Thursday, 19 January 2012

Wonder of Wool

2012 being the year of wool (as well as the year of the cape etc etc), it was fitting that I attended the 'Wonder of Wool' exhibition at Rheged on the opening day, which was not intentional but an inspirational boost to start the year.

Although most of the exhibits were marvelous, a few deserve special mention:

Extravagansey by Annie Shaw
Extravagansey by Annie Shaw: dozens of tiny ganseys hanging from the ceiling, each one unique and beautiful. Hard to say which was my favourite because they were all lovely, but the one with the jumper knitted on the back tickled me. She used this project to soak up all the little bits and bobs of flotsam and jetsam that she had collected from the beach over the years - like a Bowerbird, one person's waste is another woman's art.
Celia Pym: Darning
Darning by Celia Pym:
On the same theme, this artist takes moth-eaten ancient but once beautiful garments and patches them up to make them wearable once again. The darned sweaters are in a curious way even more attractive than the originals. The child's fair-isle sweater (right) is displayed next to a photo of the original owner, wearing it when it must have been freshly knitted. I hate to think what happened to the Norwegian fisherman who wore this garment (below) - looks like he lost a fight with Moby Dick.
Celia Pym
Celia Pym
On this theme, I have a favourite pair of slipper socks received as a christmas present about 5 years ago. They were getting a bit holy (holey?) so I had a go at darning them with an odd ball of purple tweed. At this rate I may get another 5 years out of them!
Thimble: spot the darning
Finally and back to WOW, Knitted Homes of Crime, a piece by Freddie Robbins which combines 2 of my favourite things: wool (of course) and Victorian murder mysteries...except that there isn't really any mystery to these murders, and the stories really are macabre...
'Christiana' by Freddie Robbins

'Ethel' by Freddie Robbins

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Mouse Attack

Mandala Quilt: (almost) as good as new
Mandala Quilt: Mouse attack
I am told this was a lesson on impermanence. I am not sure I was ready for that lesson quite so soon.

Luckily after darning and patching it is almost as good as new

The whole affair merited a special memorial patch.

Mandala Quilt: memorial patch

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Shilasdair Skye Yarns

Finally finished! Shilisdair Skye jumper 3 years in the making...
2012 is going to be the year of completing unfinished projects. I think it is also going to be the year of the home made garment, the year of wool and the year of the cape...

Just before Christmas I finally finished my Shilasdair Skye Yarns sweater which has been sweatering away in my knitting bag for a shamefaced 3 years. This is 20% cashmere, 40% angora and 40% lambswool and it is so beautifully soft and warm I am delighted. Also it survived the first wash without much shrinkage at all and looked even better (a small miracle).

For anyone planning a trip to Skye, I recommend dropping in on this place. Most of the yarn is Scottish wool, hand-dyed using natural dyes on Skye. Except blue I think, which needs to come from indigo or something along those lines...which I think means green too has to have a little helping hand.

There is a choice of buying the kit (wool, wooden needles, pattern, buttons, all in a nice cotton bag) or the buying the knitted garment. I chose this design because it looked easy, though I struggled a bit to get the collar to lie flat, and I may yet make it a bit bigger - the only criticism I have is there is no picture of the actual design in the kit, so after 3 years I really couldn't remember what the collar was supposed to look like. Having just looked at the Shilasdair shop website I think I have just realised that it is supposed to have more of a mandarin/grandad collar:

No matter. The jumper I REALLY liked (and maybe one day will have a go at something similar) was not available in a kit because it had lots of rows of different yarn:
Shilasdair Yarn gorgeous knit
Shilasdair art sweater