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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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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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Let’s Talk About Fair Isle Knitting

I am really looking forward to the first of my new knitting workshops which will be at York School of Sewing on Friday 17th November.

The workshop will be an Introduction to Fair Isle knitting. You will receive a knitting kit to take away and complete your own version of my Petal Cushion Cover which is available in several colours, including those shown here.

If you’re keen to start creating beautiful designs using one or more colours, but have never tried, then this workshop could be for you.

You will need to be able to do both knit and purl stitch with confidence, if so, you really can progress onto Fair Isle knitting.

If you’re at all apprehensive about the thought of using more than one colour at once, then remember that traditional Fair Isle knitting uses lots of colours but never more than 2 per row!

The workshop begins with getting to grips with the techniques needed to get started with 2-colour (more if you like) knitting.

Contemporary knitting involves using any colour and knitting with frequent colour changes. This might sound a bit daunting, but once you know what you’re doing you can create some very impressive results and expand your enjoyment of your knitting hobby.

This type of knitting is also known as Jacquard, stranded or two-colour knitting. The knitting is usually done in stocking stitch but it is ok to experiment with other stitches if you wish!

I have been a bit silly in the past and seem to have either lost, given away or donated to charity most of my pieces of Fair Isle but this is something I knitted 30 years ago when I was 19.

I can remember seeing this in a magazine and loving it. I bought the wool stated on the pattern, for probably the first time in my life, and I think I even used the same colours which is something I rarely do. I like to come up with my own colour combinations because I really really want my hand-knits to be unique and individual.

In the workshop we learn about and practice, stranding and weaving the yarns at the back of the work, (as can be seen above) how to follow a chart, then we look at choosing yarns & colours for your fair isle knitting.

Here you can see I have been experimenting with doing some simple Fair Isle, choosing my colours from some inspiration and trying them in different sequences.

As I’ve done, its’ a good idea to use inspiration to help choose colours which might go together. Tear pages from magazines, collect fabric swatches or use your own personal photographs.

One thing to remember with this type of knitting is that you will use more yarn than when just knitting using one colour and your work will be alot thicker and warmer.

For Fair Isle wool works better than other more slippery fibres such as cotton. It is worth spending some time experimenting with different yarns to see how they knit up. If you are using a yarn which is more suited to this kind of work then you are more likely to be happier with the results. It’s so easy to be disappointed and to think that your work is no good when all you may need to do is change the yarn!

For this kind of knitting it is much easier to work from charts than from words so if you’ve never knitted from a chart now is the time to get your head around them. Once you do then that’ll be another knitting hurdle you’ve passed and as with most things you’ll probably find it’s alot more straightforward than you thought.

Once we’ve practiced the techniques you’ll be able to make a start on your cushion before taking it home to complete.

I love spending time helping people to make new steps with their knitting. It’s so rewarding when someone moves on from having never tried a technique, or they’ve tried on their own but not been able to conquer it, and you can see them filled with pride and enthusiasm over their new-found skill. Contact myself or York School of Sewing if you need to know more 🙂

 

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Pretty Petal

I’ve added these cushion knitting kits to the shop on my website. I really hope that people will love them and enjoy knitting them.

 

I used Bluefaced Leicester wool from West Yorkshire Spinners. This beautiful yarn is spun at the mill in Yorkshire using British wool. Bluefaced Leicester is highly valued as it is so silky and lustrous. I love knitting with it and, because the wool is totally gorgeous, the cushions are so soft and amazingly tactile that you just want to cuddle them!

There are 2 versions of the cushion design. One I have called Petal and the other is named Tile Petal.

Both cushions have a plain Ecru back with a textured version of the petal design, and both are available in a number of colour options.

Each kit contains all the yarn you will need to make a 16″square cushion and 5 pretty buttons to finish it off. You will also receive the pattern . You will need a pair each of 4mm and 5mm needles.

The finished cushion can be washed carefully by hand at 30 degrees, should you need to do so.

If you are looking for a gift for a knitting friend I believe that this knitting kit is perfect. The pattern is easy to follow for those with some knitting experience or those wishing to learn the fair isle technique.

A friend of mine recently purchased one of these kits from me. She had not done any fair isle knitting before and she very quickly knitted up a very delightful version of this cushion as you can see here…

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Easter Bunnies

This is my first blog this month as I’ve been away on holiday with my family. We had lots of fun in the snow and arrived home totally exhausted!!

Now we are home winter is on the way out (almost) and, as we are rapidly heading towards Easter, I decided to dig out a project I  created a couple of years ago.

It’s a little gift bag (it holds a couple of Cadburys cream eggs) and I think they look very seasonal just sitting around with the eggs inside waiting to be discovered!! If you’re having an Easter egg hunt then you could maybe hide some special eggs inside just to add to the fun.

They are quick to knit and you can use any oddments of yarn you like really. I have used about 25g of dk for mine but you could definitely experiment with different yarns. If you made them using some really chunky yarn then you might even get a full sized Easter egg in there!! We have blogged about this project before when I had given my friend the knitting bug and she re-discovered the joys of knitting after a break of many many years.  Although Karen is very clever, I do think the fact that she was able to knit her own bunny after such a long time away from the craft, shows that it is a project for all levels of knitters. I am also very pleased to say that she has kept on knitting and this week proudly showed me her very first hand-knitted sock 🙂

If you love easter and chocolate and knitting and would like to make your own little bag then I have added this pattern to my website for you and it won’t cost you anything to download it. If you do then I would be thrilled to see photos of the finished results and share them on my social media.

Happy Knitting x

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Sunshine in February

At the beginning of April 2015 I wrote a blog about my MASSIVE cushion which I had knitted for our garden bench.

This cushion really is enormous and probably not what anyone else would want to knit (although if you do get in touch and I’ll sell you a copy of the pattern!!).

However I have made some smaller versions which will make a bright and bold statement in any room. Here they are sitting on the much larger original cushion which now has an indoor home in addition to it’s outdoor one!!

If you would like to make your own ‘Sunshine’ cushion, I have produced 2 knitting kits which contain all the yarn you will need to make a 16″ square cushion OR a 14″ square cushion, and 4 gorgeous buttons to finish it off. You will also receive the pattern which I have written for either a 14″ or 16″ cushion. You will need a pair each of 3mm and 2.75mm needles.

This pattern is suitable for an experience knitter or someone with a little experience who would like to practise and learn the intarsia technique.

I’ve been finishing off a bit more  embroidery this last week. Not sure what it’s going to be yet but it’s been fun!!

It was a finishing off projects kind of week as I also completed this baby blanket which is going to be a gift as soon as the little one arrives 🙂

 

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Exciting News

Now that seven months have gone by since we closed the shop in Tadcaster, it might be time for me to be thinking about doing something new!! I have promised myself a gap year and believe me a gap year is what I am having. I am using this time to do the things I enjoy and to try out new things. Last week, for example, as mentioned on this blog, I tried out basket making. I have also tried fused glass making and created my own fairy lights.

I am having lots of trips out and walks in the countryside as well as spending time with my family.

Another very important part of this gap year is completing my City and Guilds knit design course, of which I am on the last leg (I hope).

However, yesterday I did achieve a significant step with regards to what I might do with myself once this ‘gap year’ is over. With a lot of  help from my husband, who is much cleverer at these things than I am, I now have an online shop on this website!!

It’s not a very big shop, there is only one product at the moment, a kit to knit the cushion seen above, but it will grow.

I chose one of my knitting kits to be the first item available. Indeed this was the first knitting pattern that I ever wrote. I was inspired by a lady who came into the shop looking for something to knit during a hospital stay. I think I remember correctly that she hadn’t done any knitting for a while but as she knew that she was going to be needing to fill her time, she had a desire for a cable knit cushion cover. We had no patterns available at that stage, as it was very early days and we hadn’t built up our stock, so I came up with this one.

I have blogged about this pattern before. Some people are a bit frightened of cable knitting, but it really is easier than it looks and very satisfying. This cushion is a brilliant introduction to cable knitting and can be tackled by novice or experienced cable knitters. One of my customers in Tadcaster knitted several of this design as unique and stylish wedding gifts.

The kit contains 4 balls of Sirdar Chunky Crofter, 3 coconut buttons and the pattern and costs £12 plus postage.You will need 5.5mm, 6.5mm needles and a cable needle. The finished cushion will fit a 14″square cushion pad.

More knitting kits and patterns to come!!

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Photography Lessons

For a while I’ve been wishing I could get more use out of our camera, instead of just relying on my mobile to take photographs. A few weeks ago I asked the very lovely Andrea of Andrea Thornton Photography to help me out with a bit of tuition. There are 2 main reasons that I felt it was important to do this. Firstly so that I can take better photographs of my work and secondly so that I can take better photos for use as inspiration for my work.

After spending a little time with Andrea I feel more confident and have made a start on creating some better quality images.

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Cable knit cushion in West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob Aran yarn with gorgeous chunky buttons.

I have lots of knitted cushions to play about with!!

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This is a scarf I design recently using Sublime Alpaca DK

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Looking for inspiration I went into the garden on a sunny September day.

And there was more than enough on a sunny day in Barcelona last week!!!

Now that I’m back from Barcelona it’s time to photograph the rest of my cushions and hopefully do some work on the website so that some of my knitting kits should be available to buy online very soon 🙂

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Woolfest 2016

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since we closed the shop and this weekend we’re wizzing off on holiday but I just wanted to write something about my trip to Woolfest the other week. It was the day before the shop was due to close and the morning of the surprising Brexit result so it was a very welcome distraction to escape to the wonderful world of Woolfest for a few hours. I’ve read a few blogs about this years show. Kailyard Knitter has written a very detailed account of her visit and Liz Reed wrote about her experience of being a stall holder.

I love going to Woolfest, I first visited in 2010 and have gone back as often as possible since then.

It was nice to see a couple of people from my City and Guilds course, Debra Kobasa has written in her blog about her fantastic experience after being awarded the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers award and Nicola was there with her sister on their own little stand. Take a look at the gorgeous girls dress kits which combine knitting and sewing.

It was quite crowded when I arrived but after some lunch I was able to get a few photos.

Then I got down to the serious business of choosing colours and making purchases.

I really like the mini-skeins of yarn which mean you can have more colours to play with when making swatches.

I can’t wait to get experimenting with my new aquisitions but first I need my little holiday in the sun and then I have to knit a Fashion Accessory for module 10 on my City and Guilds course!!