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Why Learn to Knit?

To many people this may sound like a silly question! All the same I thought it was worth thinking about it.

If you’ve been taught a skill such as knitting, crochet or sewing at an early age then it can seem like the most natural thing in the world. If you’re not that fortunate then you may be thinking ‘I love making things for myself or as unique gifts and I’d like to learn a new craft so why would I choose knitting?’

I believe that knitting can be a relaxing hobby (maybe not so much at the first steps, but certainly when you get the hang of it) which engages the mind and fires creativity. There is always something new to learn or try if you wish to push yourself, on the other hand, some really easy straightforward knitting can be just the tonic when you’re feeling tired and stressed. You have the brilliant satisfaction of being able to spend your relaxation time productively with a beautiful finished item to be proud of as the end result.

Most people seem to have the desire to learn to knit for a specific purpose. The most popular one is probably the arrival of a new member of the family which seems to spur people into action and get them picking up the needles. For other people, the desire can be sparked by a specific item they’ve seen and really want to make for themselves. This is the reason I myself wanted to learn the ‘sister’ craft of crochet so that I could make things which had previously been untouchable for me because I didn’t know how to use a crochet hook.

Still need some inspiration? What might you be able to knit with just a little bit of knowledge?

Simple scarf like this one can easily be made with just basic stitches and you can make it for yourself or give as a gift!!

If you attend one of my Beginners Knitting workshops you will make one of these. You will take away the materials and pattern to make one for yourself, and when you’ve done that you can make more in different colours 🙂

 

These teddies are a really lovely easy knit which would be great to make for a new baby or small child.

Why not try making a baby blanket in a soft chunky baby yarn they’re really easy and quick to do for your new arrival.

You can make cushions for your home or as gifts. Try one of my simple but effective chain stripes cushions in beautiful but hardwearing Jakob aran yarn.

 

Will I need lots of expensive equipment?

Basically, no you won’t. Having said that, you will need some core items to begin with, and there are lots of products out there to tempt you, but it is up to you. If you would like to have lovely needles and notions you can do, but you don’t have to you can just stick to basic items.

A simple starter kit should probably contain –

  • a selection of smooth inexpensive double knitting weight yarns (you can move onto the fancy stuff and gorgeous natural fibres when you are more confident)
  • needles – again nothing too fancy needed unless you really want to, just some basic needles in the size appropriate for your yarn ie double knitting yarn 4mm needles or check your ballband to see what needles are recommended
  • pins
  • scissors
  • tape measure
  • yarn needle
  • safety pins
  • row counter and/or pencil and paper

There are lots and lots of other things you could have but you’ll probably decide for yourself as you go along what you would like and what you need and what you can very easily live without!!

 

What’s the best way to learn?

This is another question to which there are probably as many answers as there are people who are looking to learn to knit!!

There are a number of options or combinations of options.

Most people would prefer to be taught by someone who really knows what they are doing. If you have a family member or friend close at hand who can get you started and then be called upon when needed for further assistance then you are probably very lucky and should make the most of it!!

There are lots of books available Vogue Knitting – The Ultimate Knitting Book, is a very good book and has clear instructions and illustrations.

Youtube has many videos which will show you what to do and I have met lots of people who have successfully taught themselves to knit this way.

Make the most of any resources you can find such as Ravelry, twitter, facebook. Find out what works for you, give things a try and don’t be frightened.

As a small business, I am always happy to help people out with any problems they are experiencing and it is one of the best parts of my job to be able to show them the answer. You may not get this service from some of the larger retailers out there but I’m sure most small yarn shops are able to provide a similar service to customers and with the same joy and pleasure!!

I run regular Beginners Knitting classes in Knaresborough and York, for those who would like more focused attention. These are for one full day which is generally enough to go through casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch, rib stitch, casting off, changing colours or joining in new balls of yarn. The aim is to equip you with the basic knowledge you need to start knitting and we provide enough yarn for you to make a simple rib stitch scarf which you will start making during the class and then take away to finish at your own speed.

Because different people will have different aims for their knitting, each persons next step will be slightly different, however I do run a Beyond the Basics workshop.

If you have learnt knit and purl stitch and are ready to move on to knitting something more than straight scarves this workshop is for you. The aim of the workshop is to give you all the knowledge you need to make a simple garment. You will receive a kit containing 50g of quality double knitting yarn, 1m ribbon & 14 buttons.

You will learn different increasing and decreasing techniques to create some triangular pieces in stocking stitch.

We will look at blocking the work you have produced, and we will pick up stitches to make a buttonhole band.

Add a few pretty buttons and you have your own knitted bunting!!

Just a final warning. Knitting can be addictive. Once you’ve started you may not be able to stop and I think that’s absolutely fantastic!!!

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Popping Up All Over Again!!!

Hello. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get to my blog and it’s looking a bit neglected.

I thought I’d tell you about Judith and Jeans Pop-Up-Shop.

We had lots of stock which didn’t sell in our closing down sale when we left Tadcaster and it was all being kept at Mum’s house until she decided what to do with it.

Mum and Dad need to move house now so the time had very much arrived for all that lovely wool to be found new homes.

We had our one day only EVERYTHING MUST GO pop-up-shop at York School of Sewing in January when Nadine very kindly let us join in her monthly shop Saturday. It was a very lovely day with quite a crowd of people coming through the doors when we opened at 10am. It was very nice to see people from our days in Tadcaster and there were also plenty of Nadines’ customers popping along to get supplies for sewing and a bit of yarn at the same time. There were plenty of bargains to be had as we’d taken as much along as we possibly could of the beautiful yarns that we needed to say goodbye to.

We were kept occupied all day long and were very happy to have cars much emptier on leaving than they were when we arrived.

Mum held another little sale of her own at our local Methodist Church and managed to supply lots more people with something to add to their stash. I’m happy to say that, with the help of Ebay all that enormous pile of yarn is now re-homed.

HOWEVER, Judith and Jeans one day only EVERYTHING MUST GO Pop-Up-Shop is to return!!

We still have stacks of stuff and it is not going in that removal van with my parents 🙂

So, on Saturday 3rd March we will be re-popping at Yorks School of Sewing and once more EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!

Take a look at some of the goodies on offer

That’s just a selection. I have much more including cross stitch kits, knitting needles and much much more!

As usual you can also stock up on Nadines lovely Fabrics, Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, Charm Packs and Fat Quarters.

It’s not just all about fabric – there’s lots of Equipment and other Sewing ‘Must Haves’ too

Special offers and plenty of bargains.

Come along and have a browse, we’d love to see you.

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Something a little different…

A few months ago my son asked me if I would be able to knit a Leeds United cushion for his girlfriend to give to her Dad.

I said I’d give it a go but it would have to go to the back of the queue!!

On a recent trip to a lovely yarn shop called Knitting Pretty in Knaresborough I bought the perfect coloured yarn for the project, King Cole merino blend dk.

A couple of weeks ago I felt the time was right so I did some drawings for the family to chose from.

Once they’d let me know which design they liked the best I was off and running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I knit most of my cushions in one piece to reduce the number of seams needed.

Here it is being blocked…almost ready for sewing together. Just the small matter of embroidering on the LUFC and crocheting a white Yorkshire Rose to finish it off.

This is quite different from the kind of thing I would normally knit and I am pleased with the finished result, I think that I managed to fulfil the brief!!

I’m told that Olivia’s Dad was very happy with it too.

 

 

 

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Fun and Festive Knitting

My last blog was about the lovely Knitted Bible which came to our local church. I came away from my visit with a pattern for a knitted angel ,which people were being invited to make and donate to a collection at local churches. I thought I would contribute a few to the collection and enjoyed knitting up the simple pattern in some lovely soft Sublime Alpaca yarn.

img_3124I gave them to my Mum to take to the Methodist church and I am told that the angels were handed out to people who visited during the Christmas Tree Festival that was held in December. Hopefully people have enjoyed having these knitted angels in their homes.

I also spotted a bit of knitting on display in Wetherby which is always nice to see. I do like a knitted nativity!!

img_3159I like it because of the story it’s telling and the fact that you can create a tradition of taking the display out every year and I like the blissfulness of someone using their love of knitting to produce something which will bring pleasure to others.

In this case, it may have been a group effort and I like that too, how sociable to get together and do your knitting.

I shared this picture on twitter and a few days ago I got a tweet from Julie Wilcox who obviously likes a knitted nativity as much as I do. She was very lucky to find one in a charity shop. I wonder if someone donated it because it was unwanted? or maybe they knitted it specially for the shop to sell. It seems a bit sad to think it could have been unwanted, but I know that it is now being truly loved by someone who appreciates it. Whoever knitted it almost certainly enjoyed the process of creating it and now it’s bringing joy to someone else. Who says knitting is dull, boring and out of date?

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Knitted Bible comes to town!

There has been a display in our local church today showing 33 bible stories that have all been knitted!! This is the work of the congregation of St Georges URC Hartlepool and it goes on tour around the country.

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It was like the whole inside of the church had been yarnbombed!

They were happy for me to take photos and share them on here so here you are hope you enjoy.

this camel was lovely
this camel was lovely

This is such an impressive achievement and on several levels.

A brilliant way of depicting these stories and also a celebration of talent and imagination on the part of the knitters. All beautifully presented. Thank you to all those involved I know you have given joy to many.

I also came away with a pattern to knit an angel as part of a plan to ‘angel bomb’ the village!!!

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Thirsk Yarnbombing

I have had an inspiring experience this week when I visited the town of Thirsk to see the work of their yarn bombers. I had seen them on youtube  and knew I just needed to pay a visit if I possibly could. The ladies in the tourist information office were very helpful in advising me how to get to the 2 churches which had been decorated with thousands of knitted poppies. Walking toward the church I spotted this shop which seems to be housing some of the previous yarn bombings.

There were poppies everywhere.

The way that the church had been decorated was stunningly dramatic.

This was all very impressive and there was more to come. A short walk back into town and out again to Sowerby showed that many business and individuals had got involved with this amazing project.

So then I reached another church beautifully decorated with so many knitted and crocheted poppies.

The number of poppies that have been created is so impressive and the impact of the way they have been displayed was glorious, especially in the November sunshine. When you got up close the poppies were glistening with water droplets and you could see so much individuality had been put into the work with different stitches, types of yarns and poppies of all sizes.

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All coming together to create such a marvellous display. There were lots of people walking about admiring this work, I got chatting to a couple of ladies and we wondered what is going to happen to it all when the remembrance period ends and the display is removed? We hoped it was going to be re-used!! They say it will be on display for a couple of weeks so you may have time to see this fabulous work if you’re quick!!

Finally here are a few more displays that I spotted on my way back to the car.

 

 

 

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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!!

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More Can Crochet will Crochet

My Mum Jean has been reminiscing about learning to knit and crochet.

My interest in yarns and things knitted and crocheted goes back longer than I can remember. I was born during WW2 when most things were scarce, including toys and books. My mother had a hard-back book with pictures of people wearing all kinds of garments which had been knitted or crocheted. I still have that book bearing my early scribbling. It has patterns for garments made mostly from 3 and 4 ply wool and things crocheted from fine cotton in lacy designs.

When I was a bit older I would play with her sewing box, investigating all the tins of pins and reels of cotton contained in it. The button box was a real treasure trove and buttons could be laid out in many different formations and perform all kinds of manoeuvres, each type of button taking on its own character. Then, somehow, I learnt to knit. I can’t exactly remember those first few stitches and whether it was my Mum, or Nanny and Auntie Cissie, or Mrs Appleby, next door but one, who started me off. I remember my friend Kathleen was also starting off at the same time. Mr Appleby was a bit of a comedian and used to say he could hear us dropping stitches!

Anyway, that was the start of my knitting career which has stood me in good stead over the years. Several times I have tried to teach myself to crochet, and even succeeded in producing a few items, but it never took hold of me in the same way that knitting did until last year when Helen Jordan was doing an improvers’ crochet course here in Tadcaster. She got us to make a scarf using Jawoll sock yarn, which in itself is gorgeous, and using a chevron pattern. I found it really addictive and when the scarf was finished it was just the right present for a friend who was moving on. So I made another using some West Yorkshire Spinners’ printed 4ply Blue Faced Leicester, and when that was finished it became a Christmas present for someone. I’ve been trying my hand at other things and gaining more experience, but I think I feel the urge coming on to make another chevron scarf!

This is a similar scarf done by Helen in a chunky yarn but it would look lovely in something like Sirdar Heart and Sole sock yarn, Sirdar Hush or Debbie Bliss Angel.

My latest crochet project which I’m trying out at the minute is a Hayfield pattern (7257) for a blanket made of Flower Motif squares. I’ve put a section together to display in the shop but I think I’ll carry on with it and see how big it becomes.

 

I’ve used Country Style Double Knitting wool in greens, blues, and pinks. The pattern says use a 5mm crochet hook but I think I would use a 4.5mm because the squares have turned out just a little bit larger. When I saw the pattern at first I thought the design was too open but now I think it would make a lovely warm throw or a bedspread.

The next Beginners Crochet class at Needlecase is on 16th May. If you would be interested in another ‘next steps’ class where Jean learnt to make the chevron scarf, we would be happy to book Helen to come along and run it again. Let us know and we’ll set a date!!

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Look holes- and now it’s a Bunny Bag

Karen has been catching the knitting bug…

”When I was at Needlecase teaching the last Sew it’s Friday Garden Patch embroidery earlier this month Judith showed us some gorgeous Easter Bunny Bags she had made. Having then written a free knitting pattern for them several of us were tempted to have a go so Judith kindly handed us all a copy.

I haven’t knitted anything since I threw a bootee across the sitting room when I was about 20 years old, I was struggling and struggling again with the shaping and it got the better of me!

That was about 25 years ago or so and I swore I would never knit again.

Anyway getting back to the Bunny Bag; I have been thinking about picking up the knitting needles again but worry that I just don’t have the time and energy for another aspect of making but I just couldn’t kick the idea out of my mind.

Well when I saw the Sirdar Americana cotton blend double knitting wool in a gorgeous pinky, cream and duck egg combo I just couldn’t resist!

I cast on and got started and couldn’t believe how the therapeutic clicking and wrapping of the wool around the needle came back to me – loved it. And when I’d made my row of holes!! Whoopee! Sorry, I know you clever knitters will probably think I’m a bit silly getting so excited about a row of holes but believe me those bootees have haunted me off and on throughout my adult crafting life – I had been defeated! But not any more!!

Everyone in my household have been very impressed at my cleverness – except my mum who calmly declared “we’ll of course you can knit, I taught you and it’s like riding a bike, once you know what to do you can do it” (I had been hoping for a bit more of a wow but I suppose she is my mum…)

I looked through my scraps of wool, bits I collected together after I’d been on The Introduction to Crochet workshop Judith regularly runs at Needlecase a year or so ago, in order to knit the inner ear in and came up with a pleasing shade of purple.

Bunny knitted up very quickly though I did find all the counting a little hard to do when I was on the last purple ear and I was tired. At one point I did have to ring Judith though as my knitting all became ‘reversed’ and I has the nice smooth knitting on the back and the bumpy bits were on the front. A couple of unpicks, recounts and knit agains soon sorted that out thankfully and this Bunny didn’t fly across the room – oh how I have matured and grown up!!

I followed Judith’s advice on blocking my knitting before stitching up.  Here it is all pinned out onto the back of one of my cutting boards.  I sprayed with water and left it to dry.  How clever and simple that process is.

It took me a couple of good sessions to knit it, two evenings worth of time maybe and I made it up last night. Instead of using a running stitch to sew the ears up as Judith suggested I used a blanket stitch which I’m pleased with as it means that you get to see the plain purple wool colour on the outside of the ears.

I also found some matching purple ribbon in my stash that I’ve threaded through those lovely holes. The ears are a little bit over stuffed I fear, so they are a bit heavy but perhaps he’s just eaten a lot of chocolate. I have to say I’m not certain about this Bunny’s expression though, as I took these photos I wanted to shout and encourage at him ‘smile’, ‘say cheese!’ as he does have a bit of a solemn – or do I mean sullen face?

Never mind I am chuffed to bits that I have knitted something after all these years and a craft you once enjoyed has got to be worth a revisit at some stage.

Will you be able to find time to knit a cute Bunny Bag in time for Easter? Have you ever had break from a craft and come back to it with renewed energy? I know Judith and I would love to see your Bunny Bags, do share.

Happy Easter

Karen x”