Thursday, September 26, 2013


A while back I mentioned some beautiful 4-ply alpaca which I had bought from Doe Arnot. After much deliberation I made this from it:
(Yes, that is a knife in my pocket.) It's the softest, most comfortable warm jumper I have. I love it. It's like being able to wear really snuggly pyjamas all day. I made it loose because the alpaca is so fine and wants to drape itself around. Secretly, sometimes I'd rather not be wearing a figure hugging sweater. Some days I prefer to flollop a bit.

The design gives a nod to the Tudor era with cuffs and edgings in very fluffy angora so it is a bit like fur. I thought of how nice it would have been for the Tudor ladies to be able to wear knitted clothes instead of being laced into boned bodices. I can feel for them now because from time to time I play in a concert with a recorder consort and we dress for the occasion.
It's a great relief to shed all those kilos of fabric and boning afterwards.

How much easier to play the music dressed like this, though without the sunglasses of course:
Also, I thought about the fate of Anne Boleyn and worked the King Charles brocade pattern into the main body of the jumper because if you're going to come to a sticky end it might as well be in something comfy.

Tam Update - A Starry Tale

Yesterday someone asked me if I'd been knitting any more tams. Well, yes . . .

The pile is getting rather ridiculous now. Perhaps I should sell some somewhere, somehow. My trouble is that I make each one different even if I use the same design, so they take time and the wool is not cheap. The price would have to be more than anyone is prepared to pay so in the end I give them away.

I found some lovely 8-ply alpaca in Doe Arnot and Flagstaff Alpacas range. They had a lot of marled wool in different shades and I thought I'd see how it looked knitted up in Fair Isle tams. I also tried using variegated colours which gave an impressionist look to the tams.

Here are some examples:

This one is Meadow Flowers. The odd thing about this tam is that the flowers only become noticeable when the tam is being worn.

Here is the same tam in different colours:

Quite different, isn't it?

Here are two more marled tams -  Butterfly and Star (using some Gimmerburn), and Tall Ships

and Hearts and Flowers

This is Gold Star in two colour combinations:

There are a couple more, using the Renaissance Dyeing 4-ply Poll Dorset. I'll give you a preview and I'll be writing up the patterns for them soon.

Heavenly -

and Icelandic Trees.

Hope you like them.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Back in the spring, on our visit to Akaroa, I took along a scarf I'd just finished so we could photograph it. It's been quietly waiting since then for Andie at Renaissance Dyeing to get in some new stock of the Blue Faced Leicester wool that I used to knit it. I believe she has a new supply now and only needs a new dyehouse to dye it in.
The scarf design is based on descriptions of American girls in the 19th century sleigh riding with their heads warmly wrapped in what are described as clouds. These were scarves with tassels that wrapped a couple of times around the head or neck. The tassels are important because the weight of them helps to stop the scarf from unwrapping itself in the breeze. I tested that on the hills above Akaroa where there seems to be a stiffish kind of a breeze blowing rather often.

In Okains Bay on the other side of the hill from Akaroa is an amazing museum. This is a tiny community trying hard to keep a large enough population so they can continue to have their own school, but the museum is of a size and quality that any city would be proud of. We spent an entire afternoon there admiring the artistry and craftsmanship that the Maori people brought to even the most utilitarian objects like fish hooks and axes carved with figures.
I particularly loved the beautiful bags made from lacebark, flax and feathers. These people only lived for thirty or so years and yet the mastery they showed of their crafts was extraordinary.

Okains Bay is seeking families with school age children to move there. They'll be welcomed with enthusiasm by Murray Thacker, the founder of the museum, and made immediately at home in this beautiful place.

(If you would like to buy the pattern for the scarf, it's available on Ravelry.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

At Doe's Dyehouse

A week or two ago I visited Doe Arnot's dyehouse where she was hard at work dyeing the beautiful alpaca from Flagstaff Alpacas. Andy from Flagstaff was there as well, skeining the dyed yarns as they dried.
Here you can see an array of the colours they create for sale. Doe is an artist and the subtle shades of variegated yarns she creates are beautiful and inspiring to knit with. The yarns are so soft to the touch that I can barely feel them. 
Doe in the dyehouse and hanging the hot wool out to dry.

 An excellent use for a trampoline.

Andy skeining the wool.
As well as the plain yarns, Doe was dyeing a variety of marled yarn.

I took an armload of these home as well as some green and some turquoise yarn which Doe dyed especially.
These yarns are now becoming a selection of tams of which you will hear more later.

 And here is the mohair wool that I bought in Australia.
It is now a very warm and comfortable 1950s jacket.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Her Ladyship

This is officially about the launch of Lady Franklin, a jumper inspired by a photograph of a 1920s prize winning jumper from the Shetlands. The design keeps to traditional colours but the overall effect of the way the motifs are used is quite different from the majority of Fair Isle designs.
Every second motif in a round is different and this seemed complicated until I started to work it. Then I realised that the way the motifs are organised means that the one you are working on is in full view from the previous set and all you need to do is to copy it. So simple really. I didn't need to look at my chart after I'd finished the first round of motifs. The old ways of doing things are often the most logical.
The donkey helped me with this one from the start. Thanks Teddy.

This jumper was very fast to knit and just as well because I needed to go to Australia to meet my first (and I'm told, only) grandson, Heath. He was not quite one week old when I arrived but had started life at over ten pounds, so he was well on his way already.

I did buy some wool there - some Australian Heirloom mohair and wool blend, a 12-ply in cerise - from the wool shop in Katoomba which is closing down after fifteen years. Such a shame, although I admit I got 40% off the wool because of their sale.
I also visited Morris and Sons in York Street in Sydney. It was very fashionable and quite expensive. I bought just the one ball of a mohair and silk blend from Italy. I would post photos of these purchases but after all the excitement the flu has got me and I'm confined to quarters. The excitement included a Sibelius concert at the Opera House and afterwards Aschkenazy himself signed my programme. No wonder my system has decided to close down.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Twelve more chicks hatched and posed momentarily with their mother on my completed project.

Another glimpse of Lady Franklin destined for the Renaissance Dyeing display at Les Aiguilles en FĂȘte - Paris - 14-17th February and now flying from New Zealand to France.
More soon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Eight Christmas Babies

Eating hard boiled egg.