Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Scruffy chair, yet to be fixed but already much loved by Magnus

Victoria Sponge from the Arch Cafe, Fettercairn

Home made bread, pears and Dukkah.

Things are a bit flat around here, I've taken to my bed like a Victorian heroine, which is rather appropriate because the book by my bedside is this one, all about 19th Century women writers. I bought it on a whim after it was mentioned in a ( now forgotten ) newspaper article and am enjoying it very much indeed. There's only one snag.  It is huge, seven hundred and sixty two pages of huge. Which means that while there is a lot to learn about women writing in the 19th Century, none of that learning will take place in the bath.  A great pity as I find that a little steam helps the knowledge to sink in.

The new spinning wheel is settling in well. Having assembled it single handed I'm sensing that Archie is feeling just a bit proprietorial towards his creation. He's been checking that my maidens are aligned and looking critically at the drive band. In return I knitted him a pair of snazzy house socks made from the first two spinnings. No pictures as yet because there has been no light other than grey for many days now.   I've been snatching the odd snap when I see a rare sunbeam. Not that there are too many of those about, leaden is the sky colour of choice for this month.

Tomorrow brings big changes -  I'm dragging myself from under the duvet and heading for London to catch up with some family and check out the Richmond Literature Festival. The festival has a snazzy Literary Salon and my plan is to take up as Knitter in Residence. I have a book and about ten balls of sock yarn. If all else fails I can knit myself a blanket and snooze .

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


Exciting things are happening in the Scottish Wooly world. Wovember is here. Have a look at Kate Davie's blog to find out more. Actually, I'd recommend you have a look at her blog any month of the year. It is stuffed with inspiring design, damn good writing and beautiful photographs.

One of the aims of Wovember is to raise awareness of the difference between wool and yarn.  I sometimes feel a bit of a pedant about this myself having grown up in a place where wool was used to describe anything you could knit with. It still happens, go into any traditional Scottish 'Wool Shop' and I can promise you that at least two thirds of the stock will never have seen the back of a sheep.  There are some honourable exceptions, like the wonderful Twist Fibre Crafts in Fife but it is quite normal for a knitter to enter a Scottish shop looking for wool only to be shown the acrylics.

One thing that taught me the value of wool, real true wool, was learning to spin. It was magical watching the fibres grab onto each other to create a thread, albeit a lumpy one. I have early handspun fit only for felting. This week my spinning took a turn for the better with the arrival of my new wheel, an Ashford Traditional. My old wheel is a Louet 10 which is great for thicker spinning and I hope the new one will lead me down the path of finer things.  Many thanks to ever patient Archie who put it together with the minimum of swearing, and to Kay, my spinning guru who cast her experienced eye over his work and pronounced it good.

When I first started knitting I choose my yarns according to colour not fibre and I still have heaps of acrylic blends that I'm trying to use up/fob off onto others. Likewise with the spinning. To begin with I bought up lots and lots of dyed merino tops without a thought to how much fibre was needed to make a decent amount of yarn and even now many bags of multi-coloured fluff haunt Knitting Headquarters. My plan is to use as much of this up as I can while I get to know the wheel and what it can do. My first finished yarn is made from appropriately autumnal colours and I'm hoping to make it into thank-you socks for Archie.  I don't have quite enough of it yet. That's a perfect excuse to spin some more.