Saturday, June 30, 2007

Knitting Workshops and talks

One of the nice things about my job is that I get invited to different parts of the UK to teach or give talks about various aspect of both hand and machine knitting. A couple of weeks ago I spent two days in Southport Lancashire as I was invited to talk to Longton Machine Knitting club in Preston and Southport Machine Knitting club.

The clubs organised for me to stay in a local B&B so I had the opportunity to see some of Southport while I was there. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me so wasn't able to take any photographs. I knew nothing about Southport so was quite surprised by the number of shops along Lord Street, I think it was called, as well as the new shopping centre, particularly the number of expensive jewellery shops. I enjoyed window shopping but that was all!

The two knitting clubs where very friendly and had there where a good number of people at each club. I did a demonstration of open fabric manual techniques to Longton machine knitting club and a talk on surface decoration on knitting to Southport machine knitting club.

This week I was invited to teach a one day workshop on bead knitting in Blackpool. Two small family hotels got together to offer a knitting break, a Monday to Friday break with two one day workshops.

I was invited to teach bead knitting on the Wednesday so travelled up to Blackpool on the Tuesday afternoon (as I live about 5 hours away from Blackpool). When I arrived the ladies where just finishing their Tuesday workshop on 'Hand made not homemade' which they all seem to enjoy. I was made very welcome by Paula, the owner of the Westcliffe hotel where I was staying. Angela runs the King Edward Hotel next door where half the students where staying.

Paula and Angela arrange for a local yarn shop to come over on the Tuesday evening with a selection of their yarns and patterns for everyone to look through. they couldn't bring all their yarns so brought shade cards for people to choose from and deliver the ordered yarn by the end of the week.

On the Wednesday I taught my workshop on bead knitting and hopefully the students enjoyed it. Like any new technique some picked it up quicker than others. Angela took some photos of the workshop so I will upload some pictures when I get them from Angela.

On the Wednesday evening Paula and Angela organised a trip to the local 'Hot Ice' show for those guests who wanted to go. I needed to pack up all my bits so didn't go to the show but did enjoy a walk down to the sea front. The hotels are in the North Beach area, quite close to the seea front so here are a couple of pictures of the sea front near the hotel and a bit further down the road, a view down towards Blackpool Tower.

I came home on Thursday just as the others where preparing to go to Fleetwood market and Freeport for a bit of shopping. I hope the ladies enjoyed their knitting break, I certainly enjoyed teaching them and seeing another part of Blackpool.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Yarn shops

A couple of weeks ago I went to London for the day to meet my City and Guilds students at the V&A Museum, but as we weren't meeting till 2.00pm I took the opportunity to visit Stash Yarns in Putney.

When I arrived I was made to feel welcome by Michelle the owner. Although it is a fairly small shop they have lots of interesting yarns imported from the USA. Muchelle is American so when she goes home to visit family she also takes the opportunity to search out new American yarns.

While we were chatting Michelle was telling me about the knitting circle that meet at the shop, that they are knitting mainly socks or lace shawls and scarves. The shop stocks a number of American yarns used for lace knitting including Fiddlesticks Knitting and Hand Maiden yarns. I was tempted to buy a ball/skein of each.

I bought a ball of Fiddlesticks Zephyr, a fine fingering weight yarn which is 50% merino wool and 50% tussah silk. There is approximately 630yds in the 2 oz ball which should be enough to knit a shawl. I've been commissioned to design a lace shawl using a fine bamboo yarn but I thought this Fiddlesticks yarn would work well as a practice yarn before working with the bamboo as I don't have a lot of the bamboo yarn to play with.

I also bought a skein of Hand Maiden Sea Silk, one of these new yarns that is 70% silk and 30% seacell (which I think is extract of sea weed but it doesn't smell of the sea). The skein has also been hand dyed. It was expensive as the skein was 150gms but should be sufficent to make a lace shawl or garment in a luxury fibre.

I sat knitting and talking with Michelle and her assistant Diane for most of the morning before making my way back to South Kensington to meet up with my students, so had a very enjoyable though rather expensive day.

I will go to visit the shop again but not until I have saved up some money as the yarns are very tempting!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bring a ball of yarn party

I recently had a birthday, one of those ones with a nought on the end, and decided to have a party to celebrate! Quite a few friends have reached the same age over the last few years and had parties, so to make mine a bit different I decided to have a 'Bring a ball of yarn' party.

When I suggested the idea to by hubby Dave his reponse was 'you need more yarn like a hole in the head', but can an obsessive knitter ever have enough yarn! The invites were sent out with instructions to 'bring a ball of yarn'.

Most of our friends do not knit so the first challenge was to find a wool shop but everyone did find somewhere and quite a few people brought more than one ball, so I have quite a colection as you can see in the photo.

The idea is to make a throw as a momento. I plan to knit it as a free form blanket/throw which will be an interesting challenge. I have done quite a bit of free form knitting as I also teach the technique but I think this will be an ongoing project! My intention is to keep a log of the progress of the throw on this blog and you never know I may have finished it by the time I reach the next landmark birthday.

As well as receiving lots of yarn and other presents some of our friends decided to put on some entertainment in my honour. The video can be viewed on youtube at I'm sure you agree it takes knitting and dancing to another level!