Posh Company

DH and I are off to Turkey for a week. Really looking forward to the break – am in two minds as to whether to bring the laptop… and think will probably succumb. Have two posts to write for Knit Nation next week, and will need my laptop!

Spent the day today with Veronica from Dream in Color Yarns.  Really fun hanging out with her and chatting. She gave me some really useful guidance on growing orchids – am looking forward to getting into them when I get back. They don’t need too much sun or too much water so do well with a little benign neglect. Ran around today getting some last minute stuff for our hols – swimsuits, painted toes, some summer clothes, and taking Deuce to the vet for a quick check up (he had some problems with his eye earlier this week).  All fine now, and we dropped him off with his walker.  Turns out he is keeping some posh company this weekend. His fellow boarder is Prince & Princess Michael of Kent’s black lab Shadow.  Goodness. First a Lady ‘governess’ and now a princeling co-boarder.  Sigh. It’s a pug’s life.

Will try to blog a bit while I’m away.  Might be too tiring lazing around by the pool!

C is for Cookie

Cookies. Yum yum I love them. They are incredibly simple to make, so satisfying, and come in infinite variations on the theme. Oatmeal and raisin, oatmeal chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate chip and hazelnut, white chocolate and macadamia nut, white chocolate and coconut, etc etc. But sometimes, good old fashioned plain chocolate chip cookies are just the ticket. So I made a big old batch of chocolate chip cookies for our first knit night at All the Fun of the Fair. Buzz booked the big room next to Buffy’s Beads, we ordered food up from C’est Ici downstairs, and even had it delivered cause they are sweet like that (I think that Yuvee fluttering her lashes and flirting with the waiter helped too). We had a couple new comers and that was really nice too. A lovely lady from NZ and a young business major starting her first cushion!

C is for Cookie

Update on the police incident: Sergeant Massie also called me yesterday to discuss the ‘incident’. Thanks mom & Jenny for your comments! Lol I had a few emails expressing outrage too! I feel badly as it is a total waste of time for the Sergeant to have to call me, ask me what happened and try to unravel the thread of this particular incident, yet I feel that if this is something that is prevalent in the police force it really needs to be nipped in the bud. Were I a man, adding testosterone to the feeling of indignation would not be conducive to calm discussion. Add to that the kind of reaction a police officer would have to a defensive person… a rather explosive combination I would think. Not to to mention any race issues that might add to the dynamic mix. So hopefully Sergeant Massie sorts it out, has a quiet word and the innocent ambler along Chelsea Embankment will be free to enjoy the sunshine and river in peace.

As I get older, my health seems to become more of an issue. No worries here, am pretty healthy, but as hayfever season gets closer am trying to get my sniffles under control.

Enter my first line of defence:


Flixonase Nasule


Interesting contraptions. The first, Neilmed, is a nasal cavity wash. Basically you squeeze the contents of the bottle up one nostril and it comes out the other. I’ve never done it before, and it is, well, interesting. Sort of like when you get water up your nose at the pool, except it doesn’t sting or make you choke/gag. Weird feeling. Am not entirely sure it does anything, but after only two days of use I’ll wait a bit more before deciding.

The second, little ampoules of some kind of steroid. The doctor stuck a long thin rod up my nose but it was all swollen (from blowing my nose for a year straight). I couldn’t help thinking of the egyptians and wondering whether he could poke my brain with the rod. It apparently can go right up your nose to the centre of your head – about 8 inches or so I’d guess. Mine only went a few inches. Phew! No brain poking!

The last, some antibiotics for some kind of something up my nose. Hopefully they will sort the constant sniffling out. Oh I also had a CT scan of my head. Better cover all bases.

We don’t get our results from the health MOT yet, but it was pretty comprehensive. Blood tests for all sorts of things, EKG, oxygen capacity, heart rate before and after exercise, physical, hearing test, sight test, urine test. We get the results in a few weeks. We had one more test – which I haven’t yet gotten the balls up to do. Bit yucky really. Three stool swabs. Blech. And we are supposed to POST them out. No joke. It gives me a whole new appreciation for our posties and sorting offices.

Postal Poop Pack

Hopscotch Socks & Soak

Three pieces of news

The first is that the Hopscotch Socks pattern by Anna Bell is available in the Socktopus Pattern Shop.  It’s a great pattern using a slip stitch cable. Awesome with variegated yarns as well as solids.


Second – you might remember me mentioning I had some news I was waiting to finalise before announcing.  Well it’s official now –  meet the new National Account Manager UK for Soak Wash! Yeeeppee. So excited. Soak is such an awesome product and I’m really excited to be working with Jacqueline & Chris from Soak. So if you have a local yarn shop that needs some SOAK (or if you have a shop you think should carry SOAK) then leave me a comment with the name of the shop or your contact details.

Three – I started my first day at All the Fun of the Fair yesterday.  If you haven’t been, it’s in Carnaby Street, just off Regent Street, in Kingly Court.  Kingly Court has three levels of funky shops, and a courtyard in the middle.

All the Fun of the Fair is on the top level, next to the Walk in Backrub shop and Triyoga.

All the Fun of the Fair

Triyoga Soho

Courtyard where I saw Hare Krishnas dancing

There were Hare Krishnas dancing, and some Eastender actors that visited on Tuesday. The actors visited the shop, the Hare Krishnas just danced through the courtyard on the ground floor.

C'mon in!

It’s a cute little shop – there is yarn – both the cheap and cheerful for those just wanting to start out, and the more luxurious and quirky like indie dyers or Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop yarn. Lots of great haberdashery supplies – vintage buttons, iron on patches, ribbons, handmade tags for your knitting. Kind of like an Aladdin’s cave of delights.. if Aladdin happened to be heavy into hand crafts.


Oh I guess I have four – I got stopped by the cops today!  Walking along, minding my own business, and a cop stops me to ask me 1) what business I have in the area – eg do I live there, and 2) to see my id.  Well, given that I know that cops cannot just randomly stop people – they have to have a reason, and they have to tell you that reason – seeing as the policeman wouldn’t give me a reason, other than to say I sounded defensive when he asked me if I lived in the area (I asked him if he was serious), I called the local police station to lodge a complaint.

I was dressed, admittedly, a little scruffy but hey, I don’t look like a vagrant, delinquent or crack head (at least I hope I don’t). I wash and I brush my teeth.  Occasionally I brush my hair (it’s ramrod straight and doesn’t really tangle so, well, I don’t brush alot).  I was carrying my Socktopus tote bag, with a big ball of yarn on it.  I was listening to my ipod (Harry Potter, for the zillionth time. I like listening to Stephen Fry. He’s a great story teller and a fab mimic).  Really, I am not, nor do I look like, a threatening, violent criminal.

So being stopped by a cop for me was quite disturbing.  Was it because I was wearing a puffer jacket (with a big Cambridge emblem emblazoned on the chest)? Was it because I am Chinese – did he think I was an illegal immigrant heading to my illegal job along Chelsea Embankment?  Did he think I was a local drug lord out to make a transaction?  Who knows, he never told me despite being asked point blank why he stopped me.

Afterwards I felt very indignant.  Surely they have better things to do with their time than to ask a 5’4″ Chinese girl, strolling by the river in broad daylight on Chelsea Embankment what she is doing with her time?  And see my id? The UK is one country where no one carries id on them.  You don’t even need to keep your drivers licence on you when you’re driving. If you are stopped, you only need to show up at the police station within a given time period with your licence.  Besides – really, surely if I am strolling along minding my own business, why is that the police’s business if they have no cause to question me?  It really does make me worry that the police do not understand or respect the scope of their own powers.  Even when I called the police station, the first person I spoke with was rather gruff with me and told me that the police have the right to stop anyone they want.  I questioned this and he told me he would pass me to someone who could confirm.  I was passed to Chris, who confirmed after referring to his superiors, that the police could not stop anyone they wanted, they could only stop someone with cause, and they have to tell you why they are stopping you if they do.  Harumph.  Seriously, the police should know their own powers better than the average joe, and the fact that they do not seem to is very worrying.

Right- enough brow furrowing. Here’s a poster I saw in the tube at Earl’s Court.  I did a double take.  Maybe you should too?


Anna Zilboorg Classes Cancelled

We are very sad to have to tell you that Anna Zilboorg will be unable to join us for Knit Nation due to health reasons. We wish her the best and thank you for your patience while we contact each person signed up for Anna’s classes.

Students signed up to Anna Zilboorg’s classes will be offered a full refund, or a credit to be applied against another class of their choice, subject to availability. We apologise for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

Knit Nation Blog Tour

We’ve started a ‘blog tour’ over at the Knit Nation blog. We’ve interviewed all our teachers and will be featuring each teacher in a post on the blog over the coming weeks. Our first teacher to be interviewed is Wendy Johnson of Wendyknits.net. Do pop over for a visit!

Poor Deuce was ill yesterday so was worrying about him – but true to his hardy puggy self, he’s totally fine.  No amount of belly ache seems to put him off his food.  Today has been a busy day. Things that needed to be posted were posted, things that needed to be written got written, VAT forms and payment that really needed to be sent out got sent out.  I’ve been a real dolt – i have sent a parcel now 3 times by special delivery.  The first time it was sent back to me because like a dummy, I didn’t realise that what I thought was a house name was the name of a town.  Doh!  So I wrote the house name on it. But it got sent back again.  Today it went out, and the guy at the post office told me to cross out the return address on the front and write it on the back of the package.  Fingers crossed it gets to its intended recipient and not back to me tomorrow morning!

Tomorrow I have a health MOT – our health insurance has this ‘pot’ of cash that we can use for stuff like this and we decided to use it – otherwise we lose it come June.  Should be interesting – no eating for 9 hours before and they do a health test, blood test and goodness knows what else.  Mine is at 2pm – which means I can’t eat anything before then. I hope they don’t make me run hard or after I get my blood taken as I will likely pass out!

Firstly thanks for the kind comments about the shawl – am very happy with it! And answers – Danielle: I hadn’t planned on selling my patterns at Knit Nation, in fact it hadn’t even occurred to me!  If I have extra time to sort it out then it is a possibility! 🙂

Stonehenge, Petrus & Seriously Gorgeous Lace

I‘ve had a full week – but really fun. My cousin A and her son G were visiting from California (Orange County) over G’s Easter holidays. I was a little nervous about finding fun things for a 14 year old to do – I really am out of touch with teenagers, particularly boys! I can at least remember what it was like to be a teenie girl, but boy? And DH was little help – any questions about his childhood are invariably met with ‘er, I don’t remember’. How thrilled was I to find my little cuz and I shared a love for food! yay! So what did we do?

Borough Market, of course, the famous Brindisa chorizo line. Petrus – Gordon Ramsay’s new-old restaurant. It used to be that Marcus Wareing was the head chef of Petrus in the Berkeley Hotel. Well, Chef Ramsay and Chef Wareing went their separate ways, so now the old Petrus is the new Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, and the new Petrus is in a different location, headed up by chef Sean Burbidge. We had lunch at the new Petrus – newly opened just two weeks ago – and G was delighted to find that the restaurant director was none other than Jean-Phillippe Susilovic from Hell’s Kitchen fame. Needless to say a lot of photos ensued, with Jean-Phillippe handling the attention with aplomb and good grace. Very charming man, handling four giggly women and one goggly teenager with very good humour. We had an absolutely delicious lunch (and fabulous value at £25 for 3 courses!) and were invited to visit the kitchen after lunch. The food scene in London has changed hugely over the last 2 decades – when A lived on the Isle of Wight for a year – so it was nice to be able to pleasantly surprise them with the quality of food available here.

The outer sarsen circle framing the Heel Stone, seen from inside.

We also went to visit Stonehenge, which I did with my mom years ago. Through a friend (thanks Carole!) I found you can visit Stonehenge outside normal hours and actually get up close and personal with the huge stones. Being inside the circle was a different experience to standing far away. I can see why it was a spiritual place – standing within the huge stone circle you can’t help but feel awed. The hugest stones weigh 40 tonnes each. They are over 24 ft tall. You can see how big they are in the photo – see the teeny tiny peeps on the right?

Size Perspective

It blows my mind to think that those stones have stood there for over four thousand years.

Me and the sarsen Trilithon

We got to watch the sun set on Stonehenge, then we drove to Stockbridge and had dinner at the Greyhound pub. Lovely place – really nice food. Turns out DH also went there on his stag lunch.

Lastly I have also been busy with three projects – the next Knit Love Club sock which I’m pretty psyched about. Got the yarn, worked out the pattern already, and have a little errand to run before starting to knit it up. The aim is to have the samples done in 2 weeks time, ready for a photo shoot in Turkey! Plenty of time.

The second is a sock pattern for a magazine. Very excited! It’s being knit up as I type and I’m really pleased with that one too.

The last is another Aurantium Shawl – this time in Knitwitches Seriously Gorgeous Swiss Cashmere & Silk Laceweight. It is from the same blend as the Handmaiden Swiss Cashmere & Silk 4 ply – 65% cashmere, 35% silk – that I knit my previous Aurantium Shawl from, in fact it is from the same mill. Eirwen has a limited supply of this yarn and I believe she is the only one at present who has any of it. Seriously – run and get some because it is TO DIE FOR! It retails for £32, and you get 1000 metres/100grams for that. I used 32 grams to knit the large size of the Aurantium Shawl. She doesn’t have it listed on her site, but give her a buzz. She is lovely, chatty and will dye to order. I’ve got two more of these babies to knit with. So excited!

Scarab Neroli

Seriously Gorgeous Laceweight Cashmere & Silk blocks out beautifully

Eirwen outdid herself – I wanted an insecty colourway and she came up with Scarab – a gorgeous copper and teal combination.

The silk content allows for lovely crisp edges

The laceweight is amazing. I loved the 4 ply, as it had a soft hand from the yummy cashmere, and despite being lightweight was incredible warm; the laceweight has all these properties, it still feels like you are holding heavenly clouds in your hands, but as the yarn is much finer, the silk properties really come through in spades. It has the cashmere halo, but the sheen of the silk dominates to give it a beautiful glow. It also blocks beautifully – much more crisp and starched than the 4ply, while retaining that crazy I-want-to-roll-around-in-it-naked softness. Today it is getting posted off for a photo shoot. Am a bit sad to say goodbye to it so soon after finishing (blocked just last night) but I will see it again soon enough.

The Amazing Shirley Paden

"New York Noir" Grey jacket by Shirley Paden, Vogue Knitting Winter 2007

You may know Shirley Paden from her designs which are a regular feature in Vogue Knitting & Interweave Knits or you may know Shirley Paden from her exclusive Design Masterclass which is currently taught at her New York studio (and now Knit Nation along with a Colourwork Masterclass for Fair Isle & Intarsia).

Either way, you should definitely check out her new book Knitwear Design Workshop which Shirley recently published as a partner to her Design Masterclass.  The 344 page spiral bound graduate-level reference book takes you through the design process, from conception to execution t0 finishing with clear succinct instructions, charts, sketches, diagrams and mathematical conversion formulas for all the steps in between. If you want to learn how to put a garment together with the skill of a couturier, this book will show you how. Using five basic body silhouettes as the design architecture (Classic, Drop-Shoulder, Double Taper, Single-Taper & Reverse-Taper), the book then guides you through adding the design elements – armhole shaping, sleeves, necklines and collars plus stitch pattern and yarn – to create a custom fit garment.

Shirley Paden's awesome book Knitwear Design Workshop

I managed to relieve a friend of 5 skeins off Dream in Color Classy in Petal Shower…. I have a spring cardigan in mind… something casual yet classy. Am looking forward to experimenting and learning from Shirley’s book.

Dream in Color Petal Shower

Oh and I keep meaning to show you these sheep! These were displayed in the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour during Design Week.  They are sculptures made with 20,000 rolled up pages from old books.

Happy Easter!