Saturday, 27 June 2015

Eleanor's Pattern of the Weeeeeeeeek - Fantasm Shawl

Summer can be a difficult time of year for knitting and crochet. The sun's out and we're off on holiday (well, you might be... I'm not), other things take over and it gets just too hot to have a heavy thing in your lap. But now is not the time to stop. Now is the time to start. Now is the time to practice stitches and techniques that the long, dark, winter nights render impossible. Now is the time for fancy schmancy shawwwwwwwwwwls! I've been busy ferreting behind the scenes this week, so personal knitting or crochet that I can actually show you is thin on the ground, and therefore I'm going to share with you one of my old favourites. Which is great because I get to show you this photo which honestly makes me want to rip everything I've ever made out and just do this forever:


This is Bethan's Fantasm Shawl in the Rhapsody colourway of the Riot DK and it is beautiful.

I love this shawl. I discovered it waaaaaaaay back when and I've made a lot of them! It's simple, easy and works every time. This is the first one I made:



I was struggling a little with what to do for a top tip today because for me, this pattern was simply, work row by row until you get it and then you're off! It's really simple to see the pattern emerging because it's essentially four rows - the first one you make the shells, the second one you make them a bit bigger, the third one you create some loops and finally you have a really easy rest row where you make loopy loops allllllll across and that sets you up with your spaces to place the shells. I don't think the written pattern makes that very clear at the start but once you've got past 12 rows or so you're set.

Sooooooo, I thought I'd take this right back to basics and talk about shawl shapes. This is a really standard top down triangular shawl. I think before you start making shawls you assume that for a triangular shawl you'll start at the bottom and increase outwards working back and forth until you get the length and the width that you want. Some shawls are written like that, for example the Skulls Shawl.


But that's not how most shawls are made. Most shawls start with a few stitches in the middle and then you work back and forth increasing at the beginning and end of the row and also in the middle. This changes the bias of the fabric and makes it hang better. 
 

So, this is is Sue's beautiful shawl in the Patons 100% Cotton 4ply.

Look a bit closer:
 

The yellow spot is where the shawl is started and the red lines are where the increases happen. And that means that the bias runs in two different directions which means it can wrap easier around the body, we're not a flat shape after all. If you ignore one half of this shawl, you get the kind of shawl we've seen above - the bottom up triangular shawl:



So the purple lines (which don't show up great apparently. Sorry) show where that kind of shawl would start, and two increases on each side and then the bias. Just one bias throughout the shawl. It will hang, especially if you use a big hook and a small yarn like Sue has here, but not in the same way.

(This all means, incidentally, that you could double (roughly, might not be perfect so have a think) the initial amount of stitches, join in the round and make a square thing out of a triangular shawl if you want a blanket or a table cloth or..... omg. I've just had an idea. I'm not giving it away I'm going to sell it to King Cole. Fml. WHAT AN IDEA! So much to do, so little time.).

You don't have to worry about this. This is all written into the pattern and it will be in each top down triangular pattern that you come across but it's always worth trying to understand what's going on so that firstly, you can choose the pattern that works for you and what you need it to and secondly you can see if things are going wrong. And also, just in general, knowledge is power.

That's it. I'm off to tidy a little more, prepare for the lesson tomorrow (Learn to Knit Two - the ladies last week were brill but bloody chatterboxes. Haha. That's the way I like them :) ), and then I can carry on with my latest project:


Which, I know you're thinking it, isn't knitting or crochet. It is in fact beading. I am sooooooo bored with it but the final product is going to be the most beautiful and the most useful thing in the world so I'm keeping going. I can't wait to get back to the myriad projects that I have on the go and my new idea! SO MUCH TO DO!

AND WE'RE ADOPTING A CAT FROM THE KITTY CAFE TONIGHT. BOOOOOM!

Love Eleanor. xxxxx

P.s. You best have bloody voted for us. OR ELSE.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Eleanor's Pattern of the Weeeeeeeeeek - 3475

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So. I'm afraid this is another short-ish one and actually I'm disappointed with the photos of it but it's the second shoot we've done and apparently it just doesn't photograph that well but it looks and feels amazeballs. So this Pattern of the Week - the idea being that you see it, fall in love and make it - probably won't function as a Pattern of the Week. Annnnnnnnnyway:


I'm starting this week with the yoga pose because it's my favourite photo and my favourite pose. This is the forward fold and my god it's amazing! So the idea is that you keep your legs straight ish - knees unlocked though, I really struggle to do both things at once - and then you fold from the hips straight down. Your hands/fingers can touch the earth over maybe fold under your feet but I like to hold my opposite elbows and dangle and honestly, you know when you've been knitting/crocheting for hours and your shoulders are tight? This sorts that shit out.  It's actually quite painful sometimes if you're tight but you can wiggle a bit until it's less painful and then push a little further each time. SUCH a good pose. Everybody should do it. Every day.

Right, on with the jumper. This is pattern is 3475 and it's been out a while. It's originally done in the Fashion Aran but when we first got the Big Value Recycled Aran in I just knew I had to start it. It's crocheted, just in case you didn't get that.


Now. the Fashion Aran is a much finer aran than the Recycled Cotton. Less because of the actual thickness and more because of the nature of cotton. So that, along with my ridiculously loose crochet tension apparently, means that I went down two sizes. So if you're following what I'm doing with the subsitutions, just have that in mind.

So, what I wanted to talk about this week is less of a top tip and more... I don't know. Who needs words?? It's only a blog. I want to talk about modelling and knitting. So, King Cole use the same model again and again, apparently she's lovely and a vegan. Imagine that. So, King Cole is a company run by middle aged (white) men. This isn't a problem as such (well it is but...) because that's basically the whole world that we live in isn't it? They are a lovely company to work with, genuinely and you know I'd tell you if they weren't, haha. But they are middle aged men trying to work out what we're going to want. And I think they do well, generally. But sometimes the.... styling... leaves  a little to be desired. Take this pattern:



The one we're talking about - 3475. Most people skip straight past it because, frankly, the cream cardigan is atrociously styled. It's probably not the kind of thing I'd wear anyway but really - WHO PUTS A CREAM CARDIGAN ON A WHITE OUTFIT!?!?!?! WHO DOES THAT!!??? And, honestly, who wears a fully white outfit apart from a bride?? But, look a little closer, it's a really nice short sleeve cardi with a tie front and a textured stitch, in aran. You don't get that very often! That's a stunner of an unusual pattern - but who'd notice that when you're looking at the ghastly outfit in general. It's obviously to save money/time seeing as it's the same outfit she's wearing in the next photo, although it looks a little better there... because it's mostly hidden... What about jeans? And not pink jeans or ripped jeans because you're trying to be cool???

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that King Cole, and loads of other yarn brands - I'm not just bitching about King Cole here it's everybody - are men trying to sell to us and they struggle and it's up to us to see through the cream on white on white outfit. Haha.


This is honestly the best photo from the front. This. Haha. Do notice that it's very booby. I think that's the raglan sleeve. If you don't want to be so booby then probably avoid it but if you've got smaller boobs or big boobs and you don't mind them showing then go for it. But not in cream. With a white outfit.

I will want you that the lovely textured stitch does make it thick though, so I'd start it now-ish to be wearing it for Septemberish. BECAUSE WINTER IS COMING! Don't worry! Tomorrow is Midsummer. Winter is on its way!!!

Love Eleanor. xxxxx

P.s. Cat likes it.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Photo Love

This time of year is kind of hard for a yarn shop owner. Especially one that doesn't enjoy Summer anyway. The shop is always slower (ticking along nicely but slower) and I, at the risk of sounding like a vampire, feed off other people's energy. I'm a funny kind of mix of an introvert in that I hate everybody equally, an extrovert in that I find people fascinating, a people person in that I have to have people around to feel inspired and excited about things and a recluse in that mostly, once I'm inspired and excited, I have to withdraw into my own little world to actually make things work. I love my one day off a week, and I often complain that it's not enough, but the six days that I spend here are the ones that spur on me getting so much done on my day off.

Anyway, enough about me, I have a new phone! This phone is a beauty. Apparently I can take it swimming (up to a depth of 1.5metres in fresh water) and I do actually take it into the shower to have a wash-time-disco. Beautiful. What's been most intriguing is the camera, it's loads better than the last one that I had but that sort of thing takes time to get used to. I'd only just worked out how to change the point of focus on my last camera when I get this one and I have to work out how to even take a bloody photo. Haha. Taking beautiful photos is really exciting me at the moment - and taking too much of my time - but posting them on instagram is making me feel like it's actually work.... I thought I'd take a moment to share a few of my faves with you to spread the cheering up luuuuuuuurve.

I took this on the off chance just a few minutes ago and I was going to post it to Facebook and Instagram when I thought I actually had something to say about the phone on here. Cool hey?

Shameless. This is just a quick one from this morning when I was sorting out the orders. One of these is going in every single internet order from now on because I would still LOVE to win! IMAGINE THAT! (and I know you've voted right?)


Beeeeeeads. After teaching my Bobica workshop last Sunday I am back on beading in a big way. I'd like to design more stuff, basically to get more money for a plan that I have, but I was feeling a little uninspired. I am now totally inspired and basically let me at it - beads all over the place.

Last night, I went to Singing Bird's house for dinner and mahjong with Elizabeth and Chris and we had a gorgeous night eating vegetarian food and chatting. She had a load of mohair going free so I started a new project that's earmarked for potential selling - again to make money for this specific thing that I'm thinking about that I can't tell you about. I'm going neutral for the biggest appeal but I have ideas in my head about my other mohair yarns that are a lot more colourful.

Kitten was determined to help me this morning, whether that was to take the photo or to actually make the blanket I don't know but she was veeeeery interested.

It takes fabulous sky photos! Which is brilliant because that was one thing that my last camera didn't do well at all and I have a real feeling about skies and clouds and a deep seated anger that the one day my mum allowed me to skive school (when I was about eight to go to the Galleries of Justice with my grandma) was the day where we learned about clouds and although I've tried to do my own research since I can't seem to get them in my head. Bad mum.

And at the same time as all of this planning, beading, designing, meetings, thinking and deciding, I'm also trying to get to the bottom of my accounting for last year. I'm a little further on than I usually am because I kept on top of it all until the shop went mad in about November (and didn't calm down until about two weeks ago) but of course, given that that was the time the shop went mad, that's when the most difficult/time consuming accounting comes into play. I try and do a couple of hours on my day off. Every day off. But it's bloody hard work. Last Monday I printed over 300 sheets of paper. I know I'm a bit old fashioned and people tell me I don't have to print every single thing but it feels safer and sounder and I'll keep doing it even though it's mind blowingly boring and is the sort of thing that you can't really do anything else at the same time.

And that's my phone empty. That's a lie. So many photos that I can't share with you right now. And so many ideas and it's killing me! Gimme time and a bit of luck and I'll get there.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Kirsty's Earphones

*****And now I've added it to rav because I really am that sad.*****

So, on Sunday I taught a lesson on how to make my beautiful Bobica. Two people had cancelled on the lesson but because I rarely cancel unless I absolutely have to (once in five years!) it went ahead as a nice relaxed almost private lesson and it was great. About half way through, just after lunch, we settled down to actually start the shawl after we'd practiced all the stitches and talked about the pattern and I got on with my shawl in progress. Kirsty, one of the ladies that was on the lesson, and I got into a conversation about hand dyed yarn (she's obsessed!) and the problem of what to do with them when you buy a beautiful one and it doesn't work out when it's actually worked up even if it looks beautiful in a skein and what you do with the leftover bits that you don't want to waste because it costs so much and you love it with all of your heart. She pulled out of her bag some beautiful earbuds covered in Verity's OMFG. And it was stunning. I wish I'd taken a photo. I did take a photo of her crochet though:


That's a gorgeous one off hand dyed yarn that she got dyed based on a picture of somebody's eye shadow. I'm sure we'll get an update of the final thing so worry ye not.

Anyway, she pulled out these earphones and I couldn't not start (and finish) straight away! I chose the most mental colour that we had in the shop - the Poncho colourway of the King Cole Zig Zag - it makes me heart siiiiiiiiiing, chose a smallish hook and got going.



Obviously, because it's like the best thing I've ever made, I posted it to Facebook and Twitter and Instagram straight away and everybody seemed to love it so I'm going to show you how I did it. But I do want to make clear that this isn't my idea at all - it's Kirsty's and she got it from Pinterest and I'm just spreading the joy. Also, I don't want to patronise anybody, this is literally just double crochets (US singles) around a wire. If you can do it - go for it - if not, do this and you too could be as cool as me:



So, grab yourself some yarn that makes your heart flutter, a hook that's a bit too small for it and your wire of choice. I might add in here that I have all sorts of wire-y things that I shouldn't be using because the rubber thing is broken or whatever - don't cover this is wool - that stinks of a bad idea. Haha. Make sure the wire is in tact. How do you know that the hook's a bit too small? Well, look at the ball band if you've got one and use a hook a size or two too small. Ooooooor. 4ply - 2.5mm ish, DK - 3mm ish, any thicker yarn and I think it wouldn't work but go ahead and ignore me. I'm more than happy to be ignored. :)


So, I used some leftovers of Vezza's 4ply sparkle yarn (no idea the colourway, probably isn't one anymore given that this was one of the first that she ever dyed. Friends in high places). Probably about 5g of it. And a 2.5mm Rainbow Smoosh hook made my yours truly. And my brand new phone charger.

Make a slip knot and pop it onto the hook. Hold the hook under the wire and the yarn over the top.



Grab the yarn (any which way, it really doesn't matter for this but keep it consistent) and bring it underneath the wire and through to the front. You'll have two loops on your hook.



Then, yarn over (or hook under) and bring the yarn through the two loops, leaving one loop left on the hook. 


Keep doing this. Hook under the wire, yarn over the wire, grab yarn and bring back through, yarn over and bring through two loops. It'll look like this:

 

Keep smooshing the stitches down, you want more rather than less I reckon. Keep it going, going and going. Stop and make a cup of tea at exactly this point:



That's a very important part of the pattern and keeping your sanity in tact.



Keep smooshing down and shoving more and more stitches in. If you're doing headphones then you'll come to a 'Y' junction at some point so carry on dc'ing all the way up one side to an earbud and then once you're sure you have enough stitches just add one or two more and fasten off by breaking the yarn and pulling the end all the way through the loop on the hook and pulling tight. Then come back to the point where the ear wires separate off, join to the end of the main wire with a slip stich (i.e. shove you hook into something and hook the yarn and bring it back through then carry on with your life) and work all the way up the other ear wire.

You'll end up with something like this:


And then you can do something about your ends. I guess I suggest that you weave the ends in but to be honest I've ended up chopping them off because if it doesn't hold or only holds for a bit then that's fine - it's quick and fun enough to knock some more up in a whole new colour. Woohoo!!

I'm absolutely thrilled with this little idea! I love how somebody comes to the lesson to learn something new and it's me who ends up learning. It's a bit like when Allison came to the lesson just before Christmas and taught me how to make a paper star. I bloody love my customers.


I hope that some of you 'non-crocheters' give this a go because it's really very simple and it showcases perfectly one of the most popular aspect of crocheting - it's speed.

Love love love love love Eleanor. xxxxxx

Monday, 15 June 2015

Knit, Crochet, Gin, Cat, Vote

So, last Saturday was Worldwide Knit In Public Day (or was it Sunday? I don't know...) and we piggy backed with the ladies from Knit Happens in Nottingham and had a marvelous time at the Gooseberry Bush. The girls started at three so by the time I managed to get there with my crew of customers a few had come and gone and a few were waiting just to say hello and nipping off which meant that we were left with a small but vocal crowd of knitters and crocheters and it was lovely.


Turns out it was Worldwide Gin Day too and as much as we like to promote knitting and crochet, we also like to promote gin. 


So me and Gen took it upon ourselves to try every gin in the place - six different kinds. Hendricks was the best, Gordons tasted like water. Carla took the much more sensible option of enjoying one. But she's also knitting a big old 4ply jumper in stocking stitch so maybe she used all of her sensible-ness on her drink choices. Haha. It is beautiful though.

The gin was going down beautifully and then everybody said I ought to have something to eat. No idea why.... So I ordered a hot dog which I thought might come with a salad or be presented or something. But no.


Just a big old sausage and a few chips. Haha. Delicious though. 

Everybody else was sensible with their projects. I bought a shawl that I'm designing and that I was free skeining (as in, I hadn't balled the skein up because I am lazy enjoy living life on the edge). The shawl obviously enjoyed being there though because when I skeined it up quickly to go to the bar for the fourth gin it naturally settled itself into a heart shape instead of a skein shape. AHHHHHHHHHH! I shared it on Instagram and then was abused by Steph because the photo wasn't good enough. As an aside, are you following us on instagram? Click here. I promised Jazz a couple of weeks ago that I'd download it and try it for a couple of weeks and I may be addicted now. All her fault. I love posting photos and spend very little time looking at other people's stuff because I'm a self absorbed, knitting cat addict apparently but I enjoy thinking of hashtags and messing around with filters and then deciding not to use them. Addictive. Anyway...


Chris came because he's a supportive Boyf but he didn't bring his crochet because he's a miserable bugger. Everybody shouted at me because I expect him to make my breakfast in bed when I'm with him but why the hell not people?! He signed up to it, he can't complain now. Start the training early on. Haha. Bear in mind that I'm the one that introduced the idea of shelving and lamps into his life, he should be forever grateful.


He always seems to chat the girls up, bless him. Here is Natalie enoying his company - luckily this time he wasn't making inappropriate drunken jokes or proposing like he was on Love Your Local Yarn Shop Day. Haha.

And finally,


Absolutely nothing to do with Knit In Public Day but here is Versace being all fingers, thumbs and paws this morning. Can you remember when we went to the Kitty Cafe and Chris signed up to get another cat? Well we finally had Kate from the Cafe come to check the house out today. No answer as to whether we might be able to adopt little Gucci (Marie) but we've got our fingers crossed. Versace was intrigued by Kate's catty smell (as in, she's surrounded by cats all day, not that she stinks of piss haha) and then she (Versace, not Kate) performed many many sprints up and down the whole length of the house to impress Kate. Perfect cat. Now she's snoozing in the sun on the star shaped blanket that I made a few months ago and has finally found a home on the chair by the window. Such a cutie.


And finally finally finally, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we'd BLOODY LOVE IT if you could bring yourselves to vote for us in numbers 11, 17 and 26 in the British Knitting Awards by clicking here. Don't forget that husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, mothers, fathers, siblings, aunties, cousins, nieces and nephews all benefit from how brilliant we are too by us selling you the yarn that you make things for them with so they could genuinely and legitimately vote too (and if they're using the same computer then you'll need to right click on the 'vote now' link on this page and open in a private window because they only allow one entry per ip address or whetever it's called).

That's it. Thanks to everybody that came and everybody that wanted to come and everybody that drank gin. It was bloody brill.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxx

Friday, 12 June 2015

Eleanor's Pattern of the Weeeeeeeeek - Bobica




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I admit it, this is a selfish one. It's a pattern that I wrote and it's the subject of a lesson on Sunday. It's all about the beautiful Bobica:


So, I think lots of people are scared of shawls. Scared to knit/crochet them and scared to wear them. Knitting and crochet will come later but let me explain how I think of them to wear. In the summer, they're just a fancy alternative to cardigans and in the winter they're a fancy alternative to scarves. Dead easy. If you're worried - avoid (beautiful but eye catching) yarns like Verity's above and stick to something much plainer. I admit, my favourite shawl that I ever made was an Elise in black Cottonsoft. I wore it so much over a couple of years and then left it on a bus and it was never to be seen again. I'm trying to work out something similar that isn't Elise at the minute because I'm just that bloody sick of making it. Haha. Anyway, make one and wear it and nobody will point and laugh and nobody will think you're a Victorian granny people will look straight past you because they're all stuck in their own belly buttons. Shawls are quick and easy to make, gauge doesn't matter as such, and you can wear them in a million ways. I'm always certainly going to do a blog about different ways to wear them so bear with.

Onto the crocheting. Shall we have a close up?



Now, I didn't design this to be easy. I don't know what it is, but once you've got the stitches in crochet then it's all pretty easy. Yes? I wanted there to be something all the way that made you think. So the repeat, whilst looking like a basically 3 row repeat is actually a 6 row repeat and you have to know the difference between front post treble and back post treble and after having followed the instructions for the first two repeats or so you should be able to see when or why that happens. There are also two 'spines' running down at the third points of the shawl which are the opposite to whatever you're doing on the repeats.

I think the thing that I want to talk about, and what I'll call my top tip for this week, is shawl gauge. Shawls should always be knitted or crocheted at a much looser gauge than the yarn would suggest. Pretty much. There's always going to be exceptions. But, for example, with a 4ply yarn I'd be looking at using somewhere between a 3.5/4.5mm hook or needle with a shawl whereas with a cardigan or jumper it'd be more like 3mm or 3.25mm. This allows the lace to show easier - simply, the holes are bigger but it also gives you the drape. You don't want a shawl to be standing off you like cardboard, you want it to be hanging and billowing around your shoulders like a beautiful mermaid. Ahhhhh. And I think this gets to the heart of what scares a lot of people - they see 4ply or even lace - and think 'Ahhhhhhh, I've got to work with tiny tiny needles/hooks'. Nope, nah, nu-uh. You work with similar needles as you'd use with a dk. Boom right?! It also, if you're starting with lace in either knitting or crochet, that you're stitches (when they're not on the needles) should be easier to read, up to a certain point. The holes will be bigger, you will be able to see the skeletons of the decreases (as it were, as in, which stitch goes under which stitch and therefore where it leans in knitting).

In crochet, this larger hook means that the stitches will be taller - the trunk of the stitch will be easier to define from the trunk of the last stitch. Which puts you in great stead for the Bobica pattern because this pattern is allllll about the trunk (isn't everything in life....?).

By trunk I mean that post of the stitch (red arrow) as opposed to the top of the stitch that you work into (blue arrow). 
 


















A lot of the stitches are worked around the trunk, but certainly, the trunks lead on from each other and carry on until the end of the pattern. You can see that best in the middle of the shawls on both the top and bottom one below - very clear vertical lines that follow on from eachother and have a cherry every now and again? That's the start of reading this pattern. Understanding the importance of trunks.



Now, why am I talk about the Bobica shawl today? Firstly, because it's bloody miserable outside and I always think of this as Springy and Summery and cheery. I do hate this time of year, I hate how everybody forgets that they knit and crochet in favour of gardening and beer gardening. Haha. But what I hate most is when it's bloody hot and rainy because then none of us enjoy a busy shop or our gardening. Gah! Haha. So I'm featuring it, and wearing it, to cheer me up. Selfishly.

But also, unselfish, because you have the chance to come on one of our lessons! I know you lot know, because you're reading here and therefore are our regulars, the our lessons are always bloody booked up and impossible to get on to. But this one isn't! We've had a couple of cancellations this week which means that I can fit you on! So, click here to book. On the day we're going to go through all of the stitches and techniques, how to bead in crochet, how to work front and back post trebles and other bits. How to read the pattern bearing in mind that it's charted as well as written, so we'll be going through both. I was careful to use fairly standard abbreviations and things so this info can be carried on into other patterns. And we're going to cover blocking. I'm bringing my pins and my blocking boards in and everything! It's so important for lace and for shawls separately so this is getting covered. Now, you get the yarn that you need and the beads that you need and the full colour printed pattern on the day as well as biscuits and tea obvs. You have to bring your own hooks so everything from a 3.5mm to a 5mm and a beading hook at .75mm but we can provide them on the day to buy if you need. And finally, what do you need to be able to do? Well, that's a difficult one. The stitches are no more difficult than a granny square but I'd like you to be confident with granny squares and a little scared of other things. Which is I think where a lot of you are. The lesson is very pinpointed towards this pattern but once you've seen this pattern, and it's taken your breath away at the beginning of the lesson, you'll be absolutely amazed at how far you'll come by the end of the day. You will leave confident. Fact.

And that's it, I've got to put the finishing touches to the lesson and print them out before tidying up so that I'm ready for the Knit In Public Booze Up tonight. Woohooo!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxx

P.s. You have voted for us right. ;)

Voting Begins!



Today is the day that voting for the British Knitting Awards begins. This is set up and run by Let's Knit and Let's Get Crafting and it is the pinnacle of the yarn shop owners year. The voting runs like this - you, the great British knitting and crocheting public, nominate us and then when we're shortlisted you get to vote again! We've won best yarn shop in the Midlands for the last two years running (and before that we were third in the UK) and you can read about our experiences here and here. If we win we get to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally to pick up our award and I love going every year even if it means I have to venture into... the south. Dun Dun Duuuuuuuuuuuhn!



I've gone a little restrained with the cover photo this year. No idea why. Last year's looked like this:



I think it's because this year, not only are we up for the best yarn shop in the Midlands but also the best ONLINE SHOP (!!!!!) and potentially the best yarn shop day experience. We just keep getting better and better!

Those of you that follow the facebook or the vlog will know how excited I am about the online shop business. I'll not go into it here, or mention the name, but I leave my options open because I have opinions about that (who'd have thunk that I would have opinions! haha!).

Anyway, lots of you area  little nervous about how else you might vote and I don't want to influence you so if you know how you want to vote then go for it, but I'll tell you how I'm voting (and how it might helps the shop and the bits that we stock) so that if you're lost for a question or two or three then you can follow me.

Load this page up separately.

1). King Cole (we stock them!).

2). TRULY BLOODY HOOKED! (obvs).

3). King Cole.

4). Fyberspates (the only one that's remotely independent and lovely).

5). King Cole.

6). King Cole

7). West Yorkshire Spinners (we don't stock them but I'd bloody love to and they're great to speak to as a yarn shop and I made socks with some of their yarn and it was delish).

8). King Cole (obviously they have the best designers in the world).

9). Katie Davies (the only independent...)

10). Abakhan (if you must).

11). Knit Nottingham!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We're so unlikely to win that it hurts but it would be AMAZING if we came second or third or surprised everybody. :)

Then you can miss out 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 and then:

17). Knit Nottingham! (My heart is palpitating. These other shops are lovely, they look great, but I SO want to win!).

19). Addi.

20). Addi.

21). I really have no opinions - The Little Knitting Company perhaps? You don't have to answer every questions you know...

22). Other - Knit Nottingham. Obvs.

23). Ravelry. Spread the love for the BEST knitting resource literally EVER.

24). Yokes by Kate Davies I suppose.

25). YARNDALE! WOOHOO! Or... other: Knit Nottingham's Birthday Party. Haha.

26). KNIT NOTTINGHAM! Even if you didn't make it to the Yarn Shop Day Party that we put on (and like millions of you did) you can read about it here and vote for the fun that we had vicariously.


And that's your lot. You don't have to vote in every single questions - so really, you only have to answer 11, 17 and 26 and then not only will we love you forever but you'll get the chance to shop at a five time British Knitting Awards winning shop! That, is something for us all isn't it!?

Now, tomorrow is still Knit in Public Day and you're still invited to the event that we're hijacking at the Gooseberry Bush from three (we'll be there from half six). And you can find out more about it by clicking here.

In the meantime, lots of secret-ish/admin-ish stuff going on behind the scenes so I've not a lot to say to you but I'll leave you with this beautiful photo of some new rainbow stitch markers available here or in the shop.



Love and gratitude,

Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

P. s. And the link once more.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Knit In Public Booze Up


Yeaaaaaah! There are punctuation marks throughout the year where knitters and crocheters can celebrate how brilliant there are - Knit Nottingham's birthday party, Love Your Local Yarn Shop Day, Christmas and World Wide Knit In Public Day! Which is this Saturday!!! Woohoo!




We're piggy backing on Knit Happens' event because I'm disorganised. They're meeting at 3 at the Gooseberry Bush pub which is on Peel Street and just a few minutes from the shop. But because it's on Saturday (the 13th - this Saturday) I'll be at work until 6.30 so that's when the Knit Nottingham contingent will turn up. If you don't know where you're going, come to the shop for 6/6.30 and we'll walk up together. You're welcome to come earlier or later with me or even later than that! All you need to do is bring your version of sticks and string and a few pennies for a drink or two (alcoholic or not) and we'll sit and chat and make it known publicly how bloody clever we are!

I do think that knitting and crochet can be solitary hobbies - and I love them because of that - but sometimes we just need to get together with like minded people and makes jokes about ssks and blocking, don't we? It's a fabulous way of getting inspiration and learning new tricks and commiserating and celebrating and being celebrated for the amazing stuff that we do every day. It's also a nice informal way for all of my customers to get to know eachother. The ladies on the banner above - Gen, Jazz, Toni, Steph and Davina - are all regulars who appear on the blog and the Facebook but the only way that they got to be such good friends of the shop was by turning up to events like these and getting to know me and one another, there's no trick to it, it's just being friendly. It's been one of life's biggest learning curves for me - how to make friends when you're not at school - turns out all you have to do is be a bit brave and smile at and chat to people (not creepily like, you still have to be sane haha).

Anyway:

This Saturday the 13th - from 3pm (6.30 for the Knit Nottingham contingent) - bring knitting/crochet/whatever - have fun!
A bite more info - or more of the same - on the Facebook event page which you get to by clicking here.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, 8 June 2015

An FO

Gosh. So the webshop's down. I thought I knew what the problem was - I was working on that assumption all of Saturday. Turns out, that's not the problem. It goes a little deeper and I've not idea where to start. So it's the perfect time to give you a blog where there's nothing to sell which I don't usually like doing, as much as this sounds like chatty fun, it's a deep seated plan to sell sell sell (or at least get the google rankings up, haha). If you're wondering, everything can be done over the phone - so if you're wanting yarn or patterns or workshops or whatever, give us a call on (0115) 9474239 and we'll get a payment sorted Now, on with the chats.

So, I want to talk about the newest project that I'm just about finished with. It's a dress based on this one:


This is my stawberry dress and everybody loves it. I love it. Although, it's a bit 'booby' for me now. I don't know whether it always was or whether my weight has fallen differently now. Oh well, I wear a top underneath it mostly which means it is not that appropriate for summer. But that's fine. I wear it in Spring and Autumn. It's the dress that I was making when Lizzie, formerly of Knitty Gritty in the Viccy Centre Market, asked me to teach her lessons for her which kickstarted my knitting career. It was the first sewing project that actually worked for me. I made it all over the place - at work, at the pub, on the beach I think. And I've worn it all over the place - messy nights out, refined picnics, our first birthday party. Given that, there aren't many photos of it so you'll have to put up with this one of my baby nephew. He's five now and an actual snotty terror. Ugh. Kids.

So, I made this by knitting the top - out of some sort of Rowan Cotton if I remember rightly - and fitting it carefully to my body. I did a good gauge swatch, knitted it in the round and worked both short rows and veeeeeery quick increases to shape around my bust. Once that was done I found this perfect material, cut out a slightly a-line skirt shape in two pieces, sewed them together, folded over the top and put some elastic in, sewed that carefully into the knitted bit, put a hem on it and then to stop the straps stretching too much I lined them with some left over material. All of this sewing was done by hand because I don't trust sewing machines (although, I'm roughly coming round to the idea now... kind of...). It worked perfectly. It's a bit of a bugger to work out what cardigan to wear with it because of the tied straps at the top but I've got two that work and they're both hand knitted so yahtzee.

I've tried to remake the dress to no avail. In fact, I spent an awful lot of money on some designer material and some veeeeeeery expensive yarn (I'll not say the name but it may or may not rhyme with bebbie spliss...) and it didn't bloody work! First because the pattern on the material has a right and a wrong way up and not being a sewer I didn't actually think about that and secondly because the yarn just bobbled as it was being worked and then when it was worn. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. So much money wasted. So, I gave up on my dream of making beautiful dresses like that and just enjoyed wearing my beautiful strawberry dress. 

Until last Christmas. A couple of days after my operation on my ear (going well I think folks, strange sort of popping feelings sometimes but I'm going to assume that means it's healing because I don't get to see the doctor until August now. I blame the cuts.) Chris and I went to see his parental units. Despite our differences they're really sweet people and they put together a couple of days of easy going pottering around sort of activities that I could be part of or not as my ear allowed. One of those was to go to a garden centre. How middle class is it to go to a garden centre just for a potter? Haha. My mum does it too. Maybe it's just middle aged? Anyway, I really enjoy it. It's actually something that me and mum did the very day after my surgery too. So maybe it's middle nothing and just some secret ear healing activity. Anyway. I can't remember buying anything from the centre until I saw this:


Which is just the mostly beautiful jersey dress that I've ever seen. Look a bit closer:


See the size? Haha. WHAT POSSESSED ME TO TRY THIS ON??? It's a size bloody ten. But somehow, the drugs and the boredom of watching fil try on many many slacks made me do it, and do you know, it actually fit! Kinda. It felt tight here and there, as if I needed just a size up. Which, let me remind you, would be a 12. Hang on:


My shape's changed, I've put weight on and lost it, and done excercising and stopped, but essentially, this is my shape and size. Big. Not a size 12. Very strange. Anyway, looking closer, there were two pieces to the dress (well, six, front and back, top and bottom and two sleeves but for my purposes...) and the bottom piece at the front was gathered at the front. I've got no eye for sewing so I couldn't tell until I started undoing how much extra material there was but I assumed about an inch which would have been just about enough for the ease that I needed.

Now, cut to Saturday. I've hinted, and I may blog, about the sheer amount of things I have finished lately. I'm hoping today to finish another one which will make 11 pieces over a month. Don't worry, only two of those were started and finished (and they were small), mostly I just had ends to sew in or half a sleeve to finish. Finishing these bits has opened up some space in my craft room, and uncovered a bag of yarn that I had set aside to give to Verity actually (sorry Vezza, you're not having it - tough tits) and it included this lovely cotton 4ply that I bought about eight years ago from Phildar in France.


If I remember rightly, they were about 30p a ball for 50g of pure cotton - the yardage makes it pretty similar to the Bamboo Cotton 4ply so if I'm feeling brave enough to redo this then this is what I'll use - apart from the fact that I bought like 20 balls of it (some have been used/lost/given away) so I may be able to find another combo of this Phildar stuff that works. Oh I don't know. Anyway, the colour, which I can't photograph well because you know me, is the most beautiful snotty yellow-y green. I luuuuuuuurve it. I think I bought it to mix with a bright kingfisher-ish teal but that was never meant to be. Anyway, under the archeological layers that my finishititis has uncovered, I found this beautiful yarn which was perfect and on Saturday - against all my better judgement I started a new project.

I chained a fair bit at the top (184 as it turned out although I didn't count at first, I just made it to fit and counted as I did the next row). Then I dc'd back. Then I worked out where to put my increases, roughly at a sixth point, then a sixth, then a third, then a sixth, then a sixth. If that makes sense to you, brill, if not, look up a pattern for a top down raglan (and I may well write you one but not today, too much bloody internetting to do.... ;) ). I was going to increase in the normal way but decided to try something different which I though would make it look more like the yo, k1, yo of a top down raglan in the knitting world. It maybe did, maybe didn't but it worked out because it increases where I needed to and doesn't look horrendous. Not sure I'd do it again though.

The beauty of a top down raglan is that you can try it on and on and on. It's kind of strange as you're working because it looks just so bloody big. All together you get the front and back at pretty much the largest point they're going to get and the sleeves and when you haven't worked like this before it does look biiiiiiiig. I was going to take a photo before I did the twiddly bits for the underarm but me and Chris went on a 5 mile walk yesterday and there was no a single point for me stop and photograph it. Barely enough time for me to stop and have a cup of tea for pity's sake. Anyway, by the time we were back in the car on the way back I was ready to start the twiddly bits and there was no way for me to take the photo to show just how big this bit gets. So trust me, it's weird.

So on the twiddly bit row, you work across until you get to the arm stitches, then you ignore those and chain a bit, rejoin to the stitches after the armholes (probably the front, it was in my case anyway) and you do the same at the other side with the armhole bits. And then you work down down down. I had to do some pretty steep decreasing at the sides here because this dress as I envisaged it, needed a sharp delineation after the bust or it would have looked like a sack. Once it was the length and width that I needed I did a few rounds of dcs on the bottom and a few on the armhole edges and boom - ready for the sewing. 

In the car on the way to the walk, I'd used a stitch ripper to take the top from the bottom of the dress. 


And again to take the elastic-y, jelly-ish strip that they'd used to make the gathers at the top of the skirt bit.


Which also shows the beauty of the pattern in up close detail.

When I went to do the sewing together business I ran into a problem. Taking the gathers out meant that the front section of the skirt was actually bigger than the back section of the skirt which meant that I couldn't sew the side seams directly into the sides of the crochet bit. So I folded it in such a way to find the exact front and the back and once I'd got those points I could get the exact side points (about an inch in front of the side seams on each side which means that I got at least 2 inches of extra material out of the gathers - boom!). I pinned the skirt into the top and didn't need to ease anything in which was lucky because I was knackered...

And then I started sewing: 


By hand because I'm scared of machines and my machine's at home and I was at Chris's. But it was quick. If there's one thing that I learned from my seamstress grandma (she single handedly brought her three kids up in the 50's when the husband had buggered off somewhere with sewing - good woman) it's to keep your stitches small. I'm sure there's more to it, I'm sure there are times when big stitches are better but in my head stitches should be so small you can't see them. She also told me to press everything. But I ignored that bit. Haha. It didn't take long at all - perhaps an hour - I listened to a podcast and Chris went to bed, it was beautiful. And by the time I went to bed, it was finished! BOOM!

Well, the ends still need to be sewn in, obvs. As if I'd do that last night. But I'm about to do that because I'm going to nip into Beeston, avoid the inbreds and buy some fresh herbs because I've got salad on the brain for tonight and I want to wear it. It's going to be perfect. But because Chris was in bed, and because I wasn't wearing a bra and I wasn't prepared to put one on (it was after 8pm afterall) there is no picture of it on. All I have is this: 


I love it. Love it. I think the top bit fitting me perfectly should mean that the bottom bit looks tight on purpose. Also, bugger it, I wear tight jersey skirts all the time so that's that. I'm also really pleased that in two days I've got rid of four balls of stash and a dress that I bought in a drug induced stupor and opened up a whole new layer of stash for me to be reminded of. I wonder what I'll pick out next???

Love Eleanor. xxxxx