Week forty three: ooh-la-la

Usually this weekend, along with one of my crafty buddies, I would be heading to the Marriott Hotel in Waltham Abbey to visit the Waltham Abbey Wool Show. This is one of my favourite events of the year: it’s small but not too small, and there’s an excellent range of indie dyers on hand (like Gamercrafting, TravelKnitter and Rosie’s Moments and lots of others). The huge shows are great, but always too crowded and as they’re in places like Excel, Ally Pally and Olympia the catering concessions are overpriced and unimaginative. There’s always a good range of indies there, but they are often overwhelmed by the big stands. I am more likely to buy fabric at the big shows, but WAWS is all about the yarn. This year the show has gone on-line, but you don’t get the sensory experience so I will probably give it a miss.

We have a routine, my friend and I: we have a first wander round, to see what’s there and mentally pinpoint what we want to go back to, then on our second pass (when it’s often a bit quieter) we go back to stroke and squish the yarns, admire the beautiful things that other people have made, and treat ourselves to the things we really want. Heather loves the Dorset button stall and I – as I have mentioned before – am an absolute sucker for a sock yarn. I always come away with either a gradient set or a hand dyed skein with a bit of sparkle.

These are never destined for socks, however: I live in boots in the winter, who would see them? I’m more likely to make a scarf or a shawl. Another friend bought me a lovely book of shawl patterns a couple of years ago – coincidentally by Diana, who is one of the organisers of WAWS – and that’s been a source of several pretty scarves showing off these lovely yarns. This windowpane scarf from Ravelry has also been a favourite.

This week I have a new plan. I spent much of Monday writing and photographing a blog post for the V&A’s ‘Let’s Make Wednesdays’ series, which is a set of creative activities for children and families. My topic was ‘How it’s made’ as this will be a feature of the new Design gallery in the transformed Museum of Childhood. The idea is that we provide an activity that can be done with materials you can find at home. I tossed around the idea of making plarn (yarn from plastic bags) or upcycling t-shirts to make yarn and then to do some weaving, but then remembered that one of the objects I’d found while sorting the learning collection was a Knitting Nancy (french knitting doll, knitting noddy, spool knitting – so many names!) and this ended up being my starting point.

Knitting Nancy doll

I knew we had a doll somewhere that I’d bought for the kids one Christmas, so I dug that out and then worked out how to make one using a toilet roll and lolly sticks. The Things very kindly helped me out by eating lots of ice lollies, bless them. I’m not going to go too far into into the detail, and I’ll link to the blog when it’s published, but the upshot was that I had a happy afternoon re-learning how to do French knitting. I don’t think I’d tried it since I was in primary school! I really enjoyed it, and the rhythm of the process was easy to do while I was in ‘receive mode’ during a very long online presentation.

I headed over to Pinterest to find some suggestions about what to do with French knitting braids, and one of the suggestions was simple braided jewellery. While in the shower this morning I remembered that at a previous WAWS I bought a gradient set in silvers and greys, with a bit of sparkle, and that this might be a good time to use it. They are a blend of merino, nylon and stellina, and are beautifully soft. So, I have dug these out from the shed, found my trusty yarn swift and winder, and will have a go at making a French knitting necklace.

Gradient yarns by Rosie’s Moments

I’ve also spent some time this week making some reusable face scrubbies. We stopped buying cotton wool pads some time ago and when I first got my overlocker I made a stack from baby muslins and fleece, but this was before Thing One became a goth and discovered the joys of black eyeliner. So. MUCH. Eyeliner. The little pads I made have reached the end of their useful lives after a couple of years so, using some recycled cotton yarn, I started crocheting some more this week. Incredibly simple: chain 22, dc (double crochet) in the second chain from the hook and then dc back along the chain; chain 1 and turn. Repeat till you have a rectangle as big as you’d like, fasten off and weave in ends. Ta-dah! I have added a contrast dc border just because I felt like it.

Simple scrubby

The temperature tree now has two weeks’ worth of leaves on it. You can see this week has been warmer – the day of the green leaf was 9 degrees! We’ve also had a lot of rain – the brooks are full, and this morning’s puddle walk was quite splashy. This week’s cover image was taken as the sun rose this morning, looking back towards Tawney Common as we were on the return leg. Yesterday we had a little bit of snow, which Thing 2 made the most of by building a tiny snowman in the back garden. I think it came up to her ankle….

Temperature Tree, week 2

That’s been my very woolly week! My facebook count tells me that yesterday was Day 300 since I started the lockdown counter – and this is week 43 of this blog. I am going to stop counting (but carry on writing) at the end of year one, I think.

Same time, same place next week then!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Educating Peter – Tom Cox

The Copper Heart (Crow Investigations) – Sarah Painter

Gobbelino London and a Complication of Unicorns (Gobbelino London, PI) – Kim M. Watt

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