Swallows and Amazons For Ever

A friend of mine who is a DJ / record collector once told me that he had a dream about finding a rare and very expensive record, in his dream the record was €5 and he found it at a foreign fleamarket, anyway to cut a long story short – he then found said record whilst on tour in Europe, at a fleamarket for five euros. I wasn’t sure if I believed him until today…

Recently I had a very frustrating dream where I had stumbled across a stash of old rowan books in a charity shop (sad I know) and I had to keep going back to buy them – in that stash was Book Number Ten: Swallows and Amazons For Ever – the one everyone wants cos it’s got Kate Moss in it and loads of Kaffe designs. Ever since I heard about this book I sort of secretly desired it even though I’m not a massive Kate Moss or Kaffe Fassett fan, it always intrigued me… well enough that I’d actually dream about owning it.

So today after a morning of bad luck (came off my bike on the way to a hospital appointment!) I decided to cheer myself up with a visit to my favourite East Dulwich charity shop. I headed straight over to the shelves where they keep the knitting patterns and what should I see looking up at me? Yeah you guessed it. Rowan Knitting Book Number 10 for 75 pence! 75p! I nearly had a heart attack  (someone is currently selling this book on eBay for £51.99). Anyway the rest is history…

Update…

Ugh, when I started this blog I vowed I wouldn’t do what I do with all of my other blogs, i.e. go AWOL for weeks without a post. Anyway, I’m back and the main reason for my silence is because not much has happened on the knitting front. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired whilst finishing off the Short Raglan sweater (above) – the completed pieces were just sat in a bag for weeks. Finally I took action, stitched the seams together, finished the neck and blocked it (still haven’t woven in the ends). It’s looking great, a behemoth of a jumper, very boxy and bulky, not going to be able to wear it for at least 6 months without sweating!

Anyway some things that did happen while I was on hiatus…

I finally discovered a really quick and easy Pom Pom maker by Clover. I volunteer at an arts and crafts class for disabled people once a week where I have been teaching knitting techniques – a couple of weeks ago we made French knitting necklaces, on the Monday just gone we made pom pom accessories and the pom pom maker really came in handy. We tried these pom pom looms too but the results were rubbish!

A few weeks ago I did a carboot sale in Pimlico (which was a waste of time  - no one wanted to pay more than £1 for anything) but I did get some nice Vintage Aran knitting patterns – in hindsight I wish I’d bought the lot but the seller was a real battleaxe and would only let me have 3 for £2!

At the same carboot I got this Dover quilting book, which has a lot of swastika designs (it’s pre WWII and probably refers to the Native American use of the symbol). Anyway, got me thinking I’d quite like to make a quilt, especially after seeing Kaffe’s quilts. It’s probably not something I am going to get into in a big way but I’ve always coveted patchwork quilts and would love to make my own.

Another Dover book I have been reading recently is Mary Thomas’ Knitting Book, written in 1938, it is interested insight into the history of knitting and details many different techniques. It’s a bit like a potted encyclopaedia of knitting, I’ve learnt a lot from it even if it can be a bit of a tedious read at times. I would recommend it to any intermediate or even beginner knitter – you can read as many modern, trendy knitting books as you want but this has the fundamentals and is very simple to follow.

As well as knitting I also enjoy sewing my own clothes, I have just started this Wiksten Tank dress in a pale grey fabric and I’m waiting for some hand dye to arrive so I can try some dip-dying like this.

Finally, Drops, are having a month long sale this May. Everyone knows I love Drops, lovely cheap wool (real wool or alpaca or mohair etc.) so I went a bit nuts. I don’t know what I’m going to make with it all, probably something grey?!

A Life in Colour

This afternoon I cycled up to Bermondsey Street to visit the Fashion and Textile Museum for the first time. First time? Yeah, shameful I know… The FTM has always been on my radar but I’ve never been really that inspired by any of their exhibitions enough to actually get off my arse and go. Anyway, I went because the current exhibition is a retrospective of Kaffe Fassett’s 50 year career in Textile Arts. I have to admit that I have never really a massive fan of Kaffe’s but after visiting the exhibition I have a new found respect for his works – especially his creative use of colour.

I always found his work too busy, a bit OTT… a chintz overload basically but on closer inspection of the various displays, I found that there were loads of pieces featured in the exhibition that I loved individually. Plenty of dream sweaters were on display along one wall of the exhibition and the main part of the room paid homage to Kaffe’s fantastic quilts and knitted blankets.

Maybe I’ve come away a bit brainwashed? It was an intensely rich and colourful experience. My only disappointment was that there didn’t seem to be any of his designs for Missoni on display but then the exhibition tended to focus more on his personal work and design.

If Kaffe’s your thing then I’d recommend that you go as soon as possible and even if he’s not, go but perhaps save it for a gloomy day…