Monday, September 29, 2008

The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer (1873)

The weekend spent with good friends was fantastic we ate, drank and generally had fun (including dancing, don't ask!) until the wee small hours on Sunday morning. I was therefore, not really in the right frame of mind for knitting of any sort on Sunday.

I spent the day (after a lovely walk in the rain at the beach) spinning, it is such a long time since I have sat uninterrupted like that. I managed to spin about 400gm in 4 skeins, 2 each of the green and natural New Lanark. A few of my friends at Stitch n Bitch are thinking of taking up spinning so I have spoken to my tutor and friend Janet and hopefully we will be having a wee private lesson all together which will be wonderful. I want to build my confidence with the more slippy fibres like Wensleydale and Merino.

I have now finally finished Sparreholm, it just needs blocking and sewing. If I ever consider undertaking a twisted rib pattern with hood again, please take me aside and remind me of the torture this project has felt like! I haven't really dared to try it on properly yet, I'm so afraid I won't like it and I'll end up having to pass it on to my lovely middle daughter who looks beautiful in anything and everything she wears.

I think I may need to start in earnest on Tropicana with my Kraemer Sterling Tuxedo. It may be a project that I fall out of love with before I even really get going, I have found errata in the pattern in the first few rows (not listed on the source website) and that always rings alarm bells! I hate to be defeated by a pattern though so I will persevere for another pattern repeat before deciding whether to frog and design my own pattern. I may have to cast on some simple vanilla socks at the same time to give me mental respite during the anticipated long haul.

Friday, September 26, 2008

September blow soft, till the fruits in the loft (1571)

How the weather has changed, the long hoped for summer never really materialised but what lovely unseasonal weather we are having this week. The garden looks lovely, the fruit is all almost in, just the last of the pears to be picked this weekend. I lost one of my pear trees in the high winds a couple of weeks ago, I think the crop was so heavy it just snapped right at the base. So sad.

You can just see the remaining tomatoes in the greenhouse along with cucumbers, peppers, lemons and herbs. In just 3 years I love the way my garden has evolved. I love that it is so productive as well as looking good and being somewhere for the children to play. I particularly love the jams I have made from the black and redcurrants and plums. (Thanks Sandy for reminding me last night why I love my garden!)

I have had a really satisfying week, it was so lovely on Wednesday to spend time with Mhairi whilst the children played. We were able to spin uninterrupted (almost!) for several hours. I have finished about half of my natural New Lanark now and I'm itching to get on with the lovely Black Wensleydale tops I bought whilst in London. Mhairi had some gorgeous Natural Dye Studio BFL in such pretty colours. It really made me want to do some more colourful spinning, to date I have only spun natural colours.

Last night was our knitting night and it was so pleasant and relaxing to be amongst everyone looking at all their FOs and admiring the new patterns. Jo is such an accomplished knitter, her finishing is gorgeous and yet she claims to be a beginner, she really is hiding her light under a bushel.

I am now onto the hood of Sparreholm and feel as if I am on the home run.

Tomorrow I have friends (3 of us share the same christian name) coming to stay, I am really looking forward to it, we haven't seen each other for a long while and we have so much to catch up on. They don't knit so I suspect there won't be much knitting going on but plenty of chatting and dare I say even a little drinking! I suspect all the "other halves" will take themselves off to the Xbox! Boys will be boys.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Make hay while the sun shines (1546)

It was good to be "back home" at Cafe Flava last Thursday. I must admit I felt rather nervous about it, would we be confined to a dark corner under close supervision? In fact we were reserved a spot by the window near the front, on full view. The rest of the cafe was very quiet indeed so we felt quite at ease, confident we weren't taking too much space, disturbing too many people or upsetting those of a gentle disposition with our knitting antics.

Sandy and Ali were back, Sandy (sporting a lovely new curly look) had brought with her some lovely sock yarn Jawoll from Langs that she had bought after accosting a German lady who was quietly minding her own business knitting in Bremen. (She didn't abscond with her yarn, just asked where the LYS was).

I'm still ploughing on with Sparreholm, but it's tediously boring, row after row after row of twisted rib, thank goodness it's sleeveless.

I have also cast on Tropicana in my Kraemer but am really toiling with the lengthy and unusual lace repeat, I have frogged completely once and am now taking such along time over every 125 stitch row that I am beginning to feel that I may not love this after just 7 rows.

I usually meet with 3 other SnB friends on a Wednesday morning whilst the smallest member of the family is at nursery. However, a one day strike (the second!) by support staff at school, has put paid to our plans. Mhairi however, has bravely invited all of us and our various offspring round to hers for knitting, spinning and Rooibos tea. Hope it's sunny so we can flash the stash whilst the rugrats play outside!

Monday, September 15, 2008

East, west, home's best. (1859)

Our trip to the local hostelry last Thursday night was very pleasant with plenty of light, plenty of room and plenty of tea! In fact a pot large enough to wet the whistles of the whole of Gourock was produced for just one tea drinking knitter (myself!)

Thursday night, it transpires, is also quiz night, have you ever tried knitting lace whilst trying to answer questions about capital cities, and number 1 hits? I really did neither very well.

The lace cowl was frogged, and finished later in the evening. The light was not good for these pictures, but the stitch definition is lovely in the Rowan Denim.

All in all though it was a successful outing.

We are however on our way home, our lovely coffee shop has asked us to return with provisions made for us in a corner, out of the way where we won't intrude, interfere or generally lower the tone of the place.

I am rather looking forward to being "home", this is where we first met 3 years ago and we have grown not only in number but in friendship, and the comfortable surroundings of home is where it's best to be with friends.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

When one door shuts, another opens (1586)

And so a proverbial and literal door has shut!

Victims of our own success, we have been evicted from our lovely coffee shop. We began 3 years ago as a group of 4 and now regularly number 12 or more. It seems we cannot be accommodated in such number. We will all miss the wonderful coffee, tea and delicious cakes.

So the hunt is on for a new home for the Gourock Stitch n Bitch. We will be sampling the fare of a local hostelry tonight with hopes that we won't be too subversive or radical for the participants in the Quiz Night. I admit to a degree of nervousness, will they like us, will we like them, will they serve decaff tea?

I'll let you know in due course.

Monday, September 08, 2008

All good things must come to an end

After all the anticipation the weekend of the iKnit show finally arrived.
Mhairi, Kimberly, mum and myself travelled down to the big city on Friday to spend the weekend immersed in yarniness with all our fellow knitters. After a quick check in at the hotel we dashed over to visit the iKnit shop before closing time. It was lovely to see the place in the flesh, so to speak. Of course yarn purchasing ensued and some delightful Kraemer merino, silk and sterling silver in Tuxedo found it's way into my stash. I have it earmarked for some extra long lacy socks.

There then ensued what can only be described as a farcical exercise in long distance navigation! Having decided that Wagamamma was our dinner destination, we set out under instruction from me, for Victoria the location of said restaurant. However, on arrival at the station I had neither address nor directions to our chosen eaterie. Frantic phonecalls home followed with directions from Googlemaps passed on over the intermittent mobile connection. After wandering aimlessly round in circles and being utterly drenched in the heaviest deluge of rain I can recall we hopped into a taxi. After all are London Hacks not renowned for their "Knowledge"? After 20 minutes of yet more circling of Victoria Station (admittedly in the rather drier comfort of the taxi) we were deposited £5 lighter at the exact same point we had started where we discovered we had been practically outside the entrance to the restaurant all along. This was really a portent of what was to come and my dear fellow travellers should really have taken note of my lack of sense of direction immediately.

Our spirits were not dampened however and a lovely meal followed.

An early rise (07:15) on Saturday allowed us a wonderful hour in the famous Liberty store. I resisted the yarn but did acquire some stunning silk fabric (earmarked for a bag lining) and the new book Thrown Together by Kim Hargreaves. It really is worth a visit to Libertys if not just for the experience and a tour of the stunning Tudor building itself.

We headed over to the Royal Horticultural Halls and joined the queue (yes there were enough knitters there to form a queue, a long one) for the show. There were so many beautiful yarn stalls, charity stands, demonstrations, fashion shows, workshops and knitters, everywhere, hundreds of them. Of course the major highlight of the day was the Yarn Harlot's talk. What a fantastically funny, naturally witty and entertaining 90 minutes. I truly wish a recording had been made of her talk as I would love to play it back and take it all in again, and again, and again. I hope she got a sense of our appreciation for her, her visit and her endlessly insightful and amusing blog. We queued along with our new found friends for 2 hours to get a signed copy of one of her books. It was quite amazing that she found the time and fortitude to talk personally to every one of those who queued , and never shied away once from the endless photographs with socks!

Of course much yarn was added to the stash!

The day was rounded off with a superb meal at L' in South Kensington a short walk from our hotel. We dined with our fellow Scottish knitters, 11 of us in total. It was a delicious meal in lovely surroundings with first class company. Thanks to Julia, Yvette, Lynette (and her lovely tolerant Bruce) Heather, Catherine and Paula for joining us and making it such an enjoyable evening.

There was just time on Sunday morning for a quick dash round to the V&A though sadly the Textiles Exhibition was closed. We did however enjoy excellent scones and brownies in the Cafe along with the Dutch Knitters and some lovely knitters from Switzerland and Denmark. I feel a trip to a LYS in Geneva coming on.

And so, All Good Things Must Come To An End, we are back home, weary but happy, looking forward to show and tell at our Stitch n Bitch on Thursday night. I suspect we may be planning another iKnit trip to London next year!