Friday, 31 December 2010

Goodbye 2010, hello 2011

I've spent a fair bit of the last week knitting and also mulling over 2010.

I've had a pretty good year. I haven't made as many large items for myself as I'd have liked to but I did do some sample knitting which I enjoyed as it makes me knit things I wouldn't normally knit for myself.

Here's a quick list of my 2010 highlights:

Meeting internet knitters in real life. I met loads of you at shows with p/hop, so many that I got very bad at remembering people's names, which is something I am normally good at. A few knitters came to stay at ours which was great (look at my stash) and I stayed with a few knitters I have known for years on Rav but finally met in real life (I looked at their stashes).

Going to Stitch London meetings. Similar to the above with the added enjoyment of teaching someone to knit for the first time. You can do this too but you'll have to wait for me to be at a better PC to add links.

I learned a fair few new techniques this year, my favorite being the German Twisted cast on which I now use all the time.

Twitter has been awesome this year and I have made new friends and learned more about old ones through it.

I'm typing this under a duvet at my MIL's house in France where we are spending New Year. I have a hot cup of tea and the lovely Mr Gingeknits next to me as well as American Gods by Neil Gaimen which I have been meaning to read all year and finally started it on the train to my MIl's house this afternoon.

One of things I am going to try and do more off in 2011 is read more fiction. It's the one downside to knitting (well that and the fact knitting doesn't burn enough calories for my liking)that it eats into my reading time. Maybe I should learn to read and knit at the same time, though I like giving both things the attention they deserve.

Aside from that I don't really have resolutions, more a list of new things to try. I'd like to learn Brioche stitch, more techniques and improve my lace knitting in 2011 as well as complete the knit 52 pairs of socks in a year challenge which I'm a little way behind on at the moment though that deserves another blog post.

Anyway, I'm rambling on like a woolly Ronnie Corbett when I should be giving my MIL a hand with dinner. Goodbye 2010, you've been a fun year. Wishing you all a happy and peaceful 2011.


Oh yeah, how could I forget, I got two crochet patterns published this year. My first job of 2011 will be to add myself as a designer on Rav. Eeeek!!!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Ho ho ho

We sort of postponed Christmas this year as we both have horrible chest infections.

Today we've spent most of the day under duvets in the lounge watching Christmas TV, sleeping and eating what we fancied. It hasn't been that bad and I seem to have perked up a little this evening, so much so that I did some knitting.

Mr Gingerknits gave me this very appropriate card with glittery knitted sprouts...

Knitted sprouts

... and I found this wee bear knitting in a box of old cards.

Festive knitting

I've been making socks over the last few days. The blue sock is using some On-line sock yarn (superwash + bamboo)I bought in Berlin last summer. I'm using a simple slip stitch pattern to break the colours up and am pleased with the fake isle effect it is creating.

The orange and khaki sock is using another sock yarn I bought in Berlin (I can't remember the name of it right now) and Yarnyard Toddy which Natalie had started a sock in but abandoned it, luckily for me as I got all the yarn.

I'm going to try and make them with short row heels with a gusset. When I've made short row socks for me before I found they haven't fit too well around my ankle so I'll see if this tutorial, passed on to me by RuthieD works out.

I met RuthieD a few years ago when I went on an Iknit Knit in Public Day treasure hunt. I bumped into her at KnitNation where she helped me sort out some p/hop raffle prizes. We chatted about sock knitting techniques and she messaged me the link about short row gussets a few days later. I love that about knitters, the willingness to share.

I hope you're all having a lovely festive season.

Merry Christmas
Love

Gingerknits

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Ham

I don't remember our family having a "Christmas Ham" when I was a kid. I think we did have ham at Christmas but never called it the Christmas Ham so when I came across the phrase a few years ago I was amused by it and it's become a bit of a meme in our house.

We've been trying to lead a very green Christmas and use newspaper to wrap each others presents. I found these pictures of festive ham in a supermarket newsletter and couldn't resist using them to wrap some chocolates for Mr Gingerknits.

Christmas Ham

Monday, 20 December 2010

Draughty?

Got draughty old windows? We do. I normally push crumpled newspaper in the cracks but this year used old scraps of roving and felt I've made. It works brilliantly and I can cram it into the smallest of cracks (using a baking spatula) making my flat that much cosier.

Yet another great reason to love wool.

Roving insulation

Friday, 17 December 2010

Snow cat

We had quite a downpour of snow this morning. For those of you who live in snowier climates this won't look like much but it is quite unusual for London. The Black Cat didn't quite know what to make of it and oscillated from wanting to be inside...

Snowy garden + Black Cat

to dashing outside to chase snowflakes (and eat snow!).

Smew and snow

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Ha!

I just picked up a  tinned meat comment on my blog which goes as follows...

"Why have you deleted my post? It was very helpful information and i assure atleast 1 person found it helpful unlike the rest of the comments on this website. I'll post it again. Sick of obtaining low amounts of useless visitors to your website? Well i want to share with you a brand new underground tactic that makes myself $900 each day...." blah blah blah

Picture found at srobadelic blog   

Well at least the spammers are getting more creative.


I deleted the comment.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Laceweight & Owls

I did a little bit of shopping at The Bothered Owl Christmas Party.

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There was lots of beautiful yarn available so considering the circumstances I was very restrained.

The yarn is from Indie Dyer Sweet Clement. I spent most of the evening trying not to succumb to her beautiful colours but I could see her yarn from where I was sitting at the p/hop table.

Sadly all the red sock yarn had been snapped up by the time I decided to treat myself so I bought some laceweight. I don't know why I do this. I am definitely falling into the category of yarn collector rather than knitter when I buy laceweight as I have never knitted anything with laceweight but I now have a few skeins of it in my stash after a year of visiting festivals. I am determined to knit with it so need to overcome my fear of it, I just need to find the right pattern.

I'm a big fan of Kieran Foley's patterns but they are a little too tricky for me at the moment. I've tried making High Seas a few times but need to work on my concentration as I always go wrong.

The green/blue yarn will become socks but for the time being it's just something that I stroke.

The party was great fun and even though I was working I had plenty of time to sit and chat, especially with Sarahabroad, Whitehart and Lapurplepenguin who all kindly helped out on the p/hop stand. I also met knitters who I had chatted to on twitter but not met in real life such as rockpurlgirl and onehandknits who were both just as fab in real life.

A big thank you to The Bothered Owls for such a relaxed and fun evening.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Paul Smithesque

I'm currently making myself a pair of socks using some left over Mist Alpaca yarn in 2 colourways. I love the way the colours are working together as I alternate the yarns and the stripes remind me of Paul Smith colours.

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While Browsing the Paul Smith website to find something similar to illustrate my point I came across this.


Image from PaulSmith.com

I'm emulating Paul Smith who is imitating granny squares. I think I prefer mine to his. At least when I make granny squares they are real!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Lashing and lashings...

As well as talk of Clementine Cake on twitter there has been talk of brewing Ginger Beer. Ginger beer is my drink of choice and I'm always in search of a good one. I find many commercial ones too sweet. Once on holiday in Brasil I had a ginger beer made with freshly squeezed ginger which is the gold standard at the moment and a tough act to live up to.

@eskimimi (who has a lovely blog) linked to this River Cottage recipe last week. I had to hunt around for brewers yeast as the brewer's yeast you can buy in chemists and health food shops is deactivated so won't work for brewing, despite the name. (trade descriptions act anyone?).

I ended up buying my yeast online after consulting my brewing guru Bioniclaura. As well as knitting Laura brews her own beer, which I got sample when I stayed with her and her lovely dog and husband in Dublin when I went over at the end of October. More on that later.

I couldn't wait to get started but had to wait til we returned from Hastings to get going. It only takes 48 hours to brew but I've been VERY impatient and watching it like a kid watches the countdown to Christmas.

Brewing Ginger Beer

My beer was ready tonight. It's fiery, fizzy and fabulous and I am definitely making this again. I altered the recipe slightly by using a lime instead of a lemon as it's what I had in and I added a teaspoon of powdered ginger as well as fresh grated ginger. I think the powdered ginger has added a subtle kick. I used Danstar Windsor Yeast but also bought Safale s-04 following Laura's advice. It will be interesting to see how much difference changing the yeast makes. Uh oh, looks like I have a new hobby!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Windy Snow

We spent last weekend in Hastings with a group of friends. It was rather wintry so we didn't make it to the battle site but did stroll along the beach. I'd given a couple of friends Cranford Mitts I'd made as part of the p/hop Mitt-a-long which went down well, though I ended up borrowing one pair which makes me a bad gift giver. Here you are, lovely bespoke mittens, which I will immediately take back and use.


Paula's Cranfords

I made these Cranfords using some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino which I p/hopped last month along with some from my stash. The mittens are slightly different in colour due to different dyelots but I think I'm the only person who has noticed. The brown edging is a wool/silk blend mystery yarn from my friend Montyknits, I suspect it is Blue Sky Alpaca yarn.

A lot of Hastings seemed rather forlorn in a run down British seaside way, like a forgotten favourite teddy bear left on a shelf. The pier had burnt down which added to the post apocalyptic feel.

Poor pier

I did admire the way everything was linked to the Battle of Hastings, the local bus service is called Arrow, and a weather station on the beach had some apt cartoons.

Snow

The old town was lovely and we found a brilliant deli and a cheese shop which had lots of local Sussex cheeses to try. There were also many kitsch and cute shops and I spied a fair bit of knitting and crochet in the shop windows.

Shop window granny blanket

During the week there had been lots of talk on twitter about baking and this Clementine Cake recipe came up a few times so I decided to make it. It's very easy to make. Boiling the Clementines for two hours is the hardest part. It's also gluten free as it uses ground almonds not flour. It's a brilliant recipe and I will be making it again, though I must warn you, it doesn't last long!

Monday, 29 November 2010

A Weasel for Ouisel

There's nothing like a deadline to make me finish a project. My best friend Lou is off travelling round the world next year after finishing her job. Her nickname in our circle of friends is Ouisel (take the first letter of your name and put it at the end), pronounced weasel so when I saw the crochet pattern made by Jennifer Reeve in the LSG group on Ravelry for a weasel I had to make it for her.

Lou coordinated a research study into Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm repairs using stents known as EndoVascular Aneurysm Repair or EVAR for short and we also refer to her as the Queen of EVAR so the weasel had to be holding an aneurysm and have a crown.

Ouisel's weasel

I started this project about 2 years ago but other things kept on getting in the way. As Lou was heading off for the year and finishing her EVAR job I had to finish the weasel. It didn't take me long to finish and I enjoyed knitting the aneurysm using i-cord. I can't quite believe I've finished this project. It's been hanging around for so long.

Queen of EVAR

We went away with a group of friends this weekend and it's Lou's birthday this week so the Weasel for Ouisel was finally handed over. It's going to live at Lou's parents place while she's away, just what they want in their farmhouse, a weasel with an aneurysm.

Ouisel Queen of EVAR

It's actually a very nice feeling knowing it's finished. I keep on spotting the bag I kept it in thinking "Gah, must finish that bloody weasel" then remembering I've done it. You can see the project details on Ravelry.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Happy Birthday p/hop

Monday, 1 November 2010

Hello blog

This another one of those, whoops, I've not blogged for ages but I will catch up sort of posts.

I've been here, there and almost everywhere with p/hop this month but will hopefully have a bit more me time in November which will mean more blogging.

The p/hop birthday blog along is this week (and maybe next week), which is open to all. It's a great way of raising awareness about the project so if you'd like to take part follow the simple steps here.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

My first phopping

p/hopped yarn from Nancy
Wordless Wednesday.

Yarn swap & very appropriate card from Nancyflowers in aid of MSF.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Gingerknitsnuts

The weather is miserable. It's perfect fibre crafting weather. It's also good baking weather so here is the Obligatory October Baking Blog post.

I'm going to Loop's yarn swap for MSF tomorrow and have made some biscuits to take along. Of course they are gingernuts, my signature biscuit. Here's my recipe, adapted from The Cranks Recipe Book.

Gingerknitsnuts

Ingredients

60g Margarine or butter
175g Plain flour
60g brown sugar
100g Golden syrup
2tsp baking powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of soda
2tsp Ground ginger

For the icing
Icing sugar
Ginger cordial


Rub the butter and flour and baking powder together until you have a crumbly mixture. Stir in the sugar. Warm the golden syrup and add the bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger. Add the ginger golden syrup mixture to the flour and butter mix. Knead them together to form a dough. Roll small ball of dough, flatten them slightly and place them on a greased baking sheet leaving a good amount of space between them as the dough will spread.

Bake in the oven at 180C for about 15 min. Leave to cool on a wire tray.

Optional ginger icing

To make the icing measure the icing sugar into a bowl, add a small amount of cordial and stir well. Gradually stir in more cordial, less than a teaspoon full at a time until the icing is your desired consistency. Once the biscuits have cooled ice them.

Variation: Add some chopped crystallised ginger to the biscuit mixture before baking.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sheep

I didn't get many photos of the sheep or the sheep judging competition at Masham yesterday but this blog post has loads of excellent photos.

In other news, my knitting mojo is creeping back. I've been tinkering with some chunky yarn I bought yesterday and have done a few rounds on a sock. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

AT-AT

We had loads of fun at the Masham Sheep Fair today, my mojo might be creeping back after a lovely day chatting with knitters. I'll need to wait til I'm back down south to blog about it and upload my photos. If you're near Masham do go along to the Sheep Fair tomorrow. It's a fun day out and well worth a visit.

In the meantime here's a crocheted AT-AT from Soggy-Wolfie which my other half found on Deviant Art. Take a look at the other things they have crocheted such as a sea cucumber, sad zinc, and an axolotl. Nifty eh?

Friday, 24 September 2010

Has anyone seen my mojo?

Do not fear dear reader, I have not turned into the groovy 60s spy, no not that sort of mojo. It's far worse than anything Austin "Danger" Powers had to contend with. I've lost my knitting mojo!

I suppose it's not bad going. It's the first time this has happened to my in the five years since I discovered 15mm needles and Big Wool and churned out a basic yet passable shawl in two evenings, banishing my awful memories of 80's knitting hell as a teenager grappling with acrylic and excessive intarsia.

I have spent a good part of the summer at knitting festivals with the wonderful p/hop and a good other part knitting professionally. Now I have a bit of time to knit for fun and for me  I just can't face it. When I was on round 100 and something of the never ending commission project I fantasised about whipping up a pair of socks (ahem, don't mention the 52 sock pick up or knit 52 pairs in a year challenge I so optimistically signed up for back in June), or a woolly hat for my lovely brother in common law.

This ennui has only been going for a few days, although yesterday I truly despised all the wool in my flat and had an urge to bag it all up and put it out for the bin men. Of course the common sense side of my brain dominated the mohair induced hissy fit and I resisted such rash impulses and came up to Yorkshire for the weekend instead.

There is a woolly reason for this trip north and that is the marvellous Masham Sheep Fair. I went last year, partly because my Dad's brass band were playing and partly through my love of fibre.

IMG_2486

It's a brilliant day out with sheep, sheep racing, a fleece sale including rare breed fleeces, sheep shearing demonstrations, spinning, rope making, yarn market, knitting and dyeing competition.

Sheep racing

If I'm not in the mood for all that jolly good fun tomorrow Masham is home to not one but two breweries so I can take a tour and drown my sorrows. Out of the two breweries which one will I choose? Theakstons or Black Sheep? Ha!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Visitors

Remember the Black Cat? He sometimes brings his friends round to join in the human staring.

IMG_7656

Normal knitting service will be resumed shortly.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

20 Books in 20 Minutes


This is one of those Facebook things that comes around every so often. While I'm not keen on most FB quizzes (inane) I appreciate this one as it can be a good source of inspiration for new books to read.

Here's my list:

The rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Twenty books you've read that will always stick with you. List the first twenty you can recall in no more than twenty minutes. Tag some friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your profile page, paste rules i... etc etc.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

2. The Twits - Roald Dahl

3. Regeneration Trilogy - Pat Barker

4. Lord of the Rings - Tolkein

5. Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

6. 1984 - George Orwell

7. Down and Out in Paris and London - George Orwell

8. Mill on the Floss - George Elliot (Still not finished it but loved it so far)

9. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver

10. Cry the Beloved Country - Alan Paton?

11. Cat's Eye - Margaret Atwood

12. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency - nice bit of cheerful fluff which shows an African country in a positive light

13. Father Ted - The Complete Scripts - Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews

14. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

15. Monkey - Wu Chen'eng en

16. Ray Bradbury/Azimov/Arthur C Clarke/Philip K Dick - Can't choose one specific book

17. John Wyndham - Day of the Triffids

18. The Book of Dave - Wil Self

19. Last King of Scotland - Giles Foden

20. The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts - Louis De Bernieres


Also Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, Philip Larkin poetry, the War poets, Debbie Stollers learn to knit book, A Primates Memoir by Sapolski...

Seems I like dystopian Sci Fi and depressing books about African countries (Mma Ramotswe being the exception).

It would be interesting to revisit this list in 5 years time.

I'll end this post with an excerpt from my favourite kid's book, The Twits by Roald Dahl.


If you've written a list on your blog please leave a link to it in the comments so I can get ideas for new books to read. Thank you.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Round & round & round

I've been knitting. A lot. I can't tell you what I'm knitting as it's top secret, just keep an eye on Montyknits blog and all will be revealed in a few weeks/months time.

What I will share with you is the brilliant Bothered Owl stitch markers which bring some light relief to lots of rounds of stocking stitch.

Bothered Owl in use

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Squids in

I'm going from my damp flat to The Depths of the ocean on Friday night. I'll be teaching tiny squid knitting along with other Stitch London Stitchettes as well as marvelling at the bizarre creatures that live in the depths of our seas at the Natural History Museum.

I pestered Stitch London to let me knit something for their specimen jars and they said yes. Here is my creation along with other woolly beasties of the deep!




My fishy knit is a coelacanth (far left). You can read more about them on the Stitch London blog.
I'm a natural history geek and have always loved the story of the discovery that a presumed extinct species was living in the depths of the Mozambique channel. If you're interested in enormous old fish with anal fins I can recommend this book.

I'm pretty sure they sell it in the NHM shop. If you're at the museum on Friday night come and say hello. Lets hope the Bone eating snot worms haven't eaten the giant sloth by then.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Putting things in perspective

We arrived home from Yorkshire today to find half our living room and kitchen were flooded. Our table, futon, PC (I'm writing on our dinky laptop), carpet and ceiling are damaged as well as some minor bits of electronic kit.

This is very annoying but when I see images of the flood in Pakistan it really is nothing. Yes, it smells funky, yes, my favourite old, well travelled address book is damaged but no-one has died, we're not at risk of cholera or malaria and I doubt either of us is going to starve. Even the errant Black Cat wandered in safe and sound as if nothing had happened.

MSF are working their socks off in Pakistan, setting up Cholera stations, proving shelter, clean water and medical care to some of the 14 million people (yes 14 million, hard to imagine isn't it) affected by the floods.

This MSF water distribution truck provides water to victims of the floods who are displaced and in need of clean drinking water. Nowshera, 27th July 2010. Photo by Ton Koene/MSF Photo via www.msf.org.uk
It's easy to make a donation to MSF. You can do it on their website or via the p/hop widgets on my blog. 
£5.51 provides a mosquito net which will help prevent a family from getting malaria, dengue fever or other mosquito transmitted diseases. Not bad for the equivalent of one 50g ball of nice yarn or a couple of shop bought sandwiches eh?

Friday, 20 August 2010

On the Road

I've been here, there and everywhere this month. First was up to Edinburgh, then Stirling taking p/hop to Knit Camp. Then back to Edinburgh to visit friends and enjoy some of the fringe festival. I'm now in North Yorkshire spending a few days with my parents. Blog posts with pictures will be coming when I return to the big city and can upload photos.

I'm having fun but do occasionally wonder if the Black Cat is still yelling outside my back door. I should set up a web cam to see what he's up to.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Knit Nation

I've been busy over the last week taking p/hop to the Knit Nation festival in London. It was good fun but I'm still a little dazed from 3 full on days of talking to knitters. It was fab and I've met some brilliant people so I will share it in photo form.

Here's our stand, manned by yellowpurplezebra and cybil.

Claire and Cybil (Heather)

Bad pub photos from Friday night with Stitch London Stitchettes, WoollyWormhead,@julietillyflop (who makes fab knitting tea towels) Babylonglegs, @knitterbird and Bionic Laura (who stayed with me and brought me some gorgeous Aran yarn from Ireland)

Bad pub photos

Bad pub photos

There was a grout baby and also some tipsy yelling at Ysolda and Sazknits and Jess and Casey the marvellous people who made Ravelry when we spotted them on the way to the tube.

On Saturday I made sure I had time to shop and bought some sock yarn from Renaisance Dyeing...

Renaisance Dyeing

... creepily fabulous stitch markers from The Bothered Owl...

Creepy marvelousness

As well as a fab needle roll with Mexican Day of the Dead pattern

I also bought some Old Maiden Aunt sock yarn (I love her stuff) and some Artisan Yarns sock yarn in subtle deep blues.

Woolly Wormhead modelled her p/hop pattern. There's a more official photo for the p/hop website but this one really makes me laugh. She's such a star.

It's a keeper!!!

In the evening I went to the Ravelry party laid on by the smashing Jess and Casey who I managed to get a photo with. Lovely, lovely people. I made sure I said thank you to them for the wonder that is Rav. they must hear it all the time but I still think it's important to let people know you like what they do.

Look, it's Ravelry!!!

There was much hamming it up in front of giant Bob....
here's Jen from Fyberpates, Jon from Easy Knits and Jen Tech Editor for The Knitter

Jen, Jon, Jen

and ahem, me

BOB

I also met Woolly as well as loads of real people I've only "met" in cyberspace.

Here's Wooly

There were also great Ravelry goodie bags which had an Ysolda pattern inside and of course a Ravelry badge. Check out the great Bob in London drawing.

Knit Nation Stash Enhancement
You can also see the yarn I bought in the photo above.

I had a go in Ysolda's photo booth. I think these need captions.

CHEESE!!!

Phew, I think that's all. Now on to UK Knit Camp which is only a week away!!!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Too busy!


I see this advert on the tube quite often and keep on meaning to get a photo of me knitting in front of it. The problem is I'm usually too busy knitting to do so.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Catch up No.2 - Goodbye Mini Me

A couple of weeks ago all the stitch selves were transported from Stitch London's HQ to the Science Museum. I helped the team set them up which was great fun sorting through all the little people. Some were brilliant, some were downright scary though they were all endearing.

Science Museum Late

Yet again the brilliant Stitch London folks have blogged about it. See if you can spot me on their blog, as well as enjoying all the other mini mes.

Science Museum Late

I had a fun night at the Science Museum grown ups only evening. A few friends came along and it was so much fun being able to play on things in the Launch Pad area without having to push kids off things first. (Before you get all hot and bothered I am joking, though if you've ever been to the Science or Natural History Museum during the school holidays you'll understand the frustration)

There were quite a few imaging gadgets so here I am in thermal imaging...

Science Museum Late

...and on some dot display contraption.

Science Museum Late

The frozen ice crystals were beautiful, I spent about 10 minutes watching them form through a polarising lens...

Science Museum Late

and the cat with 7 toes was cool.

Science Museum Late

The BBC were there with their Bang Science programme demonstrating experiments you can do at home. I love that sort of thing and was fascinated with the super cool water experiment, where water instantly turned into ice. You can try it at home, the instructions are here.

Science Museum Late

At the end of the evening I took one last look at mini me. It was quite hard leaving "me" behind, though I know "she"'ll be in safe hands at Stitch London.