workshops

Everything is Connected

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Twenty-one years ago I set up my very first website. It was hand-coded and had an "under construction" ruler at the top. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Today you get to see my new website. It does not have an "under construction" ruler at the top, but it does have a lot of cool stuff: tutorials for you to peruse, a workshop section that's easy to navigate, and a small shop for pre-ordering my new book. Speaking of which, I have also added a section where you can see sizing and yarn requirements for the book patterns. I still think pulling a website together is the coolest thing ever. I hope you find it useful and helpful.

I've been on the road quite a bit over the last few months.

(Initially the plan was to have the book published before my busy season kicked in, but production delays meant that I have been juggling book production and website development with workshop teaching. I am very grateful to be so busy, but it has also taken a toll. We live in a world where we admire "being busy" but often forget that "being busy" is a case of too much work and inadequate planning. Hopefully now that the book is nearly here and the website is live, I can begin to breathe again. Maybe just a little bit?) 

One of my adventures took me to Faversham, a picturesque market town in Kent, England. It is home to The Yarn Dispensary, a yarn shop which has quickly become one of my favourite stops. I ran two workshops in the quirky and colourful shop, and it was such a relief to be back teaching after a summer of staring at a screen. I may be an introvert, but there is something about teaching that I just love. Maybe it is knowing that people will leave with confidence in a new skill; maybe it is that feeling you get when talented and creative people are in a space together; maybe it is that I feel good when I make other people feel good; maybe it is all of the above.

After the workshops, a friend took me to Margate to visit the sea shelter where TS Eliot wrote part of The Waste Land. I stood in the sea shelter, waved my arms around whilst kids skateboarded around me, and then we went for pizza. In a peculiar twist of fate, I have been waiting twenty-one years to make that pilgrimage. Looking out over Margate Sands and the North Sea, I kept thinking about how things can feel circular at times. Here I was in a place where Eliot wrote a key part of a poem which has defined so much of my life. Here I was looking out over the North Sea — the body of water covering Doggerland, an ancient land mass with which I feel a strange sense of belonging. It was beautiful. 

Vesterlyng, Denmark.

Vesterlyng, Denmark.

As I am writing this, I have just returned from another journey filled with connections. I taught two classes at Knitwork, a Copenhagen knitting festival. I took the opportunity to spend a few days with my family (my mother has been fighting cancer this year — her prognosis is good, thankfully, but it has been a tense year). My family drove us out to Vesterlyng, a low-lying area that is part beach, part sea, part fen. The sunset flickered across the pools of water, while the resident cows were silhouetted against the sky. This is my childhood landscape. An odd, unsettled (and unsettling) place of utter beauty. No matter how many people visit, it feels remote.   

Copenhagen was good as well. I walked familiar streets, my feet remembering the routes rather than my head trying to map where I was going. I really enjoyed my time at the festival: the colour palette was very different to the ones I'm used to at UK shows (if you think there is no unifying colour palette because of all the different dyers & companies, there is still an underlying aesthetic consensus that is difficult to escape — we are all caught up in our particular times & places), the general skill level was exceptionally high, and I found it so interesting to see a particular Danish sense of style (I need to write more about this). I left feeling very inspired and also intrigued. It felt good to get out of my shell. 

Now I am home, but not for long. I am away to Inverness next week to teach at Loch Ness Knit Fest where I am looking forward to meeting old and new friends. Then I'm flying off to the Oslo Strikkefestival (where I shall be investigating how the Norwegian aesthetic plays out against what I saw in Copenhagen. I have some ideas already, but let's see how they fare. Denmark & Norway are connected in interesting ways.).

And then .. and then it is time to release my book. I'll be sharing details about the book launch parties soon. I cannot wait to show you all the things we've been working on for so long. 

Phew. Hello and welcome to the new site. 

Making & Doing: Shawl, Skirt & Teaching

pshawl Happier times ahead. We had a photo shoot yesterday for this asymmetrical shawl knitted in three colours of Ripples Crafts BFL 4ply. I'll be writing much more about this shawl later (including my source of inspiration, why it's the next instalment of Authors & Artists, and how it is constructed) but for now let's glance downwards..

Pskirt

Hello skirt! This is one of the first things I've whipped up since I started dress-making again. I made this skirt in just a few hours and it worked perfectly for the photo shoot.

I use the super-simple Burda 6682 and made View B. The fabric is a slightly stretchy cotton poplin I found in a remnant bin in Glasgow's Mandors. I had around 0.75m and still managed to eke out a knee-length skirt. The construction couldn't be simpler: darts front & back, side & back seams, zipper, waistband, hem, done. I had never inserted a regular zipper before (it's always been invisible zips until now) but even that went without a hitch. I'm not entirely happy with how the waistband was attached - it was easy but looks a bit sloppy on the inside - so I'm going to try a slightly more fiddly waistband next time. I think my perfectionist tendencies are rearing their heads again..

.. but the skirt is super-comfortable and fits well. Its no-nonsense style makes it a good, basic pattern that I can see myself making again and again. Well, I am trying to make an everyday wardrobe, after all! The next skirt will be made of a medium weight denim that I picked up at the same time as the pattern. I have a bit more fabric to play with this time, so I might add a bit more length.

Pshoes

I'm off to Manchester this weekend for the Joeli's Kitchen retreat. There are going to be all sorts of amazing people there and I cannot wait to see everybody.

Next Wednesday I am going to be at Kendal's finest wool establishment, Williams Wools. I'm teaching a class on colourwork and how to design it yourself. I know people have lots of ideas in their heads, but it can be difficult translating those ideas into a project. I'll also talk about how to find the right colour combinations because that is probably one of the questions I get asked the most!

Then Saturday the 6th I am back up in Dundee's Fluph Shop doing c-c-cables in the morning (sorting out those C2R, CNB, and T3R abbreviations!) and Shetland lace shawls in the afternoon. It's never dull teaching at Fluph and I expect a fair amount of difficult questions flung at me!

I'm late updating my workshop page due to Life Happening, but hopefully that'll whet everybody's appetite! I'll return with more details about the new pattern and some Edinburgh Yarn Festival lowdown!

Two Events!

July 2015 217 I am currently putting last touches to my workshop schedule for late 2015/early 2016. I am sitting on my hands a little bit as some of the events are not mine to announce, but I can give you the heads up on two of the several one-offs I will be doing.

August 26-28, 2015: In the Loop 4 - From Craft to Couture. This is an academic conference held in Glasgow at which I am giving a paper on the semiotics of knitting with special reference to The Killing. Other speakers include luminaries such as Annemor Sundbø, Lynn Abrams, Jennie Atkinson, Tom Van Deijen, Roslyn Chapman, and Linda Newington. I am so honoured to be involved.

February 27-28, 2016: Joeli's Kitchen Retreat, Manchester. This promises to be so much fun. I'm running classes alongside Kate Atherley, Jules Billings and Joeli herself. Some very special guests are going to be there alongside exclusive vendors. ETA: Joeli's down to just eight four slots, folks!

Aside from one-off events I'll be teaching at various yarn shops as well (old and new friends alike!) and I'll be posting the schedule as soon as we have worked out all the details. Last year got a bit crazy (along the lines of "if this is Wednesday, this must be Belgium") so this year I have included some downtime into my schedule, so I can a) sleep, b) spend time with my loved ones, and c) design!

July 2015 205

Workshops & Events Updated

July 2014 285 Just a tiny heads-up that I have overhauled the Workshops & Events page, so you can actually see where I am teaching!

Right now my Autumn 2014 schedule looks like this:

August 23: I am teaching a half-day class on Crochet for Beginners at The Queen of Purls, Glasgow.  More information here.

August 30: I am teaching a full day of Knitting Lace Shawls at Fluph, Dundee. More information here.

September 13: It's a return to Dundee as I'll be running my two-handed colourwork workshop (Full Day) at Fluph. More information here.

September 27: Learn how to design your own lace projects with me at this half-day workshop at The Queen of Purls, Glasgow. More information here.

October 12: I'm teaching Two-Handed Colourwork (Full Day) at Be Inspired, Edinburgh. More information to come here.

October 25: I'm back at Be Inspired, Edinburgh, for a half-day class on how to tackle short-row shaping in lace. More information to come here.

November 1: An introduction to two-handed colourwork (Half Day) at The Queen of Purls, Glasgow. More information here.

November 9: I'm running a full day workshop on Crochet for Knitters at Be Inspired Fibres, Edinburgh. This class covers the basic crochet techniques before exploring how knitters can use crochet and knitting together. More information to come here.

Several 2015 dates are already in place, so start looking out for those towards the end of this year.

Thanks to an awful knee injury I was unable to teach workshops at the beginning of this year, so I am really looking forward to getting on the road to meet knitters again. It's slightly unusual for me to teach this much, but it feels really nice too. Invigorating, that's the right word. Nothing beats seeing people being all happy about a new skill or idea.

(Psst.. If you are a yarn shop, a knitting festival or a retreat, please use the form on this page to get in touch)