Where does time go? Woolfest recap at last

I cannot believe it has been two full weeks since I went to Woolfest. I feel like I spent a few hours at Woolfest in the middle of holidays with my family, finished said holidays a couple days after, came back home, did a few random things that “don’t take long”, and it’s already today. How did this happen?

Walking in the sheep field...  ©Aurelie Colas

Walking in the sheep field…
Photo ©Aurelie Colas

We spent a few days in the Northern part of the Lake District, where we had never been. The Man, Little Man, Little Miss and I (and silly doggy too) enjoyed some short walks along the rivers and lakes. The weather was so-so (apparently, it was a lot more summer-y at home, boooo), but it was fair enough.

Aira Force Waterfals, near Ullswater  ©Aurelie Colas

Aira Force Waterfalls, near Ullswater
Photo ©Aurelie Colas

On Saturday, we headed to Cockermouth. The sun was shining, the sky was so blue… Almost a shame to go indoors!

On entering the festival, we could see the inspiring exhibition, with wool felt and fabric. First, this awesome portrait by Gill Curwen (see more of her work here):

Herdwick portrait made out of wool, by Gill Curwen - Photo ©Aurelie Colas

Herdwick portrait made out of wool, by Gill Curwen – Photo ©Aurelie Colas

Those amazing coats and jackets were sticking:

WoolClip Exhibition Photo ©Aurelie Colas

As per the Little Man’s request, we headed straight to the sheep pens to admire the many breeds. His favourite were each littlest sheep from the last pen we had just past. After a very welcome lunch in the marquee, we went for more sheep sighting…

(Janice, look, there are your sheep… they were a bit camera shy, sorry)

We bumped into a friend from Edinburgh. We also saw a few cashmere goats, we briefly spotted the alpacas through the crowd, and went to see the angora bunnies… and then I tried to do some yarn and fibre chase. It can be a little stressful to shop with little people. Definitely makes browsing a luxury. Luckily, The Man offered to take care of the Little Man so I had 30-45 minutes of “free-time” (with Little Miss) to do my shopping. This is when I did the most “damage”. Apparently, I don’t do well under pressure with a shopping-list in hand.

Sock yarn - Indigo dyed by The Border Tart

Sock yarn – Indigo dyed by The Border Tart

So, I bought my first skein of yarn from The Border Tart, along with two lovely sets of buttons which I forgot to photograph (you will see some of them shortly though as they have been used already…). It is a subtle denim blue. I like that no two skeins are the same, but yet all died with the same method: indigo. I spent a few minutes trying to find the right shade of blue to match what I had in mind. I think I found it!

Silk Hankies from HilltopCloud

Silk Hankies from HilltopCloud

I knew I wanted to buy something from the always inviting HilltopCloud shop, but definitely not needed anymore fibre given my spinning rate. So I bought some silk hankies which I am hoping to knit from directly. I dithered a long time over the colours, and ended up with the first one that grabbed my attention.

RipplesCrafts Na Dannsairean 4ply in Copper Beech

RipplesCrafts Na Dannsairean 4ply in Copper Beech

Then I had the pleasure to have a quick chat with Helen, from RipplesCrafts. Again, I knew I wanted to get something from her (as I always do), but didn’t need anything really. I kept on coming back to a skein of Na Dannsairean 4ply in the amazing Copper Beech colourway. Helen is discontinuing this base sadly, and despite my resolution of not buying discontinued yarn (so I can design with it), the colour was just calling me, and I couldn’t resist. So much for the self control… but, isn’t it gorgeous?

Disclaimer: I take no responsibilities for the next purchases. I totally blame Louise (and Jo too for the Lyonesse) for having been so weak in that stall. They weren’t with me in person to place all the pretty balls of British yarn in my grabby hands, but it was just like they were :)

One of the stalls that was on my to-buy-from list was Blacker Yarns, and this is where my resolutions of not buying too much yarn went through the window. I wanted to look at the colours of the new Lyonesse 4ply in person (an interesting wool/linen blend), to check if the “green” was the right green for what I had in mind. I also wanted to have a feel of their Swan Falkland yarn. Weeeeell…. I might have succumbed to a few more balls than what was on my shopping list. The clock was ticking and I was to meet up The Man and Little Man for the sheep shearing demonstration a few minutes after. I lost all self-control, and ended up with a bag full of sheepy loveliness.

 

So… here is what I brought home (along with some sheepy postcards from the Wool Clip, and lovely buttons from The Border Tart). I’ve been naughty, haven’t I? Also… I wonder if I’m in a green/blue phase just now…

Oops...

Oops…

And then came the sheep shearing demonstration. It was a great experience, and I strongly recommend it. The (female!) shearer was very interesting to listen to, and it was very impressive to watch her shear the few sheep, while she took the time to walk us through what she was doing, explaining the differences between the breeds she was demo-ing with, etc.

Talented Cathy Cassie explaining her job as a shearer Photo ©Aurelie Colas

Talented Cathy Cassie explaining her job as a shearer. First sheep is a Herdwick hogg (first clip).
Photo ©Aurelie Colas

She started with three Herdwick hoggs. Seeing their black / dark grey skein / undercoat appear as she shears them is great.

Then she clipped a couple Shetland sheep (with hand shears). One of the fleeces was quickly auctioned, and I was really tempted to bid, but realistically, I don’t have the time to wash, card and spin a little fleece (not to mention I lack the experience too).

Finally, she shore two gorgeous Bluefaced Leicester. And there too, a fleece was auctioned. It was really really interesting, and I am really glad I could attend all of this with Little Man (and Little Miss too, but she is too young to understand), and use it as a chance to chat about how the wool grows, and to discuss once again where fibre and clothes come from, etc.

Circle of Stones, near Thelkeld Photo ©Aurelie Colas

Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Thelkeld
Photo ©Aurelie Colas

And then, we left Woolfest, and I gently walked the dog around the Castlerigg stone circle while the children were sleeping in the car, looked after by The Man. Lake District is a definitely nice place to walk and dream, and a great place to learn more about sheep and wool.

The sheep have a lovely view in Lake District Photo ©Aurelie Colas

The sheep have a lovely view in Lake District
Photo ©Aurelie Colas

 

Hobby Horse for Little Knights ©Aurelie Colas

Hobby Horse for Little Knights
©Aurelie Colas

Since being back home, like I wrote, I did a couple things. One of these was self-publishing the pattern for a quirky design which I like very much. I am proud to present  Hobby Horse for Little Knights (and Princesses too, if you prefer), with a cute face, removable bridle and complete with instructions on how to make the stick body too.

(Pattern is available for purchase both on Ravelry and on LoveKnitting.)

 

Apart from that, I have worked on a few other things here and there. I hope I can tell you more about these soon… Stay tuned :)

 

Happy knitting,
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

 

Posted in British Yarn, Community, Design, Travel, Woolfest, Yarn | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sharing the love for spinning

It is this time of year when my spinning wheel calls my name again and again. I have not responded much to it, but I am dying to sit in front of it and admire the magical process of transforming some fluff into yarn.

While I was (and still am) struggling to find some time to devote to spinning regularly, I jumped at the opportunity to share a little bit of spinning with fifteen or so very special people: I did a little talk and demo to a group of under-4s. It was a very interesting challenge to keep up their interest while sharing some knowledge with them. Speaking in front of little people is great fun, but yes… challenging.

Miranda - by Janice Anderson

Miranda – by Janice Anderson

I had brought a few samples and objects with me: raw (cleaned) locks of wool, two huge squishy batts of prepared fibre, some handspun yarn, a hand knit stuffed sheep (Miranda the Masham Sheep – designed by Janice), a drop spindle and my spinning wheel. Obviously, their interest was drawn to the wheel, but we started by a little chat about wool: where it comes from (Miranda!); what colour sheep are (no, not just white, and they knew that!), what we can use yarn for (knitting?), and to knit what, etc. The children got to squish the wool, look at the locks, smell the batts. It was really lovely to see their faces and listen to their chatter.

I had flicked a few locks of wool to show how fibre can be pulled apart, and ‘glued’ back together. And how adding a little bit of twist made it strong enough that it couldn’t be pulled apart. Magic!

And so, we discussed the wheel. I certainly didn’t expect them to understand how the flyer and bobbin work, but we discussed about how the pedal/treadle makes the big wheel turn, and how the big wheel makes the little wheel turn. And obviously, safety rules: do not put little fingers under the treadle, or don’t try to touch the flyer when it turns… And when I sat at the wheel and did a little demo, transforming a white cloud of wool into yarn, their excitement was priceless.

As they were getting restless (20 minutes is quite long at this age…), I quickly made an Andean bracelet with what I had spun, and quickly plied it, wrapped around my forearm and made a mini-skein for them to add to their class folder, along with some fibre. Hopefully, a few of them will remember some of the process, and some of the magic, and… who knows, maybe they will want to spin some day?

Gotland Sheep

Gotland Sheep

Since then, I spun (part of) one of the batts I took to the demo. And I learned a lesson: never ever leave Gotland fibre to rest: spin it right away. I had read that Gotland can felt just like that, even in gentle storage with no movement whatsoever, and I didn’t quite believe it. Well, now, I do. The outer layer of the batt had felted slightly and was not suitable for spinning. I have saved it for now and will try to felt it more and turn it into something (a bag maybe? not sure).

No matter our age, it’s all about learning, right?

 

Woolly yours,
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

 

PS: Speaking about sheep, fibre and all the good things, Woolfest is coming soon and I will be there! If you are heading that way too and want to meet up, please drop me a line and we can arrange something. I will be there on Saturday. Less than a week to go now… (bounce bounce bounce)

Posted in Child, Community, Spinning, Toddler, Woolfest | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Making progress…..

Firstly, I would like to say ‘thank you’ for the encouraging comments received after my last post. Wearing my New Years resolution ‘hat’ has certainly provided new enthusiasm for jobs and tasks which have been idle for way too long. Unfortunately, you may notice (by my minimal contributions), this work ethic has yet to extend to my participation in The (Auld) Woolly Alliance blog and Ravelry group. Thank goodness for the lovely Aurelie, who despite her hands being ever full, keeps everything going regardless.

Today I have returned with a wee update and once again I must say how good it feels to be on this path, I would encourage you all to try it if you can.

Roseberry by Ann Kingstone

Roseberry by Ann Kingstone

My progress in the last month has been very satisfying. In the knitting department I have finished ‘Roseberry’, intended as a 1st birthday gift for a certain ‘little lady’, who at this tender age (Judging by Aurelie’s stories) is already on the way to achieving notoriety. Not,  one would imagine, as the world’s youngest knitter but by becoming a baby version of Alain Robert, the French ‘Spiderman’!

Roseberry started life as Escape which I began knitting 5 or so years ago, when I was…. thinner! On resurrecting this WIP I realised my current body would not allow access to this lovely Louisa Harding design. Nor had I purchased enough yarn to make a larger size. A little frogging was required…and ‘little M’ became the new beneficiary of Roseberry by Anne Kingstone.

 

Next on the wip list was a project started just over 2 years ago when a past Rowan colleague began a ‘Square a Week’ crochet challenge on her blog, Made with Loops. Needless to say, life got in the way and after only three weeks my squares were stuffed in a bag and forgotten…until now! Sorry Heike! I have named my cushion after you as a mark of respect.

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My daughter loves her new cushion…..Do you remember that trunk from the previous post?

My proudest accomplishment since starting this journey has to be my latest cushion. In 1988 my husband bought me a Kaffe Fasset tapestry kit for our first wedding anniversary.  I completed the tapestry in 1998, had it stretched in 2008 and have finally completed the cushion in April 2015. Thank goodness it is a ‘timeless’ design!

Kaffe Fasset Cushion born 1988

Kaffe Fasset Cushion born 1988

When I began writing this post (I am slow at this too!), I was proud to say that I had now reached a point where the only WIP’s left were ‘promises’, i.e. projects which I had listed on my Ravelry page but had not actually cast on. The first, Aurelie’s beautiful Grillage socks and the second Lush from Tin Can Knits.

Despite the photo the socks are almost complete, I just need my mum’s dainty wee feet to model them. The Whippety household has only Hobbit feet available for photography.

Mindless knitting

Mindless knitting

Can you believe I am finally in control of my knitting? Two projects on the needles and only one long-term knit (To pick up when only mindless knitting is possible). My detox is complete!

A few weeks ago I found this little ditty on Facebook. It was so relevant I had to share it with you as it made me laugh so much. And, we do need to laugh more, right?

I am passing this on as it worked for me today. A doctor on TV said that in order to have inner peace in our lives, we should always finish things that we started.

Since we could all use more calm in our lives I looked around our house to find things I had started but not finished. I finished a bottle of Merlot and a bottle of Chardonnay, a boodle of Bailey’s and a budle of wum, the mainder of Valiuminum scriptions, and a box of choclutz. You huz no idr how fablus i feelz rite now. Sned this to all yur frenz who nids inner piss and tell um i luv um.

P.S. For those of you interested in DIY progress. The ‘door’ is restored and back in place, the ‘trunk’ has a loving new home and is beginning a new career, as a handbag holder! My skills in wallpaper removal have returned with vengeance and in the process I found this tiny piece of original wallpaper, 100+ years old! (I would like to note here that the glue used in the early 20th century, I think from horse hooves, was much, much, MUCH stronger than today’s wallpaper paste!)

Amazingly, the colour has been completely preserved in time. With a little (Or, perhaps quite a lot) of imagination……One can see this room would have made quite a statement in Volcano Red.

Meanwhile, I am off to see if I have anything else lying around that requires finishing….Chink, chink….See yuz all agin vary snoon, botumz up! x

Posted in Baby, Crochet, DIY, Gift, Knitting, Socks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

With Gratitude

It has been over a month since I last posted on the blog. This post would have been a very fitting entry for the Playful Day challenge, since the theme for the last week of April was ‘Gratitude’. Let’s say it is a belated contribution…

I have had the opportunity to reflect on a few things recently, and I have been focusing on things I am grateful for. What best way to reflect and ponder than to sit and spin and let the fluffy clouds transform into orderly yarn by the magic of twisting and drafting? After many months of inaction, I re-installed my little trusty wheel in front of the window facing the garden. I sat in front of it, with a lovely braid of fibre generously sent to me from across the pond. The fibre was new-to-me (100% Falkland), the colours were exactly all the colours that make my heart sing. And it was a pleasure to spin.

‘With Gratitude’ is the name I gave to this skein of yarn: it may not be technically faultless, but its unevenness is character to me. With a bit of kindness, it is a perfect squishy skein.

 

Remember the Daffodils ©Aurelie Colas 2015 Photo ©Jenny Rose Photography

Remember the Daffodils
©Aurelie Colas 2015
Photo ©Jenny Rose Photography

Speaking of kindness…

For the second time, I have been able to make a donation to Aberdeen SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society), on behalf of knitters around the world who have kindly purchased a copy of Petit Prince and Little Star, or of Remember the Daffodils (or the associated ebook) in the past year. Thanks to all of you, £27 have been raised and donated to help create and maintain a lovely Baby Memorial Garden, located on the grounds of Hazlehead Cemetery in Aberdeen, in the “baby corner”. This little garden provides a place to sit and remember, and brings a little bit of peace to bereaved families.

Many many thanks,
Aurelie/spinnygonzalez PS: For more information about SANDS, and in particular SANDS Aberdeen, their website can be found here.

Posted in Community, General, Spinning | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

It all started because of Granma … and muffins too

A Playful DayFollowing the first blog post on the ‘Love your Blog’ Challenge, I would like to thank you all who stopped by, and a huge thank you to those who left a comment, or subscribed.

The second theme for the Playful Day ‘Love your Blog’ Challenge has been revealed earlier last week (‘Beginnings’), and I’ve been pondering what to write for days. This post was all written in my head on Friday, with the outline jotted down on good ol’ paper, but I struggled to write it down on the computer for some reason. Maybe because it is this time of the year that is very sad, and marks that another year has passed since my Little Star was born. Maybe also because it was my granny’s birthday, and I miss her too.

It may not be the most cheerful post, so if you feel down, you may prefer to read Janice’s post from a few days ago on DIY and knitting if you haven’t already. That one has inspiring picture pictures, and happiness thrown in.

 

Like many knitters, I owe my first contact with yarn and needles to my grand-mother. She would cast on twenty stitches or so, knit a few rows in garter stitch, show me once again how to work the knit stitch, and let me have a play for a few minutes while she knits a few rows on her project. At the time (I was 7-8 maybe), she was not knitting much, and I only remember of one project: something (a small jumper?) in light blue yarn. I remember I tried knitting on these few stitches a handful times at most. I had the great plan of making a scarf for my teddy. Poor teddy never received it.

Fast forward 10 years, and my grandparents passed away a few weeks from each other. When it was time to empty their house, mum asked me what I would like to keep from granny. I replied: the sewing box, and the sewing machine. Now and again, I would help her carry the (very heavy) sewing machine from the cupboard in the hallway, and bring it to the kitchen where she would sew something, usually per my request. Last thing I remember was when she helped me sew together a canopy and bed sheet for the doll rocking bed I engineered for my little sister. I did the woodwork, painting, etc. Granny helped me with the ‘soft furnishing': pillow, mattress, sheet and canopy. Anyway, the knitting needles and yarn (which all fitted in one tall round box) were donated (I suppose), as we knew no one who knitted anymore.

Fast forward another few years, and I settled in Scotland with The Man, who had already moved there several months before. I was supposed to just stay a few weeks before heading to Dublin for a PhD. I was tired of the unsettled student life, and decided to quit the fully funded PhD and my chances to dive in the exciting world of epigenetics. And I started to search for a job, in a city that had nothing to offer in the field of bioinformatics. The Man was working a lot. We had no Internet, no phone, no TV in the flat. So when the Internet cafe was shut, I would still spend many hours alone at home before The Man would be back from work. So I was baking. We both love food and hand-bakes, so I baked. A few days (weeks?) passed of me searching for a job during daytime, and cooking and baking afterwards…

And one day, I realised that there was no way The Man and I would eat the 75 muffins I had baked the day before. And we knew no one in the city yet. Really, for our own good, I had better find another hobby… The next morning, I woke up with the feeling of a motion that my hands and arms were doing. It took me a few minutes to understand that this motion was that of me mimicking the ‘needle in, yarn round, bring the stitch out’ motion. It was like a shock: I remembered how to do the knit stitch.

knittersbibleThat day, I went to the only bookstore I knew of, discovered their craft section, and bought my first knitting book: The Knitter’s Bible by Claire Crompton. I also bought three balls of yarn (I knew nothing about yarn, so yes, it was acrylic) and needles to knit my sister a striped scarf. The book had clear illustrations which helped me figure out how to cast on and purl. And it all started from there. The scarf looked like a scarf, but I wouldn’t be offended if my sister never wore it.

Speaking about cast on… Have you ever noticed that, when teaching someone to knit, it is quite common that one would cast on and knit a few rows for the ‘apprentice’ to directly start with the knitting. Basically, we often don’t start with the beginning: casting on.

 

I wanted to tell you about cast on, but it is bringing me tears. So we will stop for now. One day maybe, I will tell you about the only time I twisted the cast on when joining in the round. It was for a blanket. A very special one. If I believed in some sort of voodoo, I would question whether failing the cast on had cast a bad spell on the recipient… Yes, better stop now.

 

Before I go, I thought I’d give you a little update on the fundraising for SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society), a charity which provides support for bereaved families after the loss of their baby. For every purchase of Remember the Daffodils, or Petit Prince and Little Star socks, and for every purchase of the Castle Fraser eBook (from the moment Remember the Daffodils was published), I donate £1.00 to SANDS Aberdeen. I make the donation at the end of April. Last year, I donated £50.00 on behalf of knitters all over the world.

At this point, I have collected £13.00 to donate for this year (from May 2014 to now). If you are interested in any of these designs, to purchase for yourself, or as a gift, please consider making a purchase. From today until the end of the month, I will donate £2.00 for every copy bought or bought as a gift. Thank you.

 

Woolly yours,
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

 

 

Posted in Community, Knitting | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

A kind of ‘Spring Clean’ feeling.

I made a promise back in January to keep you all posted of my progress during this ‘sabatical’ period in my life. Almost 3 months has passed and my initial estimation of six months off work is starting to look like an under estimate…..No surprise there.…If you know me well x

Brucie

Brucie

Despite my desperate lack of time management skills, I am rather pleased with my progress so far. There is not one single thing startling, inspirational or brilliant about any of my achievements, but on a personal level, my head is much clearer having reached this point. I have finally completed many tasks which I have procrastinated over for far too long. Let me fill you in with the details.

 

Swedish Heritage

Swedish Heritage

First there was my New Year resolution of completing all WIP’s before casting on anything new. I am proud to admit that I have dedicated all of my knit time to this task. It has rewarded my soul.

I began this ‘finishing’ journey with 2 pairs of socks, Brucie and Swedish Heritage, both of which had been on my needles from between 12 – 24 months! (Technically both projects were finished in 2014. However, I am so pleased I am cheating!).

Next off my needles was Tinker Headband, followed quickly by Flying Dutchman and Star Illusion cowl. Yeehaw!!

February arrived and my eldest was delighted to receive Cosy Cabled Slouchy Socks after a two-year wait! (Did I ever speak of my second sock syndrome?)

Cosy Cabled Slouchy Socks

Cosy Cabled Slouchy Socks

By mid February my gift box (new for 2015) had accepted Meredith Mix Up as well as Stash Enhancing Festival Bag. (A test crochet….I am cheating again!).

March produced Log Cabin Cushion, ‘Bunting’ (a further crochet test) and an eco-friendly cushion upcycled from an old sweater which was felted by mistake…..about 5 years ago!

I now have only five WIP’s to complete.  One is blocking as we speak, one needs thought and possibly a little help, one is a ‘pick me up when I need something mindless’ project and the other two are ….well….in the early stages :-)  I honestly cannot remember a time when I last  devoted all of my knit time to personal projects (Likely pre-children) and what fun I have had! I feel cleansed! A kind of ‘Spring Clean’ feeling.

DIY

DIY

During this cleansing time my DIY skills have also been reawakened.

We have finally succeeded in stopping water penetration to one gable end wall of our home. (Touch wood, fingers and everything else crossed too!) This has allowed us to ‘finally’ redecorate 2 rooms. My son’s room (Who has now left home so this room is really a shrine!) and my youngest daughter’s room (Who is still home……hopefully for as long as possible..x). Over the coming months we hope to complete all four rooms adjoining this newly sealed wall. Although, each time it rains I still hold my breath, nervously waiting and searching for damp patches on my newly painted walls.…..

My next DIY task is mountainous, involving cracked cornice, damp plaster board, fireplace removal, re-upholstery and paint stripping. My sanity will of course be saved by the continuation of my knit, cleanse, finishing resolution. Wish me luck, I am sure to need it!

 

 

Posted in Christmas, Crochet, Design, DIY, Festival, General, Gift, Knitting, Ravelry, Uncategorized, Workshop, Yarn | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Of community, and a sock club update

 

For information about the Knitting Goddess Sock Club, how to get the next instalment, or when to get the past ones, scroll down to the drawing and pictures of socks. For joining me on a journey of deep (and not so deep) thoughts on community, you might want to pause now, and grab a large cup of your favourite beverage and, again, take the comfiest seat, for it might be another long one…

 

A Playful DayIt all started because of Kate, of A Playful Day blog (and podcast). She put together this Love your Blog Challenge for April, with a weekly theme to write about. I had been thinking about my next post for a while without finding something really interesting to write about, so when I read about this challenge, I thought ‘why not?’. The theme for this week is ‘Interactions and community’, and it got me thinking…

Community is a word I learned to re-learn the meaning of upon leaving France. Where I grew up, ‘community’ seemed to be a pejorative word, which was often spitted out with disgust. And it was always associated to religions, immigration (not especially recent one), wealth/poverty… Being atheist, and with not enough blood of one ‘group’ in my veins, I didn’t belong to any of these ‘communities’ often pointed at. And somehow, I was lucky, because I don’t think I had ever heard the word ever mentioned with a positive vibe. I know that grumpiness and criticism often apply to my compatriots, but still…

Imagine my surprise when, during a 3-months stay in the US, I discovered an entirely new meaning to ‘community’. Suddenly, communities were a good thing, people were proud of them. They covered lots of topics, from religion to sport, craft, about the local area, etc. And it was all about sharing, discovering, supporting…, within and beyond the community. There was a strong sense of belonging which was new to me. It boggled my mind.

Fast forward a few years, and I am living in Scotland, took up knitting, joined a knitting group for a while, met knitting friends, discovered Ravelry, started designing… I can now say that I belong to two communities: my local community (the ‘village’), and the knitting community for which I have a strong feeling a belonging. I wrote in the past (here in particular) about the knitting community, and how wonderful it is, for it enabled me to meet some lovely people, either in real life or online, and I received the most unexpected support in the saddest times.

However, the prompt for the Love your Blog Challenge made me question on this sense of belonging, and on the reasons why I feel so strongly about it. Maybe the feeling of being with like-minded people?

Everyone who belongs to the knitting community already have lots of things in common: an appreciation for the time and skills involved in making things, an interest for fibre, etc. Admittedly, we don’t all share the same passion for the crafts: some knit, some crochet, some weave, some spin, some do all of that or only a subset. We are not all eager to study the properties of different fibres, the sheep breeds, the fabric characteristics, knitting techniques, or the properties of knitted fabric under different constraints. But somehow, the common base of things we share transcends the differences, and despite these differences, we can all talk to each other and appreciate each other’s work. And beyond that, our differences enable us to exchange, discuss, share, and grow our knowledge or understanding of the fibre world.

Taking the example of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which happened just a couple weeks ago, the knitting community is like a busy beehive, with shared interests. Have you ever been to a wedding only to find you sitting at a table where you don’t know anyone? Chances are that you don’t have anything in common, and after the usual discussion on ‘how you met the bride/groom’ and on the weather, you soon find yourself surrounded in an annoying silence or meaningless discussions. On the other hand, if you have ever been to a fibre event, and stopped for a coffee/quick lunch, sat at any table, chances are really high that you can have an interesting chat with your neighbours despite not knowing them the minute before. Because you share at least one thing in common: yarn, wool, knitting, fibre! Next time I am invited to a wedding, I may look for a yarn festival to attend instead :)

Beyond ‘simple’ chatter, I have found the knitting (and designing) community to be a wealth of information, where people would share their knowledge generously, or engage in discussions bringing arguments in an attempt to move forward, and not to defend their point no matter what. I never cease to learn about knitting, its history, technique, physics, about business, design, teaching, graphics, trends, colours, etc. Of course, I am not completely naive (although…) and it doesn’t always happen like this, but generally speaking, I think the knitting community is a nice place to be.

While I have no doubt about what I get from the community, I often question what I can bring to it. Obviously, the knitting community has been doing well without me, and would do well without me… Yet, I think I can have a little role, if only to give back some of what I received. Teaching, and sharing what I have learned, read, tried, or ‘unvented’ is an important part of what I want to give back. Like I discussed in a previous post, this is one of the reasons I add interesting techniques to my designs. Of course, I try to convert friends and random people to knitting, and also share about knitting and spinning with children. Another of my little ‘hobby horse’ is to try to convince non-knitters of the value of knitting, and of wool. That is one epic battle… but an interesting one!

Let me tell you about another gem from the knitting or fibre community: the ability to empower, to enthuse, and to inspire. So many times, I have heard or read people encouraging each other to try new techniques, push boundaries (first steek anyone?). So many times, I have felt inspired by a text, photos, work, something shared by a fellow knitter. And what about those discussions which end up looking like a brainstorming session… like this one day I shared on Twitter about me seeing/guessing a lace pattern in the pureed carrot spitted out by Little Miss, and the discussion ended up as a list of names and themes for shawls inspired by baby food (!). Quite likely, these will not happen, but the sharing of enthusiasm and inspiration was great.

Finally, one of the most precious things I have received from quite a few people in the community is the confidence that I am a competent knitting designer, and I will try to not disappoint.

 

Woolly yours,
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

 


 

British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club 2015

British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club 2015

Speaking of designs, and of pushing boundaries and feeling empowered, here is an update on the Knitting Goddess Sock Club:

For those who haven’t joined yet but would like to, the sign-up for the May instalment will close tomorrow March 31st. So if you’re interested, hop over now to Joy’s website and sign up. Last time I checked, there were a few spots still available.

Finally, I am happy to announce that the first design in the Great British Inventors and Scientists Sock Club, the railway- and steam engine- inspired All Aboard! Puff Puff Puff… socks, will be available for sale on 2nd April 2015.

All Aboard - Puff Puff Puff... ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Puff Puff Puff… ©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

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