Wednesday, December 21, 2011

going on a bear hunt

something strange is going on over here.

in various nooks & crannys about the house, little gold bears have been popping up.

some are harder to spot than others (i believe this one is practicing what's known as hiding in plain sight).

& some are turning up where you'd least expect them.

& just when they've all been found & gathered together, they disappear...

& it starts all over again!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

win stuff with p/hop!!

phop birthday

it's p/hop's birthday, and they're giving away lovely knitting things to celebrate, including a £30 gift certificate to an amazing online yarn shop!!  all you need to do is follow along with their blog, & send in an answer to the question on the prize-giving post for a chance to win spending money for yarn, along with loads of other awesome knitty stuff. 

(& if you don't already know about the fantastic fundraising that p/hop does, check it out here.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

random catchup

wow, i haven't been here in a REALLY long time.  there's been a lot going on, so here's a quick random catchup:

1.  the november KAL was so much fun!  loads of folk participated, there were a few fun prizes, and at the end, most of us had a lovely new shawl:

karise full

pattern: karise by the fab kariebookish
needles: 3.75mm
yarn: colorimetry lambswool lace, 750yds
modifications: i left out the plain stockinette section & did a few rows of lacey make-it-up-as-you-go at the top of the shawl before working 15 repeats of chart A, 7 repeates of chart B, and 1 repeat of chart C.

2.  there's a december KAL running now, we had so much fun the first time!  this time, the theme is colourwork, and there are four lovely mitt patterns to choose from.  i'm making the "vagabond" mitts, but i haven't got very far on them yet (yarn is my own merino sock yarn in a one-off purple and "grellow").

vagabond mitt cuff

3. i'm running a lot now, covering about 12 miles a week (which is pretty impressive by my usual sit-on-the-couch-and-do-nothing standards!).  & i hate to admit it, but i actually kind of like it.  and even more shamefully, i've actually just gone online & bought running tights (ack!) - i'm still not convinced that the west coast of scotland needs to see my butt in that much detail (seriously, spandex??) but with the winter setting in, it seems like the only way to stay reasonably dry & warm for my 6 mile run home from work. 

4.  yep, i just said 6 miles - and i'm gradually making it even longer.  i'm also doing two short (3 mile) runs during the week, and i'm going to the gym three days a week as well, with a new workout plan i'm calling "The Insane Circuits of Death".  & here's why.  (ok, stop laughing - i'm serious!)

5.  don't worry, i'll be dyeing up a ton of yarn beforehand, just in case i break an arm or something.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

small shawls!!

there seems to be more & more patterns popping up for small, scarf-sized shawls - some of them are truly lovely, and can be made from single skeins of sock yarn (& as most knitters know, sock yarn doesn't count as stash, so somehow, we end up with a lot of single skeins!). so, to encourage the knitting of small shawls (& the using up of single skeins of sock yarn that somehow found their way into our homes even though we're "not buying any more yarn right now"), the Old Maiden Aunt group on Ravelry is hosting a Small Shawl KAL!!!

here are the rules:
  1. the patterns for this KAL are karise, juneberry, and shenandoah valley. all three designers have generously offered a discount on pattern purchases for any KAL participants (yay!!) - check this thread on Ravelry for details. only these shawls will qualify you for the prize draws.
  2. you must cast on your shawl on or after 1st november. please post a “cast on” post in the KAL thread on Ravelry including details of your pattern choice, yarn choice, date started, and a photo if at all possible. swatching before 1st november is ok, but casting on is NOT!!
  3. you must finish your shawl on or before 30th november. please then post a “cast off” post in the KAL thread on Ravelry including details of your pattern choice, yarn choice, date finished, and a photo!!
  4. if you finish your shawl in the given time period, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win something lovely from Old Maiden Aunt. i’ll also be doing a few random prize draws throughout - so even if you’re not sure whether or not you can finish in time, you might still win something if you participate! anyone who uses OMA yarns for their KAL project gets extra chances in any draws :)
  5. if you’re an overachiever, or just a little nutty, and want to knit ALL THREE shawls during the KAL, you’ll be entered into a draw for an extra-special-fabulous bonus prize!!!
the KAL thread on Ravelry will be unlocked on 1st november for you to start posting - so in the meantime, clear your schedules/WIPs, choose your pattern(s), wind up your yarn, and start swatching!!
(& don't forget - there's still time to add your name to the sock club draw list...)

Friday, October 14, 2011

glasgow school of yarn!

i'll be at the glasgow school of yarn on friday 21st & saturday 22nd october! the marketplace is open from 11am-6pm on friday and 10am-6pm on the saturday - i'd love to see you there!!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

2012 yarn preview club!!!

hurrah - it's club time again!!! the 2012 yarn preview club will run along the same lines/timescale as last year's club:

  1. it will run for three months, with parcels being mailed out mid- january, february, and march 2012.
  2. each parcel will contain two skeins of sock yarn in two different colourways (i’ll be sticking to the superwash merino/blends for this club, but haven't decided on the final yarns yet - i'll be choosing from the 100% superwash merino, superwash merino/bamboo, superwash merino/cashmere/nylon, superwash merino/silk, and superwash merino/nylon/sparkle. i'll only be choosing three types of yarn; you'll receive two skeins of each type in each package (six skeins of yarn total)).
  3. this year, each month's shipment will have one beautiful "extra" - these are being created especially for the club in partnership with three talented crafters (one for each shipment). no patterns will be included in the club shipments.
  4. each of the colourways will be brand-new, never-seen-before-in-the-web-shop, and will not be available for general purchase until april 2012 (after the club is over), at which point they will be available to all customers as the new 2012 colourway collection. the "extras" will not be for sale in my web shop after the club is over (but may be for sale via the crafter who is making them!). because of this, i would politely ask that you not sell on any of the yarn/"extras" during the three months of the club (gifting/trading is totally fine though!).
  5. i haven't fixed the price for the club yet, but will do so in the next few weeks. this is because i'm still deciding which yarns to use, and am still costing the "extras". as a guideline, a single membership in last year's club cost £110 for UK/EU residents & £120 for non-UK/EU residents; a double membership in last year's club (double the yarn, but not double the "extras") cost £190 for UK/EU residents & £210 for non-UK/EU residents. i'll edit this post to add the cost of this years club as soon as i get the final costings added up.
  6. it's entirely likely that it will be a bit more expensive than last year's club! this is simply due to increasing costs (unfortunately, materials & postage costs keep steadily creeping upwards!!). as a rough guide, i usually cost club prices by adding up a slightly discounted retail value of the yarns used, the actual postage costs, & the actual cost of "extras" (that is, the cost to me, and not their retail value). i always try to keep the price as fair as i can, and i hope you can understand why i may need to charge more this year.
  7. the club will again be limited to 50 members - it will be a random draw from everyone who's interested, with no preference given to club members from last year (sorry!).
so, if you’re interested in the yarn club, please send me an email with “2012 preview club” in the subject line, and your name, country, & email contact details in the body of the message. i’ll be taking emails up until 30th november 2011 - if i get more than 50, i’ll randomly draw 50 lucky names; less than 50, & everyone who emailed me will get offered a place in the club. at that point, i’ll send out an email to let you know how to purchase your club membership, and i’ll start dyeing up a storm! please note that sending me an email doesn’t mean you absolutely have to purchase a club membership - if circumstances change & you’re no longer interested that’s ok. you'll then have until mid-december to purchase your membership, so that i can finalise the numbers; the first club parcel will ship out mid-january!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

postcards from the hebrides

ferry to the hebrides
ferry from uig (skye) to lochmaddy (north uist)

north uist, from the ferry
north uist coastline, from the ferry

harris tweed warehouse, tarbert
harris tweed warehouse, tarbert (harris)

inukshuk at carloway broch, isle of lewis
randomly, an inukshuk at carloway broch (lewis)

dun carloway broch, isle of lewis
dun carloway broch (lewis)

marbhig, isle of lewis
marbhig (lewis)

sock knitting on the ferry
sock knitting on the ferry (stornoway (lewis) to ullapool (mainland))

Thursday, September 15, 2011

headed north

headed north
load the car & write the note
grab your hat & grab your coat
tell the ones who need to know -
we are headed north
("i & love & you", the avett brothers)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

wool season

it's true, i've been enjoying the summer (although i've been hugely busy in the new studio, dyeing up more yarns than ever before!). but lately, i've been sensing a slow but gradual change. each evening, the dusk is setting in a little earlier. there's a slight chill in the air, and we've had quite a few gray & rainy days over the last wee while.
some folk might find this a bit disheartening - after all, the winters in scotland can be pretty bleak. it's incredibly dark over here in the winter months - in the depth of winter, the sun doesn't rise until about 10am, sets about 3pm, and never really comes out from behind the clouds in between. add in some strong winds (we're by the sea, after all) and a fair amount of driving rain, and you can see why it might get some folk down.
for a knitter, though, the shift in the weather can only mean one thing - wool season is coming. and the cooler it gets, the more my knitting plans grow.
my laar is nearly finished - it needs one cuff, one sleeve, and a buttonband/neckband, and it'll be the perfect light wooly layer for the coming fall breezes.


then, there's this gorgeous rowan felted tweed in "pickle", waiting to be turned into a walnuss cardigan - a slightly heavier knit, ideal for the transition from late fall to early winter.

rowan felted tweed 155

and finally, i've just dyed myself a massive pile of this (the new superwash merino/silk 4ply in "derelict daughter"), with plans for a lush, cozy sweater - i'm thinking of a densely knitted, hip-length fitted tunic with a HUGE (possibly detachable) cowl neck, perfect for keeping snuggly in the depths of the winter months.

derelict daughter merino/silk 4ply

& with all this & more to look forward to, why would i be sad about the end of summer?...

Friday, July 22, 2011

knit nation

this might seem a little delayed, as Knit Nation is now well past! it was utterly brilliant - but so exhausting that even now, i'm not fully recovered (which is why it's taken me so long to post this!).
the RSA & i were lucky enough to be able to have a little bit of a holiday before the madness of KN weekend - there was a family wedding down in aldermaston the weekend before, so we thought since we would be "down south" already, we might as well just stay in this awesome flat in london for the week & enjoy ourselves (which seemed to mainly consist of walking everywhere, and eating loads - there are just too many great restaurants in london!!). we even went over to paris on the eurostar for the day (where we also walked huge distances, and ate vast amounts of lovely food - i'm sensing a theme developing here!).
after a week of eating, it was time to get to work - i'd shipped down all my KN stock to the lovely folk at Loop before i left scotland, & met up with them on the friday morning to unload & set up.

knit nation 1

i'd learned my lesson from last year, and had a double booth this time instead of a single - we also pushed the tables to the sides of the booth to make sure folk had lots of room to come in & browse through all the yarns (& to make sure we had room to get in & out, unlike last year!!).

knit nation 2

alas, these were pretty much the only photos of the booth that i managed to get all weekend - the moment the doors opened & all the locusts lovely knitters swarmed in, all i could manage to do was sell skein after skein of yarn (i know, what a hardship, right?). & i think it's safe to say that the new OMA bases are going to be extremely popular - halfway through the weekend, this is all that was left out of 10 kilos!

new bases left on saturday

i think i managed to leave the booth for about 20 minutes total all weekend - mainly for bathroom breaks, but i did snag a few minutes to run around the marketplace myself as well (and sensibly limited my purchases to one skein of wollmeise laceweight and three small cones of habu - i was far too busy selling to be able to buy very much, which makes my wallet much happier!).
when the weekend ended, i only had to pack up about 180 of the 800+ skeins of yarn i shipped down (YAY!) - ysolda even had room in her van to bring them back up to scotland for me. and, thanks to some excellent forward planning by the RSA, i finally got a moment to sit with my feet up & have a little knitting time (in the airport lounge - for someone who spent the weekend at a knitting event, i barely knitted a stitch!).

relaxing in airport lounge

a HUGE thank you everyone who came & bought yarn from me in london - it was SO lovely to meet so many customers (former & future!) and i wish that i'd had time to chat more with all of you. here's to another amazing event in 2013 - i think i'd better start stocking up now!!!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

it's my party


the studio-warming party was great fun yesterday! we were pretty well stocked with fizzy wine (& non-alcoholic fizzy drinks for the unfortunate folk like me who were driving home!) and all manner of homemade cakes & biscuits. loads of people turned up to see the new studio space, eat cake, & knit, including the lovely paula, elaine, kathleen, kerry, gwen, marion, mel, & even the famous ysolda! ;)
alas, it was all too exciting for words, and i didn't remember to take any photos until after almost everyone had left (duh!).

studio party 1

& after spending some time with my studio filled to the brim with so many lovely knitters & friends, i can say that it finally feels like my space. since i moved in, i've been working so hard on Knit Nation prep that my main focus was getting the dye room set up & running, and i hadn't really put much effort into arranging the front studio space. but since i was throwing a party, i thought perhaps i should get it looking a little more welcoming - and after that, & an afternoon full of cake & knitting, it feels much more like home.

studio party 2

thank you so much to all the lovely folk who came along, and for all those farther afield who couldn't make it but who sent me kind wishes!
now, i'm off to make sure all my boxes & bags are packed up & ready to go - i'll see you in london!

Monday, June 13, 2011

let them eat cake

at last, things are starting to come together with the new studio - it's been a lot of work, but it's really beginning to feel like my space. i've got a few little things still left to sort out, but after that, i'd love to have you all come by for a visit!
so, i'm planning a studio-warming party - come take a wee tour of the studio, try out some of the yarns, & have a glass of wine, and there will of course be plenty of cake! if you're anywhere near that west coast of scotland i'd love to see you!
the party will be on saturday 2nd july & will start about 2pm (& will finish when we run out of cake, or about 6pm-ish, whichever comes first!) - please drop by if you can! the new studio address is:

Studio 30, Ritchie Street
West Kilbride
KA23 9AL

Saturday, May 28, 2011


as they say here, i've been flittin' today - that is, moving!

i've left my little studio space & have moved into a fantastically huge new studio, just up the road from my first one. i'll be spending next week getting everything organised & set up (& possibly going furniture shopping, to find things to fill up the new huge empty space!) but after that i should be open as normal. i'm also planning a studio-warming/yarn-tasting party at some point in the near future... hopefully i'll see you in the new studio soon!

Friday, May 13, 2011

cardigan catchup

wow - i haven't been here in quite a while!! things have been pretty busy - i'm working like mad to try & keep the shop restocked, plus dye up a load of new yarn for knit nation, not to mention getting ready for a studio move! blogging has kind of fallen by the wayside - but there's still been lots of knitting....

tangled yoke cardi 3

exhibit A:
started: 22nd november 2010
completed (eventually): 10th april 2011
needles: 3mm addi circulars
yarn: my own merino sock yarn in "strange rock n' rollers" (just under 400g)
pattern: tangled yoke cardigan by eunny jang (ravelled here)
modifications: the pattern is written for a fine dk with a gauge of 24sts/30rows over 4". i used a 4ply, with a gauge of 30sts/40rows over 4", so i worked the pattern more or less as written for the 46" bust size to end up with a finished bust size of 38". i also had to mess about a little bit with the number of rows between shaping rows as my row gauge was a little different, but that was kind of done on the fly.

tangled yoke cardi 1

the merino sock yarn is great over the cabled yoke - lovely stitch definition!! overall, i'm hugely happy with this cardigan - it's probably the best garment i've made so far.

tangled yoke cardi 2

this is actually the second time i've worked this pattern - the first version was worked in rowan felted tweed (the recommended yarn) & was much worn & loved. alas, one of the unfortunate side effects of my recent (& hard-won!) weight loss is that many of my old knits are now far too big (yay! but also, sob!). some of them i probably won't repeat - but this was definitely worth making again.

larch cardi 2

exhibit B:
started: 28th january 2011
completed: 15th april 2011
needles: 3.5mm knitpro circular
yarn: rowan felted tweed shade 154 (ginger), 1300 yards
pattern: larch cardigan by amy christoffers (ravelled here)
modfications: i worked this more or less as written for the 38" bust size. i worked a straightforward 1x1 twisted rib followed by a purl row for the edgings instead of the cast-off/pick-up described in the pattern (too fiddly!). i also did something strange with the collar which ended up making it a little deeper than the pattern version - i'm still not sure what happened there.

larch cardi 3

overall, i like this pattern a lot. there's something very slightly odd about the way the shoulders fit - they seem a bit wide, & don't quite sit right on me (maybe i just have narrow shoulders?). they also seem to sit a little farther back than they should (as you can see from where the shoulder seam is sitting in the next photo). even so, i still really like this knit.

larch cardi 1

i took both of them with me on our spring holiday (we headed up to these forest cabins in strathyre for a week), where i tested them in a variety of conditions (ok, mostly lazing about on the deck, knitting & reading & drinking wine - but they held up pretty well!). the great thing about spring (& even summer) in scotland is that it's often still cool enough to wear hand-knits - & i can see myself using these ones a LOT.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

lang-legged beasties

at last - the yarn preview club is over, & i can show off the new colourways to everyone!! this year, the colourway collection was inspired by a traditional scottish prayer...

"fae ghosties & ghoulies
& lang-legged beasties
& things that go bump in the nicht...
guid lord, deliver us”

lang legged beasties mosaic

1. baobhan sith, 2. bean nighe, 3. far darrig, 4. ghillie dhu, 5. leanan sidhe, 6. selkie

all the colourways in this year's collection are themed around scottish myths & legends, and the mythical creatures in them - to read more about the new colourways & the inspiration behind them, please go take a look!! i'm working on adding lots of stock of these colourways to the web shop in all the base yarns - please bear with me while i get them all dyed up!

Monday, March 21, 2011

how things measure up

i've been busy lately, measuring things up & getting some ideas together - organising the finishing touches for some nearly-done projects, making some lovely new things for the shop, swatching for a new sweater or two...

measuring up

& planning the layout of my new studio space!!!
yes, i decided to take the giant huge fabulous studio up the road from my current space (& thank you all for your wonderful words of encouragement - i hope you realise you all have to keep your word & buy lots of yarn now!!). i've agreed on the rent (a discounted rate for the first year, hurrah!) and am now just waiting to see when i get to move in. there are a few small repairs that need to be done before i can get in & get set up - including some plasterwork, so i don't want to move any yarn in there until the messy stuff is done! but in the meantime, i've been going about with a measuring tape taking notes & making plans - how exciting!!!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

a leap of faith

today i did something very exciting, and terrifying, and mind-consuming (it's literally all i can think about at the moment!) - i looked at a new studio space.

new studio? photo 1
front room, taken from the front door

it's rented by the same fantastic initiative that i rent my current space from, and is literally just up the road from where i am now - but it's SO different. for a start, it's HUGE.

new studio? photo 2
front room, taken from front window corner

it's also been divided into several parts at one point.

new studio? photo 3
desk nook (& doggy den?) with kitchenette & bathroom to the right

originally, this was a shared studio space, so the division was done to make it easier to rent it in two halves rather than as one massive space. but since i'd be renting it on my own, that means i'd end up with this:

new studio? photo 5
back room, taken through the window off the desk nook

check out all the skylights, fans, & heaters - can anyone say "dedicated dye-cooking room"? it would be absolutely perfect for this - a window for keeping an eye on the dyepots, a door that can keep it closed off from the rest of the studio (no more steam everywhere!) and huge amounts of ventilation & natural light. and, i'd also get this:

new studio? photo 4
front room, taken from the desk nook

a HUGE space for prep work, storage, comfy chairs for hanging out & knitting, and of course, shelves & shelves of lovely hand-dyed yarn. (i love how the dog has ended up in both photos - it helps with imagining the scale of the space!!).
it's only recently come available, and there are a few things that i need to figure out before i can make a final decision. some are practical concerns (there are two sinks plumbed in, but they're both teeny-tiny, so i need to know if i can take the massive sink from my current studio - which was installed there especially for me, so i'm hoping i get to take it with me!). and some are a little harder to pin down.
in a way, i'm almost back in the same position as when i first thought about taking on studio space, with the same question - am i really going to be able to sell enough yarn to afford this? in my current studio, i'm restricted as to how much yarn i can make - i have limited counter space for burners & dyepots, and limited floor space for drying racks. i'm frequently getting emails from customers asking when this or that wil be back in stock - obviously, i'm just not keeping up with demand, which makes me think that if i'm able to dye more, i would be able to sell more as well. the new space is double the size of my current space (which, alas, means double the rent!), and with the back room being so perfectly designed for a dye room, i could more than double my output - but will my customers really buy that much yarn?
it's a bit of a leap of faith to take on such a big space - but then, i took the same leap a few years ago, when i moved into the studio that i'm in now. i remember being so worried every month that i wouldn't sell enough yarn to pay my rent - now, i'm worried about not being able to make enough yarn!! i've definitely got a lot to think about.... & i'll keep you posted!

Friday, February 25, 2011

where i've been lately

freshly dyed
working a LOT

cello practice
learning something new

by the sea
taking walks by the sea

staying snuggly

and mostly

spring blossoms
waiting for spring...

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


whew - i'm back from cornwall! it was brilliant, lovely, amazing fun.... and completely & utterly exhausting.
when i got up on thursday morning to finish packing, i found a helpful list from the RSA to help me get organised.

what to take to cornwall
(there's no such thing as #5, but she had me going for a second!)

i packed & headed off to cornwall, ready to start the weekend!! i went down the day before the retreat officially started - i'd never been to cornwall before, & wanted to be able to have a little wander around on the friday.

watergate bay beach
(watergate bay beach, from the coastal path above)

after that, i went to meet up with some of the other knitters for dinner (& knitting, of course!).

first night in cornwall!
(slightly grainy iphone photo, sorry!! l-r: anne, me, tricia, cookie, judith)

the next day, we were all ready to start classes - my first class was with anne, learning different lace techniques by working on her marie antoinette socks. all of us had to concentrate pretty hard on our knitting - even anne!!

anne teaching

we were sent off after the class with some "homework" (aka sock knitting) - by the next day, some of us had made it a lot farther than others...

(my sock is pretty teeny compared to some!)

next it was cookie's turn - cables, travelling stitches, and short rows for 3D knitting.

cookie teaching

there was a lot of swatching, to try out some different techniques:

swatch 2
(3D knitting strangenesses!)

swatch 1
(& some cable work)

as well as some helpful interpretive dance demonstrations:

(cookie & alice demonstrate cabling)

the view from the classroom window was a little distracting sometimes:

distracting views

but we managed to get a lot of work done anyways (& make a lot of knitty mess!).

class table

after all the learning, our brains were pretty much mush. & although i would have loved to stay there forever (amazing hotel, beautiful surroundings, great food, & lots of lovely knitters!) i was also pretty happy to get home & get some sleep. but if you want a review of the whole retreat - as alice would say, YAY!!!!!!