Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Shetland Lace Workshop

Tari in progress
On Saturday afternoon, at the Knitting & Crochet Guild convention in Derby, I did a Shetland lace workshop led by Sarah Alderson of Wessenden Woollies.  We started knitting a shawl that she has designed, Tari.  I had brought a skein of laceweight yarn for the workshop, but after struggling with it for a while, decided that it was too fine for me - I found it hard to knit with and kept making mistakes.  So mid-workshop, I dashed off to the stash-busting table where Guild members had put surplus yarn to sell, and bought a cone of wool in a lovely emerald green (£2).  It's not a colour I would normally choose, probably, but I'm glad I was pushed into it (it was the only laceweight I could find on the table).  I don't know anything about the yarn except that it's wool and fine enough to knit the shawl pattern with 3mm needles, but not too fine for me to knit. 

I had barely got started with the green yarn by the end of the workshop, but I have now finished two pattern repeats - enough to show the lace patterns emerging.  This is one end of the final shawl - the garter stitch section on the right gets wider, and then narrower again.  I think it's going to turn out very well.  

It will need blocking (when it's all finished) to show the lace design properly - here's a section of Sarah's own shawl to show what the lace looks like when it's blocked. 

There were four other workshops running at the same time as ours - an Irish crochet workshop led by Sally Magill was in the same (big) room as ours, so I saw what they were making too.  They had produced some very nice motifs in two hours - shamrocks, roses, scrolls.      

Marie's blue shamrock
Rose and scroll
Sally's sampler of Irish crochet motifs 
The other three workshops seem to have been equally successful - all led by Guild members.  

Monday, 14 July 2014

Visible Mending

It was the Knitting & Crochet Guild's annual convention in Derby this past weekend (about which I shall have lots to say, if I ever get around to saying it), and I took with me a beautiful Shetland cardigan, made in Fair Isle.   Not long ago, it wasn't beautiful at all, because it had a truly horrible injury to one sleeve.  We don't know what had happened to it:  the cardigan looks as though it has never been worn, but the injury was as though something corrosive had been spilt on it and burnt through the wool. 

Some weeks ago we were looking at the cardigan sadly and Angharad, the Guild's Textile Archivist, thought of Tom of Holland's Visible Mending project.   She contacted him to ask whether the cardigan would be a suitable project.  He agreed to take it on and the Guild commissioned him to do it.  The mended cardigan arrived last week, in time to take it to the convention - my role was to act as courier.  

I'll show you the cardigan as it now is.  Remember that the mend is supposed to be visible - though in fact it isn't obvious at first glance. 

Visibly mended cardigan 
Then the cardigan before it was mended. 

And here are some close-ups of the left sleeve after mending, and before.  


Tom deliberately did not match the colours of the original, but he did choose the colours very carefully:  his intention was that in a black-and-white photo, the mend would be hardly detectable, and he has achieved that. 

 And as you can see, it is a wonderful piece of work.  The missing stitches have been replaced so exactly that if it weren't for the change in colour you would not be able to see the mend at all. 

Everyone who saw the mended cardigan at Derby was amazed at the workmanship, and we all thought that it had been a really worthwhile project.  You can find all the details of how the mending was planned and carried out on Tom's blog here.

It's wonderful that what was a very sad, maimed thing, that we wouldn't want to show to anyone, has been transformed into something that we can be proud of, and a showcase for the work of two very skilled craftspeople: the original knitter, and now Tom.    

Made in Fair Isle

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Les Maillots Jaunes

Two of our weekend visitors who went to Leeds on Saturday for the Tour de France Grand Depart brought back photos of knitting and crochet they had seen.  The lass in the yellow woolly is one of eight nymphs in Leeds City Square, holding lamps.  There are two different models, Morn and Even, (that's poetic for Morning and Evening, I suppose).  I think this one is Even, because some of the others look a bit more awake.  They often seem a bit chilly and under-dressed for the weather, and so she looks as though a warm jersey would be welcome, though frankly, the rest of her needs a bit of covering up too.

The Black Prince is also in City Square in Leeds (though I have no idea what connection he had with Leeds, if any).

And finally:  I know that there was a lot of knitted bunting in Harrogate, in the shape of little Tour de France jerseys, but there was also at least one stretch of it in Huddersfield too.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Tour de France in Huddersfield

Yesterday we carried our garden chairs to the nearest point of the Tour de France route and sat on the pavement (which would normally be a very odd thing to do) to wait for the race to pass by.   It was not a prime position, compared with the climbs, such as Holme Moss, so there was plenty of room for everyone.

We had quite a long wait before anything much happened (although every police motorbike or police car going past got a wave and a cheer), and then the publicity caravane came through.

The head of the caravanne - Y for Yorkshire
And finally the cyclists arrived.  At this point, there was a small breakaway group at the front and a couple of stragglers at the back, so it took a bit longer for them to pass than it might have.

The breakaway group

The peloton

Earlier, before anything happened, I walked along the route a little way to chat to friends and neighbours and to take a photo of our historic tram shelter (now a bus shelter) which has been refurbished for the Tour.

And after the cyclists had gone, we went home and watched the live broadcast of the rest of the stage - over Holme Moss, and on to Sheffield.

After the stage was over, we went to a soiree at the house of some friends, Margaret and John, who are keen followers of the Tour de France.  They were thrilled that today's route went past the end of their road, and held the party to celebrate it.  There was French-Yorkshire fusion food (boeuf bourguignon and Yorkshire pudding), French wine and Yorkshire beer, and appropriate condiments (Dijon mustard and Henderson's Relish).

Margaret and John have a collection of Tour de France memorabilia (i.e., the freebies distributed by the publicity vehicles in the caravane) that they have acquired over the years, and had put them on display for the occasion.

The mantelpiece arrangement featured the highly-prized green foam hands (acquired 2008), handed out by PMU, sponsors of the green jersey.

(Click to enlarge)
Another gem of the collection is a model of the Astra satellite, from 2002.

A hat from Champion supermarkets was acquired in 2008 - at that time Champion were sponsors of the polka dot jersey.  They have since been taken over by Carrefour, who now sponsor it. 

Credit Lyonnais sponsor the yellow jersey; the musette, or cloth lunch bag, is also from 2008.

It is a unique collection, of incalculable value I am sure, and was displayed to very high standards (says my household museum curator). 

So that's the end of a really good weekend:  the weather was kind, the Tour was exciting, and the Yorkshire countryside looked wonderful.  And there had been such a lot of effort put into arranging other events and displays before and during the Tour - it was all worthwhile and made it even more special.  

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Tour de France in Yorkshire

The Tour de France starts today, in Leeds (Yorkshire).  The first stage ends in Harrogate (also Yorkshire), and tomorrow's stage goes from York to Sheffield via Huddersfield (all Yorkshire).  Then it goes somewhere else (not Yorkshire).

People around here, in Huddersfield, are very excited.  The tour route goes past the end of our road!  And we have a house full of people for the weekend who have come to see the Tour - three of them have gone to Leeds today to see the start, although the live broadcast shows that thousands of people have had the same idea, so I don't know how much they will actually get to see.

Walking around Huddersfield town centre during the past week or so, there have been signs of the Tour all over town.  There are random yellow bikes (real ones and cutouts) everywhere.

There is  Tour de France bunting along sections of the route and elsewhere, and the hanging baskets in the town centre are planted with yellow flowers.

Many shops have done special yellow window displays, including Spun, the yarn shop in the Byram Arcade.

And then on Thursday morning, a French farm had sprung up overnight in St George's Square, in front of the train station. The preparations obviously took months, but it was all kept secret until then.  There were piglets, sheep, some chickens and a cow, as well as French people pottering around ramshackle sheds, and vegetable plots set out on the paving, with some very strange veg in them.

Harold Wilson with baguette (+ necklace of chillies)
And in St Peter's Gardens, there was a wonderful display of sculptures made of woven willow (and bikes).

And today the sun is shining.  I hope the weather stays fine for tomorrow, when we shall go to the bottom of the road to see the peloton whizz past - that stretch is flat or slightly downhill, so they will be gone in seconds.  It will still be thrilling, though.  

French flag, blue sky, Huddersfield stone

Friday, 27 June 2014

Flaming June

June doesn't often live up to its reputation, but over last weekend and until Wednesday we were staying with friends in London, and it really was beautifully warm and sunny.  Not exactly flaming, but very pleasant.  (Today by contrast is wet and cold.) 

Sheila and I went to the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Wisley on Saturday. It was beautiful - so many different plants were at their best, especially the roses.  

There were a couple of areas of meadow, planted mainly with poppies to commemorate World War 1, but mixed with cornflowers and other annuals.   

There were two or three tulip trees in flower around the garden - I am fond of tulip trees because of their interesting leaves, but I don't think I have ever seen one in flower. 

And there were spectacular exotic plants in the glasshouse. 

Lobster claw - Heliconia rostrata 
On another day, we went to a cemetery - part of John's long-term scheme to visit all the main 19th century cemeteries in London (and everywhere else, of course). 


This memorial is well-known to cemetery aficionados, but for the angel and its sculptor rather than for the person commemorated.   (He made his money in coal-mining, and that's about all anyone wants to say about him, apparently.)

The local parakeets were very noticeable during the weekend, flying overhead and screeching. They are well-established by now around Twickenham and Richmond - quite handsome birds, although considered an alien pest. 

 Our friends' springer spaniel, Duke, is now fully-grown but as energetic and lively as ever.  

As well as all these outdoors things, I spent a whole day in the British Library, reading issues of Woman's Weekly from 1914 to 1917.  Such fun!  All part of my research into knitting in the First World War (though I did get diverted by one of the romantic serials). More on that later.      

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A to Z of Knitting Needles

This evening we had the monthly meeting of the Huddersfield branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, and we showed some of the tools and gadgets from the collection.  (It was called 'Inspect a Gadget'.  It's been explained to me.) 

Angharad decided to put together an A to Z of knitting needle brands.  She didn't quite get a complete alphabet, but most letters are represented in the collection, from Aero, Ace, Anlaby and one or two more As through to Zephyr.   Some of the trickier letters are there, including Quaker Girl and Jester, but no Xs - and no Ns or Os, which is slightly more surprising.  

Here are some of the less common brands from the collection.   First a selection of plastic needles.

Cronit, Ladybird, Peacock, Glamor, Clive, Ace, Wimberdar, Robinoid
And the J and Q:
Quaker Girl
I knew it would be easy to get nerdy about knitting needles.