Lancashire Lass

Last week I went ‘home’ to Lancashire to see my parents for a few days taking the 2 youngest boys along for a bit of a holiday.  I haven’t lived there for over 20 years, since I left University, but I still consider it to be home and am proud to be a Lancashire Lass who hasn’t lost her accent, or love for meat and potato pies and chips with gravy.

We spent quite a bit of time just chilling out at Mum and Dad’s, playing in the garden, swimming and doing local walks.  I went to visit my brother’s grave as it is nearly 3 years since he died.  He is in a lovely spot next to fields and it is a really peaceful place although it still upsets me to think that his life was so short; he died at the age of 37.

Towards the end of the week I took Mum and the Littlest to Sizergh Castle, a National Trust property on the edge of Kendal.  Sizergh is a medieval property set in beautiful countryside at the gateway to the Lake District.  It is still lived in by the Strickland Family and boasts a lot of ancient wood panelling some of which was in the V&A until it was returned to the house in 1999.  You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the house and although there were some interesting artefacts it wasn’t my favourite NT property.  I found it a bit dark and gloomy and it was very draughty.

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In the gardens there is a lot to see, and I would definitely recommend a visit during the Summer to see the Herbaceous Borders and the walled Kitchen Garden which looked very bare when we were there, because of the time of year.  However, Littlest loved the very scary Scarecrow 🙂

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He also loved pulling faces at his reflection in the water tank

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We loved the hens, especially the Lemon Cuckoo Neiderrheiner Cockerel who was strutting his stuff

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and generally running around to keep warm on what was a very cold day

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After lunch we went into Kendal to visit Williams Wools, a lovely wool shop on the High St which is owned by Adrienne Williams

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Th shop is a lovely haven of yarnie goods..there are local hand dyed yarns, as well as Rowan, Arancunia, Noro and many other brands. There is a really comfy sofa area in the middle of the shop and lots and lots of samples on display for inspiration

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I bought two skeins of Botany Lace to make a striping shawl, the variegated mustard yellow/grey in the middle and the solid mustard yellow on the right

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It was a lovely few days in a lovely part of the world.

Kirsty x

Visual Overload

Visual OverloadYesterday saw me leaving home at 8am to drive to Unravel at Farnham Maltings in Surrey to attend Unravel, a 2 day knitting festival.  I only went for one day as I failed to persuade E to be in charge at home for the whole weekend.  He says I spend too much of my life surrounded by yarn as it is, so I guess I was lucky to even escape at all.

Farnham Maltings is a fabulous creative space based in the heart of the lovely Surrey town of Farnham.  It is home to artists’ studios, has a theatre and runs numerous courses and exhibitions.  In its history it has been both a tannery and a brewery. You can read more about its interesting past here.

The 2013 theme was focussed around the Best In Show illustration which was commissioned by Farnham Maltings from Illustrator Amy Blackwell and gorgeous project bags with the image were available to buy.  I of course had to grab one even though I have a trillion project bags already.  Oh well, I can always hide my yarn in it.

My friend H and I started the day doing a two hour workshop on dyeing using dye powders derived from plants and natural sources with the very talented Judy Hardman. You can’t do a huge amount in 2 hours but we got to mix a variety of naturally derived dyes to get different colours

2013-02-23 11.15.31 The yellows along the top were from pomegranate, Fustic, Dyers Broom, Coreopsis

The second row are purples and reds from Logwood, Madder and Lac with the yellow of Weld at the end

The third row shows Teal, Saxon Blue, Logwood Purple (which gives a grey) and Sorghum

We then dyed small skeins of wool and silk using a microwave to fix the colours.  It has definitely enthused me to try more dyeing from plants, both using available powders as well as plants from the garden. A selection of yarns dyed by Judy were on show which were beautiful.  Unfortunately she wouldn’t let me take any of them away 😦

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I love Unravel for its support of independent dyers, pattern designers and small British yarn companies and wasn’t disappointed this year.

I saw my lovely friends Max and Margaret on the Millamia stand and got to have a sneak preview of their latest adult collection Colour Coded which is beautiful and I cannot wait to knit the sweetest 3/4 length sleeve tie neck cardi.  Don’t think Margaret wanted her photo taken!!

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I also got to meet some lovely people who I chat to on Twitter. Danielle who runs A Stash Addict was exhibiting for the first time.

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 I bought a skein of vareigated pink/purple sock yarn to knit a small shawl

And there were some lovely woolly sculptures

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It was a compete overload of visual amazement, a day of joy of catching up with old friend and of seeing new friends.  I was bowled over to meet the very talented designer Ruth of Rock and Purl and Green Triangle Girl who broadcasts the fabulous knitting podcast and blogs at A Playful Day and can’t wait for next year.

Kirsty xx

Steel Works Shawl

This week I completed my ‘Steel Works’ Shawl.  The pattern is Holden by Mindy Wilkes and it is a free pattern on Ravelry:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/holden-shawlette

An amazing 5,483 people have knitted this shawl and although I’m not usually one to follow the crowd I love the simplicity of the lace design which is easy to memorise but looks fabulous.  The picot edging also adds another edge of interest, although it took a lot of pins to block out each of those points!

Holden Shawl in my own hand dyed yarn I dyed the yarn myself in shades of silver and slate dye, varying the intensity of the dye bath by adding more water or dye powder until I was happy with the 4 colours.  The dye powder came from the lovely Linda at Tall Yarns n Tales.   I dyed one 100g skein in the main silver grey, and then split another skein into 35g balls and dyed them separately, so that I didn’t waste yarn or have too much left over.

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This shawl would be a great lace project for a beginner as the main body is stocking stitch and the lace border is not difficult to master.  I did the border in three separate colours but the shawl would look just as good in one solid colour or just with the border in contrasting or complimentary colour to the main body.  Oh the possibilities!!!

Kirsty xx