Week 8 – There has been progress

Last weekend ambled by with me largely sitting on the settee nursing a cold.  This week the cold has continued and I haven’t knitted much and I expected to have little to report come this weekend.  Yet progress has been made which makes me wonder if the elves have been dropping in and knitting up Laccaria for me in the night.

Knitting

Yes, Laccaria is coming along nicely.  All pieces are knitted.  I enjoyed adding the twirly “flags” to the right front more than any other part of the construction, and oooh, about three million times better than the bobbles on the left front!  So, where are we now?

Laccaria Front Band

Shoulders are joined and the neckband and left front band are done.  This afternoon should see the right front band done, complete with buttonholes.  Then, at last, I will know what size buttons I need to buy and can order them.  I know this will put back the whole completion of the project, but you know me – I do like the buttons to be just right.  It’s hard to show the twirly bits to their best at present, so the right-hand side looks rather messy in this photo.

Next up

I have been pretty much monogamous with Laccaria the past couple of weeks as I want it finished.  However, I am preparing myself to move on and this week received a nice bundle of wool from KnitRennie.  First up, a full cone (900g) of silver grey:

Silver Wool

I am mulling this one over.  I currently have one grey cardigan which is soft and slouchy, with drop shoulders.  I want this one to be different in shape.  I am torn between something along the lines of the “Perry” cardigan by Michelle Wang which is in Brooklyn Tweed’s “Wool People Book 1”.  This is a long-line cardigan with a lace pattern at the hem and I am pretty sure the wool knitted double (as it is being for Laccaria) will suit this project.  I just have some slight misgivings over the shape, as it has a low v-neck and buttons below the waist and on some finished versions on Ravelry the buttoning seems to happen at the hip.  My hips aren’t my slimmest point.  Then again, I think it is a pattern which benefits from being sized rather looser than being form-fitting.

Another front runner for this wool is the “Leaving” cardigan by Anne Hanson from The Twist Collective Issue Winter 2010.  This is a more standard cardigan style with some nice details which looks like it would be enjoyable to knit.  This one would be a summer cardi as it has quite a scooped neckline.

I have by no means narrowed it down to just these two, though.

Looking further forward

Colour Wheel of Wool

This was my other purchase from KnitRennie.  10 “baby cones” in a variety of colours.  They range in weight from under 100g up to 200g, not enough of any to make a whole garment, but certainly enough to be the contrast in some colourwork.  I’m brooding on these for later in the year.  I’m thinking stripes, Fairisle, even a bit of intarsia such as Martin Storey’s “Elm” jumper from the 50th edition of the Rowan Magazine.

Well, it’s all about the wool this weekend.  Whilst knitting I have been catching up with previous series of The Mentalist and devouring Radio 4 Extra treats via iPlayer on my iPad.

Hope you are all well and getting along with whatever projects (knitting or otherwise) you are currently working on.

I’m off to grab some lunch.

Week 6 Can you hear it…..

…the silence of the Pam?

Oh, sorry, dreadful pun there.  I have been quiet, and now I’m all done with being quiet.  This week work has begun to slow down a bit and I have had a little more energy to do things that are relatively interesting to write about.

Knitting

I have to admit the knitting has been a bit sporadic the past few weeks.  Laccaria lingers on the needles and when I work on it, I work without a lot of enthusiasm.  I don’t know quite why I am finding this cardigan heavy going, and it’s a shame because I am actually very confident that I will love the finished product.  I am simply not enjoying knitting it.

Laccaria's left front sports these bobbles

These bobbles were part of the problem.  I hated working them!  Which rather puts paid to my long-held belief that I would one day construct a traditional Aran jumper.

Laccaria's right front will have a knitted ribbon worked onto these slipped stitches

I’m currently working on the right front with its slipped stitches (you may just be able to discern the two areas – one on the far right of the above picture and the other starting about halfway up the piece of fabric shown, in the dead centre of the photo).  Once the cardigan is constructed (or, alternatively, before I piece it together, depending on which seems most sensible), I will have to work a knitted “ribbon” which will twist its way up the cardigan anchored to these slipped stitches.  Although I will never want to knit this again, it does strike me that one could very easily adapt this, knitting the ribbon in a variegated yarn, for example, or a contrast shade, or even using an organza ribbon and threading it through the slipped stitches (or making eyelets for a ribbon to thread around).  Certainly there are ideas if one wanted to make a dressier version of the cardigan.

Socks and Laccaria

As a tactic for avoiding working on Laccaria, I have knitted these socks.  I bought the yarn in my local Lidl store (a rather cheap and cheerful supermarket which sells basic foodstuffs, some incredible rubbish, and occasionally has flashes of inspiration).  It cost £3.99 for four 50g balls and is a fairly standard sock yarn mix of 48% cotton, 39% wool, 13% polyamide.  This pair of socks took well under two balls and I will knit a second pair, probably in garter stitch which I think may suit the yarn quite well.  It was nice enough yarn to work with and a couple of pairs of everyday socks for under £4.00 is not to be sniffed at.

The best laid plans

Or, why I don’t shop on the internet anywhere near as much as I’d like to.

I wanted to order another Norah Gaughan pattern booklet and a copy of Designer Knitting from Loop of London.  Whilst browsing I also put a couple of cones of the exotic Habu yarns into my basket.  I proceeded to the checkout.  I registered all my details.  I went to buy the items I wanted and hit the familiar brick wall – they will only send the order to the address my credit card is registered to and they want a signature to prove it reached its destination.  But I work all day.  So to get a signature it needs to go to my office or to my sister’s house.  But my credit card is registered to my flat.  What this means is that I cannot buy the items I want.

I know that Loop of London are protecting me from credit card fraud.  I know that they have to guard against the constant danger of the Russian Maffia who are well-known for turning the profits of their drug trade into wool (some knitters say it amounts to the same thing anyway!).  But the fact is that Loop have lost out on the money I would have spent with them and I have resigned myself to knitting only those items for which patterns are more readily available.  Which all-round is a bit of a shame.

Better Plans

The disappointment over the impossibility of buying from Loop’s online yarn shop, together with my slight ennui over Laccaria has led me to formulating a bit of a plan for my knitting.  A couple of years ago I undertook what I came to think of as my “Year of Knitting Furiously” where I made updating my hand-knit wardrobe my main theme for the year.  Although ultimately my output was slightly lower than I’d anticipated at the start, I did knit a good selection of items which remain in regular use now.  And I liked having the focus that came with designating my time in this way.  So at the moment I am contemplating an over-arching theme for the coming year and I would like to make it my “Year of Knitting Storey”.  I have several patterns by Martin Storey that I have earmarked to knit, and I have been very happy with the Martin Storey designs that I’ve completed before.  I’m not even averse to the idea of using a few Rowan yarns where acceptable substitutes can’t be made.  At the moment this all just an idea, but I’ll keep you posted as to whether it comes to fruition.

Reading

The Eclectic Reader

Yes, I’m going to leap directly from “Five Go to Smuggler’s Top” to “1Q84”.  If you haven’t read any Haruki Murakami, go and do so now. And if you haven’t read any “Famous Five”, all I can as is where did you spend the 1960s?

Well, that’s it for now.  There are important things to be done.  Starting with tea and cake, I think.

Take care, and enjoy your knitting (or alternative hobby).

Week 3 – The Good, The Bad, and The Knitting

Well, it was another crazy-busy week at work and I’ve been too tired to do much knitting so there is a lamentable lack of progress to report.  But I have occupied myself in other ways which I hope you’ll find interesting.

The Good

We had a couple of frosty mornings in Norfolk at the start of the week and my bicycle decided to get all uppity about it.  On Monday my helpful work colleagues helped me sort out a ‘frozen brake’ with the helpful advice that what I really needed was a new rear wheel, but we got the brake and therefore the bicycle working okay again.  On Tuesday the brake ‘froze’ again and I took the bicycle to a local cycle repair shop in my lunch break and the bicycle did indeed need a new rear wheel.  How is this in “the good” section, I hear you cry?  Well, because the service I received from the cycle repair shop was exemplary.  The shop is Mandarin Cycles on Aylsham Road in Norwich; I had never visited them before but they are the nearest bike shop to my office so it was a sensible decision.  I took the bike in at lunchtime, they identified the problems, phoned through to their delivery driver/other shop and sourced a wheel to be brought back, and let me know that if they couldn’t complete the work that afternoon it would be done the following day.  At 4.30 that afternoon I got a call to say it was all sorted, they had replaced the rear wheel and the rear brake at a very reasonable price indeed.  I think good service should be praised and they gave an excellent service.  If you’re in the area (and you might be – they are a stone’s throw from Norfolk Yarn), check them out.

The Bad

Whilst I like WordPress on the whole as a blog host, they did annoy me earlier this week.  I thought I would check out some blogs on my iPad and was shocked to find the WordPress home page showing black thumbnails of blogs and “Censored” stamped across them.  The most obvious thing was to assume that they had been hacked, which caused me rather a bit of worry about the state of my blog.  But no, it transpired that WordPress had decided to make some political statement about anti-theft legislation which Barrack Obama is backing, although why the people running WordPress should believe theft is good is somewhat lost on me.  But the real point is that their actions amounted to nothing more than scaremongering.  Shame on them.

The Knitting

As I alluded to earlier, the knitting has amounted to very little.  So little, in fact, that I’m resorting to arty shots to try and make it look like more than it is.

An arty shot to disguise a lack of progress

Which is not to say that there has been no progress.  Indeed, I have made a start on the first front of the cardigan, it just hasn’t gone particularly quickly.  After my busy and tiring week at work, I had a busy and tiring Saturday so no chance to get on with the knitting last night.  Which has left this afternoon and evening, during which I must admit I made some progress.

Deadwood - a good way to make a little progress on Laccaria

I got the DVD of the second season on Deadwood for Christmas and have been saving it for a point where I could immerse myself in it.  I love a good Western, and this is a very good Western indeed.  It even got me to the beginning of the bobble pattern on this side of the front which seems to be going fine.

Reading

Apart from tiredness and babysitting, one of the things that has occupied me this week has been the fact that I’ve been off in sci-fi land.  I had a sudden yen to read some sci-fi as I’ve totally fallen out of the habit.  I had an e-book of Horizons by Peter W Prellwitz tucked away and it turned out to be a really good read.  And by that, I mean that I chose to read it rather than watch TV, knit, and in some extreme cases, sleep!  I’m going to search out some further books in the series if I can, and at the very least it’s reawakened my love of the genre which is a very good thing indeed.

So, having mentioned that I like Westerns and sci-fi, I should perhaps let on about my secret career ambitions.  For, if it so transpires that I cannot be a Yeoman aboard the Starship Enterprise, my second career choice is to be a bar room floozie.  Please don’t burst my bubble by suggesting that at almost 52 I am getting a little long in the tooth for either of these careers!

Now, I just have a little bit of computer geekery to undertake, then I might manage another few rows of the cardigan before bed.

 

Week 2 – Bonjour mes amis

This week I worked very hard at the day job for four days, then on Friday I accompanied my sister to London to The France Show at Earl’s Court.  It was a lovely day out and an interesting show; particularly interesting to me comparing it to the Knitting and Stitching Shows which I am more familiar with.

My sister very kindly provided me with an early birthday present in the form of a lined basket to use for my knitting projects.  I’ve been looking for a while for something pretty to hold my main project and this was ideal.

An early birthday present

Ah, sweet

On the needles

Both of the projects I started last week are progressing.  I’ve worked a little on the green sock and remain undecided about whether it will fit.  My plan is to complete the first one and wash it then check on the fit.  At that point I will know whether it’s worth going on with the second sock.  I still think it makes sense to find a good everyday sock yarn so if this doesn’t turn out well it’s no big deal.

Turned the heel of the first green sock

I’ve also done a bit of work on Laccaria and have completed the back.

Progress is being made on the cardigan

It seems quite long compared to some cardigans I have made in the past couple of years, but I think it should fit well.  I have made one change to the pattern so far – the back of the neck is supposed to be shaped to dip a little, but I really prefer the back of my neck well covered, so I carried on and just did a straight cast-off at the top of the shoulder shaping.  I think this evening I will get a chance to start on one of the front pieces.  These have a little bit of patterning so I shall have to disengage autopilot for a while.

Reading

This week my reading has been pretty much limited to dipping in and out of “The Cyclist’s Friend” by Chris Naylor which is a “miscellany” of cycling-relating anecdotes.  It is ideal reading for the bath.  I keep hovering on the brink of buying Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84” then stepping back again.  I love Murakami’s books, so there is no doubt that I shall buy it at some point.  The thing is, the first two parts were released as one book, and hardback at that.  Now, last year I read a hardback copy of “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” and it was so heavy that it made my hands and wrists ache.  So I will either wait in the hope that the Murakami comes out in paperback sometime soon or I shall order it as an iBook.  The only downside to iBooks is that I don’t like to take my iPad into the bath.

Writing

I would like to say that I have written religiously in my diary all week, but that would be a bit of a fib.  I have done a bit, enough not to feel like I’m totally avoiding it, but nowhere near as much as I intend.  I think it is purely a matter of making it into a routine.  Ah, if only routines made themselves without any effort from me!!

So here we are on the brink of another working week.  As well as working hard, I hope there’s plenty of time to delve into my knitting basket.

Full of the makings of a Laccaria cardigan

 

Week 1 – Back to Reality

It’s been a real back-to-work week and I have been rather lacking enthusiasm, not just for work but anything much really.  It was a windy week in the UK; fortunately in Norfolk I think we had things slightly quieter than a lot of the country, but it was enough to scare me away from cycling to work on Tuesday.  Walking to and from work, in turn, was enough to get me back on my bicycle by Wednesday!

On the needles

For the beginning of the year I have taken the opportunity to start two new projects.  I have mentioned that my knitting had slumped a little with nothing quite working how I wanted it to, so I have taken my favourite yarn and hope to make it work for both projects.

First, Laccaria, the Norah Gaughan cardigan from her Berroco Pattern Collection Volume 6, which I am knitting in J C Rennie Supersoft Lambswool in the Couture colourway.

Making a start on Laccaria by Norah Gaughan

I struggled a bit with the gauge on this and have ended up going for the yarn held double, knitted on 4mm bamboo needles and knitting a size 34″.  Usually I would knit a size 38″ but when I started that it was coming out unfeasibly large.  I keep measuring this one against a jumper I know fits well, but am still convinced it will be a bit too tight.  Well, time will tell.  One strange thing about this pattern is that you decrease to shape the waist, but knit quite a long while before starting the increases to the bust.  Again, I cannot predict whether or not this will fit me well (I am short-waisted – I can see how it would suit someone long-waisted), but I’m happy to give it a go.

My second project is a pair of basic socks, again in the J C Rennie Supersoft Lambswool, this time in the colourway Lush.

Green sock with purl stripes

I have chosen to add three “purl bump” rows at the end of the cuff before heading into plain stocking stitch for the rest of the sock.  These socks will be an experiment in durability as I don’t know how this yarn will hold up to wear.  I have been very pleased with it for garments, but socks are a whole different kettle of fish.  If it does work out well, I have plenty of yarn to slowly build up my everyday sock collection.  I am using my usual 2.5mm needles, but am working on 56 stitches, rather than my customary 60, as this yarn, whilst feeling thinner than most sock yarns, seems to knit up a bit bigger.

Reading

Over the Christmas break I galloped through a Josephine Tey detective novel which I received for Christmas.  Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  Josephine Tey wrote her novels mainly in the late 1940s and they have the smaller world charm of that era which contrasts with modern detective novels.  The idea of a “body count” doesn’t enter into it.  In fact, in “The Franchise Affair” no-one dies – it is all about a teenage girl’s allegation that two women in a small town had kidnapped her and held her against her will for a month.  One thing I particularly like about Ms Tey’s writing is that she keeps the focus on the main story.  Yes, there are little things happening around the periphery such as you might expect to occur in the lives of the characters, and some people are telling the truth and others are not, but I don’t get the feeling that things are being thrown in as ‘red herrings’.  In a good crime/mystery story you need enough complexity to make the story interesting, but no so much that it becomes clouded and unreal.

I have many more books sitting unread on my shelves, and am not entirely sure what to pick up next.

Writing

I enjoy keeping a journal/diary, but have fallen out of the habit.  I have been experimenting with various pads and books and also with electronic options for the iPad, but to no great avail.  I have kept both handwritten and word processed journals in the past, and have written reams in them, and I am a big fan of the therapeutic value of having somewhere to tuck away your angst; writing it all out of your system.  Not to mention how very much I enjoy going back and reading old journals.  Anyway, I think it is high time I got back into the habit of writing a diary and with that in mind I’ve bought some Moleskine Cahiers (or exercise books to you and me).  I was taken, most of all, with the size of these particular offerings – at 7 1/2″ x 9 3/4″ they give me more freedom than even a standard A5 book whilst being less cumbersome than an A4 size.  Needless to say, these are stay-at-home books.  It remains to be seen whether I am happy with the paper quality.

I have a vague plan to set up a paper-based system to record my knitting exploits too, but this is still in the daydreaming stage.

Ultimately, I hope to improve my handwriting which is suffering from lack of use.  Oh, and to use and enjoy my precious pens including this beauty:

Cross Apogee Fountain Pen

Now it is Sunday evening and I intend to get in some solid knitting whilst watching the next BBC offering of Sherlock, and perhaps downloading an audio book.

 

Out with the old

The tail end of the old year was a bit unproductive for me.  I knit, and I knit, and I knit, and I didn’t really produce a whole heap of anything.  Oh, there was a cowl which went as a Secret Santa gift at work.  There were several mis-starts on the Laccaria cardigan by Norah Gaughan which were undermined by indecision about size and colour.  The last major project that really worked was the scarf-front cardigan which was completed way back in the autumn and has been worn a lot, but never photographed.  So, to rectify that, here is a very wonky shot:

Scarf Front Cardigan from Norah Gaughan pattern

This cardigan is snuggly-warm thanks to that scarf front and the single button fastening makes it practical to throw on.  Also, for once, the sleeves are exactly the right length.  Of course, the boxy design does make me look even plumper than usual, but hey-ho!!

Another couple of projects managed to creep in before midnight tolled the end of 2011.  First, a pair of plain old socks, elevated by the stunning Malabrigo sock yarn into works of art, worthy of a colourway called “Turner”:

Socks in Malabrigo Turner colourway

In case you’re not getting the full impact of this yarn, here it is up close and personal:

Glorious Turner colourway of Malabrigo Sock yarn

I loved working with this.  So much so that I decided to knit a new liner for my iPhone case using the same yarn doubled:

An old iPhone case with a new liner

I recently replaced my old iPhone 3G with a new iPhone 4S which, being slimmer, didn’t fit well in the my existing case.  But the case was a present and I love it and I didn’t want to stop using it, so a liner was called for.  My first attempt was a little too thick, so my final act of 2011 was to replace it with this pretty little frippery.  I think the colours work well with the nut-brown leather of the case.

Now fits my slimline iPhone 4S

And now it’s 2012 and I’m ready to take the lessons learnt in 2011 and put them to good use.  First, experimenting with different yarns in the final couple of months of the year really brought home to me how much I had enjoyed working with the J C Rennie wool over the previous year or so.  I foresee a year of experimenting more with what in some ways may seem a very limited choice.  Whilst later in the year I will be buying new (and buying more sock yarn to allow me a bit of variety), to begin with I am going to use what I have to hand.

As far as patterns go, well I will get Laccaria done by hook or by crook!  I will probably return to a Martin Storey 4-ply cardigan or two to supplement my work wardrobe.  And who knows, maybe this year I will get around to knitting for my grandson.

My real ‘resolution’ as far as this blog goes is to post a little more frequently.  At the moment I feel like one post a week would be more pleasant than the rather irregular offerings of the past year and allows for daylight photography, so I shall aim for that.

I hope everybody who reads this has a splendid year and there aren’t too many hangovers around this morning.

On the continuity of things

Dining chair hidden away

This is one of my projects that really needed to be done before the end of the year, if only because I have been intending to do it for most of 2011 and even if I haven’t publicised that intention I still feel guilty for not getting on with it.

I have two dining chairs in my flat and in their current format they really need some work. In an effort to avoid the issue completely, a couple of years ago I bought these cream covers and basically hid the chairs under them. Not a great move as I never really liked them, and they didn’t fit the chairs at all well. A year ago I bought some fabric and knew that it would be very serviceable on the chair seats. I have been on the brink of buying foam to pad the seats on many occasions. So now it’s almost 2012 and something just had to be done.

Voila.

Dining chair with freshly covered seat

I have never been one for getting new furniture when a few more years can be coaxed out of an existing item. Most of my furniture is either from my parents’ house, or passed on by my sister (who does like to buy new furniture). The “eco-friendliness” of this appeals to me, although I have to admit I am never going to win any interior design awards. But I like the continuity of things – there being stories and history to the furniture, not just the shop where I bought it. These chairs lived with my grandparents and have been used by various members of the family and now they live with me. The people pass and leave behind them stories that are knit into the fabric of the things they used day in, day out. I like to live with those stories, adding to them as I potter through my own span of days. My grandson now sits on the same chairs where once my grandparents sat, and as the years scurry by the stories weave into things like these chairs, linking us with a very tangible form of DNA.

Funny how things go

My knitting has been of the one step forward, two steps back variety over the past couple of months. This is mildly frustrating, but I’m choosing to let go of that and concentrate on it all as a learning opportunity. Yes, well, let’s just ignore the fact that I already know what it’s teaching me.

I have yet to make a firm decision on the wool to knit the Norah Gaughan Laccaria cardigan. I’ve made a few false starts, and in the meantime I’ve worked on some small projects to keep my hand in. I really want Laccaria to work with the clothes I wear when I’m not working, which rules out the green and red wools I have tried so far. This afternoon I decided to try my wool shade-card against my two nice dresses which led to a revelation. I already knew I had a great purple cardi to wear with my pink dress:

Masai Clothing dress with Rimini cardigan

Less expected was that my Mist on the Moor cardigan would be so perfect a match for the navy dress:

Masai Clothing dress with Mist on the Moor cardigan

So that blows the whole colour choice wide open again. Funny how things go, isn’t it?

Did someone say Norah Gaughan?

Tosh DK Cowl in progress

Here’s a little peek at the cowl in progress.  I’m loving it.  I hope this picture manages to get across some of the springy delight of this yarn.

When I first considered my day trip to London, it was a given that I would be taking the opportunity to view some knitting yarn and patterns.  My main choice was whether to visit Loop in Islington or iKnit near to Waterloo. I thought iKnit was the obvious choice as I had already been to Loop a few years ago in their old premises, but I was swayed in the direction of Loop when I saw online that they stock Berroco patterns. Norah Gaughan designs for Berroco and I often haunt their site looking at patterns I can never buy!

Loop is largely lovely.  It is more than twice the size of the original shop, with both a ground floor and first floor selling area.  Downstairs they have the lighter-weight yarns – laceweights, sock yarns, and the “exotics” in the form of Habu and Wollmeise (which was hiding on the floor).  There was a bit of sensory overload going on with every surface covered with bits and pieces, and hand-painted skeins of yarn a-plenty.  In fact, my overall impression of the downstairs was “clutter”.  This is by no means unusual in yarn shops and I think it is probably supposed to make the place look homely and inviting and cosy.  But, hey, I’ve got clutter at home – I don’t need it in the shops!

After a look round downstairs, during which I was drawn to both the Madelinetosh Sock and Malabrigo sock yarns, I headed upstairs.  To my eye, this part of the shop had it just right with a balance between comfort and space.  There was a large table which on the day I visited was piled with pattern books, and a sofa by the window where you could make yourself comfortable and browse some patterns.  The yarns ranged from DK through to bulky.  The main pattern stock is upstairs and was far and away the best selection I’ve seen.  Shelves of books, large folders with individual patterns and a hanging rack with their Berroco pattern books.  I had my fingers crossed about being able to find Berroco’s Norah Gaughan Collection No6 which was showing as out of stock online.  Digging through the rack I turned up the only visible copy – hurrah!  Now I was equipped with the pattern for Laccaria:

Berroco Norah Gaughan Collection 6 - Laccaria

Oh, and yes, another Norah Gaughan book slipped in – Volume 7 which contains three very lovely patterns and some others that don’t appeal to me so much.  Also, the first issue of KnitWear which seems to be a new American magazine which is pitched somewhere between Vogue/Designer Knitting and the monthly knitting magazines.  Quite interesting.

Now to my other reason for choosing to visit Loop – the fact that they stock Quince and Co yarns from America.  I had read about these yarns and thought I might treat myself.  The Laccaria cardigan seemed like a good option, until I read the requirements and saw that it called for DK weight yarn, rather than the American Sport or Worstead weights.  I did spend quite a lot of time trying to find something I liked which would suit one of these yarns, but truth be told, the more I looked at them, the less I liked the look of them.  They did look like they might pill badly. Also, I wasn’t that enamoured of the shades they had available.  In fact, Quince and Co left me feeling underwhelmed.

And here we come to a further little niggle I felt with the shop, once again it’s fairly common in all sorts of shops.  Some of the products were on such high shelves that there was no way to view them properly and therefore I had to gloss over them.  Of course, if it was my local yarn shop and I went in there specifically knowing I wanted a particular yarn which was on the top shelf I would get a member of staff to fetch it for me, but in all honesty I am not going to do that just in order to be able to browse the yarns.  It seems to be a less than useful way of displaying your wares, but perhaps there is a good reason for using this high shelving for display rather than simply for storage.

That didn’t prove to be a problem, however, because I did get to treat myself to the Madelinetosh DK which I’m using for the cowl, and this little beauty:

Malabrigo "Sock" in the 851 Turner colourway

I’ve seen this colourway in photos on Ravelry which manage to make it look like a muddy brown sludge.  I do trust that’s just bad photography because it is a stunning mix of colours.  No idea what this will become.  Possibly socks, but I really would like something slightly more decorative than that for it.

Well, that’s my impression of Loop.  Would I take another trip out to Islington to visit?  Probably.  I will almost certainly be ordering Berroco pattern books from them online.  I wouldn’t like to live in London, but I would like Loop as my Local Yarn Shop!  Ah, well, you can’t have everything.

A yarn update, some squooshy wool, and a shop review

Madelinetosh "Tosh DK" in the Tern colourway

I know, I know – it’s all boom or bust around here.  You wait ages for a single post, then two come along practically together.

Let’s start with the squooshy wool which I’ve posted a picture of.  This is the lovely Tosh DK, purchased this week on a trip to Loop in Islington.  I took some quick snaps yesterday afternoon then immediately wound it into a ball and made a start on a cowl in simple feather and fan lace.  It’s beautiful yarn, I’m enjoying working with it, and the colourway is delicious – grey, but with a subtle hint of something slightly lilac bringing a tinge of warmth to it.  It ranges from darker to lighter parts, but not distractingly so.  Yummy.

I did cycle over to Norfolk Yarn yesterday, but had to order the Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend.  It’s slightly disappointing not being able to cast on immediately for the cardigan, but I would rather wait and have it in the perfect colour.

As I’ve already alluded to, I spent Tuesday in London; more specifically in Islington.  I had a trio of shops to investigate there and I’m going to start with a quick review of Raystitch which was my first visit of the day.

Raystitch is primarily a sewing shop, with a small amount of knitting yarn and an integral cafe.  They have an online shop which I found months ago whilst searching for button sources.  The real-world shop is a treat.  It is quite small (a feature of all the shops I visited in Islington) but impeccably neat (not, unfortunately, a feature of all the shops!).  After a three-hour coach journey down to London and the underground trip from Victoria to Islington, my first priority was coffee and cake.  The coffee was coffee, the Bakewell Tart was delicious – moist with extremely good pastry and just the right amount of jam.

I don’t sew (I keep thinking I might one day, but that day has yet to come) so the stock was of limited interest.  If they had had any of the fabric printed with bicycles which I’ve seen in their online shop, I would probably have bought a metre just for fun, but I couldn’t spot it.  It was my intention to visit Loop that day, so I didn’t really look at their yarns.  They had a bit of the Rowan/Debbie Bliss type.  What they do provide are the more unusual bits and bobs like Japanese pattern books, and rather ‘designer’ accessories for sewing.  I bought a couple of things to use as stocking-fillers for Christmas and, of course, I found the little metal measuring gauge to add to my collection of knitting accessories so the visit was well worthwhile.

Service was good, staff seemed helpful, and it was unhurried and pleasant.  I should note that the opening hours of this shop were what I would consider normal – 8.30am to 6.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday.  You will see over the next couple of days that the opening times in Islington can be a bit odd.  If you sew I would recommend a visit to check out the fabrics and the off-beat selection of pattern books.  If you knit but don’t sew I would recommend a visit for the cakes!