Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Pink Lace Cardigan

In 2016 I took a course at Metropolitan Machine Knitting, Cheshire (now sadly closed due to ill health). This course was with a superb visiting Designer from Perth, Australia called Tony Bennett who runs Domani Knits (1).

As the week progressed we were encouraged to take one of his Designs and work it our way, aiming to complete the garment during the week. I chose to make a cardigan with a lace front and some lace at the base of the sleeves. To me, Tony is into detail, his garments have great finesse.

I loved how professional looking this cardigan turned out to be and I have received many lovely comments about it and have shown people how to do some of the details.

However, the cardigan has always bothered me on the shoulders. The cardigan needs a layer under it, eg a fine jersey top. The jersey top was visible where the back met the front at the inner shoulder. I have worn it with a fine polo neck and that didn’t feel quite right to me either - polo knit and lace over it was not my best look. 

I have spent some time thinking what I could do to improve it. 

This is the before look: 

What could I put in the gap? I needed a little triangle. So I mulled this over and decided to knit just that a little triangle. But wouldn’t it be better if it was one of the lace triangles, like at the bottom of the sleeve.

Knitting this was tricky, working out the stitch width, making sure the tension was right and manipulating the stitches when there were so few.

This is the result. 

I am more than pleased with it and now the cardigan has a new lease of life, just ready for the spring weather. 

(Apologies  for the change of colour, the first picture is the best representation!) 

  1. Tony’s web site is https://dormani-yarns.com

Monday, 16 March 2020

Thinking about colour: Fair Isle Cardigans

I had these two cardigans sitting like this the other day and thought it was worth sharing the photo. 

What was most noticeable was the difference the colours made to the overall patterns. I love them both and wear them frequently. I originally knitted the black and white one (2)  as a trial for the naturally dyed one. It was a trial in terms of getting the size correct and the pattern placement, however how the colours work with one another ensures the natural dyed one is very different from the black and white one. Initially I  decided on which colours to aim for in the dyeing  with Ground Elder. Then I spent many days knitting samples and playing with colour combinations, hanging them up and looking at them close too and at a distance  until I felt I had the combination that I loved! Somehow I know when the colours work for me. (By days I don’t mean whole days, I like to mull it over, do something else, come back to it, sleep on it etc. This is not something I can do in a hurry.) 

Recently, I saw mention of an iPad app ‘The interaction of colour’ by Josef Albers. The cardigans are a good example of the effect of ‘interaction of colour’ (3). I am enjoying this app greatly and his take on colour does not begin with a colour wheel or discussions on complementary colours, triads of colours  etc. He starts with working with colour and aims to help users develop an eye for colour. There is a lot in the app, I haven’t got to the end of it so I have yet to find out if he mentions the effect of a person’s colouring on the colours worn. But then that would make a good app on its’s own. I have seen several attempts at this but nothing I would want to recommend. 

  1. I have previously written about the design and knitting of the Ground Elder cardigan beginning on 4 April 2018 
  2. I call it my ‘black and white cardigan’ however the black is in fact ‘deep charcoal’ and the white is a ‘natural’  white, both from Jamieson and Smith . This combination gives a less harsh look for my light colouring. 
  3. As I write this, the app is for iPad (not sure if there is an Android version), there is a free lite version, but the paid version is £13.99. It includes, text, plates, videos and has interactive activities to get you involved with understanding and working with colour. 

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Scandinavian Slippers

This book (1) caught my eye in the library and I thought I would have my first attempt at twined knitting. 

Rather than just jump in I thought I would knit the sample pair as suggested but do them in ‘my colours’ rather than the different ones recommended. (The different colours are so you can see the different stages, which was a great idea.) 

I used my own Norfolk Horn hand spun yarn from a local farm which measured 11 wpi. I teamed this with some Hebridean  Double Knit (14wpi) yarn which I bought from Denise Bridges (2) when we were last in South Uist. I used this Hebridean yarn double and the pair of slippers took the whole of a 50g ball.

I used my knitting belt and 3 dpns size 3.5mm. The cast on was a 2 strand circular cast on, something I had not done before. 

I found twined knitting slow, you need to keep stopping to untwist the yarns but the effect is great. The fabric this combination of yarns gave was super firm and just what is needed for slippers. 

The construction was interesting, you knit a sealed envelope that looks like this.

Stitches are then picked up either side of a waste yarn, which is then removed. Short row knitting gives a triangular insert either side and then a cuff is knitted which could be as long as you wanted. I made mine following the instructions, as this is a trial knit and topped the cuff with Estonian Braid following instructions from my workshop with Hadewych van der Werf in Shetland Wool Week, last year (3)


Completed slippers, showing sole and top side and you can see the twined knitting inside.(4)

I was very pleased with the result and the slippers fit well. I will use them as an alternative pair of ‘handbag’ slippers, ie the ones I take with me when visiting friends. 

I am looking forward to knitting another pair inspired by the book, which I have now bought for Kindle at a reasonable price. 

  1. The book is Knitting Scandinavian Slippers and Socks. The explanations are very thorough. I really like Laura Farson’s  style. 
  2. Denise runs the Hebridean Woolshed (www.hebrideanwoolshed.scot). There is a campsite next door which includes a great cafe. A wonderful  part of the world. 
  3. ‘Knitting across Borders’ workshop described on blog post of 23 Jan 2020
  4. The pattern gave a ribbed sole but I did it differently ! 

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 20 The journey to home

Wed-Fri Oct 9-11: Day 24-26 

We had a good crossing and were into breakfast early so were able to get a table next to a window and so could watch the journey into the dock. It is a large boat (by my standards) and the skill of the crew in manoeuvring the boat into just the right place always amazes me. 

The good news was that we did not have to start off the morning by going to Aberdeen Hospital, the swelling and redness around the wound on M’s foot had subsided but care would still be needed! 

We knew we would be delayed in moving the van as we were tightly packed into the side surrounded by large trailers. In fact it only took 20 minutes to get us a safe path out onto land. 

Our first stop was going to be Glendoik Garden Centre, situated just east of Perth where we would take our second breakfast today. We always stop here and I have  recommended this place to several who I know will be travelling past. However, it was a disappointing stop food wise. It was 9.02 when we got there, they had just opened so we had made good time. We brushed off the frustration of M choosing a teacake and then having to take off the clingfilm/cellophane to have it toasted. To my mind unneeded waste but perhaps it was a health and safety issue. I choose a bacon bap but this had to be sent back twice as the bacon was cold. The staff reaction made me feel the issue was my fault! I felt that, possibly with success had come a downgrading of the importance of the customer experience. We will stop here again and hope it was ‘just one of those days’ ! 

We noticed how the plants had changed since we were here on the way to Shetland, it was looking very autumnal from our table. 

I thought this was a great Christmas decoration 


I drove onto Cairn Lodge, now part of the Westmorland group where the whole experience was great. The food was excellent, the ambience was good as it has been refurbished as part of the take over. The staff were friendly and looked as though they were enjoying the job and steps were being made to reduce waste. We had a good rest and had lunch here. (1) 

Unfortunately the weather turned poor with very heavy rain and driving became more difficult as more traffic built up as we got further south. We decided to stop at Annan Water where the motorhome specific parking had plenty of space. (This is not always the case during the summer). We both slept and made our own tea. On looking  at the map,  we were able to drive on non motorway roads to Hoddom Castle our stop for the night. We got there about 16.00 and we were looking forward to a good rest. The journey tomorrow would be 50 miles shorter.

On Tuesday or first stop was at Rheged, just off the junction of the M6 and A66, another great place for a good bacon bap and early coffee. Usually we would drive into Barnard Castle to the Bowes Museum for coffee. Parking is good and the cafe has great views, and a nice ‘arty’ shop. However, we were disappointed with this on the way up and when we noticed Thorpe Farm Shop on the East lane of the A66 we decided we would try that. This looked a relatively new venture and was very clean. After having a pot of tea we decided to stop for lunch. It was good and this is now duly added to the map.(3) 

It was a busy and uneventful run down the A1 to Clumber Park where we would stay the night. (4) We noticed how warm it seemed for October, the van thermometer was showing 20C in the living section. 

Time for some knitting of the fair isle gloves. 

Friday was our third and final day of travel down to East Anglia and we were hoping to be in by lunchtime. We stopped at North Grantham services which provided all we needed but which was not an uplifting experience. We drove on and were home for lunchtime, even though it was Friday. We had time to make a quick lunch, unpack the van and drive to the surgery where we would make the last of the scheduled flu jab clinics! 

It was the end of a wonderful trip. Already in my headmI was working out what my Shetland Wool  Week 2020 new knitted garment would be. Each year we say the experience can’t get any better, but it does. We were so lucky to be able to make this trip, we had wonderful scenery, good weather and  good birds. The wool week classes, lectures, exhibitions etc will be remembered for ever, and I have enough textile creative ideas to get me through another year. But what makes it so special are the people, the Shetland folk and the wool week friends we meet, and new friends that we make each year. You know who you are and thank for very much. 

This post has been rather heavy on Camping Sites and possible stops for refreshments. I make no apology for this. If I have helped one fellow traveller it will  have been worth it. 

A couple of photos that I could not fit in to other posts: 

Aithsvoe : the view from the campsite when we were staying on Mainland

One of the beautiful jumpers in Tulloch’s window Lerwick

and the finished Hoosiefield gloves which I loved the design of, loved knitting, love wearing and love the compliments I get when  wearing them! 


  1. There is also a farm shop, although not as big as the original one at the M6 Westmorland Services. 
  2. This is a large and very spacious campsite surrounded by woods near Ecclefechan in Dumfries and Galloway. There are permanent ‘mobile homes’ as well as stops for those of us travelling. We have always found the team are extremely well organised with the facilities spotlessly clean. We do not mind travelling a few miles from the motorway to stay here. There is a bar/cafe which serves meals but do check if this is operating. It was open travelling up but closed on this journey. 
  3. Besides using the sat nav we travel with a Philips Navigator Britain 1 1/2 miles to 1 inch road atlas, finding the scale excellent if roads get closed on us, wherever we are. However, we need to update this as it does not have the new circular Norwich road on it! 
  4. Another site we like, spacious and preferably parking where the back door of the van opens  straight into Sherwood Forest. The downside (or upside) is the lack of both mobile phone and WiFi.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 19 Last two days in Shetland

Mon and Tues Oct 7-8: Day 22 and 23 

We like to stay a couple of days after wool week to have a bit of a rest and also do some shopping. There are too many other things to do during wool week without worrying about getting wool. I also like to get into the Museum  and if possible the archives. There are some interesting wool related books on the shelves in there. We did not expect to be the only ‘wool weekers’ on the ferry either, and already know of two friends we will meet up with in the lounge. 

Even though it was bright and sunny we noticed that the wind was getting up by the time we arrived back at the campsite on Sunday evening and for the first time this week we parked the van facing  into the wind and gave a thought to those on the boat, wondering how choppy it would be. 

When we woke in the morning it was quite mild again but I could hear the wind, so guessed it wasn’t the best journey back to Aberdeen. For us, it was a superb sunrise. We are very lucky, we enjoy the sunrise here but also at home in Norfolk we see great sunrises and sunsets from our house and having lived in built up areas it is never something we take for granted.

During coffee the wind got stronger and the rain was heavy, so we lingered checking up on the outside world which we were soon to re-enter. We found out that whilst we were away it had been very wet at home, the local town had been flooded. It seemed strange that as we left we wondered how the garden would manage - it was hot and very dry when we left for Shetland! The garden at home needed the rain but we expected to see our ground elder crop, which we try and keep down, waist high! 

We called at Tesco for enough provisions to get us home later in the week and then decided to have lunch in Mareel, they do a very nice hot bacon and cheese croissant! 

I popped over to the Museum to buy more cards to send home to our young grandsons and was surprised it was closed. At least I could programme going back to look at knitwear etc for tomorrow. 

We had never been to Skeld campsite and friends tell us how nice it is so we decided to drive there and have a look. However we  got as far as the turn off to Tingwall and the weather was ‘not good’ in Shetland terms, at home it would have been called ‘evil’ so we opted out and went back to the campsite. 

This was great,  I could have an afternoon and evening making progress on Hazel’s gloves (Hoosiefield) from the annual. I had brought wool with me and I juggled with the colours and came up with a plan. Perhaps I could get them finished before I got home. I was pleased they had Fair Isle fingers, these would be double thickness. It brought back bad memories, I used to have chilblains on my fingers as I had a very long journey to school, involving a bike, walk, train and walk for 7 long years. Pity I didn’t have gloves with double thickness fingers then. 

The beginning of the back of the hand pattern


And my colour selection and working notes 


Another night not to be on the boat I suspect. (We heard later that it was very rough last night!)

Tuesday was our last day and we were keen to make the most of it and not just drift around waiting for the evening ferry. Several of our wool week friends would be on the boat too and it would be a happy time tinged with sadness knowing we would have to rely on social media for keeping in touch until next year. 

It was a relief that there was no noticeable wind as we got up, so fingers crossed for a calm crossing tonight. 

We tidied up and left fairly early and made for Mackenzies for the last bacon bap of the holiday. After this we did a mini tour of Cunningsburgh to search out a ‘new’ birdwatching sites M had been told about. By this time it was dull and wet and no sign of the  red backed shrike. 

Next stop was the Museum to pick up cards for the grandsons. Lunch was available but it was soup, panini or sandwiches and none of these appealed to me that day. Mareel, a short stroll away, was offering Beetroot and Brie tart which was delicious.

I wanted more time in the Museum. I had been in touch during the week with Michael H who had some knitted lace samples on show knitted in 2018 as part of an earlier lace project and I though I could get better images for him. This I did and then decided I hadn’t really looked at the Fair Isle knitting this year so very much enjoyed doing this. 

I love this hat, particularly the shape. It uses natural dyed wool for the colours and dates to c.1870 

I still hadn’t bought the wool I needed from Jamieson’s so it was back to the Quay to park.

As I got there I realised I had not taken a photo of their special wool week window, which is always a joy to see. I hadn’t realised that I had a mention in the window! 

Part of the display

The cone of grey wool that I had ordered nearly 2 weeks ago was not there and I was reassured it would follow me home.(1)

The wool I needed and the overshot weaving that it will form part of, I am thinking will be another simple bag or handbag if I have enough of the 4 yarns involved to make sufficient fabric. I just love this pattern and have made x samples before I got the colour combination to my liking. 

I popped into the first charity shop I came too, just to browse and what a bonus day it was, I found a vintage pattern for a knitted suit, now I need to translate it from hand knitting to machine knitting. 

The afternoon was getting on and we decided to stop in the Bod car park and make tea and cake and make sure everything was put away and we had our bags packed ready for the night  on the ferry. 

Part of the Bod sign

Unusually we were one the first vehicles onto the ferry, squeezed in between 2 large lorries, and by 17.45 I was in the lounge. It was drizzly but calm. 

We decided to eat straight away and were joined by Eve and Angela and then Kate. Eve had carried her nano electric spinner with her so I could see how tiny it was and how it would fit into a bag. I was trying to decide whether to buy a slightly larger, and to me more robust Ashford, or this tiny one. Eve also came up with a suggestion of where I could get 2.75mm dpns, which I had failed to track down anywhere. (2) 

We had a long journey the next day so were in the cabin at 22.00. However, M showed me the top of his foot that had been rubbing on his boots, his whole foot was very swollen and red! Another medical emergency on the ferry. All we could do was go to sleep and hope having the leg up would help, but I went to sleep thinking we would need to visit the hospital in Aberdeen first thing in the morning  as it looked infected to me. 

  1. The card from the postman which greeted me on arriving home said my neighbour had the wool. He had been looking after it since yesterday so the wool beat me home! 
  2. I ordered these as soon as we were back from  https://www.guernseywool.co.uk I am very pleased I now have a set that are longer than my 23cm sock knitting ones, although I have mastered these and shorter ones with my knitting belt. I am still to order an electric spinner. 


Thursday, 30 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 18 Brae Teas

Sunday Oct 6: Day 21 

The second Sunday of Wool Week is one of my favourite days. It is so nice to see and talk to members of Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers  with their exhibition at Brae in what is called a Sunday tea in Shetland. 

Visitors are able to look at some of the wonderful knitwear the Guild members have made during the year and usually there is an opportunity to buy some items directly from the  makers. If this wasn’t enough some of the members would be spinning and knitting and of course there were the teas! On top of this , was the opportunity to talk to some of the members who over the years I feel I have got know as we have discussed either their knitting or my natural dyeing or knitting.  Then of course there was the chance to say good bye to fellow wool week attendees. 

But last year and this the Galley shed and the youth centre were open too. There were other craftspeople with quite a wide variety of crafts at a Makers’ Market in the Youth Centre. One lady was selling yarn and I took the opportunity to buy some Green Shetland yarn.  Whatever shade of green I have it seems never to be the shade I need! Bunchy, alias Spindrift Crafts, had a stall too so it was a great opportunity to talk to her about Natural Dyeing, to tell her how much I was enjoying her book and how good it is to see her iG posts about dyeing through  the year. (1)

The Galley shed besides having an Up-Helly-Aa exhibition also had a scissor sharpener, but unfortunately I had not brought the scissors  that could have benefitted with me! 

Once the Guild Teas were open we decided  we would have an early tea as we had just had a snack lunch. The Guild work so hard for this afternoon, the kitchen had many members adding more food, washing up etc and the tea and coffee ladies who fill the cups at the table were offering drinks to visitors throughout the afternoon. It is a tremendous task they take on. I am a member of a Guild in East Anglia and I can’t think we would believe we could manage anything on this scale. Shetland Guild need recognition nationally for what they do on this day in my opinion. Of course many of them have already had a busy week running classes and the like. As last year the Northmavine Fiddle and Accordion club provided traditional music on the stage. This is very  good too , with the bonus of seeing more Traditional Shetland Knitwear being worn. It was also entirely appropriate that there was an appeal for donations for the Peerie Makkers crowdfunding appeal, as this is a voluntary run scheme (2) so that more of the target age group can be involved and more of  Shetland can have a local group. The highlight of the day for me is twofold - seeing Shetland lace and Fair Isle  Knitting by Shetland designers and knitters and seeing the prizes they have won for these and being able to talk to them about what I feel is amazing knitwear. 

Part of Hazel’s display                                               Always something to learn from


For me personally it was a very enjoyable afternoon and it was an extra pleasure to meet again ladies from Unst who had organised a ‘day out’ to come to the Tea. 

We decided we would repeat our post Brae Teas experience with a trip to Eshaness. Last year it was really wild, but this year it was calmer and the sun was still out (just) and the views were stunning. It was good to be here again. 

As we drove back the sun was setting and around every corner there seemed another spectacular view. We had in mind to stop at Frankie’s for a Fish and Chip supper and so didn’t want to get too late. I just took photos with my iPad but made a note to myself that if the weather is like this next year I must make time to get the proper camera out with the tripod and filters for some truly spectacular shots. 

sunset over Frankie’s

So back to the campsite and the end of wool week organised activities, but we had another couple of days to begin to unwind and do last minute essential Shetland shopping. 

  1. I understand from someone who went to Bunchy’s workshop “ about Natural Dye plants and make a ‘colours of Shetland’ sample cushion” that it was very good too. 
  2. You can find out more about they young Shetland Knitters on the fb page ShetlandPeerieMakkers

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Shetland Wool Week 19: 17 Maker’s Market, Bod and Dinner

Sat Oct 5: Day 20 

The last Saturday of Wool week is always good, the Maker’s Market ensures this. The market is now held at the new (Anderson) High School and there is ample parking, and only a short walk from the Sports Centre should the parking ever get full. It starts at 11.00 and gives stall holders ample time to set up. I was hoping that I could catch up on some friends that I had missed or seen earlier in our stay. This happened so that was great and I met and chatted to Amanda from Whalsay with whom I had a great knitting class some years also. I also saw Minnie from Unst who was at the indigo class so it was good to hear her thoughts on how it had gone. I hadn’t seen Roisin all week so good to have a very quick chat, as she was looking after her stall. (1)

M went upstairs to the cafe, where the drinks and cake are superb and my plan was to meet him asap so I could have coffee before I ran out of steam. As usual with chatting it took longer than I thought but I had completed a quick look at the stalls and targeted a couple of things to buy after coffee. 

What is striking is the quality of the items on sale. I go to lots of ‘craft’ fairs at home and just wish I could transport many of the sellers to this one. Then they could see how it can be done and how people would be queueing for their items. It is not about price at all for me. It is about finesse and detail and seeing and then owning, a truly beautiful item. Shetland people know how to use the best quality raw materials with amazing workmanship! 

One of my purchases, I just love the detail. 

Jumperboard necklace made by Pinkfish (2) 

Eventually I got upstairs to find Michael with Sally, who we first met in Shetland some years ago. I had taken a ‘made by me’ bundle of sticks for her to use as a ‘knitting belt’ and failed to meet her earlier in the week as I had to opt out of a couple of evening functions. It was great to catch up with her and her friend. I hadn’t seen Sarah (3) either all week although we were meeting up for dinner later in the day. She was full of her wonderful time on the trip to Foula. (4)

She got Michael to take this photo of us with Hazel. I don’t like photos of myself but do quite like this one! 

Photo of sarah, Hazel, me 

Before I left I wanted to see the Shetland Peerie Makkers, the youngsters learning knitting. This is an initiative set up out of wool week initially I believe, where volunteers  teach groups of the young knitters in the processes of Shetland Knitting, ‘helping to preserve Shetland’s knitting culture’. This is a great initiative and it is lovely to see most of them using knitting belts and working from their own drafted motif designs, ie learning the designing as they learn to knit. Materials and equipment are provided for the knitters. The initiative started in 2015 and it is great to see how it has grown and the progress of the knitters. It is a very good project to donate to, imo. With all this happening we were at the Makers Market for longer than intended but it didn’t matter as were were getting a light lunch in the van. I had devoted the afternoon to The Bod as I hadn’t had a serious look round  during the week. 

It was great to see James (5) as I got there and we had a long talk mainly about dyeing, both natural  and acid, to which others in the lower room joined in. Eventually I moved away to look at the two rooms upstairs and found yet more demonstrators to talk to as well. As always there was wonderful lace knitting and fair isle knitting and plenty I had not seen before. 

I was very taken by a display related to Bess Jamieson, in particular her baskets made by weaving pine needles.(6) 

Pine needle baskets

I also noticed a display relating to the Back to Back Challenge. This one looked more official than others I have seen as it seems to be international! 

You will be able to spot some names you know:

Can you identify the people from 1977, at least one should be possible. 

Another great visit. The Bod will be closing it’s doors now and reopen in the spring. If you haven’t ever been to the Bod, do try and add it to your ‘must visit’ list.

We just had time to go back to base, have a short rest and then meet up for dinner with Sarah and friends in the String. 

Helen Robertson and her Mum would be there and Sarah brought with her Laura, a tattooist and bird watcher, from USA, who just happened to be another avid knitter. It was a fun evening, I think the waitress was persuaded to take this photo. 

Another wonderful day, including the weather,  with tomorrow being the last official day of wool week. 

  1. Roisin runs R.A.M knitwear, she is the on the staff of Shetland College  and last year I was lucky enough to visit her Machine Knitwear  studio in Bressay one evening. You can see some of her work on her Fb page ‘R.A.M Knitwear’. 
  2. ‘Pink Fish’ is the trading name of Shona Anderson. I had met Shona on Friday whilst she was working in Ninian, with Joanne Hunter. I have since been told that Shona is the daughter of Kathleen Anderson. 
  3. Sarah and I go back a few years, having met at a Maker’s Market I organised for A Community Group (Alsager Music and Arts) when we lived in Cheshire. We next met in Shetland - the power of wool week! She is a very skilled worker in many textile areas and beyond. She is on iG as ‘didyoumakeityourself’. The photos with Sarah on were taken on her phone by M and a waitress.
  4. This year the weather was kind to flights during wool week. The trip to Fair Isle went ahead and the new trip to Foula, was able to go ahead too. It was a chance to find out about Foula and Foula Wool in particular.
  5. James and I had both done the Warp Weighed Loom workshop in 2018. James lives and works in Shetland and is also a dyer and spinner. We always have lots to talk about when we meet. 
  6. Bess Jamieson was born in Sumatra where her father worked on a Rubber Plantation, she returned to Shetland in 1930. She was a much travelled lady during her life but retired to Walls.