Alison Crowther-Smith

New Workshop Dates for 2018

November 10th, 2017

I have added 2 new dates to the Court Cottage events – these are repeats of events that quickly filled up.  There is a repeat of Gift Knits, and this is on 22 September; and a repeat of Moons and Stars Fairisle and this is on 23 September.

I am also adding new external dates for 2018.  I will be teaching in Bovey Tracey in February and March 2018; and in Dawlish in April and October 2018 – I will add details and links nearer the time.

All my Court Cottage courses for 2018 can be viewed here.

Do come!

 

Christmas Workshops 2017: images

November 2nd, 2017

Crocheted Heart Wreath with Lights, Mini Jumpers, ‘Frozen Hearts’ Picture Frames, Icicle

Heart Wreath 1

christmas 2017 icicle in bauble

christmas 2017 hearts 2

christmas 2017 montage

christmas 2017 3 jumpers

 

 

Strictly My Own Opinion

November 2nd, 2017

I am, as many of you know, a very enthusiastic fan of Strictly Come Dancing.  It is an on-going source of sadness and frankly, bewilderment, that I am still waiting for the call to join the ranks, but maybe next year.

In the meantime, every year a similar pattern develops.  I watch the Going-In show.  This year’s was especially terrible.  I watch the Pairing-Up show. I complain at length to anyone in the room that I don’t know half of them, have barely heard of another bunch, dislike three of the four I do recognise and really only like one.

Then the dancing starts and I am quickly able to forget that I had never heard of this or that soap star or sports person or weather/anchor person.  They become part of my late autumn/early winter routine and I feel I have known them all my life.

So, this year I was a bit uncertain because Len has of course retired. I say retired. He appears to have gone on to present a sort of game show, I am not entirely sure as I only saw a clip and he was very mahogany.  I was miffed that Darcy was not appointed as Head Judge as I really like her. I like her now.  At first I didn’t so much but she has almost stopped saying:  ‘yeah?’ after and during every sentence. Almost…

What do we think of new Head Judge, Shirley?  I am going to tell you that (as with almost all the dancers in week one) I had never heard of her and her so-called Latin credentials don’t impress me much.  What I find really odd is that the programme makers sacked (OK, moved) former judge Arlene in what I considered to be a blatantly sexist and ageist move some years so and instead we had the attractive, and much younger Alesha Dixon – great amateur dancer, nice woman I suspect but not a judge.  I didn’t care for Arlene much but I was still incensed by her treatment.  And now they have replaced Len with a woman who I think is strikingly similar to Arlene. They look quite alike.  They both have harsh, difficult-to-listen-to voices.  Why did they do that?  I mean, great if they were trying to address telly’s openly hostile treatment of mature female personalities – which I doubt – but she is not a good fit.  Maybe she will grow into it.

So far, I think Shirley is doing a mediocre job at best.  I give her a 4.  Her marking is incredibly more inconsistent and I think she really is starting to play favourites…she is spoiling it for me.  Craig and Darcy are now the voices of reason, Bruno is – well, he’s Bruno.  But Shirley is mainly just so dull.  What she is saying may be right, but now (Hallowe’en week) I am watching it on iPlayer on my PC so I can fast-forward through the Shirley bits.

The other thing that I just can’t be doing with any more are the daft introductions before each pair dances.  I like seeing the rehearsals but not the silly messing about.  Please make it stop.

As for the contestants, so far I have been very happy with the decisions of the Great British Public (muses:  should the influence of the GBP on our nation’s fate be limited in future to voting on reality TV programmes?  Answer:  might be safer). The ones who have left were all the worst dancers and the recent leavers failed to improve so that’s fair.

And I absolutely I love Debbie.  She fantastic and so is her partner.  What a role model.

More SCD blogging to follow!

2018 Courses

October 31st, 2017

The 2018 courses are now live here.

Next year, as trailed, we will be teaching:

  • Cables, Bobbles and Beads – for the absolute last time!  In March.
  • Slip Stitch Colour Work
  • Socks from the top down.
  • Socks from the toe up.
  • New Fairisle:  Moons and Stars, steeked or not steeked, throw or cowl.
  • Design Weekend.
  • New Moebius.
  • Professional Finishing.
  • Gift Knits.
  • Knit Camp 2018.

In 2018, as there is a late and seasonal Knit Camp, there will be no Court Cottage Christmas Workshops.  This makes me sad – but Knit Camp will be good, and I might hold a Court Cottage Christmas Knitting Party in mid-December, just to finish off what I really think will be a great year.

There is good availability for many of the date at the moment.  We would love to welcome you here.

 

 

 

All the Images for Cables, Bobbles and Beads Events, October 2017 – March 2018

October 21st, 2017

The Cables, Bobbles and Blackberries Scarf:

The Fables:

Cables, Bobbles and Beads: the texture events

October 16th, 2017

fable peakcock 2

The next Court Cottage events are Cables, Bobbles and Beads, at the end of this month.  The final pattern samples are almost ready – one of the designs is all done, knitted in 4 optional ways and the patterns all sorted.  But the interruption of Knit Camp – lovely though it was – has slightly delayed the completion of the final offering.  However, this is now 75% done.

Here are the Fables.  This is the first pattern, and it is a fake cable – hence the  fable name.  I actually prefer this fable to a real cable, as it sits so flat and also there is no cable needle deployment. In these designs, I have added beads to the DK options, and the chunky option is not beaded, but with the addition of Kidsilk Haze, it could be.  Fable comes to you as a knit-in-the-round cowl, or a flat-knit generous scarf. The patterns are easily adaptable to other yarns and other sizes.

Next is Cables, Bobbles and Blackberries.  This features real cables, big bobbles and also a smaller bobbly texture using blackberry stitch.  Further textural variance is achieved by knitting the cable ends of the scarf in chunky wool, turning the cable on its side, and picking up the rest of the scarf in aran wool.  This design also features a new teach here – Kitchener stitch.  This is a widely dreaded grafting technique but I can assure you that, rather like Kitchener’s exact opposite, Steeking, there is nothing to fear.  It is simply a process, all the steps of which are very simple. There is no need to memorise the steps as I have written them down, so there is nothing to worry about.  Also, we will be practicing this.

I am teaching this a lot – at the end of this month and again into 2018.  All the courses are fully booked except the last one, on 4 March 2018, which has one place.  You can view and book that here.  I probably won’t teach it again here so if you fancy it, do come along.

Here is Fable as a wide beaded scarf:

 

Knit Camp 2017 and 2018

October 14th, 2017

I think this has been the longest I have ever gone between blogs.  That is mainly because Knit Camp 2017 happened last weekend and most of the 4 weeks prior to that was given over to the final preparations.  I have worked in many different roles all my life but I have never worked as hard as I did on Knit Camp.

When I decided to run it, which was a decision taken in October 2016, I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted to deliver.  Somehow, I think we did deliver that vision, very close to the concept and the plans – in fact in many ways, even better.  The concept seems simple:  a knitting event that is not a holiday or a retreat, but a fully focused teaching and learning event.  The emphasis being on high levels of technical content all pitched at a variety of levels from intermediate to advanced, and also a range of project sizes from small to large.  All these factors determine the degree of difficulty for the knitters, and they also scope the teaching requirements for the teachers.

At KC 2017, we specifically taught:

  • Beaded icord
  • Picking up and knitting along a beaded icord and using this as a base for a knit-in-the-round accessory
  • Two handed, no-swap Fairisle, in the round
  • Steeking
  • Picking up and knitting into  lace edge, a side edge, a top/bottom edge, and a steek-side
  • Shawl shaping, including short-row shaping on a lace knitted-on border

Plus anything that was needed one-to-one.

Because it was over 2 days, Knit Campers could also choose and start more than one of the collection.  I will add some images of the Bailbrook Collection here but if you want to have access to the Drop Box folder that I created for Knit Camp 2017, contact me, tell me you want to see the 2017 Knit Camp Drop Box album, and I will add you to the access list. Knit Campers have been able to look at this folder for some time now, but now it is over, I will widen the access.

I loved it.  Don’t get me wrong, I also hated it at times, and there were several times when I wished I had not started it, and swore I would never do it again.  The sheer volume of Knit Camp was (self-imposed but) daunting at times and I wanted to tick off every conceivable detail, to create an event that was unique, special and really enjoyable.

Teaching with Kathryn, and working with each other all year to perfect these designs, was a joy.  I would never have done it alone.  To teach this level of content to almost 30 knitters, and have the grades of project content, at the same time as organising and running a complex event was something I will admit I found challenging, but then there was nothing for it but to work and then work a lot more to deliver the event we imagined.  So much was pre-planned, that on the weekend, it all just fell into place.

Next year, Knit Camp will return, in late November 2018.  We will stay at Bailbrook House, in Bath, and the basic format will be the same.  But this will be Knit Camp 2018 – the Christmas Edit.  It will be coinciding with the start of the Bath German Christmas market and the gorgeous Georgian hotel will be starting to get dressed up for Christmas.  So Christmas at Court Cottage will, in 2018, move to Bath.  This means I can widen the design scope with some festive content.  It will be Christmassy – but not too much; just enough to get that pre-Christmas tingle started.

My 2017 Knit Campers have first refusal, but inevitably, they won’t all want, or be able to attend.  So in a week or so, I will be opening up Knit Camp 2018.  If you are on my email list, you will automatically get an alert.  But if you are not, or you are not sure, please contact me and I will add your email address.

If you join us, I can promise you a weekend of absolute indulgence, luxury accommodation, delicious food which was also not overwhelming, inclusive wine, full board with all catering needs included, the undivided attention of my little team, an amazing weekend of companionship and laughter with lovely like-minded knitters – and a packed knitting and teaching schedule with lots to learn and choose from.   Along the way throughout the year, Knit Campers get regular Bulletins with news and previews, a private Drop Box folder as the designs emerge and first refusal at future events.  It means we build up a community.  And that is exactly what it felt like.  If you want to join in, please let me know.  You can see a general overview for 2018 and some of the 2017 feedback here.

Knit Camp 2017 logo

 

 

2018 Courses

September 16th, 2017

The events for 2018 are now all decided and in the diary and I will add them to the website in October.  If you are on my mailing list, you will automatically get an alert as they go live.  If you want an alert and you’re not on my list, please contact me.

The schedule goes like this:

  • New. Moons and Stars:  a new Fairisle course with the option to knit a Moons and Stars blanket (steeked) or a Moons and Stars cowl (not steeked). Learning to steek, if you have not tried this yet, is a built-in option for the workshop.
  • New. Socks:  two events, one for toe-up socks and one for top-down socks.  Learn all the elements of sock construction for either or both.  They will run back-to-back.  If you want to do both and plan to stay locally overnight on the Saturday (email me for some suggestions), I will be in the Puriton Inn on the Saturday evening if you want to have supper with me.  If not, I probably won’t bother!
  • New. Slip-Stitch Colour Work:  a great alternative to Fairisle, intarsia or brioche.  Only one colour is worked at a time, rows and rounds are worked only once, and it is easy yet effective.  There will be two designs, one knit flat, one in the round.
  • New. Design Weekend.  Design weekend is back with a new design brief.  This is a two day event, back to back.  If you want to come to the event and plan to stay locally overnight on the Saturday (email me for some suggestions), I will be in the Puriton Inn on the Saturday evening if you want to have supper with me.  If not, I probably won’t bother!
  • New Moebius.  There will be a new Moebius design knit in two yarn weights.  I will also take bookings from those new to Moebius knitting and we will split the class.
  • Gift Knits.  New festive gift knit ideas.
  • Christmas at Court Cottage.

In the meantime, here is one of the designs for Cables, Bobbles and Beads.  This is Fable (a beaded fake cable) knit as a luxurious wide scarf, and as a beaded neat cowl/neck warmer.  This will also be knit in a chunky yarn, not beaded.  And there will be a further design with real cables and bobbles. I am teaching this on four dates in 2017 and 2018 and the classes are all full except for the one on 4 March, 2018 which has one place.

 

 

Knitting Code

August 18th, 2017

 

Recently I have been writing and editing a lot of knitting patterns.  I am always doing this anyway but this year there is Knit Camp and also we have had the busiest year of teaching ever, and because I over-cater, there are usually 2 – 4 patterns for each new event.  So this year I have so far designed 18 new things not counting Christmas which I have not started yet.  This is paltry stuff compared to the output of a Proper Designer with a Proper Yarn House – but I do not have the software to generate patterns and if I did, I would not use it.

Anyway, Dr Donna is pattern checking my Knit Camp designs and we are almost done with them.  However, there is one pattern that has a lot of ‘tech’ content and so we’ve been very focused on that.  *I write the pattern.  Kath and I and sometimes someone else knits the pattern.  We find the bugs, I re-write the pattern, rep from * to about 2 months later…then they go to Donna.  Donna edits them with pink notes.  She corrects my errors, she checks all the data, she re-measures and re-states tension, and she suggests style/wording edits to make it more accessible to the knitter.   As with many things, there are often several ways to express the same line of a pattern.  They all add up to the same outcome, assuming the maths is right.  So for example, you may get a line expressed with the use of * to end, or * to *; or it can be written in full; or you can have ( ) with a number after to give you the number of repeats.

Add to this our shorthand.  Tbl, k2tog, psso, skpsso, sl1, k1, psso, tog, M1, B1, rep, cont, RS, inc(s) C6B, TL, MB  and so on, with the punctuation and * and ( ) etc that goes with it.  As a new knitter (stretches hands back through the mists of time) I used to ask Old Knitters: why, oh wise one, do we have all this CODE?  why can they not be written in English?  And the wise one would say:  just look it up and shut up.  Fair enough.

This week Kath and I have been wrangling a Knit Camp pattern.  So there is Donna’s pink edit, then my blue edit with highlights and insertions to query points, plus hand-written calculations and notes in the margins.

Code

This sheaf of documents was on the table when Mark came in, bearing tea.  He looked at the notes.  He doesn’t touch them because he knows that there be dragons in these pages but he went as far as putting on his glasses and peering. And he said:

Mark:  Knitters would have made incredible code makers – or code breakers, like at Bletchley Park.

Me:  They would.

Mark (looking in some bewilderment at the many hues of type, the squiggles and the abbreviations):  I mean, this looks like a code.

Me:  Well, it is sort of.  There are lots of words in there but it is a stream of code that will equal a shawl, for example, when put into practice.

Mark:  I imagine the CIA would think it was dodgy…

Me:  Ummm…(think but do not say:  I bet lots of the CIA operatives are awesome knitters!)

Mark (warming to his theme):  They would assume it was a code within a code!  Cleverly hidden coding concealed in a knitting pattern!

Me:

Mark:  A plan to invade somewhere!

Me:

Mark:  A knitting army!

Me (putting down pen and rubbing eyes):  Where would we invade?

Mark:  Oh, I don’t know (desperate but brief mental search follows) – say, Japan!

Me:  Japan?

Mark:  OK not Japan.  Israel!

Me:  Surely, Sherlock, we’d be more likely to invade a country with a known excellence for goats, lamas and alpacas?

Mark:  Why?

Me:  Well, the knitting army would need supplies of fine fibres.  What is the point of knitters invading a fibre desert?

Mark: Ah. OK.  Peru…?

Me:  Peru is a peaceful land (I think).  So ‘invade’ is not really the right word.  Maybe ‘visit’ would be better.  ‘Visit’ and ‘go shopping’.

Mark (pointing at a long string of pink, blue and black ‘writing’ on a page):  Does this say:  the invasion is on tonight!  Prepare and meet at dawn!’

Me (reaching for the pattern):  Yes.  Impressive skills.

Mark:  What does it say?

Me (after short struggle with wish to make up some sorcery):  It says – and I am just going to copy and paste this now for you, dear reader as it will be quicker for us both:  Row 32 (WS): With B, P1, yrn, *p2, (B1, p1) to last st before next M, p1, SM, rep from * once more, p2, (B1, p1) to last 2 sts, p1, yrn, p1. (105 sts)

Mark:

Me (sensing his disappointment):  OR, in other words:  we strike at dawn! Operation Thumb Gusset is GO GO GO!

This satisfies him and he leaves.

Knitters would never form an army but if they did ‘organise’ it’d be for peace. It is sad that knitters do not run the world. Peace.

Winter is Coming…

August 16th, 2017

Zig Zag scarf 4

Without wishing the summer away, I have completed the design and knitting (almost) for the Christmas Gifts events in September.  These are the days that kick off the autumn term – and I can’t wait to get back to the workshops!  Having the summer ‘off’ enables me to focus on some other designing, notably this year finishing off the last two designs for Knit Camp and the Christmas Gift events in early September.

The concept for this teach is to produce some fairly easy (but not boring), and economical accessories – so none use more than three balls of wool, and none will take an average knitter who also has a job or a busy life, more than a week of evening knitting to complete.  For example, Kathryn can knit the hat pattern in one night; I can do it in two-point-five nights.  Kathryn can knit a pair of the mittens in two evenings; I can knit a pair in four evenings.

 

Zig Zag hat mink close up

This year I have taken one stitch – a zig-zag rib that looks like a little cable, but is not – and used it in both flat and round knits.  There are hats – womans (beaded) and mans; a split scarf; and a pair of mitts with a beaded peplum detail. I am really happy with the finished items and I will definitely be making some myself as gifts this Christmas.

Zig Zag hats collection

I love this concept, because for one thing it frees up the Christmas at Court Cottage events and allows me to just focus on festive decorations.  Also, mid-late November is possibly too late for you to make a few hats, scarves or mitts.  But early September is plenty of time.

The courses are both full but I have three names on a waiting list so if you are interested, let me know – we may be able to set up an extra date.

Zig Zag hats male edge

Another knit that would make a great gift-knit is my Brioche in the round cowl, which I am teaching again in Devon at Spin-a-Yarn (fully booked but I am trying to fit in an extra date or two) and also on 4 November, at the Totnes  ‘Stitchfest’ – more details on this will follow soon. I can accept up to twelve bookings for the Totnes gig, so contact the organisers if you fancy a place.  This is the same event that I taught here, but slightly abbreviated.

In the meantime, here is the split scarf for the September events, which I love and it makes me feel all Judy Garland in ‘Meet Me in St Louis’.

Zig Zag scarf 3

 

Allotment Up-Date: should I stay or should I go now?

August 13th, 2017

I am well into year two of Project Allotment. This year has been much better than last in many ways.  First, almost no digging. Second, I have learned a lot and it shows in terms of how I plan things and how well they turn out.  Third, I have just about managed to keep the brassica cage free of cabbage white fly with the use of diatomaceous earth.  This is an organic dusting powder.  It is a faff to apply it and it isn’t 100% successful but it has made a big difference.  Last year, by now, the cage was infested, but this year they are just beginning to be obvious – so I have re-applied the DE.

I have maintained an organic approach – no pellets, no poison.  I do lose a bit of stuff here and there but I think it is worth it.

There have been failures.  The potatoes were poor.  Not worth the effort.  The carrots were also poor in terms of germination.  And I planted the squash way too close together so it is very crowded.

On the other hand, the kale and cabbage are 90% better, and I have had (and am continuing to have) amazing bean crops, good courgettes and interesting and delicious new squash types.

So, it seems a bit counter-intuitive to tell you, dear reader, that I am thinking of giving the plot up.  Not in October 2017, probably, which is renewal time.  But maybe at some point in the following year.  I have not decided for definite but I have it in my mind.  There are pros and cons.  As I am powered by lists, here is my pros/cons for giving up the allotment list:

Pros:

  • I find it incredibly time hungry, as it is very labour intensive and in spring and summer I do go to the plot at least 3 times a week, often more.
  • It is not inconvenient as it is only 1/2 mile away but that is an issue when pushing a loaded wheel barrow, or riding an over-loaded bike.
  • It is basically still trying to be a pasture field and so despite the efforts of the previous plot holder before he gave up a year or so before I got it, and mine, if you turn your back for more than 3 days, the bind-weed and other invasive, pernicious weeds just move back in and bring all their mates.
  • Someone has taken some of my Japanese squash – which are big and heavy, and some of the black French beans. These are not things birds could or would take.  That was upsetting. It won’t be anyone on the allotments or our local badgers who do steal fruit and sweetcorn.  But the field is not secure at all so I guess it is inevitable, sometimes. Jo has also had fruit taken and last year someone had his brassica cage vandalised.
  • It has really set off my always lurking OCD nerve. I can’t just cut the grass, for example.  I have to cut the grass and then edge the whole plot and then pick up all the clippings and then hoe it neat – this is just the edges.  I wish I could be more relaxed but I can’t.  So, it’s a bit obsessive. Obsessions are, basically, my one weakness.
  • I am very allergic to a lot and an increasing number of things and many of these are down the allotment.  I am bitten by all the insects despite my spraying myself with jungle strength insect repellent, and I react very badly to these bites, both at the site of the sting or bite and also all over. I am allergic to soil on my bare skin, so I have to garden in gloves – but I am also allergic to most gloves so I have to line the gloves with cotton gloves, soaked in E45.  Despite this, my hands are in an awful state.  (I think I am also becoming allergic to some animal fibres but anyway…). My new allergy is to the plants themselves especially courgettes and squash leaves, raspberry leaves and runner bean leaves.  Spiders bite me whenever I go into the cage even if I wear long sleeves and trousers, and then I get blisters.  To be honest, it is just miserable to be so allergic to my allotment.  The garden can, of course, set off reactions but rarely so extreme.
  • The garden is suffering neglect.
  • I worry about it if I have to miss a few days and kind of dread the return to what I know will be a lot of hard effort.
  • I am often very tired.
  • I have learned a lot and some of this could be translated into my garden here.

Cons:

  • I actually love my allotment and I am very proud of it. I know I would miss it terribly. It is often a place of great happiness and peace for me.
  • After all that work (and this is not a response I am proud of) I can’t bear someone else to just walk onto the plot and take it on.  Is the answer to let it go to pot for a few months and then quit, I hear you murmur?  Frankly that thought is unworthy of you and I am disappointed, I shall pretend you didn’t suggest it.
  • I have invested in some equipment but mainly the cage which I think I can bring home.
  • Related, I have a plan (very provisional) to turn part of my garden here into a mini-allotment. It is at the thinking stage only but I do believe it may have merit.  There will be a lot of work associated with this initially and some cost, but still, it would be a realistic alternative.
  • We love the food I grow.  I have not thrown money at my allotment and not really bought much at all, so it really is a thrift project for me which has given us so much produce that you just can’t buy anyway.
  • I might be able to go down to a half-plot. But you see, the OCD nerve would kick in then, if the partner plot-holder left his/her plot (joined onto my MY plot) in a state.
  • I am not a sociable person in any way but I have slowly and quietly made some very nice ‘acquaintances’ down there. But on the whole it is just me there and I like that.
  • Whilst it is very hard work, it is really away from it all as there is no internet coverage and very poor phone signal. So, audio books are marvellous for allotmenting.

What do you think I ought to do? Give it up, or keep it?  You are wise, advise me.

 

Two Courses at Spin a Yarn, Devon

July 26th, 2017

If you missed my Brioche in the Round courses here and you fancy having a go at this technique I am teaching it again at Spin-a-Yarn in Devon on 19 October, 10 – 4.  This is an easier way to knit Brioche than the flat version so it’s a great entry-level to a fantastic new skill.  I have designed three cowls, all variations on the same theme, in a range of yarn weights.  To take part, you need only know how to cast on, knit and purl and follow a fairly straight forward pattern – I will do the rest!  the Brioche cowls are the ones along the top of this gallery.

I am also teaching the Lined Fairisle Cowl on 9 November, 10 – 4.  I have taught this here and the courses were sold out so if you missed it, come along to Spin-a-Yarn and learn how to make this reversible cowl – a modern twist on a traditional Fairisle look.  To take part, you need to be able to knit, cast on and off.  If you have never knitted Fairisle before, the charts for this are moderate – I am happy to teach you how to read and knit from charts and how to hold the yarns in both hands for perfect and even stranding.  Other skills include picking up and knitting which again, I will be able to show you on the day.  The lined cowl images appear on the bottom line of this gallery.

For both events, you will receive the patterns for all the designs on the day, plus full tuition and notes.  Be great to see you there.  Please contact the shop for details on availability and to book.

 

A Knitted Time-Line

July 12th, 2017

The Knitting Archive (image shows 5 of 8 boxes):

kniting archive boxes 2

This summer I am taking some time to sift through things. Physical things.  I began because we are having some decorating done and this means moving things around.  This became a good chance to clear out some clutter and sort other things.  The art of minimalism (not so much an art in my opinion, more a commercially successful device for selling books, DVDs and life-style blogs) has and always will pass me by.  I am happy to wave a fist full of memories at it as it slides effortlessly by.  I sometimes think I’d like to be minimalist but then I go to somewhere that has almost no trace of human life being actually lived there, such as a hotel and I know it is just not for me.  In fact, I don’t think I have the personal discipline to be a minimalist, or the heart.  I am too fond of my comforting things, especially books, family items and pictures.

I once read that to practice minimalism you should pick up and hold each object (I am assuming that old Welsh dressers, sewing machines, sofas etc are exempt) and if it does not bring you joy, you should get rid of it.  On that basis, I would keep all the books, yarn and needles, my iPad, my iPod, my iPhone, my gardening tools, a spoon, a bowl and very sharp knife.  But the thing that gives me most joy is of course the iPhone/Pad/Pod charger.

Well, this blog can never be accused of, or congratulated on, being minimalist and I digress, as ever…

But the knitting needed a good sort.  This is knitting that I count as ‘work’.  Not things I use, or have given to others as presents, or keep about the house.  This  knitting does not pre-date the start of knitting for Rowan, or not by much.  These items are from my time as a Design Consultant, then my books, and my many years as a teacher of our craft.

So I gathered all the knitting into one place.  One big, very crowded place. I am not a diarist.  This blog is fairly close in some ways, but it misses out a lot of events and emotions because I assume you don’t come here to hear things that may be reminiscent of your own bitter and silent battle with the recycling regime where you live, or a boring account of each meal I had on holiday – obviously that is what Face Book is for; or just things that may be…triste.  But as I unpacked all the knitted things, going back more than a decade which is when knitting became a ‘job’ for me, it was an oddly transporting experience.

Each thing was a conduit back to that period in my life, the period in which I designed and often when I knitted it.  As one item was retrieved, I remembered being on a cycling holiday with Mark in mid-Wales and completing it, the last-but-one item in my third book.  Holding it, re-folding it, settling it into its new archive box, I remembered a lot of sudden flashes of that week, really vividly.  Falling off my bike, twice (it was the first time I cycled with clip-on cycling shoes).  The absolute blackness of the sky at night, with no light pollution at all, save the stars and the eerie moonlight:  it is silver and light enough to walk outside with no torch.  The odd, wooden bathroom side-room.  The happiness at being away, with Florence looking after the house and Lily, for our first ever full week away since – forever.

I also noted as I sorted the work, how my focus shifts.  You may never have noticed, but a tendency to become slightly obsessed with things is probably my one weakness.  Here they were, my phases of intense interest.  Felting, Shibori, Kidsilk Haze, lace, beads, form – especially Moebiuses, texture, edges, colour and Fairisle. One constant factor is mittens.  I appear to have been, and remain, obsessed with hand-wear.  So I felt happy that in this, at least, I am not fickle.

Nor, I noticed, am I and appear never to have been a follower of knitting ‘fashion’ or trends. This year, for the first time ever I think, I coincided with a resurgence in a trend – an interest in Brioche knitting – and if I am honest with you, it did thoroughly irritate me.  I much prefer it if I am not designing and teaching things that everyone else is Instagram-ing about until its five minutes passes, again.  I think I began my felting odyssey at about the time when wedding-ring shawls were all the rage.  I adored Kidsilk Haze when the whole world was backing away from it and making crossed-fingers-ward-off-the-devil gestures at the yarn display in Johnny Lou Lou’s.  I (not very secretly and in the absence of any corroboration from the manufacturer) do think I am responsible for this yarn’s amazing reign as the queen of yarns. You’re welcome, Rowan Yarns. This was achieved by simply teaching every knitter I ever met, to learn its ways, and how to knit with beads.  Job done.

There were some painful memories in those boxes too.  After my father died, and this happened 9 months after my mother died, I frogged and later gave away the yarn, from the project I was knitting as I attended his dying weeks.  So it wasn’t that project.  It was the project I most clearly remember knitting after that.  For all that I have experienced and witnessed the restorative, soothing, even healing properties of knitting, after my father died, I did not – could not – knit for many weeks.  I didn’t work for Rowan, so I had no imperative to knit, as I would now.  Working for Rowan came the following year and so in a way, I think it was part of the knitting-healing process.  But after many weeks when I didn’t knit – and now I do not know what I did do, other than work, tend the children, do the garden I suppose – I finally felt the need to knit again and I designed one of my earliest things. When it came out of the box, it trailed behind it a painful, bitter-sweet train of memories of the months that went before it.  I fervently wish I had not frogged and given away the yarn from the scarf I was knitting when dad died.  Do not ever do as I did, and pull the knitting out, then hide from you the yarn, as if you can pull out and hide the pain, for you cannot.  And if I had carried on, I’d still have that scarf and I’d wear it – easier now, now that the years have soothed the hurt somewhat.

Some things evoked the most mundane – but happy – memories.  I remembered meals I had planned, cooked and eaten as the item evolved.  Some of them made me recall their creation as a blissfully easy process from pencil to needle to book; others still had the taint of making me swatch, swatch again, and then yet again, to finally bring forth a thing of worth.  Sometimes I looked at a thing and thought:  ah!  that thumb-gusset (an example) was, after all, worth the torture of maths and placement.   Sometimes I looked and thought:  why on earth did I design that?

They are all now packed up, not in their stitched time-line, but in an orderly, categorised way, though this does often coincide.  The boxes are sealed and labelled.  There are 8 of them and they are hefty.  It has been a good thing to do, this summer.

One oddity:  the long-lost sock years.  Oh yes!  I too had sock years, my child.  I have rarely taught sock knitting, perhaps because when I first knitted socks, literally everyone was doing the same, or they were teaching it.  It felt as if the knitting universe had invented this ingenious foot-covering.  So of course, I could have nothing to do with it.  Also, I had a (now inexplicable) taste for socks in pink, orange and grey.  And for every pair I made, I also knitted a small pouched, draw-string matching sock-bag.  Why?  Answer came there none.  I unearthed 4 such pairs still in the special matching bags, all perfect (aside from the colours).  I also knitted some pairs as gifts back then including my first and last ever pair of man-socks, in Fairisle, which I gave to a friend.  I am unsure if the gifts of socks were fully appreciated and for these and other reasons to do with Marks and Spencer stocking lovely socks, I gave it up.  But I think I may design some new socks – not bed-socks but real socks for going out in – and teach it in 2018, for the entire world is either still teaching Brioche or will be teaching double-reversible-entrelac-intarsia top-down night-caps, which is what I was going to do…here is a shot of one of the long-lost socks, also proving how hard it is to shoot a picture of your own sock-clad feet.  You have to pick a foot and go for that one.

Sock solo

 

Knit Camp 2017

June 26th, 2017

The designs for my Knit Camp are now all complete, and the final two items are on the needles.  Those people who are coming to Knit camp have been seeing monthly Knit Camp Bulletins from me with news and glimpses of the five featured designs.

So here are some of the images of things I have been working on.

The theme is Bath – its culture, history and architecture.  This has proved a rich seam for me.  Next month all the designs go off to the pattern checker, the inimitable Donna Jones, and then I will do the photo shoot.  If – and I very much hope it will be – the event proves to be fun, exciting and packed with knitting time, we may well run another Knit Camp again, in future years.  Let me know if you’d be interested in that.

Quiche Recipes

June 10th, 2017

quiches 2 quiches

You probably don’t need a quiche recipe but a couple of people have asked for some so here goes.

The pastry is shortcrust and I make 2 lbs at a time and freeze it in 2 batches.  1/2 lb lines one quiche dish generously.  My quiche dishes are quite big and they are ceramic. I think metal dishes are better but these look nicer for serving in workshops.

I make the pastry with plain flour, very cold water, and all butter. If I was making them for just us and I had any in, I’d make it with 50% lard for savoury things but it’s not veggie so I can’t for workshops.

I line the dishes with the pastry and then make sure it is not dead level with the top sides; I sort of make it stand up a bit round the edges. This is because the egg batter rises.  I guess the pastry is rolled to about 2 – 3mm deep.

I never bake them blind.  I usually line the dishes 24 hours ahead, then cling-film them and chill right up to when I make the quiche.

These fillings are all made with this batter:

  • 4 medium free-range eggs
  • A small size pot of single cream
  • Full or semi-skimmed milk to make the batter up to c700 ml in total volume
  • Pepper

I usually make the fillings 24 hours ahead and cover in cling-filmed bowls in the ‘fridge until just before I want to cook them.

I usually make the quiches between 7 and 10 am on a workshop day and then sit them on a rack until they are cool.  I cover them with a cloth and serve at kitchen temperature.  Even if I was making quiche for home-consumption, I do not serve them hot, just barely warm. They taste a lot better like this.  In all cases except the courgette and the spinach variations, I put the filling in the bottom of the dish, evenly spread, and pour the batter over it before sprinkling with grated cheddar.

Mine take about 50 minutes to cook.  I start them in the middle of the baking over (gas mark 4 or 5) and turn twice as my AGA does not cook evenly.  I pop them in the bottom (usually directly onto the base) of the top roasting oven for the last 10 minutes or so (gas mark 7 or 8).  Putting the dish directly on the base helps to dry out the bottom, but you could get a metal baking sheet very hot and then pop the quiche dish on that – same result. Letting them cool on a rack is crucial to the avoidance of soggy bottoms but still, sometimes it happens.  So the best tip is make sure your fillings are cold when they go into the case, and not wet/slimy.

Fillings

Classic Quiche Lorraine

  • 1 pack of smoked, streaky bacon (or c8 – 10 slices), chopped quite fine
  • 2 large brown onion, chopped quite fine
  • 1 clove of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 4 generous handfuls of strong cheddar, grated

Fry the onion and bacon in a little oil until cooked and browned.  Add the garlic at the end.  When cold, make up as above, adding a lot of cheddar to the top. There is a lot of cheese on this.  I often lay a sheet of paper-toweling on the top once it is not bubbling anymore and this absorbs the ‘loose’ oil nicely.  It only take a moment.

Salmon and Leek

  • 2 small or medium salmon fillets preferably with the skin still on
  • 4 leeks or fewer if huge, sliced into penny shapes about 1 – 2 cm wide
  • Soya sauce
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of grated cheddar

Put about 3 tablespoons of soya sauce and a dash of oil in a non-stick frying pan and get it hot.  Add the salmon, skin side down and sear.  You can watch the fish cook by looking at the side of the fillets.  Turn.  I don’t cook them through at this stage as they will continue to cook in the oven later, so I remove them when the fish is still a bit pink (rare) in the middle.  Once cool, remove the skin and feed it to the dogs/cat.  Pull the fish into chunks, not too small.  In the same pan, add a ounce of butter and gently saute the sliced leeks until tender, then more heat to colour them a bit. Cool this and gently mix with the fish.  Once cold, lay it in the quiche lining and add the batter (see above) plus 1 or 2 handfuls of grated cheddar.

Goats Cheese and Spinach or Courgette

  • 2 packs of soft goats cheese broken into lumps
  • 1 medium pack of washed and dry young spinach OR 2 medium courgettes, sliced like slant-wise pennies, about 1 cm deep
  • Butter
  • Oil
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of grated cheddar
  • 4 teaspoons of mustard seeds (if using Courgettes); or a scant teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg (if using Spinach)

If using Courgettes, saute them in butter, oil and with the mustard seeds.  Once soft, add more heat to sear them a bit.  At the end (optional) add 1/2 a clove of very finely chopped garlic.

If using Spinach, wilt with butter, very briefly, and then drain/gently squeeze/pat dry.  Garlic always an option, just not much of it. Once cool stir in the nutmeg.

Both:  dot the lumps of goats cheese all over the base of the quiche lining.  If using Courgettes, add about 2/3rds to the case now.  Both:  pour in the batter and then add the other slices of Courgette or the all the spinach to the top of this batter – spread out.  Add 1 or 2 handfuls of grated cheddar.

Variations on the Goats Cheese:

  • Broccoli and Stilton
  • Roasted peppers
  • Other cheeses – any blue cheeses, or feta.  Whatever is left over basically.

Macmillan Afternoon Knit Club, 15 June and 23 November

June 5th, 2017

These dates could do with a few more knitters.  Based on the current bookings, everyone will have to eat 3 slices of cake and a plate of savouries – and that’s just not fair, even by my feeding standards.

All the fees (£15 a head) will be donated by me to Macmillan Cancer Support.

So it would be awesome (overdone phrase, but in this case, justified) if you could see your way to coming along.  They start at 2, and finish at 5.  You can come/go at any time around these points.

It is just a knitting session, with afternoon tea served basically all the time.  I am making a couple of cakes and some sarnies and if you want to bring something to add to the tea table, that would be marvelous but not by no means compulsory.  Just bring your knitting and crochet.

Here is the link, where either date can be booked.

Please come. Thankyouplease.

A Bruising Encounter with Honeymead Hole

May 30th, 2017

Honeymead Hole is a small, spiky cave on the Mendips, near Maesbury.  It is unlocked, situated in a shallow depression in a field and guarded by a heavy metal hinged cover.  This cover is too heavy for me to lift!

Here is a short film of the opening (digging, as opposed to a champagne reception) of the cave in the ’90s, by Wessex member, Pete Hann.

It was a new cave for me, so I was glad to go with Florence and Will who had been there the week before on a club trip.  I like new caves.  I don’t cave as much as I did at the start of my caving adventures but I do still go and when I go, I (mainly) really enjoy it.  However if you don’t go fairly often, you do lose your cave fitness and also become slightly softer.  Honeymead Hole is not for the soft.

It is a short network of largely vertical passages.  The entrance is a lovely smooth-sided concrete shaft with a thoughtful fixed metal ladder.  No rope/belay needed, you’d be hard pressed to fall off, even me. This is about 25 feet long, and this shaft gives way to cave at the bottom; there is another very short metal ladder that gets you past an awkward bit and then you’re climbing down cave walls.

Basically, it is a very small cave, tight in places.  The interesting thing for me is the shale-layers that you can see as you descend, and within this, fossils.  There are a few sections with fairly pretty small formations and I think if it was less muddy, there would be crystals to be seen on the walls here and there. The rock is not smooth as is often is in some caves in the Mendips.  Maybe it doesn’t get a lot of traffic, (this wears the passages smooth in some places) but I think it is just different from many Mendip Caves.  It is jagged and spiky.  The dark rocks grip your suits and gloves and it makes maneuvering yourself through small spaces quite tricky and painful.

There is a series of fairly easy climbs down and a couple of places where you need to post yourself through gaps on the floor, with low ceilings so you are on your back or your side and thrutching.  The main area of this sort of frankly joyless activity is shortly after the first electron ladder pitch.  I think this pitch would be free-climbable even by me if I had a hand-line.  As it was, we pitched an electron ladder that we took with us but didn’t bother to belay anyone.  I am not a big fan of these wire ladders but this was easy.

This gets you into a small chamber and then on, downwards to some other climbs.  Then a short section of tight tubing, only very sharp and pointy.  The first bit is fine, it is small but you’re able to wriggle along on your back fairly easily.  The end, however, narrows and though it’s not a true squeeze – you never had to man-handle your boobs or hips and force yourself past a rock as you do in some squeezes – it is tight and constricted – and slightly on a down slope.  The lower part of this tube-like section  – so about the lower 12 inches – is really narrow so you need to be above this height – but you can’t crawl or stand, obviously, you have to be lying down, on one side.  So you have to hold your body weight up on one arm and then sort of thrutch forwards.  I was advised to go feet first and I ought to have done so but I wanted the extra control I felt I would have by being able to see (you can’t turn your head once committed to this bit).  This was an error.  I could not support myself on my left arm for long enough, or turn over, so I collapsed. It was fine, I slowly dragged myself on, but you must beware getting the leading arm trapped under your body.  I eventually hauled myself onto Will who was waiting for me at the end, where it opened out into a lofty 4 feet of space.

Onward, to a further little climb, some pokey bits, over a pitch (which we didn’t do but if you do it, it does need a ladder) and onto another pitch that goes down to Blood Alley or up to The Gods.  I watched Will free climb up and down to all of this but did not go.  If I was to go back I would probably be able to get up and down to these with just a hand line I think.  There is a bolt if you want to rig.

This point is not far off the end of the cave; there are other bits and pieces, much of it smaller and probably even spikier than what we encountered. My little mini-meltdown in the squeeze meant I needed 3 glucose tablets and a drink of water.  Then the return trip.  I was dreading the squeezing passage but as is almost always the case, it was easier doing it up and I went head first and managed to stay up on my arm for the really tight part. Fear is a great trainer. The climbs back up were all easier – the cave, whilst really pointy and sharp, does offer excellent hand and foot holds for climbing about.  The issue is really that the climbs are also quite tight, so you have to climb and post yourself into small spaces.

This cave sometimes has ‘bad air’ – low levels of CO2.  I had a bad headache for much of this trip and was breathless at times.  It is normal to be breathless if you exert yourself, especially in very small, hot spaces where you have to use a lot of energy to make a little progress, but I was much more breathless than usual.  I was also unable to recover, which I generally do very quickly, so Will thought maybe there was c0.5% – 1.00% CO2.  In places.  It was fine in the first sections. So if you go there, read up on the signs of CO2 intake and beware.  My headache more or less went away on exiting the cave.

The wire ladder up was great with a dead easy exit, and then, after one or two more climbs and a narrow, short thrutch, you are back at the climb up to the metal ladders.  A strong person needs to go up first to push the lid, I could not have done it.

I was exhausted by this 2.5 hour trip because it was all really physical.  No walking passage at all, and very little crouching passage.  It is you, in an extended series of vertical or horizontal hugs, from start to finish.  On returning home, I found an impressive array of bruises, mainly on my elbows and arms, but also on both hips.  This is testemony to the way I forced by body through the tiny spaces and also my lack of cave hardiness.  However, I loved it! Will go back.

The Allotment in Year 2

May 26th, 2017

I am so glad I kept the allotment on.  Year 1 – The Year Of The Great Dig – was good, but very hard.  Year 2 is proving to be far nicer.

This is day one, 18 months ago:

Allotment Day 1 1 Allotment Day 1 2

The lessons I learned from the first 12 months have stood me in good stead.  Mainly, this is about recognition and hopefully control of pests, and knowing what to plant that will probably do well and we will enjoy.  And when to plant/sow of course.  These images are from this year, about 3 weeks ago – the plants are further on now and the spaces have almost all been filled up:

allotment beans mid may 2017 Allotment cage mesh and beans allotment top - with new planter Allotment early May 2018 1

I had a lengthy and boring debate with myself and anyone who would listen about netting for the brassica cage.  Yes, you read that right.  Mere mortals can only gaze in wonder at my utterly fascinating rock and roll life style, I know.  If I am not debating super-fine mesh netting, I am probably Googling ‘ways to kills twatting pests on my allotment, only organic and preferably not too horrid, please and thanks’.

Anyway, to replace the netting that the cage kit came with would have cost upwards of £250 – maybe £300.  As Mark was heard to murmur, we could buy brussels and cabbages in That Waitrose for several years and still have change…I agree.  It contradicts all the ‘rules’ (mainly self imposed, it is true) that I have applied to being an allotmenteer.  The main rule is that it ought to be economically viable.  But the old netting is not fine, and it admits little aphids and pests, chiefly cabbage white fly.  The cage was infested with these little sods in 2016.  I didn’t know what they were so by the time I got around to trying some incredibly ineffective organic control, it was too late. I am trying to be organic.  But sometimes I do wonder if I might as well sit in the cage and chant/clash finger cymbals/light incense. It can’t be less effective than fatty acids and nematodes have been…

This year, I am combating them and any other insect pests, with my new organic weapon, Diatomaceous Earth (DE).  This is a powder, slightly coarser than talcum powder and off-white. It is ground up fossils.  River fossils to be exact.  You sprinkle this onto the plants/earth/critters and the tiny but deadly razor-like structure of the powder particles damages the exoskeletons of the insects if it touches them. Then they die.  So I think that if I see any of them, I will sprinkle them directly and as a precaution, I am lightly dusting the plants and the earth in the cage, and also the potato towers – for I am having another go at growing potatoes in tyre-towers, despite the miserable failure in 2016. I think that if I break the cycle of the cabbage white fly, I may prevail.

DE is organic and harmless to humans though you are advised not to inhale it or get in in your eyes.  If it rains, you have to re-apply it, and if there is any on your crops when you harvest them, you just give them a good wash.  But you have to beware getting it into your eyes or breathing it in.  So I have to wear a surgical mask and my cycling glasses in order to apply it.  If anything could further single me out as a bit of a weirdo, it will be this. One problem is that as soon as I put on the mask thing, the glasses completely fog up so I have nudge them off my nose slightly.  I try to do it when there is no one else about…anyway, I will let you know how this goes!

Old crops from 2017 that I am repeating are:

  • Broad beans
  • Garlic (2016 fail)
  • Potatoes in towers (2016 fail)
  • Runner and French beans
  • Pea shoots
  • Carrots
  • Raspberries – absolutely thriving this year!
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries – to be frank I have the sulkiest, meanest strawberries I have ever seen and this is their last chance. I have taken runners from last year so these are Year 1 plants.  2018 is your cut-off year, guys, put out some of the good stuff or you’re compost.
  • Courgettes
  • Japanese squash
  • Kale*
  • Brussels*
  • Chard*

*All victims to a greater or lesser extent of the Great Twat-Off Festival of 2016.

So I have ruthlessly cut out Kohl Rabi, broccoli and purple sprouting.  All pointless.

New for 2017:

  • Giant Red Mustard leaves
  • A red curly kale called Scarlett
  • Red cabbage
  • Summer cabbage
  • Various different squash

Here is the red mustard.  It needs a lot of space, it is far bigger than a lettuce crop:

allotment red mustard

 

This is good picked small and eaten as a salad leaf – not that mustardy, less spicy than wild rocket. It is also nice wilted like spinach when the leaves are much bigger.  I cut out most of the stem and then chop the leaves into slices, and wilt it with butter and salt and garlic.  I love it.  The people for whom I have cooked this are less impressed.

Here are the early 2017 harvests of pea shoots and mustard:

allotment pea shoots and red mustard

 

 

 

 

 

Workshops in 2018 – again!

May 22nd, 2017

Well, we had a fabulous weekend of teaching here.  Two new groups of nascent Steekers have now been released into the wild, and they all did amazingly well.  What I love about people who latch on to new skills like this is the open-mindedness that they come with.  It is so refreshing and I do thank all the students in 2016 and this year who have embraced this.  I think they will agree that, broken down into logical stages, steeking is not frightening, but rather the gateway to even more enjoyable and yes, even more ambitious and beautiful knitting.

We have now taught this Bee Design Steeking class 7 times and still I love it each time we do it.  However, that has now drawn to a close and I am looking ahead to the new designs for 2017 and into 2018.

I now have a pretty focused but still draft plan for 2018’s events.  I am not going to blog these in detail now.  But if you want to hear about them as they evolve, please contact me and I will add you to my email alert list.  That, rather than the blog, will be the forum where I will pre-announce or at least ramble on a bit.  Once it is all set up, I will pop it on here.

Of course, 2017 is far from over.  In the next 5 weeks we have 3 further days here which is the conclusion of the busiest Spring Term ever at Court Cottage. There will have been 13 events since late February.  There are 7 in the Autumn Term and I won’t be adding any as far as I know, although the Lined Fairisle Cowl event has sold out and been very popular so we’d be happy to re-run that – if you fancy it, let me know.  I have 3 names on a waiting list so if there are a few more I will have a go-er!  We could do it in early 2018 or in November 2017.  It’s a lovely, easy-going Fairisle knit with an option to line the cowl in plain silk stocking stitch.  No steeking, no homework, just lovely fast Fairisle.

Brioche Cowls

May 19th, 2017

I have two events in June on Brioche Cowls.  This is Brioche knitted in two colours, in the round.  It is stage two of our 2017 Brioche events.  You do not need to have attended the earlier Brioche course to come to this one. In fact, knitting Brioche in the round is rather simpler than when knitted flat, but of course, it is knitted in the round which is not something everyone is comfortable with.  However, it is possible to knit these (in fact, it is preferable) on a single circular needle, either 40cm or 60cm long, depending on how wide you want the cowl to be.

In the round, Brioche is a simple two round process and with no ‘ends’ as you have with flat Brioche, there is no sliding, turning or edge stitch business.

Brioche is a stitch that will reward your efforts.  And by effort, we are not talking about the feats of Hercules.  No, this is rather more tame than that. It really requires you to open your mind and leave some old knitting habits behind, just for a while.

As with any new skill, it can take a while to assimilate the unusual – or rather, new – technique but none of it is at all difficult as it is of course only knitting, purling, slipping stitches and moving your yarn back or forth.  And you can do all these things already.  Brioche is just a stitch that re-arranges the order somewhat.

I have designed three cowls.  One is chunky and it is knitted in a luxurious silk wool yarn; I chose a soft grey and a sweet, subdued yellow.  This uses one hank of each.  Another is colourwashed and is in Kidsilk Haze plus a DK wool – I used Felted Tweed.  Finally, an aran Brioche cowl for which I used grey and navy blue.

The classes are limited to 6 participants only.  There is 1 place available on each of the two days – the 24th of June and the 25th of June.  Use the links if you fancy having a go at this rather lovely new skill, and whipping up a Brioche cowl in double quick time.

Brioche Cowl In the round - aran

grey and yellow silk Brioche cowl

Brioche Cowl Colourwashed