A year of woolly windings

It’s almost exactly a year since I joined the ever-growing ranks of yarn bloggers and, prompted by the similar anniversary of my gardening blog, Beangenie, I’ve been thinking about what the year has brought here too…

(Er, yarn, of course – despite my vows of restraint – but apart from that.) In my defence I must point out that the All-Wales Stash Mountain has been accumulated over a number of years, as might be judged by the Hunters of Brora carrier bag. They’ve been out of business for over a decade.

And this year did bring the demise, finally, of my favourite sweater in Hunter’s warm and lovely Aran tweed. Sniffle.

Even I had to finally admit that everything was finished between us when it developed two holes on the front of the chest. Not a good look. I have managed to knit a substitute, but it’s not the same.

It’s been quite a year, really. I started off rather flat because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do much knitterly and spinnerly work owing to stupid injuries, though I did think I’d be better by the end of the year, and I began blogging partly in response to that situation. Well, I’m no better and am actually waiting for surgery, but it hasn’t stopped me having a good year wool-wise, even though actual production has been severely curtailed. And I’m hooked on blogging now: I’m not stopping just because my hand problems will (fingers crossed, yee-ouch) soon be better.

Blogging on a tangent, as it were, has been very good for my eye.

It’s encouraged me in collecting images for my posts devoted to specific colours, for instance, and that has been fascinating. In fact, it became addictive and got so bad that on one occasion I was so absorbed in a yellow-painted boulder  that I failed to notice a magnificent sunset shining on the mountains. And I have now got a means of sharing my obsession with the archaeology and history of textiles.

Spinning has happened, injuries or no injuries.

My house has at times been packed with spinning wheels, and my wheel has been out visiting in its turn (I’m envisaging something rather Jane Austen here, with my wheel in a slightly down-at-heel carriage, leaving visiting cards).

There have been experiments with dyeing, too. This broth is ivy berries:

with which I managed to get – hold your breath – beige. Or maybe khaki. Pale khaki. Otherwise known as beige.

A lot of fleeces got washed, a hideously messy operation usually performed with the assistance of TBA*, otherwise known as Next Door’s Cat, and a lot of swearing. I start quietly enough,

and then it all goes badly wrong. I have learned that it’s best to wear really old clothes, and not mind the staring of stunned passers-by who find the sight of a woman whirling a sopping-wet pillowcase around her head while cursing all cats a subject of interest. (That’s just the tourists. Everyone else round here has got used to it.)

Oh, and I’ve also learned that fleece-fetishism in the feline – aka ‘fleece snorgling’ – is surprisingly common.

Wonderwool Wales was, as usual, fabulous.

And I even managed to escape without bankrupting myself, or adding too much to the fibre stash. NB: that’s too much, not anything. Of course. Next year it’s on the 28th and 29th April, and I will be there. Oh yeah.

And then we had an even more local piece of madness in the nearby town of Porthmadog, the amazing and extraordinary celebration that was Knitting the Cob.

I can quite honestly say that I have never seen anything like it in my life. So many knitters, so many scarves, so many colours, and what an achievement it was, bringing it all together. Fantastic.

But for me the crowning of the whole year was the time I spent in Paradise. Oh, all right: Shetland.

I knew I’d like it – my beloved Sutherland is good preparation for being even further north – but I didn’t expect to be completely blown away. We were there almost for the Simmer Dim

and that last shot was taken at 11 p.m, as the seals were hauling themselves out onto the rocks below our cottage.

Oh, the colours, the colours, the colours:

And the wool, the wool, the wool!

It was wonderful to be in a place where knitting was part of the warp and weft of life, a completely normal part of everyday reality, not something that excites stupid comments along the lines of  ‘nobody knits any more’ or ‘what are you doing with that string?’ – both of which I’ve had while knitting in public. (Answers: ‘Obviously they don’t, and I’m not either, you’re clearly hallucinating and ought to see a doctor now‘ and – with a sinister cackle – ‘making a garrotte’.) Even if it hadn’t always been quite as celebratory in the past as it is now.

But most of all my first year of woolly blogging has brought me into contact with some really interesting and lovely people – thank you, everyone for all your helpful / constructive / encouraging / entertaining comments and feedback. I don’t know if it’s the magical effect of wool, or the equally magical one of working with colour, but I can’t remember ever having ‘met’ – and sometimes in the real world, too – a more delightful group of people.

Or maybe it’s a general fondness for sheep. Perhaps least said…

And what will the next blogging year bring? Hopefully, a lot more spinning and knitting than this one – I’ve got all those fleeces to deal with. But just as much peripheral wittering, no doubt. And, who knows, maybe I can even find a place for some more pirates.

*TBA? That Bloody Animal. Naturally.


12 thoughts on “A year of woolly windings

  1. heikeknits

    You truely had a magnificent year and crammed a lot in. So glad you like ‘blog-land’ as I look forward to your post every week. Good luck with your operation…let’s try and meet up this year 🙂

    1. kate Post author

      And I look forwards to your posts too!
      We really must try and meet up – after all, we’re not that far away from each other…

  2. Annie

    You weren’t exactly idle in 2012 then! There’ll be no stopping you after that surgery Kate. Will you have to wait long?

    Meanwhile Wonderwool, a mere 14 weeks to go. I’m hoping to be there too, perhaps we can find a few minutes to finally say a face to face hello 😀

    1. kate Post author

      I wasn’t – and I surprised myself! Not sure about how long – there’s a waiting list but I’m supposedly urgent. Quite happy to wait at the moment (I’m a firm believer in avoiding hospitals in the winter – all those bugs) and I’ve got a good surgeon.

      Would be good to meet up in reality at Wonderwool; I’ll be easy to recognise – the only person there who hasn’t bought anything. Yeah, right…

  3. Annie

    Gosh how fast a year has passed !!. Goodness knows how long I have been blogging for (I must take a look !!)Although I am not as diligent as you in the writing dept 😉 I do intend to keep at it though even if its just to post about my projects so that I can look back at what I do achieve and that’s as close as I get to a new years resoloution 😉

    1. kate Post author

      Sorry about the delay getting this up – WP decided you were spam (must be all those coded messages about ahem and cough). BUt of course you’re not, and I love your blog – one of my inspirations! I’m so glad you’re back regularly in the blogosphere…

      (and I love the shawl which started off your last post – yummmmmmmm)

  4. Lydia

    What a really lovely post. You have done so much in the past year. I would just love to go to the Shetlands – in fact I think that if I did ever go there the excitement would be all too much! A couple of years ago when we came over for a visit we went to the V & A a magnet for people like me. When I walked into the great halls I was so overcome with the fact that I was actually there I could not look at anything and so, very sensibly, I went and had a cup of tea in the beautiful tea room. So, wishing you a year just as full of all that you like from a hot and dusty Western Australia.

    1. kate Post author

      Thank you – it’s so easy to forget all the good things unless you deliberately seek them out (especially on a grey day in January – I envy your heat and dust right now), so I’m glad I started blogging at the gloomiest time of year, when I have to make myself look back in a positive light!

      Oh, you made me so nostalgic for the V&A, especially the tea room, must go next time I’m in London. Shetland was AMAZING, and I can only encourage more and more knitters to make the pilgrimage. I spent the first day squealing in the Shetland Museum, mind – just as well we went back for a proper look. Maybe Shetland pilgrims could have some sort of badge, like St James’s cockleshell? Perhaps a small wooly sheep pin? I’m sure one would suit you….

  5. fafaknits

    Wow! You certainly have not been idle this year despite your injury and you truly are an inspiration to your fellow temporarily-less-able-bodied crafters 😉

    I hope you’ll have a fantastic 2012 and that you’ll soon recover full use of your hand. I also hope you’ll keep blogging because I really enjoy your posts, even when there is no pirate in view.

    1. kate Post author

      Actually, what I am is bloody minded and stubborn… after all, why should I give up doing something I love just because it hurts and I shouldn’t be doing it? (Hmmm…. I think I know the answer to this one!)

      I do hope you have an equally good 2012, and that you are very soon completely recovered and knitting and blogging away!


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