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Changes for Chains and Stripes

This blog was originally written in April 2015 but I wanted to re-visit it as I have recently added these knitting kits to my website having not had them on there for a while, so here is the story of my Chain Stripe Cushion knitting kits…

 

Today I’ve been finishing off something I started back in September!
IMG_0177After our annual visit to Cawood Craft Festival I realised that my original version of one of my knitting kits could do with a bit of updating. I designed this cushion some time ago now and we talked about it on the blog back in the summer of 2013.

When I had the idea for the cushion we had just started selling West Yorkshire Spinners yarns and I really wanted to make something which would show off the natural colours of the wool from Jacob sheep which they produce. I had been playing with the chain stripe stitch when knitting samples for my City and Guilds course and I felt that it was an ideal choice. I designed this little cushion, which can be knitted in a number of variations using the 4 natural colours available Ecru, Light Grey, Mid-Grey and Brown.

I don’t like having to insert zips and I really like these cocoanut shell buttons so I used this simple construction for the cushion. One long piece is knitted, folded and side seams sewn up, finally attaching the beautiful buttons which are included in the kit. I am very happy with the way the cushion looks, I love the Jacob wool which is ideal for home wares and many people have bought the kits and given positive feedback.

Why did I feel the need to improve the pattern then? Sitting in a tent in a field in North Yorkshire, I realised that, if I was designing the cushion today I would have made the stripes match up all the way round the cushion, and they just didn’t. It bothered me so much that I just couldn’t forget about it and I took one of my sample cushions and actually unravelled the cushion, re-knitting it to my new specifications. I have now knitted 3 samples in all of the new cushion and I am happy to say that the stripes match up beautifully all the way round except for where the rib occurs for attaching the lovely buttons which I don’t mind.
IMG_0770I have replaced the old  patterns in the kits and will re-vamp the packaging when I make some more and I now feel very satisfied with my little cushions again.

The kits contain all the wool you need to knit a cushion, plus the pattern and 3 buttons. You can buy them  online.

As I explain on the website, this kit makes a great gift for a knitter friend and the pattern is easy to follow for those who have not knitted for a while, or who are just learning but interesting enough for those with more experience to appreciate it

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My 50th Year – part one

Warning…this post is a bit self indulgent!

Having taken a year out after closing the shop I’m being a bit slow getting going again and finding it hard to discipline myself around settling down to do some work.

There are so many distractions and other things to do!

Also it’s my 50th year and I’m celebrating  in style by giving myself 50 special treat so I’m rather busy!

There are a number of reasons I decided to do this but the main one is that, I feel like sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to be spoilt and tend to say ‘oh yes I’d like to do that one day when the children are older/we have more money/we have more time ‘etc etc, when really we should be living life as fully as possible, doing the things we love.

It’s also been a fabulous opportunity to share the fun with some of my fantastic friends.

So here’s a taste of some of the things I’ve been getting up to over the last (almost) 12 months.

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The Knotty Knitters Meet the Alpacas

Our knitting circle had a brilliant day out on Saturday.

It was part of my quest to have 50 special treats before my 50th birthday in October!! I wrote about this previously here.

When trying to decide what a group of friends who like to get together to knit and enjoy a cuppa might like to do for a fun day out I tried to think of something yarn related. What I came up with was Alpaca Trekking.

I love it.

I’ve done it before, as a fun activity to do with family & friends when my children were younger, and once, when I was Brown Owl for the local Brownie pack a few years ago we had a very pleasant evening stroll with the girls.

I always go to Treeside Alpacas who are absolutely brilliant. The owners are a lovely knowledgeable couple who really make it into a special experience. We saw them when we had our day out to Leeds Wool Festival where they were doing mini treks.

It was a rather windy on Saturday afternoon but we were very lucky and it didn’t rain on us!

First we spent a little time chatting and getting used to the 7 gorgeous fluffy boys. Then we all chose an Alpaca to walk with and set off on our trek. The Alpacas don’t rush, and the route around the farm is not too strenuous, so there was plenty of time to chat to Rosanne and Nigel about their characterful creatures and enjoy spending the time together. The walk back was a bit quicker as the boys knew they were going to get fed at the end.

I took a great many photographs but I’ve tried to pick out the best ones here.

 

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Shells and Gems

Back in May I wrote about my Shell scarf pattern which I had added to the shop.

I mentioned that I had bought this beautiful yarn at Spring Into Wool and I was planning to make another one.

I actually finished it a few weeks ago but it has been waiting to be blocked.

The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Wensleydale Gems and I absolutely love the colours it’s available in.

I was desperate to see what it would look like knitted into this scarf but I was a little concerned that it might be a hard or prickly yarn so different to the gorgeous soft Sublime Alpaca that the original is done in.

Not so, however. The yarn is so soft and fluffy – not as soft as the Alpaca – and it drapes beautifully.

I blocked it at the weekend and the sun was out so I grabbed some quick photos.

It’s so great to see my design in a different yarn and colours.

As you can see I also bought another yarn from Home Farm Wensleydales which is destined to become a Shell Scarf too!!

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The Dark Self

Last week I visited this an exhibition in York called The Dark Self.

The artist, Susan Aldworth has created this collaborative piece of work which explores the experience of sleep.

It was most interesting to me as it involved ‘1001 embroidered pillowcases hung from the church ceiling, sewn by local people, community groups and schools’

There are also prints, sculptures and a film to see in this very peaceful and atmospheric installation.

It’s open Wed-Sun 11am-4pm until 3rd September 2017 at York St Mary’s YO1 9RN and admission is free.

 

The pillowcases are all old hotel ones (nice bit of up-cycling) and they have been sewn onto using a limited colour palette which is pleasing to look at and I think suits the theme rather beautifully. I took lots of photos which give a feel for the experience, but it wasn’t easy due to the way they are all hung, so if you’d like to get the true atmosphere it’s worth calling in if you’re close by.

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Knit a Shell

I first introduced my Shell Scarf on the blog last August and now, finally, I’ve published the pattern for anyone to buy online!!

I was waiting for the scarf and pattern to be assessed by my City and Guilds Tutor, and then I decided to make an alternative version, which would be easier to knit, so it has taken some time to get it organised!!

As mentioned in the previous blog, the yarn I’ve used is the most gorgeous , Sublime Alpaca DK which is a gorgeously soft yarn, and the colour choices were influenced by my inspiration. The yarn also comes in a wider range of delicious colours.

The inspiration, by the way, came from the little shell which I found on a walk form Warkworth towards Amble in Northumberland earlier last year.

The original scarf, Scarf One, is triangular shaped and lighter weight for the Spring and Autumn, whereas the new design, or Scarf Two, is bigger and warmer to snuggle up in the Winter months.

Both are knitted in a drop stitch rib, which I chose because it is not only very effective but, the fabric produced looks like the pattern of ridges on the shell which was my inspiration. I also really really like the excitement of dropping stitches on purpose (I’m sad like that!!).

I hope the following images show how the two scarves differ.

 

If you’re a less confident knitter, then you could try scarf two as it has limited shaping so is not so daunting.

I bought some exciting yarn when I visited Spring Into Wool in Leeds recently so I’ll be posting photos of the scarf knitted in different colours and fibres over the coming months.

 

If you buy the pattern, I would love to hear which scarf you choose to create and what yarn you have used.

If you send me photos I’ll be delighted!!

 

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My First Yarndale

Yesterday was my first visit to Yarndale.

Even though it’s in Yorkshire I’d never actually been before! When you own a yarn shop it’s not easy to go to any events on Saturdays (unless you have a stand – which we never have) and Sundays at the end of September always seem to be really busy for our family. When you don’t have a yarn shop anymore such things get a bit easier to arrange.

I used the park and ride car park which was very easy. I could have got on one of the free shuttle buses but I needed to find a cash machine so walked the short distance from the car park into Skipton and had a wander through the town. While I was there I popped in to the appropriately named ‘Three Sheep Tearoom’ for a coffee and a very tasty sandwich.

Then it was another short stroll to the Auction Mart. There is a Yarn walk through the park, which you can follow but I missed it as started from the other side of town.

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I knew I must be almost there though when I saw this sign and followed the last part of the route, decorated with lots of knitted and crocheted bunting, down to the entrance to Yarndale.

 

I’d heard about what a good show this was and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a really relaxed atmosphere. The place was very busy and packed with stalls but most of the pens were a decent size so you could get in where you wanted to. Most importantly for a yarn show, there was plenty of yarn available, to suit all tastes and purses.

At one point whilst wandering around these characters suddenly appeared.

I have no idea where they were headed!!!

There was musical entertainment and plenty of food available too.

I was on a self-imposed yarn buying ban but I did purchase some quirky greetings cards from Temporary Measure. I got some from them at Woolfest and some of them have been used, so took the opportunity to stock up.

My personal highlight was the stand belonging to Anne Brooke where I bought some more cards and a small stitched picture.

I am very interested in this kind of work at the moment and it was lovely to see all her pieces. She has her own fabric range as well.

I also rather liked this on the Embroiderers’ Guild stand.

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British Wool Show 2016

This afternoon I thought I would just share my favourite things from the British Wool Show 2016 which took place on Friday and Saturday. Over recent years Needlecase has had a stand at the show so it was a different experience to be there as a visitor this year!! Although the show is aimed at raising the profile of British wool and wool products, and these were definitely on show, there were other interesting items there, which didn’t quite fit into this description. I had 3 clear highlights of my visit to this show.

I really liked the Turnacre stand which as well as hand spun yarn from their own flock, had yarn produced from fleece from other small British breeders and/or keepers of Ryelands and Coloured Ryelands. Julie was actually spinning yarn on the stand, and this embroidery (which she told me had won 2nd prize in an Embroiderers’ Guild competition), really spoke to me.

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Another highlight was seeing the Stamford Bridge Tapestry being stitched  and the work produced so far on display. This project is described as the ‘missing link’ in the story of 1066 and is intended to fill the gap of the existing Bayeux and Fulford tapestries. I love to see needlework being used as artwork and this project really caught my interest. The ladies who were doing the work were great to chat to and I was able to have a really good nosey around at what they had done, how they had done it, and what they were going to do.

And the third highlight was the stand being run by the Knitting and Crochet Guild. They had a copy of the book Stitches in Time by Sue Bradley, which features knitwear designs that draw on different historical periods for their inspiration, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, Byzantium, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 18th century, the Victorian era and the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The book had a lot of information about the history of fashion with loads of illustrations but the best bit was that the author has donated all her samples produced whilst coming up with the knitwear designs to the guild and they had them all in a big bag!! I had a brilliant time rummaging through all these samples, admiring, examining, working out what type of yarn had been used, it was a real pleasure and I made a bit of a mess of their display table (don’t think they minded too much)

Because I’d been to Woolfest not long ago and we are still sorting out stock from the shop, I was on a limited budget for buying more yarn but I did manage to make a few small purchases.

I also took a few more photos of interesting things!!