Sunday, 8 January 2012

New Year Update

It's been a while since my last post as I have moved onto pastures new. I have taken the plunge and enrolled at Open College of the Arts, and have a new blog where I am documenting my progress through the assignments. My knitting and crochet projects are posted at Ravelry (hollynorris). Any other unrelated musings will occasionally be posted here, but as you can see, that isn't likely to be very often.

See you over at Wordpress!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Knit and Stitch Show 2011

It’s taken me a while to getting around to writing this post, mainly because I’ve been full of ideas and crafting every spare minute! The Knit and Stitch Show at Ally Pally was great as ever this year, with exhibits by a range of textile artists and new graduates, as well as lots of purchasing opportunities. I even met a couple of new twitter friends. I was lucky enough to go with my Mum, who was feeling generous in the run up to my birthday and christmas, so I did rather well!

On the artist front, I was amazed by a beautiful piece of sculptural work by Jean Bennett which reminded me of Rodin’s Gates of Hell. Mum treated me to a glass tile by Anna Krystyna Casey which had knitted wire embedded in it. It was nice to see a new take on metalwork in glass and her page is worth a look. I was also rather taken by some Faerie Mound Stumpwork pieces by Fleur Oakes. I have been thinking about faux taxidermy and bell jars for some time and have an idea brewing around making a crochet/embroidery terrarium. The problem as always is where to put the finished article as we are running out of art space at home! There was also a show of tradition African beadwork that has given me an idea for a choker.

Purchasing wise, I came away with arms full of yarn, books and fabric. I am currently working on a Fyberspates Scrumptious Cardigan in a beautiful DK yarn 45% silk 55% merino. It looks and feels as luxurious as it sounds! I also purchased lace weight Madelinetosh prairie in two colourways, destined to become a Jared Flood Rock Island shawl. The Black Sheep were selling bulk quantities of yarn at unbelievable discounts, so I bagged myself some Noro Silk Garden and Rowan Chunky Alpaca. Now to convince M that I will look good in a chunky gold sweater. One of my favourite acquisitions of the day was Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague. Unlike other pattern books, it has up to 15 sizes for each pattern (!) and the bulk of the book is a general guide on knitting garments that will fit well. I’m hoping to gain some confidence in this area as it is not my strong point, and buying enough yarn for a whole jumper is quite an investment to take risks with.

Fabric-wise I was very excited when I saw the fabric for this bustle skirt at Clothkits. Do you remember the Viewmaster toys with the discs that loaded into them? The discs printed on the skirt cover everything from a new life on Mars to making a tomato aspic salad. Here it is made up. I made the waist too big really, but with a long top it looks good and gives a longer bustle. Overall I am very happy with it.

As you can see, lots of ideas floating around and not a lot of time to work on them all now that I’m back at work. I know it’s only October, but a handmade Christmas takes time too, and I’m in the thick of presents, cards and planning decorations. The cooking starts soon with Stir up sunday! Here are a few other bits I’ve created over the past couple of months. The tea set and cake are for our goddaughter, and are being presented in a picnic hamper with bags of sweeties.

Last up, we are really fortunate in Dorchester to have a Pharaoh exhibition visiting from the British Museum at our very own Dorset County Museum. We were proud to be invited along to the official opening and have both been blown away by some of the exhibits. I was particularly taken by a gold ornament from an ointment bottle due to its beauty, historical significance, age and the intricate craftsmanship. I would encourage any of you who are down this way to pay a visit. I have also booked up with a friend for a faience ceramic workshop to make some beads in January. Here we are enjoying some vino with our friend Liz.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Art Crochet

Whilst off sick, a friend of mine bought me a book of Art Nouveau as I am well known to be very fond of the style, particularly the work of Alphonse Mucha. I was looking though Mucha’s work and kept seeing crochet designs within his motifs. There was nothing for it but to make some sort of sampler, and this wallhanging has been the result.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

End of the Road 2011

Once again we have been to the fine EOTR festival and I think it was the best ever! The capacity was increased this year, but we also had a new Woods Stage in a big enough area to accommodate everybody. The idea was to relieve the squeeze in the Garden stage area and I think it worked well. We were extremely lucky with the weather which helps keep the atmosphere cheerful. There was a beer festival running throughout the weekend with some lovely local ales on offer. Our favourite was the Entire Stout from Salisburys Hopback Brewery, and I also enjoyed the Gold Spice ale from Sixpenny Handley brewery, right on the festivals doorstep. The food stalls didn’t disappoint - may I recommend the Curry Shed for a range of veggie curries and the Tibetan Kitchen for a lovely rich beef stew with stuffed dumplings.

The most important ingredient to the weekend was obviously the music. Highlights for us were Lykki Li, tUnEyArDs, ‘Allo Darlin’ and Laura Marling. Brakes once again asserted their ground as my favourite live act ever. We have now seen them 6 times and it is always brilliant. The new comedy area was also great – a small stage nestled in a sloped area of the woods. The midnight Storytellers Club and Robin Ince’s Book Club were really busy this year. Less intimate experience but still hugely enjoyable. Anything that persuades M to stay up until 2am on two nights running must be special!

On the craft front their were many more makers stalls this year and I bought a fine set of jewellery from made from recycled reject colour pencils from the Derwent factory. Truly original and very pretty. Keep and Share were also there offering lessons and an opportunity to make a ribbon scarf for a community project. The book stalls were great too, and like last year I managed to bag a couple of graphic novels at knock down prices. I haven’t even got onto talking about the art and library in the woods…..

Rather than posting a load of photos on the blog itself, click here to see my facebook photo album of the weekend.

I have been absent from the blogosphere for the summer as I have been recovering from a big op in May. Happy to say that all is well and I am due to start a phased return to work next week. I feel more well than I have done in years. You will be glad to hear that I have not wasted my summer sick leave and have been busy on the craft. A lot of what I have been doing are presents for Christmas and birthdays, so I won’t be posting them until after they reach their recipients. Knitting-wise, I made a rather fetching pair of ‘Circle Socks’ for my mum from Noro Sock Yarn, and a Sun Ray tablecloth for Christmas. I used Regia sock yarn as it is machine washable and would come up bigger than lace weight crochet yarn.

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I have also found a new fondness for making cards. I am always envious of designers and artists who manage to have an instantly recognisable style, and for the first time, I feel that I have created a range that has a definite individual style. Obviously I am not the first to draw with a scalpel (Rob Ryan has brought this technique to the fore), but I do think they look a bit different to anything I have seen before. See what you think.



Continuing on the art and craft theme, I had a lovely day with my mother-in-law at Walford Mill in Wimborne. As I have said in previous posts we are aiming to furnish the house with original art pieces, and have a new addition to our collection by a very talented artist called Anya Keeley. She uses antique and found objects as the base, and creates scenes with recycled vintage papers outlined with silver soldering. I love the dreamy quality of our sculpture as "Softly the Night is Sleeping”. This isn’t the best quality picture, but you get the idea.


On the vintage/furnishing front, we continue to visit the Bridport Vintage Market each month, and found ourselves a lovely 1960s coffee table with black angled legs and a walnut veneer top.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Eurovision 2011

It’s that time again! I think we are probably in the minority in being big fans of Eurovision and seem to have forged a tradition with a couple of friends to have a small party to celebrate each year. The last few years we have tried to theme our gatherings on the host country, so last night for Germany I was wearing red black and gold, and eating salami, sauerkraut and pretzels amongst other things washed down with wheat beer. Possibly a bit too much wheat beer using this mornings headache as a guide! I happened on a great honey and mustard dip to serve with cocktail sausages and vegetable crudités – 2tbsp mayonnaise, 1tbsp honey and 1tbsp Dijon mustard. It got a thumbs up all round here so give it a go.

I’ve managed to not even mention the music yet. We had actual money on Denmark to win. If only I’d put my £2 on Azerbaijan at 200/1. With such a dull song we were bemused to say the least. There was also a disappointing lack of gimmicks and unnecessary key changes in the final last night. I had a soft spot for the Jedward song, even if their performance of it was terrible. Less said about Blue the better, but it was a huge improvement on our recent offerings and good to see us in the top half of the leaderboard again. Others amongst us thought that Moldova were robbed. I didn’t.

Now back to the main business of knitting. As a thank you gift for taking photos for our friends’ civil partnership, I was given some money for yarn and indulged in some Wollmeise Lace Garn in two shades of green. I ran a strand each of teal green and pesto green together and knitted Niobe from French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes. It was a bit fiddly starting the sleeves with a quite open lace pattern in fingering yarn on 8mm DPNs, but once it got going this was a really quick knit and a lovely fit with minimum shaping. I really like the raglan shoulders on me and will bear this in mind when selecting future patterns for sweaters


Having got the bug for lace knitting, I thought I’d like to have a go at a more traditional pattern for a tablecloth. I have bought a book originally printed in the 1950’s and am going to knit up a lace pattern using 4-ply rather than crochet thread. The main reason for this was I thought it would be easier as a relative beginner in lace and it is very difficult to find appropriate quantities of crochet thread in colour. The introduction to the book made me laugh as is was very particular that patterns should ONLY be knitted in WHITE COTTON or LINEN if you must, as to do otherwise would NOT be TRADITIONAL! I will revel in my delinquency whilst tackling this one!

I have also just finished another pair of socks from Knitted Socks East and West, this time ‘Tatami’ in Misti Alpaca Handpaint sock yarn, colourway ‘Blood Lines’. The colourway does not quite have the same impact as ‘Birds in Paradise’ I used for my Lacy Baktus scarf, but I am happy with them overall.


I have found a pattern for some socks with a great stitch that I think will really show off the misti handpaint well. I have decided to use the left over ‘Birds in Paradise’ to adapt the pattern and make a pair of cuffs. They will then go with my Lacy Baktus and woolly fascinator I made for the civil partnership.

Plenty there to keep me busy!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

The big day finally came and went, and I think we all had a jolly good time! As you know if you have been following his blog, I have spent the past month or so knitting the royal family and finally got them finished in time for the big day! We went to our friends for a party to mark the occasion - big thanks to Ben and Veronica for a great party, complete with wedding cake, favours and commemorative mugs! I had an excellent excuse to wear my wedding dress again, and no homage to Kate would be complete without a mock-up of THE ring – here are a few photos to keep you entertained.






This has been just one in a string of good weekends recently, and one notable one was international independent record store day. We got up early to head to Bridport Music, where Billy Bragg played a few songs in store for us! It was a pretty surreal experience, having been a fan since my teens, to be stood at the front of a small shop next to Billy’s son, having the man himself singing some of my favourite songs. I did my bit for the record store by buying a couple of albums I’ve been after for a while.


We then headed back to Dorchester for a debate on voting reform, where by coincidence Billy Bragg was also speaking. Vote YES for AV!!!!

Speaking again of supporting local independent stores, I have been filled with child-like glee since the opening of The Gilded Teapot in Dorchester. Having been brought up with a Mum who was a big drinker of various teas I have long been a fan. It has been too long that we have been without a specialist shop such as this. We had a Whittard’s for a while, but I’m sure anyone who has shopped at a real teashop knows that the big chains don’t really give you an idea of what real tea is about. I seem to be on a mission to try the whole selection of teas and coffees. Given there are close to 100 lines it may take me a while! My current favourites are a black tea flavoured with belgian chocolate truffle (need I go on?) and Sencha Sekura, a green tea with rose petals and cherry. I have also treated myself to this beautiful ‘We Love Kaoru’ teacup and saucer from the same shop. [Please excuse the white balance on these photos – I’m too lazy to edit them at the moment]. I make no apology for the blatent advertising, and to make it clear I am not affiliated with the store in any way, but the more of you I get to shop there, the higher the chance they will succeed and stay so that I can shop there too!!


Sunday, 10 April 2011

What’s on your doorstep?

I am of course not meaning this literally, but in the vicinity of your house. We have travelled the world, and yet I’m constantly surprised by new discoveries nearer home. This past week has got me thinking about this both in terms of people and geography. Apart from spending every spare moment knitting the royal wedding to get finished in time for the big day (more of that later), we have found time to partake in the biggest political protest in Dorchester since the mid-1960s, and go on a couple of walks near the town.

The march was to voice our concerns over plans to build multimillion pound council offices and a new library, at a time when many council workers are facing redundancy. I accept that there is a need for new office premises as the current historical buildings are not easily accessible for the disabled, and there is a lot of redundant corridor space that is costing a small fortune to heat. My question is why the offices cannot be located in Poundbury, where there have been offices to let in new buildings for months, and why now. It seems odd that they have chosen now to move. At a time when we are cash-strapped it seems our priorities are wrong. ‘People not Premises’ as our main message, and I hope that our voices were heard. On the matter of a new library, I totally agreed with our local library campaigner that a new library would be wonderful, but not at a time when 19 rural local libraries are facing closure, and we already have a perfectly adequate library service in town.

All this community activism was a great opportunity to chat to other locals and feel a real part of the town in which we live. I left with a warm feeling in my heart for having done so.

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We went for a lovely short walk yesterday a mere 5 minutes away from our house. I have lived here for almost a decade and M has been here since he was a teenager and never new we had a Bronze Age hillfort so close by. Obviously we have Maiden Castle the other side of Dorchester, but Poundbury Hillfort is it’s virtually deserted smaller cousin - I have a new favourite picnic and reading spot! We are very lucky to live across from the beautifully manicured Victorian Borough Gardens, but there are times when only solitude will do. Take a look at a few of the photos:

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Continuing on the theme of new discoveries, during our trip to Montreal I picked up a copy of The Believer Magazine published by McSweeneys. I have a few issues of the McSweeneys Quarterly Concern, a quirky literary periodical edited by Dave Eggers which arrives in various guises variously as a pile of junk mail or a pack of cards amongst other designs. Every article was thought provoking and brilliant, with features including hyperbolic crochet and an essay on the difficulties of translating nonsense. I was completely taken and treated myself to a years subscription. Yesterday the Film Issue arrived, complete with a DVD of a silent movie from Berlin in 1930 ‘People on Sunday’. It is an early play by Billy Wilder who went on to write such things as ‘Some Like it Hot’. I would thoroughly recommend subscribing – thought-provoking and pushing me enjoyably outside my usual sphere of experience which is all you could ask for in a magazine.

Back to the important issue of knitting. I am getting a bit quicker, but these are still taking a lot of hours! I am really enjoying doing it though and the resulting giggles at he final ensemble will make it worthwhile! I have watched three series of the West Wing so far…

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