Three Months in the Life of Skiff

Three Months in the Life of Skiff

Well hello there Skiff blog, sorry I’ve been a stranger round these parts … it’s not you it’s me. I’m very aware that I haven’t posted here for a few months (save to add to the ‘A-Z of Pattern Deconstruction’ at the weekend … I’m up to ‘D’ now, still plenty of time to think about the subject matter for ‘Z’). I haven’t lost the love, I’ve just been wildly spinning plates and unfortunately the blog plate dropped. So what have I been up to that’s so earth-shatteringly important?

Well we’ve moved house for one and as stressful as it was, boy was it worth it. We’ve not gone far, but have swapped town for country for the first time since a disastrous lifestyle choice in rural France ten years ago (another story, another time), and you’ll now find us looking slightly astonished in a third of a gothic-style early Victorian mansion. Our surprised expression is down to the fact that it’s not where we pictured ourselves ending up when we first talked about moving, but something about its faded glory and gothic grandeur whispered to us to take it on and we fell for its charms. We’re surrounded by woodland and fields and their many feathered and furry inhabitants, which is keeping Jnr, Boots the Dog and Blacksox the Cat in various states of excitement, curiosity and occupation, sadly not always to the benefit of the unfortunate wildlife. The most exciting discovery so far has been a grass snake in the pond which rested on a lily pad for a while and then gently sashayed across the water into the reeds, never to be seen since.

Nobody could call us DIY enthusiasts so we’ll have our work cut out when it comes to renovations. The rambling garden contains a small ancient greenhouse (shaded by trees – I’m no expert but possibly not the best spot for it?), a dilapidated tree house, moss-covered outbuilding which the estate agents laughingly named ‘the summer house’, a large pond teeming with life, a ramshackle shed, and an overgrown vegetable plot – ‘ah yes,’ I hear you say, ‘the perfect project for an ambitious gardener.’ However … we’re not exactly immersed in the dark arts of horticulture (keeping plants alive is akin to alchemy as far as I’m concerned) so most mornings you’ll find me stumbling bewildered through the dewy overgrowth sporting an army surplus coat over my pyjamas, and wondering where to start. We managed to chop a bit back but we’ve now got to have an enormous bonfire to dispose of the choppings and I’m worried about the hedgehogs which might have taken up residence. In a tremendous feat of denial and inability to prioritise, I’m planning a natural dye garden with my next door neighbour which is keeping me awake at nights with the possibilities. We’re also surrounded by sheep so I feel a woolly collaboration coming on.


I’m also coming to the end of the vintage pattern project book I’ve been working on for Laurence King Publishing which has turned out even better than I could have hoped. It was the brainchild of the very talented graphic designer Marine Malak, who had no previous knitting knowledge so we’ve come together to produce what I think will be a fresh, stylish and current look at vintage patterns for a modern generation. The book isn’t due for release until next year, so I’ll reveal more nearer the time.


The beginning of September saw me high-tailing it off to Manchester for the Woman’s Weekly Live Show, helping out Deramores with their combined workshops. Alongside the lovely Amy from Deramores and Tina and Kandy from Woman’s Weekly, I helped out with a whole day of ‘Learn to Crochet’ and ‘Making Up’ workshops and met some amazing ladies, including one 80-yr-old who has never got the hang of mattress stitch and had a ‘eureka’ moment about 5 minutes before the end! Immensely satisfying.


I’m also very pleased to tell you that I’ve started holding knitting and crochet classes. Every Wednesday you’ll find me in The Seamstress, a great workspace in The Needlemakers in Lewes. First up is a knitting class (10-11.30), followed by a crochet class (11.30-1), one-to-ones in the afternoon (1-3), then I decided the day wasn’t busy enough so I added a small children’s class after school at 4. I must admit this last one made me question my sanity for the first couple of weeks, but inevitably has become the most satisfying as I’ve watched three 7-yr-olds and one 9-yr-old begin to pick up and enjoy this most excellent of crafts. We’re going to start making small animals next week so I’ll post more about that as we go. If you’re local and interested, click on the flier below and drop me a line, or have a look at The Seamstress website for more details.


Incidentally The Needlemakers is home to some wonderful vintage and craft shops, including amongst others the excellent Brigden & Bayliss who have also just started selling Brighton-based Erika Knight yarns, Victoria Hutchinson Ceramics (she also sells vintage) and The Patchwork Dog & Basket, purveyors of gorgeous fabric and haberdashery and organisers of ‘Made in Lewes’ craft workshops, so well worth a visit if you’re round these parts.

Last but not least I managed to squeeze in a bit of intense work towards a potential new knitting project which, if it goes ahead, will be a rather a departure from what I’ve been working on up until now but definitely the most fun I’ve ever had knitting. Can’t say any more at this stage, but I’m chuckling about it even as I’m typing.

So there you have it … not exactly been solving world peace but it keeps me off the streets and neck-deep in yarn. Hope everyone’s had a great Summer, see you back here again soon for more regular updates …

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