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trunkshow at sunspun

I’m writing this in the dusk of an Australian summer day as Scotto and I begin our annual holiday in Melbourne to see our family and friends… it’s always so lovely to be back among loved ones and in our beautiful landscape and I’ve been reacquainting myself with all the plants that I love here- getting to enjoy the freshness of these early summer mornings is jet lag’s silver lining!

I just wanted to let those readers in Melbourne know about a small trunkshow that Amy of Sunspun and I are holding next Friday November 30th! I’ve brought a small selection of plant-dyed yarns pouches, kits and samples with me and will be hanging out knitting and catching up with my Melbourne community from 3-7pm at Sunspun in Canterbury. Please feel free to pop in for a quick look or an afternoon of knitting with Amy and I- it would be lovely to see you!

And there’ll be some lovely new things coming up in the shop before Christmas- a new design collaboration with my dear friend Anna Maltz that combines a gradient of my Masgot Fine with the natural shades of Garthenor’s Ronas (I’ll be adding kits for the design and a whole range of colours in Masgot Fine) and a small run of pouches embroidered by Lorna Reid of Chookiebirdie. I’ll send out a newsletter closer to the time to confirm the date and details of the update but just wanted to let you know in advance about these! 

Wishing you a lovely weekend…

shop update

It’s been a bit quiet around here of late as we’ve had both our mothers in Europe! I spent a couple of weeks travelling with my mum, both in Spain where I joined her to walk a small part of the Camino (she walked a good third of it- amazing and inspiring at 77!) and then in London… it was so lovely to see her and six days of walking was a perfect way to both catch up with what we’ve both been up to and on news from home but also to get to know each other in different ways- I’d really recommend it! (in case you’re interested, I only took my phone camera with me but you can see a handful of pictures on my Instagram feed)

And then Scotto’s mum came to spend a week with us- we had a lovely time showing her our new neighbourhood and then spending a few days on the west coast of Scotland- we based ourselves in Oban and explored the surrounding coastline, including a trip out to Mull and on to Iona… It was just an introduction to this stunning region and we are planning a trip back in a couple of weeks to visit Staffa and Lunga to see the thousands of nesting seabirds, including PUFFINS! (I’ll definitely post photos from that trip!)

Yesterday’s shock announcement that the UK will exit from the EU has left many people here reeling and I must say that I feel very sad about the decision and unsure about the shape and colour of the future for the UK, Europe and the world in general… It’s already an uncertain time for many and that is surely only going to increase now. In light of that and having been away from work, I’ve found myself feeling a bit disconnected from what I’ve been working towards- so it is definitely time to get back to it! There is so much to catch up on and I’m working on quite a few little projects which I’ll be revealing over the next few days but, for now, I just wanted to mention that I’ve added some pouches to the shop… they’ll be available tomorrow, Sunday 26 at 12pm Glasgow time, but you can have a sneak peek now if you’d like!

This is a soft little group of colours and, as usual, a mix of Harris Tweed and other fabrics and a variety of sources….

Pouches

Pouches

 

purple4

Lovely vintage lilac and pink twill from my friend Anna

A subtle dark tan and oatmeal wool

A subtle dark tan and oatmeal wool

This is the last of this lovely vintage wool tweed

This is the last of this lovely vintage wool tweed

Beautiful fabric from Ted Baker trousers found by my friend Jeni

Beautiful fabric reminiscent of night cityscapes, originally Ted Baker trousers found by my friend Jeni

Wishing you a peaceful weekend and, wherever you are, community and a sense of purpose xx

classes at fluph and the craft sessions

I’m really excited to be able to announce some new teaching gigs this week… There’ll be one more later in the week but I have two for today… First up, from May, I’ll be spending a Saturday most months teaching at Leona’s ace yarn shop, fluph in Dundee. This Leona is one of the most enthusiastic and giving people I’ve met in ages and I was thrilled that she wanted to include me in her community! I love seeing what classes people chose to run and she’s very cleverly picked a diverse range that should catch the eye of her customers. I have to say, I’m especially happy that she’s chosen to offer my steeking class as it’s a technique that many people are a bit daunted to try on their own and yet is pretty straightforward, once you get the tricks and confidence. And it makes so many new designs available to you, like all those heavenly Icelandic lopis and Kate Davies designs… That combination makes it a super fun class for me to teach! You can find the dates on my classes page and more details and bookings at fluph

Steeked mug cosy

Frankie Mug Cosy, the project for my class on steeking

And I also wanted to let you know that registration opens tomorrow (April 21) for this September’s Craft Sessions retreat in the Yarra Valley, Australia! Do try to get there if you can- you don’t want to let the opportunity to take part in this beautiful event slip by… When Scotto and I decided to move overseas for a while, one of the first things I did was to let organiser Felicia know that I’d come back to teach again at the drop of a hat if my skills fitted with this year’s program! Luckily for me, they did and I’m really looking forward to combining it with a couple of weeks with family and friends. I’ll be teaching three new classes: darning (both practical and decorative), knitting for speed and comfort and fisherman’s knits. You can find all the class outlines and registration details at the Craft Sessions.

Darning

Darning

getting out

It’s been 10 weeks since we arrived here and I can’t believe it! As always, it seems like forever and yet hardly any time since we left home… We are slowly making a life for ourselves here and I’ve had some lovely moments with lovely people and finding things that feel important to get involved in (more on those soon)! The last weeks have mostly been spent finding things that we need (the most simple things like broadband, Rooibos, enough blankets to keep us warm and tofu!) and want (good bread, a nice teapot and secondhand books on local history, flora and British cooking!) and our flat is starting to feel quite cosy! For me personally, my main focus has been finding sources for things that I need to make stock for my shop and lots of things are getting scratched off on that list too.

One thing I’m still working on getting enough of is space… Or, more particularly, green space. Glasgow has a really open feel about it, in the sense that streets are wide and the city not too built up, but, moving from a city of over four million people to one with less that a quarter of that, I expected to have a greater sense of space. But, of course, I was forgetting how much much more densely populated Europe is and Glasgow, while definitely easier to get around than Melbourne and blessed with some fantastic parks and gardens, is the most densely populated city in Scotland. But, for me, it’s not really the streetscape but our living spaces that I’m struggling with. Don’t get me wrong- we have a beautiful flat with plenty of light and space. It’s more that living on the fourth floor is a big change and I really miss the signs of life that I was so used to… looking out the windows and seeing the trees move in the wind, having cats around to smooch with (I can’t tell you how much I miss that!) and being able to take a bowl of food out onto the back deck and eat under the sky.

So we’re finding new ways to bring that into the day. House plants are now on the list of things we need. So is a bird feeder to put on the window sill. We’ve cut through the silicon seals on some of our windows so that we can feel the breeze moving through the house… The Glasgow parks are an absolute gift and seem to be appreciated and used by many and we’re lucky enough to be a ten-minute walk from the Glasgow botanic gardens- as you can imagine, I end up there at some point most days! And it turns out that it’s only 20 minutes on our local train to the beginning of the West Highland Way, a 150km walk that starts in Milngavie and takes walkers through some beautiful land all the way to Fort William. So easy and quick to get out of town! That’s certainly a benefit of a smaller city. We headed out this morning and did the first 8km of the walk and then turned around- it was just enough walking to feel like we’d got moving and was an absolute delight for our nervous systems too! The sound of birds, wind and trees, the glow of green leaves, the movement of sun and clouds above us and the dark, cool shadows under the trees…

Big sky

Big sky

Fishing

Fishing

Reeds

Reeds

Beech

Branches

Birches

Birches

Larch

Larch

Larch bundles

Larch bundles

The gorse was in bloom everywhere so I was able to harvest some beautiful flowers (along with birch bark) to use for dyeing. Scotto and I were blown away by how like Reef Oil their perfume is! Incongruous! (I’ve been so missing my dye pots but that’s set to change! Dye classes are also in the planning so do keep an eye out if you’re interested in learning.)

Gorse

Gorse

Gorse

Gorse

Gorse

Fuzzy gorse (or furze as it’s known here)

And, with the help of my macro lens, we explored the colours and textures of some wonderful and tiny fungi…

Trametes versicolor

Trametes versicolor

Trametes versicolor

Trametes versicolor

Lovely colours on these Trametes versicolor

Lovely colours on these Trametes versicolor

Trametes sp... suavolens?

Trametes sp… suavolens?

Mushroom

Birch bracket fungus

And there were plenty of other flowers about.

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)

Can anyone tell me what this beauty is? It's got to be in the Rosaceae family but I've got no idea, beyond that!

Rubus spectabilis or Salmonberry, an escapee from North America with fruit similar to raspberries.

Anemone

Anemone nemorosa

I even saw the beginnings of the bluebell season- one, as-yet-unopened specimen! But I’ll hold out on posting until they’re in their full glory- I can’t wait to experience that…

It’s been such a lovely reminder of how easy it is to get into the green places and we plan to make this a regular walk. I’d love to hear about any other spots around Glasgow that are easy to get to or worth a trip… do please let me know if you know somewhere or are heading out yourself- I’m always up for new walking buddies!

casting on and off

I’ve been looking forward to teaching my first knitting classes in Scotland since our very first week here, when I went over to Edinburgh to meet Jess of Ginger Twist Studio (and lovely Clare who facilitated the meeting and who, interestingly, is moving to Australia later this year!) and she asked me to teach some classes at this sweetest of yarn shops. And I’m so happy that the day is finally getting close!

The first class of the day on April 19th, Knitting Tips and Tricks, sold out really quickly because, well, it’s obvious what the class is all about. It’s always an easy class to sell. I want my classes to be practical and for participants to leave knowing that they can go straight out and apply what we’ve covered, to feel like they’ve got something new in their kit that they can’t imagine being without. But the afternoon’s class, Cast-ons and Cast-offs… I’m always a little toey about running this class, not because of what it covers but because it’s not an easy class to sell- the content isn’t as immediately engaging as, say, colourwork or seamless knitting… but I actually think it’s way more life-changing and practical than most of my other classes! That’s because the edges of our knitting are so much more important than we may realise. They’re the bits that one usually sees first, the beginning and ending. If they don’t fit with the fabric in-between, because they pull in or are sloppy, the piece just doesn’t look right. It doesn’t have integrity… whereas a beautiful edge is magic.

Tubular cast-on on the Frankie Hat

A beautiful tubular cast-on on the Frankie Hat

Many people learn to cast on and off from their mum, auntie or grandpa and never learn another method; their way suits them just fine. And I love and respect that. But, at the same time, I think that the many methods we now have available to us all work particularly well in certain situations. So why limit ourselves to one method? For example, if you’re casting off a beautiful lace shawl and you stick to the trusty chain cast-off, you’ll probably find that the edge of your shawl won’t be able to stretch as far as you’d like to really open out the lace. There is a method for every situation and every method has its strengths- it’s just a matter of knowing how to work them and how to match method to project…

So, in this class, we’ll cover my default cast-on, the wonderful long-tail (or Continental) cast-on and a few variations on it (as well as how to calculate how much yarn you’ll need so you don’t run out!), my favourite version of the tubular cast-on (as seen above on the Frankie Hat), a provisional cast-on that allows you to come back and undo your edge and work in the opposite direction and other methods for getting your knitting started.

And we’ll look at a series of cast-offs that produce different finishes- lightweight, sturdy, stretchy and firm- including the sewn and i-cord cast-offs, the three-needle cast-off that allows you to cast off and seam two pieces together at the same time and working a knitted-on edging that avoids casting off entirely.

And, finally, we’ll look at pairing cast-on and cast-off so that the edges of a knitted fabric look similar- this is so crucial in something like a scarf but is very rarely considered!

IMGP7116_medium2

Echo Flower with a sturdy Russian cast-off

Hansel with knitted-on edging

Hansel with knitted-on edging

Bailey Cardigan with i-cord cast-off

Bailey Cardigan with i-cord

There are two places left in this class on April 19th so, if you feel like you’d benefit from a little up-skilling in this area, do jump in and book. I’m always intrigued to see who books in for this class- for some reason, it’s always an interesting group!