Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Tree 2010
Originally uploaded by Panperoxide
Merry Christmas everyone - and I hope you all have a lovely time, with best wishes for 2011 to be happy, healthy and successful for you.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

New Free Pattern - Helter Skelter Cowl

Originally uploaded by Panperoxide
Introducing the Helter Skelter Cowl - a very quick knit in time for Christmas and a very simple pattern to boot - if you can knit, purl and count using one hand, you can knit this!
Knitted in Natural Born Dyers Wensleydale Aran, this cowl is snug and warm, and has been roadtested during a two hour journey to work through the snow and ice. Available for free from Ravelry:

download now

Sunday, 7 November 2010


Originally uploaded by Panperoxide
I've finally blocked and photographed my EZ 100th Anniversary Camping Pi Shawl - I knit it in Natural Born Dyers yarn, colourway Tropical Lagoon, and I think the greens and blues really complimented this wonderful pattern.
And yes, I know the pattern is written for fingering weight, and this is a fine laceweight - but EZ was all about having the confidence to go "off piste" and adapt a pattern to suit - so I knitted on with confidence!

Sunday, 12 September 2010


Originally uploaded by Panperoxide
This is my very first handspun sweater. I span the yarn as part of the Tour de Fleece this year. The fibre was Polwarth, colourway Hay Sunrise from Southern Cross Fibre. In total, it was 832 yards of something between an aran and chunky from 28oz - perfect for Ysolda's Liesl.
Very quick to knit, easy to memorise the pattern and NO SEWING UP!
And the dye job and fibre from the lovely David was perfection!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Testing, Testing

Originally uploaded by Panperoxide
I've been spending some time test knitting the past week or so. The pattern is Tulip Mitts, which is a new design from Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams, which is to be offered as a kit from Posh Yarn in the near future.
I've test knit once before, and while I am still knitting something I want, it's a different process from knitting for me.
1. I have to pay Very Close Attention to the pattern. The whole point of a test knit is to pull out any little hiccups or typos or ambiguities. It's not OK to fudge it, or think you've worked it out - the designer needs to know now - that's why it's a test knit.
2. I have to go fast. Now this isn't a requirement from Laura, or for the previous designer I worked with. It's a personal thing. For me, I feel that if I haven't got the time to give it a decent stab and spend some time on the knitting, then I'm holding up the process - the designer wants me to check the pattern works, so she can get it out there.
3. It's not a way of getting a free pattern! Well - it is, but that's not got to be the prime motivation for this. For me, I like to feel I've helped in the process (and yes, I'll feel a little proud when this kit is released into the wild).
4. I have to be frank. I feel a bit nitpicky sometimes, but the only way the pattern is going to be right is if I say what's wrong (to be perfectly frank - not very much with this pattern).

So - if you can bear to knit within the lines, are happy to turn an item around quickly, and can be honest (but gentle - this is someone else's baby, after all), then go on and offer to test knit. I have a lovely pair of mitts out of this one!

Monday, 16 August 2010

No photos... but a hidden gem

Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me on Saturday, but a new shop opened in Newcastle upon Tyne, and I had to take a look...
The Knit Studio is hidden away within Blackfriars in Newcastle upon Tyne - for those who know a little of the Toon, if you walk up Stowell Street from the Newcastle Arms end, and turn left at the end, just before the City Walls, then left again, through the archway at the Blackfriars Restaurant and Meeting Rooms, you come to Blackfriars Green - face to your left, and you're opposite a short flight of steps - up them, then up the stairs to the left, and you're in the new shop.
First impressions are of an airy space, beamed, and lined with tempting treats. Anne, the owner, was there to greet me, and was very welcoming. In the middle was a large table strewn with yarn, information and tea and cakes. There is plenty of room around the room to browse the yarn ranges (now this is from memory, so apologies for anything I leave out), including Rowan, Artesano, Lang, Colinette and Schoppelwolle. As well, Anne is stocking some harder to find, UK based brands - these are going to rotate, and on Saturday, there was fibre (yes FIBRE) from Wheeldale Woolcrafts, and yarn from the Natural Dye Studio, the Nude Ewe, The Flying Flock and JC Rennie.
Notions and needles included DuppDupp, Lantern Moon, Boye and Brittany Birch.
Plenty of reading material - Interweave magazines, a large range of knitting, spinning and crochet books, sewing books and fabric - and a reference library - sited enticingly behind two of the squishiest sofas I have ever seen.
I snaffled "Respect the Spindle" and a one-skein project book (useful for using my handspun!), a couple of Interweave magazines, two Zauerballs - one lace, one crazy sock, a pair of Lantern Moon straights, DuppDupp buttons, and a Boye circular. Well - one has to sample, yes?
All in all, it feels like a comfortable space. There are various objects placed around the studio that make it feel like an extension of someone's home - someone's home where you're comfortable enough to pop in, settle down with your knitting or a good book, and have a good natter.
I will be returning - to shop, to knit, and hopefully to learn, once Anne has workshops up and running. Go visit!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Champs d'Elysee

So the Tour de Fleece finished on Sunday. In that time, I spun up a whocking great (for me) 2225 yards! Here it is in all its glory...So how did I do on my challenges?
I managed 832 yards of Polwarth from Southern Cross Fibre which is going to make a soft and squooshy sweater. Tick.
I taught OH the basics of spindling, Andean Plying and Ply on the Fly. Tick. He also made himself a Plying tool during the Tour, and one evening, stopped Parking and Drafting, and said "isn't this what you do?" as he drafted with the spindle going. I've lost my Bossie Zebrawood Maxi for good, but what a star he is - and more than worth it!
I didn't spindle the full 100g (boo) but got 130 yards of 3 ply from 50g... I also span up another 100g on the wheel... It was the pretties, I tell you, the pretties!
I also spun silk hankies for the first time - 152 yards of singles from .5oz...
Now - when's the KAL for all of this yarn...

Monday, 5 July 2010

Tour de Fleece

I'm busy spinning, spinning, spinning. While the Tour de France is running, there is a spinning challenge going on. I'm participating over on Ravelry, and I have three challenges on the go.
  1. Spin a sweater's worth of yarn - I'm using Polwarth from Southern Cross Fibre in the colourway Hay Sunrise, and in two sessions, I've spun up 8oz of singles. I'm going to spin 3 lots of 4oz, then ply it off as I go, so I can then start spinning my next load of singles on the ends of the "leftovers". This is for Team Monkey Farts
  2. Spindle 100g of Spinning A Yarn Downland English Wool Tops. I've not spindled for yonks, and so am using this to get cracking again. This is for Team Spinning a Yarn
  3. Teach my OH how to spindle. This isn't for a team per se, but he has joined Team Spinning a Yarn, and is progressing better than I would if taught by someone like me.
Before I got going on the Sweater Polwarth, I span some more SCF Polwarth as well. Anf yes... if there are no pictures, it didn't happen...In other news, we escaped the chaos surrounding yesterday's terrible news (one of the shootings was very very close to us) and went up to collect some more fleeces. OH has blogged about it here. What he doesn't say, is that he very kindly treated me to a delicious carvery Sunday lunch in return for my services as driver. But let's face it - fleeces as lovely as those are their own reward!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Woolfest 2010

Phew... catching up sloooooowwwwwwwwwwwwly....I have a major confession to make... I didn't take ANY photographs at Woolfest. So I am nicking one of OH's (tee hee hee) to show you the lovely Jacqui's stall
All in all, I had a great day. OH had bought 3 fleeces before I'd even got in through the door - and he loved the day - his blog (with more pictures - ahem) is here
I got cranky mid-afternoon, because I'd not managed to stop and look at stuff. A quick bit of sympathy and bum kicking from Jacqui, the Diva and Sarah, and I was off - this is the fibre I managed to acquire:In there is Merino/Nylon from Fyberspates, Merino/Viscose and Sparkly BFL from Felt Studio UK, Oatmeal BFL/Silk and BFL/Silk/Seacell from The Thylacine.And I bought some yarn:Pink silk from Artisan Threads, yummy 4 ply Teeswater in 3 purply shades for a Big Shawl, Natural Dye Studio Precious Silk Lace and Dazzle HT sock, and Fantasia Sock Yarn from Wild Fire Fibres.
Yeah - so I didn't really get much at all...
In addition, I bought a Starburst bag kit from Sheepfold (in Herdwick, so it was my holiday souvenir), some KnitPro tips from P2Tog, and a car sticker.
I bought OH some beer, and he bought me some delicious cake (sorry - they moved way too quickly to be photographed!)

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A Week in Heaven

I love the Lake District. The hills, the lakes, the get-away-from-it-all feeling, and the grounded feeling I get from being back in the North West of England make it one of my favourite places in the world.
A few years ago, OH and I treated ourselves to a few days away to celebrate having been together ten years without either one of us killing the other. We went here, which is on the southern shores of Derwentwater, down the Borrowdale Road, and we vowed to go back. To cut a long story short, life ended up in the way, but when I was stuck for inspiration for OH's birthday this year, I remembered how much we'd enjoyed it, and booked us a blissful weekend.
And with the Ash Cloud, and the pound somewhere in the basement, and because I've been away a fair bit with work, we decided to holiday in the UK this year - and booked for 5 nights at the hotel.
Funny, isn't it, that we checked out just as Woolfest started? With it only being 20 minutes away?
It was a completely relaxing few days, during which we walked, drank good beer (bringing 23 bottles home with us!), ate wonderful food, and completely relaxed. We managed to pack it in, for all we relaxed, visiting Crummock Water, Buttermere, Loweswater, Grasmere, Hawkshead, Coniston, Keswick, the Ospreys at Bassenthwaite, and then a gentle 10 mile wander to Threlkeld (and a truly excellent pub) coming back via the stone circle at Castlerigg.
Pure Bliss. With sheep in the garden!
Woolfest tomorrow!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Pine and Ivy Shawl

I love Anne Hanson's patterns and have been hankering after doing a Pine and Ivy Shawl for some time. It's knitted lace, with patterning on both sides, and only a very few "rest rows" (purl all the way) in the entire piece.
When OH was dyeing some "Silky Lace" merino/tencel laceweight, there was one skein that he was not 100% happy with in terms of the colour distribution, which he didn't want to list in the shop. Before you could say "overdye", I'd whipped it and cast on!
A couple of weeks later, these are the results - the whole thing took a little under the 800m stated, and while it was knitted lace, the pattern (as usual) was so well written, that it flew along.I've also been on holiday, and to Woolfest... I will catch those up later in the week!

Friday, 7 May 2010

And a Bit of Knitting...

This is my interpretation of BrooklynTweed's Romney Triangle. I made it from the 240 yards of merino in Molten that's in the post below, following the notes on Jared's blog. I love how this knitted up!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Spinning Around

I've been indulging and spinning these past few weeks...
The Delightful David of Southern Cross Fibres got so enthusiastic about some Targhee over at Spunky Eclectic, that I went and bought some, not knowing what on earth it was. Now I love Amy's fibres, and David supplies my fibrelust on a monthly basis, so combine the enthusiasm of one with the skills of the other, and it's a pretty safe blind buy - I bought two lots of 4oz - one in Abyss, and one in Tempest, and was over the moon when they arrived. Targhee descended from sheep including Corriedale, and the fibre was soft and squooshy.
I try to take part in the Woolly Wormhead monthly KAL, and this month's was Aeonium, from her new Twisted Woolly Toppers book. It called for aran/worsted weight, so I set to with my Abyss Targhee, and my beloved Darry the Mazurka, and produced the skein on the left there.

I cast on, and shortly had myself an Aeonium, which I am really pleased with. This is the first time I have ever spun anything for a project - I normally spin and allow the fibre to become the yarn it wants to be. Of course, since I finished it, the weather's been beautiful - so no chance to wear it!
Aeonium was a great pattern to knit - much more straightforward than it looks, especially if you can get the hang of cabling without a cable needle. And Targhee is a delight to spin. It drafted like a dream, making it very easy to keep a consistent single. The striping was a complete happy accident - that's just how it came out - and I am really pleased with the results!

After that, I went to my first proper Guild meeting at Tynedale Guild in Stocksfield. While there, I began to spin up some Australian Extra Fine Merino in Molten, the March installment of David's Southern Cross Fibre Club. I'm not normally a "yellows" person, but this has jumped out at me, and ended up as 240 yards of roughly DK weight when spun up as a 3 ply.
I'll be going back to Guild regularly - a full day to sit and spin with other fibery people. Very welcoming, and this month coming is the Spinners' Gathering, so there will be Shopping as well!

Finally, I leave you with my latest WIP - another Southern Cross Fibre - this one is Polwarth/Bamboo Viscose in the colour Border Crossing. This is my first bobbin of singles, and the second is on its way. Just one more little wisp of fluff to go now. This is beautifully soft, with a shimmering sheen that my lack of photography skills didn't quite capture. But I love it, and will take more photos once it's plyed.
This week, I have bought some laceweight, and will be starting the GoddessKnits Anniversary Mystery KAL. This is a "choose your own adventure" shawl - so Renee publishes 4 charts each week, from which you choose one to knit. Choices... choices... there's a potential for 256 combinations by the time the last clue is published, so I may be a little time with this one...

Monday, 1 March 2010


Just over two weeks ago, I set out to enter the Ravelympics. I picked out my projects, which were to be a challenge for me to complete, wound the yarn, and got set. I had 4 projects to complete - a hat - Woolly Wormhead's Marina (I have never ever managed the stitch pattern used in the hat before), two pairs of Jorid Linvik's Cat Socks (I have never knit colourwork socks before) and Roro socks (never knit toe-up).
Full of enthusiasm, I managed the hat in one day:

It was a straightforward knit - Ruth's patterns always are.

I used Babylonglegs British Merino Aran, which was a dream to knit with.

The hat is knitted on straight needles, with short row shaping, and then finally, the last row is grafted to the cast on. Very very clever.

I already have Ruth's book on pre-order, and have another skein of Sarah's yarn ready to go. The hat I will be knitting is Medici, from Twisted Woolly Toppers, which is the March KAL on the Woolly Wormhead Ravelry Group.

So - onto the colourwork.

Count 'em - that's 2 pairs of socks!

The blue pair is for Jon, the pink pair for me. This was a fantastic pattern to knit - I love the details in this pattern - the fishbones and the paws.

I used Dalegarn Falk for this, which is a DK yarn. Despite this, and using 3mm needles, an old friend resurfaced about a week ago - I started to get a bit uncomfortable in the wrist, and even though I slowed down the knitting, I ended up back in the splint with pins and needles last week. Ah well.

Unfortunately, that meant that Roro were abandoned for now.

I'm still pretty pleased, though!

In pre-Ravelympics news, I completed another Woolly Wormhead hat on Valentine's day - this was Weekender, from Yarn Forward 22, and I used Jon's Natural Born Dyers Falkland Chunky yarn, colourway Ice (there is some in the shop!)

So - busy busy!

Friday, 26 February 2010

BBC - Killing the Music

So what do the following people have in common?
Phill Jupitus; Lauren Laverne; Jarvis Cocker; Russell Howard; Craig Charles; Bruce Dickinson; Andrew Collins; Liz Kershaw; Guy Garvey; Stuart Maconie; Jon Richardson; Huey Morgan; Marc Riley; Gideon Coe; Steve Lamacq?
They are all current or former presenters on 6Music, one of the BBC’s digital radio stations, and one, along with Asian Network, which the BBC is apparently planning on cutting in order to save some money, and prove that the license fee is value for money. Andrew Collins argues very well for it to be saved on his blog, Phill Jupitus has written an article for The Guardian explaining why it should be saved, Twitter has been a-Twitter all day with messages of outrage and support (how I first heard of the story), and even presenters from rival commercial stations are chipping in their support.
I listen to 6Music. With the lineup on a Sunday, it is my station of choice for the weekend. I am outside the target demographic for Radio 1 (and really do have trouble listening to it for a large amount of time, I am, I fear, turning into my parents) and as the country’s major publicly funded pop station, it plays popular music. Not necessarily great music, but then nor was the music I listened to when I was an avid Radio 1 listener, back when I did fit the demographic, despite being resolutely “alternative” in my preferred musical tastes. I am, according to the BBC’s latest report, within the demographic for Radio 2 (thank goodness – Radcliffe and Maconie – I AM allowed to listen to you), however, with the call for more content to appeal to the 50+ listener to be broadcast at peak hours, I am worried that I may miss out on the bits of Radio 2 I do enjoy. The target audience for Radio 2 is so wide, that there is going to be a minimum amount of programming which will be loved by each micro-demographic. For goodness’ sake Auntie – you can’t have a radio station which appeals to both me and my Dad – we’re close, but the defiant generation gap still remains! He was a Beatles fan, me Duran Duran – there’s a big difference in what appeals to us, so try to hit us both at once, and you are going to miss!
I’m not a classical music fan, so don’t “do” Radio 3, but strongly defend its right to exist. It is popular, and obviously hits the market it is aiming for.
Radio 4 – I’m not an Archers fan – but for the reason of that one programme alone, and its amazing fan base, you can’t take it away. Radio 4 provides a mix of programmes which can’t be found anywhere else. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave of broadcasting – take it away, and we lose something from our nation.
5 Live – Ah. Yes. The one thing my Dad and I do agree on when it comes to broadcasting – the BBC do news and sports commentary like nowhere else in the world. Long may you thrive and continue (waves to Victoria Derbyshire who was a couple of years ahead of her in school).
5 Live Sports Extra. Take my Aggers and Blowers away, and You Will Know About It Auntie.
6 Music – My musical home. Classic alternative songs, and cracking new bands. 6 Music has put me back in touch with pop and rock. It is daring, it is different, it inspires a passion in its presenters. It represents the spiritual home for punk/indie/new wave/Britpop and all the other names that have been given to a gang of mates in a garage, or a back bedroom with a couple of guitars and a Passion. Classic archives, John Peel sessions, new music, old favourites that nowhere else plays. I challenge the detractors to listen to Huey Morgan, who has the most chilled, eclectic, Sunday afternoon show I have heard – or Guy Garvey, who lulls me into relaxation on a Sunday evening – playing scratchy old swing and jazz tracks up against Joan as Policewoman, and loving them all.
1Xtra – Not my cup of tea, and too much crossover with Radio 1 for my taste, but if it is your cup of tea, then good for you. I can’t really comment on it, as it has never appealed to me – but diversity and a place for it should be what it’s all about – keep it on air, and keep it loud!
Asian Network – never really listened, but the only national radio station which caters for this demographic – so something unique that would probably not be commercially viable – public service broadcasting – is this not the BBC’s raison d’etre?
Radio 7 – Dr Who and Torchwood plays; book adaptations; classic comedy – well worth a dip.
So the BBC covers a large audience – why then is it intent on cherry picking out the 6Music audience, and abandoning is to the Mammon of Commercial Broadcasting? Not many people have heard of it – not surprising when not many people have made the full switch to Digital – many listen to the radio in their car (hence the ratings for breakfast and drive time shows) – the car hasn’t got DAB – so there’s a potential large audience who can’t get the radio station – once we go 100% Digital, then maybe more people will happen across the digital stations. Ever heard of Marketing, Auntie? If only 20% of the population have heard of the product, however of those who listen, the vast majority are loyal and enthusiastic, maybe it is less to do with the station and more to do with the organisation?
I wonder where the duplication is with Asian Network and 6Music commercially. There is a little overlap with 6Music and Radio 2, however if the recent report is implemented, and the Radio 2 offering does become aimed more at the over 50s, where do my generation go? You know, the generation who peaked the sale of the single? The generation who grew up with Punk, New Wave, 2Tone, and so on? The Factory Generation, the Smiths Generation – possibly the most productive and creative musical generation there has yet been (not to say that there’s been nothing good since the 80s – just that there seemed to be a vast explosion of originality and “diy music” throughout that time – and now anyone who is any good has to beat the talent show tie in to get heard – anywhere but 6Music, that is).
I pay my license fee – and the BBC I use the most is the website (oops – I hear half of that’s disappearing as well) and 6Music. Why should I pay a tax to provide others with tailored content, when I cannot find the content I require anywhere else? Commercial Radio largely caters for the over 50s and the under 30s in terms of the musical programming – but not necessarily for the people I know in their 30s and 40s – ever heard a “Gold” station play The Buzzcocks or Hendrix, or a chart station play anything which hasn’t yet charted? Surely the fact that it was largely the 6Music type of audience who was ready willing and able to usurp the Cowell-dictatorship of the charts this Christmas should show the BBC the potential for the alternative market that is out there? Good music which is not necessarily commercially successful, can only become commercially successful via airplay and exposure, something there is precious little of outside of “alternative” sources such as 6Music.
Just ask yourself. When you think of “Geraldine” in association with music, who do you think of? Your Glasvegas Social Worker, or Peter Kay? And who would you rather think of in the future? Lose 6Music, and we risk being told which anodyne music to listen to by Simon Cowell… God Help the lot of us.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Natural Born Dyers... is born!

For the past few months, my beloved OH has been working away with yarns, fibres and natural dyes. Today, he has finally taken the plunge, and has launched his website and his Etsy shop.
There are yarns and fibres - chunky yarns, sock yarn, laceweight and some Falkland batts. All have been naturally dyed using either homegrown, locally collected, or purchased dried natural dyestuffs (there is more info on the website).
Please pop over and pay him a visit - we're excited about this, and I'd love for him to make a success of this!