Friday, November 28

Bordeaux break

Just back from a short break to Bordeaux - a trip instigated by the Curse, and related to the f word (an English sport, I will leave it to your imagination as it has no place on this blog) - but enjoyed just as thoroughly by me, if not more!

We went by train, a lovely relaxed trip marred only by an unfortunate episode on the platform of Paris Montparnasse station. When was the last time you saw a lake of dog crap on the platform of a major city train station? Well it happened twice in three days during our trip to France. I count myself as an ardent Francophile but I will NEVER be able to understand the nation's blindspot when it comes to dogs. Apart from the Montparnasse Incident - on which we will not dwell and which could have been so much worse if I had not managed to keep my footing - during the trip we witnessed pet dogs brought into food shops and restaurants - on one occasion the mutt was even given its own seat at the dining table!!!!

The city has an amazingly wide river (the Garonne) and surprisingly few bridges, although another major one is in the offing; loads of lovely typically French architecture (below) and statues of this type of thing (above).

One thing I was not aware of was how important it was to the Art Deco movement. And especially, in terms of architecture, in the area we were staying. Coincidentally there was a temporary exhibition (link in French) at the Decorative Arts Museum featuring some wonderful furniture and ceramics from the era that had been produced by local craftsmen and women.

(I strongly recommend you click to see the detail on the larger version of this photo!)

We supplemented the exhibition (accidentally it has to be said) with a wander around the Chaban-Delmas Stadium area, where many of the houses of the era were built during a massive urban expansion programme. It was difficult to get good photographs without them being marred by ugly modern lighting posts or suchlike. Apparently the stadium itself is a great example of the architecture of the time, although the outside is rather shabby by now. We didn't get to see inside it, unfortunately, but that's another story .

Sunday, November 23

Vauxhall City Farm winter woolies day

A very successful day was had at Vauxhall City Farm yesterday - we spun, knitted, felted and ate cake and sold about £350 worth of goods ranging from a second-hand spinning wheel ('needs attention') to hand-spun and knitted Ipod cosies. We hope to be able to give a donation towards the running of the farm, and will be able to keep our group going with the remainder of the money.

The older ladies of the group were shocked by the power of the Ravel; posting information about the event on a few groups on Ravelry generated interest from quite a few spinners, knitters and weavers, who loved our handspun and naturally-dyed yarns. Most of them fell in love with the baby alpacas and they were all amazed by the farm itself - it's the kind of place you wouldn't notice unless you were specifically directed to it. Hopefully we will get a few new spinners at the Saturday group - we could do with some new blood, and I have found that it is a great place to pick up tips and ideas from crafters with decades of experience. Only yesterday, in fact, Rita showed me a cast-on that I had never seen before - and believe me, I have seen many cast ons!

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to come along and join in the fun - it was fantastic to see so many people enjoying our modest event, and great to meet so many new faces.

And I do hope that the lady who fell in love with the wheel got it home ok on the tube!

Saturday, November 22

Christmas knitting

Until last weekend, I really thought I had bitten off more than I could chew with my promise to knit christmas gifts for my two niecelets. Not in terms of difficulty, but in terms of time.

The conversation with my sister went something like this:
KN: So any idea what I could get the niecelets for christmas?
My sis: Well, they saw these nice hat and scarf sets in the Boden catalogue and I thought they were a bit expensive..but perhaps you'd like to make them some?
KN: (confidently but with a slight feeling of 'what do you think I am, slave labour?!') yeah, no problem!

Luckily this conversation took place about six weeks ago, because the process did not go very smoothly at first. Naturally I had to source the yarn, not particularly easy when you are looking for specific colours and weight, but Scandinavian Knitting Design came up trumps with its Drops Alpaca yarn in umpteen colourways.

However the first scarf had to be frogged since it was too curly at the edges, and I didn't get round to admitting that to myself until way too late. The second scarf seemed to take FOREVER - the 4ply yarn doesn't help! - but luckily the first hat has been very quick (although now looking back at the picture of what it's supposed to look like, I may well frog it too and start again with smaller stripes!

The second scarf has now been started, and my confidence has returned. The return train trip to Bordeaux this week should help, although I have my suspicions it will be more like Bored-oh! with that scarf....

Wednesday, November 5

Damn this gloomy weather/Deptford Park Hoodie

1. Yes, I'm still alive.

2. With the Curse round his mum's most weekends and no daylight to speak of when I'm indoors in the week, it has been fiendishly impossible to get a photo of the finished Central/Deptford Park Hoodie. I'm afraid this is the best I can do right now but I will try and get a picture of it in its natural habitat of Deptford Park...

3. I freaking love it! I can see I'm going to wear this one to death, probably in a rather short time! It fits beautifully, even though the sleeves are a little bit longer than they should be, they are perfect for my liking.

I couldn't (be bothered to) get gauge on this, so I chose to work to the instructions for a smaller size and it came out really well. The only problem, as I said, was the sleeves - the increases are done every so many rows; if I had thought it through properly I would have adjusted this to suit the fact that I was knitting on a different gauge, but I didn't and although they are a bit longer than they should be, they keep my wrists nice and warm!

I blocked all the pieces except for one sleeve before making it up - and am reminded every time I look at my arms! One day I'll get round to blocking the whole thing - when it gets washed - ie when I can bear to be without it for a day or two.

Made out of aran yarn from Coldharbour Mill in the Mulberry colourway. I used 700g in total which adds up to about £30 total, not bad. It's a lovely yarn, not at all scratchy and wonderful to knit with.

Hurrah for FOs!