Yesterday I discovered AliExpress. If you’re not familiar with it, then the best description that I can muster would be Chinese Amazon crossed with Etsy — in the sense that it provides a platform for individual stores to sell, dream, and scheme.

The shop names charmed and baffled me: Happy DIY Store and Horticulture Family Store made sense but FishMan Store sounded somewhat alarming. Clearly, the Valuefashionshop had decided to make their agenda clear. And the admittedly oddly named Two Per Thousand Store and finding Store had nothing on Shop1669336 Store.

Yarn can certainly be found there, but I managed to keep my hands away from the ‘buy’ button. Instead some dresses and petticoats made it into my cart (there’s a wedding in the family in August! more on the knittery aspects thereof in a later post!) as well as some novelty socks for Dad. Shops offer all kinds of coupons/discounts, although I’m wondering at the wisdom of buying $50 of socks or $300 of dresses (given that $2 buys a pair of socks and $20 a dress) in order to claim a $3 rebate.

With $500 dollars you could reconfigure your home. You could dump your existing wardrobe and transform your style overnight. If you want to be a Goth or rockabilly girl or wear an animal adult onesie then AliExpress will be more than happy to help you fulfil your dream. I don’t like to think of myself as overly materialistic or consumerist, but clearly AliExpress has not appealed to the better angels of my nature.

Speaking of conspicuous consumerism, here’s my latest yarn from my new favourite dyer Lamington Lass! I would have started knitting already but for the UFOs lingering on my 3.5 mm needles. Waaah!

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I joined Pinterest

Why did I keep writing that post title as “I jointed Pinterest”? I don’t even joint chickens! But yes. I joined Pinterest.

Anyway, it being required to provide Pinterest with a minimum of 5 (!) topics so that they could curate a homepage for me, I decided to engage in some surreptitious rebellion after choosing the predictable ‘knitting’ and ‘lace’ and ‘yarn’. So I listed ‘survival skills’ as one of my 5 interests — and Pinterest obligingly provided me with tips on how to ward off a variety of wild animals while knitting Japanese cable patterns.

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On the knitting front, the stash expansion pack just arrived this afternoon from Jon at Easyknits — and last week’s swatch has turned into a shawl.


My spooky shadow arm somehow reminded me of the shadow puppets from the opening credits of the movie Bunraku, which is where I’ll leave you tonight:

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

No, it’s a swatch!


As I sit here in my little cave, also known as my study, contemplating this piece of a potential pattern, I like to imagine sunlight streaming through the nonexistent windows to the limpid notes of Debussy. Here Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli plays two preludes and Children’s corner; Mitsuko Uchida plays the 12 etudes; and Walter Gieseking plays the Suite Bergamasque.

And, having reached the end of my inspiration, thus ends this post.

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Seven Frankish Sisters…er, queens

Knitting: I’m trying to stashbust, I really really am, trust me on that one, dear reader, but sometimes my designs end up orthogonally positioned to the existing stash. And then Jon at Easyknits offers free shipping and Tott admires some yarn and and and.

Music: There’s nothing quite like Philippe Jaroussky singing the Domine Deus from one of Vivaldi’s Glorias. Well, except maybe Joshua Bell playing Brahms.

Book: I’m reading Fridtjof Nansen’s På Ski Over Grønland in a very handsome edition from the local library. Let me regale you with stories about the width of sled runners and the weights of different woods.

Oh wait, let me not do that. My personal milestone this week (as opposed to a personal millstone) does involve a book, however. The first scarves from the Not Quite Samite collection were knitted back in the summer of 2014, so this collection has been two and a half years in the making — but let’s not think about that egregious timeline cos it’s finally finished and you can now buy all 7 patterns together as an e-book!

Seven Sisters

Here are some sample pages from the book — manuscript images and medieval accounts of Merovingians accompany the eponymous scarves:

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If you feel like busting some stash and marveling at the murderous deeds of Frankish royalty, this might totally be the thing for you!

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‘I will make you brooches’

With profuse apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson.

I will knit you sweaters and socks for your delight
With Malabrigo in the morning and Kureyon at night.
I will make an afghan fit for you and me
Of Manos and Wollmeise and leftover Kauni.

I will knit my mittens, and you shall have a toque
with bobbles and Viking cables and a scarf to match it, too.
And you shall scour the roving so that it’s clean and white
as fresh snow in the morning or moonbeams at night.

And this shall be for spinning when no one else is near,
The rolags from my secret stash, of baby camel and cashmere!
That only I will knit, that only you will wear
With peeries, waves and peaks from the Isle Fair.

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Songs about spinning


Ever since I got my Louet Julia, my spindles have seen little spinning duty. But there’s hardly any point in busting out the wheel for a single rolag…this one courtesy of Deb at my favourite Fondant Fibre. So I’m going to spend Sunday afternoon spindling while listening to folk songs.

Spinning Wheel, sung by Nana Mouskari

Mellow the moonlight to shine is beginning
Close by the window young Eileen is spinning
Bent o’er the fire her grand grandmother sitting
is crooning and moaning and drowsily knitting…

Llangollen Market, sung by Siobhan Owen

While thinking of my Owen, my eyes with tears do fill,
And then my mother chides me because my wheel stands still,
But how can I think of spinning when my Owen’s far away;
Why, Owen, did you leave me? At home why did I stay?

And while definitely not a song, I just discovered that BBC Radio 4 has a whole collection of knitting-related programs!

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Sl 2, k 1, p2sso…

The language of knitting abbreviations is a world unto its own and, as I haven’t bothered to teach my spellchecker these terms, it’s spent most of the past 5 years furiously underlining all my perceived spelling errors in red. I’ve gotten so used to it that the angry underscoring hardly registers anymore — but somehow I ended up right-clicking to see what suggestions it would make for kfbf (knit into the front, back, and front of the same stitch).

Apparently afbf, bfbf, cfbf, and dfbf are perfectly cromulent words…


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