The story of the blues

img_3345We all have a favourite yarn, season, stitch, technique or colour don’t we? For me the yarn would be anything deliciously soft and expensive, the season would be winter, the stitch would be mmm…you know I’m not so sure, I guess it depends on my mood. As for colour it would have to be orange…..or pink…..or better yet a combination of both. So it’s a little strange to have so much blue yarn sitting on my desk this week.

I like blue but I don’t LOVE it…. unless it’s a really vibrant turquoise bringing to mind warm tropical breezes, cool rum cocktails and soft white sandy beaches. In general blue tends to leave me a little cold and it although it doesn’t feature largely in my wardrobe there are some notable denimy exceptions. I mean who doesn’t wear denim in one form or another?

As for the fate of all this blue yarn, the chunky baby alpaca is for a friend’s surprise birthday gift that I’ll be hand knitting tomorrow. The variegated sock yarn is for Sam’s ribbed scarf that will be machine knitted later today and the denim yarn is for a magazine commission that’s been lingering around for a while. (I was due to submit it last year but got waylaid by the brain squatters). I’ve loved working with Rowan’s Denim since I was a student and am definitely looking forward to knitting with it again. Not only can you machine wash it at 60ºc but it can also be  tumble dried so it’s pretty indestructible plus it ages beautifully with every subsequent wash which adds wonderful character to the garment. This for me makes it a classic and a winner.

The week started off a little wobbly yesterday but I’m hoping I’ll catch up as my diary is pretty full.Thankfully though it’s a good mix of work and play and to get me in the mood I’m going to start by listening to The Mighty Wah! whilst I work

What story will be told by the yarn you’re using this week?

Knitting mojo

31 Day Challenge Day 25

I’m really enjoying this blog challenge but have to admit that some days are a more of a challenge than others when it comes to writing a post. It’s been a bit of a strange week for me, one moment I’m mentally focussed and the next my brain ‘flatlines’ when it feels overloaded (I’ve been working with a tech editor on some designs completed before my operation – now there’s a strange headspace to try and get back to). The one thing that is giving me more enjoyment than ever is the actual process of knitting. The click of the needles, the snaking of the yarn through my fingers and the wonderfully repetitive process of in, over, round and out as stitch after stitch is created. There have been a few periods over the last couple of years when I really thought I’d lost my passion for a craft I’ve loved for so many years and as a designer I felt unfulfilled, unsuccessful and uninspired. It’s probably quite common for people whose living depends on their creativity but it’s also very unsettling not knowing when (and if) your mojo will make it’s return.

Well in my new mindful habit of living in the moment I am embracing my newly returned mojo and following wherever it leads me. Let’s hope it sticks around for a while

J x

Knitting IOU – paid

31 Day Challenge Day 20

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Back on Day 12 of this 31 day blog challenge I mentioned an IOU given to Sam for a hat to match a pair of fingerless gloves I’d made for him previously. Well, I’ve actually managed to finish the hat despite my brain’s best (or should that be worst) efforts. It was challenging, not because the pattern was particularly complex but mainly because it’s the first thing I’ve designed since my craniotomy. My tumours were in each of the frontal lobes of my brain and since that can affect, amongst other things, problem solving and memory it means that I have spectacular blank moments whilst I’m slap, bang in the middle of working something out.

There was a little bit of ‘ripe’ language when I had to rip back the crown shaping not once, but three times but frogging and the odd pattern glitch aside I’m pleased with the way it’s turned out. And better still so is Sam.

What project have you finished this week? And what’s next on your needles…

J x

Cul de sac

31 Day Challenge Day 18

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You know when you start the day with a set plan in mind and the knitting gods gently intervene? Well yesterday was one of those days. Having got some design admin out of the way I’d planned to have a play with John Arbon’s Alpaca Delight for a lacy one hank design idea. With an overall shape in mind I found a stitch pattern that might prove a great starting point for swatching and gathered needles, yarn, sketchbook and graph paper to go and knit in front of the fire. And that’s when I saw it….. Sam’s hat….. STILL unfinished…..at the bottom of my knitting bag. How did I miss that?! After all, the bag’s really not that big. But somehow, like the wardrobe through which Edmund, Lucy, Peter and Susan were transported into Narnia, it seems to have developed secret dark corners where a partly finished chunky hat could get completely lost.

I know I could have just made my excuses and consigned it to a pile of other WIPs but having caused me to forget it in the first place my new brain now gets wobblier if I don’t finish one thing before starting another. So, here I am nearing the end of the hat, for me, the only way out of this particular knitting cul de sac

J x

Love at first sight

31 Day Challenge Day 17

 

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I first came across John Arbon’s Alpaca Delight way back in 2015 when reviewing it for Knitting Magazine (issue 154). Writing yarns reviews is a job I really enjoy as I get to ‘play’ with a wide range of yarns from a variety of spinners and dyers, some big and some not so big. I can’t begin to think how many I’ve swatched over the years but I fell in love with this yarn at first sight, well actually it was first touch. It’s a 4ply blend of 70% alpaca 30% Falklands merino with an incredibly soft feel and just the right amount of blur.

Now you may imagine that I’ve got the world’s most mountainous stash (Sam already thinks I have) but no, thankfully I return the yarns to my editor Christine once the job is done and it’s just as well otherwise I’d be the mad, bald, wool-stashing woman of Hove. Somehow though this yarn never quite made it out of the house (coughs) and it’s destined for a one hank design that I’ll be working on today. Not quite sure how that happened (coughs again) but I do love my job….

J x

The magic of Twitter

31 Day Challenge Day 13

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Meg with a batch of her Hebridean sheep

I joined Twitter (as @jeanettesloan) way back in 2010 and somehow have gathered a following of 665 lovely souls who seem happy to read my sometimes random tweets. (And given the way my rambling brain now works I’m glad there’s a limit of 140 characters ). There’s been a lot of negative things said about social media platforms like Twitter with people often tweeting before thinking about how their harsh words and opinions can sometimes be hurtful to others. That said there’s also a lot of good to be found there and I’ve had lots of lovely interactions with other users whether it was discussing the disappointing lack of sloes pre Christmas or finding out about a new yarn. Well earlier this week I was really happy to find that I had a new follower and, as is my habit, I clicked the link in their profile to find out more about them. I’m so glad I did because I’ve discovered a new yarn company.

The Birlinn Yarn company is based on the Isle of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. It was started in 2015 by Meg Rodger who felt there was real value in the wool produced by the herd of Hebridean sheep she rears on the family run croft, Sunhill. With an emphasis on sustainability and small batch production the product range features natural coloured yarns and specially selected sheepskins but there are also exciting new products currently being developed. I was really interested in the back story to this new yarnie discovery and having had a few email conversations with Meg I found out that she is also a practising artist. Along with another artist Peter Ferguson she’s showing her work as part of Elemental, an exhibition exploring each of their relationships with the wind and weather of the Outer Hebrides.

Having made contact with Meg I look forward to reviewing her yarns more formally in a future issue of Knitting Magazine. In the meantime I hope she’s wrapped up warm as it’s bound to be freezing up there at the moment. If you’d like to find out more about her yarns visit Birlin Yarns’ website  and for more info on the exhibition visit Taigh Chearsabhagh website here 

J x

 

Knitting IOUs

31 Day Challenge Day 12

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Some knitters are super organised and work away all year lovingly and patiently creating every stitch and row until the cast off is complete and the last end sewn in. I, however, am not that knitter. So having promised Sam a hat to match a pair of cabled mittens made for a previous Christmas present I’ve settled down in front of the woodburner to honour that IOU.

Currently the weather is foul with icy showers forecast across the UK both tonight and into tomorrow morning and that gives me the perfect excuse to stay inside and cosy up. Thankfully the yarn I’m using – *Lang’s Merino 50 – is a dream to knit. Not only does it have a lovely fat, rounded handle but it’s also got a wonderful bouncy construction that makes for soft but perfectly formed cables and I’m working them in a panel contrasted on either side by beautifully even stocking stitch. I’m not exactly sure how the two balls I’ve got found their way into my stash but I’m really happy they did. Another huge bonus is that it knits up quickly (the ball band recommends 9mm needles but I’m using 6.5mm) and that’s just as well because given how cold it’s going to get tomorrow I’m sure Sam will be wearing it as soon as the last end’s been sewn in.

Wherever you are I hope you’re keeping warm.

J x

*This is not a paid review but is entirely based on my personal experience of working with this yarn