Barnett Drum Carder

I have occasionally mentioned the Barnett Drum Carder in my posts.  As a result, I sometimes get enquiries from spinners and fans of the machine around the world who are looking for advice or spare parts.  So I’ve dedicated a new page on my blog to the Barnett Drum Carder.  Drum Carder front pageDavid Barnett is my Uncle (my mother’s brother) and although I’m not a spinner (yet!) I am so proud to be part of the family handcrafting tradition.  Uncle David made the giant double pins and circular needles which enabled me to start my adventures in Extreme Knitting back in 2012.   I am also the proud guardian of the Great Wheel which he made back in the 1970s.

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My cousin Libby demonstrating the ‘Long Draw’ method

 

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Here is a picture of me with my Uncle David and Aunt Sonia in Sheffield Botanical Gardens, on the occasion that they visited from Sussex to deliver the Great Wheel.

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One day I will learn to spin, as I think that will be a whole new world….but for now I’ll be knitting, with the tools that have passed through my Uncle’s hands, and the collection of knitting needles inherited from my Aunt and Grandmother.

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Giant wool at the Knitting Show

Knitting with super chunky oversized yarn in the UK just got a whole lot easier!

At the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate (on till Sunday) I met Andrea of the superbly-named Woolly Mahoosive.  Giant merino wool and 2 acrylic alternatives are her speciality.  All the yarns are super-soft and come in a range of gorgeous colours.   They are for knitting on massive 25mm – 40mm needles.  They are also perfect for arm knitting!

Check out the display:

Woolly Mahoosive pic

See the ginormous chunky wooden needles with signature cubed stoppers?  They are beautifully made from tulipwood and rosewood, and come in different lengths.  These needles are just what I was looking for when I started extreme knitting.  There were none available commercially at that time, so after I got lucky on ebay with a pair of wooden 25mm, I had my uncle make me a set of double pins and circulars in 2 big sizes.

So how did Andrea get hold of this array of giant knitting needles?  Does she have a helpful relative beavering away in a workshop? No, she made them herself.  Yes indeed.  Having no experience of woodwork, she informed herself, got hold of the equipment and set to work.

This kind of initiative and dedication is truly impressive.  Their prices are utterly reasonable too.  Bloggers, I would urge you to pop over to Twitter and give them a follow. They deserve it!

My head is now popping with ideas about what to make with these fabulous yarns.  Inspiration – that’s what the Knitting show is for!

Till next time

L x

Purple and yellow cat baskets

Some fab new colours have arrived from Hoooked Zpagetti.

New arrivals

New arrivals

So far I’ve made a purple basket

Herbie purple basket 1and a yellow one. But Herbie has chosen purple.

Herbie purple & yellow basketI love the bright colours and how the light makes the giant stitches pop out.

Herbie purple basket closeupMore colours coming soon – and a cat cave!

Till next time

L x

Knitting again!

Such a long time since I picked up the needles. Crazy busy few weeks in the day job since January.

I had the pleasure last weekend of knitting a bamboo flute warmer for a musician friend. The size was 60 cm long by 3 cm diameter. So I knitted a long, long rectangle, eyelets at one end, and sewed it up.  I added a double ribbon drawstring and a few beads. It was simple and quick, and my friend loved it. I thought, how I’ve missed knitting!

Now I have a few days off the day job and some space in my head for other things. I finally got the t-shirt yarn out which I ordered ages ago, and cast on using 12mm needles.

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It looks OK! But does it stand up?

photo 2Yes it does!

I see potential. Could this be the start of a new range?

Till next time

L x

 

A Love Affair with Wool

One of the reasons I fell in love with knitting is the wool. The texture, colours, feel and even the scent of pure wool were very appealing – and still are. When I was little I used to go and stay with my aunt who was a spinning and weaving teacher. Needless to say she always had a wool-related project to keep me amused. I remember sitting in her garden one summer’s day, handling some raw wool fleece. My job was to loosen the fibres by tossing it into the air, teasing it out, and letting the air in. I loved the feel of the wool under my fingers and the scent of lanolin it left behind.  To this day, handling pure wool is happily evocative of those times.

The giant wool I use for my baskets and cat caves is not that far removed from raw fleece. It’s had minimal processing and still retains its characteristic aroma. I had a lot of fun devising my giant wool baskets and my cats love modelling them.

So I was thrilled this week when my extreme knitting cat baskets were featured on the Ovis-A wool blog.  Many thanks to Katherine for the mention!

Ovis-a.com is a new site which aims to promote and celebrate British wool and wool designs. From their Facebook page – “The overall ethos is to promote a forward thinking and contemporary way to showcase British Wool products, using a directory and showcase service.”  They are also on Twitter.

This is a great idea and I wish them all the best with their venture!

It's not finished yet, Herbie

It’s not finished yet, Herbie

Till next time,

L x

A Basket for Lightning

This week I received an order for a medium cat basket via the January sale in Not On The High Street.

Larry gets comfortable

Larry is my model

The lucky recipient’s name was Lightning! What a wonderful cat name.  I can only imagine him (or her) whizzing around the house before flopping into the giant wool basket (hopefully) for a nap.

I had great fun printing the label.

Basket Label Lightning

 

If only I could actually knit the basket like lightning….

I had some good news this week. The people at my temporary workplace asked me to stay another month. They think I’m doing a good job for them. I enjoy being there. Thing is, I’m on a pretty lousy hourly rate via an agency. And the agency has messed up just about every aspect of the payments, timesheet, and client care. So I said I would like to stay, but only if I could make a direct arrangement with the company. That way I would be paid more, and the agency would be paid less. The company agreed. They were more than happy to dispense with the agency, having had such bad service from them.

However, it turns out that the company’s internal bureaucracy made it impossible for them to contract directly with me for only one month. The procedures were just too long-winded and complicated. This was very interesting to me. I have never worked in a big organisation before so have never come up against this sort of issue. But the nice people at the company came up with a compromise – to continue via the agency, but to up my hourly rate by quite a lot. Yay for me! Unfortunately it also means that the agency gets more money, not less. But there’s no way around that for the time being.

We went out to dinner to celebrate. There is a super new Sri Lankan restaurant up the road. They do cocktails! I ordered a Queen on the Bridge, which is Bombay Sapphire gin and champagne, with lime juice and fresh mint. Then a fab bottle of rioja. I got a little bit drunk. It was good!

Till next time,

L x

Cat Cave with personalised label

I just finished a custom order for a Cat Cave and a 14 x 10 inch basket.

The customer’s name was Merlin so I made this special label for him. Too cute!

Personalised label

Personalised label

This is going to be his Christmas present.

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And the basket is for storing all his toys!

14 x 10 in basket

14 x 10 in basket

What a lucky cat Merlin is!

The Cat Cave in all its glory can be viewed on Not On The High Street, along with the cat baskets and other extreme knitting goodies.

I am also adding some cats and knitting-related fine art prints in the coming days!

Hope all your pre-Christmas plans are coming together,

Till next time,

L x

 

Giant Blanket in 14 colours

It’s always good if you can offer choice to your customers. My cat baskets come in three different sizes, but the wool only comes in one colour. Dyeing it is a possibility but on the other hand I really like the wool ‘au naturel’.

However, the yarn I use for the Giant Cable Blanket is a soft courtelle which comes in 14 different colours. So why on earth not offer all those colours to my customers? I put together a colour guide for my listings:

Colour medley jpeg

 

I can also make the blanket to fit any bed: double, queen or kingsize. Then the smallest size, 4ft by 5ft, makes a lovely throw for the sofa.

Giant Cable blanket under construction

Giant Cable blanket under construction

It would be great to work with some of those bright and beautiful colours.

I notice that not all webshops are equipped for multi-choice listings. Etsy and Notonthehighstreet both offer the facility to list one item with variations. Other e-shops are not set up for this, which means you have to make a separate listing for each colour or size. This is a little inefficient, but I know this facility is under development.

Right, I am now going to attempt a giant cable knit cushion. Herbie has established himself on my lap but I think he’ll move when the giant knitting needles come out!

Till next time,

L x

Cat Baskets at Cool For Cats UK!

I was totally thrilled last week to find that Kathy at Cool for Cats UK has devoted an entire blog post to my extreme knitting cat baskets.

Kathy is a cat lover extraordinaire.  She volunteers at the animal rescue charity CHAT in London, and also works in a Cats Protection charity shop.  Her blog is full of great stories and product reviews.  I’m really flattered that she chose to feature my cat baskets and wrote about them so well.

It's not finished yet, Herbie

It’s not finished yet, Herbie

Thanks again Kathy!

Till next time,

L x

Between projects

Yes, I am currently ‘resting’ from creativity. I am very much between projects. But I am spending a lot of time in my studio – my favourite place – planning.

Corner of my studio

Corner of my studio

In a surge of efficiency I finished off a few projects which were mostly done but required tweaking and finishing touches. I had some giant wool scraps which I turned into this lovely bunting:

Spiral wool bunting

Spiral wool bunting

A while ago I made this little ghostie from an old Jean Greenhowe pattern, and I never got round to sewing on the eyes, because embroidery isn’t my strong point. So instead I finished him off with some cool sunglasses, which made him very jolly indeed, as you can see.

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It is very nice to have objects about you which inspire and encourage. In my studio, these include my giant knitting needles hand-crafted by my Uncle, and the note he sent me in the parcel:

'Happy Knitting!'

‘Happy Knitting!’

My workbench is more or less clear and ready for me to start something new. Now all I need is a clear mind and a few free hours to get my notebooks out and start creating again.

Wishing you all the best with your creativity over the coming weeks!

Till next time,

L x