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heather here

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The heather in the woods here (northern Aegean) makes me miss Rowan Tweed.

17th November, 2010  // Photographs // tags: , , .

Pen & Penelope

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Every morning for the last four five weeks I’ve woken up with the best intentions. I would write a blog post. A blog post of such searing erudition and delight that every knitter who read it would never more see knitting in the same way. A blog post of such hilarity that there would be knitters everywhere giggling at the most inopportune moments of daily work, causing chaos in traffic and disrupting important meetings. Every day I’ve been blindsided by trivialities such as driving lessons, dentist appointments, gardening, a trip to the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, several inspirational TED Talks, guitar playing, the snooker, bright shiny objects, impromptu cinema visits, too many good books, etc, etc. Which only compounds my belief that it’s the small, insidious, day-to-day things that you need to watch out for, and be on your guard against. And now here I am, writing this rather humble, vaguely uninteresting post… But thank you to all you lovely readers who wrote to inquire after my absence; it was entirely unintentional!

Penelope & the Suitors by John William Waterhouse

When I haven’t been very blatantly procrastinating, I’ve been a bit like Penelope (excepting the suitors, oh and the weaving), knitting by day and undoing it all by night. I’ve been pretty patient about it though, and I presumptuously attribute this to the fact that I am now no longer a “beginner”. Ripping out huge chunks of knitting, or knitting an enormous swatch just because you don’t feel like stopping – these are not actions that non-knitters or “persons who knit”, seem to understand. They stare at me in horror when I tell them it’s all got to go. All that lovely work! So I’ve taken to ripping alone and unseen, because I’m a little bored with explaining… “No really, it’s OK. It’ll save me work in the future. Besides, this is one of the best things about knitting!” I secretly suspect that Penelope loved the process of weaving as much as she loved Odysseus, or why would she hit on such a solution?

As to why my knitting wasn’t working out… It was really amazingly simple, when I stopped trying to do it the wrong way. Fortunately, Rowan Scottish Tweed is a hardy yarn that doesn’t mind a good deal of frogging and re-knitting. It’s also very rustic & well-suited to keeping warm in the country. I’m testing it right now. :)

country knitting

country knitting

country knitting

I took some shots today and the pattern should be up soon. It will be a perfect present for gentlemen (or ladies) for whom you can’t easily find gifts. If you can guess what it is, you can get a free copy! ;)

November is a busy month. There’s National Novel Writing Month, for a start. Writing a 50,000 word novel in a month is a feat I’ve accomplished twice before. It’s utterly mad, and utterly fun; you must join if only to receive the pep talks from Chris Baty & other famous authors. And if you do, don’t forget to add me as your writing buddy! Also in November is the illustrious WoollyWormhead’s Mystery Beret. How exciting! I think these two challenges will complement each other perfectly, and help me forget about the increasing gloom of winter…

28th October, 2009  // Life, Writing // tags: , , , .

Knitters Were Here

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I was very excited to find a battered copy of Rowan Magazine 4 (copyright 1988) for £1 in Aberystwyth yesterday. It’s a great issue with beautiful photography and many amazing patterns by famous Rowan designers (Kaffe Fassett, Kim Hargreaves, Sarah Dallas, Erika Knight, Annabel Fox). It’s the earliest Rowan magazine I’ve seen (I was only 4 when this issue was published) and I was amazed by the high quality Rowan have always maintained. The photographs of the issue are made to look aged, and the styling is rural and classic. Here are a couple of spreads:
rowan magazine 4 rowan magazine 4

My favourite patterns are a lacy cardigan by Kim Hargreaves, with ribbing to pull in the waist, and a long cardigan by Annabel Fox, with lacy pockets. Both are far from the usual silhouette associated with most 80s/90s wear.
Lace cardigan by Kim Hargreaves Long silkstones cardigan by Annabel Fox

There seem to be more children’s patterns than there are these days. I don’t think children’s fashions change much. I especially love the matching adult & children clothes. My Mum used to make me clothes that matched hers and I think it’s so sweet.
Duffle coat by Kim Hargreaves Child's aran sweater by Annabel Fox

But my favourite thing about this magazine? The notes of the previous owner. There are margins full of her tallies, and her marks on the chart for the Duffle coat suggest that she knit an adult version as well as one for a child. Perhaps for herself and her son or daughter, or maybe her grandchild?
marked up
She was clearly a local, as she’s underlined the shop in Machynlleth, and even added an address in for Shrewsbury on the ‘stockists’ page. I’m from Shrewsbury so I loved seeing this. I believe there is still a needlework shop on Wyle Cop, I might look it up next time I’m in town. Aber, Mach & Shrew are all on the same railway line, so these would have been the most convenient places for her to buy yarn.
rowan stockists

It’s wonderful to find these little clues to the life of another knitter, and this copy is worth so much more to me than a pristine copy. Have you ever found little clues like these? Are you a proponent of notes in margins? Tell me.

1st May, 2009  // Life // tags: , , , .
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