Wednesday 30 July 2014

WIPaholics Anonymous

Still catching up with the week before last....

On the 17th, after we got back from Blackpool, I went to the Huddersfield branch meeting of the Knitting & Crochet Guild.  The theme this month was unfinished projects - we all brought along an unfinished project that for some reason we were having trouble finishing, and talked about it.  Hence, the title of the meeting, WIPaholics Anonymous  (WIP = Work In Progress).  Marie, the convener, acted as a kind of Alcoholics Anonymous facilitator, and had even compiled a 12-step plan for us to work towards completing, or otherwise dealing with, our problem projects.  The stories of the unfinished projects were often very funny, and occasionally sad.

So what was my unfinished project?  It featured in this blog in 2011 here, and it had already been unfinished for more than 25 years (!) at that point.

I had kept it for all that time - the piece I had already knitted, and the rest of the yarn.  When I wrote the previous post, I couldn't find the pattern, and thought that I had lost it, but I've since looked harder and found it.   So in theory, it could be completed.

Patricia Roberts' Dolly Blue design
But the previous blog post was right in explaining why I didn't go any further with it all those years ago - the back turned out far too small, and there's also a problem with the cables:  when the white and yellow cables diverge from each other, they pull a hole in the background fabric, and I can't see how to avoid that.

I have had this project hanging around for a serious chunk of time, but I think it had just become one of the fixtures in my life - I rarely thought about it, and never thought about it hard enough.  But it was an obvious project to take to the meeting (and would have won the prize for the oldest WIP, if there had been one).  And in listening to other people talking about their unfinished projects, I got to thinking properly about mine.

The photo doesn't show the design very clearly because of the jacket over the top (it's a sweater with a collar and a buttoned front opening).  I can see why it appealed to me at the time, and I still like it.  I love the colours that I chose, too, though I don't wear black as much as I used to.  I showed everyone the pattern, and what I have knitted so far, and there were lots of helpful suggestions for completing it, and general encouragement to do that.

However.  If I wanted to finish the sweater, I would have to start again, and rip out what I have done so far, and I hate doing that.  I'd have to figure out why it turned out so small the first time, and fix that - maybe adjust the pattern.  And there would still be the problem with the cables dragging holes in the fabric.  And most of all, I now realise that it just feels totally stale.  I don't even want to use the yarn for anything else - it would just remind me all the time that it should have been this sweater.

So I am abandoning it.  I left what I've knitted so far with someone else at the meeting who wants to try felting it, and I'm going to give the rest of the yarn away.  And I think I feel better for having made that decision.  For me, it was a very helpful evening.

Of course, I've got a few other unfinished projects too.....

Monday 28 July 2014

It looks different!

I've got bored with the way this blog looks - or looked until 5 minutes ago.  I started the blog in January 2010, and it's looked the same way for most of the time since then (mostly because I forgot how I customised it).  But there are changes afoot - I'm starting a new blog in parallel with this one, so I'm giving them the same layout and design.  More on the new blog in a few days when it's ready to launch.

And then I'm going to change the title of this one.  I'd do it now, but I thought that a change of design and title at the same time would be too much - regular readers might think that they had come to the wrong blog.  So I'll give you a little while to get used to the new look.  And then a change of title, but still with 'knitting' in, I promise.

Sunday 27 July 2014

The Trunk Show in Blackpool

I had no internet access for most of last week - it's very disconcerting when that happens unexpectedly.  So I'm very behindhand with writing about a couple of things that happened the week before, including a trip to Blackpool on the 17th.  Angharad and I took our Trunk Show to the Westcliffe Hotel where Paula Chew, the owner, specialises in providing knitting holidays.  Paula had asked us to do a two-hour session showing some of the highlights of the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection to her guests.

We had packed a selection of knitted & crocheted items, tools & gadgets, and publications.   Several of the things we chose have featured in this blog, including the Shetland cardigan visibly mended by Tom of Holland - that was an obvious choice, because it has so recently been mended that it feels like a new and exciting acquisition.    But we had lots of other things to show, too.

Waistcoat donated by Kaffe Fassett

Angharad showing a Shetland lace stole
It was a beautiful day and after our trunk show session and lunch, we walked to the promenade (a 2 minute walk) to see the sea.  You can't go to the seaside without seeing the sea, after all.  We might even have walked on the beach, but it was high tide so we couldn't.  And then we got the train back home.

It was a good day - Paula's guests enjoyed seeing and handling the items from the collection, and we enjoyed showing them to an appreciative audience. We have another booking for the Trunk Show from Paula for September, but that will be in Scarborough, when she takes her guests on a tour of the Yorkshire coast.  

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
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