Little pink hats

The last year, with its politics of exclusion in the UK, and the prospect of a lying orange fool at the helm of a one of the world’s greatest democracies, has been a trifle depressing. But the thousands of women and supportive men turning up at marches across the world to offer a bit of positivity, provided a delightful, happy antidote.

Many marchers were wearing hand-made, pink, woolly, pussy-cat shaped hats to create a sea of pinkness. This was, of course, a response to the new President of the United States claiming that women would let him ‘grab them by the pussy’ because he was rich and privileged. No thanks Mr. President, said over a million marchers in Washington and well over 3 million worldwide.

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Hand-made hats and community spirit will not change the world overnight, but the feelings that inspired them – love, solidarity, mutual respect, and a little bit of rebellion – maybe those could put us on a path to a better future.

Here’s to pink, woolly pussy-cat hats.

 

PS This is my blog and these are my views. Freedom of speech is great, isn’t it?

When knitting goes bad….

About a year ago I treated myself to a bag of lovely BFL Dk by West Yorkshire Spinners and took it home to knit this sweater.

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I knit a bit, bundled it up with the pattern and then forgot about it. I still have no idea why: perhaps I was doing something for the shop window, or wasn’t in a sweater mood or something. The pattern is lovely, and the yarn is gorgeous, so by rights it should’ve gone to the top of the queue. It didn’t.

A few months ago, I decided to get on top of my stash; I had become a wee bit guilty that I still bought yarn (despite owning a shop full of it!) and I thought that if I rescued it from the loft where it was hidden stored and brought it downstairs I might get to grips with it. Imagine my shame when I realised that there were two full bags of yarn in with the stash and one was even cast on,  just waiting to add 4 more rows to the rib. (The other bag is a woefully expensive kilo of Sublime – not enough for a sweater as it turns out, and that’s a story for another time).

I moved the sweater into my knitting bag and got cracking. The body is knitted in one piece on about a million stitches. It was slow going. Eventually I ground to a halt and decided it was long enough. Then I raced through the sleeves excited by the prospect of doing a bit of fair-isle knitting.

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Just before Christmas I had produced these lovely mittens and was all gung-ho about colour knitting and ready to rock that two handed, multi-threaded, graph-following, rigorous stitch counting son of a gun.

At this point you might have spotted the problem that I didn’t. The sweater isn’t fair-isle, it’s intarsia with significant gaps between the motifs, so you have to carry the contrast yarn behind the main work or use little tiny bobbins of separate yarn. I considered the latter (for a heartbeat) and went for carrying the yarn. At this point with the sleeves and the body stitches added together there was something like two million stitches on the very long circular needle.

I chose some contrast colours from the shop, got them home and hated them. I brought them back and swapped them. I still hated them. Sigh. I choose some more and liked them a wee bit better and got started. After 3 rows I realised that there wasn’t nearly enough contrast between the colour that I chosen for the first motif and the background. I swore violently. In between each motif there was also  a lot of puckering where I was stranding the yarn across the back and you could see bit of the contrast too. I considered undoing the yoke and starting again. Three million stitches – you’ve got to be joking! It would most likely block out wouldn’t it? I joined in another colour for the second motif – it looked terrible with the first contrast. The puckering continued and I finally realised that it was a disaster. Even if I got it finished, I wouldn’t wear this horror story of a sweater – it had to go.

I bravely undid the yoke, put the sleeves on spare thread, picked up the stitches on the body and knit a couple of rows and put it carefully back in my basket. I bought a book of fair isle pattern motifs, made a note of the centre front stitch, got some square paper to work out pattern repeats and decreases.

And cast on a different sweater.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

This is the start of my second year in the Village Wool Shop and it’s been a good year in many ways: I’ve had some lovely encounters with some fabulous knitters and crocheters. I’ve improved my knitting skills, explored my creativity (I made knitting patterns!!) and I’ve still found time to re-visit dressmaking, and continue to scrabble a few moments for my first creative love – drawing. On a personal note, my youngest son graduated and we now have both kids at home again (which is good, honestly).

The year wasn’t without challenges however – Keith was without a job for a while and we became a wee bit anxious about money, and anyone with a small high-street shop cannot be complacent in the current climate. The friendship, goodwill and support that I’ve received have been amazing, but realistically, a business needs customers too! Crawshawbooth high-street has been quiet of late and significant traders are cutting days and maybe even closing.

Of course, I consider myself very lucky: violence and terror have ended lives worldwide, Donald Trump is about to be the next US president and we have lost many much-loved and admired actors and musicians,  meanwhile the country is divided on the subject of Europe and we have seen some disturbing evidence that racism and bigotry have not been banished to the past where they belong. It’s been a sombre year.

So goodbye 2016 (some might say good riddance) and hello 2017 and a big thank you to all our friends.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!