From little squares…

TunCroAlthough it may not look like much this square represents a few hours spent in the company of a group of amazing women that I’m privileged to call my friends. Wendy, Lucy H, Lucy W, Katie, Clare, myself and Louby (when she can make it) get together once a month for our ‘Stitch & Bitch’ sessions.

Now despite not being a great fan of the phrase stitch & bitch which to me conjures up negative images one alternative, Knit & Natter, is definitely far too tame for who we are and what we do. These women are my ‘bee-at-ches’ who were there for me when Sam & I we were at our lowest point just before my brain op in 2016. Together we form an incredible support network within which we talk about pretty much anything and everything accompanied by fantastic food oh yes…. and a bit of crafting. Some of us are accomplished knitters, some prefer to sew and sometimes if there’s been too much alcohol consumed we forget about being creative and just talk, talk, talk.

Last night my inspirational friend Jenny joined us for the first time and being an accomplished crochet designer (her work is regularly featured in Inside Crochet magazine) she introduced me to the basics of Tunisian crochet. It’s one of those techniques that’s been on ‘The List’ for a number of years now (along with top down knitting, a fair isle design etc etc) but with one thing and another I just hadn’t got round to it. So having ferreted through my loft I found a Tunisian crochet hook that I kept after closing my Edinburgh yarn shop all those years ago and a ball of DK yarn from my all too large stash. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the basic stitch really isn’t that taxing to learn even for my constantly furred up brain and I love both the feel and look of the fabric. It’s an intriguing mix of knit and crochet and it has a lovely firm feel that would be ideal for bags so no doubt I’ll experiment along those lines if ever I get the chance. What each chain, loop and stitch in this tiny square really does represent though is a precious few hours of catching up, problems shared and raucous laughter washed down with a few glasses of wine or in my case lychee juice and decaf tea. (Not in the same glass obviously).

So thanks to my bee-at-ches for another amazing night, Jenny – welcome to the group and  above all Katie thanks for the outstanding bowls of superfood salad that given our ages no doubt made us all flatulent for the rest of the evening. (Even so Wendy & I polished itoff when everyone else had the good grace to stop eating). Looking forward as ever to next month.

You can find out more about Jenny Reid’s work by following her on instagram where she’s millieroseuk or you can find her designs on Ravelry here

J x

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New 4ply Design – #3 Brighton

This is the last of the new designs in Baby Alpaca / Silk 4ply (for now) and appropriately, with only 2 days to go before Unwind kicks off, it’s called Brighton.

Brightonscarf1a

 This design is worked in single coloured rows on a circular needle which creates an interesting two tone lace effect which has a wonderfully springy texture. If you’re dreading the thought of having to use a circular needle, fear not. This technique is simple to work once you get the hang of it and is perfect for a scarf because it’s reversible so there’s no  ‘wrong’ side to worry about.

The scarf is not only named in honour of my hometown here in the UK but like many of my designs it celebrates my West Indian heritage as there’s also a Brighton in Barbados where my parents were born. I chose the combination of Calypso with Caramel because they bring together the warm brown tones of the shingle beach with the bright clear blue of the sea and to add a hint of peril the scarf is finished at each end with a Shark’s Tooth lace edge.

Brightonscarf4

Brighton (the scarf, not the city) only takes 2 balls of Baby Alpaca/ Silk 4ply and the like the Skinny Winnie the pattern is available from the website on the FREE PATTERNS  page and you’ll also find the kit for sale in the Online Shop. So, if the combination of Calypso & Caramel doesn’t work for you, there’s the option to put your own colourway together.

I’m off to make up kits for the weekend

J x

New 4ply Designs – #1 Diamond Corner Shawl

I’ve taken a break from my Unwind prep to post about the first of 3 new designs. Each uses my Baby Alpaca/Silk 4ply and will be available from 10.00am tomorrow 10th July, timed of course to celebrate Unwind!

Diamond corner main

Firstly there’s the Diamond Corner Shawl which is knitted in sh 879 Mist. I’ll not lie, this  bat shaped design is a big knit as the width across the top is 193 cm or if you prefer 76 inches. It begins on single point needles with a panel worked in a lace pattern that undulates from picot cast on to picot cast off for 86 cm (33 3/4 in). After this you’ll need a long circular needle for the side wings which are created by both picking up and purling into the side of the central spine and casting on extra stitches. Once the lace pattern has been established decreases worked at the side edges and centre help to create the batwing shape. I found when I was swatching that this central double decrease has an intriguing effect on the regular columns of the lace pattern and it was this cornering effect that inspired the design’s name

 Diamond corner detail 1 Diamond corner detail 2

I’m not a huge fan of picking up and knitting on edges with a design of this size so instead I’ve added a picot detail to the beginning of each row which means that once you’ve cast off the shawl is complete. In terms of skill level I would say this design is aimed at intermediate knitters and above due to the size of the shawl and the way in which it’s constructed. You can download the pattern for £3.00 from my Ravelry Pattern Store from 10.00am GMT tomorrow and you’ll find the kit available to buy on the Jeanette Sloan Design website where there’s 10% off until midnight 13th July.

Hope you like it

J x

Not long to Unwind

unwind_logo180x180The sun is out (hooray) and down here in Brighton we’re all getting excited about Unwind.

It’s a new fibre festival which takes place on the weekend of 12-13th July and is the brainchild of Dani Sunshine of Lioness Arts which brings together workshops, classes & speakers in a number of venues across Brighton. As if that lot isn’t enough there’s also a Saturday night ‘Seaside Shindig‘ and a Marketplace in the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange where I’ll be selling my yarns, kits and patterns along with a host of other lovely vendors including Textile Garden, Namolio, Eden Cottage Yarns and Yarnundyed. Tickets for the Marketplace are available from the Unwind Brighton website along with tickets for Classes tutored by the likes of Rachel Coopey &  Karie Westermann.

Hope to see you there

J x

Brighton, sheep AND twitter?!

I have to admit that although I’ve lived in the Patcham area of Brighton for 2 years now and whilst I’ve made good friends, great apple chutney and questionable homemade cider I’ve never made time to read the local free magazine ‘The Post’. It comes through the letterbox monthly and I generally look at it for as long as it takes to put it straight in the recycling box (I know, sorry!).

I was about to do just that last night when, whilst flicking through the pages, I came across a piece by Caroline Donovan entitled ‘Watching Our Flocks’. Caroline is one of a team of volunteer ‘lookerers’ who help out with the sheep brought in to conservation graze the downland managed by Brighton and Hove City Council. I know that Brighton and Hove has a reputation for being ridiculously ‘hippy’ but the practice isn’t a new one. The sheep (in this case Herdwick) are brought down from hill farms up north to graze the council managed downland and it’s their grazing and general to-ing & fro-ing (not to mention the obvious brown coloured organic benefits  – I mean poo of course ) which prevents the land reverting to scrub with a loss of the various dependant wildflowers and insects. The sheep will be grazing various sites around the city until late Spring and I’ll hopefully catch a glimpse of them when we get up onto The Downs for a walk. In the meantime I’ve decided to follow their adventures on Twitter ( @BHSheep), yes they have their own account.

Conservation grazing sheep on Twitter, how very Brighton.