In Her Soft Wind I Will Whisper

Lady on the left? My great-grandmother. She would have been ninety-eight today. The photo was taken in the early 1950s outside her cottage and she is with two of her sons, K and T.

I have several photos of her; my other favourite is from the 1930s when she was approached by a travelling salesman who wanted her to become a hair model. I presume she shot him one of her withering glances. The photo shows her with long, gorgeous hair. I was told it was chestnut-coloured. The photo is black/white.

I was lucky enough to grow up around her. She looked after me when I was pre-kindergarten and I spent most of my school holidays in her cottage. Her cottage did not have running water until I was maybe seven or eight and never got central heating. I can still envision her sitting in her chair in front of the kerosene-fuelled stove. She'd knit long garter stitch strips from yarn scraps and sew them into blankets. I think she was the one who taught me to knit. She was certainly the one who taught me how to skip rope.

Happy birthday, momse. We may not always have seen eye to eye, but we loved and understood each other. And I still miss you.

Title comes from this beautiful farewell song (youtube link). Post reposted from 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 with Momse's age amended. I continue to miss her.

Doggerland: Ronaes

Ronaes ShawlSo here we are. I released the Ronaes shawl pattern on Monday. It is the first of the Doggerland patterns to be published and I do so with a sigh of relief.

I'm really proud of Ronaes - it was one of those designs that just fell into place really quickly and where the finished object looked even better than I had imagined.

(I have issues with the way I look in the pattern photos: oh, all the issues that arise when you stare at your own face and body as you edit photos and patterns - but I think that's a topic for another day.)

The original Ronaes was knitted in Garthenor 1ply - a beautiful and bouncy laceweight. It's called a cobweb on Ravelry which I think is a touch misleading. It's more like a heavy 2ply or a light 3ply. Maybe if I spun yarn I'd have a better idea? Looking at all the different yarn choices made for Ronaes in the Doggerland KAL is my favourite activity at the moment.

Also this week I could finally share some really exciting news. The Island Wool Company is the UK importer of the fantastic Snældan yarns. They love the Doggerland collection so much that they asked if they could team up with me. Imagine that. How could I say no? So, apart from Ravelry, the Doggerland patterns will pop up on the Island Wool Company website. I have already ordered some Snældan 2ply in Mist, so I can knit myself another Ronaes.

And in final Ronaes news, Louise Scollay of the excellent Knit British blog took an early look at Doggerland - and especially Ronaes:

What excites me about this collection is the connection to landscape and the past, and also a sense of otherness – something I often feel keenly in my own landscape.


So here we are.

The past fortnight has been crazily busy - but I'm happy to say that I'm meeting some absolutely fantastic people as part of the general insanity. If you're reading this, you are one of them.

I Didn't Know That You Cared

Casa Bookish was hit by runny noses and sore throats this week. The affliction resulted in two things: a lot of books being read and some impromptu dress-making. The dress in question is still a work in progress. It's based upon Simplicity 2925, view A but I cannot be trusted to do anything by the book - not even sewing. I did away with some ruffles, altered the yoke/neckline and I'm adding buttons where there are no buttons. Rebel.

The fabric is a very light polycotton from Mandors. I fell in love with the subtle geometric print and the black/dark green/cream colours. It won't keep me warm, but it will be a great layering piece (once I finish it - the basic construction is done, but the small bits are not).

I have become aware that I'm increasingly dressing like an art teacher. A very Danish art teacher with restrained colour schemes and attention to details - but an art teacher nonetheless. Making more of my own clothes will not - will not - curb that tendency.

Meanwhile, as some of you may know, The Huffington Post published a blog post about knitting and baking betraying the feminist movement. The post itself read like someone had taken a Feminism 101 class and just scraping home a pass (because the teacher was in a good mood having devoured a home-baked cup cake). The responses to the post were far more interesting. This one is one of my favourites so far: succinct, humorous, and blunt. Any recommendations for more smart, funny, self-aware responses?

On the agenda: getting better, saving Other Half from the plague, choosing non-functioning buttons for the dress, cooking dinner (soup?) and reading my book. It's a hard life.

She Comes Scattered

Just a little peek of my just-off-the-blocking-board shawl. It's beautiful, it's warm and it's mine. Sorry. I notice how my projects travel by colour. I had a green phase last spring/summer, then recently I have knitted a lot of blue-ish purples and pink fuschia, and now I appear to gravitate towards rich reds. I hope I will never have a pastel phase. I do not think I'd be able to keep my sanity. Anyway, proper photos to come this weekend after Official Photographer and I manage to have a full day together. Official Photographer called me this morning to let me know that Crowded House will be touring the UK this spring and that tickets go on sale tomorrow. I have written about this before, so it suffices to say that Crowded House provided the soundtrack to most of my life. I connect places I have lived or been with their songs, and although I no longer listen to them on a regular basis, they are "my band". For one glorious moment I contemplated seeing every Scottish gig, but then I checked ticket prices and also remembered that I will be on my way to West Yorkshire for work reasons when they play Aberdeen. If you had told me ten years ago I would have to forego seeing Neil Finn live for matters involving sheep, I would have thought you mad.

Anna has written an interesting post about her relationship with "things", crafting and feminism. I enjoyed reading it. You may too.

Turning It Around

I am very bad at receiving compliments, but am very good at taking criticisms to heart. Yesterday I was called something Not Very Nice by a random passer-by at my workplace. It was completely out of order, had no basis in reality and all my colleagues were stunned into silence (which does not happen often). I felt so bad yesterday that I bought two balls of Kidsilk Haze and then went home for a big hug. I'm in my mid-thirties and I still do not know how to handle unfair criticism. That too makes me feel a bit blue and inadequate. So let me write about good things. Happy things. Things, thoughts, places and people who make me smile.

  • Sarah Haskins makes me really happy. She hosts Target Women which takes a look at the often-ridiculous way the media reaches out to women. The Yoghurt edition had me at "yoghurt is the official food of women!" (and not just because I'm lactose-intolerant and yoghurt makes me feel really sick), but they are all very funny and, excuse the pun, on-target. That's Gay looks at gay representation in mainstream media with equally great results.
  • At Academia Nuts, my good buddy R. writes about art as resistance and wonders how she can incorporate her thoughts into her knitting. I have similar issues with regards to my own crafting and would love to read other people's thoughts on this.
  • I bought the pattern for the Snapdragon Tam today after coveting the hat ever since I first spotted a photo of it. Paula has just knitted a gawjuss version which pushed me over the edge. I am going to use one of the oldest yarns I have in my stash, a Malabrigo-ish 1-ply merino in a dark, lush forest green. This yarn was once fondled by Robert Carlyle, I'll have you know.
  • I was watching Nerdstock: Christmas for Rationalists last night on BBC4 (BBC4 makes me very happy very frequently). The show was very hit-and-miss: I continue to have huge problems with the evangelical branch of atheism (hello Richard Dawkins), some of the comedians were clearly out of their depths and the shiny face of Professor Brian Cox distracted me from whatever he was saying - but I really, really enjoyed Baba Brinkman's Rap Guide to Evolution. Brinkman's not the best rapper in the world but he is very clever (and I find it delightful he also does a rap version of Canterbury Tales).
  • I have finished my second shawl of the year (Rav Link - I have reasons for not writing about it here just yet) and am 2/3rds through my third shawl. I'm knitting this one out of Fame Trend (yes, still knitting up what I brought from Scandinavia) and I'm liking the yarn so much more than Drops Delight. I must admit I'm a tad tired of knitting shawls out of self-striping yarn.. but hey, it's good that I'm getting through projects!