March newsletter

Hello again!

I could say this newsletter is late because of the snow … which actually wouldn’t be true at all as the snow has not held me up! It has stopped me making a trip to the very west of Wales where I have a caravan overlooking St David’s Head but that’s all now put back a week so I’ve had more time at home not less.

So what’s being going on knitting wise?

I’m machine knitting at the moment. This is a fine 3ply wool sweater for my partner, Gordon, to wear under his McNair walking shirt, a Christmas present from me.

The McNair shirt is made in Slaithwaite, a village near Huddersfield where we live, and is a great example of local small scale production. You can read all about it here, on their rather slick web site.   The shirts are not cheap and raise all the questions about how much we are prepared to pay for our clothes, showing it is that global capitalism has made mass production of so many goods so cheap that we can treat them as disposable blah blah … I’m sure most of you are familiar with the arguments on this. Anyway, it was a lot of money, like anything made in the UK that pays the maker anything more than living wage.

Gordon had been wearing an old cashmere jumper of my father’s under it. This goes back to when I worked in the knitwear industry and sometimes visited factories that would have garments on offer, so this is a beautiful garment, classic bottle green etc but with a moth hole right in the middle of the front, probably where some food or drink’s been spilled down it. No amount of mending, visible or invisible, is going to restore it to its former glory, but as an underlayer it’s perfect. However, a change is needed from time to time even if all these wool garments do hardly ever need to be washed, hence the call to action.

I suggested buying a merino base layer but when I admitted that I have some 3 ply pure machine washable wool on cone, a rare beast indeed, an order was placed. So it’s almost there, not quite enough for a photo though. I love machine knitting but as a process it’s not very photogenic, (unlike say hand spinning) which is a shame so here’s some not very attractive pics: (I don’t think machine knitting is meant for blogs or Instagram).

This is the start – the tension swatch, the working out and notes including the special green ruler for reading off stitch and row gauge. And while I was working out the shape of the garment, I had to search for a sleeve top shape and sound everything I needed on the Knitting & Crochet Guild web site here under the heading ‘Finding out more about designing’. It’s a mine of information and highly recommended although it’s not what I’d term designing, more pattern drafting.

Here’s some pics of the work in progress:

The blue is the garment and the yellow and green are waste yarn, used a lot on the machine.

Machine knitting is a great way of producing good quality garments quickly, or it can be combined with hand knitting or crochet to make items like blankets such as this one, featured some while ago. The central panels are machine knitted on my chunky machine and the deep border is double crochet. The yarn is all my own indigo dyeing, some over natural greys and dark greys. Design inspiration Amish and Welsh quilts by the way.

I’m also carrying on with hand knitting gloves for my friend Jenny a process not without upset as I had to undo about 3 hours of work when I realised that the yarn I was using was just not the right thickness. I do my utmost to use only stash yarn for these gloves and I’d run out of the perfect vintage pure wool 3 ply in the exact right shade of red, so I put in a heavier red which didn’t work. It’s on the white background, 2 pics, below. I then found a very thin pure wool on cone, and have continued with that. All is ok and progress is again being made.

And I’m also thinking about exhibitions, workshops and a lot of travel …. and hosting Beth Brown-Reinsel at the end of the month – thanks for the heads up Beth in her recent newsletter.

and wondering what I can do with this gorgeous yarn, a present from someone who knows I like to knit with 3 ply pure wool, (and there’s none better than Marion Foale’s) here:


I almost forgot to say that I have finished one or two of my many half finished projects …  a couple of Estonian wristwarmers.


December newsletter


Only a bit late this month!
I’ve been far too busy this month machine knitting. I’ve been knitting a batch of hand warmers for John Alexander Skelton ready for his next show early in the New Year. Keen readers of this blog (!) will remember that a couple of pairs of gloves knitted by me and my daughter were part of his last collection. I blogged about these earlier this year:

There are images of the show here – do go and look – you won’t see anything like it.

This time though, we agreed that I would machine knit which then meant that I could produce more, so I have done. Suddenly batch knitting felt like being back in the 1980s when I had a small business producing garments on the machine. When you have to do the same thing repeatedly – 40 thumbs and 64 fingers – for example, you find ways to refine and speed up the process along the way. Anyway, these samples were hand related so not big pieces and very enjoyable to do, although it has to be said that yoga was essential  last night to straighten out my poor old back and neck. The big plus of all this activity was that I have caught up on my Radio 4 listening.

I have been supporting Knit for Peace in the UK for a while now but I subscribe to Beth Brown-Reinsel’s newsletter here: and this post caught my eye. 

The Project Peace is an initiative that Beth mentions, organised by Christina Campbell, who has Knit Along with a pattern available on Ravelry

and a blog at TheHealthyKnitter where she shares ideas for doing peaceful things

So I will leave you with this inspirational project. We have to do what we can in these troubled times. I joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament yesterday as a non knitting way of peace promotion, although I’m more than slightly embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been a member for years.

Seasons greetings and have fun over the festive season, and a peaceful and enjoyable New Year.