Hello 2016!

A decision made in January 2015 matures for 12 months………with unexpected results!

February 2015 was the second month of my 6 month sabbatical and I had high hopes of what could be achieved.

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Very soon 6 months became 9, when life (as often happens) threw a few spanners in the works.

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Throughout my working life I have been lucky enough to be a ‘stay at home’ mum. My hubby has had constant employment which allowed the juggling of part-time work that suited us both and meant I could always be around for the kids.

The Famous Five

The Famous Five

In the blink of an eye my ‘babies’ have become 25, 23 and 19 years. The toddler tears, tantrums, fun and laughter are treasured memories. It is so very hard to watch them go but the joy and pride that comes from watching who they become without you is awesome!!

In the last Woolly Alliance post Aurelie spoke of her struggle to gain a work/life balance in 2015, and her desire to fare better in 2016. Personally, this past year has been one of contemplation, hard work and realisation. The last 12 months have taught me many lessons. The most important of which is embracing the knowledge that many of my loved ones still need my help more than I need to earn money.  And, (for now at least) I am lucky enough to be in a position that allows me to do this.

So, my friends, Colin may take a little longer to embark on his next adventure but I promise it will be worth the wait!

Hurrah for 2016….I predict a good year ahead!

Posted in General, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Apologies and Resolutions

Dear all,

As always, time flies much faster than expected. It is almost the end of January already and I have no idea where the last two months went.

I am not too sure how universal it is, but in France, we have until the end of January to wish for a happy New Year. So, I’m not late (yet) for this, and I would like to wish you all a very happy and very woolly New Year, filled with exciting things and crafting successes.

Marischal College, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Marischal College, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Also, I owe an apology to those of you who are still waiting on the last sock design in the British Inventors and Scientists eBook. I am sincerely sorry for this. I have not forgotten about it and it is at the top of my to-design list, but it is still a work in progress sadly. The short explanation is that I need to get more organised and take on fewer challenges. The longer explanation is that I was well on my way to get it completed on time when I got frustrated by some sizing issues, had to rip part of it, and go back to the drawing board, charting tools and spreadsheets, and then other must-do-right-now things came up and I got overwhelmed. And apparently, I had also forgotten that Christmas and New Year are not particularly conducive to efficient working time. Anyway, I am really sorry about this delay and will do my best to get this design completed soon. In the meantime, here is a photo of the Marischal College which I took in November: it is one of the inspirations behind this 6th design. Yes, it is about a British Scientist or Inventor.

New Year is also synonymous of resolutions for many. I have heard (and read) lots of people decide on a theme for the year instead of specific resolutions. I like this idea, and have decided to give it a go. 2015 has been an interesting year, if a little chaotic and extremely busy. I have worked on many more designs last year than I ever did, and, while it was great to turn many ideas into actual designs, it was also quite stressful because most of my designing time is at night time. And apparently, sleep cannot be cut into forever. So, let’s put on some big girl pants and aim for more balance in 2016. It may result in fewer designs published this year, but hopefully it will be better for everyone.

In the meantime, I wish you all a happy end of January. Have you made some resolutions? Or have you decided on a theme for 2016?

 

Happy crafting,

Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

Posted in Design, General, Sock Club | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gift-Along 2015: Little People’s wardrobes

Two weeks into the Indie Design Gift-Along * event, the chatter has slowed down only marginally as everyone is busy knitting and crocheting away on their many projects. At this time, there are over 650 projects have been completed by the many participants. And watching all the pretty project adds seriously to my to-knit list. I have also officially entered the “I-want-to-knit-all-the-things” mode.

Anyway, I promised you some Eye Candy related to the Gift-Along, so let me start with my main focus at the moment: replenishing the Little People’s wardrobes. There are so many cute things designed by talented designers out there that it is hard to resist. Besides, Little Man is outgrowing his favourite jumpers, and Little Miss could do with another couple more…

Quickly purchased and currently on my needles is Fold, by Wondrlanding. I love the modern look of this little dress, the oversized collar with the extra ‘fold’ all over the front and over the collar. I look very much forward to finishing it and seeing Litte Miss in it. I have picked a soft merino, Bordeaux-ish colour, from very deep stash. I like the yarn a lot, and the solid colour shouldn’t distract from the folds.

Fold by Wondrlanding (© Wondrlanding)

 

Belle Isle, by Heidi Atwood-Reeves is another one that fell into my shopping basket. I am thinking of knitting it with some 100% Bamboo soft yarn I have in stash for added drape. I would need to swatch first… This one will likely jump on the needles when spring eventually comes.

Belle Isle by Heidi Atwood-Reeves (Photography © Heidi Atwood-Reeves)

Little Miss is already the lucky recipient of a cute Roseberry, by Ann Kingstone (also a Gift-Along participant), knit by Janice. The long coat with the deep hood is roomy, adorable and very cosy and lovely. So in theory, she doesn’t need another knit jacket until she outgrows this one.

Roseberry by Ann Kingstone (Photography © Verity Britton)

However, how can one resist the cuteness of the Baby + Toddler Tiered Coat (by Lisa Chemery)? Last year, I eyed this pattern quite a lot, but it didn’t quite fall into my basket. This year, I couldn’t resist any longer. This one may jump soon on the needles, if the yarn I’m thinking of using works with the pattern.

Baby + Toddler Tiered Coat by Lisa Chemery (Photography © Lisa Chemery)

 

For the Little Man, I haven’t decided quite yet what garment I would like to knit. I have just finished a jumper for him (not a Gift-Along eligible pattern), so it should leave me a little time to decide what to knit next. However, the Abate (by Alicia Plummer) I knit for him last year for the Gift-Along has probably been his most favourite jumper all year, so I am thinking of knitting him another one. I have the perfect red in stash, but he has decided against it… For the moment, I’m waiting for him to change his mind (ha ha ha). And if not, well, I’ll consider knitting another green jumper, then!

Abate by Alicia Plum (Photography © Alicia Plum)

As for accessories, I would also need to knit Little Man another pair of mittens. A few years ago, I knit him a pair of Ringo & Elwood by Barbara Gregory, which now keep the hands of Little Miss toasty. Maybe I should just knit another (larger) pair? They are so happy and funny.

My interpretation of Ringo & Elwood by Barbara Gregory, stranded in the pattern, but I used the double-knitting technique in these little mittens

Finally, Intrepid Fox by Ella Austin has been on my to-knit list for a looooong time, and I think I have the right orange / rust and brown in stash to do it justice. Maybe I should just cast on… However, the question remains whether it would be a gift to Little Miss or Little Man. Or maybe I should just keep it for myself. Isn’t it cute?

Intrepid Fox by Ella Austin (Photography © Ella Austin)

Have I finished anything, you may wonder. Well, yes! First pattern bought, quickly on the needles, and quickly off. The large needles and yarn (Aran weight) made for a lightning fast knit.. It’s my only completed project in the Gift-Along so far, and I am ridiculously happy with it. The design is Tutu Top by Lisa Chemery, and I used some leftovers from a jumper I knit for myself a couple years ago for the main colour. And I bought a ball of one of my favourite yarns: Rowan Kid Classic in a very matching orange, which got used up almost to the last yard. Feel-good bonus: it’s probably the quickest ever that a yarn purchase has made it to the needles and off.

Little Miss’s Tutu Top (Photography © Aurelie Colas). Tutu Top is designed by Lisa Chemery.

Isn’t it a cute top? I am now toying with the idea of attempting a pair of legwarmers with the leftovers of the Tutu Top. I have recently been lucky to win a copy of Tiny Treads by Joeli in a sock knit-along, and I am very very tempted to knit a pair of Geppetto legwarmers. Looking at the directions, the stitch pattern should be perfect for the variegated yarn. I’m only hoping I have enough leftovers; otherwise I’ll just have to go buy some yarn…

Geppetto by Joeli (Photography © Joeli Caparco)

What about you? Have you started any gift-along knitting? Have you completed any?

 

Happy knitting,

Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

 

PS: a few useful links:

*: You need to be logged into Ravelry for these links to work.

Posted in Baby, Child, Gift, Knit-Along, Ravelry, Toddler | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Indie-Design Gift-Along is Back (…and so am I)

Long time no see… Apologies for falling off the radar. The past months have been pretty busy on several fronts, and blogging had fallen a bit off the priority list. I can’t thank Janice enough for being patient and continuing to write on the blog alone.

Somehow, the last few days of November are already upon us… And it is this time of year again when Indie Designers band together to bring knitters and crocheters a great event on Ravelry: the Indie Design Gift-Along*. This year, Janice couldn’t participate, so I am the only representative of the Auld Woolly Alliance.

 

Like last year, the event starts with a sale: get 25% off selected designs from each participating designers. I have selected 9 of my designs to be part of the sale, and you will find them here. There are newer and older patterns, quick(er) knits, whimsical designs (like the Hobby Horse for Little Knights!), but also all-time favourites like the Woodcarving or the Christmas Scot-ing. Use coupon-code giftalong2015 at check-out, the sale runs until November 27th at midnight EST.

Aurelie's Collage - Gift-Along 2015

Aurelie’s Collage – Gift-Along 2015

But the Indie Design Gift-Along is not just a sale event: it is mainly a great knit- and crochet- along. To participate, you may knit / crochet any pattern from any participating designer. Every project from a for-sale pattern entitles you to an entry in the prize draw, and there are dozens of prizes to win, and hundreds of electronic prizes too. On top of the knit- / crochet- alongs, there are also games, and a lot of chatter, enabling and camaraderie. Go have a look, it’s a lot of fun!

Wannabe Opadooper Badge

Join in the Opadoo Challenge! Wear your badge!

Finally, for those who like a challenge, there is the Head to Toe Ultimate Gifting Challenge, for which the contestants are entered in a prize draw to win a super prize. This Ultimate Challenge, also renamed the Opadoo Challenge (named after the octopus costume of a cute little person), consists in crafting one project for each of the height categories (inc. adult garments, shawls, socks, etc.). Needless to say I have absolutely no chance of completing said challenge. More exactly, I shouldn’t even start to think about it, as my to-do list is already overflowing.

But I couldn’t resist, and I’ve started my first project for my Opadoo challenge. At this point, my Baby/Child entry is almost complete! Pictures when it is finished, blocked and all, along with links to some of my favourite patterns in the Gift-along in a future post… Stay tuned!

Now I’m curious… Are you already planning your Opadoo Challange? Have you started it?

Come and join in! *
Happy knitting and crocheting, happy gift-along!

Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

 

PS: a few useful links:

*: You need to be logged into Ravelry for these links to work.

Posted in Christmas, Community, Gift, Knit-Along, Knitting, Ravelry, Sale | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Once upon a time………..in John Lewis?

Once upon a time far, far away, (well about 12 miles actually) in the fair city of Aberdeen, I had a part-time job as the Rowan Design Consultant in John Lewis. Many customers came and went and many of them were really lovely. Two of these customers became my friends and have remained so. The first is Aurelie, of whom you all know so well! The second is Sue.

Sue was a great customer, who regularly knitted from the latest Rowan magazine. A beautiful knitter who always had something new on her pins. Sue knitted for herself, her girls, hubby, friends, friends children and children’s friends! I can also recall a few exquisite Christmas pudding hats! (Sue is pretty talented with her own creations too!) It was during this time that Sue taught her daughter Kelly to knit.

One day Sue came to John Lewis to let me know she was leaving Aberdeen as her hubby had been posted elsewhere. We have kept in touch via occasional emails ever since. In early 2014 I received news that both Sue’s daughters were to be married in 2015, just weeks apart. Happy celebrations were in preparation.

A telephone conversation followed during which……a slightly nervous Sue told me that Kelly wanted a small and friendly wedding with a handmade dress that she hoped to knit with the expert help of her mum. And so it all began…….we chatted about yarns, tension  and how to adapt Kelly’s chosen design, #21 Lace Dress by Shirley Paden.

Over the following months many people were involved, Isabelle Randall made the underskirt (By altering a silk nightie!) and Sue’s friend Catherine crocheted the delicate edgings that  finished off the dress. And we all met up on occasion for fitting etc. However, The majority of the work was done by Kelly and Sue.… What a team!

With Kelly and her new hubby Alasdair’s permission I would like to share with you a very special day in which I feel honoured to have played, a (very small) part. x

Lace skirt by Kelly, delicate crochet edgings by Catherine.

Lace skirt by Kelly.  Delicate crochet edgings by Catherine.

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The finished wedding dress complete with silk underskirt, lace cap sleeves and lace hem by Isabelle Randall

The bride and groom at Strathpeffer Village Pavillion

The bride and groom at Strathpeffer Village Pavillion

Origami bouquet by Kelly

Amazing origami bouquet handmade by Kelly

Woodland near the village of Strathpeffer

Kelly models in woodland near the village of Strathpeffer

The back opening

The back opening

I love those shoes!

I love those shoes!

Silk Bow by Isabelle Randall

Silk Bow by Isabelle Randall

The evening reception.

Dancing at the evening reception.

Congratulations Kelly and Alastair! I hope you have many happy years together. Your memories of the day will last a lifetime x

P.S. You can read more about the making of Kelly’s dress here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

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