Stone Lion Hunt

I love lions in general and stone lions in particular - it's the unique combination of power, stateliness and feline laziness that does it for me. I can't walk past one without voicing him (yes,) with what I imagine he'd say - more often than not this is an aristocratically-lazy articulation that is somewhere along the lines of "...meuuuuhhh!"
Lion in the sun! Meuuuuhhh!

Meeting the lion atop the Bostock tomb in Abney Park this past New Year's Day merely solidified this lion-love. The Bostock lion is by far the noblest of beasts and one of the finest stone lions I have ever encountered. Just look at that well-patina'd mane!
...Meuuuuhhh...sad lion..!

So when I got my paws on Grasscut's latest record Unearth and discovered the wonderfully haunting track "Stone Lions" thereon, I was overjoyed. It was then that things started getting all mixed up and muddled together, and strange lion-y coincidences started happening. It occurred to me that it was time to acquire a stone lion of my own. The lion hunt (erm,) was on.

I figured that this would be a fairly straightforward quest - find precast concrete-producing establishment; locate garden statuary; find and acquire lion. You see them by people's houses all the time - they're "A Thing!" Stone lions have been guarding edifices for tens of thousands of years! Clearly it should be nothing to find one.

Hah. The second I started looking for a stone lion
there was not one to be had. I raided garden centre after garden centre; I stalked all the precast places that I could find. I found gnomes; dogs; children; angels and even firemen - but no lions. I began to feel a bit like Bruce Cockburn.
NOT a lion. What are you doing with that fish? Put him back!

It was by total chance that I spotted a sign for a precast place one day while up in Guelph for the afternoon. It was in that wonderland, populated by gods and nereids, soldiers and...ducklings that I found my lion. Not too big, not too small, and happily reminiscent of the Bostock lion. Handsome, stately and paws crossed politely, he naps in the shade beneath my towering sunflowers. At last.

On the Bone

Yarn on the bone - it's a motif that's been haunting me of late.

Perhaps because I was naughty and snapped a picture of Olek's Body and Movement while in Chicago?
And just look what turned up in the post a few weeks back:
Actual sheep bones wrapped in handspun wool - a vivid reminder that REAL wool comes from REAL sheep - a Memento Ovii, as it were. These specimens are from Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green, and they happily came to my hand via the remarkable Felix. Thank you Felix!

As for the chap lurking behind the sheepy bits, well, that's my friend The Clerkenwell Kid. He's sent me lots of lovely things in the post too, but no bones (yet.)

And if you'd like to see The Kid get himself in (and out of) trouble, right this way, please:

In Case You Missed it

This might be news to some of you, or perhaps not - but I am currently in the process of writing a book of patterns that will see the light of day in early 2013. It will be published in both print and digital form on Shannon Okey's fantastic Cooperative Press imprint. I am more excited about this than I can really say, and not just because big parcels of tasty yarn keep turning on my doorstep.

But if I eat it, what shall I knit my samples with? It's a problem.

I have opted to take the (possibly crazy) approach of Being My Own Test Knitter so now the fun begins - knitting all those samples myself. Some of you Nice People have told me, begged me, pleaded with me to outsource this work to ready and willing test knitters; to give me more time for the writing and for the myriad other projects I have on the go. As inviting as those idle hours sound, I still have to refuse. For me, the knitting of the sample is vital to the ultimate design of the finished product. I have to get my hands on the thing - properly dig in to it - to see what works and what doesn't. Plus, part of me would feel fairly awful about shifting what I see as MY share of work into the hands of otherwise unencumbered knitters who I'm sure would much rather knit projects of their own choosing.

So you know what that means - that I have an inordinate amount of knitting ahead of me, on top of all the knitting that I have to do for other worky things; on top of all the knitting that I want to do for the upcoming holiday season; on top of all the knitting that I want to do for myself. For a while now (oh, what, about a year?) I have lived in fear of this daunting amount of knitterly work (well, it is and it isn't,) believe me when I say that I am overjoyed to announce that I have Officially Begun Knitting For The Book!

This is huge news for me - and possibly for you - as The Book is officially, for really-real, extra-tasty-crispy going to happen. The worst part? That I am madly and deeply in love with these patterns and I can not show them/share them with you - yet. We will all have to be strong - and patient! - until the end. In the interim, however, I do plan to entertain you with pretty pictures of delicious yarn. It will have to do.

But! I do have a wee something for you - right now - that may perhaps sweeten this arrangement. I don't know if you remember my Prickly Thistle Mittens? They were originally designed for MacKintosh Yarns way back in 2009.The pattern was - and still is - for sale at MacKintosh Yarns but is now also available directly from me on Ravelry.

I love these mittens deeply, and I stand by statement that they might be one of the prettiest things that I've ever knit. So that's sort of like getting a new mitten pattern, now, isn't it? I do hope it tides you over until I have something more to share.

As for me, I am itching to knit these mittens in an alternate more sheepy colourway. but I have this pile of work-knitting in front of goes nothing.

TNNA + New Curling Socks

One of my favourite parts of TNNA this past June was having the chance to loiter in Ysolda's booth - which I decided should be properly referred to as "Ysoldaland." Ysoldaland, as I see it, is a smallish, magical country somewhere in Northern Europe, populated by knitwear and yarn and tea. As you can see, I wasn't that far off the mark.
Which meant, of course, that I had the chance to finally meet both Ysolda and Sarah, who were both absolute delights. This also meant that Ysolda had the chance to meet my gnomes. She even took care to document the occasion.Clearly, they've just said something inappropriate to her. I am not surprised.

But it was amid all the yarn and knitting and gnomey beardhairs that the real magic happened - where I got to talking to the lovely Sarah, who, brandishing an elephant-shaped teapot full of steaming Earl Grey, insisted on filling and then refilling my cup. Soon the conversation turned to socks and shortly thereafter to curling and it wasn't long until the two got tangled up with each other, and then my brain got invovled and well, this happened:Socks, with curling rocks on - or "stones," rather, as they call them in Scotland. Yet another example of the Grand Canadian Tradition (as I see it) of depicting sports and hobbies on knitwear. Anyone familiar with the Mary Maxim sweaters of yesteryear will know what I am speaking about. As for those of you who don't, here is a helpful primer.Regardless, I am pleased to announce that the pattern for the Curling Socks is now available for your knitting pleasure. Here on Ravelry and SOON, on Etsy and Craftsy. You will be notified!