If you’re Rhinebeck bound, we would love to see you at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night. Details here.

Dress Your Family in Denim and Denim

Dear Ann,
I trust you are suffering from separation anxiety, now that we are no longer locked in a room together with your seizure-prone cat and a mess of paper that wants to be a book when it grows up. I miss you hon. But I confess that I really really miss the Bread & Company cafe on Page Road. Iced Fruit Tea so sweet it makes your teeth curl! Chicken Salad frapped into the texture of fois gras! A Southern mastery of the Arts of the Mayonnaise and the Ranch Dressing! Yum!
And now I take up my Transatlantic travelogue again. After the gracious hospitality of the North of England, I took the train back to Kings Cross. Hubby and the kids had made it to London, and I was very glad to see them. I found them all sleeping in their clothes in the hotel. They had missed me, as I am the family member with the Secret Pajama Knowledge.
We had fun taking in the kid-friendly offerings of London, which are many. Not one, but two leisurely visits to the Science Museum, which is fantastic and FREE.
The London Duck Tour was a hoot.
The idea is simple: in the middle of the tour, your bus DRIVES INTO THE THAMES. At which point a six-year-old boy goes out of his mind.
The famous London Eye did not disappoint. (It was a little depressing to see that as each pod emptied of passengers, a crew quickly went in and ran metal detectors all over the floor and ceiling, but hey, these are the times we live in.)
An elusive photo of the elusive me. It was chilly in London, and Hubby had not remembered the kids’ jackets, so you will note that Joseph is wearing his Soccer pullover in every picture.
London Knitting Highlights
Since the family had ‘let’ me spend two whole days with Emma, they did not give me free range to hang out with knitters in London. I managed to squeeze in meetings with pals, but they were too few and too brief.
One evening while the family was passed out with jet lag, Polly and Amelia came over for a little sit n’ knit. We commandeered the hotel lounge. Other guests would stick their heads in, looking for a cup of tea, overhear us yakking about lace and sheep, and get the hell out of Dodge. Fine with us, ya philistines!
I am an exceedingly bad blogger. I only managed to take a picture of them standing on the curb/kerb afterwards.
It gets worse: I did not even get a kerbside snapshot of the lovely Sarah W. (who lives the blog-free lifestyle). I met her 45 minutes before closing time, for a quick romp through Liberty’s. No yarn purchased, either. Not a meter! We spent most of the time just looking at all the other beautiful things Liberty’s sells. Priced accordingly, of course. But one can look! The fabric department is the main event. There was a lady from Barcelona who was stacking up bolts of gorgeous prints to make a quilt from one of Kaffe’s patchwork books. She was very friendly and kept asking our advice, which was fun. !Viva la quilting!
A Lovely Jumper
The Fiber Arts Highlight of my trip was my morning at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I met Belinda there, and we went sailing through the special exhibition of International Arts and Crafts.
We were inspired, we were uplifted, we were looking for the cafe.
(I know, how shallow! But I’m not the only one who thinks of the V & A as an “ace cafe with quite a nice museum attached”.)
Belinda, you will recall, is a fellow Denim Freak. We are the only two we know, who have the obsession quite as bad as we have it. Meeting for the first time was a Special Moment. We were all, ‘Gimme a hug, you rope-dyed indigo nut, you!’ (Or something like that. Perhaps a little more understated, now that I think of it.)
Like heads of state, when knitters meet for the first time, protocol requires a ceremonial exchange of gifts. (I think in the olden days, actual sheep were involved. ‘So pleased to meet you, here–have a Romney!’) I was prepared for that, as I knew Belinda was on the hunt for one of the Barbara Walkers. I was not prepared for this:
Four miters made out of denim that Belinda ‘space-bleached’ herself, in her kitchen. (We will talk about bleaching denim later and at great length.)
But I was really, really really–not prepared for this:
This is a handknit BLACK DENIM pullover called ‘Whitby’. Belinda claims it was in the back of her closet, that it doesn’t fit and she never wears it and has no use for it blah blah blah—NONSENSE!!!!
See the cool label?
‘Trowark’ is an anagram for Artwork. Artwork is Jane and Patrick Gottelier. (Lookie: they even have a denim gansey in the V & A’s collection!) Belinda worked for them as a student, and apparently whoever bought this sweater was insane, because they sent it back, and Belinda got to buy it. It fits Carrie perfectly in the sleeves. It’s rather baggy, so she can wear it for a long time. In the London chill, she wore it everywhere. At Liberty’s a saleslady exclaimed, ‘My what a lovely jumper that is!’
What a lovely jumper indeed.
Oh, you want to see this Belinda? Here she is.
Belinda is cocooned inside her own enormous vintage Whitby. See how pale it is? Believe it or not, it was knit in the darkest shade of Rowan denim. It has FADED to its present-day pallor. (Moment of Silence.)
If you poke into the cables (as of course I did), the inner stitches are much darker. The cuffs are worn to ragged shreds–most glorious, I tell you.
I know you never thought this would happen but I think I’m out of things to say right now. Thank you, London and Londoners.
Have fun on your mountain. Do write.
Love, Kay




  1. O the jumpers!!!!!! Belinda! the space dyeing!!!!!! Just received my Colourway email – denim is en route – and just in time!!!!!! Annhb

  2. Ah London. It looks like you had a great time.
    We have the duck tours here in Seattle. I was just stuck behind one lumbering along while trying to get to the grocery store.

  3. Wow that is some intense fading! So it seems one must wash the Denim pieces separately for their whole lifetime? Is this what cultivates the obsession? Trying to justify the separate washings by making lots and lots of Denimwear?

  4. WElcome home!
    Tell Ann that I said I am highly disappointed in the both of you. Here I sit with more tomatoes in my backyard than I will ever be able to consume or torment my neighbors with and I am a piddly 1/2 MILE FROM THE BREAD & COMPANY ON PAGE ROAD. Is she daft? (trying to use that Brit lingo on you there) xo

  5. Those are some damn fine sweaters. I’m so glad you had a good time! I still am surprised that you don’t explode when you witness denim and the miter together??!
    BTW – you used to have a link to a site that would turn your graphic into a graphed picture? Do you remember the link? Could you email it to me?

  6. Wendy my Book Girl: Here is the link to the intarsia chart generator:
    Lauren: Denim yarn is like new denim jeans–after the first wash (or two if you’re cautious), you can wash it with other like-colored items with no problems. I do it all the time with no bad consequences. But on the other hand it would be nice to have plenty of denim knits to wash together, why not? xoxo Kay

  7. Oh oh oh! Thanks for posting the link to the Chinese Millionaire project, it totally made my day!!
    I also enjoyed your denim-y tour of London & look forward to an Ann travelogue from wherever the heck that mountain is.

  8. Welcome home! Hope you and Ann got lots of good work done. Love the London Travelogue – that Duck Boat is TOO FUNNY! I’m sure your son was crazy – I know my nephew would’ve been! Did he know it was going to go in the water, or did you surprise him?
    I found some denim yarn the other day – and, of course, I thought of you. Was it at Purl? I’ve hit a bunch of yarn stores lately – not sure where I saw it.

  9. Kay – oh my goodness, I think I need a little time to recover after you’ve told us that Belinda’s Whitby started out as Rowan’s darkest denim. Wow. I’m just…gobsmacked. Completely and utterly gobsmacked.
    I definitely need several moments of silence for this one.

  10. Thanks for the wonderful, lively post. Moment of silence indeed!

  11. I seem to e developing a bit of a twitch on this denim thing now. I really liked the testimonial bit about haveing worn the cuffs to rags.

  12. Okay, Or should I say, “Oh, Kay,” type after me:
    kerb (yes, you got that right)
    and for extra credit: tyre
    Hee. You can slap me if you want. It’s ok.

  13. Oh wow !
    The black denim is fabulous.Copy that pattern and make a bigger one for you ! I am deeply impressed with Belinda’s knitting and the stupendous fading.Fab !

  14. Oh the jumpers indeed–love the Whitby. I would move farther north just to wear the beauty!

  15. That jumper is a thing of joy and beauty and bliss. And thank you for writing kerbside so we remember which side of the pond you were on! I’ll be there for a day and a half in August. Here’s hoping I can squeeze in a Liberty trip!

  16. denim-y girl…. you truly are a “blue jean baby”…. it’s positively the best fabric ever created…..welcome home….so glad you are on terra firma once again!

  17. Belinda’s space bleached denim is beautiful! I’m really looking forward to the bleaching tutorial. And those Whitbys are amazing, I really can’t believe how pale Belinda’s is. It must be fabulously old and soft too.
    I must confess that I’ve never been on the London Duck tour but my inner six year old is feeling the need!

  18. Gasp. What a gift! What a trip!

  19. Black denim yarn. Does such a thing still exist? Because if it does, you might have converted me to the cult.

  20. I can’t stand the ragged cuffs. The perfection of it all.

  21. The perfection of those cables! And that deliciously faded grey of the black denim! Don’t you dare recycle that!


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