New pattern release: From Dorset With Love

Some of you may already have noticed that Clare Devine has released a new collection of patterns, From Dorset With Love.  Clare has a way of  coming up with wonderful patterns with special details that are always completely wearable.  From Dorset With Love is inspired by a life-changing road trip that Clare made to Dorset two years ago.  The images she describes are so evocative and make me want to hit the road myself.
The collection contains six patterns based around Dorset locations.  I was particularly excited that the first pattern released was Lulworth Cove, a slouchy beanie pattern knit in the snuggly Travelknitter Merino DK.
Clare knit the sample using the London Skies colourway (always one of my favourites), and the sample has such a beautiful, timeless quality to it:

Photo by Kate O’Sullivan @aplayfulday

For my own sample I wanted to try something totally different.  I anticipated that the stitch pattern would show up a variegated colourway really well, so I went with my Travelknitter Merino DK in Brambleberry.  I love the effect!  It has a totally different feel to it.  Huge thanks to my friends Vicky and Helen for joining me down the pub: Vicky for modelling and Helen for photography.  The next round is on me.
Travelknitter Brambleberry DK Lulworth Cove
To celebrate the pattern launch, Clare and I have put together some goodies!
Clare is offering a 20% discount to my followers who purchase a single pattern from the collection.  Simply purchase the pattern via Ravelry and enter the code travelknitter20 to claim your discount.  This offer is available until 31st May.
I’m also hosting a little competition here on my blog, and we have four prizes up for grabs:
  • One skein of Travelknitter Merino DK in the colourway of your choice
  • One ebook of the full collection
  • Two digital copies of the Lulworth Cove pattern
To be in the running, just leave a comment on this blog post and tell me about a special road trip you’ve either been on, or one that you want to go on.  The competition closes at midnight, Monday 29th May (British Summer Time).  Looking forward to hearing your tales!

on interactions and community

The title of this blog post is the first theme in the brand new “Love Your Blog” challenge hosted by A Playful Day.

love your blog creativity challenge with A Playful Day

I don’t often get involved in blog challenges, but this one clearly speaks to me.  I think there have been many knitting bloggers reflecting on how our blogs have been falling by the wayside, sometimes as life gets in the way, but also pushed aside as we all interact on quicker, more immediate social media platforms.  Well, no more!  Let this be the start of a knitting blog resurgence!

The theme is also particularly relevant to what I wanted to post about anyway, and ties in very neatly with what I’ve been thinking about.

I’ll mention a couple of events that I’ve been to in the last few weeks that are definitely all about community.

First up was the recent Edinburgh Yarn Fest where I ran the p/hop stall, fundraising for Medecins Sans Frontieres/ Doctors Without Borders.  I think one of the major achievements of the organisers (Jo and Mica) was the way in which they were able to facilitate a real sense of community at the event.  There were plenty of spaces for people to meet and relax informally (such as the Podcasters Lounge) as well as a hilarious Ca-Baa-ret on the Saturday evening.  Social media has been abuzz for weeks now with people sharing their experiences of the weekend, whether stash enhancing or selfies of meeting knitting heros and the like.  It was the sort of event that absolutely brought people together.

phop at eyf

My own experience of the event was shaped by my work in running the p/hop stall.  Somehow I managed to not leave the stall for more than half an hour over the whole weekend, which meant that my interactions were based entirely on whoever stopped by.  Luckily I had a wonderful team of volunteers helping out, and I got to meet loads of p/hop supporters.

I had loads of help from Heather, who was an absolute gem and was great fun to hang out with.  We had a brilliant time getting creative with the stall layout, using only what I had in my suitcase and what Heather could find the Asda next door.  Mop handles for the win!

It was the first time that we’d met “in real life” so as we were getting to know each other, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Heather:  So you knit then?

Me:  Well yes, sort of, in theory, but not so much in reality these days.  I don’t seem to find the time for actual knitting any more.

Heather:  I see (looking dubious).

Me:  I do lots of knitting-related things though.  I dye yarn, I organise two knitting groups, I co-ordinate p/hop, and I go to lots of knitting events.  I don’t knit much anymore, but I still seem to hang out with knitters a lot.

Heather:  Ah, so you’re a knitting groupie then!

(much chuckling followed).

It was a funny conversation, but there’s also an element of truth behind it.

I do find myself somehow very actively involved in this thing that we call the knitting community.  Pretty much all of my online interactions of any kind revolve around knitting, whether on blogs, Twitter, or Ravelry.  My so-called “free” time is also largely spent on knitting activity.  I organise two knitting groups here in London, both of which I set up as a way to bring together knitters from different sections of the community.  You might think that going to two knitting groups gives me lots of dedicated knitting time, but it doesn’t seem to work out that way!  Co-ordinating p/hop involves a significant part of my week, with much of this time spent connecting with other knitters around the UK and around the world, whether online or face to face at various knitting events.  I feel pretty privileged to have the opportunity to be surrounded by so many inspiring people.

Somehow being involved in the knitting community is something that really resonates with me, and has turned out to be something I devote a great deal of time to, even if it means I don’t have much time left to knit.

Where I don’t quite make the grade as a “knitting groupie”  though is that I’m really rather shy, and I’m horrendously bad at taking the first step to introduce myself to people, especially if they’re a designer or dyer who is well-known.  I have that little voice that questions “why on earth would they want to speak to me?”  So there are no knitting celebrity selfies for me, I’m afraid.

 

Spring Break

Last week I helped out at the wonderful craft night, The Make Escape.  If you don’t already know about it, it’s a fantastic (and free!) evening for adults to get creative and crafty in East London – think paper, glue and sequins!  Each event has a theme around which the crafty projects are based, with this event being Spring Break.  Regardless of the theme, there is always a space for knitting, and this was where I spent the evening teaching people how to knit.

The Make Escape

It really was a whole heap of fun!  Also teaching that night were the lovely Kareem  and my good friend (and incredibly talented) Sarah.  I lost count of how many people we “recruited” in to the wonderful world of knitting, but it was certainly a few.  I was quite chuffed to be able to teach continental to a couple of knitters too; one who was left-handed, and another who was struggling to grasp English-style throwing when it didn’t connect with her memories of watching her mum knit.  I showed her how to hold the yarn in her left hand (just like her mum) and so  it made a lot more sense for her.

Not bad for a knitting groupie eh?

I think that this post has helped me start to make sense of where I fit in this amazing knitting community.  While you may not be seeing many WIPs or FOs on this blog, I’m starting to think that it’s OK.  There might actually be a place, and a space, for me in this great big knitting community whether I “actually knit” or not.

2015 UK knitting events

The year is drawing to a close, and so it’s time to bring you the list of UK knitting events for 2015.  Once again we’ve got an impressive lineup for the year ahead, and the list just gets bigger every year.  Unfortunately that results in a few duplications over weekends, but that just takes a bit more planning.   Who’s excited?

Confirmed events for 2015:

18 Jan
20-22 Feb
5-8 March
14-15 March
27-28 March
25-26 April
9 May
15-16 May
16-17 May
16-17 May
23 May
30-31 May
26-27 June
25-26 July
7-8 Aug
15 Aug
11-13 Sept
26-27 Sept
26-27 Sept
26 Sep-4 Oct
7-11 Oct
17-18 Oct
29 Oct-1 Nov
26-29 Nov
Waltham Abbey Wool Show Waltham Abbey, Essex
Unravel Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey
Spring Knitting and Stitching Show  Olympia, London
Edinburgh Yarn Festival Edinburgh, Scotland
p-LUSH  Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Wonderwool Wales Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys, Wales
Wharfe Wool Fair Otley Courthouse, West Yorkshire
I Knit Fandango Lindley Hall, London (new event!)
John Arbon Textiles Open Weekend South Molton, Devon
FOFEST  Exeter, Devon  (UPDATE: cancelled until 2016)
Highland WoolFest Dingwall Mart, Scotland
Proper Woolly   Holsworthy, Devon  (new event!)
Woolfest Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth, Cumbria
Fibre-East Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
British Wool Show (previously British Wool Weekend) York Auction Mart
Popup Wool Show  The Oval Leisure Centre, Bebington, Cheshire
Bristol Wool Fair Clifton and Durdham Downs, Bristol
Yarndale Skipton Auction Mart, Skipton, Yorkshire
Masham Sheep Fair  Masham, Yorkshire
Shetland Wool Week Shetland
Knitting and Stitching Show Ally Pally, London
Bakewell Wool Gathering Bakewell Agricultural Centre, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Geeky Puffin Knitpalooza (retreat with one-day market) Edinburgh (new!)
Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate, Yorkshire
Possible events:
There are a few events that may well be held again next year, but details are still to be confirmed.  However I know people are chomping at the bit to start planning for next year, so I had to get this blog post published sooner rather than later.

Unwind, held in July 2014 at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Brighton UPDATE: not being held in 2015

Glasgow School of Yarn held in October 2014 in Glasgow

Festiwool, held in November 2014 at North Herts College, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Time to start preparing the shortlist of the events that I’ll get to in 2015!  What’s on your must-see list?

when I’m not knitting

My knitting time has been steadily decreasing to a point where it’s pretty much non-existent.  So many other things (ie work!) get in the way.  I know that lots of knitters are able to use any spare scraps of time to fit in a few rows here and there, but I just don’t seem to be able to do that.  For me, knitting is a creative process, and I find that I just can’t be creative when my head is full with so much other stuff. 

I may not be knitting, but I’m still doing knitting-related things.

I’m involved in one rather large project in particular:  I’ve just recently started as the co-ordinator for p/hop!

 

phop-logo

 

For those who aren’t familiar with p/hop, it stands for “pennies per hour or pleasure”.  It’s an amazing fundraising project that raises money for Medecins Sans Frontieres, and its success is entirely down to donations from within the knitting and crochet community.  Everything element of the project is community driven:  designers donate patterns, and knitters then “purchase” a pattern, making a donation of what they feel the pattern is worth.   We have stalls at knitting and fibre events across the country to help spread the word.  Knitters also offer their time and skills to whip up samples of the patterns to help promote the designs.  And then someone volunteers to co-ordinate it all and keep it ticking over.  And now that someone is me!

P/hop is such a unique project, and to date has raised over £47 000 for MSF’s work.  There are now 60 amazing patterns available, so if you’re looking for a new project to cast on, be sure to head over and take a look.

Oh, and if you see me at knit night or at a festival still carrying around the same half-finished sock from months ago, I promise that I’m still very much involved in knitting, even if I’m not actually doing it much anymore.

 

 

rainy day Cornwall: Falmouth

The current horrendous UK weather has prompted this post.  The wind and rain reminds me of what we experienced last year on a little week away in Cornwall.  It was in March, which can have quite lovely spring weather, but last year it was the second coldest on record.  The seaside isn’t really my location of choice for a week of wind, hail, sleet and snow!  Trying to make the most of a holiday around all that weather was quite a challenge at times.

Anyway, we booked a lovely little apartment called Puffins in the middle of Falmouth.  If you’re looking for a modern apartment in a perfect location, then it completely fits the bill.  A fondness of puffins really is recommended though, as the decor is very puffin-focused, right down to puffin salt and pepper shakers.  But who doesn’t love puffins, right?

Our apartment had a great view however, with double height windows:

1-view from window

Due to The Amazing Molly having a work emergency to tend do, I was left to my own devices for a couple of days.  My Plan A for the holiday had fallen in a heap, as there was no way in the world that I was going to do any coastal walks.  Plan B was then to come up with ways to spend time in Falmouth during crap weather.

Here are my recommendations, in no particular order:

Go to a pub with a bookshop!    This place was such an unexpected find.  The entrance to Beerwolf Books looks like an interesting old boozer…

1-beerwolf

then you go up the staircase, to discover a lovely pub with a bookshop at the back.  Sheer genius.  Seriously, why doesn’t every town have one of these?  I could spend a lot of time somewhere like that.

1-beerwolf stairs

When there is a short respite from the rain and the howling winds, go for a little walk to the next town over, Penryn.  Stock up on supplies at the Bailey’s Country Store Farm Shop (I got a slice of fantastic egg and bacon pie to eat on the go, and I got some frozen homity pies to eat later.  Seriously, the only two places in the world I’ve ever found homity pies are Cornwall and Tasmania.  There’s a huge gap in the market, hint hint.  I could live on the potato-and-cheese goodness forever).

Then have a nice cup of tea and a bit of cake at Miss Peapod’s Cafe.  The focus is on local and organic food, and I managed to snaffle a comfy couch just when there was a rare patch of sunshine coming in.

1-IMG_4216

The cafe is part of Jubilee Wharf, a great multi-use eco-development in Penryn.  Jubilee Wharf is also home to various workshops, studios, alongside flats on the top floor.  I had a look around some lovely clothing and jewellery studios.

When you have some company again (The Amazing Molly eventually returned), stop by Dolly’s Tea Rooms for a delicious cocktail served in a teapot and teacups.  Tasty!  They’re also now hosting a knitting evening once a month, but I only discovered this a day too late to attend myself.

1-teacups

On the topic of knitting, there’s a traditional “wool shop” in town, The Wool Basket.  I thought it would be just the place for something more on the novelty yarn end of the spectrum, and indeed it was, so I picked up something suitable for knitting an easter bunny.  Worked a treat, and the staff were very lovely actually,

1-IMG_4217

Falmouth actually has a great selection of little independent shops, with a good range of interesting, handmade products, as well as a good smattering of vintage furniture shops.  There are also lots of art galleries to spend time browsing in, but I didn’t take any photos of those to show you.

In a nutshell, Falmouth is a lovely little place, that somehow manages to combine Cornish fishing history with tourism and university students.  I’m sure it’s at its best in summer, but even in the depths of an unexpected winter, it’s a great spot.

2014 UK knitting events

It’s that time of year again where we pull out our trusty diaries and plan for the year ahead of knitting and fibre events, right?  Or is that just me?

I’ve pulled together a list of all the major knitting events in the UK for 2014, and some of these dates are hot off the press.  Calendars at the ready..

19 Jan                Waltham Abbey Wool Show  Marriott Hotel, Waltham Abbey (new event!)

21-23 Feb          Unravel Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey

13-16 March     Knitting and Stitching Show  Olympia, London

26-27 April       Wonderwool Wales Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys, Wales

24 May              Highland Wool Festival Dingwall Mart, Scotland (new event!)

27-28 June       Woolfest Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre, near Cockermouth, Cumbria

12-13 July         Unwind Brighton Dome Corn Exchange Brighton (new event!)

26-27 July        Fibre-East Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedfordshire

5-7 Sept            Bristol Wool Fair exact location in Bristol tbc.  (new event!)

6-7 Sept            British Wool Weekend The Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate

27-28 Sept       Yarndale Skipton Auction Mart, Skipton, Yorkshire

16 Aug             Popup Wool Show  The Oval Leisure Centre, Bebington, Cheshire  (new event!)

9-12 Oct           Knitting and Stitching Show Ally Pally, London

6-12 Oct           Shetland Wool Week Shetland

18-19 Oct         Bakewell Wool Gathering Bakewell Agricultural Centre, Bakewell

2 Nov               Festiwool North Herts College, Hithin, Hertfordshire (new event!)

20-23 Nov       Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate

Please note that the Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be taking a wee break this year, and are planning a bigger event for March 2015.

I’m amazed at how many new yarn and fibre based events keep springing up all over the country.  And every one is different, with a different theme, focus, atmosphere, and fabulous vendors.  I’m trying to work my way round them all, but there’s just so many to choose from!  I might visit the new Unwind event in Brighton this year (good excuse for a weekend away) and my dream is to get to Shetland Wool Week one day.  Maybe this year?  Because we all know that knitters DO travel.

giveaway winner

Hi there knitters!  For those of you in the UK, I hope you’re managing to stay dry and out of the floods this week.
Thanks to those of you who left comments in response to my last blog post.    You had some great stories to tell about gifts you’d received.  I certainly got lots of giggles!
I put the number of commenters in to the handy random number generator, and came up with the following:

random number

That means that the prize goes to commenter number two, that is Linda!  Please do get in touch with your details, and I’ll get your prize in the post to you.  Happy new year!