Saturday, 30 April 2011

stitchin and knittin

As many people know, I am really a spinner more than a knitter and as a result I occasionally have spinning disasters as well as knitting ones. This yarn is hand dyed, hand spun super wash merino, love the colours but not so keen on the feel of it so seemed an ideal candidate for a bit of experimentation.

I've always had a fear of DPN's mainly as a result of trying to knit a pair of wrist warmers and constantly taking out the wrong needle so I cast on a few stitches and knitted until I had the rhythm.
Brilliant except that it left me with a tube of rough knitting!!! so I cast off, washed in hot water and tried to felt it BIG mistake, super wash doesn't felt( I forgot) so I dried it off using a rough towel  which softened the knitting giving it a slightly worn appearance.
Waht to do next? well I machine stitched two lines and cut the tube open. That seemed to work ok :-)

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So I cut it in half again, and fished out my embroidery threads, adding a few simple stitches and backing the knitting with fuseable quilting wadding. I ended up with a phone sock for my new phone.

Interesting experiment, knitting technique nailed, inspiration gained for further projects and some unpromising  handspun used up.

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Friday, 29 April 2011

you went to wonderwhat?

no, not wonderwhat but Wonderwool !!

Wonderwool is an annual fiber festival held at the Royal Agricultural Showground in Builth Wells, Wales and is fast becoming a major date any spinners/knitters calender. Although it started as mainly knitting, the show is now a mecca for spinners with many indie artists selling hand dyed roving and tops alongside stalls selling fleece. Yarn is still for sale, anything from acrylic balls to beautiful hand dyed and hand spun skeins.


This year shop spinners Pete and myself travelled over with fellow spinnotts members for the weekend as we had volunteered to help run the Ravelry Interactive area where people were able to have a go at spinning, fibre blending ( carding) and felt making. We also decided to camp again ( we had camped the previous year but that was slightly later than this years date) this time at a campsite near the river.
This gave me the perfect excuse to take photos of the early morning mist and in the evening we sat spinning outside the tents and caravan.

wonderwool 2011

wonderwool 2011

As I mentioned, we were also raising money for the Air Ambulance by selling shawls, small items of spinning equipment and donations from people who had tried out the wheels and either spun a little yarn for the first time or made some felted beads. A total of £225 was raised by the Ravelry volunteers.

Oohh, did I mention the bunnies?

wonderwool 2011


Thursday, 28 April 2011


I have never been great at doing things by the book, when cooking I much prefer to make it up as I go along or if I am following a recipe I will often take out any ingredients I don't like and replace them with those that I do! (which has led to some amazing meals and to a few culinary disasters over the years). The disasters have not deterred me as I tend to take the same approach to knitting.

I love to experiment with different yarns and colours and see how they look knitted together. Below are some photos of different experiments from down the years, I will leave you to decide whether they are beauties or beasts!

As my knowledge and skills of knitting have grown and are still growing (my proudest day recently being mastering the magic loop technique) I have put them to the test by creating items following the basic principles rather than a specfic pattern.

Once I got the hang of magic loop, I started knitting hats, using the trial and error method to get the size and shape right, though you could also call it the pot luck method! The first hat was for a friend's baby in a lovely pastel coloured self striping  dk yarn from my stash (currently the size of a small hill so I have much work to do yet to bust it), which sadly got sent out unphotographed otherwise I would pop it on here. I worked out the size/stitches ratio based on a sizing chart I found in a vintage pattern and took it from there, my friend reported back that it fitted perfectly so that was a win.

The next hat was for an adult done in Twist Aran and has been consigned to the bloopers file, due to a miscalculation on the number of stitches and impatience on my part that resulted in premature casting off....but live and learn, the next attempt will be better.To post a picture would be cruel, best to let the poor mis-shapen hat go to its resting place without the added humiliation of being put on public display!

My most recent hat is for my niece/nephew that will be arriving mid april (if all goes to plan), for this one I stuck to traditional cream, figured I can knit more colourful things once he/she has got here.

Well thats it for now, time to go do a bit more stash busting me thinks, thank goodness the evenings are getting longer!  Before I sign off though, what projects are other people working on?  seeing other people's projects always inspires me to try new things, so add a comment on here and let us know what you are working on.
Bye for now

Monday, 25 April 2011

What the bloody hell is a Present Stash workshop?!?

It struck me a couple of weeks ago as we were thinking up this batch of workshops and I was still knitting last years Christmas presents, that it would be a fabulous idea to have a stash of knitted and crocheted things ready and waiting to give out for Christmas and birthday presents. And thus the Present Stash workshop was created.

You'll know which workshops we're referring to by the "Present Stash" at the beginning of the title. These workshops are full of cute little ideas that'll work up quickly and can be made in a multitude of yarns to tailor your presents to your loved ones (and hopefully use up some stash in the process, though the workshop price includes yarn).

None of the lessons are for complete beginners, though we're envisaging that you might learn something because the nature of these lessons is going to be more like a knitting group so feel free to bring other projects, queries and questions and we'll work through them together.

Present Stash - Knitted Mittens

These cute little flip top mittens are unisex and the pattern can be adapted into full mittens or into fingerless mittens and we'll discuss this on the day. On the day we'll work a cabled Celtic knot but the pattern will include an option to knit plain. They can be knitted out of 100 g of DK and look beautiful striped, a way to use up left over yarn scraps.

Present Stash - Crocheted Mittens

A similar design to the knitted mittens, omitting the Celtic cable as we'll be messing around with colour and texture instead. The main pattern will be fairly plain but with the help of stitch dictionaries and our knowledge and inspiration we'll make jazzy personalised gifts and you'll gain confidence in changing patterns. As always the materials to make the mittens will be included in the workshop price but feel free to bring along some inspirational yarn, beads or embellishments.

All Present Stash patterns are exclusive, so to join in the fun you'll have to come to a class.

We're planning on doing more of these workshops, as we know you think they are a great idea, let us know what you and your friends fancy doing and we'll accommodate you. We were thinking of putting on a felted slippers workshop, any thoughts?

Love from

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Life as a YSO.

YSO = Yarn Shop Owner.

I'm knackered - I'll tell you that for free. We've had a manic week and the lovely organiser among us (aka Liese) has been away in Yorkshire (probably snuggling sheep). I'll give you the low down on what I've been doing, so you feel some sympathy - or maybe jealousy - what a life I have!!

1). Photo shoot - Technically it wasn't this week but I've spent a fair bit of this week sorting out photos from last week. My lovely creative friend, Amy Fisher, offered to take some photos for us when she got a new lens for her massive scary looking camera. It's one of those ones that makes everything look like a world.

I'm really pleased, even though I hate having my photo taken, it's important for the shop because the knitting magazines always need a photo when we're to be  included (and we're going to be in the June issue of Let's Knit!!!) and it gives us facebook fodder (you'll know how much we like posting photos). Amy really helped us out of a bind because we have an atrocious camera in the shop, not only does it not like to focus but it's decided that we can only take one photo at a time now before we have to load onto the laptop. Nightmare... Anyway, have a butchers at these photos, I think they're lovely (mostly...):

Amy's Flickr Photostream.

2). Important Business Meetings - at which I'm hopelessly inept but usually successful. This Tuesday I met with the lovely Rose from the Husqvarna shop in Nottingham and we're pleased to announce that I'll be teaching four lessons there over the Summer and hopefully many more to come! Now I just have to get on with getting samples knitted and crocheted up - another task to add to my long list... Don't worry about me though, this is exciting news and I'm honoured to be a small part of such a successful shop!

3). Arguing with the bank - It's vulgar to go into details here but suffice to say I hate it when I'm lied to!

4). Writing blogs for Creative Nottingham - and in the process reminiscing about the good old days when we were painting walls and sweeping buckets of gravel and dirt off the shop floor a mere eight months ago. Makes me go misty eyed - sort of - my back gives a sigh of relief, that was bloody knackering!!!

How exciting to be a part of something so edgy! Little ol' me ey?! I hope I've done you proud with my blogs, I like to think they're interesting, though I may just have nattered far too much (no change there then....). This links in with Amy too because I'll need some bloody good photos to impress the good people at Creative Nottingham - brilliant photographers that most of them are! We'll let you know nearer to the time when they're released - it's sometime at the beginning of May.

5). Knitting samples - Ahh the first photo of the post:

King Cole Pattern 3288 (£2.30), Smooth DK (four balls), 100g, £3.00. 

I love making shop samples and simply don't do enough of it because of all the commission knitting. I love that it really sells the yarn and who doesn't want to feel and see how something works up before they spend their hard earned cash? We understand, crafters, and we're with you! Just give us some time... :) 

Also, sort of a shop sample though I paid for the wool so I can take it hooooooome when it's done, I've been crocheting this: 

King Cole Pattern 3055 (£2.30) - Smooth DK, 100g, £3.00. 

At least it's a sort of version of that pattern... In my excitement I forgot to actually read the instructions so the lace pattern is a little off, I like it though (certainly more than I like frogging) so it's staying as it is. The colour is also a little deeper in real life, blood red rather than pinky red. Love it! 

6). TAX!!! - Yeah, it's that time of year, and the first time I've done it. Could you say 'I'm in a pickle'? Yeah, you could say that... 

7). Liasing with our lovely artisans - Pete's been commissioned and is spinning his little heart out though the camera has run out of battery so you'll have to wait for a photo of that. I've also thoroughly confused one of our favourites by writing a cheque out for completely the wrong year (too much messing around with numbers, see above). 

8). Another sort of secret crochet project - here's where I'd insert a slightly out of focus close up of the work.... if the camera would oblige. 

9). Wistfully looking up SLR cameras on t'internet - see pretty much all of the previous post...

10). Bit of sleep and some food here and there. 

TTFN folks, 

Love Eleanor. xx

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Funny, Frustrating, Frugal, Fancy Fairisle

Stranded knitting also known as Fairisle, is a method of using more than one colour in your work to make repeating horizontal and vertical patterns in all or part of the project. Traditional Fairisle uses no more than two colours per row and is also known as stranded knitting because the colour not in use is held at the back of the work creating a strand. It is definitely an advanced technique but it's well worth having a go because you won't believe what pretty things can come out of your fingertips.

Over a year later and I'm still in shock and awe that this is one of my creations. 

Stranding can be accomplished by letting one colour hang at the back of the work while you are working with the other colour and picking the dropped yarn up when you need to work it again whilst dropping the original. Here's a little video to let you know exactly what we're talking about:

If you fancy learning the technique first hand let us know and we'll schedule a workshop when we've got a free slot. 

Other people use both hands, one colour in each hand. Simply knitting with the left hand continental-style when that colour is due and the right hand English style when the other is. You want to avoid having your floats too long - over five stitches or so and you're in danger of the material puckering. To avoid that you wrap the yarn around each other at the back of the work which is called 'catching the yarn'. This is easily done when you are working with one hand and dropping the yarns but becomes more fiddly when you're working with both hands, so let me show you a handy little tip for catching the yarn when you're working with both hands:

1). Knit to the place you want to catch the yarn. Insert the needle knit-wise and wrap the yarn to be caught (mauve) around the needle as if to knit.

2). Wrap the colour to be worked (grey) around the needle as if to knit.

3). Take the colour to be caught back around the needle, essentially un-knitting it.

4). Carry on knitting with the yarn you want to make the stitch with and the first yarn should be caught at the back with no unnecessary twisting. 

Once you've got your head around this, the process of catching yarn at the back of the work becomes a doddle!

We've had a look through our yarns and patterns and come up with a few exciting ideas all for you: 

If it's your first time might we suggest that you start with a chunky yarn and a simple repetitive yoked pattern. Something a little bit like:

Pattern - £2.30                 Yarn - Alafoss Lopi £5.00 for 100g, 100% Icelandic wool.

Or some sort of accessory - keep it small to see whether you like it. We've got some cute earflap hats patterns in stock for kids through to adults - lovely!

Now, if you're really getting serious you might want to try this:

It's the Oranje pattern from Knitty's Winter 2011 issue. Absolutely gorgeous - or 'striking' as some might say. Of course, you get to choose your colours but I can't help thinking that our new Schoeller and Stahl sock yarn would do the trick:

You also get to try your hand at braids which is something of a novelty (I'm making this myself and braiding for the first time so I'll update you when I'm there... It's going to be a birthday present for myself though so you may have to wait until July...).

That's enough of a fairisle rant - I'm missing it a bit you see - when I've got something good and proper fairisle-y on the go I'll give you a good update with pictures and tips and excitement. Until then you'll have to cope with me telling you all about it.

Love Eleanor. :)

Friday, 8 April 2011

Spring Time

A busy weekend for all of us at Knit Nottingham, Sue is off to Wonderwool, two days of playing with fibre and handspun love. I'm up in the Yorkshire Moors, lots of walking, communing with nature and the local sheep followed by knitting and wine evenings. Promised Eleanor I'd bring a pretty sheep home for her, chance to hone my sheep whispering skills! Eleanor has stayed in Nottingham to keep the shop fires burning and to work on her top secret crochet project, can't wait to see it.

The lovely spring weather is here to stay (I hope!!) and Easter is not far away, so I have been trawling the internet to see what patterns I could find....below are my three favourites

First up is this stunning Torreyana Shawl which caught my eye because of its name, I have a friend who lives in Southern California so saw some Torrey Pines when I visited her. As you will see there are four versions allowing for different yarn weights but the one pictured gets my vote!

This pretty necklace would complement any summery top, the White Flower Necklace uses worsted weight but this could be substituted for aran weight.

Lastly a perfect way to bring some spring colour into the house or a perfect crib mobile for any new additions to your own family or those of your friends (babies that is not pets!).

Well I will sign off and get back to my search for a pretty sheep, happy weekend everyone.
Liese x