Bits & Pieces

Well, that was another doozy of a day yesterday. In the ongoing Bamford Disaster saga, Tony’s brother was rushd to hospital yesterday with a suspected heart attack. We sat in A&E for hours waiting for the doctors to decide what to do. Eventually they decided that it was probably angina, and they would keep him in overnight to do further tests. We stumbled home late last night and collapsed into bed. Drama, drama, always drama!! 

But, to offset all this bad stuff, I had three beautiful surprises in the post yesterday. Firstly, Leslie Wind, who makes these incredible gold and silver shawl pins, contacted me last week to say she would like to send me one. You can imagine how I jumped at that opportunity!! And yesterday it arrived, and oh it’s gorgeous. Look:

I’m very fussy about jewellery and accessories, preferring the sleek and simple, and this fits the bill perfectly. It holds onto the shawl well, without pulling at the delicate lace, and is beautiful without being so ornate that it clashes with the shawl for attention. Thank you Leslie, I love it!! (For those wondering, the shawl in this photo is the one I was wearing in the photos earlier in the week, its the Fir Cone Triangular Shawl, knitted in Sophia 2ply.)

My second parcel was from a lovely customer, Annette, whose felted wool balls I had been admiring on Ravelry. Annette was kind enough to send me two, with a note saying that she hoped Jaffa would love them. Oh, he does! He’s a very keen little footballer. Thank you, Annette, you are a sweetie. And by the by, don’t you think one of them looks like a planet in the photo below?!

Finally, I’d been telling Robynn earlier in the week how much I was lusting over the Pattern Tamers she’s recently started stocking. They are so cool, fabric covered magnetic strips that you use to mark your place on charts. As someone who is constantly losing her place, using scraps of paper, and slowing my knitting down even more than usual due to wondering where on earth I am in the pattern, these will be invaluable. Plus, well, they’re so pretty! Anyway, Robynn was a darling, and sent me some as a gift. Thank you so, so much, Robynn!

Preparations for the show are hotting up, Tony has been steadily dyeing his way through an enormous pile of yarn. I’m going to filch some of it for this week’s update, but I’m not sure when the preview will be ready, as yesterday’s hospital visit set us back a bit. Watch this space. I’m hoping that we have wildly overestimated how much yarn we will need for this show, and that we’ll be bringing a lot of it back with us. If we do have lots left over, I’m going to do a week of updates, one each day at 6pm, and maybe one early in the day for our poor Australian and New Zealand customers who currently have to get up in the early hours to shop with us. I’d like to do a week of small updates, because hopefully that would give everyone a chance to get some yarn. We’ll have to see how things go at the show, but that’s the goal.

Mmm, I think that’s everything for now. Ooh, don’t forget, Ravelry users, we’re starting the Swallowtail KAL next Tuesday. Yep, that’s everything. Have a good Thursday!!

Nice Things

Last night’s sale was, uh, brisk. I think it even beat the January Blowout sale for speed. Practically everything was licked up in the first ten minutes, and the plate was clean by 6:45. Mind you, it was a smaller update than usual. Updates will be a little smaller than usual for the next few weeks, as we start preparing stock for Wonderwool. Since this is our first show, its hard for me to estimate how much to take, but I figure, the more we take, the better. I would hate to sell out on the first day, and have no yarn left for the Sunday visitors. I have ordered lots of yarn though (including a new handspun laceweight yarn) so I think we’ll be alright.

Onto other matters. There’s been much discussion on Ravelry as to ways to wear shawls. Some like to drape the shawl about them, others like to have it slung casually over their shoulders. Me, I like to have mine fastened at the front. I don’t find a shawl pin works for this purpose, so I have been tying the shawl ends into a little knot. But this really isn’t the best way to treat a handknitted cashmere shawl, so for a long time I’ve been on the lookout for a shawl ring.

 

If you’ve never seen one, a shawl (or more usually scarf) ring is a decorative ring that you pull the ends of your shawl through. They were very popular in the 1980’s, when scarves were fashionable, but are more difficult to find now. All the ones I found were too fancy and ornate – I wanted something pretty, but not so decorative that it would compete with the shawl.

Then I had an idea. I went onto Etsy, and searched through the jewelry makers, until I found one whose style I liked. I sent her a message telling her what I wanted, and asking if one of her ring designs could be made in a larger size. It could, and she would. Last week, the ring arrived (beautifully packaged) and I tried it out. It’s absolutely perfect. It’s quite dainty and lightweight, so won’t drag itself down off the shawl ends. It’s just large enough to pull the ends of my thickest shawl (made with 4ply yarn) through it. The shawl sits nicely on my shoulders, no slipping or pulling. And I think the simplicity of the heart design looks just right against the lace of the shawl. What do you think?

 

Finally, I’ll leave you with a close up of my beautiful bouquet. The lilies have all opened, and are filling the house with their scent.

Edited to add: stamens duly removed – I had no idea lilies were poisonous to cats, but thanks for the heads up, everyone.

Bits and Pieces

Today’s blog is a smorgasbord of all the bits and pieces floating around in my head at the moment. But let’s start off with a little more eye candy:

I’m so glad you all like the sweater. We can be far too invested in our own projects sometimes, and therefore far too critical.

Thanks for the continued messages of love and support that keep coming through. I want to especially thank Bekky, who send me a wonderful package, containing a lovely card, a box of luxury Belgian chocolates, and the most beautiful bracelet and necklace set. I was touched beyond words, and expressed the depth of my appreciation by working my way steadily through the chocolates. Thank you Bekky, you’re a sweetheart!

This has been a difficult few days, because the medication I’ve been taking has been having an adverse effect. So they’ve switched me onto something different now, with some extra help (professional and pharmaceutical) for the meantime. I know I’m in good hands and can just let go and let them take care of me, so that’s a relief in itself. We’re slowly getting back to normal this week, Tony is dyeing today, ahead of this Sunday’s update. I should have a preview ready for you Friday, but if its Saturday, I’m sure you won’t mind.

We’re looking into some new yarns for spring/summer, and one of the ones we’re considering is from a Welsh spinner, made from 75% merino 25% shetland wool. It comes in 4ply and dk weight, and has a lovely soft handle, but with quite a rustic handspun look. I have a sample here which we dyed, its 55g in dk, which will be about 150 yards of yarn. Is anyone interested in trying it out? If so, email me and it’s yours. I’ll be interested to see what it knits up like, and to get your feedback. (This yarn has been claimed now.)

Hmm, that’s all I can think of right now. The sun is shining outside the window, so even though I should be labelling yarn, I’m going off to play hookey. I’m going to walk down our lane and see how many spring flowers I can see. Would you like me to take some photos if I see any, and show you tomorrow?

Blessings

Every day, you, my posh knitting friends, continue to surprise me. Sending so many supportive, caring, encouraging messages, through emails, Ravelry posts, and comments on the blog. Every single one, however brief, however much you may feel you’re just repeating what everyone else says, means a great deal to us. We remind each other how lucky we are to have made a successful business out of something that we love, and we are luckier still that as a consequence of that business we’ve made so many lovely friends, all over the world. So many people have to go through problems and bumpy patches alone; we not only have each other, and supportive friends and family in our own community, but we have all of you too, rooting for us, and sending caring messages. It amazes me, and I feel so fortunate.

Today I had two extra treats. Firstly, kind Karen sent me her copy of the Peacock Feathers shawl pattern, which she has gifted to me. So I’m ready for our knitalong, later this year! Karen included a lovely little card too, full of encouraging thoughts. Thank you so much, lovely Karen.

Then a box arrived from Cassie. I’m going to let pictures speak for a moment, because it’s hard to find words to describe how I felt on opening this package….

The box contained (beautifully wrapped, as you can see) a scrumptious skein of Sunshine sock yarn (so soft!), a lovely letter from Cassie, which is going in my treasure box, because it was so sweet and supportive, some photos of her and her gorgeous kids (they have good genes), and most precious of all, this little birdy:

He came from a vintage shop, and has been living with Cassie for a while, and how she could part with him I don’t know, because he is just beautiful. I’ve put him on my bedside table, where I can see him last thing at night and first thing in the morning. To me, he says, don’t lose hope, no matter how much it may rain, the sun will come out in the end, and then we will fly…… 

October 1st, 2007

The recent change in weather has got me thinking about my autumn/winter wardrobe, which is woefully inadequate. When you work from home, sweats and socks tend to make up the backbone of your wardrobe. It always makes me laugh when I read pieces in fashion magazines suggesting comfortable but chic lounge wear for around the house. Yes, I’m going to wear a belted linen tunic over skinny jeans, or a cashmere wrap jacket over silk palazzo pants, instead of washed-a-hundred-times-until-they’re-super-soft pj’s, and I’ll wear full makeup too, because I have my standards to keep up…… Yes, ok…….

However, for the days when I do make it out the house, a little clothes shopping has become necessary. But I hate, detest, loathe, shopping. How some people find it therapeutic is beyond my comprehension. Even back in the days when fashion was my business, I didn’t really enjoy shopping, it was just a necessary evil. But thanks to the Internet, I can get my shopping over with from the comfort of my sofa. WWW = What WouldIDo WithoutIt?

There was a time when I prided myself on being one jump ahead of the trends, but I’ve grown rather tired of fashion in the last few years. It’s so…. clonish. I still love vintage fashion though, especially the 1930’s-1950’s. That whole shabby chic, Cold Comfort Farm meets I Capture the Castle, slightly eccentric faded grandeur look. Battered tweeds, ditzy silk prints, threadbare velvet, washed until it’s sheer cotton. A baggy Aran sweater worn over a tea dress. Flannel trousers, a crisp cotton shirt, and a Fair Isle tank top. A flippy velvet skirt with wellington boots. None of which I would wear, but I’m creating an atmosphere here.

And there are several shops out there who are on the same wavelength. Boden, Toast, Celtic Sheepskin, Noa Noa, Cath Kidston, Laura Ashley, The White Company. Just looking through their catalogues is a delight (especially Boden – the witty comments make the copy as much of a treat as the photos).

Because these shops have an old-fashioned, hand-crafted style to them, they combine beautifully with hand knits. Imagine these trousers with a crisp cotton shirt, rolled up at the sleeve, and a Fair Isle tank top in mellow autumn shades. Or jeans tucked into these boots, with a tweedy cable knit sweater over the top. Or this fabulous dress, with a silk lace shawl flung over the shoulders. Or even (slightly closer to reality here) these pyjamas, with decadently soft cashmere socks…..

Of course, I haven’t the time to make all these knits (although I’m getting faster – sleeve two of Tony’s sweater is now complete!), the money to buy all those items, or the social standing or lifestyle to wear such opulent outfits. But a girl can dream, can’t she?