Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Au Jardin des Laines

So Eunny Jang is to be the new editor of Interweave Knits. I can't wait to see how this impacts on a magazine that is already superb. Eunny is just the most amazing knitter, designer and blogger. I will definitely be renewing my sub.

When I took part in Spin me a Treasure my spoilee was Charlotte. As you will see from her blog she has an online shop, Au Jardin des Laines, selling very yummy yarns at incredible prices. I couldn't make up my mind what to buy so ordered a few balls to check out what the quality was like.

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The top row is 2 balls (pelotes) of
Angora Tweed in Strawberry and 2 in Violet this is about an aran weight in wool/angora and polyamide (50%/30%/20%) lovely and soft and so light (25g/74m) this was on offer at 1.73 euros a ball (about £1.30).

The middle 3 (light pink (which Charlotte gifted) and
2 raspberry) are my favorites. The balls are 25g and 58m of wool/cashmere (85%/15%) and so squishy soft and silky. I am making a pair of Fetching at the moment and seriously considering this yarn for Eris.

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This is an incredible 1.55 euro for a ball (not much more than £1)!

In the extreme bottom right is a ball of wool and silk (60%/40%). 115m to 50g for 2.50 euros.

For ultimate luxury though you can't beat the remaining 4 balls (2 each in ebony and purple) of cashmere and silk (70%/30%). 50g (no length given) for 3.95 euros (about £2.75). I don't quite know what to make with this it is so gorgeous but wonder if it might not make deliciously silky socks.

I can thoroughly recommend this shop, it will certainly be a favorite of mine. It is at present only in French but quite easy to follow. I initially had problems with the online ordering (it told me everything was out of stock) but I emailed and we sorted it out easily. Charlotte says her English is not very good but it is better than my French! Vas voir. Check it out.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cat Porn

Sorry if this is in bad taste. It is both funny and a bit tragic.

Fish, the alpha male of our little cat tribe, will be 8 this year. He was castrated at 6 months old. When he was very young he used to still have urges and though he never bothered the other cats he would try his luck on the fluffy feather duster (nicknamed Sharon), the fluffy doorstop (Doreen) and even stray balls of mohair yarn. To no avail, he might have the urge but could not perform. In time this behaviour stopped.

However a couple of weeks ago it started up again. He discovered the new sheepy doorstop (another Doreen obviously) and started pestering her.

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We would find her abandoned in the middle of the kitchen each morning. Lately he has even started pulling her out of an evening and attempting to perform in public.

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Although he was obviously not 'going all the way' I thought his own scent might be attracting him and stuck her in the washing machine. The glamorous clean new Doreen is still attracting his attention though.

So is this something I should be worried about? Maybe his lack of performance worries him? Or should I just leave him to his simple pleasures?


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Do you ever feel you should have been born with an independent income, sufficient not to have to battle it out with anonymous, disinterested institutions? Actually the problems I have been having would probably have been the same.

For months I have been handicapped because Paypal decided the credit card I had used ok for years was not ok anymore. When I tried to make a payment Paypal would tell me that my credit card had refused the payment and to get in contact with them. My credit card company would tell me that they had authorised payment every time and would even give me the authorisation codes. There seemed to be no getting anywhere. I spent 30 euros on phone calls to Paypal in some call centre in Ireland only to get operatives who could only answer questions from a set script and supervisors who refused to let me get a word in edge ways as they insisted on telling me the problem was with my credit card. Eventually my credit card company suggested cancelling my card and issuing a new one. This we did but it didn't work either.

In desperation (there are so many things you can't do without a Paypal account!) I decided to open a French Paypal account. Today I duly went along to my bank to ask them for a debit card on my account. No problem there except that in France you pay for them.

It is a bit of a culture shock after the UK were I never paid bank charges unless I was overdrawn and there is no annual charge on my credit card.

In France I pay 65 euros a year for the privilege of having a bank account and another 33 euros to have a debit card. I also recently discovered that the mysterious 11 euros deducted from my account was because I started paying my insurance by Direct Debit! So far then I am paying 109 euros a year for the right to spend my own money. Oh and did I mention that unauthorised overdraft in France is a criminal offence?

So grrr

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Time to Update

A huge thank you to my Spin to Knit pal, Maggie for the beautiful package I received ( a while ago now). The yarn is a squiggy soft merino in wonderful fresh spring greens. There were also some fantastic herbal toiletries from her own store . I feel so lucky, what a wonderful pal.

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I also received this lovely alpaca fibre from my SP9 spoilee, Estelle, as a thankyou. Wasn't that sweet of her? It looks so uninteresting in the photo but that is because you can't feel it. I might spin it with some tussah silk. Hmmm.

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Karen who owns my LYS asked if I would dye up some white mohair yarn that had been lingering on her shelves all summer, so I went to town with the colours, skeined the balls and space dyed the hanks. It did take rather alot of dye baths though.

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I hope it sells.

The large yurt (unlike the small yurt which we have had much longer) is suffering from some sort of canvas rot. The crown cover has all but disintergrated.

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So when we saw an industrial sewing machine for sale in mid Brittany we had to check it out. It was a three hour journey and despite its rather neglected state we decided to buy it. Keith spent time chiselling off the dirt (really), cleaning it up and making lots of minute adjustments to the tension but he has it working just fine now. So now we just need a source of inexpensive good quality canvas and we can effect much needed repairs this summer. It will be so useful in the future too for the inevitable home repairs.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

SP10 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I prefer natural fibres, wool, silk, alpaca, soy, bamboo etc but do not have an absolute downer on fancy yarns in small quantities for such things as cuffs on gloves particularly if they are spectacular. I adore multicoloured yarns both bright and muted, Colinette is perhaps my favorite but since I resell it I have plenty. Noro is also wonderful. however I am beginning to value solid colour yarns having realised that having multicoloured everything doesn't suit many people! I have rediscovered lopi yarns which I used to use alot and have started using Debbie bliss Cashmerino and Lambs Pride Worsted both of which I really like. I am open to new ideas here. I also spin so spinning fibres are more than welcome. Just getting into sock knitting too, I have plenty of Opal sock wool but adore stuff like 'Socks that Rock'.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Mainly vases but I have the fabric and plans to make some needle cases.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I'm self taught and knitted my first item about 30 years ago but there was a big gap before I took it up again about 4 years ago. I am a competent knitter and happy to adapt patterns and make up my own but there are still lots of techniques I haven't tried.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

On Amazon.co.uk. Amazon.com and Amazon.fr

5. What's your favorite scent?


6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Chocolate, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Mint Crisp chocolate (not mint cream)

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I spin, I dye, mess around with beads and cardmaking, stained glass and sewing. Interested in anything crafty.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I am fully MP3 compliant and like a diverse range of music from Dylan to U2. Female singer-songwriters, Alanis Morissette, Dido, Shawn Colvin. Souxie, the Au Pairs, Ova, Holly Near, Laurie Anderson. Though I could probably do with some education in classical music. I enjoy talking books, the spoken word and nature sounds too.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

Purples, reds, greens, in all their shades. Intense jewel colours of most colours except browns and pure yellow and blue. Grey and black. Quite alot of 'sludgy' colours including browns and yellows. Blues if they are 'off' (towards the purples, greens or greys). There is very little I do not like in the right combination though pastels are not a favorite.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

1 partner, no resident children. 5 much loved cats (4 black, 1 grey) and 2 Angora goats (who give me lovely mohair)

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Yes to all though ponchos I find difficult to wear.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Scarves, wraps, fingerless gloves, getting into hats and bags and would like to try more socks.

13. What are you knitting right now?

A wrap in 6 Colinette yarns, fingerless gloves in soysilk and an angora bunny to felt.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Oh yes, my SP8 made me some wonderful socks that I wear all the time, they are my absolute favorites.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Whatever gets the job done - for gloves and socks bamboo dpns; for large projects addi turbos.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?


17. How old is your oldest UFO?

The oldest is about 18 years old and I have them at various ages in between.

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I'm looking forward to Easter this year. The return of the sun, everything growing. Winters seem longer the older I get and spring cheers me up.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Besides yarn, fibre and fabrics? Well knitting books I guess.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I have a subscription to the 2 UK mags 'Simply Knitting' and 'Knitting' but will let them lapse when thay are due as they are uninspiring. I also subscribe to Interweave Knits (which I enjoy) and my sub to Vogue Knittting has lapsed after the winter 2006 issue(which I am sure I would enjoy if it ever arrived) I would have liked to renew it but they keep forgetting to send it and by the time I get it it is months later. I enjoy reading inspiring magazines and would be delighted to receive back issues (even well worn ones) of interesting mags. I am currently coveting the felted clogs (knitted and crocheted) on the Stitch Diva site and Eunny's Anemoi Mittens. I would like to try and get the short Brittany dpns in 4.5mm and 5mm for knitting gloves. I have looked fruitlessly for some short bamboo straights for modular knitting.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I am trying my hand at a lace shawl. I love how it is turning out but have to concentrate so hard. I have just done the Prudence Mapstone workshop on Bullions and have all her books so want to try something freeform. I adore Debbie News book and want to try labyrinth and virtual knitting. I like to try new and different things.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Having ventured into the realm of sock knitting I want to build on that. I am a size 5 shoe (UK)

23. When is your birthday?

1st April (really!)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Happy International Womens Day

Friday, March 02, 2007

Down on the Farm

I seem to have been slow to blog lately, so some catching up is in order.

First an FO. I thought I would try knitting a beret out of 6ply Opal sock yarn (3mm needles guage 24.5 st /10cm) just for the hell of it. Made the pattern up as I went along and it worked out quite well. I cast on 110 stitches and it has come out a small adult or child size.

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It must be lambing time. I went to visit an angora goat farm last Saturday with my friend Margareta and there was another lamb foundling being cared for in the kitchen.

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There were also more than 30 angora goats.

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Including one who was completely mad looking!

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On the way there we saw a wonderful dome house, completly covered in wooden shingles, so I had to stop and take a picture.

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Tracey who had all the angora goats wants to start up a yarn business with the kid mohair from her goats. Trouble is she knows nothing about knitting, spinning or dyeing which is why we were visiting. She had already sent off 25 Kg of fibre to be spun at a mill. Not into a fine soft cobweb yarn though but into oiled hanks, seemed like a waste to me. She wanted to know if Margareta and I would be interested in handspinning some yarn for her to resell. However she wanted to market it for around £4 / 50g and was expecting us to wash, dye, card and spin for alot less than that (the fleece was not clean). It didn't sound very realistic to me.