Judging The Stylecraft Competition

And… breathe…

Right, so this is my post about co-judging the Stylecraft yarn competition. Settle y’selves, friends, for it threatens to be a long’un. There may also be gaps where I run upstairs to gullibly respond to yet another request from the Toddler Twinnage. (Y’know, twins, I’m not convinced that you’re really scared of the rain any more. Anyway, you’re still in trouble for that water fight in your bedroom half an hour ago that I’ve only just finished cleaning up. Now will you GO TO SLEEP?!)

Whilst I’m gone, you’re welcome to some of that wine but I’ll be honest, it’s not the best.

I’ve been waiting to write this post all week, but all sorts of things have had to come first, such as going to work (Wow, it’s been busy on the ward.) Meanwhile, thank you for your kind comments. And I promise that a skirt post is coming very soon!

So if you entered the Stylecraft competition, you’ll know already that the deal was this: send in something in a shade that you thought Stylecraft should add to its range of Special DK yarns. Could be anything: something painted, your toenail clippings, anything. (Thankfully, nobody did send in their toenail clippings.) The plan was to meet at Spectrum Yarns’ mill (they own Stylecraft) in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire, to judge the entries and compile a shortlist of ten shades to be whittled down to one winner via a vote by YOU. My fellow judges were Sarah Neal (editor of Let’s Knit magazine), Lucy (Attic24 blog), and Annabelle Hill (sales director at Spectrum). Would you like to see us?

Phil (TheTwistedYarn), Sarah Neal (editor, Let's Knit), Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Lucy (Attic24).

Phil (TheTwistedYarn), Sarah Neal (editor, Let’s Knit), Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Lucy (Attic24).

We had a tour round the mill on arrival, but more on that in a separate and over-excited post. And then we settled down to business. Truly, it was hard to know what to expect in terms of entries. There were 350 of them, I think, and I helped open the envelopes with initial trepidation but then increasing fascination at the treasures inside. People sent photos, beads, slips of paper they’d coloured in, little jars of spices, a photo frame, nail varnish, a chocolate wrapper, scraps of fabric, and meticulously-compiled mood boards that must have taken happy hours to compile. They also wrote cards and letters explaining their choices and sometimes suggesting names for the new yarns they were proposing. All of it was fascinating. None of it was dull. It was so varied and imaginative. And there were no toenail clippings.

Stylecraft judges

We laid them all out on a table, and then we were a little quiet for a while whilst we figured out quite how to begin. Can you blame us? There was so much loveliness here, but we could choose only ten. The range of suggestions was, as you’d probably imagine, huge. And yet there were certain concentrations of similar shades, whether reflecting new trends, or definite gaps in the existing range of shades, I wasn’t always sure at first. After all, the range of Stylecraft shades is already large:-

Stylecraft range

We decided to assemble the entries into groups of related shades, and then judge one group at a time, excluding any entries that were too close to existing Stylecraft colours, and debating which colours would work best both on their own and in combination with others from the range. That probably makes it all sound quicker and easier than it actually was, but at least we had copious tea (green, in my case), sandwiches, and cake to fuel us. I’ve definitely worked under worse conditions. ;-)

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It was interesting to notice each judge’s expertise and preferences. Sarah was incredibly thoughtful about colours that work together, and was a source of wisdom on the eternally tricky (apparently) matter of ORANGE. Lucy had clear ideas of bright palettes and combinations that work for her designs, as well as colours that are currently trendy. Annabelle – as you’d expect – had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Stylecraft’s existing range and where its gaps might lie. She wielded the Pantone scanner thingy, enabling us to translate random objects into recognised shades, including Sarah’s cardigan in the process of making a point. (No, Sarah’s cardigan wasn’t an entry.)

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And me? Well I was thinking about individual shades rather than any overall palette, because different projects demand such different colours, but I was also conscious of the arguable paucity of greens in the Stylecraft range. And I confess, I’m a sucker for a muted red or purple or green or orange: nothing too bright and gaudy, nothing too pale.

Anyway, we did it! No fur (or yarn) flew and no vows of eternal enmity were sworn: pretty much a success, I’d say. (The other three judges were lovely, in case it’s not obvious that I’m being flippant in that last sentence. I had dinner with two of them the night before, which confirmed my impression that judging was going to be both interesting and enjoyable.) Actually it felt like an honour to be sorting through the fruits of so many people’s creativity with three other colour/yarn-addicts. The hardest part was narrowing our initial selection of about sixteen possibilities down to the requisite ten… and even when we’d managed that, we decided that we weren’t happy with a couple of the ten after all, and had to backtrack a bit.

So…. ten (wonderful and quite diverse) shades have been selected. Want to see them? Well I’m afraid that I’m not allowed to share them with you for a few more days yet. But I will as soon as I can, I promise, and then we can talk about the next stage of the competition: how to vote for the final winner.

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Stylecraft Competition, Yorkshire, Internet Friends, And Champagne.

Oh where to even begin?

I’m back from yarn-filled, sun-drenched (despite any regional stereotypes you’ve encountered) west Yorkshire. I have so much to show you – more, I think, than can realistically be shoe-horned into one blog post, unless you like your blog posts encyclopaedic.

Obviously, to anyone who’s been dabbling ‘Yarnside a-lately, there’s the main event, co-judging the Stylecraft / Let’s Knit competition to find a luscious new shade of yarn. Here’s a teaser photo, but this fabulously colourful event warrants its own post:-

judging...

My fellow judges. Left to right: Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Sarah Neal (editor, Let’s Knit magazine), Lucy (Attic24 blog).

…And having had the fascinating experience of a tour round Spectrum Yarns’ mill (where the judging took place), I’d love to show you the embarrassingly few photos that I took. Another post!

And then the knitted skirt and crocheted bag I designed for the occasion deserve their own post, especially the skirt, completed over breakfast on judging day with hairspray-related advice from the editor of Let’s Knit magazine to complete its details. In fact, the whole wonderful Yorkshire experience deserves its own post, ending with a dash even further north to meet up with Gill from the Greenclogs blog, whom I’ve been gradually getting to know online, and who turns out to be every bit as lovely/creative/clever/kind/interesting as I imagined she’d be in person. (Pity I went all socially anxious and scarcely let the poor woman squeeze a word in edgewise.)

crochet house bag

…And three other little things that I’ll say here, because they’re not big enough for their own blog posts:-

(i) Thing the first.

Today, Colin The Postie delivered many things (let’s gloss over the tedium and financial demands of most of them), including an issue of this coming month’s issue of Simply Knitting magazine (edition 133 – out todayish, I think?) with an interview with, erm, me, inside the back cover. Witness:-

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My column in Simply Knitting begins shortly, though it won’t be every month.

(ii) Thing the second.

I’m drafting this pen-and-paper, as always, this time in the garden whilst loosely managing the Toddler Twinnage, and I’ve just realized that a pair of great tits are breeding in the nest box beside me. Springtime squee! I couldn’t steal a photo of Mater or Pater Great Tit going in, so this blurry iPad snap of the home front will have to suffice.

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(iii) Thing the third.

(No bitterness here… Oh no, none at all…) So I got home from Yorkshire late, late, late last night, all braced for the weeping hordes to intercept me in the driveway, desperate in their need for maternal wisdom and salvage. Know what I found? No weeping whatsoever, but an empty champagne bottle in the sink and tales of unnaturally well-behaved children in my absence. Clearly, things function better round here when I’m not present. Sigh.

So, where shall we begin with this blogfest? the Stylecraft competition, surely? Right, I’ll get drafting…

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Hello West Yorkshire!

Another quick one. I’ve just arrived in Holmfirth in West Yorkshire, ahead of tomorrow’s judging for the Stylecraft competition at their mill in Slaithwaite. If you entered, very good luck! I can’t wait to see all the colours that you’ve sent in (although I’m a teeny tiny bit nervous about the objects that might have been sent in!!) I know that they’ve received loads of entries, so it’ll be quite a (happy, colourful) task. Here’s the view from my hotel room: rubbish photo on iPad camera because I haven’t brought my little gadget for downloading photos from my proper camera.

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I wish I could put my boots on and go walking, but there’s knitting to be done as I’m still working on that ****ing, ****ing, ********************ing skirt. The main skirt will probably be done in time, but I won’t manage the fairisle braces unless I stay up all night. Again, apologies for rubbish iPad photo:-

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The drive up here was long but sunny, and as soon as I’d got past Sheffield, the hills started rolling and I was surrounded by sheep-dotted fields edged by dry-stone walls and looming conifers, with lush green grass and hints of blackish peat beneath. Heaven. :-) The day has been cool but sunny and absolutely still, so windless that none of the wind turbines were moving and the air was hazy and distant hills bluish.

Now I’m sitting in my hotel room knitting and trying to identify a strange birdsong that I can hear. It’s sort of a long and enthusiastic warbling that starts low and reaches a shrieking crescendo. Someone in the avian world is, I think, flirting furiously, but who on earth can it be?

I’d better get back to the knitting.

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This Isn’t Going To Work, Is it?

A quick one, my fine friends, because I’m knitting against a deadline. And for now, the deadline seems to be winning. :-( I haven’t even drafted this post on paper; just opened the little flap in my brain behind which all the crazy lives, and let it all dribble out uncensored onto the keyboard. Consider y’self warned. And maybe fetch a stiff drink.

So Tuesday is Stylecraft judging day with Lucy from Attic24, and having self-imposed this ridiculous deadline of designing/knitting a new skirt to wear for the occasion, and then re-starting it at the eleventh hour, I’m in a pickle. The sort of pickle that might raise a few eyebrows from fellow judges at the indecent shortness of my attire. It’s just not happening fast enough. You know you’re in trouble when you give serious consideration to dealing with the weaving-in-ends problem by using Superglue. Here’s some progress:-

fairisle knitted skirt by TheTwistedYarn in progress

Ultimately, this is to be a skirt with funky fairisle braces, but that’s not going to happen in time, is it? I’ve been doing my best. I’ll spare you any pictures of the knitting-in-the-bath that’s been going on, but I’ve also been knitting at the bus stop…

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(Marks on hand = number of kfb increases worked so far.)

And I knitted at Oxford’s Museum of Modern Art whilst puzzling over topiary in a wig.

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…And I knitted on the pavement whilst sighing over the loss of part of the top floor of Oxford’s historic Randolph Hotel to fire the other night. Look top middle of this picture and you’ll see the most obvious damage. Sigh. It’s such a beautiful gothic building.

fire at Randolph Hotel

And now, if you’ll be kind enough to excuse me, I have some more knitting to do. Can’t wait to bring you pictures from the mill and the judging…

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Thank You, People :-)

A quickie, because I’m busy knitting. But I wanted to post a wee bit of enthusiasm because there’s a chance that maybe, just maybe, the Yorkshire Skirt will be done by Tuesday’s deadline (if I employ a team of minions to weave in the ends and block it on the back seat of the car on my way north). Look!

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But mostly I’ve come on here to say thank you for all the kind words and suggestions for my sore, knit-weary hand, and also for the encouragement. You’re kinder than I deserve, and I appreciate your words very much. I’ve been following your suggestions too, hunting around online for exercises to preserve hands that knit too much, as well as popping into town to buy a stylus for the iPad. I’m trying to take breaks from the needles. And my hand is a lot better for now, although it keeps sending little warning twinges. Actually taking breaks isn’t too difficult when the Toddler Twinnage are around, because we have to do things like go and say hello to the day-old lambs at the farm down the road:-

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“I wasn’t born yesterday, you know. Oh, hang on, actually I was.”

…in this sort of weather:-

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For those of you not in the UK, it’s suddenly insanely warm and sunny here, and it feels as though the whole population, not to mention the blossom and spring flowers, are emerging, blinking, into the light. It’s so sudden, it almost feels confusing. You mean I don’t need scarf and hat and mittens and a waterproof coat? Nah… you’re going to have to explain that one to me again…

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One final bit of excitement. I’ve swiped the image below from Facebook, ahead of my Yorkshire trip. :-) Six days from now I’ll be co-judging the Stylecraft competition and spending an entire day discussing delicious yarn shades. If you’ve entered the competition, good luck. I’ll bring back some photos of the mill to show you. (As for the photo below, I’m bottom right: it’s the worst shot of me ever taken. I seem to remember it was taken after being up pretty much all night with the Toddler Twinnage.)

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SIX DAYS?!!!! Excuse me, I’ve got some knitting to do….

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In Which Life Conspires Against Knitting

My first thought when I woke up this morning was… “Ow.

My second thought was, “Owwwwwwwwww. Ow.

The over-ambitious design-and-knit-a-stranded-skirt-in-10-days insanity plan just got even more unfeasible. Lately I’ve been having problems with the knuckles of my right hand two littlest fingers hurting if I, (i) knit/crochet too much, and (ii) surf the net on the iPad continuously and insomniacly from 2am to 5am, and (iii) spend too many nocturnal hours indulging the Toddler Twinnage’s wish to sleep with their heads resting on my outstretched hands. I suspect I’ve been doing too much of all of these things recently.

So now I have a (trivial) problem that’s quite hurty. I don’t mind knitting on pain (a lass has to suffer for her art, darling), but I do mind the risk that this could escalate to a scenario where someone with relevant qualifications frowns at a scan image and says, “DO NOT KNIT.” Especially as the knitting has just landed me a magazine column. That would be timing on the wrong side of wrong.

Writing seems to be OK (I’m drafting this with pen and paper, as I always do before typing it up.) So whilst I can still scrawl, shall I show you my meagre progress on the skirt?

This skirt is quite short

This skirt is quite short

Now as I said in my last post, beginning again and changing the colour scheme of the skirt meant buying more yarn, on a timescale that precluded online ordering. So on Saturday, I bundled the poor Toddler Twinnage into my Stink-Wagon car, and headed off to Oxford to hand over some serious cash at a couple of yarn shops. <Waves to Oxford Yarn Store. :-) > I even managed to find a sneaky parking space for the Stink-Wagon. (Sneaky parking for free in Oxford is an art that’s taken me years to perfect.) Score= life: 0, knitting: 1.

All The Yarn. It's Rowan Felted Tweed DK, By The Way.

All The Yarn. It’s Rowan Felted Tweed DK, By The Way.

But it seemed kinda unfair to drag the Toddler Twinnage all that way just for yarn, so we popped into Oxford University’s Natural History Museum, to nod a hello to the dinosaurs. The Twinnage LOVE dinosaurs. (One day, I’ll tell you about the dinosaur I once found.) It was a beautiful day to drift about in a beautiful building – it’s like a cathedral to the natural world, and I’ve always loved it, ever since I arrived as a nervous undergraduate student in 1991.

oxford natural history museum

The Twinnage were predictably impressed by the dinosaurs:-

Don't Mess With Mr T-Rex

Don’t Mess With Mr T-Rex

The other fossils were pretty cool, too, including this ammonite:-

Twin Included For Scale.

Twin Included for Scale

But the clock was ticking, and there was no knitting. Score= life: 1, knitting: 1.

It was such a nice day that the Stoic Spouse (who happened to be in Oxford too) came and joined us at this point, and we had lunch at the Head Of The River pub in the sunshine. Score= life: 2, knitting: 1.

Round the back of the Head Of The River is a place where you can hire row-boats and punts. I am so over the whole punting malarkey after one too many drunken, soggy, raucous experiences in my youth, so we paid for an hour in a rowing boat, because we thought it would be a fun new experience for the Toddler Twinnage. Amazingly, given how scared of everything they are, they loved it. Score= life: 3, knitting: 1.

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The Stoic Spouse Rows. Stoically.

And just in case you think I didn’t pull my weight. (Excuse greasy hair and no makeup.):-

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I was carrying my knitting with me the whole time, in the desperate hope that I could squeeze in a few rounds when the Stoic Spouse wasn’t looking, but it just wasn’t happening, and I realized after a while that my poor yarn was sitting in a fat puddle at the bottom of the boat. There’s no photo of this event: it’s too depressing.

Score= life: 4, knitting: 1.

Sigh. I’m not going to make it in time for next Tuesday, am I?

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This Is Crazy, No? NO?

I know you’ve all been there: the three more pairs of gift socks still to be knitted and it’s 10pm on Christmas Eve. Or the exquisite, fit-through-a-wedding-ring bridal shawl that the bride really needs like, erm, tomorrow, for her wedding, and you’re only half way through the working the lace. OK, I made up these exact scenarios, but to a knitter/crocheter, they’re normal and completely understandable, right?

But I think I might have over-stretched myself this time. The knitting in question isn’t for someone else so it’s not that important, but I’ve got a deadline in my head that won’t go away, however much cold reason I fling at it. Cold reason such as, “Y’know, you probably ought to consider feeding your children at some point over the next week, and that’s definitely going to eat into your knitting time.” You see, on the 21st April – that’s a mere nine days away – I’ll be heading up, a long way up, to a mill in west Yorkshire to co-judge the Stylecraft yarn shade competition with Lucy of Attic24 and the editor of Let’s Knit. And given that the occasion will be all about the yarn, I’ve got it into my stoopid head that what I really (really) need is to design a new fairisle knitted skirt and a crocheted bag for the occasion. Well the bag is done and the skirt was underway, but…

Note the use of the word ‘was’.

The thing is, I wasn’t so much designing this skirt as distractedly doodling in semi-random shades as I went along, and the result was increasingly looking like a cacophony of ill-matched stripes of pattern and shades. I kept wondering whether to rip back and begin again, but the proximity of the deadline reminded me that I’d be mad to start again at this late stage. But the more I progressed, the more I thought, “No: this really isn’t getting any better, is it?”

Nope. Just wrong.

Nope. Just wrong.

I’m pleased with the fancy pattern in the middle of the photo above, though, because that’s the bit I actually put some time and careful thought into designing. This skirt really has been a lesson in taking the time to work and re-work design elements properly. So I decided to rip back to the start, and knit a skirt with a plain background, and several bands of that fancy fairisle stripe with the hearts and curls. Easy, no? Well no, actually, because I hadn’t got enough of the right colours if that was to be the plan, and delivery of more yarn would take a few days, especially as it’s the weekend. Aaargh! And all the while that these thought processes are going on, life and the Toddler Twinnage are pulling at my sleeve going “Mummy-Mummy-Mummy-Mummy-Mummy”, and my head’s all over the place, and I’m trying to figure out the timing to start my IVF drugs.

Anyway, a decision was made. Yesterday. Whilst there were still 10 days until Y-Day (Yarn Day). I was going to start again. Deep breath.

I began to unravel the skirt. Except I didn’t, because the Rowan Felted Tweed DK I’m using does like to get down and cuddle itself tightly once it’s been knitted, and it’s far far far far far too prone to breaking, so frogging this stuff just yields an unholy shredded tangle. So I sighed. And I clenched my teeth. And I picked up some of the remaining yarn that I did have, and began, again, to knit.

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Cast on 200 stitches using Old Norwegian cast on with 3mm needles. Work 10 rows garter stitch. Work another 6 rows stockinette, increasing (with kfb’s) on the last row to 203 stitches. Begin pattern. Here we go….

Do you think I’ve got any chance at all of making it? There’s plenty more I could tell you, in this very twisted yarn, but I’ll save it for the next post, because right now I really need to do some knitting. Suffice to say that my chances of getting this thing done have already been seriously hampered by a large river and some dinosaurs.

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The Bag Lady

The crochet house-bag-thingummy is done! Want to see it? (Please say ‘yes’. Or at least, ‘Oh all right then, if I absolutely must.’)

I began construction of the crochet house around the same time that men in big boots and hard hats arrived round here to build far too many new houses on the periphery of our previously lovely village and buy up all the best sandwiches from the village shop for their lunch each day. And I can now report that building a house takes a couple of months, regardless of whether it’s constructed of yarn or bricks. There’s more swearing involved in the crochet version, though. Trust me on this. The builders would have blushed if they’d heard me.

The bag began life in my head as a pretty cottage, but I feared that something wide might sag in the middle, so it ended up rather more like a Victorian mid-terrace. And its proportions would no doubt offend any serious architects. Sorry about that.

Stitch-swatching aside, it worked up fairly speedily, other than the shoulder strap which I worked round and round and round with ever-decreasing enthusiasm. I wanted this bag to be strong and durable, so that meant doing some sewing. I bought some cotton and lined it with iron-on interfacing.

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First the handle, and then the body of the bag…

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Ably assisted by my sewing-expert parent, Mother Twisted, who increased two dimensions of fabric to three whilst I was busy being distracted outside by the Toddler Twinnage:-

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And then I hand-sewed the lining inside:-

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But you need to see the finished thing, I hope. Here it is!

house 1

And again!

house 2

And again!

house 4

And look, it holds all the things!

house 3

As I’ve said before, I’m planning to make a knitted version too, which was going to be very similar, but Mother Twisted has been dropping heavy hints about a thatched cottage bag.

There will be a pattern for y’all to try if you so wish, but I need a little bit of time to write it up. Watch this space!

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Spring! Don’t Jump Out At Me Like That!

WOAH-there. Spring, where on earth did you, um, ‘spring’ from? That was a bit sudden. A few days ago I was pondering whether our log supplies would last the month at our current rate of huddling in front of the log-burner, and whether I could afford another lorry-load of logs, and whether my stinking head-cold was turning to bubonic plague (being prone to diagnostic melodrama), and now I’m sitting in my parents’ Herefordshire garden, enjoying these colours whilst the Toddler Twinnage rampage around pretending to be stegasauruses and sundry other dinosaurs. I still reckon I’ve got bubonic plague, though. This head-cold is vicious.

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The Parent-Garden

Colours in Herefordshire are always vivid. The distant hills take on a blueish hint, the ample rain keeps the grass ultra-green, and even the soil is a rich red-brown from all the Devonian sandstone underneath.

Speaking of colours, I’m working hard on my crochet house-bag design and my knitted skirt design. Look!

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But the flaw in my otherwise happy plan is of course that many colours mean many, many, manydid I mention many ends to be woven/cajoled/sworn in. Look at the reverse side of the house’s front!

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It’s Not Pretty.

So I sit in the parent-garden and weave in the ends. (Did I perchance mention that they were numerous?) Since it’s suddenly spring, the birdage has all gone a bit bonkers around me, and whilst I work, the only thing I can hear from my parents’ otherwise silent garden is about a thousand feathered friends wanting to get very, well, friendly with each other. I am now in a position to reliably inform you that robins, though normally antisocial avians, woo each other by wiggling their bottoms and shuffling their feet in a little dance that’s not unlike your uncle’s efforts on the dancefloor circa 1975. I’ll never ever tire of the fact that the more you stop and the more you stare, the more nature reveals its little quirks to you.

Now, TheTwistedYarn ain’t very good at seasonal festivities, but I’ve heard a rumour that it’s Easter, and I have something immensely cute to show you. My wonderful, kind, creative friend in both real and virtual life (Selma from EclecticHomeLife) put together thoughtful little gifts for the Toddler Twinnage, and the bags containing each of these were tied with little rabbit motifs that she’d designed and crocheted. How adorable? I’m strugglings slightly because I’m not sure how to repay her. Do you think I can measure her feet (for hand-made socks) without her noticing?

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Of course, spring is a time of change, and there’s plenty of change a-coming here. I’ll soon be showing you the column I’ve got starting in a British knitting magazine. And I’m off to Yorkshire in a fortnight to co-judge the Stylecraft yarn competition. The Twisted Seniors are selling their beautiful Herefordshire barn and heading over to our corner of Oxfordshire. And after some careful discussion with the Stoic Spouse, I would like you to know that we’re about to begin our last ever round of IVF. Sometimes it feels as though the new year doesn’t really get properly going until the springtime, and this year has the potential for much development.

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Notes From A Crime Scene

Woe, ’tis a dark day, here at the ‘Yarn. A heinous crime has been committed. I’ve been working on the crochet house-bag (doing the boring stuff; weaving in dozens of ends – an ideal job for when you’ve got a stinking head-cold.) I have to say, it’s going extremely well and I’m rather excited about the finished product. It’s gone from this:-

house in bits

…to a proper 3-d house-bag with shoulder strap, but I’m hanging back from showing you until I can ta-da it properly. Thank you to commenters who endorsed my idea of working up a knitted version too. Patterns to follow.

Anyways, back to the crime scene.

Having sewn/crocheted the bag components, I decided to add a couple of extra rows of tiles to the roof before attaching it. But look!

Who cut my yarn????

Who cut my yarn????

Somebody, somebody, has been a-meddling in my project bag and has cut my yarn. Horrors! But who could it be?

The suspect list is short. I know I’m not guilty. And the Stoic Spouse is a careful sort, not given to random acts of fibrous sabotage. So that leaves the Toddler Twinnage. They’ve been paying an unhealthy degree of attention to my yarn snippers lately, and I bet it was them. But how on earth to determine which one? Interrogation has failed. And there’s no point in taking DNA samples from the crime scene. That’s the problem with identical twins.

True story: many moons ago, there was a heist at a jewellery shop. Detectives managed to get a decent sample of DNA from the crime scene which you might quite reasonably assume would lead to an arrest. But the problem was that the DNA linked back to a pair of identical twins… and nobody could establish which one of them had committed the crime. Being not stupid (the blighters), neither of the twins held up a hand to say, ‘Yeah it was me. How could you possibly accuse such a decent and law-abiding citizen as my brother of such a crime?’ And so nobody was ever convicted.

Do you see what I’m up against?

So I have no idea who cut my yarn. I effected a messy Russian join, thus ending up with a thick and lumpy patch of yarn with which to add more roof tiles to the house-bag. But I have a strong suspicion that the culprit is blonde, less than three feet tall, and obsessively pre-occupied with dinosaurs. Any ideas?

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