Sunday, 6 December 2015

Frankenadventsocks - no.6 mystery yarn

 

Things are going well with my Frankenadventsocks and the latest section is quite monsterous. I did attempt a bobble style stitch but was too tired to concentrate as well as being constantly interrupted. It's one of the stitches where you have to count and do everything right otherwise it ends up looking like a holey mess (see below).

I've renamed it freestyle lace. It's very in the moment and totally organic. It neither has direction nor is concerned with remaining within the confines of a regular pattern. It's impossible to make a mistake because there is no right or wrong way.

 

Not only have I freed myself from perfection and conformity in this section, I have also challenged my fear of scratchy yarns. I discovered that the softest of softs is not the only way and that everything is welcome in these socks even if I have absolutely no idea what the yarn is. I have changed my focus of what something is, to what it can be. This ball of charity shop treasure has no doubt lived a wild and wonderful life, it has stories to tell and these socks are just the next chapter. And if I actually knew what kemp was, I wouldn't be surprised if it was in this yarn. Perhaps it's the dark wiry flecks?

 

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Frankenadventsocks- No. 3 Blue faced Leicester

I really haven't been feeling well at all of late. I did try to get an appointment with the GP but they are not easy people to pin down, so I turned to the pharmacy for help.

 
The Old Pharmacy in Faversham is no ordinary place though; it is a luxury yarn dispensary. If you find yourself weighed down with the heavy burden of the more rubbish aspects of life with symptoms such as weepiness and loss of all believe in yourself, then this is the place to go.
Filled with colour, texture and fluffiness in each of its old fashioned nooks and crannies, just the pure existence of all those rows of tiny drawers is enough to lift the grayest of souls. I couldn't help myself, I had to get my mitts on one of those exquisite glass knobs and have a little peep inside.
 
Although those apothecary jars are now filled with coloured water, it was exciting to imagine what delightful lotions and potions they once held.
Gillian is the most wonderful person/ designer / yarn guru who accurately prepares the prescriptions, provides workshops and even has a secret stash of surprises. If you don't see it in the shop, it's worth asking because this lady is connected.
I'm only too aware that you can't make yourself better by purchasing loads of material items but I think 100% British wool from a traceable sustainable resource (sheep who actually need shearing) is very different to some plastic, "made in China" tat. And I can totally justify it as part of my yarn therapy prescription which I'm making into Framkenadventsocks (they could even be an heirloom!). I decided to go for British Blue Wool by Erika Knight in fawn. It's pretty much sheep coloured, fabulously soft and 100% Bluefaced Leicester.
Here's the Frankenadventsocks progress so far and as promised I've told all my friends about Gillian, Sam (although I didn't grill him on the spot about everything) and the brilliant Old Pharmacy, luxury yarn dispensary. Everyone should go there even if they don't like knitting...yet. They have alpaca pom-poms which are the best thing in the world ever.

 

 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Frankenadventsocks - No.2 Wensleydale Sock 2

It's official, both of my Frankenadventsocks have been started with a ribbed cuff in 100% Wensleydale wool.

 

So why is that important I hear you ask? Because Wensleydales are in the "at risk" category on the Rare breeds list and if we don't do more knitting with this fab British yarn, then the demand for Wensleydales will decrease and they will disappear.

Above are the facts taken from a 1949 book by N. L. Tinley (Department of Agriculture) entitled Good Sheep Farming. I got the book out from the LRC at work. It seriously does have a book on everything I'd want to know ever.

Just look at their mega fringe, curly whirly dreadlocked fleece and these guys are big. They even have blue faces. For long lustrous wool, I'm a fan so they're going in my Frankenadventsocks and my imaginary sheep farm.

 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Frankenadventsocks - No. 1 Wensleydale


It wouldn't be December without some kind of advent celebration. I'm done with the overpriced hugely commercial sponsored by Cadburys / Thortons chocolate before breakfast calendars but have yet to persuade the children that there is another way. I don't really know the full history of advent but it's interesting to note that if you do start to google it, "the history of advertising" comes out as the top hit which I think says a lot about the whole count down to Christmas.

What with the time of year and the stresses and strains of my working life, I have found myself not really feeling that well. So following all I discovered in Wovember and the therapeutic effect of knitting and getting back to nature, I'm stepping back from the hustle and bustle of 24 shopping days left to Christmas and taking things one stitch at a time.

I came home from work early yesterday, thoroughly crushed and Shinybees Podcast came to the rescue with Frankenadvent socks. These are an advent based development of Frankensocks, which had also previously passed me by. Frankensocks are the knitted descendants of Frankenstein; a monstrous hash of woolen cast offs joined together to create something that resembles socks. I have yet to investigate how the knitting community on Ravelry enables friendship but all credit for Frankenadventsocks goes to someone who goes by the name of Feltaria.

Today therefore is the first day of Frankenadventsocks for me and the best place to start was with my first Wovember purchase from Home Farm Wensleydales.


I'm going for top down socks and have started knitting a 1 x 1 twisted rib with 100% Wensleydale 2ply in Ercu. This was the first attempt at spinning by the very lovely Jayne who sent me a truly informative letter and some gorgeous samples of Big Wool which is a Blue Faced Leicester and Wensleydale mix.


 The dog and I settled down to some comfort movie watching on True Christmas and a cup of green tea in my latest treasure find tea cup to banish those worries and woes. What better way to clear the chaos in my head than to knit it all into some woolfully knitted Frankenadventsocks. I feel better already, well it's a start.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Woolful

November has been hard for me this year. Despite immersing myself in the ethos of Wovember, I've struggled. Life is always a learning process and my own quirks are can really bring me down sometimes. We all suffer from perfectionism but even trying to think about the last day that I haven't cried at points throughout the day brings me to tears so I know things are not right.

Wooden heart from the Black Forest

I like the switch in acceptance that is creeping into society. I'm not a massive fan of supermarkets but it makes me smile to see the shelves filled with mindful colour therapy. If it weren't for art, colour and creativity, November would be a very dark time. It doesn't legitimately have the delightful glitz and sparkle of December (although I know Christmas is in the shops).

My exploration into yarn, fibre and podcasts that provide a wealth of information inevitably led me to Wooful. It's a wonderful insight into a whole new world that has opened up for me. I will be forever grateful to people like Ashley Yousling, who spend their time gathering information to share.

I woke up and wiped the tears of disappointment away, greeted by another morning when I did not feel better and there on my iPhone screen, waiting to be played was the latest episode of Woolful. This was the serendipity I needed, just the right people at the right time. The episode featured my guardian angel, Tif Fussell who I now wish to adopt as a big sister. She talked of her own creative journey, dark days and self acceptance. I walked through the last of the lingering autumn leaves with Sherlock, listening to her experiences and relating them to my own. It helped. The fresh air, the natural autumnal beauty of the landscape and her insight.


 Embroidered fingerless mittens and crochet pocket on my Dotty Angel dress

It's time for me to allow myself to be not quite ok. To recognise that I need to take a step back, unbusy myself and be Woolful. I can just be how I'm feeling and remember always the words of wisdom spoken to me through my headphones by Tif...

It will be ok in the end and if it's not ok, it it's not the end

I would love it if you could leave a comment. Please give it a go, I'm working on making it easier

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Wovember

Even as a kid, November was never my favourite month. There's the rain, the darkness and after bonfire night, it held very little excitement. The older I got, the more I disliked my flowers going into hibernation and all my beloved outdoor activities become impractical at this mostly grey and dreary time of year.






Then two events happened in November that changed my life. After difficult pregnancies, Charlie arrived safely in November 2006 and devastatingly I lost baby Jack in November 2009. This makes November a huge roller coaster of emotions. Until this year, I have dreaded it but year after year I have developed ways to cope. Of course being able to focus on Charlie's birthday has always been a positive but the pain and sadness remain.






Immediately after Jack's death, I turned to craft for comfort. The process of thinking through projects and the useful purposefulness of creating lovely things helped fill the void and feelings of hopelessness. The original intention of this bIog was to ensure that I spent time reflecting and recording all the wonderful things in life. When there was darkness in my mind, I made something in order to write about it. I carefully nurture, propagate and grow crysanthemums which bloom in gloriously bright colours as the rest of nature fades. Last year we got our dog, Sherlock who has filled every one of my sad moments with overly enthusiastic concern. I adore his loyalty and the fact that I can't leave a room without him. On dank November mornings when all I want to do is disappear inside the duvet forever, he's there wagging his fluffy tail with his "let's go for a walk" eyes and I'm happy to take him.



2015 has been the year of the sock for me. I was rubbish at knitting but unsurprisingly, practicing all year has taught me so much. I'm addicted and I just want to learn everything. And there really is so much to learn. That's how I discovered knitting podcasts and ultimately, Wovember. Podcasts are a whole new journey of discovery for me. It's such an adventure and as a nature loving, eco inspired, sheep dog owning crafter, I'm drawn to indie, handmade and British. Here's a list of my favourites so far in the order of discovery and I know this is just the start:



Truly Myrtle- I love Libby for her handmade wardrobe, country lifestyle (she's got chickens and sheep both of which I'm not allowed) and she lives in New Zealand. I always feel that because half my family live on the other side of the world that somehow anyone from that time zone connects me to them. Also brilliantly, Josie likes her too ( the Auntie Zoe link) and listens to her podcasts which means Libby is practically part of our family.



Pompom mag podcast - during the toughest week of the year for me when I was haunted by the memories of week that broke me beyond repair , I discovered Lydia and Sophie. For a week Sherlock and I set off for early morning walks in order to avoid fireworks (he's scared of them and for me the sounds take me back to that awful night of 5th November 2009 - even the date makes me cry). I listened to nearly all of the episodes in that week, bought 2 issues of the magazine, knitted my first shawl and felt better. Thank you ladies, you will never know how much you have helped.






Over-sized pompom on a crochet hat


A playful day - my slow craft guru, promoting sustainable living and nature loving



Curious Handmade- who wouldn't love Knitvent



KnitBritish - thank you for providing me with the ability to self diagnose cast-onitis and the obvious cure, tea hat collection



Shinybees- anyone who supports sock knitting and is a fan of mohair is alright in my book

Friday, 30 October 2015

Autumn

Yes dogs are quite a lot of work and true you do have walk them all year round in every type of weather but it truly is a fab way to experience life. Whilst most are in bed, my fluffy friend and I close the front door on our sleeping family and head off into adventureland. 


Sherlock is always ready for a walk and is mastering the art of sitting nicely for a photo. I have a feeling, from the intensity of his stare, that he thinks my phone is a toy for him, but he sits nevertheless.


We walk along the old Crab and Winkle embankment which is ideal for squirrel chasing

 
and mushroom spotting,


then up on to the University fields. I particularly like it when it's misty in the autumn and frosty in the winter.


It's an excellent space for rabbit and fox escapades and generally running around like a loon.


I love the trees in all their glorious shade.


They create beautifully natural frames for my doggy subject. And my woofer ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp2iQ5PfJK8



Thursday, 15 October 2015

Socktober



It's the first kid free two days off in a row for over a year. I've been doing a bit of extra work here and there and what with all the sock knitting, there hasn't been so much time for pottering around. So today, especially as it's so gruesome outside (yes Herbie cat you are getting wet - stop sleeping in the rain), I'm celebrating Socktober. I've been sorting through my sock yarn stash, organising my unfinished sock projects and spending time with my new YouTube friends.

"Hey lady, back it up! Aren't you the same mean mum who moans at her kids about their incessant chatter about YouTube and hours wasted watching trash?"

"Yes I am and I will readily admit that my parenting style is based on hypocracy."

I have frittered away the morning watching Love sock yarn, Yarngasm and Homespun House. I've recklessly started crocheting some earrings and I have had a perfectly lovely time.


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Arne & Carlos

 

In the past week, I have made two marvellous discoveries that have had a huge impact on my daily life in my year of the sock. I must gush about the uber stylish Swedish-Norwegian knitting chappies, Arne and Carlos who I met at Ally Pally last week. I totally adore them and have emmersed myself in the fan worship practically encouraged by social media. I have liked them on Facebook, followed them on Instagram and ordered their books from the library.

What's not to like about these guys? However top of their list of points of awesomeness are

  1. Arne and Carlos knit socks (demonstrated beautifully whilst sitting on their own settee at The Knitting and Stitching Show)
  2. They have their own Design Line of sock knitting yarn with a fake fairisle self patterning brilliance
  3. I purchased the Summer Night 3657 colourway, there and then on the spot from Arne and Carlos and have knitted them everyday since

 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Knitting to the rescue

I do not cope well with limitations. For me boundaries are there to be stretched, barriers need to be broken down and rules are for bending. I do not like that suffocating feeling of physical or emotional restrictions.

 

So today I am struggling on every level with my sprained ankle. I have already cried the tears of disappointment at not being able to go to work. Aesthetically, the swelling is hugely unattractive, the bruising is developing by the hour not to mention the pain that kept me awake last night.

However every cloud does have a silver lining and knitting is my saviour. The fab leg warmers of autumnal hues that I knitted in the summer are ideal for holding the ice packs in place and prettying up the whole dismal situation.

Miserable as I am, confined to a seated position, it is giving me a chance to work on my greatest sock knitting challenge to date. This Knitty pattern has had me foxed for well over a year. The needles on which they are knitted are tiny (1.75mm) for the cuff and the restarts I've made are numerous but I have not allowed my lack of ability to prevent me for reaching for those lacy socks skies. Although I'm unable to wander around enjoying stuff I usually take for granted, the requirement of rest and the challenge of knitting work well together. Thank you yarn and pins X.

 

 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Summer rain

It seems like ages since I wore a coat. Best of all I like the scorching hot summer days but I don't mind a few drops of summer rain.

When you have a dog, walking in the rain comes with the job. I wouldn't head out for a stroll in a shower if it wasn't for that little fluffy friend of mine but it is so peaceful walking early in the morning.

 

Even though it was raining, everywhere is still ever so dry and all my plants could really do with a good drenching. Having Sherlock makes me truly value green open spaces. We hunt them out together so that he can run free, chase squirrels and rabbits and just be a dog. I hope that when the kids are older, they don't have to walk down streets of new builds saying, "when we were young, all this used to be fields, we walked our dog here."

 

Whilst most people are still sleeping, Sherlock and I are out exploring the world, discovering treasure like these ghosts of mushrooms. Surely they didn't magically appear after such a short amount of dampness or maybe it's just down to the miracle of nature.

 

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Nethergong

So far the summer holidays have been wonderful and despite the broken down car and lack of partner in parenting, Nethergong camping has left everyone blissfully exhausted.


This time our visit was blue skies all the way with lofty temperatures that required the majority of our party to seek shade, apart from Sherlock who is clearly unaware that his is a large fluffy dog with a thick black coat.


The children once unplugged from their electronic devices were transformed into grubby little urchins running wild and wielding knives and overly sharpened sticks.


It's so much about real life, lying around in a field staring at the sky. Running, jumping, climbing, chatting, simply being alive and enjoying nature by day, then once the sun has set, the draw of the fire unites all ages. Each and everyone had their part to play in the conversation although my role, along with the keeper of the Zippo and fire master, is the inventor of engaging campfire games.


There are so many aspects of Nethergong camping in my list of favourites. I couldn't do without an early morning coffee by the lake.


But right at the top, in the number one slot is freedom. Everyone can pretty much do what they want including Sherlock. My doggie is free to indulge his obsessive collie nature. He seriously does not stop. There isn't a second that goes by that he isn't looking for someone to throw a ball or toss that stick in the water. He's too busy to eat his own breakfast, stop for a drink or catch his breath because even the slightest distant giggle of a child requires immediate investigation least he should miss any opportunity to play.


From the most delicate dew studded corn framed spiderwebs to the rankest day old fishing maggots, through the lingering stench of bonfire smoke to the simple rainbow socks I'm knitting, camping is my kind of holiday.