Saturday, 12 August 2017

Bound for Bendigo

Quite a few people have asked us why we moved back to Australia during the southern hemisphere winter.  Truthfully, it's just the way it worked out.  However, in addition to the Norah Gaughan class at Sunspun, another great woolly reason to return home in winter is the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show. 

Alternatively called 'Bendi' or 'Spendigo', the Sheep and Wool Show is really the highlight of a fibre enthusiast's calendar in Australia. There are a few other events in Australia, but Bendi is the biggest and brightest. 

Half farm show, half wool festival, Bendi brings wool lovers from all over Australia.  There are sheds, barns and marquees with indie yarn dyers, designers, bag and tool makers and this year I noticed quite  few wool millls in attendane - Adagio Mills, Nundle Mill and Great Ocean Road Mill.

As well as the wool products there are lots of sheep to look at (and book for a stud service if you needed that), fashion shows, and a very impressive sheep shearing demonstration.  Not to mention the delicious food - so much amazing lamb to eat. 

I bought a few things - wool, fudge, jam and chutney, and was sorely tempted by all the lovely yarns and had a lovely day out with some knitting friends.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Spending time with Norah

While I was still in London, I managed to book myself into a lecture and a class with Norah Gaughan at Sunspun in Canterbury - so I had something to look forward to when I arried backk in Australia.  The lecture was really interesting - Norah mostly focussed on the way she builds cable designs, that is the cable stitch pattern itself. Broadly speaking, once Norah has a starting point she then follows a logical flow - looking to expand, carve parts out, contract or flip the stitches, or substitute different cables in amongst an existing stitch pattern. She also talked about taking a dreamier approach - turning the swatches over and around, playing out 'what if' scenarios. 

Norah brought lots and lots of samples forus to try on.  There was the Circlet Shrug from issue 3 of Making Magazine and also the Flared Pullover from Norah's Cable Sourcebook that really caught my attention. 

The class that followed the next morning was focussed on hats - Norah gave charts for different styles of hats and different cable patterns - all interchangeable, and interchangeable with other cable patterns in the Cable Sourcebook.

I came out of the class, and lecture, feeling really inspired to incorporate more cables into my knitting - whether that's simply adding a cable stitch pattern into an existing pattern, substituting cables for others that are more appealling, or even knitting more of Norah's designs as is!

It also encouraged me to incorporate more of the techniques I learned in the Di Gilpin crazy cabling class at Edinburgh Yarn festival to make the cables really pop. First up is a shawl pattern called N-ogee and then a cardigan that incorporates the circlet shrug stitch pattern, but in a garment style that suits me better!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Back to Melbourne

Whilst I've continued to post travel adventures on this blog, I've not yet explicitly talked about the biggest travel undertaking - moving back to Melbourne, Australia - hence our stopver in KL.

We arrived back in Aus at the start of June after a whirlwind final few weeks in London - finishing up at work, travelling to Greece and Cyprus, a trip to the Harry Potter Studio and a few final meals in London including afternoon tea at The Dorchester (truly a once in a lifetime experience).

We're settling in - new apartment, new job and setting up the spare room to accomodate my crafting supplies, including my overlocker (which I am in love with)!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A stopover in KL

On our way back to Melbourne, Geoff and I stopped for 3 nights in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  The focus of the trip was really to relax, de-frost (even the last day in London was nice weather, the preceding months had not been warm) and de-jetlag.

We failed miserably on the last aim, but to make up for it, we were very warm, enjoyed the hotel pool and ate great food. 

We went up the Petronus Towers and enjoyed the very controlled visit.  You’re allowed a set period of time on each floor before the guides shoo you back to the lift and up (or down) to the next level.  We went up in late afternoon and had a great view out over the urban sprawl of KL until the rain came across, which completely obscured parts of the city, but was impressive to watch.

We managed to mis-time our return to our hotel and got in a cab at the same time as every other person in KL, but we eventually got back, dried off and when the rain passed we headed out to the night market for dinner – grilled fish, satay skewers, dumplings and dragon’s breath.

Friends had recommended a specific stall at the night market on Jalan Alor and we were delighted with dinner.

Walking along Jalan Alor was great – so much delicious food on offer on the different stalls. 

A pity it was only a night market, as we only had 3 dinners in KL which was not enough time to try all the enticing food. 

In between eating, we did a lot of lounging by the hotel pool and in the hotel.  A very relaxing break after all the hard work of packing up our lives in London.  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Nordic arrows and some geometry

When I saw the Nordic Arrows pattern in the first issue of Laine Magazine I was immediately drawn to the low contrast look, and interesting triangles within a triangle design.  The pattern is described as ‘overlapping triangles in syncopated brioche – inspired by Norse Runes and Symbols – are the focus of Nordic Arrows’. 

The knitting starts at the pointy end of the triangle with just a few stitches, and the increases happen relatively slowly in order to create the long isosceles triangle shape.  

However, I knew I wouldn’t wear a shawl with such a wide base because I couldn’t see how to wear it.  I modified it to turn it into an offset diamond shape – that is, after the 5th (of 6) brioche triangles in the middle of the shawl I started decreasing at double the rate of the increases. The increase portion was net 2 stitches over 4 pattern rows (I say 'net' as there was other increases and decreases involved in a set of 4 pattern rows).  This meant that I did decreases at the rate of 4 stitches over the 4 pattern rows (with no other increases or decreases). 

This resulted in a shawl that is overall a diamond shape and the first part is a long isosceles triangle (that is, both sides are the same length and the base is not) and then an equilateral triangle, which makes up the short end of the diamond. 

I really love the cream on yellow in the middle as it maintains the low contrast look of the original, without being all grey.  And the dark grey edge means that I can actually wear such a yellow item as usually yellow doesn’t look good on my skin tone - though despite that I have decided to give this to someone who looks far nicer in yellow!

A few notes on the delicious yarns that I used - first the JC Rennie lambswool above. A friend had purchased this colour (called Pistachio) and I just had to have some, even though the colour is pretty awful on my skin tone!  JC Rennie traditionally makes wool for machine knitting (and weaving) and are a relatively newcomer on the hand knitting market.  It's a light 4 ply/fingering weight with close to 500m for 100grams, likely explained as it's a very lofty yarn.  Probably great for colourwork - which I will test out with my leftovers.

The John Arbon Devonia is quite different as it's a blend of 3 long wools.  This means that the yarn itself is quite compact, and smooth, and comes with 388m for 100grams, though the diameter of the yarn is very similar to the JC Rennie. This yarn has a good amount of sheen (likely due to the combination of Wensleydale and Bluefaced Leicester wool in the yarn blend). This would be incredible in a lacey shawl, as it is so drapey.

The Knitting Goddess is a well known British dyer with a really amazing colour range of semi solids.  I had already purchased the other 2 colours and the KG herself helped me choose the right border colour in her lovely British wool & nylon blend.  I started looking at lighter colours, but the KG steered me to this coal colour, and I think it's the perfect way to finish the shawl!  This yarn was a lot plumper than the other 2, so suited being knit separately to the other 2 colours.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Eating our way around Thessaloniki

The city of Thessaloniki is set on the coast, and the centre of town is a marina (rather than a beach), which means there is a lovely boardwalk to wander along in the sunshine, eating ice cream or delicious Greek pastries.

The city is an old walled city, but most of the remnants of the walls have disappeared.  Sadly, a lot of the history of the city seems to be ignored, or locked up.  There are various churches built 2000 years ago which are locked to visitors.  There are archaeological sites that are completely unprotected – with graffiti on ancient ruins.   

We really enjoyed wandering around the edges of the city, coming across the remnants of ancient Greece, but I wish that there was more money in Greece to take care of the ‘old stuff’.

We did exert ourselves somewhat to make our way up the White Tower – like the Round Tower in Copenhagen, the White Tower is an internal ramp, rather than stairs.  At the top the view over sunny Thessaloniki was lovely. 

The city is full of delicious food.  In addition to the Greek pastries, we ate cheeses, olives, fish and salads.  

There were so many tempting things to try, that it became difficult to find enough to see and do in between each meal or snack (I know, a terrible problem to have).  Probably the most delicious meal was our final dinner, where I had a delicious pasta with fresh tuna.

Thessaloniki is a lovely city, pretty perfect for a weekend, or a couple of days, where you want to do a little sight seeing, and eat a lot of delicious food.