Bristol Wool Fair

The very first Bristol Wool Fair was last weekend on the Clifton Downs. Finally, a wool fair on my doorstep! It’s so much more agreeable to just wander up late afternoon, no big deal, just checkin out some wool. The Bristol Wool Fair (BWF?) is much more open air than any other I’ve to so far. The weather was perfect too, so it was kind of like a big picnic, plus wool, plus farm animals.

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Above are some show sheep being sheared in a demonstration. I have never seen such chilled out sheep before. I was convinced they were models until I got up close. All previous sheep I have encountered have been fussy little cranks that want attention the moment you stop giving them any. Clearly that guy is some kind of sheep whisperer.

There were also alpacas! Amiably milling about going “wehhhh!” now and then. Bless their spongy heads.

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The surrounding marqees were full of stalls demonstrating just about everything you can do with animal fibre; knit and crocheted garmets, yarn, spinning, weaving, felting, hats, rugs, needlepoint, tapestries, I’ve definitely forgotten at least 3 more.It was a well balanced spread. In a horrifying shock twist I didn’t buy anything, but I did think very hard about walking past these pretty yarn bowls.

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There was also this century old sock-making machine being demonstrated.

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Turn the crank, a sock comes out below! According to the original manual, which was nearby on the stall, even those febrile lady knitters can do it. Incidentally Kate Davies has recently written a comprehensive post about the history of socks, and I’m inclined to guess this particular machine came in when no-one was very excited about mass production anymore, hence the manual’s tone of “cute little hobby to keep the lady-brains occupied”.

wool2There were some crochet flower workshops, the results of which all got painstakingly stuck to this giant sheep! I believe said sheep is now in the window of Paper Village, blinding the eyes of anyone walking past.

Before I left there was a sheepdog demonstration. With ducks instead of sheep! Probably the highlight of the fair if I’m honest! Believe me, I tried to get a good picture I really did, but this dog was mental, like literally every border collie ever.wool1

 

I think this was a pretty good start for a wool fair, so here’s hoping it comes back next year bigger, better and with more cute animals.

www.bristolwoolfair.co.uk

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Some rejected knitting ideas

A beanie hat that looks like spaghetti and meatballs.
Reason for rejection: No designing on an empty stomach.

A jumper in multiple shades of blue, which represents the human genome somehow.
Reason for rejection: Human genome too vast, complex, contains multitudes etc.

A reproduction of a jersey dress worn by Christina Hendricks in Mad Men.
Reason for rejection: Too much effort for something that won’t actually make me look like Christina Hendricks.

Having accidentally worked hair into knitting before, how would it work as sock heel reinforcement?
Reason for rejection: Idea shelved until risk of voodoo curses has been thoroughly evaluated.

Something that would get attention on Ravelry, like…a giant wang wearing a moustache.
Reason for rejection: I could never live with myself if it actually worked.

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An abrupt change of plans

There are several bits and bobs to report on the knitting front, my fellow knitters.
Firstly, I have a guest post over at Let’s Knit! It’s about tension squares, a worthy subject. They’ve also put lovely flattering words about my blog in their actual magazine, which I’m pretty chuffed about!

Also, a few weeks ago Susan Crawford put out a call for sample knitters for her next vintage knitting project. Naturally I was all over that like a kitten on a laser pointer. So as of now I’m thoroughly stuck into recreating a piece of knitwear from the Shetland Isles museum. It’s a lot of fun but unfortunately there will be no advance sneak peeks of this one! The blog will have to go a bit quiet whilst I go hogwild with sample knitting.

Perhaps of more interest: My Tyrolean Cardigan pattern, originally featured in The Knitter, is now up on sale on Ravelry for your convenience and knitting pleasure. It’s a good Autumn cardigan, so if you start making it now, you’ll be done in time!

(C) The Knitter

(C) The Knitter

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Pattern: Pipsqueak Shawl

My first shawl pattern! Another little milestone, and another step in my ongoing mission to put fair isle on everything.

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I’m so pleased with how cute this came out! This is a bit smaller than a standard shawl, more of a shawlette, and is great as a wrap, or folded as a scarf. As of now, it’s a bit too hot (tropical almost??) in the UK for wearing such a thing, but I figure if you cast on now it’ll be ready just in time for the first Autumn breezes to hit.

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As always, my patterns are available for sale on Ravelry, and you can buy Pipsqueak by hitting this button right here:

Pattern Details:

Dimensions:
The finished shawl is intended to be approximately 160 cm wide and 30 cm deep at its deepest point.

Tools:
3.0 mm (US size 2)circular 100cm
3.25 mm (US size 3)circular 100cm

Also required – tapestry needle

Gauge:
Matching gauge is not essential but recommended if you want to achieve the stated dimensions.
Garter stitch is 5sts/13rws per inch on smaller needles
One repeat of Chart B is 7.5cm/ 3” wide and 5cm/ 2” high on larger needles

Yarn Requirements:
4-ply wool or wool mix yarn in the following quantities :
Yarn A (Red) – 684 m/750 yds
Yarn B (White) – 184m/ 200 yds
Yarn C (Green) – 12m /25 yds
Yarn D (Brown) – 1m /1 yd

Sample uses Jamieson & Smith 2-ply jumper weight (114 m/125 yd per 25g ball)

 

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Unwind Brighton

This weekend I dragged my carcass out of bed at an ungodly hour and all the way across the country for Unwind Brighton, and forgot my camera. Phone snaps will have to suffice, even though they can never quite capture the colour of a truly awesome yarn.

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The marketplace was small, but densely packed with extremely fancy indie yarn, a much higher proportion of yarn to fibre and accessories than I’ve seen in other shows. It was also completely stifling in there! Most all of Brighton was covered in a hot humid haze with little wind. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a total pansy in hot weather so I didn’t end up spending that much time indoors in the end. I went off trying to find elusive breezes and catching up with friends. Friends who know where huge ice-cream sundaes are being sold, thank god.

Some things I did enjoy from the show though:

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The Little Grey Sheep, by Well Manor Farm. These guys own 300 sheep, all lovingly bred for their fleeces. I got chatting to the ladies running the stall and they said that they’d recently crossbred Merino sheep with Gotland sheep and the offspring were almost ready for their first shearing. What an intriguing prospect! I’ll be keeping an eye on them.

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Madelinetosh ‘unicorn tails’. Madelinetosh is so amazing but way the heck out of my price range. It’s good to know there are ‘tasters’ available from L’Oisive Thé, a French yarn shop.

Not shown: Old Maiden Aunt getting ransacked! I saw at least one knitter making purchases based purely on what she could physically carry.

Finally, I splashed out on some Kettle Yarns Co. yarn. This is an indie dyer after my own heart – all yarns are extensively wear-tested so the fabric should last and last without pilling.

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This particular yarn is called TWIST. It’s superwash Blue-faced Leicester in 4-ply. The colourway is Morse-Grellow. I haven’t quite decided what to do with it, but it’s got to be something a bit punky, a bit distressed maybe?

 

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Road trip!

I have had a lovely holiday, thank you very much. We saw sights! We ate nearly a whole family-sized sack of haribo sweets! I got stranded on a zip-line over a quarry, which was possibly the highlight of the week.

My Hetty cardigan is looking much more like clothing now. I got as far as one sleeve and then decided I wanted it to be a full-length sleeve rather than the pattern’s shorter sleeves. I took diligent pictures each day of the trip and am not letting my recently accquired gif skills go to waste:

HettyprogressYou’ll notice I made some pretty spectacular progress after the first day, when we drove straight to Scotland. We went to Edinburgh Zoo (penguin parade!!!) and ate all the Scottish food.

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We went to Newcastle and had a good drive around the whole area, including a slightly terrifying late night drive up to Kielder Waters and the observatory. It’s a fantastic ‘dark skies’ area. At one point we drove past an owl, just casually sitting on the side of the road, which made the whole trip worth it alone.

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For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to drive to Bangor the morning after that! In a historic slate mine in the area, there exists the longest zip-line in the country. It’s about a mile long – you get strapped into a very large harness and trussed up superman style before coming down at 60mph from the peak of this hill…

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right over the lake, and to a platform some distance away. You might be able to see the zip-line in this one, although you can’t in the previous pic.

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It was absolutely flippin glorious, only muggins here got hit by a crosswind halfway down and stopped about 10m short of the platform before sloooowly sliding all the way out to the edge of the lake. Naturally the instructors had procedures for this kind of thing and soon a guy on a rope was hauling himself out to rescue me. The really fun part was that he was in a sitting position and every time the ground team gave another pull on the rescue rope I went facefirst into his thighs, which is a hell of way to introduce yourself to someone. My only regret is not cementing the awkwardness of the situation by calling him a sight for sore thighs.

After that we stopped by Chester and headed off to our final destination of Alton Towers. Not much point showing ride pictures here, as they’re all the same: T looks mildly pleased and I look like I’ve just been slapped awake.

But the main thing is I ended up with this!

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Oh and here’s a final pic for any Stewart Lee fans in the house…

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WIP: Hetty

I’ve managed to make some spectacular progress on the Hetty cardigan. Even using 4-ply instead of worsted, it’s still a quick knit. Tight, cropped cardigans are handy like that. So after a false start where I miscounted the stitch gauge and 10 days of correctly calculated knitting, I’m already over halfway through the body. Not too shabby!

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What’s more I intend to make even more spectacular progress. We’re spending the whole of next week having a road trip around the UK to see some touristy things we’ve always liked the sound of, but been too far away from to just go casually visit. I’m looking forward to it a lot. Me and T actually have quite good fun sharing long car journeys. We commute to work together, which I think makes learning to chill out in a car a necessity. Otherwise, every commute becomes The Commute of Feelings: Airing Of Work Problems and Why Are You Driving Like That. We throw some good car dance parties. We’ve become very good at placing snacks in each other’s mouths. It’s very harmonising.

In between my turns at the wheel will of course be knitting. How much will get done? Up to one sleeve? One and a half? The whole flippin thing? Tune in next week and find out!

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