Friday, 6 January 2017

Exploration, & Radio Silence

'Best of Yarn' Compilation

I can make as many plans and lists as I like, but I certainly didn't think there would come a point where I hadn't managed to blog for almost a year.  A year!  It certainly doesn't feel like so much time has passed, or like I've been idle in the interim.

It would be too much to hope to catch up with all the lovely experiences I've had over the past 8 months, but I shall try to give you an overview:  There has been travel, living in campervans and exciting adrenaline activities.  New places, new scenery, new languages and ways of living.  There have been (and are) new people, both those met fleetingly, and those whom I now work with.  People who have taught me to embrace the joys in life, small treasures and simple pleasures, and also the inherent traits of those who I'd like to hope I would not emulate.  New studies, moving onto the next part of my diploma.  New work, settling into a new environment and way of thinking, new colleagues.  Last but not least, exciting knitting projects.

It is this last thought which finally prompted me to return to blogging.  I was listening to Jo (of Shinybees) on her podcast earlier whilst knitting - though we shall save *what* I was knitting for another post, hmm?

Jo talked about organising your stash when moving house, and shared her idea of 'Active Stash Exploration'.  When moving from Scotland in September, I rummaged through my stash.  I organised it, re-organised it, split it into purposeful piles and mixed it up again.  I carefully laid some yarn in storage bags, other skeins were gifted to friends.  I organised and re-organised the stash again.  The photo above is the final take.  My half-a-suitcase of yarn (plus 4 balls and 6 skeins bought on my travels...).

Active Stash Exploration (according to Jo), is the act of going through what you have, and appreciating it.  I feel I happened upon doing this by accident, but didn't think about it at the time - hearing Jo chat really rang bells with me.  I thoroughly enjoyed sorting my stash, and whilst I felt a small regret about having to leave most of it behind, I certainly brought more than enough...  And it's my favourites, it's the ones I have plans for, and the ones I might *actually* knit over the next 12 months or so!!  It's a 'best of stash' compilation, if ever there was one.

I realise all the labels aren't visible, but the pile includes Dye For Yarn silk, Eden Cottage Titus, Baa Ram Ewe Titus, Unicorn Tails from MadelineTosh (gifted to me by the beautiful Lauren @walkyouhome), Rainbow Heirloom, Skein Queen, La Bien Aimee, some glorious yarn from Iona where I went with my mummy before I left Scotland, some handspun, Triskellion, and lots of 'souvenir' yarn from my driving around NZ.

Currently, I'm seaming together something special for a wonderful collaboration with Clare (@knitsharelove).  This wee project is extremely exciting and I can't wait to share it with you!!  For the time being, I'll share this little sneak preview with you :D


 This magnificent shade was created by Helen (@thewoolkitchen), and as far as I understand, she has quite an exciting shop update coming tomorrow with lots of one-of-a-kind skeins!!  Due to moving countries I'm not currently able to indulge, but will definitely be sending someone with a shopping list to her stand at Edinburgh Yarn Festival!

What are you currently knitting?  Have you taken a new approach to your stashing recently?

Friday, 29 April 2016

Wuthering: New Pattern

A fair while ago now, I had a reather exciting chat with Helen of The Wool Kitchen (who is amazingly lovely).  The result is this scrumptious cowl, knit with two skeins of one of my favourite semi-solid colourways.  

Wuthering is knit in the round, and travels through several stitch patterns.  Nice and simple!  Back to my original pattern philosophy of 'less complicated than it looks'. 

Wuthering Cowl Amanda B Collins OwlPrintPanda

Apparently the most popular photo from the entire shoot is the outtake which caught me trying to fit bodily into the cowl.  I'd like to argue that I was demonstrating the extreme smooshyness of the cowl/yarn combo, but I was just being ridiculous.

Wuthering Cowl Amanda B Collins OwlPrintPanda

Wuthering Cowl Amanda B Collins OwlPrintPanda 

My patient friend Lauren helped me with the photos above, and I bothered the boy into helping me take some during one of our Scottish castle trips! 

The cowl itself was thought up on one of these trips - inspired by those hardiest of plants who manage to thrive despite the wind and rain on the precipice of mountains, cliff-tops and long-neglected gardens. Delicate yet resilient, these admirable little plants are represented in the ‘rocky’ lace and floral patterns of this cowl.

Wuthering Cowl Amanda B Collins OwlPrintPanda

Wuthering Cowl Amanda B Collins OwlPrintPanda 
Wuthering Cowl Amanda B Collins OwlPrintPanda

Yarn: The Wool Kitchen DK in colourway Wuthering.  2 skeins (400m).
Needles: 5mm (UK)

Find Helen:
Twitter: @thewoolkitchen

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016

Once again, Edinburgh Yarn Festival was incredible.

I'll try not to gush too much about all the beautiful, intricate and amazing items I spotted - so, as you read this, just keep a general feeling of yarny awe in the back of your mind to create the best sort of woolly mental atmosphere. 

As with last year, the Edinburgh Yarn Festival was held in the Edinburgh Corn Exchange.  It's a great venue, and was a pleasure to visit again.  

I trundled through from Glasgow in my little yellow car with a few friends, arriving at 09:50 for doors at 10am, and miraculously found a nice wee parking space across the road from the main entrance.  It was so good that Pip had doubts about whether I had parked illegally - I definitely wasn't, but the lack of a ticket on the car when I returned at 5pm confirmed my wondeful parking luck.


First stop - coffee.  The EYF entrance hall is lined with stalls and coffee.  There was some sort of crazy order in which to ask for/buy/pick up coffee so I was rather confused for a while, though blame that on the decaffienated state in which I stared my day.

Now, I entered EYF quite tired and with an idea of what I wanted before I started.  I thought this might save my bank account.  It sort of did and sort of didn't.  My aim was to buy things I can't usually get elsewhere, so let's see if I stuck to that :p

On one hand, I have yarn which I have intended projects for, each with a lovely bag, and the combination of which I adore.  On the other, good intentions do not make anything cheaper.

In the top picture, is two skeins from La Bien Aimee - this was a stall I had wanted to visit because I've never smooshed this yarn before!  As per another promise to myself, I'd only buy a minimum of two skeins which are either the same or matchymatchy - no more one skein 4-ply stashes for me. 

I've yet to decide but these two glorious merino singles 4-ply skeins are destined for a summer top or cowl, I'm sure they'll let me know once they've been knit into swatches.  

And the pouch underneath?  The glorious, herrinbone tweed, pocket of sheer perfection?  It's a little project bag from Woollenflower, whom I adore.  I've been eyeing these little bags and hoping quite a lot for a herringbone one, so when I spied this lying on the table I couldn't help myself.  

 As I say, everything I bought this year appears to be a complete project (bag included).  So second purchase was from Kettle Yarn.  Linda has recently released a new line of yarn named Baskerville, which is 60% exmoor blueface, 25% gotland and 15% silk.  As will all yarns in the collection, quality is guaranteed, and I'll admit I'm very curious about the process of indigo dyeing!  

Linda was lovely, and whilst I was heading to her looking for some Baskerville (because this purchase was planned!!), I also spotted this incredibly cute little forrest cabin pouch, and picked that up too.  

Next, I popped into the Easyknits stall and was caught unawares by some 'Mochoo' - mohair.  Who knew I liked this, because I didnt?!  Though I'll admit, I left this behind initially as I had no plans for it - look how good I was being!

Jess of Ginger Twist Studio, an adorable little yarn shop in Edinburgh, was always a joy to see, as ever.  Her energy is infectious and after several moments squeeing over my favourite yarn (the Splendour 4ply 50/50 silk blend in the Hocus Pocus colourway - have a look at my project page on Rav and you'll soon see what I mean), I ended up with two more skeins of the stuff and a round trip back to Easyknitter to pick up that mohair.  A plan was born - I was going to knit a boxy with 4-ply splendour and lace mohair held together on 5.5mm needles.  It is squeeful and I terrified to admit, but since then (5 days ago), I have finished and am wearing my boxy.  I will devote a separate post to it, as it is amazing.  My wrists hurt. 

I met several amazing people throughout the day, and will no doubt forget to list some, so I won't name you all! 

Bumped into several of my facourite podcasters: Louise of Caithness Craft, Louise of Knit British, Jo of Shinybees to name a few!  I had a lovely long chat to them whilst hosting my little pop-up stall in the podcast lounge, which was lovely. 

Last, but obviously not least, I returned to La Bien Aimee for a cardigan quantity of this yarn...

The dates for EYF 2017 have even already been released!  It'll be the Corn Exchange again, on 10th / 11th of March.

What did you purchase?  Did you miss EYF - what did you do instead??

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Blackers New Yarn

As you've probably been able to tell, I've been on a little bit of a swatching binge recently!  This was precipitated, in no small part, by some very lovely yarn samples I was sent by Blacker Yarn.

They have a new yarn coming out shortly - Tamar.

Sue Blacker recently posted on the Blacker blog about this yarn - I do love a yarn with a story!!  Basically, it is named after the Tamar river between Devon & Cornwall (in England).  It's an homage to the watery hills and valleys of the area, the history of the people and their beliefs throughout time.  There's a beautiful fairy tale accompanying this yarn, and I'd highly recommend heading over to the blacker blog for a wee read.

I could ramble on about this yarn for ages, because it's great, but I'll try to summarise into something sensible:

Composition:  spun from British rare breeds, including Teeswater, Wensleydale and Leicester Longwool

Yardage:  4ply - 350 m / 380 yds.  DK - 220 m / 238 yds.

Practicalities: cool handwash only

Handle:  despite feeling fairly 'rustic' due to the longwool used, this yarn is easily next to skin soft.  The longwool also affords it a weight and drape which would be beautiful in accessories and garments alike.  I can see folk thinking it's not soft enough, it doesn't compare to buttery merino, but I imagine it would last significantly longer.

Stitch definition: despite the halo (which is very attractive and, not to forget, warm!) the stitch defition is very clear, I've worked up a wee lace sample which turned out beautifully.

Range: available in 4-ply and DK, this is suitable for a wide variety of projects.  The colour palette is also amazing (as below!).

All in all, I adore this yarn, and hope to work with it as soon as I'm able!  Have you tried it yet?  What are you knitting with at the moment?

Saturday, 16 January 2016

New Pattern: Syne Shawlette

Just in time for the weekend is the Syne shawlette!

It's inspired by fireworks at New Year, which are particularly beautiful when viewed over the castle in Edinburgh. This shawlette is a one skein knit, inspired by those most giant of explosions which radiate outward to end in further noise and sparkles. 

The yarn!  Oh goodness the yarn.  It's the Lush Light base by Rainbow Heirloom, which is made up of alpaca, silk and cashmere.    It's the most gorgeous shade of green as well, I really fell in love.

Given that you’ve been knitting for others all through December, January might be time for a little something for yourself.   What are you currently making for yourself?
Similar to my previous shawls, it's semi-circular shaped, beginning with a garter tab at the centre top, increasing as you knit down toward the lace border.
Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins
(c) Rainbow Heirloom
Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins 
Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins
(c) Rainbow Heirloom

Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins

Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

They're Ready, But I'm Not

Very frequently, when I sit a lovely old lady or gent down with the purpose of breaking some bad news, it culminates in them letting me know, calmly and reassuringly, that they've been ready for this for a while.

And not resigned to it, no bravado or over-exuberance, no shadow of a doubt.  Genuinely ready for it.

There's the brevity of 'well I've had a good run!' - to the genuine, breathtaking calm of a very old man who tells me that:

'life is good and bad, feels short then long, you forget more people than you remember, and if all I have left at the end is my marbles and my family then I'll thank my good luck.  You young folk can't understand yet, but one day you will.  My wife has her marbles, and we have each other, but we are both quite tired now'

He jokes to his wife ("of 69 years and 8 months, since you ask, young one") that 'at least you're leaving before you get fed up with me!'. 

His eyes are welling up, and hers are too.  She calls her family in to say goodbye through her oxygen mask before I've even reached a similar final conclusion, nevermind decided to talk about it with the lady or her family.  

And it's sadder than the saddest song, and sweeter than the sweetest of chick flicks, and more heartwarming than a million fireplaces, knitted stockings, kittens, hot chocolates, children playing and all the 'hygge' in the world combined. 

I hope he doesn't mind me remembering his wife, or that I'm passing on his marble filled brand of wisdom about life and death and love.  I was a bystander in a very private moment, and I am privilaged. 

I'm often scorned by friends because I refuse to watch a sad film, read a book about tribulation and death, engage in deep discussion about troubles around the world.  There is enough sadness, enough death and enough trouble from those I have personally met to keep me occupied for quite some time.  And with this, with the sad parts come the most beautiful insights, rays of incredible joy and kindness, wisdom, bald truth, bright young eyes in old faces.  Incredibly personal insights into how amazing people can be, how deeply we can love and hurt and live and need. 

And I'm not as ready for it as my old gent is.

Occasionally my blog posts take a little slide, and I'm not posting quite as often as I do at other times.  Usually, it's because there's this. 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

From Fibre to Finished Object

Very excited to share this little scarf with you.  Recently I've completed next to no knitting for myself, so when I spotted a little gap in the scheduled knitting, I grabbed my handspun polwarth skein from FiberArtemis which has been sitting in pride of place on my desk for quite a while now.

I've posted about it here before (and on Ravelry here) - the fibre is 100% polwarth from this lovely etsy shop.  It felt dense yet soft, and drafted beautifully.  There's a polwarth/silk mix in my stash from this shop too, so I might make a little time over christmas to spin it up a little finer for another shawl...  

Since I'm being good (and have spent all of my pennies on presents), the pattern is also one previously purchased on Ravelry - this is Artesian by Rosemary Hill. 

The pattern was very easy to follow, employing short rows for shaping.  The chart is laid out in a way I've not used before, so I used the written instructions, which are nice and easy to follow.    

And the yarn?  Oh dear, I loved it so much.  It's all smooshy and soft and, dare I say it, relatively evenly spun and plied throughout... (not that the garter stitch and yarn over pattern would show if it did!).



This is what the lovely fluff looked like when it arrived, and after spinning.   What are you working on at the moment?  I have something quite exciting to show you in a couple of weeks, but it'll have to stay under wraps until then :p


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...