Sunday, August 17, 2014

Making Me Happy!

You've no idea how happy I am to be on Spain right now! I always enjoy holidays! This year has been very busy but the last month has been crazy! The burglary, the attempted burglary, dealing with insurance company (which will continue when we get home unfortunately), all the extra diy stuff Simon had to do to make house more secure.

The journey here didn't go too smoothly either. We dropped Em off on the way to airport. She's on a scout trip in the Czech Rep. The meeting point was just plain stupid. The entrance to a huge, very busy industrial estate just off A30 in North Cornwall. There were lots of cars, parents trying to park in the road, scouts and parents organising luggage etc, a big coach and it was raining. Simon had to move the car and as he was reversing a lady pulled up alongside him to overtake and they crashed. No idea whose fault it was. So now we've got to deal with that when we get home!

Flight was delayed by nearly an hour because of passenger who'd allowed cabin crew to put her trolley case in the hold when she boarded. She needed to wear a compression stocking on her arm and it was in the trolley case. We had pulled back from gate when she told the cabin crew. So we had to wait for a new space to park up, get her suitcase out etc. Plane was full with lots of young kids and babies. It was a late flight and the heavens opened as we started boarding so everyone was wet and grumpy by this point!

We finally arrived at the flat after 1am on Friday morning. So far we've done very little. A few trips to the pool.

A couple of hours on the beach yesterday. The waves were huge. Much rougher than it looks.

Los of knitting on the balcony. I'm making excellent progress on my cashmere shawl.

And I've started making Owen the monkey for my newphew. This is 1/2 leg.

Off to the beach for the evening! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Influential Crafters

In September Kirsty Allsopp is hosting the Handmade Fair in London and there's this vote going on over in Twitter now to vote for Britain's 100 most influential crafters.

I've received a few nominations as this morning I was 33 on the list. I dont really like appealing for votes but it would be cool to climb a bit higher. I'm not sure how important these kind of votes are but its a bit of fun!

Just because we need a picture, here's me with Debbie Bliss, Claire Crompton and Joyce of Spin A Yarn.

If you fancy voting the details are here including how to formulate your tweet. My Twitter handle is @YarnAddictAnni

Thank you for your votes x 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Beach Knitting

This is a blogpost that's been in my head for the last 2 weeks but I've been reluctant to post about. In fact I've talked far less about going on holiday on social media this time than normal. And I'm still not sure if I should be talking about it. But I can't let a stupid burglar dictate my life so I'll share our Spanish holiday with you. My parents own a flat in Spain and we haven't been for 2 years so I'm looking forward to 2 weeks of beach and sun. I love hot weather but Spain in August is HOT! We're on the southern tip of Costa Blanca and at 7am in the morning, in the shade, it's normally close to 30C. That's HOT!

Many people would think knitting in such temperatures is madness but I love knitting and I can't not knit for 2 weeks. What would I do? We don't go out a huge amount in the evenings. We quite like sitting on the balcony and relaxing. And that's perfect knitting time. When I used to have a normal relationship with knitting I was very much a seasonal knitter. I'd knit in the dark autumn and winter months in Norway but now I knit all the time. 

So what knitting am I taking to a beach holiday in Spain? We've only booked one 15kg suitcase between the 2 of us so I can't take anything big or bulky. I probably should take Simon's sweater which I started on a Spanish holiday 5 years ago but it's too big and it wouldn't take me more than a few days to finish it. Small items like socks and lace are perfect for travels.

I'm definitely taking my rainbow socks. I'm still on the foot on the first sock so there's enough knitting there to keep me going for a couple of days.

I've got another pair of socks nearing completion. It'll probably only take one evening to finish the second sock so I'll leave this one at home.

I'm also working on a shawl in Schoppel 6 Karat which is beautiful to knit with. I'd hoped to finish this before we leave but I had to rip back 5 rows today so I've made zero progress on this today. By the time we leave I may only have about 20gr of knitting left so I'm thinking about leaving this at home. I'll probably finish it in a couple of days.

I want to work on a shawl for my next book proposal and I'm desperate to knit something with Lotus Forest Dew. So I'm taking two balls and some beads. I haven't quite decided what to knit yet but I could do with getting something charted out tomorrow. I think I've decided on a shape. This will mainly be evening and early mornings on the balcony knitting.

I love knitting on the beach. Sitting on the beach kind get kind of boring. You relax, you snooze, you read. I like people watching. And if I'm just sitting there in my sun lounger I may as well knit so I tend to knit socks. They're small and aren't going to be piling up in my lap while I work on it. And as long as I use washable sock yarn, if it does get sand and sun cream on it, I can always wash the socks when they're done. One of the beaches we go to is a very long beach and very popular with Spanish tourists. Many people like to walk up and down the beach between swims and on several occasions I've had groups of Spanish ladies stop and look at my knitting. They talk to me in Spanish. I only know a few words of Spanish so I normally try to explain through sign language that I'm knitting socks. I usually get a few laughs at that point. Yes knitting woolly socks in nearly 40C heat on a Spanish beach may seem like madness.

I'm definitely taking this colourful Sirdar sock yarn. I haven't tried this yet so I'm looking forward to trying it.

I'm wondering if 1 1/5 pairs of socks will be enough so I'll take 2 balls of Regia. I've got some pink yarn for me and some green/blue yarn for Simon. I think I'll end up taking the socks for me to knit on.

That all sounds like it should be enough. I've got a project to work on in the evenings, 2 pairs of sock for beach knitting. But I feel like I should take more. I fancy making a 2 colour shawl, fairly simple but with a bit of lace. The kind that's perfect for car knitting, plane knitting, out and about knitting. Yes I do knit on planes. I've never had a problem taking needles through security. I don't tell them I'm carrying knitting but I have been searched with 2 and 3 knitting projects on circulars and metal double pointed needles without any issue. I do recommend using circular needles and what I do is use my interchangeable circulars. I put a spare pair of tips in my hand luggage, usually with my pens. So that if they don't like my needles, I can screw them off and leave the knitting on the cable and once I'm through security I'll screw on my spare tips. Also take spare needles in your hold luggage, just in case. I've been taking knitting on planes in Europe for 8 years now without any problems. Some people recommend taking a stamped addressed envelope so you can post the needles back to yourself. I'm never organised enough. Wooden needles are probably less likely to cause an issue than metal but I take my metal ChaiooGoos.

So I've got 150 gr of Shilasdair cashmere blend which I love.

But I also love this green/turqoise (the photo doesn't show the colour that well) WYSpinners combo. I love their sock yarn and I want to make a shawl in these two colours.
So I can't decide which one of these two combos I should take? Shilasdair? WY Spinners?

Or maybe I should take these 3 balls of Blacker Yarns Swan Falkland Island Wool instead?
I can't decide!

When this colour of Lotus Cashmere DK arrived I just loved the colour and knew I had to knit something but I've been so busy finishing the book I haven't had time. So I'm thinking I must take some of this. I'm not sure whether to make a one skein accessory. Maybe a cowl, worked in the round. That's be perfect for plane knitting too. Or a bigger 2 skein shawl?  I haven't decided yet.

So is that enough knitting for 2 weeks? I've only found one place that sells yarn near where we live and that's a big department store that seems to sell a small amount of acrylic so it's not like I can stock up while I'm there. If anyone has any yarn store leads in Alicante or Murcia, do let me know. 

By the way, the shop will be closing around lunch time today. If you order anything this morning I'll post it today. While we're away you can still join the Little Luxuries Club as there are still a few spaces left so I'll leave it open till I get back.

Don't forget to sign up for my two online classes running in September. There's an early booking discount if you sign up early. Not taken an online class  before? Give it a try! You can work at your own pace, in your own time and you keep access to the classes indefinitely. So if you get behind you can go back and view the lessons again. You don't have to be a tech wizz to do it either. Basic computer skills are all you need and the classes work on gadgets like Ipads and Nexus 7 and other tablets.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How much to share online?

I've been blogging for a number of years now (since about 2006). I've also been active on Twitter and Facebook for the last 2-3 years and recently on Instagram. I love social media. I tweet a lot and recently I've started using Instagram more and more. I was a reluctant user of Facebook to start with but now I'm enjoying it. I've got my business page and my personal page which I use mainly to keep in touch with friends and family around the world. I do have friends on Facebook, both local and non-local, who I don't know that well. 

After our recent burglary which was followed by an attempted burglary 6 days later, I've had a couple of people ask me if I think the burglary happened because i posted on Twitter that we would be out. When the burglary happened we were enjoying a lovely family afternoon at a local lake followed by a BBQ with my in-laws. I posted about it on Twitter and I posted photos (can't remember if that was during or after).

The second time, when we had an attempted burglary, I posted that we might be going cycling but I dind't post when we left and we left much later that I'd originally thought. In fact i sat in the garden knitting for most of the day until nearly 4pm. 

I'm open online about who I am. I use my real name. I was slightly nervous about this when I first started blogging but when I started publishing patterns I decided using my own name would be easier. Most magazine will only let you publish under your own name or a name that sounds real. As far as I know my address is not on my website, or at least I can't find it. As I run a business from home it probably should be, as I know some people would be cautious about ordering online without a physical business address but I also know after reading my fellow designer, Karie's blog last week that it's easy enough to find someone's address if you know their name.

It was interesting reading Karie's blog last week. Although her situation was different and much more serious than others it did make me think about this issue even more.

I have been a bit more careful about tweeting about my whereabouts since the burglaries. So why I'm I blogging about this now? We're about to go on holiday. Since the burglaries I've been apprehensive about going on holiday but I've been looking forward to this for a long, long time. This year has been busy. I've written a book with 25 designs, I've done lots of work for magazines and a bit of work for yarn companies and I've taught a lot, done a week long teaching trip and attended 2 shows. That's a lot and I'm quite exhausted. Two weeks in Spain relaxing on the beach is just what I need to get me ready for a busy autumn.

I've always shared our holidays with you. I think people who read blogs like to get to know the person behind the blog. I'm sure you guys don't want to just read about my new designs and yarns etc. I get the impression readers like to read about me and my family (do tell me if I'm wrong though). The blogs I like reading are part personal stuff, part business stuff (knitting, quilting, hand bag sewing). I do think that perhaps sometimes I share too much of my life online.

So as we're about to go away, do I write several blogpost and pre-schedule them to make it look like we're at home? Do I stop tweeting for 2 weeks or do I tweet stuff that makes it sound like we're at home? I've been really torn about what to do. 

I have a blogpost planned about what knitting I'm considering taking (it's way too much by the way). But do I publish it? I discussed this a few days ago with a non-knitting friend. She suggested that perhaps I should be more careful about what I post on Facebook since i have more local 'friends' on there and I don't know who my friend's friends are. I probably should tighten up my security settings and delete a few people. I don't know.

After the first burglary I didn't think we'd been specifically targeted. I thought it was an opportunistic break in. They didn't take much. It wasn't like they went through and trashed the whole house. But after a second attempt so soon, it made me feel like we were specifically targeted and it's made a bit paranoid. For the last 2 weekends, someone has been in the house all the time. The house hasn't been left empty.

We have beefed up our security. We've got security cameras, alarm, extra/new locks. We've done some of the repairs the insurance company should have done because we felt it would leave the house too insecure while we are away. Yes, we are still waiting for permanent repairs but that's a whole other story and one I'm not very happy about. Very disappointed with Direct Line. We've already complained which has made no difference at all! And we will probably end up taking it to the ombudsman as Direct Line are taking no notice at all.

There will also be someone here most of the time! Police are also keeping a closer eye on us! So if you are the burglar reading this, stay away or you'll get a nasty shock!

I'm really torn about this and I' love to know your view on this issue and what you would do. Tell me in the comments.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Perfect travel knitting!

It's in the middle of the holiday (vacation) season here in Europe and if you're looking for a last minute, quick little knit to take on your travels, I've got the perfect project for you. 

Zoe is a shallow, asymmetrical triangle with simple lace sections and lots of squishy garter stitch and beaded picot edges. Cast on now and when the morning commute to work gets chilly you'll have a little shawlette to wrap around your neck and shoulders to keep the chill off.

Zoe takes just one skein of Zauberball or any sock yarn that has 400m/440yds per 100gr skein. You start with just a few stitches and then increase every few rows. It's a very simple shawlette. All you need to know is how to knit, k2tog, ssk, yo and adding beads. It's all explained in the pattern but I've got video tutorial on adding beads using the crochet hook method.  

I love these pictures of Emily modelling Zoe. I especially love her hair. She has had it cut in to a chin length bob since these photos and although the bob look great and has made her look older, I just loved her long, thick blonde hair (I maybe a teeny bit jealous).

Friday, August 08, 2014

It's all rainbows

I sent out a newsletter this morning with news about classes this autumn. I'm teaching at several venues. My classes will all be listed here. I'm still working on adding them all. 

I'm teaching two online classes in September. I'm running both my online Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl and the online Professional Finishing Techniques classes. They've both got early sign up discounts. You can find details of both classes and book here.

Helen J said this morning via Twitter (about the Finishing Class): 'Anniken's easy to follow instructions means i can confidently say my finished garments look great. One very happy knitter!'

We enjoyed our 3 days at Creationfest this week. The teaching and worship was great and last night we went back for their evening concert. I got lots of knitting done this week and the Madeline Tosh shawl I cast on for on Monday was finished yesterday. It's now blocking. I love how it turned out. 

We've got a holiday coming up soon and I'd like to try to finish up a few wips before we go so I can cast on for some new projects on holiday. I've got a few things planned already. Yesterday, after I finished the Madeline Tosh shawl, I picked up my Austerman rainbow socks. I finished the leg, did the heel flap, and started the gusset last night while we were at the evening concert at Creationfest.

Talking about rainbows. I love the loom band bracelets 'everyone' is wearing these days. I've been nagging my girls to make me one but they both insisted they were too old for this craze. So I bought a bag of bands and begged Vanessa to make me one. She babysat a little girl recently and learnt how to make a basic bracelet and made me one a couple of days ago.

Apparently I'm not the only creative one in the family. I'm making good progress on my Mum's quilts. I got the fabric to finish off the first quilt top yesterday and tonight and this weekend i'll be working hard on finishing both quilt tops. I've got a week to finish them. Not sure I'll do it but I'll try!

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A new book contribution

There are days when I log on to Ravelry, head to my designer page and squeal with delight when I see that a new project I designed has been published (some publishers list all their projects on Ravelry, others leave designers to do it). A few weeks ago I noticed a new design had appeared in my profile.

I designed this shawl last autumn and to be honest, I'd sort of forgotten about it so it was a lovely surprise to see the photos. The Lacy Loop-Edged Shawl is part of '60 Quick Luxury Knits' which is the latest in the '60 Quick' books from Cascade Yarns and Sixth&Spring Books (who also publish Vogue Knitting/Designer Knitting, the Debbie Bliss Magazine, Noro Magazine and much much more). All the designs in this book use Cascade Yarns Venezia Sport or Worsted which is a blend of merino and silk.

My shawl is knitted in Venezia Sport, which is luscious. The shawl is worked from the top down with the triangular shape achieved by working increases at the beginning and end as well as either side of the central spine. The shawl is finished off with a crochet chain cast off (its easy even if you aren't a crocheter, I show you how here, click on the Crochet Chain Cast Off link).

I clicked through on Ravelry to look at the other designs in the book and then through to the Amazon pre-order page (this is the UK Amazon page). Suddenly I realised the shawl on the cover is mine. Yes there was another squeal of delight.

The book will be published some time this month but you can pre-order now. This isn't just a lace book, there's cables, fair isle and lots of other stuff too. See all the designs here. I'm honoured for my design to be featured in a book with so many amazing designers.

Lacy Loop-Edged Shawl is from 60 Quick Luxury Knits, published by Sixth&Spring Books. Photography by Jack Deutsch and text copyright © 2014 by Sixth&Spring Books. Used by permission.