Wednesday, 22 April 2015

dirty words

I've been putting off writing this weeks Love Your Blog Challenge. Not because I didn't know what to say; because the theme, 'ugly', just really gets my back up. The term 'ugly' is usually an undiplomatic, poorly articulated opinion; stated as if it were a cold hard fact.

My formative years were spent on a hill country farm in New Zealand. Whenever I show people pictures, they always say how lovely it looks. Being a teenager in an environment where the horizon is never more than a kilometre away, and the nearest unrelated human lived 3km along the road, was claustrophic and isolating. I couldn't live in that landscape. It would feel like being held under a duvet cover. I wouldn't say it's ugly, that industrially farmed landscape just has no allure for me.

When I moved to East Yorkshire, an aquiantance asked why I was moving to the ugly part of Yorkshire. It's certainly not the bit that everybody likes to photograph and put on postcards. I love the rolling wolds countryside, and enjoy marking the changing seasons here. I've found love, community, and a deep sense of belonging. I wonder what experience has made this person brand the whole county ugly?

So there you have it. To my mind ugly just expresses an unquantified malevalence, and that's all I have to say about that.

( This was the view on the way home from the post office. The oilseed rape just bloomed today.)


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?