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In the Pink.......................

I had a pressie in the post this a.m. It wasn't a surprise, in fact I bought this one for myself. do you recognise it?
You might have seen this hat in this months' Knitty.
It is a woollywormhead design. I have always loved the hex Hat in the crochet version but think it is far superior in the knitted version. Who in their right mind would think of knitting lots of hexagons with paired decreases and then sewing together to make one big Hex Hat? Exactly! Fantastic! Genius! I love it and it is the antidote to me losing my pink cabled hat to the Washing Machine Monster. so now, I have a new felted bowl and a new pink hat. Thanks Ruth! (apologies for poor photo, will try to get a better one in daylight)

The Quickest Scarf in the World

Just peeping out from the background of the Hex hat you can see a scarf I knocked up in about an hour or two. I combined Lana Grossa and Alpaca Silk and thought I was knitting on 8mm needles only to find out that without my glasses on I had accidentally picked up my 15mm. never mind, it is the quickest scarf I have ever made and it was made out of pure necessity. I even used some dropped garter stitch to make it really really quick and laddered. It is nothing special but it is functional and it is green!

Going Green .....

I am getting more and more green these days and I'm not talking about the environment. I seem to be draw towards green shades of yarn and clothes and pull away from red and purple which are actually my favourite shades and the ones that suit me best to wear. See this beret competed in one evening whilst watching the film Hard Candy (which I do not recommend by the way due to it's drawn out obvious plot and annoying characters for whom we are encouraged to have zero sympathy).

I know I know, I should be working on other more urgent
projects. However, I often get bogged down 7 days a week with knitting for my bread and butter as well as a lot of admin and IT (all knitting related). So I sometimes give myself an evening off in which I can swatch, experiment and take notes for further projects or I am allowed to start a project that is a weekend quickie. I have never made a beret before, always going for the chullah or the beanie and not sure if berets even suit me.

I took this Rowan country and just started a beret on 9mm needles without a clear idea of how I was going to organise the pattern. So, I just cast on those stitches and
expanded at even intervals until I felt it was at it's optimum bagginess, then knitted
straight for a bit and then decreased in
a circular manner
and voila the beret. Rowan country by the way has a wonderful selection of variegated shades and seems to be the replacement for Biggy Print.

I am quite happy with it although I still feel silly wearing something like this at a jaunty angle! It
looks good on the poly head though.

I dried it flat around a circular place mat and in the morning it had taken on a beret shape. If I did it again though, I would change the way I increased. Increases are a difficult one, I would rather my increases don't spiral so I use the M1 bar increase and evened them up around a point but this can also have
the effect of being a bit too squared off if paired like this and only 4 sets of 8. But, in a large gauge knit, if I were to add more to 'hex' or 'oct' them I would end up with a far too baggy top........ mmmm it needs a rethink. I think I might do a version with a peak on as well. This will be another pattern typed up and available as a pdf when I have time. I think it will be a free one so do contact me if you'd like a copy and it will spur me on to get it written. For the moment though, leisure time is over and it is time to get back to my Anticraft projects (which I love anyway)

To everyone who inquired after my father, thank you, he is doing fine at the moment. he is a very very lucky ma
n having got 3 serious forms of cancer in the past year that are totally unrelated to each other and each one a potential killer. The docs seem to be keeping all 3 at bay at the moment and the last I heard was that they had removed all of the lung cancer. Usually unheard of as most lung cancers are inoperable by the time they are detected. Lucky lucky man, lets hope the other two cancers are kept from advancing as well.
A Couple of Book Reviews For You

I finally abondoned my attempt to finish Teacher Man by Frank Mccourt. I lost interest because the anecdotes seemed insipid, insincere, reflected not a maverick but a failure to conform where rules and regulations must give some sort of structure to young peoples lives. I also lost interest as well because this was the US style of teaching in the 1950's and 1960's so felt very remote from the experiences I had when I worked in education in Britain. Perhaps I will try it again but I suppose really I want my books to be fiction and create a rich world to escape from this one.

As a quick read, I read Janet Street-Porter's biography Baggage and you can call her a cynic but I can exactly see where she is coming from with the experiences she had as a teenager and the escape she had from her suburban monotony into the world of art, music, philosophy, architecture and the media. I could go on to explain other reasons why I found her biography so entertaining but it would reveal too much about my own personal background and that is not what this blog is for!

Now I have started a most surreal tale bought for me as a Christmas present called Edward Trencom's Nose and I am sure this is going to be in the same category as The Vesuvius Club and Misfortune, both of which I enjoyed so I will let you know what this was like when I finish.

Which dog?????

We are still grieving the loss of our sable/white border collie who was with us for 17 years. We were not ready to be dog owners quite yet but now have a dilemma. A friend of a friend has a 2yr old male Doberman dog that he is hoping to re home because his wife is pregnant and doesn't feel happy about having a dog with a newborn baby to look after.

However, at the very same time, our belov
ed Jem's relatives have two puppies, both boys who are up for adoption. They are 6mths old, one is sable and white like Jem and the other is tricolour and they were both born in the same month that Jem passed away.

The dilemma?
Do we adopt a dog now even though we weren't expecting to? We could miss the chance of all of the above options if we don't adopt now and the more we think about it the more it appeals to do so.

Do we take in the Doberman, knowing th
at of all 3 dogs this would be the hardest to re home? One of the things putting me off is that this breed doesn't live that long so in about 6-8yrs we would be going through the same bereavement heartache. However, an adult dog can be easier as they are toilet trained etc. But at the same time, I am not familiar with this breed.

Do we take in one of Jem's nephews? As you will see from the two collies above from Jem's family, there is such a strong family likeness between dogs it could be heartbreaking to see the same characteristics. however, it might bring us closer to the cycle of life and give us joy to see Fan's (Jem's mum) genes carrying on. Border collies are my first love as far as dogs are concerned. they are hairy though?

Could we take on two dogs? Perhaps we could have a collie puppy and the Doberman, or we could have two collie puppies. Dogs do love each other's company and sometimes 2 dogs are not much more hassle than one.

The other problem of course is that being disabled and unwell myself, I would heavily rely on my partner to be the dog
walker as well as having a full time job. Is that really fair.

What do we do? any advice? We hear th
at this is the last of the line re Fan's border collie descendants as the breeder is too ill for dogs.

Just look at the similarity between these two related collies though, one is Jem and the other is Teal.

That time of the month......................

It is that time of year, month or whatever when I seem to be overwhelmed with my least favourite topic: Hospitals!

My father is in hospital having some very serious surgery as we speak and I have several appointments for my own condition this week. I don't wish to bore you with all the details but have put this up just in case an email gets sent to me and not replied to for a couple of days. I am still working away at my Anticraft projects, got 2 under the belt and half way through 3rd. I am still available for other work this week and will get back to any of inquirers as quickly as I can.

Erssie Knits' current two knitters meli and Heather have both completed their first projects for me for a new book coming out , can't give the whole details yet but this will be a fun book by Carol Meldrum involving knitted icons. Watch out for it later this year, probably in Sep.

I must say that due some good working ground rules and the professional attitude of both the knitters who contacted me and communicated over every uncertainty, this job ran a lot more smoothly than other jobs I have delegated. So, I am excited that despite my medical condition and drawbacks, Erssie Knits will be more of a success. The measure of my success will not be financial, it never is. The success will be the involvement I have had in interesting projects that are published or made public in some way and the ability for me to be involved in a community despite being housebound for a lot of the time.

Talking of publishing, I have something coming out in issue 26 of Simply Knitting
which I think is April's issue but really comes out in March. watch out for that.

I do still have opportunites for people wishing to commit to doing about 50 swatches at £10 per swatch (less 10%) so do contact me about that still.

There is a lot of work coming into Erssie knits at the moment. One of the jobs we have been offered involves knitting swatches for photography to be used as stitch libraries.

Some of you may not be interested in huge garments or other strange creations that might pop up but you may be a strong, steady knitter with an even gauge and a kn
owledge of a lot of stitch varieties or a willingness to try them if you are given the instructions. I can pay roughly £10 per swatch and an overall handling/admin fee of £10% of your earnings for the entire job i.e. one £10 swatch would mean a payment of £1 to Erssie Knits.

I will do all the invoicing, chasing
and procuring of work for you as well as supporting you with any problems you might have with the work. This is not the only job which has come in and I am always looking for knitters so whether you are available for just one small job or a variety of jobs, do contact me and I will keep you on my knitters file. In order for me to be your guarantor, you will need to answer a few knitting related questions via email and knit a few gauge swatches so I can see your work and assess your knitting tension.

Those wishing to take on any work, email me at erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk
and use Helpforjobs as your subject.

A Quick Book Review

I have just finished reading The Alchemists' Daughter - Katherine McMahon

It is a historical romance. It is a thriller. Despite its subject matter and its setting, it is light and airy, quick and passionate. Some parts of it remind me of Rose Tremain's Restoration novel, especially the scientific sections. It is a powerful love story but the love does not flow from lover to lover but more from father to daughter, a powerful bond that even alchemy cannot alter. The lightness of the text means this is a quick read, it could be read in a couple of days. Finishing a book is always a wrench for me, partly because I cannot escape and must return to more pressing matters but also because of the anxiety of what to start next. If you can send me an SAE you can have a copy of this book.

These days, I can't bring myself to waste my time on novels I don't feel really passionate about. I have started reading Frank McCourt's Teacher Man but I'm finding that compared with Angela's Ashes it is unstructured and doesn't settle in any area long enough for me to want to feel committed to it. I will persevere and see if I can get used to the choppy anecdotal style. For anyone who hasn't read Angela's Ashes, you must as this is a truly gripping biography of a harsh childhood in Ireland that reads like Dickens but is in our lifetime.

I have plenty of paid work going for textiles people who would like to make my designs or other designers' work to be used in publications. Due to the confidential nature of the work I can't put up specifics here but if you would be interested in working with me and getting about £25 for a project that can be done in half a day then contact me through my email address erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk.

I will be delegating the work to people who can knit or crochet up to a professional standard and I would have to know your work or have proof of your competence.

Before......and After


Here is a truly ‘finished object’. I can’t begin to tell you how stupid I feel and for anyone wondering if alpaca silk felts well, it being a non wool fleece and having silk in it. The answer is yes!

I lost my favourite cabled alpaca silk hat. It has mittens which match and they all fit perfectly. I wore this hat whilst on the plane home from NZ and I thought I had lost the hat. Alas, poor hat had found its way inside another garment which has been washed and then dried in the tumble dryer. This morning, I unravel a hoodie and out pops a minute, stiff as a board shapeless pink thing.

However, I was thinking of redesigning this so that the decreases sit more perfectly with the cables. Also, I have always wanted a felted bowl so shaped the object around a saucepan and several bowls and have finally opted to dry it around this one.

So, when I re-knit this set do I want it to be alpaca silk, do you have any suggestions for a substitute or improvement on the design? What colour ways should I try now? Cashmerino chunky perhaps?

Winging With Yarn v Planning With Paper/Charts

Recently a lot of people have commented on Erssie being the sort of person who designs on paper without going anywhere near yarns and tools rather than playing with yarn getting inspired etc. However, I can and I do both

Something Winged = Cabled Hat and Mittens
Something Sketched = Nordic Hat and mittens
Something Graphed/Charted = Celtic Ravens Hat

So when I had an opportunity to submit to a book, didn’t have any current designs looking for a publisher. What did Erssie do? I thought of all the possibilities of things I could design to fit in with themes for the book.

I drew sketches from my head, knitted quick swatches or found references to give the 'mood', suggested variations and alternatives and came up with 13 distinct designs fitting the authors’ ethos and had 3 accepted. If I had chosen just one, submitted a finished version of that, I think it would have been a lottery in which I would have lost i.e. 10 of my designs didn’t make the book, but almost. There will have been many people who did make something specifically for them, submitted the idea but they couldn’t fit it in. It is not always a case either of whether designs are good enough. A compilation book has to be varied as well as complimentary, the balance is finely tuned and a good design is not always going to fit in with the group of designs chosen. Designers will work blind with regards to how their designs may fit in with other designer’s work in a compilation. The authors cannot help guide them as they themselves may not know the direction in which the final themes will flow as they will be inspired by the designs submitted and themes can be retrospective.

I was given a fantastic book from Stevie this Christmas on how to design/sketch for fashion. Interestingly enough, I found out that way I have been presenting my stuff is exactly the standard for the industry although I need to improve my drawings and be a bit more impressionistic rather than realistic Common sense really. Obviously for some people they have time to make prolific designs and then choose the best to submit and good luck to them if they get chosen because it means little work to type up a pattern they have already written.

Now with me, I sketch, research possible yarns, do little swatches and then when it gets accepted it is a case of OMG I have to actually produce something that is like my sketch now eeeeek! However, this pushes me to achieve my goals, stops me from just making something the easy way with that’ll do attitude. I would be the sort of person to submit a giant crocheted mushroom as a sculptural piece in town square without any idea of how it will be achieved exactly until it is accepted then I would rush around and work it and work it until damn it I’ve got that giant mushroom, then I will improve upon it so that there are extras the commissioner is not expecting........ Ta da!

I also sketch any ideas that pop into my head directly into a very private journal. You know how it is, ideas pop up whilst making other designs i.e. all the choices you didn’t pursue are possible alternatives for the future and it is self generating.

So, those people who are more organic who think designing on paper is a non creative boggy way of doing something I disagree. Being restricted to the yarn in front of you, the needle size you are using and the first thing you achieve whilst 'experimenting' I think can be a little more restricting than my way. After all, with me…”The world is your mushroom!”


I love books!

Not just knitting books but fiction, either classic or contemporary. I used to read over 50 books a year but looking back over the last year, I was so busy with my knitting empire I didn't really read that much.

I was totally impressed with the number of books Kerrie Allman had read since Christmas, she asked me what genre of books I liked so I sent her a list which I will share with you.

Here are some of the books I have read and really enjoyed, the taste is reasonably varied. I did like a lot more contemporary light hearted stuff as well but when time is so precious, my fave genre is fiction that is unique rather than blockbuster if you know what I mean.

Last year I went through a phase of reading Chinese authors, moved by their stoical but emotional way of dealing with tragedy which was absolutely fatalistic and beyond my own cosy experiences. It taught me to have an acceptance of those tragic things that had happened that can't be changed. When I was going through a hard time myself (massive hole in the arm,hospital and pet bereavement!)these books saw me through. These are my recommendations:

Red Azalea, Empress Orchid and Wild Ginger all by Anchee Min
Falling Leaves Adeline Yen Mah
Wild Swans Jung Chang
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Paperback) *by Lisa See (Author)

Also this is a very short list of the ones I can remember (really must write down my readings on my blog this year, so many things to do so little time!)

Misfortune (Paperback) by Wesley Stace (Author)
Human Traces (Paperback) by
Sebastian Faulks (Author)

Lazy Eye (Paperback) by
Donna Daley-Clarke (Author
The Alchemist's Daughter (Hardcover) *by
Katharine McMahon (Author)
Fingersmith (Paperback) *by
Sarah Waters (Author)
Affinity (A Virago V) (Paperback) *by
Sarah Waters (Author)
The Night Watch (Hardcover) by
Sarah Waters (Author)
Tipping the Velvet (Virago V) (Paperback) *by
Sarah Waters (Author)
Never Let Me Go (Paperback) *by
Kazuo Ishiguro (Author)
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Paperback) by
Marina Lewycka (Author)
The Time Traveler's Wife (Paperback)* by
Audrey Niffenegger (Author
The Shadow of the Wind (Paperback) by
Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Author)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Adult Edition (Paperback) *by
Mark Haddon (Author)
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Paperback) by
Patrick Suskind (Author)

Human Traces (Paperback) by Sebastian Faulks (Author)
Flow, My Tears, the Policeman Said (S.F.Masterworks S.) (Paperback) by
Philip K. Dick (Author)
Ubik (Gollancz S.F.) (Paperback) *by
Philip K. Dick (Author
Eye in the Sky (Gollancz SF) (Paperback) by
Philip K. Dick (Author)

Forget the dreary plodding way of approaching classics at school, there are some real gems and you can appreciate them with the freshness of an adult perspective if you go back to them. If you haven't already read these (as an adult) I would throughly recommend them as easy reads:

The Woman in White (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback) *by
Wilkie Collins (Author)
Jane Eyre (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback) by
Charlotte Bronte (Author
David Copperfield (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback) *by
Charles Dickens (Author)
Middlemarch (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback) by
George Eliot (Author), Doreen Roberts (Introduction
Far from the Madding Crowd (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback) by
Thomas Hardy (Author)
The Turn of the Screw (Dover Thrift) (Paperback) by
Henry James (Author)

Share your thoughts and add you recommendations. Show that knitters have a broad spectrum of creative thought and can be abstract as well as concrete and manual. Do you knit and read at the same time? I imagine it goes well with blankets and throws with repetitve long rows of straight knitting, not lace, Aran or colour work.
*Extra special faves

Merry Xmas, Happy New Year and Farewell NZ, Hello UK

My first post of 2007!

We had a fantastic time in NZ. Just to prove I didn't neglect my knitting habits here is a pic of the magazines and books I bought in NZ and this doesn't include the ones I got for Xmas either. The book on top has designs by my knitting buddy Anna and it was a strange feeling seeing a photo of a person you know in a book on sale half way round the World.

I got some wonderful books fo
r Christmas and my two favourites are these books which will be useful for helping my design sketches become less childish and my knitting motifs inspired from original styles but totally original as far as knitting charts go.

Here are some sheepskin slippers I bought whilst on my travels, see how they are held together with crochet? I might design some slippers of my own, a mixture of felting and crochet but for the time being I will be wearing these.

Just behind the
slippers there is the view from our balcony at the Kimi Ora Resort and you can see part of the Abel Tasman National Park and the beach of Kaiteriteri. One of the ladies who works in reception at this resort is mad about knitting and so is her daughter. They love the idea of knitting clubs and have bought the Debbie Stoller Stitch n Bitch books. They tell me that the knitting trend is only just taking off in NZ How I would love to be over there and start up knitting clubs and workshops.

I did buy some NZ wool but as I mentioned before, for a land full of sheep the yarn on sale was very disappointing. However, for anyone wanting to start a business there, there are probably a lot of opportunities to be the 'first' in anything that has already been done in the UK or USA.

The 'weights' i.e. thickness of yarn in NZ varies a bit from the UK standard. They have 8 ply equivalent to our DK but their 10 ply is slightly thinner than our Aran or Worsted weight here. The yarn shops I went to did not have any of the Rowan, Debbie Bliss Jaeger etc that we are so used to seeing in our smaller yarn shops. In fact, in London we are quite spoiled for yarn despite the fact we all moan about difficulties of getting hold of stuff. The type of young and vibrant knitting community we have here is what I was very homesick for. The yarn shops in NZ were mostly frequented by 'homemakers' types who would have probably strung up garlic and a crucifix around their doorways if I had told them I was designing stuff for The Anticraft!

Talking of the Anticraft, it is no secret that they have a publishing deal and exciting that they will have a book coming out later this year.They have chosen 3 of my designs to be included in the book. These are totally original designs I have only sketched so far. Now I am home, I will be working on these for the rest of this month as the deadline for completion is end of January