Mystery Sock Progress

I’m participating in the SKA September KAL challenge.  They are all Ravelry links, so sorry about that for the non-Ravelry folks.  We get a new set of clues every week and we have no photos except our own to look at.  I’ve just finished clue #2 on both the socks.  We got clue #3 last Tuesday so I’m about a week behind.  We have until October 31 to finish them so I’m very confident I’ll be done in time.

And what do you get if you follow the rules and finish in time?  You get a chance to win one of the 14 prizes on offer!  They are really good prizes so I’m going to do my best to finish.  I know there’s a very small chance of winning since there are so many people participating (some hundreds).  It’s fun anyway!

One thing I think is very cool is that a group of Dutch knitters have created their own shadow forum on Ravelry where they are translating the clues and helping each other out with the pattern, all in Dutch.  Y. is spending a lot of time on this and it’s very generous of her to do it!  Ga er voor!

If I don’t finish these before we leave for California, I’ll take them with me on the plane to finish.  I have another traveling project in mind for the rest of that trip….

Dam to Dammit

I was supposed to run the Dam to Dam this weekend.  I’m injured.  If you been reading, you might have noticed the posts without running and with complaints about my back and knee.  I’ve really hurt them both and some days feel like I can hardly walk around, much less run.

I’m really upset about it and disappointed.  I’m not even going to watch the race.  It would depress me way to much to watch others run it.

My race buddies ran the night version of the Dam to Dam (which I was going to run too).  They did really well and beat their last year’s time.  I would have too.

Sigh.  Now I just have to get on with healing and go see the physical therapist every week.  I have the assignment of laying on the floor with my legs on the couch, every day for at least 15 minutes.  And no sports for a while.

I really hate this.

iKnit London, Part III, Final

There is no iKnit on Sunday so the Knitting Gang of Four took ourselves to the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I’d never been there before but C. has been there several times and took us right where we wanted to go:  the lace.

The above wristlet is actually tiny, and really beautiful.  It is part of a display and was the only display of knitted lace we could find.  Here we are looking at the mounted examples:

It’s actually very dimly lit so all my photos of this area needed manipulation to fix the lighting.  What we are looking at are all baby items (including the above wristlet), and the little strip of knitting at the bottom is a sampler of stitch patterns:

These must have been made on needles like sewing needles.  Here’s a close up of the baby sock:

I’m so happy my camera has a macro setting!  We also looked at some amazing hand crocheted things:

To give you an idea of how tiny these stitches are, the little swirling circles in the boarder are much smaller than a dime, smaller than a 1 euro cent piece.  They are tiny and are made up of many many stitches.

After looking at these, C. lead us to a room full of lace, but it was roped off and we couldn’t get in!  She asked the guard if it was possible to see the room.  He made a phone call and 3 minutes later a nice patient man came and let us in and waited until we had seen all we wanted to see, then closed the room behind us when we left.  It was very cool.  Here are some of the things that we saw:

Look at this one (above).  Do you see the metal chain loops holding it all together?

Here’s C. also taking a photo a photo of this box covered in raised needlework.

You have to understand, most of these examples are from 900 to 300 years old!  Some were from the 19th century, but a lot of it was just ancient.  They also had kimonos and skirts and other beautiful textiles.  I took more photos, but haven’t had time yet to adjust the light in them so that you can see what we saw.  I’d never seen anything like this.  It was really special.

After this section of the museum we walked through the jewelry section and then to the museum bookstore.  I bought a very special book there, but will have to write something about it another time.  It’s worth a whole blog post itself.

We at lunch in the museum.  Here’s the dining room:

Everything in this museum makes you stop and stare.  The building itself is a wonder.  I want to go for a long weekend in London and spend all the time here.

We made our way back to our hotel to pick up our luggage, and then headed for the airport and the rest of the story you know.

And that was London!

Swift News

Thanks everyone for your kind comments about the missing swift.  I called again today to the missing items office at Stansted.  They haven’t seen it.  I left it in a W.H. Smith in the main terminal.  The guy at found items said “Well, I have a whole stack of credit cards sent here from W.H. Smith, but no box like yours.”  After so many days I don’t think it’s going to show up.  It’s probably for sale on eBay right now.

I have tracked down a web shop in NL where I can buy one, for the same price I just paid in London.  The shop itself is in the farthest southern corner of this country, but you can order online!  It’s called Venne.  I might have to go visit them one day.

iKnit London Weekend, Part II

Here’s the post where I show you what I bought.  I hope it’s not too disappointing!  I’m going to the U.S. in October and I’ll have yarn shopping opportunities there, so I didn’t see the point in spending a lot of money on expensive European yarn.  But a few things just spoke to me….

This is “Sweet Feet” from Artisan Yarns.  Doesn’t it look like rainbow sherbet?  I’m not going to make socks with it.  I’m going to make a lace shawl with it.  She had so many beautifully dyed skeins of yarn, it was very hard to choose one.  I could have bought a lot more except that I was really trying to be good!  I also bought this amazing silk from the same place:

These are dyed with natural dyes.  The blue is actually a little more purple, the beige a little more gold.  The blue is dyed with logwood.  The other is dyed with walnuts.  They are worsted weight and simply gorgeous.  I don’t know yet what I will make with them.  They go nicely together.

C. and I were shopping together and were drawn in to the stall of Tall Yarns.  A teenage girl was the only one there and we started to ask her questions about the dyes they sell.  We figured Mom was around somewhere.  The girl did a good job of explaining everything, including their chart of colors and color mixing.  Mom arrived and we started to ask her questions too.  Suddenly she said “Are you from the Netherlands?”  We were taken aback.  What!?  We’re both Americans speaking English to her.  She said that we sounded like we had just a slight Dutch accent.  We were floored.  Well, we live in the Netherlands but neither of us ever would have imagined that we speak English with a Dutch accent!!  Anyway, it turned out that SHE is Dutch (duh, “TALL Yarns”, of course she’s Dutch, she’s got to be 6′ tall).  Her husband is English and she lives and works and runs her business in England.

Anyway, we loved her dyes and her book and her shop.  C. and I both bought this:

And her wonderful book, which is really like a cookbook, explaining in just the right amount of detail and “how to” instruction how to dye.  Now all we need is time and space to do it!

She uses acid dyes and the book explains how to mix the colors for different effects, how to tie the hanks for different effects, how to blend and strand and paint with the dyes.  I can’t wait to try it!

We also bought 200 grams of this fleece – Alpaca and wool.  When I first touched it it felt like air.  Or like angels.  Heavenly anyway.  I had to buy it.  The company is called Fibre Harvest.

I also bought these 2 Zauberballs.  Before going to London I happened to see this shawl on Ravelry and kept it in mind while looking around.  Zauberballs, if you aren’t familiar, is yarn that will make a pair a socks per ball, going from white and changing very very gradually to the darkest shade of the ball and back out to white.  I think these blue and black balls will look nice in this, the pattern for which you can buy directly from Stephen.

And that is all that I bought from iKnit that came home with me.

But it isn’t all that I bought.

I also bought a big beautiful wooden yarn swift.  The umbrella kind.  What I’ve always wanted.  I guess I didn’t want it bad enough because I left it at Stansted airport.  Don’t ask.  It’s just too sad a story to tell.

I will say this…. the next time I have to go to London I’m taking the train!  Other Dutch knitters went by train to iKnit.  The cost door to door was the same as my cost door to door.  Their trip took 2 hours longer one way.  You know, I left my house at 7:00am Friday morning and arrived in the center of London 6 hours later.  SIX HOURS.  It’s only a 45 minute flight!  The rest of the time is spent standing in lines and waiting.  I’d much rather spend that time sitting in a train, knitting, reading, eating lunch, talking with friends.  Relaxed.  So relaxed that you’ll never forget your stuff rushing for a plane.  That’s my travel advice.  Free.  From me to you.

That’s Part II of the iKnit story.  But it’s not over yet!  There’s still the adventures of Sunday to come!  Come back tomorrow for the exciting climax to the London story.

iKnit London, Part I

This was my first year at iKnit London and I didn’t really know what to expect.  I have also never taken a class at an event like this and I signed up for 3 of them at iKnit.  So, what was it like?

First of all, it was smaller and less crowded than I expected.  I’m used to going to the Dutch handwerkbeurs which includes all types of textile crafts, and is always so crowded and packed into a small space that you can hardly breath or see what the vendors are trying to sell!  This was spacious and open and there was room to really shop.  Since it wasn’t crowded we were kind of wondering if the vendors were selling and really making this worth their while.  I heard later that several vendors said they sold quite a bit and were very happy with the weekend.  That’s great news!  Happy knitting vendors means that they will continue to show up for these events and will continue to stay in business.

Here’s a photo of Artisan Yarns’ booth.  I bought 3 skeins from them and I loved her work more than anything else I saw at iKnit.  She does a lot of natural dyeing and the colors are just amazing.  And such nice people too!

Here are some other booth and general iKnit area photos:

The above photo shows knitted “creatures” made from wire.  They are absolutely beautiful and very very clever.  The knitter made up the designs and then set them on display sheets with descriptions and genus and specie names as if they were real animals.  Stunning.

Nancy was spending time at the Dutch Knitters table, talking to people about Brioche knitting, and handing out cards for her book that is coming out in December.  After the fashion show Friday night, where we dressed in her garments and strutted our stuff on the catwalk, a lot of people were very interested in her work.  She’s made lovely and very interesting things!  I especially like brioche cabling and how she’s very effectively played with the reversible nature of Brioche.  You can pre-order the book here from Knitting Brioche: The Essential Guide to the Brioche Stitch.

I took 3 classes at iKnit:  “Cellular Automaton” from Debbie New, “From Square to Eternity” from Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer, and “Knitting Popourri” from Annie Modesitt.  All of the classes were 3 hours long, which for some of the topics was just too long and for others, not long enough.  The classes weren’t cheap either at 35 pounds each.  I’m all in favor of supporting knitting designers, as it’s nearly impossible to make a living with knitting, and that’s really the only justification I can give for the cost.  It’s our own knitting community arts funding.  I learned the most technically from Annie Modesitt, who had lots of tips and tricks for us.  Debbie New’s class asked us to think about knitting in more experimental and organic ways, but the class could have been done in half the time (or she could have added more topics).  The class from Pat and Steve was very well organized and structured and taught me that knitting mathematical geometries isn’t such a mystery.  I think I can take their principles and apply them to things I really want to make.

And, well, that’s the end of Part I!  In the next episode I’ll have more on tracking down knitting at the Victoria & Albert Museum, what I actually bought over the weekend, and travel tips for those who are fed up with the hassles of travel.