The death of my steamer

My pretty yellow Fridja garment steamer has died. It’s heating element has gone west. I decided not to buy another of this make as there were a few things that niggled me. Yes it looks cute, but that big front water hopper collected dirt and needed cleaning all the time. The Fridja weighed a lot, and when it’s taken apart you can see that’s because there is a heavy weight in the bottom. Yes it makes it stable, but the weight made cleaning it difficult. I have soaked my shoes many times. Not so bad with water, but when it’s cleaning vinegar it’s yucky. 

The swivelling hanger has pros and cons. Good because you can turn the item to the light. Bad because it swivels when you don’t want it to. The new one has a clip to hold trousers etc straight, which is really useful, and would have been good on the Fridja as clothing swings away and you can’t get any purchase. 

I am disappointed that a new element for the Fridja would have costed as much as a replacement steamer. It’s madness!   I considered this option despite this and would have mended it, but noticed that the hose has a split and the water container valve is a bit dodgy. Plus there is some sort of green mound that grows in it that comes back whatever I do, and the shape makes it hard to clean out each time. 

So bye bye little yellow blob, and hello rather ugly but functional Pur steamer. 

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Blocking knit samples for my latest book

It’s so much easier getting my samples evenly blocked since I made a blocking mat with a grid. I had an ancient foam backed mat that had a brilliant reflective, iron-proof top layer that I couldn’t use any more because the foam was disintegrating into dust. The cloth top layer has a really useful 1″ grid printed on it (yes it’s that old!). So I took it into the garden and shaved the old foam lumps off, then scrubbed the back to remove all the glue residue and it came up great. Next I mounted the original cloth cover onto a modern firm foam camping mat. It works brilliantly, the grid and reflective surface survived perfectly. 

So now I’m using it to block some  knit samples for my new book due to come out next summer. 

A resurrected blocking mat being used to block samples for my next book on knitting.

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Brighton Science Festival exhibition ‘Scratch That’, September 9th 2017

Anyone can contract scabies, and my textile research, carried out in collaboration with Brighton and Sussex Medical School, allows people to experience some of the symptoms and visual disfigurement associated with scabies. My work in the exhibition is a precursor to textile research I will be undertaking with Impact and Knowledge Exchange funding over the coming year.

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Link to a Creative Guide to Machine Knitting

The link above the image will take you to my Blogger page on Creative Machine Knitting, which I will soon be migrating to WordPress. That is once I have mastered WordPress beyond the basics, and finished writing my latest knitting book, and completed a research project into interactive textiles to mediate understanding of Scabies – so follow the link as it might be a long wait!

A Guide to Creative Machine KnittingCreative Machien knitting scrshot

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Reviews for The Knitting Book – still scoring high

Writing another book always brings on a sense of insecurity, so I spent a little time this morning browsing reviews of The Knitting Book and Knit Step by Step. On Amazon they are still scoring high, and independent reviewers have generously reviewed the books on their blogs since they were first published. It warmed my heart and stiffened my resolve to read them, so I am sharing a few of my favourites with you here:

‘Love this book! The best book I’ve found for both beginners and those who are experienced knitters wanting to learn something new.’

‘I love this book, really clear instructions and easy to see photos. I’ve bought so many how to knit books but they were all a big waste of time. This has to be the best one. If you are a beginner or intermediate knitter then I would recommend this book to you.’

‘A MUST BUY!’

‘Just over the moon with this book and the information that is within its pages. Its just full of easy to follow instructions and help’.

‘This book was exceptional and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. The wording and the diagrams were really easy to follow. ‘

‘This book is a brilliant book to have on the shelf the techniques are easy to follow. Recently having taken knitting back up after a gap it’s been useful to refresh old techniques along with new ones. This book does have a few patterns and block designs which are useful. Would recommend to new and old knitters it is very useful and always by my chair’.

and the review by Karie Westermann, that really reaches to warm the cockles of my heart, (and massages my ego terribly, but once in a while, why not?),

‘I am very, very glad to have this as part of my library. It is going right in next to Montse Stanley & I am going to use this for many years to come.’

Montse Stanley, as you will no doubt know, has writen some of the seminal books on knitting. She was, and still is, my knitting hero. So you can see why I am so thrilled with this comment. Its like a hug.

Here is a link to Karie’s blog which is excellent, do visit.

http://www.kariebookish.net/?p=3668

Thank you, and thank you again to all those considerate and erudite knitters who took the time to review the books and share their thoughts. Yes there are some less positive comments, and no I am not going to include them here, because this post is me bolstering myself to get on with the new one, but I have learned from them!

I would like to apologise for any mistakes that readers may have found in the patterns, (I know there were some), and hope that the errata on this blog and the Dorling Kindersley website will answer any queries.

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Chapter Seven is now written

I completed the seventh chapter last night. Yippee. Photos all labelled and neatly filed with the captions. Now I have to go back and correct the earlier chapters from the proofreader copies I have received back from my generous and ind proofreaders. I have already spotted one image in the wrong place! Off to reknit a sample now.

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Preparing for a forthcoming natural dye workshop. 

This morning I have spent a happy hour picking and scouring some fleece I harvested off bushes whilst walking beautiful around beautiful Cwm Pennant in Snowdonia.  What a delightful experience that was this summer. 

The wool is not brilliant, but will be fine to play with to see what colours we can achieve. I may get time to spin some up before the workshop, but people have already got their yarn organised, so no sweat. 


I’m also chopping avocado pits and skins to make two dye baths – one redder, one orangey. They will sit and develop over the next week or so. I will stop them going mouldy by re-boiling every couple of days. 

Starting the dyebath

Chopping avocado pits

Chopping avocado skins


Next will be prepping the marigolds, but not until nearer the time. Then the yarns and fleece must be mordanted. 

A copper and iron modifier have been steeping for ages already in the shed.

It’s all in the preparation! 

I must buy some ammonia for the avocado bath the deepen the red. 

The plan is to experiment with red cabbage, turmeric and madder as well. I am considering an indigo bath, but will probably chicken out this time. 

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Link to my interview on clothing size. Radio 4, More or Less. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/are-boys-getting-more-top-a-level-grades-than-girls/id267300884?i=1000391465261&mt=2

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Exhibiting at Brighton Science Festival

Brighton Science Festival is in early September. The exhibition ‘Scratch That’, about the prevalence of Scabies in care homes aimed at raising awareness is on Saturday 9th September 12-6pm in the old Police Cells in Brighton, under the Town Hall. Come along and see the results of research from Sussex Medical School, interactively engage with how it feels to have Scabies through my textile developments and see collaborative art/science research in action.

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A perfectly fitting sleevehead is a pleasure to behold, and hard to explain.  

I have spent ages writing how to calculate the perfect set-sleevhead. It’s looking good, and my proofreader has applauded the clarity of my explanation, so those hours were not wasted. 

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