Thursday, 19 February 2009

Knit Pros stand at the NEC (CHSI trade show)

Just a very quick post with several photos, as I'm still not completely recovered from a very intense three days working at the CHSI trade show at the NEC.

Amanda (known as Noonie to many) and I had an absolutely fantastic time working on the Knit Pro stand. The Knit Pro team are such a fantastic bunch of people; I really admire them for their innovation, their dedication and also the way in which they treat their workers. Plus I love their sense of humour too!

On the stand with us were 'Uncle' Ashok, who is based in Germany and is to Knit Pros what Jess and Casey are to Ravelry (so you could call him Papa Knit Pro), Shirish (the boss) and his lovely wife Mietu. You know when you meet people for the first time that you're going to really like them? Rarely does it happen that I meet three people in one go that I know I will like and respect, but it happened last Saturday.

Apart from meeting lots of people I've met before, it was great to meet some fellow Ravellers for the first time too, as well as meet people I've been e-mailing about Ravelry day.

The best thing for me though was the huge boost in confidence it gave me; as I've already said on here, last year was a BAD year for me and I was as nervous as anything about being on public display (mainly because my weight has rocketed and I've got more spots than I used to have), but actually it didn't really matter. I love the fact that there are going to be more shops in the UK stocking them, so eventually I will only have a 20 minute drive to get them instead of having to wait several days for them to turn up in the post. I loved being able to use my knowledge too to help people decide which needles would work best for them, based on the range of yarns they stock and their target clients. And I loved showing off the newer products to the magazines too (e.g. the interchangeable tunisian crochet), so that you will all be able to read about them. I've given Elizabeth from Simply Knitting the challenge of coming up with a tunisian crochet pattern; it will be interesting to see what she does with it!

I love KnitPros/Picks needles simply because they are simply the best knitting needles to knit with.

And now for the photos.

Ashok (left, that's Papa Knit Pro) doing some 'extreme' knitting on the display needles. Notice Shirish's amused look at being made to hold some of his own products in his hands!
He looks quite the natural, doesn't he?! (He'll kill me for putting this on here)

Didn't the stand look pretty? I love the poster to the right of Amanda, which you'll no doubt see at a yarn shop near(ish) to you in hopefully the not-too-distant future!

It took ages for the stand to be arranged, and a mere 48 minutes to take it down and pack all away (with a double inventory done by Amanda and me). It will be interesting to see how long it takes next year!

Friday, 13 February 2009

My life has taken on an edge of the surreal this year, as some of you reading this may well know. It has been so much fun talking to people I admire for their amazing skills and design abilities, as well as all our wonderful UK yarnies out there. The UK Ravelry day seems to have taken off hugely - far much more than I was expecting- and we've got some really fantastic people coming to the event for us to share their knowledge with... It is proving to be incredibly hard to keep my mouth shut - or rather my fingers as they're the ones that do the typing!- but all I can say is that I can't wait until 25th February - which is also my Dad's birthday- to announce the line up, both of people doing workshops and talks, but also about all the wonderful small indie companies that will be coming along.

Which leads me on to a problem I've been grappling with recently. What do you knit for one of the most ungrateful people you know (that's right, I mean my Dad!)? He's so bloody hard to buy for and has upset me, Mum and Angie (my sister) on more than one occasion over presents. When I said to Mum on Skype that I'd be knitting him socks, the reply in the background was "I don't wear woolen socks". So what have I done? I'm knitting socks with a huge cotton content in them; Opal Petticoat Cotton to be precise. I've not taken a photo of the WIP but will probably add this to the post later. The yarn is a lovely mix of blues, greys and sandy colours, which reminds me of the seaside - perfect for someone living in Cyprus.

When people think of Cyprus and Greece, they correctly think of hot sunshine, clear blue skies and the such like. What they don't realise - and I know only too well- is that Greek and Cypriot winters are, in many ways, an awful lot worse than they are in the UK. First of all, when it rains, it rains! Not the drizzly rain that we get here, but it literally power showers everything under it. Then there are the storms. I'll never forget a storm that happened in Thessaloniki in the winter of 1999- blew over trees and everything and was really a sight to behold. In Cyprus, they also get amazing storms which bring sand over from the Sahara (how cool is that?!) and amazing lightning/electrical storms too.

The reason I'm going on about the weather over there is that my mum has requested some knits from me. She's not a knitter (although she could be if she put her mind to it, but claims she's too impatient), but admires the knitting I do. Anyway, to get back on subject, she needs some woolies to keep her warm. The houses in Cyprus are made of concrete and the floors are all pretty much tiled, which is great if you've got underfloor heating (pretty much all of the houses there don't have underfloor heating btw) or if you've got air conditioning which blasts out heat in the winter. I've made her a Boho Waves scarf with two hanks of 'Pebble Sand' magic balls from the wonderful Adele's Mohair - beautiful fairtrade yarn from South Africa (which was sent to me last year for a scarf that was meant to appear in a magazine, but that's another story). I'm thinking of doing a really basic hat to go with it too...

I've done a bit of spinning recently to keep me sane. I got some gorgeous tops from World of Wool, and decided to dye some of it, and to leave some of it the natural shade. [Photos to follow]

And a bit of designing too, messing around with some yarn that was also in the stash - beautiful Scotian Silk from the fabulous Fleece Artist. This jacket (I think I can call it a jacket despite having short sleeves) took only two hanks.

I've called this 'In the Woods'
Yarn: Fleece Artist Scotian Silk
Shade: Woodland (yes, that's where I got the name from)

This is a UK size 10, and took just under 2 hanks of yarn (750 metres). The yarn is slightly heavier than aran; tension will be in pattern which I'll eventually write up after I've refined it with version 2.

Finally, one other thing I've been taught to do is play around with photos on Picassa. Here's one of my 'baby', Poppy (who's now 9 months old, but this was taken when she was about 6 months old). She is such a lovely natured dog (she is doing puppy dog eyes in this one, isn't she?) and we as a family can't thank the Dogs Trust enough for rescuing this little cutie so she could become a part of our family. She was abandoned in Ireland with her sister when they were tiny, tiny puppies. How can people be so cruel as to take puppies away from their mummy at such a young age? It's beyond belief.