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Archive for September, 2013

Yarndale

Yesterday was Yarndale day! This yarn festival was held in Skipton Auction Mart and the Weather Gods had been kind, it was a beautiful day. I had paid to go on a coach trip from the studio where I go for my knitting and sewing activities.

With my carefully saved pennies tucked into my purse I boarded the coach in Guisborough, found a seat next to one of the ladies from my Wednesday night class and we were off. We were within spitting distance of Skipton when we hit a large traffic jam. It wasn’t surprising as Skipton was the place to be on Saturday. As well as the weekly market and Yarndale there was a puppet festival and a zombie run (your guess is as good as mine!) We weren’t in the jam for too long and being on a coach trip was clearly the sensible choice as parking was a nightmare for cars. We thought it a pity that we were dropped off by the back door, as it were. The two friends I was with agreed we should make our way to the front, buy a programme and get our bearings. To say it was packed would be the understatement of the millennium! It was heaving. We finally made it to the entrance hall and……wow…! There was crocheted bunting strung up across the ceiling, a stall selling Yarndale programmes and merchandise (bags, badges, t-shirts and the like), displays including a knitted picnic and knitted food from Andalusia. I’m not normally one for knitted food, preferring the real thing, but these looked so effective. We stood in a corner of the auction mart and had a sandwich while we looked at the floor plan and decided how to tackle looking at everything.

I think, between the three of us, we wanted to look at everything. So we did. The range of yarns, the colours, the things that one could make should one get the urge was amazing. It was almost overwhelming. There were also stalls displaying work by various fibre artists and it was a shame everything was so crowded as the art could not be displayed to it’s full advantage and I am sure a lot of people missed it because of this. We squeezed our way into gaps at stalls and squished yarn of all types and exclaimed over every shade of every colour of the rainbow. I think our favourite phrase was “Isn’t this gorgeous? Do I get it or not? I’ll go away and think about it,” We did a lot of going away and thinking about it! We had arrived between 10.30 and 11am and by the time had looked at everything, bought what we wanted to buy, spoke to the people we wanted to speak to (if we could) it was 3.40pm! We did have a brief stop for lunch and our being tight and bringing sandwiches proved to be the best plan. The food all seemed to be fried or pastry based and the queues to get it were humongous. We sat outside in the sunshine and ate our sandwiches and gossiped before hitting the fray again.

There were even a few animals on display, although not as many as at other more established yarn festivals.

Alpacas, freshly shaved!

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and Angora rabbits, some freshly plucked, others in need of a hairdo! The ball of fluff on the left is one giant rabbit.

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I am a bit sensitive to angora, it makes me itch if there’s more than 10% in a yarn blend but the bunnies are so soft to stroke! Mohair, on the other hand, is a big no-no and I spent half the day scrubbing at an itchy hand after picking up a skein of yarn that turned out to be high in mohair! I didn’t even get as far as reading the label (which is why I’d picked it up in the first place.) It was too late, by the time we’d finished, to go on the yarn walk into Skipton, as we had planned so we had a short stroll outside then bought an ice cream to eat while we waited for everybody to assemble at the coach.

I had a lovely day and would like to go again to see how it has improved. There were a few teething troubles, as is to be expected when setting up anything new. I think they had underestimated the visitor numbers, hence the parking problems and the packedness of the venue. The stalls were very crammed in close together, even though there were plenty of empty cattle pens in the main hall. Perhaps in the future they could spread them out a bit, which would relieve the density of the crowds and enable people to actually get into a stall to see the merchandise on offer. The food all seemed to be fried or pastry based and the queue for food was enormous. The smell of frying was very strong and permeated the hall. One stall even packed up and went as they were next to the food stall and the smell was permeating their goods. Perhaps having separate drinks stalls would help, as would limiting cooked food to the official cafe, and having more variety. There is nothing wrong with burgers and pasties but not everybody likes that kind of food. Some people complained loudly about the toilets. The inside ones had stopped flushing and the volunteers kept having to pour water into them to flush them and there were enormous queues for them too. There was a long double row of portaloos out the back, which we used out of necessity. There was no queue here and they were fancy flushable ones with large hand sanitizer dispensers on the walls so not as bad as they sound. They would have been better had the toilet paper not run out but thankfully I always have tissues with me!

Although it sounds like a long list of complaints, there was nothing wrong that a bit of a tweak wouldn’t put right for next year. The stallholders were lovely and ready to stop and talk, even though they were rushed off their feet. The volunteers were always smiling, although they probably wanted to sit down and cry or bash the annoying General Public over the head. There was plenty to look at, plenty to buy and a good atmosphere.

I didn’t spend all my money – there was almost too much to take in – and I had wanted some Drops Baby Alpaca-Silk but the stalls selling Drops were like the first day of the Next sale so I saved that money to buy online. I did, however, buy this tiny haul:

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* A Weaver’s Loft sheep kit (not shown) for Mum’s Christmas present
* A skein of Triskelion Yarn & Fibres Rhodri Sock yarn in Selkie (the blue-green skein)
* A skein of Skein Queen Oasis Grande fingering/4 ply in a very dark blackcurrant (no shade name on the label). This was my treat purchase. It is 50% camel/50% silk and the softest thing ever. I will probably make a shawl or scarf from it.
* A pack of 10 mini skeins of 4 ply from Fivemoons in Garden Moon, these are for my sock yarn blanket
* A pattern for the Southwold in the Snow shawl. It was on display on the Skein Queen stand and I just fell in love with it.

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Yarndale

Yesterday was Yarndale day! This yarn festival was held in Skipton Auction Mart and the Weather Gods had been kind, it was a beautiful day. I had paid to go on a coach trip from the studio where I go for my knitting and sewing activities.

With my carefully saved pennies tucked into my purse I boarded the coach in Guisborough, found a seat next to one of the ladies from my Wednesday night class and we were off. We were within spitting distance of Skipton when we hit a large traffic jam. It wasn’t surprising as Skipton was the place to be on Saturday. As well as the weekly market and Yarndale there was a puppet festival and a zombie run (your guess is as good as mine!) We weren’t in the jam for too long and being on a coach trip was clearly the sensible choice as parking was a nightmare for cars. We thought it a pity that we were dropped off by the back door, as it were. The two friends I was with agreed we should make our way to the front, buy a programme and get our bearings. To say it was packed would be the understatement of the millennium! It was heaving. We finally made it to the entrance hall and……wow…! There was crocheted bunting strung up across the ceiling, a stall selling Yarndale programmes and merchandise (bags, badges, t-shirts and the like), displays including a knitted picnic and knitted food from Andalusia. I’m not normally one for knitted food, preferring the real thing, but these looked so effective. We stood in a corner of the auction mart and had a sandwich while we looked at the floor plan and decided how to tackle looking at everything.

I think, between the three of us, we wanted to look at everything. So we did. The range of yarns, the colours, the things that one could make should one get the urge was amazing. It was almost overwhelming. There were also stalls displaying work by various fibre artists and it was a shame everything was so crowded as the art could not be displayed to it’s full advantage and I am sure a lot of people missed it because of this. We squeezed our way into gaps at stalls and squished yarn of all types and exclaimed over every shade of every colour of the rainbow. I think our favourite phrase was “Isn’t this gorgeous? Do I get it or not? I’ll go away and think about it,” We did a lot of going away and thinking about it! We had arrived between 10.30 and 11am and by the time had looked at everything, bought what we wanted to buy, spoke to the people we wanted to speak to (if we could) it was 3.40pm! We did have a brief stop for lunch and our being tight and bringing sandwiches proved to be the best plan. The food all seemed to be fried or pastry based and the queues to get it were humongous. We sat outside in the sunshine and ate our sandwiches and gossiped before hitting the fray again.

There were even a few animals on display, although not as many as at other more established yarn festivals.

Alpacas, freshly shaved!

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and Angora rabbits, some freshly plucked, others in need of a hairdo! The ball of fluff on the left is one giant rabbit.

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I am a bit sensitive to angora, it makes me itch if there’s more than 10% in a yarn blend but the bunnies are so soft to stroke! Mohair, on the other hand, is a big no-no and I spent half the day scrubbing at an itchy hand after picking up a skein of yarn that turned out to be high in mohair! I didn’t even get as far as reading the label (which is why I’d picked it up in the first place.) It was too late, by the time we’d finished, to go on the yarn walk into Skipton, as we had planned so we had a short stroll outside then bought an ice cream to eat while we waited for everybody to assemble at the coach.

I had a lovely day and would like to go again to see how it has improved. There were a few teething troubles, as is to be expected when setting up anything new. I think they had underestimated the visitor numbers, hence the parking problems and the packedness of the venue. The stalls were very crammed in close together, even though there were plenty of empty cattle pens in the main hall. Perhaps in the future they could spread them out a bit, which would relieve the density of the crowds and enable people to actually get into a stall to see the merchandise on offer. The food all seemed to be fried or pastry based and the queue for food was enormous. The smell of frying was very strong and permeated the hall. One stall even packed up and went as they were next to the food stall and the smell was permeating their goods. Perhaps having separate drinks stalls would help, as would limiting cooked food to the official cafe, and having more variety. There is nothing wrong with burgers and pasties but not everybody likes that kind of food. Some people complained loudly about the toilets. The inside ones had stopped flushing and the volunteers kept having to pour water into them to flush them and there were enormous queues for them too. There was a long double row of portaloos out the back, which we used out of necessity. There was no queue here and they were fancy flushable ones with large hand sanitizer dispensers on the walls so not as bad as they sound. They would have been better had the toilet paper not run out but thankfully I always have tissues with me!

Although it sounds like a long list of complaints, there was nothing wrong that a bit of a tweak wouldn’t put right for next year. The stallholders were lovely and ready to stop and talk, even though they were rushed off their feet. The volunteers were always smiling, although they probably wanted to sit down and cry or bash the annoying General Public over the head. There was plenty to look at, plenty to buy and a good atmosphere.

I didn’t spend all my money – there was almost too much to take in – and I had wanted some Drops Baby Alpaca-Silk but the stalls selling Drops were like the first day of the Next sale so I saved that money to buy online. I did, however, buy this tiny haul:

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* A Weaver’s Loft sheep kit (not shown) for Mum’s Christmas present
* A skein of Triskelion Yarn & Fibres Rhodri Sock yarn in Selkie (the blue-green skein)
* A skein of Skein Queen Oasis Grande fingering/4 ply in a very dark blackcurrant (no shade name on the label). This was my treat purchase. It is 50% camel/50% silk and the softest thing ever. I will probably make a shawl or scarf from it.
* A pack of 10 mini skeins of 4 ply from Fivemoons in Garden Moon, these are for my sock yarn blanket
* A pattern for the Southwold in the Snow shawl. It was on display on the Skein Queen stand and I just fell in love with it.

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Propagansey

Every year in St. Stephen’s Old Church in Robin Hood’s Bay there is an exhibition of ganseys (aka guernseys, or fisherman’s sweaters to non-knitters). I paid two visits this year, mainly because a day off work coincided with a visit paid by Mum’s knitting group so I got to be an honorary pensioner for the day! The setting of the church is beautiful, at the top of the hill just before you drop down the hill into Bay. Here is the view from the churchyard.

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The sunshine does help the view but even on a dull or stormy day it is a stunning view, just in a different way. In amongst the ancient weathered gravestones is this beautiful Celtic cross. I have no idea if it’s a gravestone or a memorial, and it’s at a funny angle because I had to lean over a wall to photograph it!

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The exhibition is run by a marvellous lady, Deb Gillander, who has a huge fund of wonderful stories about ganseys, the families who owned and wore them and the men and women who knitted them. I could listen to her for hours! I was clearly far too busy listening, for once in my life, as I forgot to take any photos. All images of ganseys are from Propagansey

Mum had been lent two original ganseys by her oldest friend, so we took them along on our first visit. Deb was hugely excited by them as they had an unusual gusset. One was in near perfect condition as Grandad Taylor, it’s wearer, only wore it when he was on holiday in Flamborough. The other, belonging to Mr. Parkin, was well worn, to be polite! I can remember him wearing it when I was a little girl.

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Grandad Taylor’s gansey and (below) it’s unusual gusset. Both ganseys are of the Flamborough pattern.

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There were about 65 ganseys to look at, of many and varied colours and patterns. The myth that one could recognize a dead body by it’s pattern is just that. A myth. However there are patterns common to a particular town or village, such as Whitby, Flamborough and other places along the coast from the north east of Scotland right down to Sheringham and Cromer. As the fishing fleets and herring lassies moved down the coast elements of patterns were swapped and added into ganseys by individuals, families who moved from one village to another would sometimes combine patterns from the two places to create yet another pattern, such as this one from the Duke family of Robin Hood’s Bay

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Fishermen even wore knitted long johns under their trousers. Can you imagine the itch?? So next time you see a picture of a dour old fisherman just imagine him in his lovely pink undies!!!!!!!!!

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Here are more ganseys. Many of them are very old and covered in stains and holes, although you can’t see that unless you’re close to them. As you can see navy blue was the most common colour, but they were made in other colours too. The very fancy ones were either bridal ganseys (usually cream or white) or for Sunday best. Herring girls would often use pink for theirs, and you can buy a shade of gansey wool called Herring Girl Pink to this day. Everyday working ganseys were much plainer, with a small pattern on a part of the yoke or on the shoulder.

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Here are close ups of different pattern elements

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And as a lovely rounding off here is Headless George in his very fine gansey (probably knitted in 2 or 3 ply wool, instead of the more usual 5 ply)

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Reading blogs

How do people read and interact with blogs?

I used to use Google Reader to organize all my blogs, otherwise I would never read any. I kept forgetting to click on those bookmarked links! Since the demise of Google Reader I now use Feedly, which I actually prefer now I’ve figured out how to use it. All the blogs I follow are put into nice little categories, each new post pops up on the main page so I can just click on each to read it. Any I don’t have time to read at the time stay on the main page until I have read them. Feedly even allows me to save individual blogposts which is handy if somebody has posted a recipe or tip which I might want later. It saves me scrolling through months of posts.

I don’t always comment on blogs as often I haven’t anything pretty or witty to say at the time of reading but I often ‘like’ a post to show the writer of a blog that I have read their work. I do like to know if people are actually reading what I blabber on about, and presume others feel the same way. While comments are always more than welcome, if they are pleasant and/or constructive, I appreciate that sometimes one has nothing particular to say at the time, which is why I like the ‘like’ button which so many blogs feature these days.

So…..how do you read yours? (to paraphrase the Cadbury’s creme egg advert)

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Too many UFOs

UFOs in the knitting world are Unfinished Objects. This afternoon I took a deep breath and dived into my many UFOs….aka The Naughty Corner. Some of these projects are cast aside because I am bored with them, or because something new and more exciting comes along. Others are cast aside because I encountered a problem which I thought too difficult to fix, or ran into further problems as I tried to fix them. I don’t like to have too many projects on the go and I can feel all of mine weighing me down. So I need to list them all and finish a few, ignoring all the new and exciting things.

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This cardigan has been unfinished the longest. Technically it is complete but the shoulders are appalling. They look like something from David Bowie’s Space Oddity! I need to unpick all the seams, unravel the sleeve caps and reknit them into something less Star Trek and more Anna. It took me so long to unpick one sleeve that I lost heart and bundled it back into it’s bag. When I sew seams, I sew seams to last forever. To be honest this one would probably be the quickest to finish.

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This is a lovely slouchy-throw-it-on-with-jeans jumper and is perfect to use up some cotton aran that has been in my stash since I rescued it from Noah’s Ark. The problem with this is it uses fat needles and fat needles make my hands hurt if I use them too much. This one may take a while to finish!

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I began the cardigan of this twin set earlier this year. It is a gorgeous pattern and I was enjoying doing it but I hit a personal snag in about March and I had to put it away as I am knitting it in a lovely shade of grey (only one, not fifty!) and it was entirely the wrong colour for me to be using at that time. This is the most likely project to be liberated soon. I might even make the jumper to go with it one day too.

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I began this a very long time ago, using a lovely yarn which I bought using Hobbycraft vouchers which my sister bought me for Christmas. Here it is, it reminds me of a sunset

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Most recently I began this Chanel style jacket, in burgundy and cream. I am enjoying knitting it and it will be so warm I will probably use it as a coat during Spring, Autumn and a traditional British summer. I stopped because…..I don’t know why….

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Finally the cardigan I am working on at the moment (with apologies for the appalling photo, I had to steal it from Google Images

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The fronts are nice to do because of the cable edging but the back was a labour of love (4 ply wool on 3mm needles *yawn*) and I suspect the sleeves will be too. I am working on the rib of a sleeve so I’ll be able to tell you soon if it is!

P.S. I also have a vintage jumper which I shoved into a bag and hid away. The pattern is by Norman Hartnell, designer of the Queen’s wedding dress no less. I followed the pattern blindly and thought I was going great guns until I cast off the fronts and realised that there had been a mistake in the instructions. They forgot to tell you to knit the front armholes to match the back! Oops. An easy mistake to put right…..eventually.

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Chub rub and hair rats.

I seem to have done a lot of internet surfing lately and this evening I was inspired to actually put my surfing to good use.

I read, via an article in The Guardian (not my usual reading but I was sent the link by a friend) about Bandelettes designed to stop ‘chub rub’. Having suffered from this complaint even when I was so skinny my bones stuck out and my mother called me ‘Belsen Child’ I was eager to try them, as creams, lotions, talc don’t work long term. Looking carefully at the product I thought “Hmmm, these look like the top part of hold ups. I wonder if I could make do and mend?” Having the (mis)fortune to put a hole in a favourite pair of hold ups recently I fished them out of the rag bag and found my favourite fabric scissors.

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Snip, snip, snip and I had my very own Bandelettes, as modeled by Juno, who does like to get in on the action!

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So, what does one do with the leftover legs? Easy! Use them to make hair rats.

In the olden days, i.e. up to the 1950s and possibly beyond for people who don’t give a monkeys about fashion, these were in common use. The big hair of Edwardian ladies was assisted by rats and hairpieces.

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Those elegant updos that you see in episodes of Poirot use rats

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Victory rolls during the War used rats, if your hair wouldn’t play nicely (asĀ  my baby fine hair doesn’t)

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We have a fab photo of my Granny holding my Dad as a baby (so either December 1944 or early 1945) and her hair is in victory rolls and a queue roll at the back. Sadly the photo is at my Granddad’s so I can’t scan and post it.

The traditional way of making rats was for ladies to collect the hair from their hairbrushes and when they had enough either just wodge it up into a roll or stuff it into a hairnet and shape it as a roll or pad, as needed. I don’t lose that much hair when I brush it so I resorted to Plan B. Hold up legs and toy stuffing!

Take one leg of your hold up and cut off a bit 5″-7″ long, depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Longer, thicker hair needs a bigger rat. You will also need something to stuff it with, I used polyester toy stuffing because that’s what I had.

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Then pin down the middle with two sets of pins, leaving a space in the middle of the pins

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You will cut down this space, leaving you with two hair rat sized pieces.

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Stitch down one short edge and the open long edge. You can do this on the machine, using a wide zig zag stitch, or you can hand sew, as I did. I did one with a running stitch and one with a back stitch and I would recommend the back stitch as the stronger stitch. Turn inside out to make a wobbly tube.

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Stuff with toy stuffing. You can use a fair bit but be careful not to overstuff it as not only will it be too fat for your hair, it will put a strain on the stitches and not last as long. Tie the open end into a knot (or you can sew it if you wish) and you will have an extremely dodgy looking object!

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Roll your hair around your rat to create many and varied hairstyles. Simply pin into place and make sure the ends are covered by hair. If you wanted to do open ended victory rolls for a 1940s occasion try rolling your hair around rat, putting a grip into one end of the curl, making sure you don’t pin any of your rat. Then lacquer it with hairspray and gently pull the rat out one side, holding the roll in place with your fingers until you have pinned and lacquered it firmly into place.

Experiment and have fun!

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