Friday 29 May 2015

Knitting Seaweed

Last week, it was the monthly meeting of the Huddersfield branch of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, and we had a workshop run by a local member, Elizabeth Smith.  Some of her knitting and crochet is based on what you find on beaches - seaweed, pebbles, sea anemones,...  You can see one of her seaweed covered rocks here, along with one of her beautiful cushions in stranded knitting, based on local Yorkshire landscapes.   We didn't attempt anything very ambitious at the workshop - we just knitted strands of seaweed.   I have knitted quite a bit more of mine since the workshop.


The yarn is Jamieson's Spindrift, in the Granny Smith colour.  I've also experimented with another variety of seaweed, in Moss, with more complicated branching (but have run out of yarn.)  It's very satisfying to see how it develops, and I know from seeing Elizabeth wearing some of her knitted seaweed that it looks good worn as neckwear - she says it's surprisingly warm too.   The plan is to combine three strands in different greens, and wear them together.  

Thursday 28 May 2015

Holiday in Northern Greece

We got back from a holiday in Greece ten days ago - it's taken me this long to get around to writing this blog.  As with last year's holiday in the Peloponnese, we went with friends from our walking group, and it was organised by Gareth Trewartha of Naturally Greece.  This year we flew to Thessaloniki and visited areas in northern Greece - Lake Kerkini, the Prespa lakes, and the Zagori region.

We saw lots of water birds on the lakes - pelicans, several kinds of heron, egrets, flamingos, cormorants.  There were storks nesting on platforms on the tops of electricity poles (at least 9 of them along the road through Kerkini village).  And we saw a cuckoo, which was thrilling.

Storks nesting in Kerkini village

White pelican

There were wild flowers too: a damp meadow full of pheasant's eye (Narcissus poeticus), the sinister-looking silkvine alongside Lake Kerkini.

A field of Poet's Daffodil 

Silkvine growing by Lake Kerkini

Zagori is a limestone area, so especially rich in wild flowers and we saw lots of orchids there.

Elder-flower orchid and Glanville fritillary

We spent a couple of days around the Vikos Gorge, where the scenery is spectacular and the villages are charming.  The river running through the gorge is the Voidomatis - in places the water looks a brilliant turquoise.

Looking into Vikos Gorge

Voidomatis river

The Zagori houses have a gate onto the road with its own roof - some are new or have been restored, but many look very ancient.

A gateway in one of the Zagori villages 

I liked the chimneys - they look like little houses or temples, and often have a conical stone on top.  The roofs are made of stone, too.

The villages in Zagori were linked by paved tracks, and local benefactors built bridges to take the tracks over the rivers. We crossed several very graceful examples, including the wonderful three-arched bridge near the village of Kipoi, where we stayed.

Kokoris bridge
Kalogeriko bridge
At the end of the holiday, when the rest of the group flew home, John and I stayed on for a few days in Thessaloniki.  We had been to Vergina, where the royal tombs of Philip of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) and several other members of his family had been excavated.  The contents of the tombs used to be in the archaeology museum in Thessaloniki, but now they have been moved back to a new museum in Vergina.  The finds are amazing - wonderful gold wreaths, silver dinner services, huge bronze vessels, Philip's armour.  I assumed that the gold in particular was a sign of royalty, but the Thessaloniki Archaeology Museum has lots of gold wreaths from graves across the region -  obviously you had to be wealthy to be buried with a gold wreath, but not necessarily royal.  They are beautifully made, too - very delicate and intricate.   Many imitate wreaths of plants like myrtle or ivy, and the details of the flowers and leaves are perfectly reproduced.    

Gold myrtle wreath, 350-300 BC

Gold diadem with head of Aphrodite from female grave at Lete, early 3rd cent BC 

Gilt wreath from reconstruction of tomb of young woman & new-born infant, cemetery of ancient Aineia, 350-325 BC 

It was a really good holiday, very well-organised, and I haven't even mentioned all the food we ate - delicious, and lots of it.  We had a wonderful time.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

My Knitting

I haven't mentioned what I've been knitting for a while, although I have several projects almost finished.  I don't generally like to talk about my knitting before it's actually finished, partly because it might go wrong, and that would be embarrassing, and partly because I am very bad at finishing knitting projects (I hate sewing up, for one thing), so I might have to report that I've finished something a long time after I've said I'm knitting it, and that would be embarrassing too.  

But here's something I have just finished, apart from sewing in ends, etc.  It's a very unseasonal cabled scarf, in Wendy Merino DK.   More about it later.  

Monday 4 May 2015

Lace Knits

My friend Ann Kingstone has just published a new book, Lace Knits.   It should be appearing  in the shops in the next few days, if it isn't there already, but I got my copy direct from Ann a couple of weeks ago.  If you're on Ravelry, the individual designs are being posted there, too.

Like Ann's other books, it is very well-produced. The cover illustration is by Alex Tomlinson, who did a wonderful print to celebrate the Yorkshire Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2014.  The photography is by Woolly Wormhead, and styling by Susan Crawford - they have done a wonderful job of showing off the lace knits.

There are 16 designs in the book, all named after places in and around Huddersfield - Fenay, Gledholt, Cowlersley (a cowl!), Slaithwaite (pronounced Sla-wit, if you live there).   For people who know Huddersfield, that adds an extra dimension -  one is named after the district we live in, another after my daughter's school.

There are several lovely lace shawls, though knitting lace shawls is not really my thing, and some delightful fingerless mitts (Edgerton).   But the designs that most appeal to me are the cardigans and sweaters. They are all seamless -  one of Ann's trademarks, as in her Wetwang sweater, which I knitted from her Born & Bred book.  Seamless knitting avoids the difficulty of trying to make a neat seam in knitted lace - especially difficult in a yarn like Rowan's Kid Silk Haze.

I think my favourite is Ainley, knitted in Aran weight yarn (Rowan Kid Classic).  It uses two really pretty lace stitches, one being 'frost flowers' - very appropriate for a winter-weight knit. The body and the sleeves are knitted separately, from the bottom up, and then joined.  The sleeves are set in - all seamlessly, as I've said, and the shaping is just beautifully neat.  

Reinwood is another cardigan, in a lighter weight yarn (Rowan Pure Wool Worsted).  The lace panels are confined to the front, and the rest is in stocking stitch - again all seamless.  In this design, the body is knitted bottom up and the sleeves top down, from picked up stitches around the armhole.

And Springwood is a top-down sweater, with a border of lace around the hem and cuffs - very pretty.  It's in 4-ply, so would make a good knit for spring.  It's knitted top down, "commencing with the Ziggurat shoulder technique", which sounds intriguing.  

The patterns are given with both written instructions and charts for the lace.  There's also a well-illustrated section of the book on the techniques required, such as various cast-on methods, magic loop, applied i-cord, and so on.  

Altogether a lovely book.  I plan to knit Ainley for myself soon, and I'd like to knit Reinwood and Springwood too - though given my usual rate of knitting, that might be a bit optimistic.    

Saturday 2 May 2015

For a Royal Baby

This week, we were sorting several boxes of Peter Pan patterns in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection, and found several copies of this free pattern leaflet, "A layette for someone special".   It must have been issued around the time of a royal birth, so that you could make a set of baby clothes fit for a prince or princess, for a baby in your own family.  I'm guessing that the royal baby was Prince William (born 1982), because the booklet on the table in the foreground says "The Royal Wedding" and I think refers to the wedding of Prince William's parents the previous year.

It was a very timely find, since another royal birth was imminent, and the new princess, Prince William's daughter, has arrived today! 
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