For a long time I was terrified to cast this on. My own fear and self doubt got in the way. Could I manage all of those beads?  Was this kind of knitting beyond my skill?  What would be the point of making it if I couldn’t muster up the courage to wear it? I made the leap and am so glad I did. Now I think of it as a huge boost to my confidence every time I wear it – something beautiful made with my own two hands – there’s nothing like that feeling and I’m happy to recognise and nurture it in me.

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This was my first foray into ‘freeform knitting’.  I gathered a bushel of beautiful yarns, cast on, and away I went.  There are some Colinette yarns in there, some beautiful indigo dyed laceweight, and some ‘mystery’ yarn that I was given.  It’s a denim blue heavy cotton and made the perfect base for me to build on.

 

For this shawl I cast on 300 with the 8mm and then just followed the usual feather and fan lace pattern using the 9mm, without worrying if the holes lined up, decreased by either 3 or 5 stitches at the beginning of each row to give me a long shallow shawl that can wrap around even my ample body at least twice.

 

Once I finished the knitting bit, I improvised a crocheted edging that increases on every row, giving a spiralling, waving edging that sings of the beautiful ocean that was the inspiration for this free-range piece.
I used a 7mm and an 8mm hook for the edging.

I will be adding further embellishments as I go, stitching memories, wishes and spells into my shawl.

 

As requested by the lovely Vivianne here are a couple of pictures of the shawl in close up, and some of the buttons and charms I will sew in eventually.

 

 

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The colours in this yarn make me think of the beautiful and vivid colours in the Pelargonium graveolens plants on my windowsill.  They are huge – if I didn’t know better I’d think they were triffids.

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The rich and deep shades of autumn sing from this gorgeous skein.  Crispy leaves, roaring fires, colourful squashes and spicy fresh baked bread all live within the twist.  Pumpkin soup on the stove, hot chocolate after a bracing walk in the biting wind, logs on the fire – I’m transported by this yarn, are you?

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There are representations of the Green Man in many cultures and throughout history.  He is the spirit of the forest, of trees and the wild wood.

The colours in this skein are so evocative of this wild and strong presence that I just couldn’t name it anything else.

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A lesser used word for twilight, gloaming refers to the period of time when the sun is just below the horizon.  The ambient light level gives the world an ethereal quality that has long been popular with photographers and painters, who refer to it as the “blue hour”, after the French expression L’heure bleue.  The silk in this skein makes the yarn glow from within, recapturing a touch of early morning or late evening magic right there in your hands.  As a gently transitioning gradient yarn, Gloaming will make a gorgeous addition to your woollen wardrobe.

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Wow.  It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged.  So much has happened, both in my spinning world and personally since June.

 

Fibre East happened.  I was there on the Spindependence stall, surrounded by the Spindependence crew and all things spun, felted, embroidered and knitted.  There was fibre, mud, yarn, more mud, fun, laughs and sheep.

 

In September my personal life imploded and expanded again when a close family member was diagnosed with cancer.  I spent sleepless nights and listless days in diagnosis limbo.  There was lots of time spent sitting in hospital waiting rooms, and I spent that time knitting.  In that cocoon of calm, the only place I could find a little stillness in the storm without my spinning wheel, I made lots of knitted things.  Shawls mainly, some with beads, some without, some handspun and some indie dyed.  I’ll be blogging about them gradually over the next few weeks.

That family member is ok for now.  They caught the cancer early, it’s very treatable, chemotherapy has happened and for now, that’s all.

I’m coming back to my spinning, back to the still, safe place that it creates for me.  I’m busy making more Be Unique skeins whilst working on a special collaborative project with an author dear to my heart.  I’ll be blogging about that project too, in time, but it still needs a little breathing room.  I’m still working behind the scenes on custom commissions, shawl pins and knitting projects.

I wish I could say that I’ll be back to blogging regularly, but I’m not going to make promises I can’t keep.  I’m playing catchup everywhere, but I’ll be doing my best to make sure that I keep updating.  I want to say thank you for bearing with me – your support means so much, and I’m truly grateful.

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A picture heavy post since it’s so late…

Gloaming - Singles

Rose Geranium - Singles

Forever Autumn - Singles

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This has been an emotionally intense project for me and brings together some of the most important people in my life in one shawl.  The yarn started life as fibre blended at Creating Space on my friend Lindi’s drum carder, Spike.  A blend of 2 shades of fine Haunui fibre and a little copper flash angelina, the resultant batts were meant to remind me of my mum, particularly the colour of her hair.

 

My mum was a very special lady (second from the right in the photo) – a musician whose encouragement and example allowed me find my voice, a fearless and practical woman who was first up a ladder despite her dislike of heights, an openhearted soul who would find time and shelter for those who had none, and a brave and beautiful warrior who stared down cancer until her last painful breath when I was just sixteen.

Over the course of a year, I gradually spun over 1400 metres of this gently varigated brown and slightly sparkley 2-ply yarn.

I looked long and hard for pattern that would have meaning for me, and that would show off the evenness, soft bloom and interesting texture of the yarn. The colour drifts that are shown in this photograph were a feature that only became evident after I’d begun to knit.  One of the things I love so much about handspun yarn is the constant surprises that are revealed as you work with it.  I settled on a Boo Knits pattern called Ictis, inspired by the beauty of Cornwall, a place that my mum enjoyed spending time alone and with friends.

The beads on the edge – 4mm Swarovski 5328 Xilion Bicone in Crystal Copper – were a gift from my loving fiance, and bind us all together in this one piece of handcrafted love.

The whole thing took a little over 3 weeks to knit, although for part of that time I was banned from knitting lace as I was doped up on painkillers following a general anaesthetic and 2 fewer wisdom teeth.  With finished dimensions of a wingspan of 2 metres and a  depth of 90 cm, this is a huge hug, wrapping me in love and memories.

 

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There’s a bit more of a story behind this skein.  It started life as a plain bag of Bluefaced Leicester top that I took with me to a Creating Space session last year.  My good friend Lindi had some mystery dye with her.  Someone had gifted her with  it and we decided to slosh it onto some fibre to see what would happen.  I’d never done any dye work before, so despite some not inconsiderable trepidation I just went with my gut and started to turn my lovely white top into many shades of blue, purple and (yikes) pink.  Once it had dried, the fibre languished in my stash, patiently biding it’s time until it reached the head of the queue.  Once I started spinning I was wonderfully surprised.  The blues became richer, softer and brighter, the pink for the most part became many shades of purple, and the purple became a heavenly shade of lavender.  The finished skein has several knots in it, mainly because there were some sections I was unhappy with once the whole thing was plied, and I decided to chop them out.  However, the skein is still plenty long enough to make a good sized shawlette at around 500 metres.

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