Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Amy Butler

Yesterday I went to Liberties to meet Amy Butler. She was absolutely lovely in person and as you may know from previous posts I really love her designs.

I took one of the colour and material designers from the office with me and she appeared to enjoy herself immensely. We had a chat with Amy, a look through her books and most importantly a stroke of all the beautiful fabrics. I restrained my impulse to buy meters of all of it.

I already own Modern Midwest which I love - there are no specific project in it but for inspiration it is beautiful. I bought the newest book Little Stitches for Little Ones - I'm not a baby person but the patterns and ideas are absolutely lovely, I am sure I will be making quite a few things from this. Amy's fabrics are quite retro in style - think 70's floral but with very fresh and modern colour palettes.

While I was in Liberty I had a look at the new Kaffe Fassett yarn for Rowan - Colourscape Chunky - it reminds me of Noro Kureyon with the long colour repeats and the colour ways are typical of Kaffe, it is much softer than the Noro and lacks the bits of hay too! To be honest I was not very excited by it - it's quite bulky and there is nothing new, it's been done before. It's a shame as the sock yarn he did for Regia is really interesting. I had a quick flick through the pattern book 'The Colourscape Chunky Collection' with designs by Sarah Hatton that accompanies the yarn and was quietly underwhelmed by that too. Maybe it will grow on me.

Speaking of Noro - has anybody out there tried the silk garden sock yarn? I haven't found anywhere in the UK that stocks it yet, I have seen comments on Ravelry about the great colours but nothing about the softness, splitiness or anything else. I am using the Kureyon sock for a pair of Ziggys any I actually really like it - very woolly, but the thick and thin texture evens out when knitting it to give a surprisingly dense fabric.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Serious stash enhancement holiday

I’ve been on holiday this week, it has been quite relaxing and lovely. I was supposed to go sailing for Cowes week but that all went a bit wrong and the least said about why the better. I have always wanted to visit Colinette and decided that a trip there coincided well with other family commitments.

We drove to all the way to the lovely village of Llanfair Caereinion in Powys, the weather was surprisingly lovely for Wales and the countryside was stunning. I should point out that it does not always rain in Wales but as a child all my half term holidays were spent in North Wales visiting relatives and my overall memory was of continuous rain, being made to hike up Snowdon yet again in the rain and being very very bored. The highlight of the half term was being allowed to go with my great uncle Gwill to the bakehouse – this branch of the family were known as Evans the Bakers as opposed to the other branches of Evans the coal and Jones the pub.

I loved going to the bakehouse at night to help prepare for the early morning shift – I learnt how to make custard for the tarts, knead bread in the huge machine and most importantly make bara brith – delicious Welsh bread with lots of dried fruit, served sliced, toasted and slathered in butter. I must have only been five or six when I first started going but I felt very grown up.

I was overcome by the yarn fumes in Colinette and completely forgot to take any pictures! Well I managed this one of the evening primrose in the village churchyard - I didn't realise they were this pretty and pinched a few seed pods for the garden. The village is small but lovely with a wonderful bakery where we had lunch.

Colinette was huge, the walls of different yarn and incredible colours were fabulous, beautiful examples of patterns hung everywhere to touch and try on. I was seduced by the jitterbug sock yarn and had trouble keeping to only a few skeins – I know the skeins are a little on the skimpy side length wise but the names and colours are totally seductive.

In the end I bought these three skeins – Adonis blue; a sea blue with touches of turquoise, purple and forest green, Alazarine; a bright pink with highlights of paler pink, lilac and pale blue and Vatican pie an incredible red that is both rich and bright, it almost glows. It was very very hard to leave behind the others that I longingly fondled but as you will see later in this post the sock yarn collection is getting out of control!

It was also really lovely to choose which skein you wanted - there are big differences between them - the Alizarine below is very pink but other skeins had much more blue or purple, the person these socks are destined for is definitely more of a pink person.

For quite some time I have been wanting to make a Perugino throw but the colours of the kits were not quite right - I wanted to make my own. I couldn’t find exactly what I liked in the colours that Colinette offer but then I discovered the sale room – stuffed full of colour ways that hadn’t come out exactly as they should have, end of lines and experiments with new colour combinations, all for £4 a skein! I spent ages pulling together the yarns I wanted, looking at colour and texture; I wanted golds, creams and browns to compliment the room the throw is for.

In the end I settled for these in the full knowledge that these skeins are one of a kind and nobody else will have a throw like mine and all for £24 instead of the £45 for the kit - I love a good bargain. I have named the colours, three skeins of Mohair - chocolate torte, fox tail and wheat field, two skeins of Giotto - both the same colour; Rapunzel and one skein of Tagliatelli - Samhain.

I have been a little extravagant this week with yarn purchasing, when I arrived home there were two parcels of sock yarn, how did that happen!

Parcel number one from modern knitting, I admit it – I got a little bit merry on passion fruit margaritas and bought sock yarn while pissed. I was a little surprised at my choices when they arrived – mostly very bright but with one quite dull choice – hmmm no more drinking and shopping. Other people get drunk and take unsuitable men to bed, I buy yarn instead!

The colours are all Regia – I love the way they have very distinct stripes, machine dyed yarn should be just that and play up this strength not try and emulate hand dyed yarn.

The colours are as follows (clockwise from top left):
Mini ringel Rio – 5217, Stretch Edmonton – 120, Surprise Chianti – 1265, Crazy Passion – 5402, Cotton Colour Java Exotic – 4183.

This slightly sadder specimen is Cotton Colour Java Winner – 4184, I hope to be surprised and pleased when I get round to knitting it!

Parcel number two from Blue Moon – Socks that rock, and are impossible to photograph! I spent ages tweaking the colours on the pictures but this is as close as I could get. The Blue Moon website pictures are better but still don’t do the colours justice – Back stabber is deeply saturated and gorgeous, Kawkaw is subtle and sophisticated.

I actually have been knitting as well. A friend is about to have a baby and so I made a baby bolero from Just One Skein, I already know this is for a boy so I used the Blue Skies Alpaca dyed cotton in Periwinkle and left out the eyelet motif on the back. This is a really fun knit, the first one of these I made was a pale biscuit colour for my godson and took a couple of days, this is the fourth one and they now take only an afternoon.

Also bright socks in Regia Canadian Manitoba – 4737, have been finished; these are glorious purple, pink and yellow with a single stripe of a grey/sage green colour that is muted enough to make the other colours pop. I bought this at Web of Wool (great customer service).

The pattern was made up as I went along, I had been reading about the German technique of using some ribbing around the instep and on a whim decided to add this, it is great if you have high arches for getting a good fit. These socks are for me (finally!) but my mum is modeling them for the picture as she has better ankles – getting her to pose was a bit difficult as she kept laughing and falling over.