Knitting up a storm!

I’ve been blogging over on The Golden Skein Blog again. 🙂

The Golden Skein

Tornado over London?  Well not too sure about that, but our members where certainly whirlwind knitters with our Tornado over London colourways from Quarter 1 of the Power of 3 and Slimmers’ clubs.

If you haven’t knitted yours yet, here’s a selection to inspire you…

Dye for Yarn – Tornado over London


The lovely Louise Tilbrook knitted the Velvet Rose Shawl by Helen Stewart.  I think this is gorgeous and am seriously tempted to turn my DFY skein into this too, but my skein is reserved for the P/Hop Commonwealth Games Knit-a-long.

Louise Tillbrook's Velvet Rose Louise Tilbrook’s Velvet Rose

Linda (aka Lindarose287) bought 2 of these wonderfully fluffy skeins and knitted this gorgeous cardi called Hematite by Lisa Mutch.

LIndaRoses287's Hematite Lindarose287’s Hematite

LIndaRoses287's Hermatite2Linda took advantage of the incredibly long length of this 100 g skein – a whopping 480 metres! I’m sure you agree, the results are fabulous.  as is Linda’s figure…

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Flying high

As I’ve been very lazy with my own blog, thought I’d keep you up to date on The Golden Skein blog.

The Golden Skein

Tornado over London yarns

Quarter 1 of our Power of 3 Club and Slimmers’ Club went really well for us.  All our fabulous members adored the yarns and many came back for more – which meant that we had sold out by mid April.  Wow Wee!!

So for those of you who missed out, here’s what our fantastic dyers came up with from this stunning photo!

Tornado G4 over London, courtesy of the Ministry of Defence Tornado G4 over London, courtesy of the Ministry of Defence

First to arrive at TGS London came from the dyeing genius of Beata of Hedgehog Fibre‘s in Dublin, Ireland:


100 grams of a gorgeous high twist sock yarn consisting of 80% Blue Faced Leicester wool and 20% nylon. The colourway was named “Stark” and uses a  silvery grey base, representing the silver plane and grey sky, but with beautiful and subtle variations of other colours picked out from the ground below.  I made socks with mine –…

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The Golden Skein

I’ve been rather quiet for a while, but that’s because I’ve been busy with my lovely business partner Jo (aka Shinybees), with The Golden Skein.

We are commissioning independent hand dyers, from around the world, to create colourways for us from inspiration pictures and then retailing them in yarn clubs to limited numbers.  Some of the dyers may be know to you but many will be entirely new. We hope to introduce talented dyers to a wider audience, as well as have lots of fun sharing pattern ideas and pictures of projects with existing and potential club members.

At the moment, we have just the 2 clubs up and running: The Power of 3 Club, which sends 3 skeins a quarter to members, each dyed by different dyers to the same inspiration picture; and The Slimmers’ Club which is just 1 skein from 1 of the dyers in the Power of 3 Club, designed for those on a yarn diet or who are a little short of cash, but don’t want to miss out on the excitement and fun of it all.  We also hope to run The Small Flockers Club and the 837 Miles Club.

I’m pleased to say that sign ups are open and going well.  All clubs are limited edition and the yarns are non-repeatable.    Our post out dates are 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December and you can sign up for 1, 2, 3 or all 4 quarters.

These are the pictures which we will be using for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter 2014.

Tornado GR4 Over London

Spring: Tornado GR4 over London, form UK Ministry of Defence on Flickr


Summer: Harvest by Lorna Rande on Flickr


Autumn: Harvest by Tom on Flickr


Winter: Celebration by Yihan on Flickr (used with kind permission)

We ran the Trial Club to make sure that everything worked properly and, barring a few website glitches, all went well – Phew!  There was so much excitement and we were very pleased (not to mention mightily relieved) that our yarn club was well received.  The excitement and chatter over on our Ravelry group was fabulous.  Thank you so much ladies for being so enthusiastic and fun.

This is the inspiration picture for the Trial club, which was used with the kind permission of Nick Ford.

Happy New Decade by Nick FordHappy New Decade, by Nick Ford

And here is what our fabulous dyers produced, 3 fabulously different skeins of yarn:

Trial Club 3

This first to arrive at TGS headquarters, way back in September, was Nurturing Fibre’s 100% merino in a colourway named “Golden Dawn”.  You can read about Carlé and her experience dyeing for TGS here.  Carlé hand delivered the yarn all the way from South Africa.  OK, that wasn’t quite as extreme as it sounds, Carlé was lucky enough to be doing a small tour of Europe and met me one evening for supper.  I don’t think the staff of Pizza Express had ever seen so much yarn.  At on point we had Carlé’s whole new season of colours covering the table top!

"Golden Dawn", dyed by Nurturing Fibres  for the TGS Trial Club

“Golden Dawn”, dyed by Nurturing Fibres
for the TGS Trial Club

Next to arrive was Sparkleduck‘s “And The Clouds Began to Break” which arrived by post and was surprisingly different from Carlé’s – this was very exciting! This yarn is a luxurious 55% wool and 45% silk.   You can read all about Heather’s dyeing inspiration here.

"And the Clouds Began to Break" dyed by Sparkleduck for the TGS Trial Club

“And the Clouds Began to Break” dyed by Sparkleduck for the TGS Trial Club

And last, buy by no means least, For The Love of Yarn‘s “Walk of Tranquility” arrived.  I didn’t get to see this yarn in the flesh (so to speak) until the club members did.  Jo sent me one skein at the same time as she sent out all the TGS club parcels.  It was very exciting to see the package arrive.  I’d seen pictures of the packaging but didn’t really know how lovely it was till it arrived in the post. The golden mailers really add to the excitement.   Lisa wrote something for us too about her dyeing process. You can read it here.  This yarn is very squishy, or “smooshy” as Jo calls it, because it is 80% merino superwash with 20% bamboo.

Walk of Tranquillity dyed by For the Love of Yarn for the TGS Trial Club

“Walk of Tranquillity” dyed by For the Love of Yarn for the TGS Trial Club

I can’t wait to see what our next 3 dyers come up with for the first quarters of  The Power of 3Yarn  Club and the Slimmers’ Club from the fabulous photo of a Tornado over London.   Just look at all those silvers and greys and then there’s all the tiny flecks of colours on the ground, which should make for some interesting effects. I’m sure we’re going to get 3 stunning Golden Skeins.  The first yarn will be arriving next week and I’m getting over excited already!!

If you’d like to know what it’s like to be a member of a Golden Skein yarn club, then take a look at these blogs and podcasts from those lucky enough to take part in the Trial Club.  I’ll be posting again soon (OK you probably know by now that it may be a while) about the projects I made with my 3 yarns.

Blogs from trial club members:

The wonderful Shoe wrote on her Sparkly Shoes are Faster  blog

The fabulous Martine wrote “Oh Yarn” on her iMake blog

The lovely Clare wrote on her Yarn and Pointy Sticks blog

Podcasts about the Trial Club

Yarns from the Plain


Caithness Craft Collective

Knitting with TGS yarn

The lovely Shoe also wrote a blog about her first TGS project: 2014 The Year of the Sock

What Jo had to say about it all

The Shinybees blog post

The Shinybees podcast


The thrill of popularity

I released a new pattern yesterday morning and was reasonably pleased by the number of downloads throughout the day and by the time I went out that night I was pleasantly surprised by how well it was going.  The next morning I was quite shocked by the sheer number of download confirmation emails sitting in my inbox:  437


I have spent the rest of the day marvelling at just how popular the pattern is.  It is being downloaded at a rate of more than 1 per minute – it’s just amazing.  It has made it to number 2 on Ravelry’s “Hot right now” section too!


As I write (9:35pm, 16 November), the pattern has been downloaded 1364 times!!  Now, I’d love to think that it is all because I am wonderfully talented and have designed the best pair of fingerless mitts ever going, but I know that this is predominantly down to the fact that I am offering the pattern for FREE if you download it before the end of November.  Just type in the coupon code FREE at the Ravelry check out.  Here’s the link: Pat’s Mitts.  I’m thrilled to bits by its popularity – no matter what the reason! 🙂

Here’s more about the pattern – please note that if you click the Buy Now button below, it will by-pass the discount bit and you’ll have to pay the full £3, so please use the link above if you are downloading before the end of November.

Pat’s Mitts


A long, super cosy pair of fingerless mitts embellished with a simple cable pattern

Each mitt is knitted in the round, from the bottom up, in reverse stocking stitch with a traditional cable pattern running along the back of the arm and hand. The pattern gives instructions using the magic loop technique. Here’s a link to how to do magic loop Knit Picks magic loop tutorial. Any experienced user of DPNs will be able to convert the pattern easily, if magic loop isn’t your thing.

My lovely friend, Patrick, wanted some mitts. He was quite specific about his requirements. They must be black, with a cable running along the arm and he wanted them to be quite long covering the wrist. The first time he asked for mitts, I attempted to teach him to knit, with a view to him making his own. I soon realised that knitting some mitts in the round, with a cable, was probably a little beyond his talents – his enthusiasm was laudable but sadly his particular talent for “making” stitches where none were required was rather prohibitive!

Easily adaptable The mitt is a good average size with plenty of stretch and will, therefore, fit most people. If, however, you’re making them for a particularly small or large hand, this can be easily achieved by adding or removing a couple of sts – feel free to contact me if you would like help with this.

You will need:

130 metres (142 yards) of aran weight (worsted) yarn, 4 mm (US size 6) circular needles (or size to obtain gauge) of at least 80 cm in length, a cable needle, 2 or 3 stitch markers, a darning needle and either a stitch holder or some spare yarn.


24 stitches over 29 rows per 10 cm square (in unblocked reverse stocking stitch)

Approximate Dimensions

Each finished mitt, when laid flat, measures:
Width 7cm (3”) approximately
Length 25 cm (10”) approximately

Gunpowder, treason, plot and parkin

Remember remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot,

I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot


On the 5th of November 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught in the basement of the Houses of Parliament with several barrels of gunpowder, intending to blow up the building and destroy Parliament.  For more than 400 years the English have commemorated the event with a bonfire, upon which an effigy of Fawkes is burned.  Nowadays, few remember the reason, or consider the consequences of the destruction of the system of government, but instead enjoy a great family evening of fun, food and fireworks!

My childhood bonfire nights were fabulous family occasions shared with the neighbours in our street.  We’d start weeks in advance by “chumping”, which is collecting wood, twigs and other things to burn on the fire.  We’d also build a “Guy” – usually old clothes stuffed with newspaper, with a balloon or a football for a head sporting a hastily drawn face.  The guy would be transported in a wheelbarrow to various neighbours’ houses where we’d ask for a “penny fer t’ Guy” i.e. money for fireworks!

Last week I caught up with my great friend Richard.  Richard and I grew up living next door to each other in West Yorkshire (for around 20 years) and so attended all these bonfires together.  One of the highlights of bonfire nights for us was his mum’s parkin.  We now both live in London and have a new tradition of getting together before bonfire night and attempting to make parkin.  Well, I say tradition…  Around 5 years ago, we made parkin together and again, this year!

Parkin is a Yorkshire cake type thing – it most resembles ginger cake but is made with oats, black treacle and golden syrup and very little flour.

We had a lot of fun, exaggerating our Yorkshire accents and using words we hadn’t used in years.  See if you can spot any in these short, and highly unprofessional, videos – just click on the links below:

 Backards rod      Watch it fizz      Give it a shek

And here’s a photo montage of the rest…


The recipe – written ont back ona n’envelope!


T’  ingredients


Weighing out t’ dry ingredients


Heating up t’ liquid ingredients

“Whatever you do, don’t let it boil!”


Pour int liquid


Add t’ baking soda


Add t’ vinegar ‘n’ “watch it fizz”


Ready fer t’ oven


In it guz


Art it comes

Knitting round up

Wow wee I’ve been a busy bee this last couple of months.  A new term has started with lectures written and delivered and I’ve p/Hopped for hours by blogging, pattern publishing, printing, show stall hosting and various other bits of prepping for fund-raising around the UK.


Full TGS logo

On top of all that , there’s the progress made on a very exciting new yarny business venture with my lovely friend Jo (aka Shinybees).  The website will launch soon at but, in the meantime, you can follow our progress on Twitter, Ravelry and Facebook.  We’ve also signed up to Pinterest but we’re not that sure what we’re doing there – if you’re an avid Pinner, perhaps you could drop me a line…  We will be specially commissioning, themed, independently dyed yarn collections through a variety of yarn clubs.  Clubs will contain yarn from all over the world in limited edition colourways which, in many cases, will not be available anywhere else.  We’re hoping that our very first trial club will be quite soon, so keep an eye out for more news and details…

Despite all this, I seem to have managed to get a fair bit of knitting done, so this blog, as the title suggests, is a knitting round up.

I’ve just quickly looked back at my previous blogs and it seems I haven’t done a round up for a very very long time.  I can’t blog about them all, but here are the last 5 FOs (FO= ‘finished off’ and is just one of those knitty terms we use):

Way back in June, I finished Pop Spots, by Juju Vail – this was a very simple, but incredibly effective, 2 colour knit.  I decided to make the large version, but confess that the incessant purl rows towards the end made me lose the will to live, so I made a shawl somewhere in between the big and small one! The yarn I chose was Shilasdair Luxury 4ply which is a lovely “sheepy” yarn – now I say sheepy, because it feels it, but it actually doesn’t consist of much sheep yarn at all.  It is only 40% Wool and the rest is 40% Angora,10% Camel and 10% Cashmere.  It is lovely and springy and the dyes are all natural.  The smell is wonderful!

 Pop Spots

My Pop Spots in Shilasdair Luxury 4 ply

Then on the 29th July (yes it took 1 evening), I knitted this little guy – The Teeny Tiny Teddy by Alessandra Parsons and available to download for a donation to P/Hop.  I made him in a DK weight, but the pattern is written for sock weight yarn.  In truth though, you can knit him in any weight of yarn you choose – just change the needle size to that recommended on the yarn band/tag.  It’s a great way to use left over yarn and he is jolly cute!

P-hopTeeny Tiny Teddy (sorry about the cat hairs on my sofa!)

At the end of August, I finished the Trinity Shawl by Anniken Allis – another P/Hop pattern which is a pattern you can knit in 3 different ways, which is why it was named Trinity.  I knitted this in a skein I’d been saving for ages – just not sure what to knit with it.  In the end I decided to take the plunge.  The yarn is Merino Cashmere Fingering from Skein and it is beautifully soft.  The colourway is called Daisy – my favourite flower.  I knitted the shawl as part of a knitalong of P/Hop patterns in the Shinybees’ Ravlery group.  KALs are always fun.

TrinityTrinity Shawl in Skien’s Merino Cashmere Fingering

The next knit I tackled was part of a teaching project.  My dear friend Kat, whom I taught to knit recently, wanted to make Sweetness, by Tin Can Knits, and felt it might be a bit complicated for her, so I agreed to knit it at the same time.  It’s a lovely 2 colour cowl knitted in aran weight.  Of course, Kat had underestimated her talents and even managed to make the version which includes a provisional cast on and grafting.  I was mightily proud – I have introduced a brave knitter to the world!  We both knitted them in Malabrigo twist and now it’s getting colder, I’m looking forward to mine keeping me nice and cosy! 🙂

UntitledSweetness in Malabrigo Twist

And last, buy by no means least – actually I think it’s my favourite of them all – I knitted the Radiance Shawl by Helen Stewart.  I found this pattern when at Fibre East running the P/Hop stall.  Boo’s Attic had several of them on her stand, showing off her yarns.  The flow of the pattern is so lovely and I knew it would work really well in the 100% silk lace-weight yarn, that I bought at Ally Pally, way back in February – Artisan Yarns’ Lacey Lacey in colourway Red Rose.  The drape is just wonderful and the sheen on the silk is beautiful, not to mention the vibrant colour.  Sadly my pictures don’t do the colour justice 😦


Radiance Shawl in Artisan’s Lacey Lacey


Fashion Rules of the Royals

I recently went to the Fashion Rules exhibit at Kensington Palace with my beautiful (inside and out) sister, Jane.  We have been to Kensington Palace before, but my sister was a huge fan of Diana, Princess of Wales and adored her fashion sense, so whilst she was in London, we had to go.


Princess Diana (1961 – 1997)  by Mario Testino, 1997

hanging in Kensington Palace, where she had her apartment

The 1980s – Diana, Princess of Wales

Sadly, the fashions on display from Diana were from the 80s, and as we all know, fashions from that era were horrific!


Lady Diana Spencer on the cover of Vogue in 1981

My poor sister was a little disappointed.  I have to say that I was too, but I was there to see the clothes of The Queen and Princess Margaret, rather than Diana’s.  I was never a big fan of Diana, having mainly been in camp Charles, especially after the Martin Bashir interview (cringe factor 5000), but I have to agree, her fashions in the 90s were extremely elegant and following the divorce, she blossomed.

“Less is no longer enough. 

Now it’s glamour; glamour; glamour; glamour.”

Bruce Oldfield in Vogue, August 1981

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Asymmetric dress by Catherine Walker, 1991; Red sequin and drop waist dress by Bruce Oldfield;

Wide shouldered, dropped waist dress by Jacques Azagury, 1985

The 1970s and 60s – Princess Margaret


Princess Margaret (1930 – 2002) by Lord Snowdon (her husband), 1967

hanging in Kensington Palace, where they once had an apartment

I didn’t really know much about Margaret.  When I was a child I didn’t pay much attention and by the time I did she was in failing health.  In her younger days, however, she had been very glamorous indeed.  Being younger sister to The Queen she had fewer restraints on her style and could be more “a la mode”, where The Queen had to stay within traditional lines.  I think the Princesses dresses were my favourite in the exhibition – this is a good thing, because there were more of hers than Princess Diana’s or The Queen’s.

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Left: Evening dress worn at a London Film Premier in 1951. Designer unknown

“The plunge neckline and halter neck straps were quite a departure from the demure style traditionally adopted by royal women” Anonymous quote on the card at the exhibit.

Right: Evening dress, by Norman Hartnell, 1977, worn to present an award to ABBA in the 1970s.

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Left: Caftan and turban in silk, by Carl Toms, 1976. Worn by Princess Margaret  in Mustique.

Right: Short day dress with antique lace panels. Designer unknown.  Worn by Princess Margaret c. 1960s

“As a rule, ladies of the Royal Family

wear light coloured clothes because such

colours are more discernible against a crowd.”

Norman Hartnell

Something very telling of this era is the use of fur.  No self-respecting Royal or other fashion icon would wear fur now.

 Untitled Untitled

Left: fur coat of Princess Margaret, by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, c.1960s

Right: The Queen’s silk coat with fur trim, by Norman Hartnell, 1972

1950s – The Queen


The Queen c. 1950s

photograph found on the website of Katherine Elizabeth Millinery

I am a big fan of our Queen, I think she is a remarkable woman.  This is probably because she has always been there in my lifetime as matriarch of our nation and as such I love her like I might a great aunt!  The Queen’s clothes are from the 1950s.  This was a very glamorous era following the war, but a wonderful demureness was retained.  Most noticeable, besides the opulence of the gowns, was how tiny the Queen’s dresses were.  Wow, what I’d give for a waist like that…

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Formal gown, duchesse silk satin with beaded embroidery by Norman Hartnell, 1963

Worn by The Queen at the opening of the New Zealand Parliament


More of the Queen’s gowns from the 50s

One of the things that struck me about the collection of the Queen’s clothes were just how much she has been through/seen in her lifetime.  So much has changed since she came to the Throne.

“That it is possible for some of you to see

me today is just another example of the

speed at which things are changing all around us.”

HM The Queen – first televised Christmas Broadcast, 1957

And finally, here’s a picture of the new generation of Royals living in apartments at Kensington Palace.  Spot the guest appearance of another Kate!


Portrait of William and Catherine, by Mario Testino, 2010

hanging in Kensington Palace

The exhbition is on until the Summer of 2015, so you have plenty time to go see the dresses up close to appreciate the beauty in the detailed embroidery and beading.  I’d recommend it, if you’ve never been the the Palace before.  If you have, the £15 entrance fee may put you off, because the exhibition is quite small.