A spot of gardening and some bee-keeping

Spring has definitely sprung in London, and the longer days and better weather have come in handy as I get to grips with a new garden.  This will definitely be a long-term work in progress, but it’s fun discovering what is already growing there and seeing progress made as a blank canvas of newly-cleared flowerbeds gradually replaces the old, overgrown weeds and brambles.  It’s also fun deciding what to plant.  I’m hoping to feed my stomach as well as my spirit…

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Alongside all of this outdoorsy fun, my current knitting didn’t feel quite right.  I was in the mood for something more playful and so I gave myself a week off my existing knitting projects (a cardigan and finishing the edging on a shawl) to make hexipuffs from The Beekeeper’s Quilt by tiny owl knits.  Hexipuffs are little woolly hexagonal cushions which are knitted in the round and stuffed.  The idea is to sew them together in a honeycomb formation to make a colourful quilt.  Making the hundreds needed for a quilt would be a project of even more gargantuan proportions than taming my garden, but each individual hexipuff is a very satisfying quick knit.  They are quite addictive and I’ve ended up with a little rainbow of them from the last week’s knitting, all using different scraps of hand-dyed yarn.

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My hexipuffs are destined to join others made by knitters from all over the world, as part of the Hand-dyed Beekeeper’s Quilt Challenge, organised by UK-based yarn dyer and designer Lioness Arts, which will see over 700 hexipuffs joined together to make a quilt.  The finished quilt will be the prize in a raffle in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital and Medecins Sans Frontieres.  I’ve found the Challenge a great excuse to make hexipuffs without taking on the huge project of making a whole quilt!  You can find out how to join in or enter the raffle at the Challenge’s fundraising page.

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A surprise gift

I received a surprise gift this week.

Ted, the lovely man who has been decorating my house, noticed my knitting things lying around.  His mum had been a knitter and he gave me a bag of her sadly no-longer-needed knitting patterns.

There are no dates on them, but they seem to date from the 1950s to the 1980s.  Judging from her pattern collection, Ted’s mum was a very accomplished knitter who was totally up for the challenge of knitting a complex Aran sweater.

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It stuck me that virtually all of the patterns were for sweaters or other ambitious projects.  There weren’t many “instant gratification” patterns such as small accessories, other than patterns for babies and children.  She was providing clothes for her and her family.  Ted said that the things she made would last for years.

It’s a fantastic treasure trove of information and ideas (as well as some comedy photography).  I will enjoy looking through and using this surprise gift and I hope that Ted’s mum would have been pleased to know that her pattern collection will still be enjoyed.

Maybe one day I’ll knit an Aran sweater… 🙂

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Why yarnful?

My mum used to tell me that I’d been knitted. 

She wasn’t even particularly a knitter, but somehow that emerged as the explanation of my existence.  (In case you were wondering, my sister was found under a gooseberry bush.)  I think however, that might have been the beginnings of my love of a good yarn.

I am a yarn collector.

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yarn  n. 1 spun thread used for knitting, weaving or sewing  2 (informal) a long or rambling story, an epic tale

I love stories of all kinds, whether they are real or made-up, written in the pages of a book, overheard on the bus, woven in the words of a folksong, or shared in an email from a friend.  I’m also never more content than when surrounded by soft, squishy skeins of hand-dyed wool or pieces of beautiful fabric.  It’s not just the colours and textures that make me happy, but also the feeling of potential in each one.  I love imagining, researching and collecting ideas for what they will become, and then the process of turning them into useable objects or garments to bring pleasure and warmth to someone.

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There’s a magic in the intertwining of stories and textiles.  Each object not only has a history in its materials, construction and the person who made it, but also a future as it becomes part of the story of those who will use it.

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