Qiviut lace scarflet

I finished this scarf at the weekend, just in time for the weather to start to turn cooler. It’s made from Windy Valley Pure Qiviut, which is possibly most divine yarn ever produced.

 photo DSC_0882.jpgIf you haven’t already come across it, Qiviut is the soft underhair of the arctic muskox. It is reputed to be eight times warmer than wool and softer than cashmere. I was lucky enough to receive a ball of it a couple of Christmases ago and it really is sublime. It is also scarily expensive!

It’s the kind of yarn that doesn’t come one’s way very often, the sort that really, really needs to be touched to be believed. If clouds were warm and dry, or if candy floss was not sticky, this is how the yarn would feel. It is so soft that it feels like nothing in your hands, as though someone has merely breathed warm air between your fingers. I tried to capture the soft haze of it in the picture below:

 photo DSC_0898.jpgI started the scarf last winter, got half way, got distracted by another project, and picked it up again a couple of weeks ago. I had knitted both borders, left one on some spare yarn and was in the process of knitting the lace centre panel. When I picked it up again I realised that I couldn’t remember what the pattern was, but the lace was simple enough to figure out from what I’d already knitted, so I just carried on anyway.

 photo DSC_0899.jpgWhen I came to write this post I realised that I still couldn’t remember the pattern. I spent ages trawling through lace scarf patterns on Ravelry before remembering that that is exactly what I’d done in the first place, and that in the end I’d used a couple of stitch patterns from Knitted Lace of Estonia  by Nancy Bush.

The border is a 10-stitch pattern, starting from the outside edge and working in to the middle. Because I wanted to use every scrap of yarn, I knitted both borders first and then worked on the centre.

 photo DSC_0892-1.jpgThe centre panel is called ‘ladybug’ lace. It is a 6-stitch pattern; I worked 10 repeats plus a 3-stitch garter stich edging on each side.

 photo DSC_0890.jpgThe scarf is not large – it’s more of a neckwarmer really, but such a warm and soft neckwarmer that I can’t wait for the weather to be cold enough to wear it!

 photo DSC_0885.jpgSteve has already requested a manly version for Christmas, so I’m going to try and find a non-lacey lace-weight pattern for him.

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our house! in a book!

A couple of rooms in our house have been featured in a new book on vintage style, and I couldn’t be more excited!

 photo DSC_0869.jpgThe book, as you can see, is called Style Your Modern Vintage Home, and is written by Kate Beavis, owner of the very successful online vintage store Your Vintage Life.

Kate found our home quite by accident: back in February my hairdresser came to the house to perm my hair. As soon as she came in she loved it. She mentioned that her friend Kate was writing a book and was looking for 1920s home to feature and within a week Kate and her photographer were here, photographing the front living room and our bedroom.

So, without further ado, allow me to show you round some of my home! Here’s one side of our living room:

 photo DSC_0892.jpgAnd the other side of the living room:

 photo DSC_0895.jpgThe book is packed full of practical hints and tips about how to style your home. It is structured by decade, from the 1920s to the 1990s; our house is in the 1920s/30s chapter. I love that this photo of Alex asleep at the top of the Empire State Building gets featured!

 photo 34a1b5d8-b5d2-4972-93d4-c06fc0009d2b.jpgThe other room featured is our bedroom.

 photo DSC_0873.jpgAnd here’s the other side of the bedroom. Kate has included quotes from each of the house owners discussing their inspiration, research and practical details as to how they’ve decorated, furnished and styled their homes.

 photo DSC_0874-2.jpgShe bought a fair few props of her own to add to what we already had. The bedside table shot above features my own bits and pieces, whereas the image below includes her own things.

 photo DSC_0883.jpgThese rooms have been the beginning of a much larger project to renovate and ‘de-modernise’ our 1926 home. We are about to start on the rest; I’ll be sharing more of that as we go.

And finally, I’m very proud that my quilt is featured. It’s not the quilt that is meant for this room – I’m currently working on another one from a 1930s quilt pattern, but that’s another story for another day!

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Lace Vogue shawl

 photo DSC_0605.jpgThe details:

Pattern: Vogue lace shawl
Yarn: Wollmeise lacegarn in the colourway My Old Blue Jeans

 photo DSC_0603.jpgI made this shawl to wear to a family wedding that took place at the weekend. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve made and will hopefully serve as a lovely memento of that very special day.

 photo DSC_0607.jpgThe Wollmeise yarn is a stunning subtle combination of French blues and navy, and the beads are a coppery-gold colour that beautifully complemented my dress.

The shawl took about 70 hours to make. I added the beads by hooking them onto individual stitches as I went along, using a 0.5mm crochet hook. There’s a great article on Knitty.com that demonstrates how to do this (scroll down to ‘hooking beads as you go’). The number of beads on the borders  meant that I slowed up considerably towards the end (and in fact only just finished it in time!)

Here’s the shawl after being blocked on a mattress the night before the wedding. I was hugely relieved that it had dried overnight after all that work!

 photo DSC_0520.jpgAnd finally here’s one of my favourite photos from the wedding. Love these guys.

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I spent the last week with a very dear friend who lives in upstate New York. When we were discussing my visit, Steve asked me what our plans were. I answered, only half jokingly, that we planned to spend about 18 hours a day chatting, and that we would probably chat in a variety of places. ‘That’s not a plan!’ he said,  ‘what will you actually be doing?’

Anthea and I have been friends for twenty years. We met when we and our husbands were posted to Cleveland for a couple of years (I know!). As well as both having babies and having been plucked out of our home environments, we discovered that we share all sorts of interests, views and values. Plus she has a wicked sense of humour. We Skype regularly and in recent years have tried to visit each other once a year.

So, I arrived on Monday afternoon and it turned out that various people had also been asking her what we were going to do during our week. It seemed that people were a little … bemused might be the best word, about our distinct lack of plans or apparent enthusiasm for doing very much. We spent one afternoon walking to a coffee shop, having coffee and walking back, another one trying on clothes and hats in a vintage shop and yet another pottering round little local shops and going to the library.

 photo IMG_2749.jpgWe found it very funny indeed that so many people seemed to think that we were ‘doing it wrong‘.

When we reflected on this, it seemed to us that people expected us to do all sorts of things: to visit the city, to go to exhibitions and a show and to shop. All of which would of course have been lovely, had we chosen to do them. And if those activities are a kind of tick-list by which a successful trip is judged, then it is true that we did indeed fail miserably.

However, we realised that we are in fact very good indeed at our visits, but not in terms of what we do. What we are brilliant at is giving each other and ourselves the gift of time. We luxuriate in hours and hours of time. Time spent listening to each others’ stories; time spent belly laughing (and sometimes crying); time spent hanging out watching films, trying on clothes, cooking, going for walks – just time being together. We have so much to talk about, in so much detail, that we never, ever, run out of things to say.

 photo 1a7733f8-72c0-47ff-8944-d64c6e234a18.jpgAs mothers and as workers our lives are so busy, hectic and fast-paced, that allowing ourselves to stop ‘doing’ and instead just to ‘be’ together truly feels like a luxurious gift of rich and precious time. I am very lucky to have her for a friend.

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Two (and two dogs) have fun in Dorset

We just got back from a gorgeous week in Dorset. Here are some of the things that we did.

 photo Image4.jpgWalks along the coast

 photo Image3.jpgLolling around on beaches

 photo IMG_2644.jpgHaving fun with our dogs

 photo IMG_2658.jpgAfternoon tea and cake, reading and knitting (it’s in the bag!)

 photo IMG_2707.jpgA trip to Lyme Regis…

 photo IMG_2651.jpg…where I wore my Footlights cardigan (details on Ravelry)

 photo 13c86535-04e9-4b86-abf5-23b00f3d8a5b.jpgI had my first ever shampoo and set in a hairdressers (as opposed to doing it myself at home).

 photo IMG_2684.jpgI loved the results – and also the fact that in the photo below I pretty much could be my grandmother!

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