Knit Nation 2011

Ahh long lost blog – I’ve missed you!  Jet lag, that is, waking at 5am in Ohio (I’m here for my brother-in-law’s wedding) is a blessing in disguise. What better time that to catch you all up on my slightly crazy last few months?

Our biggest news is this (found out on the 11th June 2011):

Oh yes, the two lines do mean what you think they mean. We are expecting, due 8 February.  So far so great, except, well, pregnancy hormones wreak havoc with day to day life… and bigger events! Which brings us to Knit Nation.

This July we had our second Knit Nation at Imperial College.  I need to thank several people and businesses – the first of which, and the most important, are our volunteer Crew.  Due to the above, I was crazy tired and incredibly cranky.  Michaela, who deserves special mention as the ultimate organiser ever, was the person who marshalled the forces and made sure everyone knew the where whens and whats of their volunteer roles.  The crew – who were amazing, kept me sane, kept me awake, and kept me from bursting into tears when I couldn’t have my morning breakfast baguette (yes I was also rather unreasonable and a bit of a drama queen as well as a total crankypants).  And of course, most importantly, they did a fantastic job of making sure the attendees, teachers and vendors were well looked after. A big huge thank you and sloppy kisses to all of the crew!

From left to right, back row: Sandy, Tina, Jaq, Lisa, Judith, Lucy, Carole, Saira, Tash, Michaela, Nora, Mel, Cookie. Front row: Mel H, Kerri, Jen, Ali, Koki, Alice.  Missing are: Tricia, Ling, Kate, Hattie, Nick, Dee, Marja, and our break down and build up movers and shakers Luke, Melissa & Paul.

And again from the back. 😉

We also want to thank our incredible sponsors Knitting Magazine and Ysolda for their continued support for Knit Nation. Thank you!

Our bingo night raised over £1600 for Refuge – which we could not have done with out the support of our generous sponors: Qiviut sponsors The Knitter & Knitspot, Cashmere sponsor The Little Knitting Company, and Merino sponsors Old Maiden Aunt, Signature Needle Arts, and A&C Black publishers. You can join us in raising more money for Refuge by picking up one of the bingo souvenir bags here.

And here are some random and fun shots! Lucy (our Wollmeise expert and *ahem* slight addict) with t-shirt she hand embroidered. It’s true too!

We had our very first Sokkusu Original stand – with all our lovely colours!

Queues outside for the Marketplace.

Even the local cops were curious – we didn’t get needles in their hands… next time!

The cutest little owls! I thought I tweeted it but drat I didn’t so here is a big thank you to KnitIam’s talented son Keane (12 years old) who crocheted these lovely little guys as gifts. Talented!! And oh so sweet. Thank you!

Happy Judith with cooooffeeeee!

There were also alot of Spritelings out and about – I didn’t manage to take that many photos but here are a few with details when I remembered to ask!

Elisala knitted hers in Sokkusu Original, HB2


Cream Cheese & Lox

This year seems to be all about change. My friend Ali has retrained as a horticulturist, Pippa an engineer is going back to college and retraining as a jeweler, and there are plans afoot for another friend to possibly head off to the chocolate and seafood of Belgium! And they aren’t the only ones. Hubby has been asked to move to Hong Kong, and in fact, is there already now. It’s just me and puggy for the time being, until he’s back in August.

And it seems that we will be over there before the year is out. I’m in two minds about the move – it is rather exciting and HK is quite an energetic place. The economy there is booming, I’m sure helped in no small way by the booming taking place all over China. The food there is awesome.  It’s close to Thailand, Laos, Japan, and Taiwan – places dear to my heart but quite far to visit from old Blighty. Tax is low, the transport system works. But of course, being over there means that I’m there, and my friends (who are basically my family too) are not. Which sucks. Super sucks. And let’s not even talk about the fact that Deuce can only get over there in cargo. 😦 Totally alone in a loud scary unfamiliar environment for over 13 hours.  Just thinking about it makes me feel sad.

But, I’ve been keeping my mind off things, what with Knit Nation around the corner, and dye orders to dye up.  I’ve also had a yen for bagels recently, and since I don’t live in a neighbourhood where I can just nip out to a Jewish bakers to pick up a dozen bagels (there is one place I can get proper bagels in my neighbourhood, but they are totally unreliable and frankly really airheaded about getting their deliveries) I figured, well, I better just make some myself!  So I assembled my ingredients, and got to work.  My first batch were cinnamon raisin.

After proving the sponge, then working the dough, making the bagels then retarding them in the fridge, I got to boiling them, then finishing them off in the oven.

They were pretty good, but I think they can be improved upon (J, I think you are right that baking/making food obsessively tends to run in the family!).

I made another batch of plain sesame bagels, because after the cinnamon raisin bagels, I really really wanted smoked salmon cream cheese bagels.  So off I went on round 2.

I overcooked these guys a little (should have adjusted for our fan oven) but they were tastier than my first batch. I left the sponge overnight, and the bagels retarded overnight in the fridge too (the cinnamon raisin ones only got 3 hours – I was impatient!)

Num num!

Knit Nation: More Carol Feller Classes

Due to popular demand, we have added two new classes for Carol Feller’s popular classes – “Short Rows Demystified” and “Seamless Knitting – Moving Beyond the Raglan” to the class roster at Knit Nation 2011! You can sign up at here.

Fisherman Twist

Carol Feller is an internationally published knitwear designer who has a great love of seamless designs and intuitive knitting.  She has been published in magazines such as Interweave Knits and The Twist Collective and her first book ‘Contemporary Irish Knits’ is being published with Wiley in August 2011.  You can see more of her work, as well as her blog, at


Carol’s popular class on Short Rows works students through several different ways of creating short rows until they find the method that perfectly suits them.  Once the short rows have been perfected students will learn all the wonderful uses for them; short row set-in sleeve shaping, bust shaping and shoulder shaping.  Learn how to use short rows to create the perfect garment for you.

Leitmotif Cardigan

Carol’s second class ‘“Seamless Knitting – Moving Beyond the Raglan” is an exciting class that explores the basics of seamless knitting and beyond.  Different construction types will be examined such as bottom up, top down and set-in sleeves. Students will learn the tools to create their own perfect fitting garments and even get started on their own choice of design in this class.  Tips on choosing the right sweater shape for you as well as how to adjust shaping to suit your own body.

KN2011 Class Schedule

The Knit Nation 2011 Class schedule is up! I’m so excited about the classes this year – we really have another wonderful team of teachers ready and eager to share their knowledge with Knit Nationites. I’m actually quite bummed since there are a ton of classes I would give my cashmere stash sock yarn stash right arm to take. Sadly, the bum side of being one of the organisers is that there just isn’t the time to take any classes (what was I thinking? Maybe I should change the rules….). Hee hee. You’ll all just have to take them for me and I’ll just live vicariously as I admire your swatches and class projects!

Registration will go live at the end of April, and if you’re signed up to the Knit Nation newsletter (at we’ll give you a heads up a couple weeks in advance.

I’ll stop here since I know you’re all itching to get to that schedule. Linky to the short version here and the long version (with class descriptions) here.

We’ll always have Paris

Thought I’d show you some yarn….




Lots more being dyed up ready to be sent out to the big wide world. Over the next two months, Sokkusu-O will be heading to:

L’Oisevethe in Paris (I think a trip to Paris is in order!)

Loopy Ewe in St Louis, USA (be still my beating heart!)

Holland Road Yarn Company in Wellington, NZ, owned by the lovely Tash B

and Stitch Perfect in Birmingham, in the funky Custard Factory.

I’m so excited to be part of the yarn lines in these fabulous shops. 😀  And of course, I’ll have some Sokkusu too for the Socktoshop, but I’m afraid you’ll have to be patient a little longer as I’m first getting the Knit Nation schedule out (yes it is almost ready. Just waiting for a couple final things before posting it – which should be this weekend!).

Knit Nation Mascots

A while ago I came across Irene Strange’s wonderful amigurumi and totally fell in love.

Bob & Daisy sheep


Dreamy Giraffe.

So when Irene agreed to create a fun brooch pattern for a Knit Nation mascot, I was super excited, and waited with baited breath to see what she would come up with.

I received a packet today, and opened the envelope to find these wee cuties:

You’ll be able to crochet your own versions of the Knit Nation mascots to wear at Knit Nation.  Either pug or sheep!  Which is kind of fitting, since the logo for Knit Nation was initially going to be this:

But Cookie nixed the pugs.  Sheep are, I admit, way more subject appropriate! But I have a total soft spot for pugs, so we have sheep mascots and pug mascots.

The pattern will be available in a month or so. I’ll let you know where and when once it is all set.


Knit Nation sneak peek!

It’s almost time to unveil our class schedule for Knit Nation 2011. We should have it ready in about a week’s time. Until then, Cookie & I thought we would whet your appetite (and alleviate the waiting jitters) with a list of vendors so far, and the teacher list!

2011’s amazing vendors will include (in no particular order):

John Arbon Textiles
Brownberry Yarns
Juno Fibre ARts
Renaissance Dyeing
Skein Queen
The Yarn Yard
Yarn Box
The Bothered Owl
The Little Knitting Company
Blacker Designs & Yarns
GMC Publishing
Jeanette Sloan
Tall Yarns’n’Tales
Sweet Clement
Loop Knitting
StitchMastery Knitting Software
Old Maiden Aunt
Habu Textiles
The Natural Dye Studio
Krafty Koala
Great British Yarns
Atomic Knitting
Knit Cook (Darlene Hayes of Nature’s Palette Yarns)

And finally, our 2011 teacher line up. All I can say is YAY!!! Here they are (again in no particular order):

Franklin Habit
Cookie A
Anne Hanson
Susanna Hanson
Susan Crawford
Clara Parkes
Merike Saarnit
Leena Alve
Carol & Pete Leonard
Judith Mackenzie McCuin
Julie Weisenberger
Carol Feller
Elise Duvekot

We hope that this list gets your imagination and knitting and spinning mojo running. We will be in touch via newsletter as soon as we have a definite date when the class schedule is going up.

Rumpled, Spring Shoots & Mince Pie Mayhem

Sock patterns Rumpled!, Spring Shoots and Mince Pie Mayhem are now available for purchase on Ravelry as pdf downloads.

I have been up to my eyeballs in pdfs, indesign documents, alignment, layers, text styles. for weeks now… I had NO IDEA that formatting and layout could take so long… and be so totally absorbing.  I looked at the clock yesterday and it was 1pm.  Then I looked again and it was 9pm.  How did that happen? I get hooked in the way I get hooked in by video games (drat you Kate for showing me Angry Birds!! so many hours sucked into the void). I’ve been working on the yearbook for the Knit Love Club 2010 – which is taking FOREVER but I am finally happy with how it is looking. Wanna see the front and back covers?

Yup that is my favourite yellow green colour on the back. It’s also in the Socktopus logo (the thin lines in the background).  I also noticed that is is all over in Cookie’s book.  If one can moon over a colour, I am definitely mooning over this one.

And since I’m feeling the love and want to share – it is Valentine’s Day still somewhere after all – remember the new advert for Knit Nation in Knitting Magazine that I mentioned but wouldn’t show you, meanie that I am? If you’re on Ravelry you probably have seen the new banner ads and notebook ads. Here is a sneak preview of the full page – it should be hitting the stands on the 17th.

We asked Julie, the designer behind the Ravelry party artwork at Knit Nation last year, to create something special for Knit Nation 2011. I am totally in love with it!  It has London’s iconic buildings, a few sheep here and there, old style London signs… and a black cab! how cool.

Hubby, if he is reading, though I suspect his one day of blog reading has tired him out, would be heartened by the support given his beloved golden syrup!  Kerri & Josie – tis true – golden syrup as an ingredient is pretty entrenched in British cooking – especially the puddings!

And Carie – thank you for the tip on flapjacks! Hubby has been making them with honey and they just don’t taste right. I’ll suggest he use his beloved instead – he’ll be soooo excited. And pleased that I’m actually giving him a legit excuse to buy more of the stuff!

PS Happy Birthday Tricia!!

Looking Forward

All good things must come to an end sometime, if only so you can look forward to its coming again. This morning, Cookie, Anne & her husband David all bundled into a taxi and were whisked away to the airport. The flat feels so empty now, with just me and Deuce rattling around. Sad.

But no point in dwelling on the blue… we had a great time and I know that July is going to be a blast.  Last night we went out for a lovely meal at Chutney Mary.  We started out with cocktails – Anne & I had a strawberry vodka cardamom drink, and Cookie had hibiscus flower in prosecco. Very purdy drinks, and tasty too!

Hibiscus Flower in Prosecco

Anne’s husband David came to meet the girls before their trip to Scotland, and it was such a treat to be able to get to know him.  He has a poet’s heart and manner.

David, Anne & Cookie

The restaurant has a lovely conservatory area and we were lucky enough to be seated at one of the large tables under the central tree.

Leggy Gnome, Little Gnome, and Giggly Gnome

I failed to take any photos of any of the food, which was delicious.  I did take a photo of Cookie’s hands demonstrating the b for bread on the left and d for drink on the right as an aide memoire for place settings. I’d never come across this before – I think it is both genius and totally hilarious.  Spent a fair bit of time at dinner laughing at my hands making the same shapes as Cookie’s.  Clearly I’d had a fair bit to drink by this point!

b for Bread and d for Drink!

One thing I can never remember is which side to put the knives and which side to put the fork. I grew up with chopsticks which were always on the right which is no help. And since I grew up in Canada where we use our right hand to hold a fork, and now live in the UK where we use our left hand to hold a fork, it’s all a bit muddled in my head.

We chatted about work, cameras, and eventually came to the topic of blogs – and I found it fascinating that none of our husbands read our blogs! David doesn’t read mine, Cookie’s husband doesn’t read hers, and Anne’s David doesn’t read hers either (though he does post on it from time to time when Anne is away). My David’s argument was that he knows already what I’m doing etc, which would be alright except that half the time he has no idea, and the other half I probably told him but he forgot so he still has no idea. So my curiosity is piqued – do your other halves read your blogs? do you read your other halves’ blogs?

For you Knit Nation aficionados – we have pretty much finalised our teacher list and we will have the class schedule up at the end of the month. Sign up to the newsletter at to be first in the know.

The past few weeks have really been a whirlwind -hubby went skiing and so I took advantage of the empty kitchen to do some monumental dyeing. All the KLC skeins, the Man of Rock and the class skeins for Cornwall, and a few extra for the retreat “tuck shop”. About 130 in total over 5 days. My David went to Holland, Cookie & Anne arrived, then my David went to Brussels and we went to Cornwall. After Cornwall, I came home while Cookie & Anne headed north with Anne’s David, and sent out the Gnomely pattern (KLC’s first pattern), and then dyed up all the Bloodlines yarns (for the Twilight kits) and knit up the Bloodlines sock pattern before Cookie, Anne and Anne’s David returned London from the north. Phew!

And there is still more – finish the rest of the text for my book, the Knit Nation class schedule, the Knit Nation website, KLC 2010 patterns for release, and 4 more patterns for the book. Ack and alack. I am going to be SOOO happy when March rolls around and I am done the big ticket things. Then I can go back to some gentle knitting, and maybe even *gasp* knitting on something for myself!

When I passed on the Bloodlines yarns to Dee, we had time for some coffee, chit chat and knitting. Dee brought her Sokkusu-L from the True Blood kit for the Bloodlines Sock Club. I took a few photos since I stupidly sent it all off without photographing the skeins. I totally love this colourway. It’s called Bill Compton and is a super bright blood red – vamp-juice, as it were. She’s knitting it up in my 2luvcrew socks pattern which will be available later this year.

Bill Compton Colourway for Bloodlines

Pride Before the Fall

Remember how I was all excited about my new BusyCal calendar? How I had put in all my dates and appointments? And feeling rather smug about it, I must admit. My new start to the year!  No more missing birthdays! I was going to be the Queen of Date Recall!  And then on Monday, despite having the calender, despite telling R on Saturday that Deuce had a vet’s appointment first thing Monday morning, despite telling DH the same thing on Sunday, I still managed to totally miss Deuce’s appointment.  Bah.   B, you need not worry that I have morphed into a stranger with perfect date recall.  My reign as Queen was very short lived.  Oh the hubris.

I did, however, make the Monday night knit night (which was not in my diary.  Go figure).   I bundled up and headed out to St Chads where the girls were meeting up.  Cocktails, fries, charcuterie, chocolate, and chit chat.  A nice end to a slightly shambolic Monday. Thanks chicas. 🙂

Headed down to the City afterwards to pick up my hard working hubby from work. Poor guy. Late nights are on the menu for the next couple weeks.

Passing St Paul’s reminded me of my walks to work – I’d get off at Blackfriars and walk through the little windy back lanes up to St Pauls, and then cross through Paternoster square towards London Wall.  On the way to the Bastion Highwalk, I crossed through into the Postman’s Park, which is home to George Frederic Watt’s Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice, a memorial to ordinary people who died saving the lives of others.  There is a covered seating area with a long wall of ceramic memorial tablets.  First thing in the morning, it’s quiet and peaceful.  A nice little interlude before the main action of the day.

Am looking forward to the start of Glee again – it seems like so long since the last series ended.  I really enjoy the singing.  Watched Grease the other night. My can that Danny Zuko dance and sing! I kept getting distracted by his trousers – they were pulled up scarily high. Maybe they were some prototype stretchy material – I can’t imagine dancing would be comfortable… sorry, tangent.

Meanwhile – this week Cookie & I are finalising our teacher line up for Knit Nation.  Just got off the phone with Judith MM who confirmed she is still up for a traipse across the pond.  I had a total fan girl moment… it’s hard to be all professional and business like when inside I’m jumping up and down like a girl with her feet on fire – but oh, she is lovely and what a thrill.  EEEEEEEEE!!!  Now to go down the rest of the list and confirm.  We should have our teacher line up ready by the end of the month, and the class schedule ready by the end of February. But before then, nose to the grindstone.

But not til tomorrow – now time for a little knitting before bed.