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Archived posts from December 2006 to December 2008 are missing their photos. Key posts will be updated as soon as I have time!

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Sunday
Jul262015

Closing doors

 

Last week Aran had his latest consultant appointment, the first of his annual tests. He's now had clear results (i.e. no protein or blood traces, no kidney relapses) for 6 months and he's been discharged from the clinic :)

This is great news, as it means they're no longer concerned that he could have a kidney relapse if he falls ill, though we'll still monitor him for a while for our own peace of mind - we're so used to being in kidney watch mode that it's going to take some time to adjust. We'll now have his annual tests through our GP, which offers us more flexibility and will feel less... pressured. We're sick of hospitals.

He is as well as he could be. They can't rule out kidney disease later on in life, hence the annual tests. But we know that; we know that we'll likely never be told that he's fully recovered, but we'll take this silver lining, thanks. They do tell us his chances are good, and that's good enough for us. After a horrible 19 months we're so very glad to have reached this point.

What with the signing of the new contract on the Yard and now good news for Aran, we're finally starting to close doors on what has been a very challenging and horrible 3 years. 

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ps/ I bought a new camera for work - a Nikon D5500 - and this is one of the first shots we took with it. I overspent on the budget, and despite the sting, I've no regrets at all. I'll be selling my D5000 (with it's 18-55mm AF-S lens) in the next few weeks.

Wednesday
Jul222015

A remarkable Shetland beret

 

Unless you've been offline or hiding under a rock these last few weeks, you'd have heard about Susan Crawford's brilliant new book project the 'The Vintage Shetland Project' that's being crowd-funded through Pubslush. To support the project further and whet everyone's appetites, Susan has organised a blog tour to highlight some of the garments and offer more insight into why this project is so remarkable.

When we visited the farm last summer Susan asked for my thoughts on not only how this beret was constructed (or, when you see the piece, in what order) but how to recreate it. Between us we discussed methods and possible constructions and whether it was even possible to recreate it in a set of instructions. So when Susan emailed and asked if I'd like to talk about this piece on the blog tour, I wasn't going to say no!

 

 

Karie Westermann introduced this beret a few days ago and revealed a little behind the mystery and it's history, and why it's an important piece within the collection. I'd like to follow on from there and highlight a few of the aspects to the beret's construction.

 

 

From the first photo above, you can see that the crown shaping is the part of the Hat that brings all the other elements together (and you'll know this mantra if you've ever been on my Hat design workshop or asked me about Hat designs ;). Looking closer at the crown, we can see that at least for the final part of the crown is fairly standard in it's shaping - unstacked left leaning decreases on every other round. And that's about as 'standard' as this beret gets.

 

 

Looking at the Hat from the inside reveals yet more of it's unusual construction - those wonderful stripes of fairisle that run from the brim up the crown are in fact strips of knitting, and they're knitted at 90 degrees to the rest of the Hat! What's even more fascinating about this is how the pieces of knitting are joined or worked from each other. I haven't seen a sample of the reconstruction or the final pattern and I'm just as curious as everyone else as to how the pattern has been developed.

 

 

From this angle, we learn even more about those strips and the shaping of the fabric around them - and we can see that the Hat has been created on the bias, or rather, there are strategically placed increases and decreases to bias the strips. (you can see now why so many of us on the blog tour have have shown an interest in this piece)

 

 

Looking at the beret flat from the underside we can see more of the panels between those strips, and also see more of the brim. To me, the brim looks like it's been knitted on afterwards, but I can't remember what we determined about the brim - guess that's another thing we'll have to wait for to be revealed!

If you haven't already, do go and and check out the Pubslush campaign for the book. Although it might be funded (which is no mean feat and bloomin' brilliant news!) every additional penny raised will be put into the project and Susan's keeping everyone up to date with that. 

You can also read much more about the project, the reasons as to why and how, by following along with the blog tour and keeping up with Susan on her blog, Twitter or Instagram - she's been sharing daily photos as a teaser.

 

Thursday 9th July
  
Saturday 12th July
  
Monday 13th July
    
Wednesday 15th July         
  
Friday 17th July
  
Saturday 18th July
  
Sunday 19th July
   
Monday 20th July
  
Tuesday 21st July
  
Wednesday 22nd July
  
Friday 24th July
  
Saturday 25th July
  
Sunday 26th July
   
Monday 27th July
  
Wednesday 29th July
  
Friday 31st July
  
Sunday 2nd August
  
Monday 3rd August
Tuesday 4th August
 
Wednesday 5th Aug
TBC
 
Thursday 6th August
   
Friday 7th August

 

All images are copyrighted to Susan Crawford and are reproduced with kind permission.

Wednesday
Jul152015

how I Henna

Having shaved off my remaining red hair last November, I've been sporting a natural grey quiff since. I started bleaching my hair aged 12, and apart from the (many) dreadlocked years, I've nearly always had some colour on my hair. I was blessed with fine, thin and bland brown hair, and it's always been my playground. Just like Hats, I see that space as somewhere to be bold and experiment. And natural grey wasn't easy to get used to.

And then yesterday, after treating myself to a dress that most definitely needed statement hair, I caved and re-hennaed. And it's fabulous.

 

 

I get asked about how I do my henna a *lot*, so figured I'd post here how I go about things.

Firstly, I only use pure henna. Anything that says it's a certain shade of red isn't pure henna. Black henna is indigo, blonde henna is anything but henna, and if it's natural red henna (which will be the Lawsonia Inermis leaf) you won't be able to guarantee a particular shade without additives which can have unexpected results.


 

If in doubt, go for one of the mehndi packs. They will be pure and their fine grade makes for an easy mix. I picked up this pack from a general beauty supply shop for £1.50, which is incredibly cheap! Having not used this brand before I wasn't sure of the quality, but it was clear on the box that it was free from additives and pure.


 

For my length hair I don't need a lot - I'll get 5 or more applications out of 100g, whereas someone with long hair will need one or more packs.

To mix, I start with a little hot water, just a dribble, and mix until it's all absorbed - it should be dry and lumpy. From there I only mix with vinegar - and it's the vinegar that really brings out the colour. Normally I'd use a cider vinegar, as that's given me great results in the past, but this time all I had to hand was white vinegar, so white vinegar it was.

It's mixed to a smooth paste that's the consistency of yoghurt, maybe a tad thicker. If it's runnier than yoghurt it's too loose and will get messy. Similarly, it shouldn't be lumpy! That old rumour that henna was lumpy and crumbly and messy to do? It's not - you're doing it wrong if it is.

Once mixed, I then leave it over night. This really helps the vinegar bring out the pigment. In the morning if it's a little dryer then a drop or two of vinegar is added, stir, then apply.


 

Applying henna is no different to applying any other hair dye - use an applicator brush, start at the roots and the edges. You *may* get the odd dollop fall, especially if it's a warm day or you've a lot of hair, and the henna starts to dry out a little - keep yourself covered, and add fresh henna onto dry areas.

Once it's all on, wrap your head in clingfilm and leave it on for a couple of hours.

Using vinegar means you don't have to leave it on for daft lengths of time - when I was younger and before I knew better I'd mix it with warm water, leave it on for 8+ hours, and be disappointed with the results. yesterday i left this on for 4 hours as it was a new to me brand, but I honestly don't think it needed that long. 2 hours is my normal waiting period.

Rinse off etc as normal.

Now, I got a wonderful vibrant orange as I was hennaing straight onto an almost solid silver grey. Grey hair *loves* henna, but if you don't have as much as I do, expect a more subtle colour. And it won't stay this bright - after a few days it deepens to a darker, richer shade of orange, more an auburn, but still very clearly a henna shade. Your base colour will determine how deep the shade is, and regular application of henna (every few weeks to start with) builds the depth of colour. Don't forget that henna is a natural conditioner and strengthener of hair - you can do yourself no harm using the pure stuff - and your hair will love you for it.

The top photo was taken yesterday, within an hour of rinsing the henna off. Below is how you might be more used to seeing me, out of the sunshine and vampire like, and with a build up of deep red henna. It might not be glow-in-the-dark orange yet it's still a beautiful shade of red.

I am so very, very happy to have my red back. Oh yes.


 

hennaforhair.com is a fantastic resource for henna, and worth checking out - you'll find some great recipes for naturally mixing up some stunning shades, and it'll also tell you how you can get natural almost black with indigo (hint: don't mix the henna and indigo. Henna your hair, rinse, then immediately indigo your hair. Close up it'll look a little green but no-one will know except you - it'll look stunning). Remember, henna is permanent.

 

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Yes, I've still in that very dark place that I've been inhabiting for months, hence the blog silence - I've fallen out with words. I've a daft amount of identity/body issues and I'm feeling very brave posting these photos here! I'm wanting to come back and blog more, words circle around in my head day and night, yet when I try to sit down and type they just won't come out the way I want them to. And it's not just here - I've withdrawn socially IRL for the same reasons. I'm working on it :)

Sunday
Jun142015

and..... Painted Woolly Toppers is a go-go!

 

I'm now back and (mostly) recovered from TNNA, and that means Painted Woolly Toppers is now published!

Digital pre-purchasers will have had the link to the full eBook - if you haven't, either drop me an email or comment on the Rav thread and I'll look into that for you.

Not only has the eBook gone live, but so has the print edition! After reading everyone's feedback, I went to Magcloud with the intention of offering both a stapled and perfect bound version - only to discover that the cover on the staple bound version is the same paper as the pages, and I really didn't think that would stand up to much. The paper for the pages is the best I've ever felt from a POD printer, but the cover does need to be heavier stock.

So... I went with a perfect bound option that includes the eBook for free. And I'm willing to gift the eBook via Ravelry *if* you can forward your receipt for the print edition. Just don't all email me at once, K? 

purchase print editon at Magcloud



The feedback on the book so far has been great, and it's even got it's first review over in the latest edition of Knitty! Shop owners at TNNA loved it, and knitters are telling me that they want to knit all of the patterns, not just a few. And that's very encouraging to hear. Joy at the Knitting Goddess has been working her way through all the Hats so she has plenty of samples for shows, and other indie dyers have started their samples, too. Considering that it's the summer and Hat season is at it's slowest, it's all feeling very positive!

Back end, the new wholesale catalogue is going out in the next day or two, so if your local yarn shop wants to stock the book, get them to email me with their info and they'll get a copy of the catalogue. Likewise, indie dyers can get in touch too - this book was published to support indie yarnies after all!

It's also time to start planning knit-a-longs over in the Ravelry group - which of the PWT2 Hats are your faves, and which would you like us to work through together?

I do hope you like the book :)

Wednesday
May132015

Introducing Niamh

 

I guess this post isn't just introducing Niamh as a single pattern, but also a massive thank you.

Although the demolition order was annulled last year, Mutonia was still potentially at risk until the new contracts were agreed upon and signed. And that has now happened. The community has won, and the community is secure with recognition from the authorities. And Mutonia now embraces the next chapter as a public sculpture park.

The rights to Niamh returned back to me some time ago from Cooperative Press, possibly as much as two years ago (!) but you know what the last couple of years have thrown at us, and the to-do list has been rather long. An impromptu photoshoot on site with the amazing Roberta (who also modelled for Hatopia, also within the Time Machine) yielded this great photo, and with that came the chance to have a new lease of life as a single pattern. 

The support from all walks of life and all corners of globe for Mutonia has been incredible. And it's this corner, the woolly corner, of which I'm proudest. Offering this pattern for free for a limited time feels like the least I can do to give something back.

By all means, share the news with friends! However, please share the link to the blog post, the pattern page, Ravelry or any of the images floating around the net - please don't share the file. Besides respecting my copyright, it means that everyone downloading from a legit link will get any updates, corrections etc should they ever be needed.

Thank you, and enjoy :)