Alison Crowther-Smith

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Debbie Abrahams Bead Club 2014

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

The 2014 Bead Club has just launched and I was so thrilled to be asked to be a guest designer again.

Lunar worn 1

For this year I have designed a half-moon shawl called ‘Lunar’.  It’s a shape that I have been obsessed by this last 6 months, although as you know, luckily I don’t have an obsessive personality type.

This one is simple yet really effective for showing off beads – which is perhaps the main point of the club.  I am on FIRE today, eh?

Lunar on wing 1

The segments are half filled with blocks of off-set beads, forming pyramid shapes that echo the triangular sections. These are also beaded and defined with lace.  I was after a design that was a bit smaller and thus a tad quicker than  the frankly epic stole I designed for the 2013 club – well, Debbie said I could use up to 2,000 beads and 4 balls of Kidsilk Haze – seemed rude not to.

I also wanted a clean art-deco effect from the symmetry of the bead placing.  I absolutely loved designing it and I hope you will enjoy knitting it.  Here is a link to my page on the Club website.    And here is a link to the Club’s home page.

This year, you can join the Bead Club as usual and get all the designs as they are released.   This is £75 – bargain for 6 exclusive designs and all the beads;  or you can buy the designs and the beads used individually – £15 for each one.  I think that’s a great idea.

KSH half moon v close and folded

I am Miss August. *demure smile* *dons vintage dress and Lunar Stole*  But I think you can buy me now 🙂


Rowan Tapestry

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

This was one of my favourite Rowan yarns, a lovely mix of soy and wool, so it had a silk-like quality, being partly based on plant fibre.  This gave it a beautiful lustre, while the wool made it superb for felting.  (Note: it felts very enthusiastically due, I think, to the spinning, so proceed with caution).  Add to this the roving dye – really well done so there was little ‘pooling’ – and I think you had a pretty perfect DK.

So, of course, it was discontinued.

Well, it’s back.  Not from Rowan but from Lotus Yarns. This quality is called Sunset and I have knitted two items in it now.  Incidentally, I bought mine from this website, Be Inspired Fibres.  Great choice of lovely yarns, I also had some other yarn posted to a friend for her birthday and she was delighted too.

The colours I got in Sunset were this, a soft grey, pink-lavender and also a more vibrant silky blue.

The shades are very gentle especially the pink/lavender one, but there are some brights in the shade range too.

I have the old Tapestry shade charts (of course I do) and the shades are different.  But the yarn is exactly the same.  Composition, gauge and meterage.  The ball bands are exactly the same too – except they don’t mention Rowan of course.

So, if you’re still in mourning for Tapestry and eBay scouring is not working, I give you Lotus Yarn’s ‘Sunset’.  You’re welcome!

That picture, by the way, was taken on our trip to Poland in late April.  It’s in a cafe on the main square in Krakow.


Twinkle Twinkle

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

This, my friends, is an Addi Circular needle filled with Swarovski crystals. If it wasn’t 10 mm gauge I’d probably buy it.

A rare find, you could buy them here.

It so appeals to my inner magpie.


The gods of the internets – they are angry (no email)

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Me and I.T. –  it’s like putting King Herod in charge of the kindergarten…

Anyway, the gods of the interweaves have spoken and what they have basically said is:  ‘your email’s stuffed, baby, welcome to the 1980s!’


I wasn’t going to bother you with this, but it’s been a while now so I figure I’d better let you know that I’m not just being rude.  I’m going to explain this to you as I see it, because I am of course a renowned I.T. expert.  All the technical words are in italics, for ease of skipping if you wish.  And also because that’s how they sound in my head when someone says them to me. The website is fine but the platform on which we have artfully arranged the email system is damaged.  I dunno, maybe someone bumped into it with a car or maybe it just fell over, platforms are very unpredictable. In my experience.

And, The Server is down.  I think this means we have missed last orders.  The Server is now being up-graded.  Hurrah!  I’ll have a champagne cocktail and a bag of prawn cocktail crisps please.

Some very clever server/platform peeps are, even as we speak, roping themselves together and ascending the platform to try and fix it all.  Hats off to these guys, I know I wouldn’t volunteer, sounds dangerous.  Once they have fixed it, they are going to test it.  If I had to test a platform, I’d maybe jump up and down on it, gingerly at first and then, if it didn’t break, with a bit more energy, so I assume that’s what they will be doing.  After that, email service will resume, and I may or may not get any emails you may or may not have sent to me recently – and in the near future. 

So in summary, if I didn’t reply to you yet, it’s because I didn’t get it, yet;  if I never reply it’s because the emails that were caught in this little storm fell off the edge of the platform before we could rescue them and they are (in my imagination and in real life I believe) floating away across the North Sea.  In that case, maybe try and email me again, you never know, it might be fixed.

If you bought a kit or a workshop place, and paid by PayPal, I know about you and that’s all fine.

The antidote to I.T. by the way is knitting, tea and dreaming of a simpler, easier age, when we wrote letters and read books…


Thursday, July 28th, 2011

We don’t tend to go on ‘proper’ summer holidays anymore – the joys of self-employment and a lot of pets maybe?  So when Mark bought us a ‘bargain basement’ weekend in Amsterdam recently (my birthday present, actually), I was really pleased.  I’d never been and I’m not much of a traveller, so going to an airport is an adventure!  Humour me, you know I don’t get out much.

Whatever images I had of Amsterdam before I went were partially true, plus a whole lot more.  To get into ‘town’ from our hotel, we had to walk about 2 miles each way through pleasant, normal suburbs – which because it looked so foreign to me, and involved walking alongside canals and dodging bikes, seemed quite exotic.  By doing this (4 times!) I learned these things:

  • people do cycle everywhere, on unbelievably heavy ‘butcher-boy’ style bikes, with kiddies trailers on the back, huge baskets on the front, often festooned with plastic flowers or other decor.  It was lovely.  Here in the UK, cyclists can be seen as pariahs by busy motorists and if a cyclist goes on a pavement in fear of his life on the roads, that’s wrong too.  In Amsterdam, they have a very cool ‘shared space’ concept, with special cycle lanes but if there is no room for these, then that’s fine, pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists seem to cohabit in peace and harmony.  ‘Giving way’ is normal, not a sign of weakness, I observed no aggression, even towards the dazed and confused tourists, dodging the bikes, cars and people.

  • This attitude seems to characterise the folks we met.  The cafes, bars and shops all welcome you.  It’s really friendly!  You read that this is a very tolerant society – it is, in a structural and legislative sense.  But in fact what I felt that phrase really means is this:  it’s not judgemental.  You do this, I do that, but that’s fine. 
  • So many smokers!  Oy – but hey, that’s fine (see how Dutch I am becoming?) I can walk on the other side of the canal.
  • It’s an incredibly beautiful city, where whenever you gaze upwards, you see even more simply stunning architecture.
  • There are at least 3 yarn shops in the central area, none of which I had time to locate.
  • It turns out that I am not a massive fan of museums…Amsterdam does them very well but I just get bored.  I embrace my shallowness though and Amsterdam just smiles tolerantly at me, it does not take it personally.

And I knitted in the cafe at the Van Gogh museum – which was a very good museum – before we left for our flight home.  That was lovely.