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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: , , , .

Wonderwool Wales Tales

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I was at Wonderwool Wales on Sunday, and it was such a treat! Living in the Welsh countryside I’m surrounded by sheep, but I have yet to find a yarn shop close by that stocks anything inspiring. I spend ages looking at yarn (longingly) online, but to actually be able to see and TOUCH it all was simply overwhelming. Seeing all the Ravelry badges, the smiling faces, and finally meeting some of the lovely people I follow on the internet was also very exciting, and I even spotted Sasha Kagan holding a workshop! I’d love to share my small purchases, but most of them are intended as gifts, and I must be a little secretive. I did get some Faery Lace from Fyberspates though, which is all my own.

my first handspun!

I have known for a long time that if I ever tried spinning, I would be hooked, and I really didn’t want anything else taking away from my knitting time (and fund!). Well, all such prudence vanished from my mind when I spotted a lovely spinning starter kit at the Blueberry Angoras stand. Angora! Having grown up in Ankara, I decided it was fate that I should start spinning with angora mohair. I could hardly wait to get home to try it out, but on sunday evening the only winding I managed was to wind myself up. I could spin about 2 inches of yarn which just grew kinkier and kinkier. But knitting hasn’t taught me anything if it hasn’t taught me patience, so I calmly put the spindle aside.

I spun all night, metre after metre flying through my dreams. On Monday I watched all the Youtube videos on the subject again, and realised my problem was with the elusive term, ‘drafting’. Spinners throw this word out with much abandon, but it took me a while to understand it, and even now I’m not sure I’ve fully grokked it. I do know that I was trying to spin a thin yarn with way too much fiber though, and separating the roving out into thinner strips helped a lot. I still do a lot of stopping and frantic drafting, but I managed a vaguely consistent yarn. It’s magic watching the spindle spin and spin and spin, the twist shoot like electric up the fiber, and the way the spinning thread will pull everything (fiber, hair) into it, like a small tornado. Having spun all my fiber I tried to ‘set the twist’, but the twist has no intention of settling just yet. The yarn writhes with energy, too full of my novice over-enthusiasm, and its own life. The angora is gorgeous, so soft and nice-smelling, and I would love to travel over every inch of yarn again with my knitting needles, but I think perhaps my first handspun is fated for a small hank, to mark the beginning of another journey.

Participating in Fiber Arts Friday.

28th April, 2009  // Life, Spinning, Yarn // tags: , , , .
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