Mo, who has knit 3 Cassidys including one she modified to fit her daughter. It won first place at our local fair in the children's cardigan category last June.
Photo by M. Foulds
I used Cascade 220 yarn, colourway 9336.

Cassidy is a hoodie but I chose, instead, to knit a collar rather than a hood. It took me a couple of hours yesterday afternoon to design the collar. I looked at the different versions people had done on Ravelry and chose to use the elements of the existing pattern. I picked up the stitches around the collar from the right side and then turned and began knitting the right side of the collar continuing from the wrong side of the cardigan. That way, when the collar was folded to the outside its right side would show.
The waist shaping is built into the pattern through a series of decreases and increases and was easy to match when doing the fronts.
I knit a couple of extra inches of length and knit the sleeves in the round to avoid having to seam them.

I reinforced the stitches on the back of the neck by crocheting firmly along the seam line with a slightly smaller hook than the knitting needle I used. That prevents the neck and collar from stretching laterally and along with the shoulder seams adds to the structure of the top of the sweater.
There really are only three cable patterns. the 2 smaller ones are over 4 rows and involve only 3 sts. The 'antler' cable is over 11 sts (5 on each side of a central stitch) and 6 rows.

When picking up stitches for the button bands and collar, I used the same size needle and picked up 3 sts and then skipped the 4th.

The pattern doesn't give much direction about how to do the buttonholes. I knew I wanted buttons that were approximately 1" wide so I did a double yarnover where I wanted the button hole and on the next row, just knit one stitch into it. After the fact, I found 25mm buttons that fit nicely through the buttonhole that also matched the yarn colour pretty well.
In keeping with my 'sweater-a-year' goal. This is my 2011 sweater.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

We Now Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Blogging

Since returning home from the UK knitting tour, I've been recovering from the frenetic pace we maintained and the jet lag. The first few nights, I went to bed early and would wake up at 4:30am. A couple of times I powered up my computer to find that Marion was also up at that time of the morning. Then, my sore throat started and a full-blown cold was underway. I'm mostly recovered now except for the lingering chest congestion which will likely go on for another week or so.

I haven't been doing a lot of knitting. I've been having trouble finding new projects to start. I either have the pattern in mind but not the yarn on hand, or some lovely yarn to knit with and not a pattern in mind.

I started Mizzle using some autumnal coloured Socks That Rocks yarn and on about row 56 of 100. My knitterly friend, Jennifer had knit a beautiful Mizzle using Malabrigo sock yarn and it fit the criteria I wanted: lacey, semi-sircular, appropriate for social knitting.

Here are a couple of pics of my Chrysanthemum mittens that I finished on the tour.

And in the spirit of tackling some UFOs, I blocked my Cassidy this evening in hopes that I'll get it assembled and the collar and button bands knit and the buttons selected and attached before the end of the weekend.

Only one front? I blocked the other one last January before leaving for FL. It's ready to go.  I liked how easy the waist shaping was to do. I ran the blocking wires down ribbing at the armholes and then pinned out the sides from there.

Cassidy is a great cabled cardigan to knit and would make a good first cabled project. The two cable patterns are 4 and 6 rows respectively - multiples of 12. To keep things straight, I graphed the 12-row pattern of the fronts and the back and knit from them. It made things very easy and after a short while, I was able to knit the pattern without even having to look at the graph. Once the patterns get established, one's eyes get used to the 'look' of the cables. The knitting of this sweater went very quickly. Time to get it finished up!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Days 11 & 12 - September 9 & 10, 2011

London and home

This morning Marion and I opted out of the group’s bus tour of London as we’d both been there before and the tour wasn’t going to allow for going into any of the attractions. Instead, we headed out on our own to explore Knightsbridge at a more leisurely pace. Our goal was to spend the day at the Victoria and Albert Museum a few blocks away and return to the hotel by way of Harrods. We were ready to go by about 8:30 but the V & A wasn’t going to open ‘til 10am so we took our time strolling along Sloane St. (the 5th Avenue/Rodeo Dr./Via Veneto of London) and Brompton Rd. Many stores had very artsy displays and many of the displays were celebrating Wool Week which was running from September 5 - 11.
We then happened upon a McDonalds and went upstairs to use their free wifi for the first time in a couple of days. We spent about a half an hour there Skyping and catching up on email. Then we made the final push towards the V & A, where we arrived just before opening time. The national museums are free in England, but they do charge a fee for major exhibits and for hosting large social events (charity benefits, weddings, etc.).

We were disappointed to learn the Textile and Costume areas of the museum were closed but there was a very interesting exhibit - “The Power of Making” . From the website: “The exhibition will showcase works made using a diverse range of skills and explore how materials can be used in imaginative and spectacular ways, whether for medical innovation, entertainment, social networking or artistic endeavour.”

And, “Power of Making comes at a time when the loss of skill is threatening cultural practice and impacting on commercial industries. However, there is also a resurgence of making currently taking place as a means of self expression, social participation and cultural definition. The exhibition will examine and celebrate the expertise, knowledge and innovation demonstrated in objects, supporting the importance of traditional making skills and the drive towards new ways of working. “ Being a knitter, it was fascinating to see how other things were made in unconventional ways or using unconventional materials, for example, a huge gorilla made from thousands of white-painted wire coat-hangers, or the ‘fur’ of a lifesized bear completely made by crocheting.
Crochetdermy Bear
There were several videos on three screens showing how some of the exhibition items had been made and at the end of the room there were about an hour’s worth of one-minute videos that had been submitted by people from all over the world highlighting their handcrafted item. We ate our lunch in a grand, round, high-ceilinged room with stained glass windows.

The images and text on the windows celebrated food. 
After lunch we explored various areas of the museum on our own. I chose the miniature portrait section, the technology section and ended up in the gift shop. I also found an exhibit of a collection of mosaics.
It measures approx. 40" x 16".
This is the tablet on the bottom left. You can see the mosaic tiles that make up the picture.
And this is another closeup of the detail of the dome of the Vatican.
I'm not surprised it took Testa 20 years to complete.

I took a few pictures of various tiles and panels. The green and white V&A tiles at the top were on the walls in the ladies room.

We stopped in at Harrods on the way back, pretty much just to see the displays in the grocery and food area.

This was the ceiling of one of the market areas.

This case full of candy and truffles was very enticing. Until I looked at the price.
That's £70 per kilogram. Doesn't that seem a little steep?
I guess Freddie is the Harrods mascot bear. He has his new Christmas sweater on.

This was one of the designer shops. No expense had been spared on the décor of the Egyptian-themed room.

We got back to the hotel in time for a wee nap before an early dinner at The Palm Restaurant so we could make the 7:30pm show of "Billy Elliot" at the Victoria Palace Theatre. It was my second time seeing the show but I enjoyed it as much as the first time. 'Billy' was amazing.

The next day we got to sleep in as we didn't have to leave for the airport 'til 10:30am. We got through the check in just at our luggage weight limit. Whew! We boarded and took off pretty much on schedule and landed in Toronto about 20 min. early. 

By the time I was heading to bed, it was about 3am GMT.  My wonderful knitting tour was over.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Day 10 - Thursday, September 8, 2011

Harrogate to London

My BFF (Best Fibre Friend), Marion, is very artistic. Her way to remember our trip has been to sketch and paint scenes. She carried a little sketch book and watercolour paint case and a jar of water with her. When we weren't bumping around on the bus she'd be sketching some of the lovely vistas. After breakfast this morning we had some time to kill. Here's Marion painting one of her sketches.
We got an 8am start on the road to London. Our first stop was at Chatsworth to tour the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
They live there but allow a large portion of the estate to be viewed by tourists. The admission cost generates income for the maintenance and upkeep of the manor. In the 70s, the inheritance tax law changed and in order for the Duke at the time to keep his residence, he had to sell many of his treasures to pay the government. The current Duke and his successors were avid collectors.

Fortunately they were able to hang on to this Rembrandt painting.
I loved the mosaic floors
and grand staircases.

On the ceiling of one of the grand halls was an extensive painting. I noticed one part of it had an angel? using a niddy noddy to wind the yarn from her spindle. The angel on the right is holding a distaff with flax or linen fibre on it. It looks like the figure dressed in grey is trying to cut the yarn.
Dukes and Duchesses like to collect things. This showcase had lots of interesting artifacts in it including what are believed to be King Henry VIII's rosary beads. (bottom shelf)
They rotate the items on display and the modern artwork on a regular basis.

This is the statue hall at Chatsworth. With many sculptures by Venetian sculptor, Antonio Canova.
These massive lions were stunning.

This photo was taken from one of the second floor windows.

We only had a quick tour and time to grab something for lunch. I had another Cornish pasty (pork and onion) and we piled back on the bus to continue our journey southward.

A couple of hours later we stopped Toft Farm in Dunchurch, a village where we saw several buildings with thatched roofs (now covered in chicken wire to keep the mice and birds from nesting) and one under construction/repair. At Toft Farm we watched a 10 min slide presentation on alpaca farming and had a short walking tour of the active farm. They have about 100 alpacas of all different colours. (alpaca photos courtesy of C. Brumpton)
Toft Farm Alpacas
Unfortunately, my camera ran out of power just as we were going outside to see the alpacas. They also had a lovely gift shop where beautifully processed alpaca yarn and other alpaca items were for sale. I bought 2 balls of laceweight alpaca yarn - about 560m in all. Before leaving, we had English cream tea.

We hit London during rush hour and it took quite a while to get to our hotel. We did a bit of driving around. Here's St. Martin in the Fields Church - a world renowned music tradition. I remember my first visit to London 30 years ago being surprised that St. Martin in the Fields wasn't in a field.
This is as close to the Millennium Wheel (ferris wheel over the top of the buildings) that we got.
We were first dropped off at the Strand for dinner
and afterwards,we were taken to the Millenium Hotel in Knightsbridge (on Sloane Street - woo woo!) to check in. Sloane Street is the Via Veneto, 5th Avenue or Rodeo Drive of London. Designer shops and high end stores galore (more about that in tomorrow's blog).

Marion and I scored one of the luxury penthouse suites. It only had one bed but after I went down to complain I was informed that it was indeed an upgrade to a luxury suite
and was told the sofa pulled out into a second bed. I sheepishly returned to our suite.
The bathroom was lined with marble.
Tomorrow we will explore Knightsbridge...

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Day 9 - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Holmfirth and Rowan Yarns

We headed off this morning in the rain(again) towards Holmfirth, the head office of Rowan Yarns. Inside their classroom, we were awestruck at all the beautiful yarns and projects on display.

We were offered tea and coffee upon our arrival and introduced to Marie Wallin, head designer.

She spoke to us for about an hour about what her job involves publishing the two magazines and many brochures for Rowan, deciding what the new yarns and colours should be and what yarns and colours should be discontinued to make room for the new yarns. Here are some boards that were created for previous publications.

She spoke about how she organizes the trips to Milan for Fashion Week and what is involved in doing the photo shoots for the publications including hiring the models, finding locations for the shoot and obtaining permission to do the shoot. It was interesting to learn that there is actually a website with available locations listed for rent. Marie also told us how much she enjoys teaching 2nd year students at Nottingham Trent University and had some samples of her students`work there for us to see.

She explained that in the past only a few students would arrive in her design class with knitting experience. This year, for the first time, every one of her students could knit. Some had been taught by their mothers or grandmothers but the majority of them had learned from friends or taught themselves from the Internet.

These two pillows were designed by Marie and the patterns are available for free (click on link below each photo). They're also pictured on the back cover of several current UK knitting magazines.

Union Jack Heart Large Grid Cushion
Union Jack Heart Cushion

After her talk, we were so impressed that someone so busy would take the time from her hectic day to even speak to us.

Around the room were samples from the current Magazine 50.

On the left is Peggy, designed by Marie and on the right is Elm by Martin Storey.
At each of our places was a kit with 3 natural colours of Rowan British Breeds DK and a booklet with the pattern and instructional material about doing intarsia.
Emma King outlined our task would be to knit the pocket from the Union Jack Shopper - the heart for beginners and the Union Jack for the more experienced knitters..

Emma King is the author of several pattern books including the three pictured below.
After lunch of salads and sandwiches, we were given 4mm knitting needles and got started on our projects. Here Cheryl and Diane were working dilligently.
Clockwise from the bottom right are: Laurie, Marian, MaryEllen, Terry and Dorothy.
Emma and Jemma Weston took us in smaller groups to show us their recommended way to pre-wind bobbins for the intarsia and how to start new colours. Here is my project underway with several bobbins attached.
Almost to the halfway point, the back is looking good.
We all happily knit all afternoon. We were again given coffee, tea and biscuits and left at about 3:30. I had finished about half of my project and fiinished the rest on the bus on the way home often humming 'Rule Britannia' whilst working.