Friday, 29 August 2014

Lavender Bunches

The summer holidays are always a little bit challenging for a working mum, and I often find striking the balance between work, entertaining the kids (and myself!) quite a challenge. With this in mind - and definitely more for me than the girls - I took them to Hitchin Lavender Farm on a gorgeous sunny day a few weeks ago.

I think they were rather dubious about a trip to a flower farm but when we got there they had a great time. It was such a beautiful setting - the air was full of busy bees flying over the lavender and the glorious field of sunflowers that was just next to it - the smell was amazing!

We picked lavender to bring home and a few of the sunflowers too. It was a really lovely way to spend a few fragrant hours! I remember as a child, my Mum showing little lavender bunches wound with ribbon which we did have a go at making at the time. So I decided to pick the lavender with good long stems so that I could have a go. You can see my attempts below, with a little tutorial on 'how to' if you fancy having a go yourself. I'm thinking that I might save a few and pop them in with knitted Christmas gifts . . .

1) You will need nine stems of lavender with all the leaves taken off the stems, just over a metre of 6mm ribbon and some strong string (or yarn) to tie them together.

2) Tie the nine stems together with the string, making sure you have slid the ribbon between the stems and the string to secure it. Slip one end of the ribbon through the lavender heads to keep it out of the way, leaving a ‘tail’ which you will use later to make a bow. The longer end will be used to wrap the stems.
3) Make sure the string is tied tightly around the stems and pull each stem to ensure the flower head sits tight onto the knot. Fold the stems back on themselves, this is why it is essential to use fresh lavender so that the stems are still flexible. Start weaving the ribbon in and out of the stems, under and over, the first couple of rounds are a bit tricky!
4) Keep weaving the ribbon rounds until you have covered all the flower heads. Every now and again stop to tighten the ribbon, this makes it look better at the end.
5) When you have wrapped the flower head use the two ends of the ribbon (one is threaded through the inside) to tie a knot and a bow. Trim the ends of the ribbon.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

A summer of fibre festival fun!

Over the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to visit two fibre and knitting shows, one as a visitor which for me is a real luxury.

The first of these was Unwind Brighton - an event that had received lots of social media coverage and promised to be one of the 'must-go-to' shows of the year. I knew that there were going to be some really exceptional vendors in the marketplace, but I was completely blown away by it anyway -  it took me a while to get going and actually buy something!

After a good amount of browsing I went for a lovely project bag from L'Oisive The (who had come over from France) by Le Chat Qui Tricote and then another project bag which is beautifully lined and big enough for a sweater project from knitrundig.

My finished Pebble Beach Shawlette, project bags and yarn from Unwind

Next, over to one of my favourites . . . Skein Queen where I managed to come away with three hanks of a beautiful merino/cashmere sportweight mix ‘Blush’ - which I have big plans for! I also bought a skein of gorgeous yellow from The Uncommon Thread in colour ‘Capsicum’ to knit the Pebble Beach Shawlette by Curious Handmade aka Helen Stewart, which was published in the Unwind programme as winner of the design competition.  As you can see from the picture . . . I have finished it! Mine is called ‘Acid on a Pebble Beach’.

Ann Kingstone
I'm very proud of this two-handed stranded colourwork!

my Brioche knitting
Amy Singer
As well as the fabulous marketplace, there were some very high quality workshops running throughout the weekend. Hosted by some incredible international knitwear designers, I managed to get myself booked into three classes which were so informative as well as being great fun. I took Brioche Knitting with Bristol Ivy, Stranded Colourwork with Ann Kingstone and Digital Photography with Amy Singer. All brilliant but I have to say my eyes were opened to two-handed stranded colourwork with Ann Kingstone and I am a convert! As well as all the knitty marvelousness I went with some good friends and between us we managed to down quite a few cocktails, including a delicious Brighton Cooler which was mainly gin I think!

Last weekend was Fibre East - an event in Ampthill near Beford which is local to me. I had a stand in one of the (very warm) marquees which happily turned out as the very first chance to showcase some of my new knitting kits (more about that next time!)  I managed to sneak away from the stand and buy . . . (oops) this fabulous gradient yarn from Five Moons which I am going to use for a shawl and some mitts and then somehow found myself at the Kettle Yarn Co stand buying this fabulous Purple Reign ‘Islington’ yarn to knit a Waterlily from PomPom Quarterly Magazine. This is going to be my treat knitting while I am on holiday and I am working hard to finish a few things before I start next week!

Lots of lovely new kits!
Fabulous yarn from Five Moons and Kettle Yarn Co
Over the last couple of months I have been interviewed for articles in Crafts Beautiful and Let's Knit! Magazine. I felt very privileged to be asked and reading the results makes me realise how lucky I am to do what I do. Playing with yarn and letting my imagination take me where I want, not bad for a day job!

I was so thrilled to be featured in two of my favourite magazines