summer’s stories…

Goodmorning everyone¬†ūüėÄ

I eventually managed to get some internet and a laptop to download some of my summer’s photos! And also write a small update.

So where to start… I left Scotland at the end of May so to spend some time with my family in Italy; it has been a lovely break for many reasons, mainly because I had some proper quality time with my mum and dad, my cousins in Tuscany and my brother and his family.

My family comes from all over Italy and, during these past few weeks I have been travelling quite a bit, not only to spend time with loved ones ,but also to enjoy exhibitions, museums, the beach, the hills .. the only regret I  have is  the lack of time to visit my beloved Dolomites!

So I got here some lovely pictures of Ferrara, on the Po Valley, where my maternal Grandmother was from,

then I went to Carrara, a small town famous for the white marble on the sea at the border between Tuscany and Liguria, Carrara is where my paternal grandmother came from and my cousins are living and where I used to spend most of my summers before I moved to Scotland 27 years ago.

Tomorrow I am off to southern Spain to catch up with my children and Michael for few days all together…

In the midst of all, I m still crocheting OBVIOUSLY!

Last year, when I came to Italy, I took a lot of acrylics and it was a major mistake because the heat was so fierce that literally melted the acrylic in my hands, this time, I took just cotton and I have been working on several WIPS at the same time.

I have a new shawl that is getting tested at the moment, I am working on a new blanket which is going to be really interesting.

It is a new concept of pattern focused on versatility.

I have taken on board all your messages and requests, I know that some of you are not so keen on acrylic yarns and prefer natural fibres, I also know that cotton is often your choice not only for an ethical reason but also for climate issues.It will be the main subject of my new classes that I got planned for July and the autumn: https://www.poppys-holmfirth.co.uk/wool-shop/knitting-and-crochet-workshops .

So, as it is already quite hot in Italy, the blanket I am making is a cotton one, but I will have an acrylic version available and by the autumn a pure wool one ( very exciting to let you know about this new collaboration I am working on) also different sizes, borders and joining methods too!

so LOADS of interesting new things.

 

As cotton has been my focus for the past few weeks, I also tested some new yarns.

Just before leaving a Bulgarian company called PERFORMANCE YARNS, https://performanceyarn.com/ contacted me and asked me if I was interested in testing some of their products,  I said that ,as long as I could give and write an honest opinion, I was delighted to try  new yarns, so just before I left I received a pack with 5 different yarns to try, so far I tried 2 of them, as I got quite a few deadlines to work on at the same time.

I tested a blend of 80% cotton and 20% linen called LINEN TOUCH https://performanceyarn.com/product/linen-touch/ and a 100% combed, gassed and mercerized cotton called  COTTON QUEEN MULTI.https://performanceyarn.com/product/cotton-queen-multi/

The linen/cotton  was lovely , it didnt split but ,as it is untreated, I felt it slowed the work quite a bit, I dont know if it is due to the heat or the fact it is an aran weight,  but I felt I was much slower that I normally am, I will try again in Scotland to see if it is a temperature issue only, on the other side the COTTON QUEEN is AMAZING!!!! it glides on the hook, it has a beautiful shine and is incredibly soft too!

Probably the best cotton I worked with so far!

I made a small project, and I used some Scheepjees Catona too to compare the two kinds of cotton, the Performance’s cotton is better, it has the same shine, it doesn’t split but it is far softer which means it will not hurt your hands even if¬† crochet long hours or you are a very fast crocheter. Such fabulous yarn.

I used mercerized cotton many times but I never heard of ‘GASSED’ cotton, so I found out that it is a different treatment that improves not only the shine but more so the softness of the fibres which makes a huge difference.

I still have three more yarns to test so I will let you know how I m getting on with them.

I never ordered from PERFORMANCE, but the yarn they sent me arrived well packed and very quickly by a carrier. They are Bulgaria’s biggest yarn manufacturer with 80 years of experience. They have an easy website and shop to navigate, their prices are competitive and they do worldwide delivery at 4 euros flat rate or free for orders over 40 euros.

I really like this COTTON QUEEN so I will find out more about the colours available etc once I am back.

As soon I got to Spain , assuming that I got proper internet, I will write some more updates, for now, I wish you all a lovely summer and thank you for reading!

love,

Lucia xx

October…October…it is over.

October has been one amazing month…I cannot believe it is already gone!!

I feel my feet have not touched the ground, I have been running around even more than the usual.

I went to Italy just for a couple of days at the beginning of the month because was my dad’s¬†84th birthday,¬† then back home for a few days, some final touches on the new blanket ,the Fiesta,¬† which I made for October, as an alternative kit to offer with the¬† Eastern Jewels at the Knitting &Stitching show¬† at the Alexandra¬†Palace in London,

also, I made,re-made, and made again my entry for the blog tour2017..but you probably have already read the all saga in my last blog.

Now that the BLOG TOUR2017 is finished I can say it was amazing! so many projects and so much variety !!

I am so pleased you loved my Spanish moss scarf!  there were so many downloads of the pattern that it crashed my blog!

I love the scarf too, I have already used a few times, hopefully, you will enjoy yours too.

 

So two projects for October: here they are together the FIESTA and the SPANISH MOSS SCARF.

and few more pictures from AllyPally:

a nice collage Sophie did ( I was too busy chatting and took virtually no pictures!) as few friends came and visit us on the stand, so you got  Phil  from https://thetwistedyarn.com/  and  Sarah, https://annabooshouse.blogspot.co.uk/and Emma, http://emmavarnam.co.uk/

 

London was amazing, the Stylecraft team made me so welcome, I had a fabulous time, I loved every minute of it.

It was also quite ”¬†dreamlike¬†“too as I am not used to the attention, the compliments and general extraordinary¬†kindness.

Been a crocheter and a blogger can be quite a solitary pursuit, You sit at home with your yarn and your¬†laptop and you just ..crochet, write, frog, read comments, answer emails, mix¬† more colours, make swatches…more frogging…drink endless cup of teas…it is a marvellous thing¬† but it is also a bit of an obsession too….

I grab EVERY second I got free to do yarny things, yarn follows me everywhere it is in my handbag, it is in my drawers in the office, it is¬† ALL OVER my craft room, I have some in the car..( just in case there is a traffic jam …) I carry some in my pockets too, my children tell their friends that, in our house, you can spot the odd skein or two in the fridge¬†too…I always attempt to denial but, if I am entirely honest, I have to admit that “maybe” a lonely ball of mohair has¬† occasionally made her way¬† in the vegetable drawer..as I read somewhere that to¬† avoid the fine hair to catch on your hook you should stick the ball in the fridge..( I have to say I m not so sure it works after all! Mohair is, cold or room temperature, still a bismal¬† to work with a hook!!)

So back to Ally Pally…what can I say?? AMAZING ! thank you, SOO MUCH for coming to see me, and for being so kind! I loved talking to everyone that came to the stand, some chats were¬†technical questions about the blanket, some were¬†just general yarny chit-chat, it was great fun. I also had the privilege to meet in person some of you that have been following my blog and my facebook since day one!

So besides the huge feel-good-factor of being able to meet some of you crocheters out there, there was another bonus, as being at a show gives me an opportunity to understand better what you like, what you are interested in, how you choose a project and why.

So I came back with a lot of new ideas of what to make next, how to improve the page and the¬†patterns and also I came back with a little present too…

In the past few months, I have been chatting online with a lovely lady called Joy which owns a shop in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, the shop is called Wool &More  https://showme.co.za/plett/lifestyle/woolmore/and they are stocklists for Stylecraft but they also have a lot of amazing local yarns.

 

Joy was in London visiting her new grandchild and also she came to see us at Ally Pally, she was so kind and brought me a selection of beautiful South Africans yarns! I loved reading the story behind these amazing mostly artisan-like fibres, I could appreciate the passion and skill required to produce the yarn and it makes using the skeins even more special. without people like Joy and her team, it would be really difficult for these yarns to reach the end consumers so

support your local shop wherever you live and  WELL DONE  Wool&More!

look a beautiful array of south African yarns!

and here a picture of¬† ¬†Joy ‘s friend Nicki and myself and in the background the VERY busy Stylecraft stand!.

 

I did make another scarf too , and loads of samples for the months to come, some will see the light and some others will go back at the bottom of the basket.

oh i nearly forgot…I made a bag too!!

so  November here I come!

 

stay tuned and remember…..

 

 

lucia xx

 

 

 

A trip to Yorkshire episode 1: Salts Mill and David Hockney….

I said I was going to tell you my trip to Yorkshire ¬†last weekend,¬†as I am off camping next week in the wildness…( I do that once a year ūüėÄ ) ¬†hence I will not be able to write much next week so I’m doing it today ūüėÄ ¬†So two blogs entries in two days AGAIN!

I went to Yorkshire for a Blogstar’s meeting as you probably already know, and part of the weekend Stylecraft always organize something interesting to do that is craft/art related.

Last time we went to see the Knitting and crochet guild archive in Holmfirth.

The archive is just open by appointment, I believe, but it is absolutely amazing. And we were very privileged to be able to see some beautiful garments and artifacts.  For ones of you that are not acquainted with the KCGuild, they are a charity dedicated to UK domestic knitting and crochet, run by volunteers and supported by subscriptions and donations.

Here’s a link to the page if you want to have a look, ¬†http://kcguild.org.uk/.

 

If you are going to visit any of the lovely yarn’s shows that are up and down the UK ¬†they always have a stall and some volunteers¬†more than happy to let you see some of the artifacts from their collection or you can have¬†some yarny’s chats!

Back to last weekend, on Friday some of us  went to see this amazing place called Salts Mill in Saltaire www.saltsmill.org.uk/

 

Saltaire is a UNESCO  World Heritage Site because it is an outstanding example of a mid 19th-century  textile industry town.

This is a picture of the Salts Mill painted by David Hockney and exhibited at the Mill.

Salts¬†Mill it is a beautiful building and I quote from their official page: ‘The Mill opened in 1853, the centerpiece of Sir Titus Salt’s utopian vision of Saltaire. He built the adjoining model village to house his workers. Cloth production at Salts finally ceased in 1986, and the following year the mill was purchased by the late Jonathan Silver, who¬†re-imagined¬†it as a place where culture and commerce could thrive together.’

On that note Salts Mill hosts a very substantial number David Hockney’s ¬†permanent art collection, special events, and exhibitions, there are ¬†lovely restaurants¬†( I ¬†can vow for that, I arrived early and I went for a delicious salad ¬†for lunch ¬†before my visit), shops to browse all sort of goods, from books to clothes and home ware to art supplies and everything in between….

 

 

You know how much I love art and exhibitions in general, I also love guided tours too, the lady that took us around the Mill was called Sue  @saltsmill and she was a FANTASTIC ambassador for the Mill!

She was not only incredibly knowledgeable on David Hockney’s art work and life, but also Sue was genuinely so enthusiastic about his work that it was contagious. I loved every single minute of it! thank you, Sue!

I saw exhibits of Hockney’s work before in London but I thought the Mill was the best overall experience. ¬†So if you got a chance and you are in the area go and have a look, it is well worth it a visit!

Now why I like Hockney and why I think it is relevant for my yarn endeavors?

Bare in mind that I am definitely not an art critic and I look at paintings just ¬†as the average person’s perspective. ¬†I like ¬†mainly two things: his work is innovative, he uses not only canvases and paint or pencils but, printing, lithography, fax machines, photographs, iPad’s print outs ¬†and an 18-screen film installation;

this is one of his huge paintings: ¬†It is called “The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty-eleven)” ¬†it was part of an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London January 16, 2012. (Routers)

He also paints lots of landscapes and portraits,  this one it is of his parents:

My Parents, 1977. © David Hockney/Collection Tate, London

and the second thing I like which is my favorite thing and has given me much inspiration is that his work is VERY COLOURFUL! :

 

So I came back with a head full of colors, and a bag-full of postcards to use a reference!

So get a pair of sunglasses and be prepared for a shower of COLOURS in the next blankets!!

happy crocheting,

Lucia xxx

 

June’s blanket, bucket-list and Iceland…

Hi Everyone… it is June and time for another blanket….

this one is about my bucket-list.

I have a few thing on that list, one of them is traveling and visiting/living in new places. the top of the list for the places is ICELAND, and that is what this blanket is dedicated to Iceland.

I always knew since I was a small girl that I wanted to live ‘up North’ well before ¬†Hygge or ¬†“Scandi style” ¬†became so popular.

I made it just 2000 miles up north! ¬†from Italy to Scotland… but I always wanted to hop another little bit..Shetland, Faroe Islands, and then Iceland!

If I wasn’t¬†53 and had a family, I probably would pack my bags and head for Iceland. In the back of my mind there is still a small flicker ¬†of light which says I could ¬†still do it …my kids are starting flying the nest; Francesca my oldest, she got her master in fine art, Valentina has just graduated this May in Law, Giuseppe is off to Edinburgh University next September, and I just got left Olympia that has still 4/5 years of High school…mmm never say never! ( mind you does Iceland needs a middle age woman that is obsessed with ¬†wool/yarn /colours and books??? )

I could start with visiting Iceland first! I have never been… BUT it is on the top of my list hopefully in the next few months.

So why do I love Iceland?

the most obvious reason is that Iceland is beautiful, There are breathtaking mountains, volcanoes, highlands, glaciers, waterfalls, fjords, geysers, lava fields, and a variety of coastlines.

but what attracts me most  are the Icelanders and their way of life and their values.

Icelanders are highly educated and the society is progressive.They have a literacy rate of 99% and most of the population has experienced higher education, they publish more books per capita than any other country. The have topped up the gender gap index Economist recently named Iceland the world‚Äôs best place for working women ‚Äď in comparison, the UK came in at No. 24.Iceland was the first nation to elect a female president; Vigd√≠s Finnbogad√≥ttir was elected in 1980 and stayed in office for 16 years. J√≥hanna Sigur√įard√≥ttir was Iceland‚Äôs first female prime minister and the world‚Äôs first openly gay female head of state.

Climate change is on the news every day and I believe it is a real issue for our planet. Fossil fuels are NOT the way forward. Iceland is the only country in the world which obtains 100% of its electricity and heat from renewable sources. 87% of its electricity comes from hydropower, and the remaining 13% from geothermal power. Oil-powered fossil fuel power stations are only used as backups to the renewable sources.

I could go on and add 20 pages of facts. and you are wondering if ¬†I am a serious case of “The grass is always greener‚Ķ. ‚Ķ..in your neighbor‚Äôs field” !!!

So what is really my tangible experience about Iceland and why I like it so much?? and here is where the creative side kicks in and the relevance to the blog…

LOPI YARN!!!!!

and in particular.

Icelandic Lopapeysa!

I made LOADS of them over the years…lopi yarn ¬†is made from the wool of the Icelandic sheep.

 

It is unique in its composition and together, the distinctive fibers create wool that is warm, lightweight, water-repellent and breathable.

 

OK, it is ¬†a little¬†itchy ,but once you have worn a few times and washed too, it becomes really lovely. I can tell you this from experience as some of the jumpers ¬†I knitted are 10 years old, they have a few holes but they are as much loved as they were once new!! those are few of them I have here at home…

also some of the books ( that is my other vice…books) I love about Iceland:

 

So I never attempted using Lopi Yarn for crochet but I m going to give it a go and the next blanket is going to be made entirely with Lopi . another experiment then…

Next time I will  tell you all about how I have chosen the colors and about Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda. I read a simplified version of it when I was 12 . and it is still now my favorite book.

I am also going to tell you about H√°vam√°l, probably one of the most important poem in the book , which tells the story of Odin and the tree Yggdrasil.

and ¬†Bivr√∂st (‚ÄúMoving Way‚ÄĚ in Old Norse),The Bridge of the Gods:

Gv√į√≠n ger√ĺu bru af ior√ĺu til himins, er heitir Bifravst: ‚ÄúThe gods made a bridge from earth to the heavens which is called Bifravst‚ÄĚ

and about some amazing music I ¬†I was so lucky to see live last night:¬†Eiv√łr P√°lsd√≥ttir.

Eivor is not an Icelander, she is a Faroese singer-songwriter with the most amazing voice ever! totally mesmerizing here is a link to youtube.

 

Thorin, our cat, loves Iceland too….

To the next time, Happy crochet,

Lucia x

 

 

 

THE MARCH’s BLANKET IS ABOUT CELEBRATIONS AND MACAROONS…

So where to start with my March’s blanket…

I thought my March’s¬†blanket is going to be about celebrations..and macaroons…

On the beginning of the week, I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary! I have been married and also I have been living in Scotland for 25 years!

Now I bet you are wondering what macaroons got to do with it? Well, there is a little story behind it all.

I met my husband Michael in Paris in 1988; we got married four years later in 1992 on the 29th of February! A funny date I know, but it is not too bad as, in nonleap years, we celebrate our anniversary either on the 1st of March or the 28th of February.

Paris has a special place in my heart; it is a city I always felt very comfortable in,  it has been my home and my work place, and now is a regular destination for long weekends, holidays and shopping expeditions.

I met Michael in a French speaking course at the Sorbonne University, (that is my daughter Valentina in front of the main door ..)   where I attended while living in Paris in the summer of 1988.

More ‘memory lane’..

.the next picture is us then.I can’t believe that it was nearly 30 years ago! ¬†Below our lovely class. We were a group of ¬†18 different nationalities, a wide age range and many reasons why we were all in Paris improving our French. ¬†Our teacher was called¬†Elisabeth, and she was so lovely and friendly. She is the one sitting, I am just behind her with the black jacket and the cream trousers, and Michael is far left with the blue and white shell suit..( magical 80s! loads of shell suits!!!).

All those years later and that is ‘our group’ now!

I havent¬†forgotten the macaroons.. It is just I ¬†was wondering what reminds me best of Paris, there are loads of things that remind me of Paris, but one especially does… those little pastries called macaroons. I love them! So they are going to be my inspiration…

in the next entry, I tell you how and why for now have a lovely day xxx

lucia xxx

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