Batteries recharged

I know I often say that things are "all go" around here but it really feels like the last few weeks have been a sprint to the half-term break. There's been loads of client work keeping me busy, shows to visit, and Yarn in the City planning to do.

Speaking of Yarn in the City - you *do* know about our call for submissions for our first book, right? Quick, go here and check out the details. I'll wait!

There's also got a new knitting project on the needles (only 64 more knitting days until Christmas!), which is a good thing as Mr. H has football four times a week and ice hockey too - so it's a good way for mummy's hands to be busy while she's watching from the sidelines. All of this has meant that it seems like school only just started and then we blinked and all of a sudden half term was here!

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to hear about a class in fair isle and colourwork that designer Mary Jane Mucklestone was going to be teaching at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot in Paris. To sweeten the deal, Mary Jane was traveling with good friend Gudrun Johnston, who would have a trunk show at shop in support of her new book, The Shetland Trader.

The mobile C&Q office on the Eurostar: have coffee and laptop, will travel!

The mobile C&Q office on the Eurostar: have coffee and laptop, will travel!

Knowing that this would be the perfect pre-mid-term break for mummy, I quickly sorted out some moderately priced tickets on the Eurostar and found a cute flat through Airbnb a quick 10 minute walk from the shop. (This was a rare treat for me as when I've gone to Paris previously for stitchy-related events, or even around the UK, I'm usually only able to get away for the day. Because the fair isle class was at night, it meant an overnight stay and an opportunity to explore a little more.)

The lovely yarns at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot - this shop is a MUST if you're ever in Paris

The lovely yarns at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot - this shop is a MUST if you're ever in Paris

Having only made the trek to L'Oisive Thé et Tricot once before, it was lovely to be able to sit with owner Aimee over a late lunch and learn more about the shop and see all the changes since last time. The shop is now the European flagship for Quince & Co and there is an abundance of hard-to-find-in-France yarns like Koigu, SweetGeorgia,  Madelinetosh, Biscotte & Cie, Freia... And the UK was well represented with Kettle Yarn Co, John Arbon Knit By Numbers, Baa Ram Ewe, Erika Knight, and more!

My fair isle cuff in progress. Somewhere along the way I lost one of my DPNs - surely a sign of a good class!

My fair isle cuff in progress. Somewhere along the way I lost one of my DPNs - surely a sign of a good class!

When I arrived back at the shop that night for the class, everyone was in full swing, pulling out the colours from their kit packages and immediately getting started working on the class project - a fair isle wrist cuff. We were given six colours and a pattern as a guide but encouraged to use any colours we wanted and just PLAY. 

Clockwise from top left: a spread of snacks to keep us going through the class, comparing cuffs at the end of the evening, Mary Jane talks about colour theory with example swatches from her book, and the inside of the fair isle vest from Mary Jane's Craftsy class - almost as pretty as the outside!

Clockwise from top left: a spread of snacks to keep us going through the class, comparing cuffs at the end of the evening, Mary Jane talks about colour theory with example swatches from her book, and the inside of the fair isle vest from Mary Jane's Craftsy class - almost as pretty as the outside!

Pretty soon there was colour everywhere as knitters got down to business, chatting happily in a mix of English, French and "Franglais". Throughout the evening Mary Jane explained the principles required for stranded colourwork to be considered "true" fair isle, and also provided an excellent explanation of colour theory and how to think about colours when pairing them together. Having learned how to do stranded colourwork before but not the principles behind fair isle, this was a very exciting bit of the class for me!

At the end of the class we all compared cuffs and talked about what we each liked and didn't like about our choices. This was a fantastic way to see how others had combined colours and get feedback from Mary Jane on why some combinations of colours didn't work or worked better than others - putting the colour theory into practice and reinforcing the lesson.

The obligatory group shot of the evening's knitters

The obligatory group shot of the evening's knitters

It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to do a class and there's nothing like learning something new to get the creative juices flowing. I returned to London feeling recharged and energised, happy to get back to my knitting, and eagerly looking forward to when I can take another class to learn something new.

Thanks for October

It's funny how time seems to slip away quickly the minute summer is done. September was a whirlwind of activity with the Great London Yarn Crawl (we raised £812 for Refuge and collected 149 knitted items for the charity!). Now that October is here, it feels like the days are dwindling as quickly as daylight is in the early evenings.

If you're a knitter, it's a time to be thankful for the cooler temperatures and that knitting season is well and truly here. Many knitters I at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally last week confirmed this. They were jostling in the aisles and hunting down new projects, happy to be chatting about putting away outdoor things, letting the garden rest, and getting ready to tuck in to their winter knitting.

Giving thanks with our UK friends who have a Canadian connection.

Giving thanks with our UK friends who have a Canadian connection.

If you're Canadian, this past weekend we celebrated our Thanksgiving (and there's a decent explanation of why we celebrate it at a different time than our American friends south of the border here). I was lucky enough to be able to track down a turkey from the butcher - apparently they're quite hard to find this time of year in London!

We have a tradition at our house that before we tuck into all the glorious food we go around the table and each say something about what we are thankful for. We are thankful for each other, a roof over our heads and food to eat, our health, our family and friends. And we continue to be thankful to be here in London with this amazing opportunity and experience of living abroad.

I want to also add my thanks here for the fact I've been able to build a business for myself doing something that I love, and using my skills and experience to carve my own path. It's not often one is lucky enough to combine what they love with what they do - especially in a creative industry like ours and I'm so grateful that I have. I'm thankful the amazing and talented knitters and dyers and designers that I know and have the pleasure to work with, and meet and chat with on a semi-regular basis and shows and workshops and events. They are such a fantastic group and I'm thankful every day for the privilege to both know and work with them whenever our paths cross.

Thank YOU too, for being part of my community of link-minded knitters and crafters. No one else understands what it is to thankful for colder weather like you do! ;) xx

Yarn Crawl Day

It's still pretty early here this morning on this grey and damp morning in London as I sit down at the computer with my coffee. But I'm awake and excited because today is the second annual Great London Yarn Crawl that Rach and I have worked so hard to put together for a second year.

Rach talked about the community that the event celebrates over on her blog, and Kate, who is joining us as a media guest this year, wrote about the charity that receives the funds from the event on her blog. And of course lots of bloggers and podcasters are excited about the shopping and knitting they'll get to do on the day.

I don't know if I'm going to articulate this the right way, but for me, the Yarn Crawl embodies a spirit of adventure, curiosity, openness and willingness to embrace the new, along with loyalty, pride and teamwork - characteristics that to me are inextricably woven into the fabric of the expat experience.

Looking down on Macchu Picchu. I think I'm 13 or 14 years old in this picture.

Looking down on Macchu Picchu. I think I'm 13 or 14 years old in this picture.

When I was young, my family moved from Canada to Colombia, South America and these values were all things that my parents instilled in my brother and I. How lucky we were to be able to have this opportunity. Encouraging us to try to new things and experience new cultures, but also retaining our own Canadian identity and sharing a part of our homeland with our new friends. And in return, embracing the new community that we were now a part of and finding ways to give back too.

How does that relate to the Yarn Crawl? Well, Rach and I are expats ourselves, and yarn crawls have typically been a North American experience, which we're sharing with knitters here. It's a way for us to be more involved with the knitting community in London, and in fact the rest of the UK since there are participants who have traveled in to take part in the event. The Yarn Crawl is also our way to give back to the shops, offering them greater exposure and awareness to a wider circle of knitters than might normally come through their doors, and a way for new connections to be made with the sponsors who have been so generous. And finally, in raising funds and awareness for Refuge, we support the larger community as a whole.

Images from #GLYC2013

Images from #GLYC2013

The UK is our home now and this is the spirit that I feel embodies the Yarn Crawl that Rachel and I have created. We're so thrilled to be part of it, and to be embraced back by the knitting community. I hope everyone has a fantastic Yarn Crawl today and I'll see you at the after party! xx

Throwback Thursday

I was doing some research online for a blog post the other day and I came across an old guest blog post I forgot I'd written for the Canadian Living craft blog a few years ago.

The magazine and their online have been through a bit of a shift over the years, as magazines do, but it was a treat to go back and read what I'd written - never guessing that almost exactly a year later I'd be headed for the UK and seemingly continuing what I'd started with those blog posts!

The giggle I've had reading over these posts though, is what I called them: the great Western Canadian yarn crawl. Written in three parts, it's a little travelogue-y with mini-reviews of the five yarn shops, weaving studio, and hand-dyed yarn studio I visited over ten days in the summer of 2011. And you'll never guess who's hand-dyed yarn studio it was...!

Since the second annual Great London Yarn Crawl kicks off this weekend, it seemed appropriate to re-post these blogs for Throwback Thursday. Enjoy!

The great Western Canadian yarn crawl, part 1

The great Western Canadian yarn crawl, part 2

The great Western Canadian yarn crawl, part 3

 

Knit all the things!

Wow. Is there anything like fall to ignite a serious case of start-itis in knitters?

With the cooler temperatures here in the UK (although it's been grey-ish low 20s with peekaboo sunshine the last week or so) it's been getting harder and harder to spend time in my office with my stash whispering seductively from the sidelines. 

This gorgeous beauty has been telling me that I need a new hat for my new winter coat.

This gorgeous beauty has been telling me that I need a new hat for my new winter coat.

It didn't help that Kate from the A Playful Day podcast has been hosting a craft-a-long this month in her Ravelry group. They're harvesting - reaping all those WIPs and other things that might be languishing in stash and project bags... And those lovely folks at L'Oisive Thé are starting a Color Affection knit-a-long. This is a proejct that somehow I never managed to knit when I bought the yarn for it when it was popular the first time around... Finally, Soak has been hosting a daily photo challenge on Instagram (search for the hashtag #soakphotochallenge) which has been getting me reaquainted with old projects, my tools, my stash, and my plans for said stash!

Madelinetosh, patiently waiting to be turned into a Color Affection shawl.

Madelinetosh, patiently waiting to be turned into a Color Affection shawl.

Then someone mentioned the C-word (Christmas!) on Ravelry and that got me all in a tizzy as my brother and his wife are coming to visit and they are definitely knitworthy! And I still haven't finished Mr. H's Harry Potter sweater which was also destined for this Christmas. Or at least it better be, as I bought the yarn in last year's post-Crimbo sale at John Lewis! And then of course there's the spinning that I've been doing with the loan of Rachel's e-spinner and the Mind the Gap socks that I've been working on for this year's GLYC (which aren't going to be done so have been shockingly abandoned!).

Progress has been made on Mr. H's Christmas sweater. On now to the sleeves!

Progress has been made on Mr. H's Christmas sweater. On now to the sleeves!

Which is all to say that I basically want to cast on EVERYTHING and KNIT. ALL. THE. THINGS.

I've been managing to hold on to a modicum of control though, thanks to another wee distraction in the form of gearing up with Rachel for the second annual Great London Yarn Crawl. It's been a lot of fun putting it together this year as we have more shops, more routes, more sponsors and more participants! It means we'll raise more money for Refuge, and really - that's fantastic!

I'll still be knitting these Mind the Gap socks at the Great London Yarn Crawl - at least this project is portable!

I'll still be knitting these Mind the Gap socks at the Great London Yarn Crawl - at least this project is portable!

There's less than a week to go, thank goodness, as I feel that the thin thread of my control is close to snapping at this point. In the meantime, I'm determined to carry on as best I can until the end of the month. But October 1st, all bets are off with regards to starting something new!

How is your autumn knitting coming along?