14 Jan 2019

Astonishing day

There are days when I truly astonish myself.

What did I do that was so amazing, you ask? Well... drum roll... I fixed a sewing machine!!! OK, you can stop laughing now, but this happens to be the first time I have ever accomplished this feat. 

I had recently finished making a skirt and all had gone well. Even a dreaded buttonhole or two had gone without a hitch. However, today was different. I started the machine only to be greeted by a horrible clattering noise! The thread was firmly jammed under the feeder plate. 

I snipped away at the tangle until I managed to pull it free and remove the small cut threads. I started again, very gently, only to be greeted by another loud clunking sound and another jam... This time I could not remove the trapped fabric without cutting it away. Thank goodness I was working with an oddment and not the final fabric!

OK, I thought. I’ll lift off the feeder plate and then I can get to the trapped threads. I’ve done that before so didn’t feel phased by the prospect. However, it became clear that the culprit was a large build-up of fluff in what the handbook told me was the “spool holder”. 

Apparently I was supposed to clean this on a regular basis! Well, dust bunnies and I are old friends and the idea of stripping down a sewing machine to remove fluff build-up had never occurred to me before. 

Did you know you were supposed to do this? It was certainly news to me but then I suppose I can’t actually remember ever reading the instructions so it’s not surprising I hadn’t stumbled upon this piece of information before...

The manual talked about turning the handle until various rotating parts lined up, then removing the spool holder assembly and cleaning underneath. I gulped, then started removing parts until there seemed quite a collection. 

By now, I was feeling alarmed and wondering just how many of these would go back where they came from! 

However, 15 minutes later the spool holder was removed to reveal a good-sized pile of fluff inside. That was quickly removed so all I had to do now was reassemble it all...

I took a deep breath and before much longer all parts were back in again. Phew! 

Well, I expect by now those folks with an engineering bent will be laughing themselves silly, but it felt like a major step for me! My first (successful) taking apart of a sewing machine.

I plugged it in, turned it on and prepared to sew the sample again. A quiet purr came from my new happy machine and a perfect seam formed without a single snag or clunk.

Mission accomplished! Let the sewing commence!

Until next time,

Happy Knitting,


. 14/1/19

24 Dec 2018

Happy Christmas everyone!

The year is rapidly drawing to a close! Gosh, it only seems five minutes since it started. I expect that means I've been keeping busy...

We've certainly been doing a lot of travelling recently. After a couple of years when we travelled very little, we've been catching up in a big way with trips to the UK, Sweden and Japan only a few weeks apart. It's hard to know what time-zone we're working in right now!

Still, I've been busy knitting while we've been on the road and will be getting patterns written up as soon as I can gather all the notes together. The scarf above is the Karlskrona Scarf. I designed this as a man's scarf but have to admit, I wore it a lot myself while we were in Japan. It's super cozy.

My DH Tim photographed it for me while we were there and I love this shot of his with it wrapped around a window. This is Enkō-ji temple in the North of Kyoto – a wonderfully quiet place with an open view onto the maple garden. We were there just at the start of the autumn season and the leaves were turning to amazing shades of orange and red.

I have also been working on the bag I was reporting in my last blogpost, which was inspired by the colours we saw when we were in Sweden. We have been so lucky to catch autumn in 3 different countries this year!

However, the colours in Sweden were something special, with such rich yellows and oranges everywhere. So inspiring! I have actually knitted this bag about three times over as I keep getting about 2/3 of the way up to the top and then deciding I could do something better and then ripping it out again. Well, you get more enjoyment per gm of knitting yarn that way don't you! (Ways to think positively while undoing several hours of work ....)

It's now done and I just need to add a lining and it will be completed. However, I need to put that down now and start work on making some mince pies for tomorrow!

So, here's wishing you all a very Happy Christmas/Holiday season and hope that you have a wonderful time with your families. 

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: And the results are in!
Next Up: Astonishing Day

. 20/1/19

31 Oct 2018

And the results are in!

Yes, the results are in! Not of the US Mid-term elections, but of my experiments with reflective yarn. In my last blogpost, I was talking about the problems of being seen when out walking or running now that the nights are drawing in. So I have been testing some RetroGlo yarn and have been trying various techniques to incorporate some of this into my knitting. 

And the results are that it works brilliantly (pun intended...!) Or rather, when it works, it's great. I first tried using the reflective yarn by duplicate stitching it into the ends of a scarf but I found that it made the scarf a little heavy and rough where I had added the thread. 

I then tried knitting with one strand of yarn and one of the reflective thread. However, it wasn't particularly effective since the thread tended to bury itself into the soft knitting stitches and did not glow as I really wanted it to. Also, I found that did not enjoy knitting with the reflective thread running alongside my regular yarn as the yarns are so dissimilar. 

However, I was more successful using it on a pocket for a backpack. I am working this in Lang Merino+ yarn using a two-tone grey with orange and yellow highlights. The RetroGlo yarn was almost a perfect match to the lighter grey yarn and can hardly be seen when viewed in the day-time.

However, as the lights go down the thread just catches the light and bounces it back at you.

But the real test is what it looks like at night. Then it can be seen as a series of brilliant dots which shine straight back at the source of light, such as a car's headlights. As the light moves a little to the left or right, the pattern of visible dots also changes slightly so they almost seem to flash and move. Amazing!

It has certainly been an interesting experiment so far and of course there may be other reflective yarns that could be worked directly into a pattern. I saw some interesting yarn by Viking Yarns when I was in Sweden recently, for example, so I may give that a try too. 

Do let me know if you have tried reflective yarn in your knitting and what worked for you and what didn't. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Reflecting the Light

My website: www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com
Anna's website: www.kikuknits.com

. 24/12/18

10 Oct 2018

Reflecting the light

There were two things that really made an impression upon me when we visited Sweden recently. One was just how breathtakingly beautiful it is, with pale blue skies, distant vistas and seemingly endless lakes and waterways.

The other was how quickly the nights were drawing in. You could feel it, like a blanket quietly being lowered over the landscape. Each day was just a little bit shorter than it had been the week before. 

Of course this is not surprising, since it hardly goes dark in mid-summer but there is only 4 hours of daylight in the winter! However, it does mean that almost everything you do outside will be in the dark. Your morning commute to work, a walk to the post office, an afternoon trip to the shops... Chances are you will be walking or cycling in low-light conditions for at least some or all of these excursions.

So I have been thinking about how to be visible at night. I saw a video recently with a series of runners gradually coming closer. The people with a number of reflective patches and lines almost outlining their bodies could be seen from a long distance, the reflective material glowing in the headlights of the approaching car. However, the runners just wearing light-coloured clothing were barely visible until they were only a few feet away.

And of course this applies not only runners, but anyone out at night – walkers, cyclists, children and commuters. The problem is that most Hi-Vis clothing is generally quite cumbersome and an extra item to carry. You would probably think about it if you were going on a long trek, but might not bother if you were just popping down to the shops. And that's, of course, just when accidents happen...

So I have been thinking about how we as knitters can make ourselves more visible at night without gearing up in special clothing. Clearly, bright colours can help a bit, but I am also going to experiment with some reflective tape. I have a spool of tape currently on order and when it arrives I am going to try to incorporate it into a range of knits such as scarves and backpacks. 

That might just make the difference between being safe at night or not... 

I will post back here when I have tried the reflective tape out on the scarf I am just working on now. This is the Karlskrona Scarf and I am hoping to incorporate the tape into the zig-zag patterns at each end of the scarf. I think it will be an interesting test!

Until next time,

Happy Knitting!


Last Blogpost: Autumn is upon us!

Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

The photo at the top is Stockholm City Hall by Werner Nystrand, & the photo of the Swedish street was taken in Storgatan, Falköping, Sweden by Nasko. Many thanks to them both.

. 6/11/18

30 Sep 2018

Autumn is upon us!

We have returned home after a wonderful trip to England and Sweden. I hope you enjoyed all the "postcards" from our trip. It was great to catch up with everyone, see the fantastic autumnal colours in Sweden and the freshly-harvested fields in the UK. The hillsides always look so clean and yellow when the wheat has just been gathered in.

Now we are back in Florida and it feels as though we have been rolling back the seasons as we have journeyed south. There was a definite crispness in the air in Sweden, then a mild summer breeze across the northern hills in England, but I have just come in from mowing the lawn here in Florida and am baking hot. No wonder since it is 33ºC / 92ºF out there, with a heat index of over 100.

So it does feel slightly unreal to be starting work on a new winter scarf, but I know that it will be needed very soon. We are visiting Boston next week and I hear dire warnings of cooler conditions setting in very soon!

However, if I need any convincing then looking at some more of Tim's photos from our travels will convince me that I need to get working on those winter warmers quickly!

Until next time,

Happy Knitting


My Website: www.wyndlestrawdesigns.com
Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

Many thanks again to both Tim and Anna for their photos for the last few blogposts. Find them on Instagram: Tim Ravenscroft / x1dman and Anna Ravenscroft / kikuknits

. 10/10/18

18 Sep 2018

Postcard from Sweden - Walking through history

We’re coming to the end of our stay in Sweden after an amazing week. The weather has been superb and we have taken full advantage to visit several of the nearby towns. 

We have just returned from the city of Örebro to the west of Stockholm. We found a café near the city centre, Fratelli's, where I ate a wonderful gluten-free pasta in pesto sauce. I may just have to move nearer so I could eat there again! And we only saw one of the three yarn stores in town too, so we definitely need to go back. 

However, beyond wonderful food, amazing yarns and friendly people, we have been struck by the long history of the country. The photo at the top, for example, shows one of a line of stones that a wealthy merchant placed by the side of the road for the new King to see on his procession through the countryside about 1000 years ago.

Behind this runestone, there are several large burial mounds dating from the Iron Age, along with huge stones resembling Stonehenge but arranged in the shape of stone ships. 

The village near the burial mounds used to be a situated at the edge of an inlet leading to the sea. However, the land has been rebounding since the end of the last ice age and in about AD 1200 access to the sea was cut off so the larger boats could no longer be used there. Now there is farmland where the lake used to be.

You can still see evidence of the force of the ice as a 3 Km ice sheet passed over the land, scouring the surface and depositing erratics across the landscape. The people who lived here didn't have to go far to find the stones for their monuments!

Further down the coast of the lake, a collection of actual Viking ships and boats has been assembled along with reconstructions to show the type of vessels that they would have used for transport, trade and warfare.

In Anna's photo here, two Viking rowing boats are moored by the Lake Mälaren harbour. These boats were often used to transport goods from one port to another or to take people across the lake to attend church.

Moving forward in time, several of the towns have areas where buildings from the 17th and 18th century have been preserved. The photo above shows one of the buildings in a conservation area in Anna's hometown, Eskilstuna. The area is called the Rademachersmedjorna or Rademacher's Forges after the Dutchman who established his forge here.

There is still a working forge at the site, and other buildings are used by weavers and artisans. We purchased a long woven tablerunner in blues and yellows and also saw some wonderful knitted mittens, scarves and gloves.

And this is the Wadköping area of Örebro. One small building had an information board outside saying that a poor shoemaker and 60 other people lived there! As in Eskilstuna, the area still feels very lived-in as each of the buildings houses craftsmen, puppet-makers or artists, so there is a lot to see and do as you walk around.

Well, tomorrow we start our journey back to the USA and I'm keen to try some knits incorporating the colours and sights from our trip. It is truly an inspiring country.

Many thanks to both Tim and Anna for their wonderful photographs for this blogpost. If you would like to see more of their work, you can find Tim on Instagram as @x1dman while Anna is @kikuknits. They’d love to see you there!

Until next time - Happy knitting!

13 Sep 2018

Postcard from Sweden - Collecting colours and umlauts

We have arrived in Sweden and have been greeted by clear blue skies, autumnal colours and amazingly friendly people. We are visiting our daughter Anna and her fiancé in their new home in Eskilstuna, a small town about an hour's drive to the west of Stockholm.

The town is not far from a large lake called Lake Mälaran and yesterday we visited Sundbyholm, where there is a beautiful marina and lake-side beach. We battled against a strong wind to the end of the headland and I was exceedingly glad that I had brought my Sawston Infinity Scarf with me. Gosh, that wind was chilly! Such a contrast to our usual Florida temperatures.

Tim found an impressive avenue of trees leading up to the nearby castle, with fallen leaves in oranges and reds already carpeting the path between.

Later we went into Eskilstuna, where a similar carpet lay under a Crabapple tree, only this time the colour came from hundreds of small red crabapples, with a heady aroma of sweet cider filling the air.

Today, we drove a little further away to a town called Västerås, with old cobbled streets and timber-framed buildings running alongside a small stream. The Cathedral in the centre of town was particularly striking, with bright stained-glass windows in blues and greens. I could imagine many of the colour combinations in knits!

Our visit was made complete by discovering a wonderful small yarn store, Upplings Yarn, as we were walking around the town. I particularly enjoyed exploring some yarns from Sweden and Norway that I had not seen before.

Many thanks to my DH Tim for all the great photos above – and here are a couple of fun ones to finish. "Tim" means hour in Swedish, so all the parking signs have his name on them!

And here is another fun discovery we made: a tourist destination with 4 umlauts! I'm now on the lookout for any place with more – let me know if you have seen any.

Until next time, Happy Knitting!


Anna's Website: www.kikuknits.com

Many thanks to Tim for his photos. If you would like to see more of his work, then please visit his Instagram page.

. 22/9/18


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...