Missing-in-action penguin returns

I've realised that since London 2012 the Penguin has been very quiet. 

Some of that was being happily exhausted when the Paralympics finished and having 1,000s of Games photographs to edit.

Peacock versus Pistorius - the men's T44 100m final

And a lot of it is down to being very busy with work - some of which I haven't been able to talk about, and a lot which involved writing articles and blog posts for my various professional roles.

So this post will serve as an update list of what I've been up to - at least as much as I can tell you.

So plenty of writing in the past few weeks from social care policy to new knitwear designers - look out for my pieces in The Knitter and Simply Knitting in the coming months (obviously the social policy stuff will be elsewhere).

I now also work part-time for the London Jewellery School - the place where I learnt most of my jewellery making techniques. I look after web and blog content, social media, press, advertising and membership which means I've been writing plenty of blog posts for that site instead of here. It's very educational and inspiring being around the classes and seeing the work of all the students wether doing one-day courses or a full diploma programme. So I've been working on my own jewellery which means I'll hopefully be updating the etsy shop soon.

Agate and wire necklace

Meanwhile I'm also blogging over at Planet Handmade where I'm working on the content our full launch. If you don't know about Planet Handmade, I'd recommend follwoing the link and having a look at our blog but in summary it goes like this...

Planet Handmade is the brainchild of former editor of The Knitter and all round craft PR guru Juliet Bernard. It is an online hub for designer makers across all the handmade sectors - from metalwork and woodturning to jewellery and ceramic with of course plenty of yarn and textiles in the mix. Planet Handmade will support designer makers by providing relevant business and other information and promote them to retailers, stylists and the press. It will also campaign abpout attitudes to craft skills and the handmade.

One of the first things we've been getting exercised about are the changes to how textiles - especially yarn - have now to be labelled. The new EU rules have been drafted by someone who clearly knows nothing about yarn or textiles. If you want to marvel at the stupidity of rules that make no distinction between superfine merino and the cheapest coarse wool, do have a read. In the course of looking at this issue, I appear to have become something of an expert on the matter...

Knitting has also been featuring heavily in both my working life and downtime - now there's a surprise. I've been working as a tech editor on a number of interesting projects brining me into contact with some beautiful patterns - which probably deserve a post of their own once I check what has been released so far.

I've also been knitting for a London College of Fashion project. I can't reveal even a glimpse of what I'm working on but I can say that it is a new an exciting challenge because I'm interpreting the designer's drawings to create full garments with unique features. It requires a problem solving ability, knitting skills and an understanding of how fabrics behave. I look forward to being able to share the results and to talk about the experience in full.

IMG_2586As with the jewellery, all this exposure to design in the raw has sparked my own creativity.

Current swatches range from the super-fine for a 1920s inspired idea to super chunky (below).

The super-fine idea came from seeing some beautiful yarn and catching up with some TV drama in the same day. I was already besotted with the yarn and then I fell for a sweater on TV. Moare as the idea develops.

Meanwhile I was swatching for the secret LCF IMG_2616project when I started thinking about what it would be like to knit lace this big.

So I got some of the yarn for myself and started experimenting, and a bolero jacket using shawl shaping techniques was born.

I'm not quite ready to reveal the finished product but using shawl techniques in big wool adn needles raises some interesting thoughts. Is lace itself, plus provisional cast-ons and short row shaping, difficult because we think of doing it in fine yarn and on tiny needles? Would it be a good introduction to these techniques to do them "big"?

Despite all of this I did make it to Ally Pally last week. And I even know what most of the haul is for. The purple Fyberspates yarn is for long gloves for a December wedding, the brown Nimu will be a scarf for Mr Penguin and the Rowan Lima had to be bought after I was talked into buying a copy of Designer Knitting containing some fabulous cable patterns.


So now we're up-to-date, I'll no my very best to post interesting and informative - or at least yarn-obsessed - items on a more regular basis. 

Looking back at knitting and crochet week

image from bromiskelly.typepad.comIt has been a fascinating week reading about how other crafters interpret a theme.

I've learnt a number of things:

1. My knitting is very tied to ideas of family and place - I hadn't really thought about that before, but looking back through the last week's posts there's a lot about relatives and childhood.

2. One person's achievement or aspiration mountain - lace, 4 needles, cable - is another one's day-to-day crafting.

3. The humble freezer bag can really engage knitters.

4. Everyone loves merino yarn but kidsilk can really divide opinion.

5. There don't seem to be a lot of blogging public transport knitters.

It has also confirmed my belief that knitting and crochet are crafts were a few basic techniques can take people in a wide range of directions but give them something to connect over as well.

So thanks to Eskimimi for coming up with the idea and the themes (and get well soon).


Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - A Tale of Two Yarns

6knitbloglogo Yarn choice is a very personal thing. The feel across your hands, whether it sheds as you knit, the give, the movement on the needles, all affect a person's reaction to a particular yarn as well as the results in a finished object. 

With so many variable it can be difficult to pick one yarn that you love or loathe. But over the past year I can point to one yarn purchase that was particularly successful and one that was a huge mistake.

On the up side was choosing to buy five 65g skeins of Clan, a merino 4ply, in the Yarn Yard's sale. Even better it was one of my favourite colourways from this hand dyer.

Yarnyard 2

I bought the yarn for a cardigan and soon discovered it was very smooth on the needles with great stitch definition, creating a robust fabric. It also attracted very positive attention from others. At a knit night I was working on the cardie when a visitor from Australia grabbed my yarn and exclaimed: "Oh, Woollmeise!" She took some convincing that she was wrong and given the popularity of the German brand, I think this speaks highly of yarn I really enjoyed using.

Plus I learnt a little goes a long way... 

... for a cardigan, for a glove, and even hat - plus a little left over for a friend to finish a sock.


  • Alice 7
  • Glove 006
  • Hat 009
Hat 009

 My tale of woe involves not paying enough attention to past projects. Three or four years ago a I made a colour work cotton jacket - in the end I didn't wear it much because it was too stiff as result of the recommended but unforgiving yarn.

Last summer I was looking for a light cover up and came across a pattern for a net Knit 115 effect short cotton cardie Blithe by Marie Wallin in Rowan Summer Tweed. 

I ordered the yarn and made a start. Then I began to remember - the stiffness, the stickiness on the needles, the little fleck of cotton that shed causing me almost hayfever style symptoms. I was miserable but determined to continue - another mistake. So bad, I'm not even going to post a picture of the baggy shapeless scratchy outcome.

I don't think I'll forget this yarn again...





Coming soon: Knit & Crochet Blog Week

Blog week pinkKnitting bloggers of the world unite.

Organised by EskimimiKnits, the 2nd annual Knitting & Crotchet Blog Week kicks off in a couple of weeks. Join in to talk about your knitting challenges and triumphs, the yarns you love and hate and even your battles to organise your stash.

I've started thinking now so that I'm sure to have something to say and am looking forward to discovering new bloggers. 


Knitting entertainment: two new finds

Either a podcast I listened to or a blog I read in the last week mentioned the Savvy Girls podast - it may have been Voolenvine's Yarngasm podcast but I'm not certain. Anyway I downloaded the last two episodes which concentrate on the recent Vogue Knitting Show in New York.

The main show on Vogue Knitting had some interesting interviews and gave a flavour of the event,but the real joy came in an interview recorded at the show but included in the next Savvy episode. This was an interview with Franklin, knitter, cartoonist, historic pattern expert, teacher and blogger at The Panoptican - as well as companion to Dolores the Sheep. Franklin was a great interviewee and I'm now a fan of his blog especially the cartoons.

And I can't help wondering if we should introduce Dolores to London's own Electric Sheep.