Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for February, 2017

The Afternoon Tea Club 2017 – in support of Macmillan Cancer Care

Friday, February 17th, 2017

This year, there will be two Knit Clubs, and the proceeds from these will go Macmillan Cancer Care.  Here is the page to have a look and book your places. All you have to do is book, turn up with your knitting – and a tea-time contribution. I will do the rest.

Tea, cake, knitting, raffle for knitting prizes – sounds good, right?

Please come!

New Kidsilk Haze Cuffs Workshop Next Week!

Friday, February 17th, 2017

New Cuffs 3

Next Thursday, 23 February, I am teaching at Spin-a-Yarn in Devon and I am unveiling New Cuffs (name pending).  This is a fairly easy knit, with beads and optional sequins.  The cuffs are knit flat and then seamed.  They have some interesting stages beginning with a picot cast-on and a lace section before some easy beading and ribbing.  Nothing very taxing, but not boring either.  Also, they are a great way to perhaps learn to get to grips with Kidsilk Haze.  Cuffs are warming, pretty and make great gift-knits too.

New Cuffs 1

They are also colour-washed (again, optional) so great for using up some Kidsilk Haze in stash – or buying two yummy new shades, of course!

New Cuffs 2

I know there are a couple of places left, so contact the shop to book.  It would be lovely to see you there.


Conversations with Lily: The Trump Talks

Monday, February 6th, 2017

So, in all the years I have been blogging I have never (as far as I can remember) blogged about anything political.  No, for that you need to be be my friend on Face Book where I am more free with my political thoughts.  Such as they are.

This is a kind-of political blog post and I make no apology whatsoever.

Recently, some things have been happening that have somehow brought the worlds of politics and knitting (and maybe crochet, I am not sure) together. You may have noticed.  I am speaking of the Pussy Hats.  Arguably, knitters have always been ‘political’ and certainly many are active in causes such as environmental campaigning, animal and human rights, and global aid programmes.  This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, it’s just illustrative.  Knitting, and crafting is almost always done by perfectly normal people with passionate views on things other than fibre-content.  On the other hand, I have taken a decision, until now, not to be ‘political’ here, but desperate times and all that…

President Trump (and even now, as I type these two words, I still cannot quite believe it) has somehow gained (more or less) overall control of one of the world’s most influential nations.  And partly because of his documented and undeniable views on and treatment of women, and partly because of all the other things he thinks, some people have knitted a whole pack of pussy-hats.  And worn these hats on globally staged marches.  I whole-heartedly approve of this strong visual testimony against Trump and what I understand he stands for.  If you like him, well… that’s not really fine, though it is your free choice; but in a first for me, this is political blog post and I don’t like him, so you may want to leave now.

I do not for one moment think that even if everyone in the world knitted and wore a pink hat with ‘ears’, Trump would care or change his behaviour. But the point may be that it and all other forms of peaceful and solo or mass resistance, impact on the arguably more important groups: the ones who have the power to limit his actions now; and those who have the power, in four years, assuming that America is still a democratic republic, to vote for someone else.

Lily and I often talk about politics.  Despite the marked lack of politics on my website, we are a political family.  Here is a medley of some of our more recent Trump-related discussions.

(At the time of the release of the video footage of Trump talking about his incredible magnetism for women.  Oh, sorry, yes – I do mean the pussy-grabbing clip).

Lily:  Mum?

Me:  yes?

Lily:  if dad was recorded talking about grabbing someone’s pussy, what would you do?


Lily:  I mean, it’s not likely, but just like, what if he did…?

Me: (still groping – bad analogy? Or just too soon…? for some words) well…that isn’t just unlikely, it simply would never happen.  So I can’t even think of how I’d react. I imagine Trump’s wife had some evidence to suggest that he, on the other hand, might be a pussy-grabber.

Lily:  yeah, but say he did?

Me:  actually DO it, or get recorded talking about it?

Me again, and leaping into the pause:  no, look, sorry this is just too weird…

Lily:  you’re right.  No-one would ever want to record an interview with dad.

Me: no, but what I mean is, he would never do that.  I don’t think I know anyone who would do that.  Much less talk about it…Do you?

Lily:  I dunno…I guess you might never know until it’s too late?

Me:  I think with Trump there was previous form.  (Pause)…I was once grabbed on my leg by a guy at work…

Lily:  (assuming what I think she fondly imagines to be the expression of a therapist) so…do you want to talk about that?  How did that make you feel?

Me:  OK, yes I do.  He was a bit drunk, he was kind of in a position of authority and he grabbed my leg at a work lunch.  It was many years ago.  This ought not to be true, but it is:  things were different then.

Lily:  I hope you drop kicked his balls into the next room?

Me:  no. I wish I had.  But I just walked off.  It was a long time ago.

Lily:  Swoon, but how did he get through the crinoline you were wearing, m’lady?

Lengthy period of immature laughing on Lily’s part.

(Shortly before the US Presidential Election)

Lily:  Mum?

Me:  mmm?

Lily:  he’s not going to win, is he?

Me:  (without even having to ask what she meant):  no love.

Lily:  Mum?

Me: yes?

Lily:  is this like when I had that ear infection AND tonsillitis AND conjunctivitis and you said every day that I’d be better by tomorrow?

Me:  well…

Lily:  ‘cos that was a lie, wasn’t it?

Me:  Lils, you really are going to have to let that go!  And it wasn’t a lie because look – you are all better!  It was about five years ago.  Get over it.

Lily:  but it WAS a lie on all of the days before I DID get better, wasn’t it?

Me:  I think you need to differentiate between an actual lie, and an assertion of faith or belief in something that might happen and which you genuinely believe to be true or likely to become true, especially if – as was the case with your illness – you have the power to summon antibiotics and ice-cream.  Which I did.

Lily:  (momentarily stunned by my flawless logic).

Me:  so, in this case – the Presidential Election – I am asserting my belief that he will not win.

Lily:  is that faith, or just hope?  I mean, you said he wouldn’t get the nomination!

Me:  yes.  Yes I did and I am sorry that the Republican Party, over which I thought I had almost super-human powers of persuasion, did not in the end follow my sage advice and float him out to sea with a torch up his arse, and use him as an aid to shipping navigation.  But there we are.  They didn’t heed me.  I expect they’re sorry now.

Lily:  I only mean, you were wrong then, you were wrong about my tonsillitis and you might be wrong about him not winning!

Me:  I was not wrong about the tonsillitis.

Lily:  what about this?



Me:  I am not wrong. It won’t happen.

(The day of the US Election.  This took place by ‘phone as I was away from home, working with a client – my other persona – and I was staying away to do this work).

Me:  are you OK?

Lily:  (gulping, sniffing wetly) no!

Me:  me neither…

Lily:  is it real?

Me: yes my love.  It is real.

Lily:  you said…

Me:  I know, enough with the tonsillitis already, oy!

Lily:  (wailing) I miss the Obamas !

Me:  I have to go…

Lily:  Don’t leave me too!

Me:  I’ll be home tonight, we will talk it all over then.  In the meantime, do not listen to the news or read stuff on Face Book.  OK?

Lily: OK…but Mum?

Me:  yes love?

Lily:  I am not being shallow or sexist or anything but to be honest if there was an orange-coloured woman politician who had hair like a yellow pillow, I would probably be all like – ‘hey, back off, it’s cool to be an orange woman, just ‘cos she’s a woman, you think it’s OK to be all judgy about her orange-looks and that – but if it was an orange man it’d be OK wouldn’t it’…but he IS orange with weird white patches round his eyes…so because he is a MAN it’s OK?  And… and just HOW COULD THEY HAVE VOTED FOR HIM?

Me:  (looking at my face for traces of Tangerine Dream foundation)…what?

Lily:  Hillary isn’t orange!

Me:  I think we need to get over the orange thing…

Lily:  I can’t. I think it’s spray-tanned on and the white bits are either where he wears goggles while his wife sprays him OR he sweats it off on that bit of his face.  So it’s on purpose.

Me: (to my colleague) no thanks. I’m not hungry anymore, I’ll just have tea please.

Me: (to Lily) look, love, I’ll be home tonight…wait… I am pretty sure his wife doesn’t spray-tan him…that is far more likely to be a job for the Vice-Pres…anyway, I’ll see you later.  It’ll be better.  We’ll eat some sweet potato chips and have a Magnum…

Lily:  he will still be President Elect though, won’t he?

Me: (gripped by an internal and silent struggle, in which truth wins, only because I am, apparently, a busted flush with the Republican Party and All Of America) yes. Sorry about that.  Unicorns are still real though…

(On the day of the inauguration).

Lily:  I can’t look.

Me:  me neither, let’s go out.

Lily:  do you feel sorry for her?

Me:  yes I do.  I think it was her last chance to be President…

Lily:  no, I mean Melania.

Me:  (genuinely stumped, because this has literally never occurred to me)…

Lily:  I mean, she has to live with him!

Me:  well that’s entirely her choice!  She does not have to.  She could walk away at any time and take hold of some self-respect again…

Lily:  Whoa lady!  I think you are forgetting one thing!

Me:  the money?  or the possessions?  or the Giant Mirrors In The White House into which she can gaze at her unchanging image for the next four (please God) years?

Lily:  no.  I mean the programming!  LOOK at her! She looks like she is in a cult!  We should send help.

Me:  I am not looking, I thought we agreed we would not look?  Anyway, what kind of help?

Lily:  a secret rescue squad – a dachshund-handler could go in with some cute dachshund puppies and while they were all distracted with the puppies, they could secretly ask her if she wanted to come with them…


Lily:  …and she’d totally go with them!  DACHSHUND PUPPIES!

Me:  …stranger things have happened…Trump wouldn’t be allowed to touch the puppies, would he?

Lily:  (scornfully) of course not Mum!  God.

(Some time later…)

Lily:  I have never seen Michelle look so – so…pissed off!

Me:  no, nor me. She looks amazing and so angry!

Lily:  look at Hillary, gazing up at her.  It’s so sad.

(I look and think, but do not say how Michelle must be very tall or Hillary very short).

Lily:  what do you think they will do now?  The Obamas?

Me:  if it was me, I’d drink about three huge Camparis, book a cruise ship just for the fam and bugger off on it for a few weeks.

Lily:  do you think Michelle will run for Pres?

(I don’t think this, but neither do I want to crush this last scrap of hope…)

Me:  …yes.

Lily:  is this like the time when I had tonsillitis…

Me:  OK!  No, it’s not like that time!  I am almost – no! I am in fact 100% sure she will run, and lo! she will win! and by the time that happens there will be no more pink wool in all of the world, for it will all have been knitted into Pussy Hats, which have become visible even from space, so great, hopeful and good is the pink-glow their massive pinkness sends out…

Lily:  have you been at the bloody Campari again Mum?

And so our quest, that is Lily and I, for answers and reasons continues, daily. I believe my loyal reader will not have been remotely offended by this post as I am sure her sensibilities are not so tender and also that we are kindred spirits, she and I.  If you were offended, your pussy hat, lovingly knit by me, is in the post. Mwah X

Brioche Knitting

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

This is beautiful Brioche, knitted flat, using Cocoon and Kidsilk Haze:

Brioche finished montage in brown and teal

I am teaching Brioche in 2017, a class on flat Brioche and a class on Brioche in the round.

The flat Brioche is very soothing knitting, with a fairly straightforward 4-row sequence.  This lends itself to scarves and throws and that is what I have designed.  Here are some images of the designs so far:

There are three courses on this flat Brioche and two are fully booked but there are spaces (two) on the event on 23 April, so why not come along?  I have made the stitch fairly simple and more ‘English’ I think and I am really enjoying the preparation. One interesting approach is to vary the yarns in use so I have been experimenting with Kidsilk Haze and Cocoon, as well as using yarns of the same weight.  It works beautifully.