31 Aug 2010


It's been two weeks now since Knit Camp finished, two weeks in which I've played with my children (who I had not seen for two and a half weeks before Camp), baked, been on a few day trips, gone to our wonderful local museum, done some knitting, felting, spinning (mainly the latter) and even washed a pretty dirty fleece.  And the most amazing thing - done some much-needed housework!  My kids are 5 and 6, and having some time with them over the summer holidays has been wonderful, although I am concerned about their new-found love for a certain CBBC programme called Prank Patrol!

I've had a chance to reflect on everything that's taken place in our lives over the past year too.  Some of it has been wonderful - I've been to Toronto (my favourite city in the world, full of extremely wonderful people), I've had the pleasure of seeing my kids learn to read and now no longer have to read to my youngest as my oldest reads to her.  I've done much spinning too, and have progressed from being a somewhat very average spinner to someone who can spin pretty well (even though I have absolutely no idea what the ratios mean and wish I could also spin bulkier than what I do now - most of my stuff is laceweight!).  I've also had the pleasure of giving the knitters of Earlsdon a place to congregate.

And of course, to every positive is a negative (and vice versa).  I've learned that I was over-ambitious in thinking that we could organise a large knitting event without huge investment/grants/other support and have to over-rely on some wonderful people.  2.5 people cannot organise a knitting event for 300+ people on a limited budget, especially when they do not have a huge amount of capital to invest and a bank who refuses a loan for a knitting event.  'Cause no one knits, obviously.

So, yes, I was over ambitious in thinking that we could do a British-version of what happens every year in the US.  But I thought it was about time that we had something over here.  I realise, in hindsight, I was bloody stupid to trust and have paid heavily (in many senses of the word) for that.  I also realise that the British knitting public are unlike their North American cousins in that they do not travel.  One of the tutors told me that this would be the case and I wish that I had listened to her.  Nevertheless, I felt - and feel- that not everything should happen in England and I love Scotland very much.

I've long-admired the work of extremely talented knitwear designers from both the UK and abroad.  I know other people over here must gasp in admiration when they see the latest issue of Interweave Knits and Knitty, or the latest Norah Gaughan book (very much a personal favourite due to her amazing sense of aesthetic!) so it was very surprising that a very large proportion of folks attending did not come from these shores.  It was particularly wonderful to meet in person the wonderful Canadian and West Coast contingent as well as lots of other wonderful people such as the lovely ladies from Portugal, South Africa, France, Germany, Australia.  It really was an international Camp!

As has been over-documented on a certain website, things did not go as we had planned.  Never in a million years did we expect a work permit Sponsor application to be rejected on the grounds that we have insurance documents with an online (PDF documents) signature and not a 'real' signature and for that application to sit on an AO's desk for over six weeks...  Hindsight is obviously a wonderful thing, but obviously I've beat myself up for not applying for that permit sooner.  I would like to publically thank the Provost of Stirling, Mr Fergus Wood, the MP for Stirling and the First Minister's Office for all their help and support on 9th August.

I can understand some folks' anger and would feel upset if I were them, (but anger is something I try not to feel too much).  When things are true, and come from people who were there and therefore have the right to make valid comments, then I can accept that. And I will try to deal with it.  Although there is one person who I believe came with the objective to find fault in absolutely everything.  Quite frankly, I feel very sorry for this individual. 

Finally, I strongly believe that all people- whether they work for an employer or themselves have the right to some time off and have a right to a holiday.  I worked, on average, 70 hours a week for nine months with hardly any time off in the run up to Knit Camp and then I worked over 85 hours during the Knit Camp week. I have been criticised for having a two week holiday after Knit Camp. Certain people thought that I should have arranged childcare.  Well that childcare costs £64 a day (I do not have the luxury of having any family nearby) and seeing as I have now made no money at all for several hundred hours of work, I felt even more inclined to have a rest. We legally have to deal with 'stuff' within 28 days of the end of the event, and we will do that.

We're really glad that, despite what some people have tried to give the impression of, several hundred folks joined together in one beautiful place for a week of camaraderie, knitting and cake.  My favourite quote of the week was retold to me by Kate: "It's all so bloody surreal.  I've just danced a Highland jig with Debbie Stoller!"

One of the most fun things for me was the Pub Quiz and reading the (very impressive) list written by Team Twilight of 'list how many things you can knit with'. Sorry ladies, but I still don't get the possibility of being able to knit with the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa!! With their permission, I will publish their list at a later date.  That's what it was all about: camaraderie, wonderful people like Lydia, Kimberley, Caroline, Jan, Lori,  Jon, Roy, Debbie, Annie, Donna, Dom, Oliver, Katharine, Fergus, Di, Colm and many, many others and things like Elaine's 'lightbulb moment' (I'll never forget that Elaine!!). And that bloody gorgeous chocolate cake at the Management Centre.

10 Aug 2010

It's good

All teachers that are here will be teaching - Annie, Jared, Mary Jane, Norah, Nancy, Donna and Deb. They are sitting in front of me right now, and can't wait to meet you all tomorrow.

They have been truly wonderful. It's been a difficult situation and everyone involved is so sorry for pain anyone has experienced, especially me.  We hope to see everyone in classes tomorrow, enjoying themselves as they have been this evening at the Pub Quiz.

Joan arrives tomorrow morning and shall be teaching.

Debbie arrives tomorrow afternoon and shall be hear.

Amy won't be able to make it because of flight issues.

This weekend the market will be astounding, and the weather's going to be great.

I'm so grateful for all the good wishes we've received and want to publically thank Carol for the beautiful blanket.  I will treasure it always.

25 Jul 2010

Set backs but carrying on

Just to say that although we've had quite a lot of set backs with this event, and I've learned so much, but the team and I still want for you to enjoy this....

and this...

and this sort of thing

and maybe some of this

with people like this


Some people have decided not to support us, or rather withdraw support, but quite frankly that's all hurdles to jump over.  Which we will.  We are determined that this one-off event will be fantastic for everyone attending.  Kate and I have worked too many hours for too long for us to let down people. 

10 Jul 2010

What is it about socks?!

Just under a year ago I had the pleasure of attending Sock Summit (can't wait to go to the next one) and I was bitten by a bug while I was there. A huge, gigantic bug.  So big that I've still not recovered.

That's right, I can't stop knitting socks. 

Sometimes they are plain ol' stocking stitch socks...

Sometimes they have fancy lace panels

And sometimes they don't.

But I have never had so much fun as I'm having with my current project.  I am making the "Fancy Silk Sock" by the talented Nancy Bush.

Reasons I love this pattern and this book (Knitting Vintage Socks):

I am very interested in the history of knitting generally, so a book on Victorian socks is fantastic.  I'm lucky enough to own some patterns from this period (in the form of Mrs Beeton's book and the Cassells Household books) but can I follow them?! No, I can't!! I have no idea what Berlin wool or Andalusian wool or Lustrine or Empress Knitting Silk were.  Nor do I know what their modern equivalents are.  Thankfully for us knitters, Nancy knows.

I love the fact that Nancy has brought back to life the patterns of some extremely talented knitters/knitwear designers, who were probably all women and whose work was unrecognised by the people of the time.  By this I mean we do not know their names or anything about them.  Just goes to show how highly knitting was regarded then (not).  I think this book is pretty much a testament to those ladies.

I think I kind of feel a bit connected with what has gone before, which I think is something that appeals to many knitters.  We know we are involved in a greater picture, a craft that has developed over many centuries, and socks in particular are such a good example of this. Anyone who saw the Sock Museum at Sock Summit knows what I mean.

This sock, from 1900, was designed for a 5-6 year old child but Nancy has reworked it for an adult.  She's a genius at spotting a gem, but her clever brain to work and coming up with a fantastic pattern.  Here's what she has written at the start of the pattern:

"This is another Weldon's design for a child that makes a perfect lady's sock when it is worked with slightly larger needles and twenty-first century yarn.  I have followed the instructions as written through the French Heel.  I've added a purl stitch at the end of the instep stitches on the foot to balance the pattern, and to do so I've adjusted the total stitch count before beginning the toe decreases.  The original has the stitches drawn together to close the toe, but I prefer the look and feel of a grafted finish (as in a Flat Toe), so I have provided directions for both methods."

The original pattern apparently called for Lustrine (a silk substitute) and four steel 1.5mm (US 000) needles.  Nancy has reworked it using some (utterly delicious) Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock and 2.5mm (US 1) needles.

If you would like to learn more, get yourself a copy of the book and then come on Nancy's class at Knit Camp; you won't regret either.

24 Jun 2010

A post from Amy (sort of)

Hi all,

I've not quite finished what I wanted to write about, so instead I'm going to cross blog (is that a word? is that the right term?!) what Amy has written on the Knitty blog.  I so completely agree with what she has said.  As you may well know, she's one of my knitting heroines.  I'll be writing more soon(ish) about some of the others. 

Did you read that there's FREE Handmaiden Silken and Sea Silk in her Tuscany Lace Shawl class?!

Over to Amy...


A plaid August for me

E-mails have been flying back and forth across the Atlantic for a little while, and the result I can now share with you:

I’m going to UK Knit Camp this August in Stirling, Scotland.

I am so excited about this, I can’t even stand it. Have you looked at the website?

A world of teachers are participating, many of whom have never been to the UK to teach before.

It’s only fair.

North America has had an abundance of super-cool knitting events, including (of course) Sock Summit, Stitches events, Knitters’ Connection, and tons more. So now the other side of the ocean gets a chance, and I’m so thrilled that I get to be a part of it!

I’m teaching three classes during the week, two of them brand new!

Here are the details:
Wednesday morning: Easy non-wool socks

This brand-new class is all about knitting socks without wool. As a bonus, Jo (head honcho of Knit Camp) has arranged to bring in a whole bunch of non-wool sock yarns not usually available in the UK for you to purchase, if you need to.

In this class, you’ll learn my super-easy toe-up sock recipe which I designed specifically to work with the characteristics of non-wool sock yarns. It features an easy gusset and a heel flap built with my tweaked Japanese short-row technique, all 100% maths free. Knit one, and you might just want this to be your sock recipe for life. The pattern gives you lots of room to improvise, should you want to add texture, colourwork or lace to the foot and/or leg.

And if you want to use this pattern with wool yarn after the class, I won’t be bothered one bit.

Thursday morning: Tuscany lace shawl

This class will introduce you to the joys of knitting lace the easy way. Our project will be the Tuscany Shawl, from my book No Sheep for You. Knit in a smooth worsted-weight silk yarn, it feels amazing against the skin, and most importantly, it looks way harder to knit than it actually is.

We’ll learn all the tricks that make knitting lace a pleasure, including how to read the landscape of your lace, and the easy way to block your finished shawl.

If you’ve wanted to knit lace but don’t like charts, or are just a little shy of the whole process, this is the class for you.

Friday morning: Making the next Monkey, Greenjeans or Mrs Beeton

In this class, I’ll share some of Knitty’s secrets with you. I’ll talk about what makes a pattern stand out among the hundreds submitted to Knitty every year, what makes a good pattern, pattern-writing techniques that make a difference, what makes a pattern go viral, the five things you can do to ensure that you have the best possible chance of getting published, and the five things you can do that will blow it for you.

Please bring along any patterns you are considering submitting for publication, along with a knitted sample. I promise to be gentle as I share my feedback with you — there is no meanness in my class! I got to evaluate lots of sock patterns at Sock Summit last year, and everyone — even those not submitting at the time — told me they got a lot out of the class.


 I’m also going to be speaking at the Clapo-tea (can you stand the cuteness?). I’ve been asked to join the Luminary Panel (really? me? eee!), and the fashion show will be full of Knitty garments and accessories.

Because Jo and I just met at the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic and decided to make this happen in rather short notice, my classes have just been added to the website, which means they’re wide open right now.

It’d make my day (month!) if they’d fill up quickly.

I hope to meet you on the other side of the ocean this August!

10 Jun 2010

Lorilee on why she knits continental

I start this out with a dose of honesty about why I am posting what follows. Jo has asked me to blog about my classes to be offered there in lovely Scotland in August; I’d like to focus on the Continental class today. I’ll also be teaching this at Stitches Midwest later in the same month (but that class has already filled).

Following is a little personal continental history, a bit about my attitude toward it, a bit about the silly controversy around which way is best, and some testimonials.

History: My mom taught me to knit as a kid. One year she knit fair isle yoke sweaters for many in the family, and she still knits a lot today. It did not stick with me until I relearned as an adult about eighteen years ago. At that time, my neighbor and knitting mentor Kim convinced me to learn continental, and I have never looked back. Only on rare occasions do I have a day that does not include knitting. I’m one of those people who takes their knitting to restaurants, appointments, school activities, and on every car ride no matter how short.

After I opened City Knitting in 2005, Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, local writer for the Grand Rapids Press, and CraftSanity podcaster, came to videotape me knitting. It was her experiment to post a video for once, rather than just an audio interview. She did a great job filming and editing, and put it on youtube. The thing immediately took on a life of its own. Since November 0f 2006, it has accumulated 440,000 views, 490 thumbs up and 20 thumbs down, 275 comments. It is most popular with females 45-54, then with those 55-64 (interesting, I think, in showing that experienced knitters still like learning!), then with those 35-44. I get e-mail from all over the world, with a disproportionate number of those thanking me being men. I think men are less likely to go to a yarn shop to learn, preferring to “ask the internet”. Many of the comments I get are from long time knitters who want to kick themselves for not knowing this earlier. Here is that 10-minute video if you care to watch it.

My attitude: I love knitting- period. I love seeing various knitting styles learned by people from so many other people. Just in a roomful of knitters, so much community and interpersonal relationships take shape. I will never say my way of knitting is the best way of knitting, because the activity of knitting is so much more important than the mechanics of how any single person gets the job done. I will heartily say, however, that my way of knitting is the best way for me, and if you choose to give it a try, I’d love to help you.

The silly controversy: If you spend any time on the knitting forums of ravelry.com, you’ll notice in that discussions of English versus Continental styles often get heated. One person can rave about how they knit, and another can take it as an attack on how they knit. Then there’s the “I’m faster than you” bit, also silly. Personally, I knit faster than I used to when I threw, but there are throwers who are faster than me. So be it. No big deal. We are all allowed to be fond of our chosen style.

So why does there seem to be more of a demand for classes in Continental? When was the last time you saw a knitting convention offer a class called “Convert from Continental to English?” I think there are two reasons. The first is simply that most knitters in the US are English style knitters- there are more potential converts out there. So, when they see something different, they want to learn it, mostly because it appears faster. The second reason does have to do with speed. The truth is that most continental knitters notice they are speedier or have more efficient movements than their friends who throw, so there is no incentive to change. Don’t get mad at me for saying that; it’s a conclusion I’ve made after watching and knowing lots of knitters.

More history: So, after that video was up for a while, and comments began accumulating, I got curious. Why did that video help so many people? Why was I getting mail about people finally understanding continental even after taking many classes. After lots of observation, I learned about many variations just within Continental knitting. Generally, yarn is tensioned in the left hand, leaving the right hand to pick at the stitches. But much variation occurs in the way yarn is held in the left hand, and the position of the forefinger- up or down, and the location of the yarn. I also noticed I do a few things that are fundamentally different from the majority of continental knitters.

One is that I orient both my knits and purls conventionally (leading leg to the front). Another is that there is something I do in my right hand that helps me size my stitches, which helps keep knits and purls sized equally. Another is the open stance of my hands, which lets me see clearly what’s coming into queue, so I can prepare and proceed more quickly. These are not things apparent in the video, because at the time, I knew not enough to emphasize them. So, that’s why I love to teach it in person.

A student in a three-hour class can expect to learn knit stitch and purl stitch, ribbing, simple increases and decreases, be past the initial clumsiness, and be ready to spend just a couple weeks practicing to complete the conversion.

Testimonials: Over the years, people comments have warmed me on the inside. Even though they were posted in public forums, I feel a little sheepish sharing them collected here. But, since I was asked, I leave you with some comments form, young and old, male and female. -Many thanks, and I hope to see you in class!

Lorilee is extremely clear and patient and her pacing of the class was flawless.

Awesome Lorilee…. Thanks so much for posting these. I hope you have time to pretty much repeat all the videos on knittinghelp.com with this way of doing continental. You taught me how to knit. I practiced for about a week or so after watching your CraftSanity video and finally tried a project. It’s the scarf in my profile. I’ll post a pic of it here in the shared projects area. I’m pretty proud of my very first knitted attempt and I owe it all to your amazing teaching abilities. Bob

Total enlightenment, right? It never quite clicked in for me with the knittinghelp.com ones. Let’s see if we can get Lorilee over here so she knows we all think she’s a Continental genius!

Thanks, Lorilee! I’m on my third BSJ and your tips are very helpful. I also (coincidentally) stumbled across your continental tutorial on YouTube at midnight last night when I suddenly decided I needed to learn continental (!) and it is wonderful. Thanks for taking the time to post these.

Thanks, Lorilee! What a great video! I’ve watched other continental videos, but never really “got” it. “My” way of continental was fine…. But “yours” makes it flow a lot better. I was holding the yarn differently, too. But “your” way is better. Thanks, again!!!!
Great video, Lorilee! I think I’m sold on the continental method. It’s always bothered me to have to let go of the right needle anyway. I’m going to have to practice a little with the purling, but like you said in the video, it’s makes sense to someone who has crocheted. I’ve also read that Zimmerman really pushed it as a method as well, and that it particularly fell out of favor in the US around the 2nd world war because it had been referred to as the “German” method… don’t know how true that is, but I remember congress serving only “Freedom Fries” a few years ago.
This is ABSOLUTELY THE BEST demo for knitting I have been to, and I have looked at a lot. I was wanting to learn this type of knitting and had not found it.

Wonderful job of explaining.

beautiful video. I have watched alot of continental videos on Youtube, this one is very helpful, close ups, and very explanatory. Thank you very much. I watch this video often for reminders and help.

I have arthritis and this looks like just what I need to do. I am a VERY tight knitter, so the looseness will be hard to get used to…lol
Thank you so much for such a detailed video )

I’m only 42 & I have arthritis–as a “thrower” I had given up on knitting. After this vid (which is a FAV now) I know I can take my knitting back up again…what a blessing! You both are very good teachers! Thx Trish
as an English person who has “thrown” her yarn for 20 odd years, this is incredible! I can see how simpler it makes the process of the stitch, but I’m really struggling to get my tension right. Does that just come with practice? Or are there any tips you can give? Thanks.

I have struggled SO much with continential knitting because I started as a thrower. I watched this video for 3 days with some needles and scrap yarn….and alot of determination. I now am doing it both knit and purl without any problem at all. I am not incredibably fast YET, but it will happen. This is a great video for anyone wanting to do continential knitting. The teaching is undeniably the best on this techinique I have seen. Thanks so much for posting this video!!!

What a gifted teacher! Finally I get the continental purl stitch, which had always been my sticking point, so to speak. Thank you!
thank you so much for posting this! I’m an American knitter, but I’ve always wanted to continental knit. It just seems like a more economical way of knitting. But all the other videos I’ve seen have felt awkward because of the way the yarn was held. This method really cleared it up for me, and I’ve just spent the evening knitting this way. Already it’s feeling more natural and the knitting looks great. thank you so much!
I have been a knitter for 50 years, using the throwing method. After watching your video many, many times, I have mastered the continental method. I love it. Thanks for a great video.

A knitter am I now! -WOW! This crocheter thanks you gals loads for the clear instruction on continental knitting! I always shied away from knitting as that throw-over seemed like such a wasted amount of motion for each small stitch – Now, I’m knitting with ease and speed and can imagine the day when I’ll be as proficient with ‘kneedles’ as I am with the hook! = : ) Thanks bunches from a fellow Grand Rapidsian!

Goll darn it! I have been looking for an easy way to purl using the continental method. You clearly explained what I had been doing wrong and know I am purling! I am so excited.  Once I practise a little more, I should be up to the same speed as my knit stitches. Thank you!
This is a top notch demonstration by a professional knitter! The demonstration is excellent and the explanation for each recommended step (how to hold the yarn, etc.) is clear. Other knitters are well-intentioned and their efforts are appreciated, but this instructor will help you get started knitting continental by clearly explaining the “why’s.” Thank you!
I’ve been trying and trying to knit continental and this video is the first one that goes into the details about what to do with all your fingers.  Any site can tell you how the yarn goes, but unless you know what your fingers are supposed to do, you’re in the dark. Awesome video, for both knit AND purl!!

his was the first video i saw when i typed in “knitting” and was SO HELPFUL!! i immediately tried this method, and WOW.. does it work so good.. i cant believe i was doing it the other way, of course which was fine.. but this way was so much faster and nicer, and i didnt have “close calls” with dropping my stitches.. etc! i just learned how to knit a week ago

Not all continental methods are created equal. This one makes so much more sense than any of the others I’ve watched. I’m excited to try this as one who has been knitting for 15 years and can’t get any faster!

Excellent demonstration. I have been knitting 25 years and finally got my pearl stitches right. So much easier and faster. Thanks

This is a fantastic little demonstration of Continental knitting, and I’ve even take the class from a master knitter — Nancie Wiseman. I’ll be revisiting and re-viewing this often, to reinforce the lessn. Thanks so much! 5 stars!

27 May 2010

Creating with Colour - Debbie's dyeing workshops

When Jo mentioned that she was setting up a Knitcamp blog, it was the perfect excuse for me to spend a couple of happy hours going through some of the fabulous work my students have produced on past courses and share it with you. (Ok, so I should have been doing the hoovering but nobody ever died wishing they'd done more housework, right?).

I've uploaded a couple of albums from the Association of Guilds Summer School last year, the faux Fairisle/self-striping yarns day and a beginner's workshop and sock blank dyeing session, so if you are a student who has already booked for one of my workshops,you can get a taster of what to look forward to. And if you're still undecided, perhaps I can persuade you to dip your toe in my metaphorical dyepots and spend some time playing with colour : )

And that's what my courses are about - exploration, creativity, but most of all having fun with colour.

Remember that feeling when you opened a brand new paintbox or when you got your first set of crayons as a child? The excitement, the anticipation, a bit of nervousness about which colours to use first? Well, that's the feeling I aim to recreate on my courses. As the student whose enthusiasm for art was stopped in its tracks by an art teacher who told me (at age 11!) that I was "not at all artistic", I totally understand that feeling of not being confident with colour. But I picked myself up, dusted myself off and eventually concluded that, rightly or wrongly, I didn't need to be "artistic" (whatever that means) to love, enjoy and celebrate colour in my work. And I hope I encourage my students not to get hung up on being artistic, but just to feel colourful : )

Gosh, that was a bit esoteric. Don't expect such flowery prose on the course. I'm not quite sure where all that came from!

(Ooh, nearly forgot - totally practical point that several people have asked about. I know lots of you are travelling light so don't worry about gloves and that kind of thing. I'll have a good supply of gloves, disposable aprons towels and plenty of soap! Maybe don't wear your best party outfit, but we really don't make as much mess as you might think!).

If you'd like to keep up with the latest news from me and my little company, you'll find my blog, Hue & Dye here, or tweet me at DTCrafts on Twitter and find me as Debbiet on Ravelry.

And I'll finish with one of my favourite colour quotes:

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”--
John Ruskin

21 May 2010

Cross posted with my blog Stolen Stitches.
Last week when Jo Watson said that she was setting up a new blog for Knit Camp I though it was a great idea and volunteered to contribute to it.

For anyone who doesn't know me, I am a knitwear designer living in Ireland and will be one of the tutors at Knit camp in August. I self-publish my work and I have contributed to several magazines and books (Interweave Knits, Twist Collective, Yarn Forward, Knitty, Knotions and the book 'Knitting in the Sun'). If you're interested in finding out a little more about me you can visit my blog Stolen Stitches and also see an recent interview I did for a Dublin knitting shop This is Knit.

In this post I though I'd talk a little about one of the classes I'll be running on Thursday 12th August 'Shaping up your Traditional Knits'. This will be an all day class aimed at experienced knitters who are able to knit cables but who what to learn how to modify a traditional pattern to fit them.

The idea for this class came from my own love of traditional cable stitches. I love digging through old patterns to see how different stitch patterns are combined. However the standard square unshaped pieces with drop shoulder construction is unappealing to me. I like waist shaping, fitted shoulders and ideally seamless knits. As a designer I have the experience to modify patterns myself and I wanted this full day class to give experienced knitters the knowledge and confidence to do that also. Please note that this is not a design class, it is to step you through the process of modify the pattern.

How will the class work?
As knitters I think we are practical and hands-on so this class will work around a pattern. I will provide a very basic cabled pattern that we will modify. If you have a pattern that you would like to work on in the class you are welcome to bring your own also.

What will you learn?
I will be focusing on a number of different areas to modify in this class which will include:

1. Seamless Knitting
For all of you knitters out there who love to knit seamless garments I will work with you to help convert a flat pattern to a seamless one.

2. Waist Shaping
If you would rather a little waist shaping in your knits we'll work out some ways of incorporating waist shaping into your garment. Where is the easiest place to add it? How will it effect the overall garment?
When you are working a more fitted garment gauge is critical, so we'll be looking at the best way of measuring gauge and calculating size for a heavily patterned garment.

3. Shoulder Shaping

If drop shoulders aren't really you're thing we'll take a look at how they can be converted to a set-in sleeves. I will also work through how to work a set-in sleeve from the top down. You'll be amazed how easy it is!

Hopefully that will give you an idea of how this unique class will work, if it sounds like something you've been waiting for please come and sign up!

12 May 2010

About the Uni

I have to admit that this post was not written by me, but by Kirsty, our main contact at the University. I found it really quite interesting, and hope you do too! I start with the history associated with the Accommodation buildings, and there will be more at a future date on other buildings.

* * * * *
The University of Stirling: Buildings with personal names

Alexander Court




Alexander, Sir Kenneth John Wilson [Ken] (1922–2001), economist, university administrator, and public servant, was born on 14 March 1922 at 12 Kilmaurs Terrace, Edinburgh, the only son of William Wilson Alexander (1888–1930), lawyer, and his wife, Mary Logan Grahame, née Wilson (1888–1975), tailoress. He won a scholarship to George Heriot's School, Edinburgh, and after wartime service in the RAF attended the Bonar School of Economics in Dundee, where he was the first student to obtain first-class honours in the London University external examinations in 1949. On 24 September in that year he married Angela-May Lane (b. 1926), a teacher, and daughter of Captain Geoffrey Herbert Lane, naval officer. They had a son and four daughters.

From 1949 to 1951 Alexander was a research assistant at Leeds University and from 1951 to 1956 he was a lecturer in economics, specializing in industrial relations, at Sheffield University, before taking up a similar lectureship at Aberdeen University from 1957 to 1962. In 1963 he was appointed to the newly created chair of economics at Strathclyde University, where he created a department in the new faculty of arts and social sciences, establishing the first economics degree in Scotland based on mathematics and the modelling of continuous—as opposed to static—processes. He held this post until 1980, but was no ivory-tower scholar, serving as a member of the advisory committee on the University of the Air (later to become the Open University) in 1965, and becoming dean of the Scottish Business School from 1973 to 1975; he also began a lengthy connection with shipbuilding in 1966, when he joined the board of Fairfields (Glasgow) as a non-executive director. Its warship yard at Govan was in receivership, with work brought to a standstill by a communist-led sit-in of the workers, but he helped to negotiate a settlement in which the unions abandoned some restrictive practices in return for guaranteed employment. Taken into government ownership, the yard became part of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd in 1968, and Alexander served as a director from 1968 to 1971. Although threatened with ‘lame duck’ closure by the government of Edward Heath, Upper Clyde Shipbuilders were once more rescued and reconstituted as Govan Shipbuilders, on whose board Alexander served as chairman from 1974 to 1976.

While teaching at Leeds and Sheffield, Alexander was invited by the then powerful Yorkshire miners to be their representative on the National Coal Board's industrial relations tribunal. At Aberdeen he strengthened his links with the trade union and Workers' Educational Association movements, especially through the secretary to the trades council, James Milne, and Lord Provost Rae, and became very active in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He became chairman of the North Angus and Mearns Labour Party, and was prominent in the campaign to adopt Bob Hughes (later MP for Aberdeen North), whose anti-apartheid stance he greatly admired. He became friendly with many prominent Labour figures, such as Tony Benn, Judith Hart, and Bruce Millan; in 1968 William Ross, the Scottish secretary of state, appointed him an economic consultant, a post he held through several changes of government from 1968 to 1991. Knighted in 1978, he was made deputy lieutenant of Fife in 1992.

Alexander held several other directorships, including Scottish Television, the Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail group, and Stakis plc. He chaired the committee on adult education in Scotland (1970–73), and was a member of the Scottish Transport Group (1969–76) and the Scottish Development Agency (1975–86). He was a governor of the Technical Change Centre (1981–7) and Newbattle Abbey College (1967–73), and presided over section F of the British Association (1974) and the Saltire Society (1975–81), as well as chairing the John Muir Trust (1985–8), the Edinburgh book festival (1987–91), and the Paxton Trust (1989–94), and serving as a trustee of the National Museums of Scotland (1985–7). Between 1976 and 1980 he was granted leave of absence from Strathclyde to chair the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which was then concerned with the vexed question of highland land use. Radical proposals, including compulsory purchase from obstructive absentee landlords, fell with the Labour government in 1979, but later prompted many land reforms, including those enacted by the Scottish parliament.

In 1981 Alexander returned to academic life as principal and vice-chancellor of Stirling University, following William Cramond, who had taken on that difficult position after the untimely death of the first principal, Tom Cottrell. Stirling had suffered a crisis of academic governance (and had also become notorious when the queen was abused by a student during a royal visit in 1972) and, according to some, was in danger of being closed. Building upon the healing work of Cramond (a psychiatrist), Alexander's academic and political strengths restored the university's standing. In 1986 the general council of the University of Aberdeen invited him to serve as chancellor, a position he held for ten years. The university was emerging from harsh University Grants Committee cutbacks; the appointment of a man respected and admired throughout the country by right and left was wise. He was no mere figurehead, but urged the university to make detailed and ambitious plans for its quincentenary. For a decade, despite serious and recurring illness, he was Aberdeen's good friend and guide, assisting major projects, especially in the liberal arts and the study of the rich traditional culture of the region.

Alexander's many outside commitments left him with less time for research and publication than he would have liked, although his considerable knowledge and networks served to stimulate and encourage his staff and students, who both consulted him and incorporated his scholarship into their publications throughout his life. A recipient of eight honorary degrees, his publications included The Economist in Business (1967), Productivity Bargaining and the Reform of Industrial Relations (1969), and, with C. L. Jenkins, Fairfields: a Study of Industrial Change (1971). He was particularly proud of the Alexander report (1973) on adult education in Scotland, which became the guiding light for community learning in Scotland.

Alexander went from being a member of the Communist Party (until the 1956 Hungarian uprising) to becoming a pillar of the Scottish establishment, yet he never lost his ability to set anyone at ease. A tall, handsome man, utterly lacking in pomposity, he could light up a room with his presence alone, leaving all who spoke to him (always as Ken) with the feeling that he was a lifelong friend. Sociable and generous, patient and approachable, he could be firm and determined, giving himself fully to any enterprise he took on. His first action as Aberdeen's chancellor was typical: to award (in mangled Latin—his sole failing) an honorary doctorate to Jessie Kesson, the workhouse-born slum child who had slogged her way to literary success. An agnostic, his quiet courage enabled him to fight a long, private battle against cancer, while fulfilling his many commitments to the very end. He died at 11 West Park Road, Cupar, Fife (his daughter Elly's house), on 27 March 2001, of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was cremated in Dundee crematorium on the 30th, and his ashes were scattered over Sanna in Ardnamurchan. He was survived by his wife, Angela, and their five children.

Ian A. Olson
J. Laidlaw, Aberdeen University Review, 51 (1985–6) [LLD laureation address], 345–7 • J. Hargreaves, interview, 17 July 1999, U. Aberdeen L., special libraries and archives, oral history archive, no. 104 • The Scotsman (29 March 2001) • The Times (30 March 2001) • The Guardian (30 March 2001) • The Scotsman (4 April 2001) • The Independent (5 April 2001) • The Independent (17 April 2001) • Daily Telegraph (19 April 2001) • I. A. Olson, Review of Scottish Culture, 14 (2001–2), viii–x • WW (2000) • personal knowledge (2005) • private information (2005) • b. cert. • m. cert. • d. cert.

Andrew Stewart Hall reception and social area


ANDREW STEWART (1832-1901), founder of the engineering firm of Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd, one of the major subscribers to the university appeal fund.


Stewart, Andrew (1832–1901), iron and steel manufacturer, was born in the small textile and engineering town of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, the elder son of John Graham Stewart, a coal merchant, and his wife, Andrina (Annie) Orr. Andrew and his brother James moved with their parents from Johnstone to Glasgow in 1839. Stewart's early upbringing is unknown, but in 1849 he was apprenticed as a trainee engineer to a Glasgow tube-making firm, Messrs Chrichton and Eadie, with whom he worked for the next twelve years. He married Jane Cuthbert; they had four sons and a daughter.

Stewart's training and early industrial experience were acquired in a decade of rapidly expanding demand for pipes and tubing for gas and water supplies as Glasgow's urban population grew swiftly, and for boiler tubing as the Clyde became Britain's leading centre for marine engineering and iron shipbuilding. Consequently in 1861, with modest savings of £400 and another £800 subscribed by friends and family, the young Stewart branched out on his own as a small-scale manufacturer of iron tubes. He set up his Clyde Tube Works in St Enoch's Wynd, Glasgow, close to the river and the engineering works thronging its banks from the Broomielaw downriver to Govan. Six years later, when the Glasgow and South Western Railway bridged the Clyde and began acquiring property to build its St Enoch's railway terminal, Stewart sold up and moved out of Glasgow to the heart of Scotland's iron districts in the Monklands, 10 miles east of the city. There he re-established the Clyde Tube Works in Coatbridge, taking his brother James into partnership. Where he had previously been close to his immediate market, he was now establishing his firm, A. and J. Stewart, close to supplies of raw materials and in the middle of Scotland's complex of cast- and wrought-iron foundries.

The Coatbridge area was Scotland's centre of tube making, its great rival in Britain being the Birmingham district. The industry was characterized by a large number of small manufacturers, and A. and J. Stewart was fairly typical, its premises covering about an acre and providing employment for about 150 men. Growth and success came only slowly and as a consequence of hard work and close attention to detail on the part of the Stewart brothers. A. and J. Stewart became distinguished by its concentration on higher-quality tubing; it was an early developer of lap- and butt-welded pipes and took out a number of patents for special and high-pressure joints. Its products found ready customers locally, in England, and increasingly as exports overseas to Europe and the USA, where it confronted severe competition.

Coping with such competition prompted the Stewarts to increase the range of their products and extend the scale of their operations. After fifteen years of steady development of the Clyde Tube Works, they gambled on a larger scale, and in 1882 converted their partnership to private limited company status capitalized at £150,000. Over half the shares of £10 denomination were held by the brothers, with each holding 3000 and their senior manager, James Wotherspoon, held another 2000. The other 3000 shares were held by senior management and other family members. This step inaugurated a new strategy of growth by acquisition and merger. In 1882 A. and J. Stewart acquired the Sun Tube Works in Coatbridge and the Clyde Pipe Foundry in Glasgow, both adding much needed capacity.

The push for growth might have been quickly stalled in 1886 when James Stewart died suddenly at the early age of fifty; but in response Wotherspoon took on extra responsibilities and Andrew Stewart's two eldest sons, Andrew Graham Stewart and Thomas Cuthbert Stewart, were brought into the business. Soon after, with the management reinforced, further acquisitions were made. In 1889 the British Tube Works was acquired and operated as Stewart Brothers under the management of Andrew Stewart's two sons. Quickly thereafter, in 1890, a much larger addition was achieved with the negotiation of a merger with the Clydesdale Iron and Steel Company. This company operated works at Mossend, near Coatbridge, and in 1884 had added new steelmaking capacity to the earlier iron-making facilities. The Clydesdale Iron and Steel Company was controlled by Dugald and Duncan McCorkindale and Andrew Bain; both Bain and Dugald McCorkindale joined the board of the merged enterprise, which now took the name A. and J. Stewart and Clydesdale Ltd and was registered as a public limited company in 1890, capitalized at £700,000. At the same time Andrew Stewart brought Stewart Brothers into the new company and his two sons joined the board, which also included Sir William Arrol, Stewart's close friend and long-time customer.

The 1880s was a period of remarkable expansion for Stewart, who effectively increased the scale of his operations fivefold and transformed his company into the largest operator in the Scottish tube trade. He had through his acquisitions and mergers created a large, vertically integrated combine controlling its own supplies of iron and steel and performing all the stages of manufacture, from raw materials to finished products. The company then manufactured a very wide range of products, including all types of tubes and pipes, but had also diversified into angle and boilerplate manufacture. Stewart invested heavily in improving plant and machinery and indeed redesigned and built most of his own requirements. On taking over the Clydesdale works these were effectively reconstructed, the old hammer and tilting machinery being replaced by three new rolling mills.

Stewart and his family resided in Glasgow in a fine town house at 17 Park Terrace, but they also enjoyed country living at their Kingsmeadows estate near Peebles. Stewart was an active churchman and member of Park parish church in Glasgow, and through that was also active in the management of many Glasgow hospitals and benevolent societies. He was a director of the Glasgow Maternity Hospital and of the Glasgow Old Man's Society. Like his fellow industrialists and Scots Sir William Arrol and Andrew Carnegie, with whom he was friends, Stewart was a regular benefactor of many institutions and societies. His patronage ranged widely, including in London the Royal Caledonian Asylum and the Royal Scottish Hospital. Like Carnegie he was also a promoter of education, and in 1891 he provided funds to Glasgow University to endow the Adam Smith chair of political economy. The university recognized this, and his wider contributions, with the award of an honorary LLD in 1900.

After his sons joined the business, Stewart became less active in the daily conduct of affairs. By the mid-1880s he effectively controlled the Scottish tube trade and was able to minimize the pressures of competition, at least in the local market. But by the end of the decade these pressures were again increasing, and in 1898 he made a further acquisition, taking over the Phoenix Tube Works of James Menzies & Co. in Rutherglen. This company had pioneered the process of manufacturing solid drawn-steel tubes, and the merger kept Stewart in the forefront of technological developments. He paralleled this by further extending his Coatbridge operations, and in 1900 constructed the Imperial Tube Works there, and on an adjacent site established the Climax Engineering Works to manufacture his company's requirement of machines and tools. By then the Stewart companies, now renamed A. J. Stewart and Menzies, produced 36,000 tons of tube per year—about 70 per cent for export—and their only real rival was the Birmingham firm of Lloyd and Lloyd.

With the formation of A. J. Stewart and Menzies the company was now capitalized in excess of £1 million. Stewart's company then controlled nine large works, the establishment covering 85 acres and employing some six thousand men. His products covered every aspect of demand, from gas to water and general industry, and he had also moved into the complex naval market for water tube boilers. He had acquired a large portion of shares in Babcock and Wilcox and had become chairman of the company, holding the patent for the Babcock high-pressure boiler. Stewart was then aged sixty-eight and had been in ill health for some time; he died on 16 August 1901 at his country residence, Kingsmeadows, near Peebles; he was survived by his wife. His philosophy of mergers for market control was followed by his sons, who in 1903 joined with their rivals in Birmingham to establish the great firm of Stewarts and Lloyds, a union which effectively covered the British tube market.

Anthony Slaven
A. Slaven, ‘Stewart, Andrew’, DSBB • T. R. Miller, The Monkland tradition (1958) • memorandum and articles of association of Andrew and James Stewart Ltd, Mitchell L., Glas., MS 121/1 • Andrew Stewart trust book, inventory of estate, Mitchell L., Glas., Strathclyde regional archives, T–MS 258 • Andrew Stewart: trust disposition of settlement, NA Scot., SC/36/51/129 • Transactions of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, 44 (1900–01), 346 • d. cert.



Mr Harry Donnelly was the first Secretary of the University of Stirling.

Educated at Hillhead High School, Glasgow, he graduated MA with Honours in History from Glasgow University in 1931 and LLB with Distinction from Edinburgh University in 1937.

After a period in the Historical Department of H.M. Register House, he was transferred in 1940 to administrative duties in the Scottish Home Department.

In 1944 he was appointed Principal Private Secretary to The Right Hon. Tom Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland, followed by a similar post to the Right Hon. Lord Rosebry, and finally with the late Right Hon. Joseph Westwood.

In 1947, he was transferred as Assistant Secretary to the Scottish Education Department, becoming Under-Secretary in 1957, and Deputy Secretary in 1959. During this time he was Chairman of many committees and working parties, one of particular importance dealing with the provision of a pension scheme for teachers widows. He was also Assessor from the Department on The Robbins Committee on Higher Education.

He was honoured by the Queen with the CB in 1963.

Mr Donnelly drew on his wide experience in educational matters in the formative years of the University which owes a very great debt to him for the time, energy and background knowledge he gave so freely and willingly in the difficult years of setting up the University of Stirling.

Mr Donnelly died on 15 June 1969



Hugh Fraser, 1st Baron Fraser of Allander, was a Scot of the very highest distinction.

Among his many appointments were Chairman and Managing Director of the House of Fraser Ltd, Chairman George Outram & Co Ltd, John Barker & Co Ltd, Harrods Ltd, Associated Fisheries Ltd, Highland Tourist Development Co Ltd, Scottish and Universal Investments Ltd, National Treasurer Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

Educated at Glasgow Academy, he became a DL in 1953 and LLD in 1962. He had many outside interests including Honorary Treasurer of the Automobile Association, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Westbourne School for Girls, Glasgow, and a member of the National Export Council.

The Fraser of Allander Trust set up by Lord Fraser gave generously to the Foundation Appeal of the University of Stirling, thereby enabling one of the first residence buildings to be built at a time when residential accommodation was vital to the progress of the University

11 May 2010

The new blog

We've decided to add a blog to the Knit Camp website so we can share some really great things with you that are going to take place, and also to invite our tutors to talk about what they are going to be teaching over the week.

I thought I'd start off today with a little post about why I love the Stirling area. It holds a very special place in my heart - it's where my husband is from - and is my place of relaxation. We go up several times a year to visit family and it seems perfect for the first UK Knit Camp.

This is the infamous Stirling Bridge (photo taken in January or February this year)on a very beautiful day

And here's a sunset, taken in April