Thursday, 30 June 2011

Triangles and Picking Up stitches

I really really hate sewing up, but since I had asked others to do it, I had rolled up my sleeves, gritted my teeth and gone to work. It was twice as hard to admit defeat, but it was the right thing to do to un pick the stitched on triangles and then to unpick the row of triangles.

Now I have a bed jacket size shawl with a flower closure and a mix of organic New Lanark wool* and King Cole Splash and some donated cones of wool that turned out to include some beautiful Jamieson heathered wool (the pink).

The idea for flowers in the closure came from Meg's lovely shawl and it was also her familiarity with Jamieson wool that made me take a look at the wool on the cone. I washed it a second time and it was a pleasure to knit and crochet with. I hope the recipient enjoys this shawl as much as I enjoyed making it. Oh, never mind the grumbling I did, that's all part of the fun of it when all is said and done.

* I didn't see this wool spun on my recent trip to New Lanark but I saw all the equipment and ingredients--silk noils looking as tasty as wee gum drops and the smell of clean wool and light machine oil. I loved it. A great visit. I recommend it with or without bringing home wool.
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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Knitting Together

It is in the quiet times after a flurry of activity that the most important lessons sink into the place of not forgetting. I was struggling with my shawl for the prayer ministry. I had pushed to get it done and then realized that the pushing and the approach I was taking were just wrong and the piece and my attitude toward it were going from bad to worse. I have such good friends. They looked at the shawl and said not a word, so I finally accepted what I already knew--time to rip it out and re think. And those same friends who had said not a word set about helping me rip it out.

I managed to save a bit of it and regrouped but by the time I was once again approaching the finishing line, I lost my nerve. More colours? Fewer? Crochet edging? I folded it up in the confidence that I knew how to get my way out of this confidence crunch--a design consultation with a friend both gentle and wise. A text to my friend was like the cavalry coming over the hill in the old western movies of my Saturday matinee in the balcony childhood.

With her eyes, I could see that the new approach was OK and we talked about how to proceed, but before I could fold it up and run off, she had set me down with a cuppa in her studio. I stitched while she sat next to me. When she offered to work in all the edges where I had changed wool, (When she tucks them in, they stay tucked) I was delighted. Each of us working on one side of this wee shawl.

And as we sat there watching the waves on the shore between stitches, she said quietly, "I like knitting together." And that is the heart of Northern Loops. Oh, we all enjoy our own quiet time of knitting, but knitting together is wonderfully different. Knitting alone is connecting with self; knitting together is --knitting together. Now hopefully whoever gets this shawl will be able to feel that connectedness, the things coming right after a wrong turn-ness because we have knit that into the shawl and into ourselves.

Friday, 24 June 2011

More Triumphs from Triangles

I can't resist the calmness that comes from light blue and cream in combo. I like to think that whoever gets this shawl will feel that, too. After all, that is the idea behind the shawl ministry.

Cynthia's take on the triangles is inspired by her own talents as a quilt maker. She picked a pattern from her calendar of 365 patchwork patterns for this shawl--large and comfy and bright. One of the things I am consistently and delightfully reminded is how the same idea can take such different shapes in the hands of different crafters.
With Cynthia's shawl as backdrop, here are two grafters in a familiar pose--sewing up! Much as we love the end result and the kaleidoscope of possibilities with triangles, the sad hard fact is that sewing up is hard work. Cynthia spent every evening for a fortnight sewing up her lovely triangles. A job well done but oh the hard work! Double thanks to all those who have been kind enough and patient enough to take on the sewing up. The photo below does not do justice to the truly eye-popping safety reflector yellow of the triangles, but the colour captured the fancy of the two young artists, so I love to think that we offer something for everyone!
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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

From the Precinct to the Ambulance Service

Last year we launched Northern Loops with a giveaway of little knitted flower corsages and an event in Caithness Horizons on Knit in Public Day. This year we celebrated as part of a project completion day in Castlehill Heritage Centre.

The high point of the day and the best part of the anniversary for me was handing over the blankets we have done for Project Linus. Valerie Barker, the local coordinator, did not want her photo taken, and since the blankets are the real stars, here's a photo of them all lined up and ready to go.

Val was very pleased with each of them and the number of them (Thank you all, busy knitters!). The next step for these blankets will be to get an individual photo of each and then they will go to work with the local ambulance service. If I hear about them (and I probably will up here where the connections run deep), I'll give them star billing here on the blog again. Until then, I am back at my needles and looking forward to Northern Loops Dunnet's shawl project.
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Friday, 10 June 2011

Knit in Public Day June 11

If the weather holds--always a big IF up here, we'll be celebrating Knit in Public Day tomorrow in this lovely garden at Castlehill Heritage Centre.

Wherever you find yourself tomorrow, I hope you have your needles with you and can make a stitch or two to the revolution.

What makes knitting revolutionary?

As Gandhi knew, having control of one's basic needs is a foundation for freedom. I don't remember the whole story behind the spinning wheel on the Indian flag, but I remember that he used it as a symbol of personal and cultural independence.

Knitting is about accepting a traditional craft and making it your own. If matinee jackets for bairns are your thing, then do it. If you are goth or into vampires, then check out how you can use knitting to express yourself. (

One woman who coordinates the local Blythswood shoebox appeal collects dozens of scarves and beanie hats--someone makes those and puts in with every stitch warm wishes--both the wool and the wishes are surely most welcome to those on the receiving end of the shoeboxes.

Right here in Caithness, our hand knit blankets will be going tomorrow to Project Linus where they will make a welcome addition to the local ambulance service and a child in distress.

Knitting has been used in the past and still is today as a vital source of income.

Knitting breaks down barriers of class and age.

These are some of the ways I know that knitting is revolutionary.

So wherever you are tomorrow, be a part of the revolution and celebrate Knit in Public Day!

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Thursday, 9 June 2011

Thrifty Side of Handcrafts--a Quick Note from New Lanark

We are just back from a trip to New Lanark--textile history and social history and sustainable development rolled into a beautiful site. I'll say more about it tomorrow in this and my other blog, but could not resist posting this snippet from a copy of Aunt Kate's Knit and Crochet magazine which I saw in a 1930's version of a worker's cottage.

Being thrifty is a good reason to know knitting and crocheting. At least as important as thrift, however, is personal control and choice.

Seeing New Lanark has reminded me how important a social enterprise can be not only to the people and the community in which they operate but way beyond the immediate area both in time and geography.