I stayed on for a fabulous Advent Concert that evening, held first at the church with traditional Christmas music, and later down in the refectory for a more frivolous performance. The quality of the performers was superb. Swedish mezzo soprano Catrin Johnsson and soprano Linda Johnsson, accompanied by Rachel Fuller at the piano, filled the church with beautiful Christmas carols, and later Johan Hugosson performed an almighty piano sonata by Frans Schubert. The world-renowned a capella quartet Cantabile sang a wonderful rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, with such hilarity and cheek that they had us all in awe and stitches! I’m definitely a fan, and will be following very closely where they will be performing again. They are extraordinary in their musical range and acting skills within the musical context.
Just back from a most stimulating weekend up at the Woolaballoo yarn stall at Harrogate, with Lucy Bush and her lovely mother, Anne. This year I opted to do the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate with Woolaballoo, as they have all our yarns and are doing a stellar job of selling them. I was lucky to meet quite a few loyal knitters at the stall and together we put together some beautiful individually chosen colour combinations, particularly for the Sarah sweater and the Judith vest. It always makes me happy to see other knitters playing around with my wide range of colours and using it, just as it was meant, as a colour palette of yarn to be inspired by. It was lucky that I decided to do the show with Woollaballoo this year, as I went down with the most horrendous tummy flu shortly after arriving in the UK, which knocked me for six, and no food for three days. I was very happy to have Lucy and her mum organising the stall and the running of it.
I managed to get up on the Saturday afternoon after several long standstills on the motorway for roadworks! But it was all worth it. The Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show is definitely one of my favourites. Not only is it situated in one of the most picture perfect Victorian spa towns you can imagine, with the best shopping possible and a lot of good restaurants, but the show itself has such a variety of exquisite craft exhibitions on hand. Houston-based Cindy Hickok’s masterful machine embroidery of selected bits from famous artists’ best known works, from the renaissance until our time, had me completely gobsmacked. Her mastery of the machine and getting all these famous characters perfectly reproduced in an entirely new setting and with hilarious captions to go with it – very much tongue in cheek – had me back there twice slowly trailing every picture. I could have bought the lot, had I had the money!
Then I saw the knitted boat, yes, that’s right, the fabulous art project put together by the Sanford Goudie Gallery at the Customs House in Tyne & Wear, UK, by knitting a coat and a sail for a boat and putting it to use in the water!!! The knitting had been coordinated by very colourful knitting artist Ingrid Wagner using her enormous knitting needles. I also saw US based Tom Lundberg’s exhibition of beautifully machine embroidered artwork in the form of condensed sized badges, very skilfully executed. Lastly I ran into the embroidery duo Jean Littlejohn and Jan Beaney, whose fabulous embroidered wall hangings I was already admiring last year at the main exhibition. There they had a lot of pieces inspired by the Australian bush, which, of course, struck a special chord with me.
I’m now back in London again working on a plethora of new designs and ideas. I don’t know quite what to prioritise as they all are as much fun to develop and knit – several children’s garments, a shrug for a wedding in Adelaide in December and some commissioned work to get ready for deadlines. But it is all fun and I am brimming over with new ideas. London is a very stimulating place for me to be, as a designer. The enormous variety of art exhibitions, beautiful parks and buildings, theatres and movies make my inspiration soar.