Sunday, 19 April 2015

clever kate

Over the last few months I have been filling every bobbin the house with beautifully spun singles. My plying paranoia has come to a head. It's not like I can't ply. And I love knitting with my handspun yarn, but the process of plying had been all arms and legs, knots, snags, and tangles. I've read books, watched DVDs, tried various kate and wheel positions, and put bobbins in bowls half was across the room; before arriving at the conclusion that I was just a clutts. Plying was always going to be painful, and needed to be put off as long as possible.

Last week I decided to treat myself to a Anything But Lazy Kate. It was a last ditch thing. The Kate is made out of untreated maple, so I spent a few days oiling the thing to make it pretty and durable. Then yesterday we went for a test drive with some beautiful Romney. Oh my word, the whole process was actually fun. There were no twist backs or tangles. The yarn fed off the bobbins evenly, and didn't jump about or spin back. And it was easy to pop on a new bobbin and thread up with one hand. Phew!

The difference between this Kate and the others, is that there are three methods for tensioning the bobbins, and you can choose which ever one works best for you at the time. it also packs up into a handy dandy little box. There is an excellent explaination of all the workings over at the Nancy's Knit Knacks website if you are interested.

Meanwhile, I'm off the herd all those disperate bobbins together. And contemplate what to do with the wheel I bought especially to make plying easier ...


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

five days of finishing - for shame!

When I started Five Days of Finishing, I genuinely thought that those fives days would be consecutive. Life has intervened. Not in a bad way. I've been galivanting about the country side catching up with great knitterly chums.

I do have a confession to make though. Remember all those tiny wee little preemie things I was knitting this time last year? They have been sitting about in a bag for a whole year waiting for ends darning in, and buttons. I know. Shame on me! Thank of all those wee babies that might have needed a hat in the mean time. It's done now. They are in the hands of one of our local midwives.

Do you have any guilty secrets laying about the house? Unfinished presents and charity knitting? I'd love to hear about it. That would make me feel a lot better!


Monday, 13 April 2015


When the Lovely Lady A Playful Day notified us that the theme for this weeks Love Your Blog Challenge was Beginnings, my first thought was "Which one?" Certainly it would bore you all to tears if I started with Whareora Maternity Hospital forty odd years ago.

In New Zealand culture we have the strong symbol in the Silver Fern. It was pilfered from the indiginous Maori people, and adopted as a symbol of national pride. Our sports people wear it, it's the symbol for our national airline, and many of us tattoo it to ourselves (just in case we're caught abroad without our passport.) I had one stuck to my luggage for many years.

Have you ever watched a fern as the fronds unroll, and it stretches out each of those little fingers? In Maori culture this unrolling is depicted as a spiral, a Koru that represents the cycle of new life, growth, strength, and peace. I was given my Koru during a particularly difficult time in my life. It reminded that me that life was still unfolding, that there would be new and exciting beginnings, and that I should look forward.

My Koru is made of Nephrite Jade; Greenstone, or Pounamu as it is known locally. Pounamu when gifted is a living thing that guards the Mana of all the folk who have worn it, and imparts this on the current wearer. What is Mana? That's a tricky thing to sum up in a few words. It includes your strength, charisma, dignity, and the respect that others have for you. It's a lot to carry in one small rock, especially if you have one that have been passed down the generations.

I begin every day by putting on my Koru. In those few seconds I think about the person I want to be that day. Words like kind, happy, respectful, calm, effective, productive, and integrity often come to mind. This micro meditation centres my day. What ever unfolds, I'm clear about my approach to each small beginning, and how to build the Mana that I will be proud to pass on with my Pounamu.

Do you have your own little talisman, placebo, or charm? What symbols are special to you?


Saturday, 11 April 2015


It's going to be all about the buttons here for the next couple of days. Todays buttons are not actually all that exciting for you. They've been attached to a new design, which I'm not going to show till the pattern is out. I do have a wee bit to say about the yarn though.

If I ever see Lady Cuddlebums at a show again, I shall be clearing the stall. This is a 3 ply Superwash Merino DK, and it's a pleasure to knit. I've been putting the swatch through the washing machine every time I do a load, for about three weeks now. That's somewhere between six and nine washes. The colours still look great, and the swatch has softened and developed a halo. I think it would probably pill a little on wearing. This particular garment is going to live with an avid hand washer of all knitwear, but it would still go the distance with a hard and fast machine washer.

So Cuddlebums is definately on my list of child friendly wool. What are your favourite easy care wool yarns?



Friday, 10 April 2015

five days of finishing - blocking wires

This THING has been hovering around my desk for over a month waiting to be blocked. It's been washed twice, and still not pinned out. The Thing was supposed to be brainless knitting, quiet and meditative. Apparently if I'm wanting brainless knitting I should find a really well written pattern. The fact that somebody else has made all the design decisions, and done all the maths is what makes it so relaxing - for me anyway.

I've finally splurged on a set of blocking wires. When I first investigated blocking wires they cost about £50 and came in a large tube. I hadn't wanted to invest that sort of money or space in something that would only come out once or twice a year. Lazadas wires came to my attention via that lovely lady A Playful Day (This is the theme this month!). Not only were they the right price, but they came in a very neat little package. I had ordered the regular set. None of the sets were available immediately, so the shop owner contacted me and upgraded my order to the deluxe set. What a lovely surprise. It was only a little wait.

Usually when I'm blocking there is a lot of pinning, measuring, repinning, and eyeballing. It takes an age. The wires sped up this process immensely, and I had it all pinned out in about half an hour. The Hairy Man was a little purturbed that I've stuck all these pins in his (fairly) new carpet, so blocking mats might be next on my list of purchases.

I'm still not that keen on the finished Thing. Next time I'm looking to disengage the brain, I'm definately getting a pattern regardless of how simple it looks.

(Post script: I might just be feeling a bit differently now I have this on. The yarn is just lovely. What a shame it's discontinued.)


Thursday, 9 April 2015

stand by for five days of finishing.

This year I've been struggling with finishing. My work basket has become a place where projects come to hibernate just before they are finished, rather than the joy of inspiration that it once was. I've been feeling completely crowded by these old projects. I don't want them to linger on unfinshed. I want to see the back of them, and herold something new and exciting.

I'm not going to linger in the doldrums of crafting apethy, so I'm taking steps. You heard it. Steps. Stand by for five days of finishing. This afternoon I made a list of everything that needed finishing. It was more than five. But five days will make a serious dent in that list. There are a number of things on the list that can't be finished in a day, but at least I'll have knocked off all the things that are only a block away.

Tomorrow I am going to wind the yarn for my next project . This project has been waiting in the wings for some time. I finally caved and ordered yarn. Tomorrow that yarn will be made into balls. The pattern will be printed, and all the booty shall be secured in a fabulous knitting bag.

It will be marvellous, and enliving. And at the end it will feel like 2015 is finally here. Finally!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

the silent majority

I have a dark and dreadful secret. Although I’m a prolific consumer of blogs, podcasts, and forums, I am first and foremost A LURKER. So when the lovely lady A Playful Day said that the first theme for the Love Your Blog Challenge was Interaction and Community, I had a wee freak out.  Was I going to have to put my hand up and confess, “I don’t interact, I consume.”  Shudder!  That sounds so parasitic.

A quick look at my own blog stats told me that I’m not alone in this behaviour.  In fact, I might be a silent majority.  In an online community being a Lurker reduces you to a number, or a little cluster of data.  You’ve had so many hits on this page, they arrived from this source, this proportion of them were repeat visitors, and one of them was based in the north of England.  That one was me.

So if this whole gaggle of people aren’t interacting, what on earth are they doing?  Well, I can’t speak for all Lurkers, but generally I’m sitting in a comfortable chair sipping coffee.

There are three things that inspire me to return and lurk in the same spot.  Usually I start out trawling for information.  Searching for a specific technique, or a solution to a problem.  Good, consise, accurate information usually results in a bookmark or favourite; some sort of signpost to return to.  I come back for inspiration, and entertainment.  Return visits are motivated by an engagement with a personality, and a inquisitorial need to see what you do next. 

This interation sounds passive if your the person sharing all this information.  You might not be getting any direct feedback, but rest assured there is a flurry of activity going on in my craft room as a result of your sharing.  And I started my own blog as a way of feeding back and contributing to the community.

Recently I’ve noticed a shift in my lurking behaviour, in that I’ve started to interact more actively.  Often this is because I have a piece of information that might help you.  I love a conumdrum, and if there’s a problem to solve, I’ll be there boots and all.  I also like to applaud things that are just awesome - everybody deserves an ovation now and again.

The other thing (and this might be more specific to me, or folk with language difficulties), is that I had been dreadfully ashamed of my typos.  But the fact of the matter is that those wee mistakes slip in, even though I’m proof read everything I write three times.  I’m dyslexic. That’s not something I’m going to be self concious about, because being dyslexic doesn’t mean I can’t be articulate.

I would love to hear from other Lurkers.  You’re out there, I know it.  I can see your comfy chair, beverage sipping self in my stats.  Do you lurk for the same reasons?  What motivates you to actively interact?  What are you sipping?