This will be a short post. Basically, we are becoming rather engaged doing the knitting and the crocheting and the fundraising…
Basically, here are the haps. In November, the Mansfield District Council will create an awesome display of knitted and crocheted poppies to for Remembrance Day to honour those who gave their lives serving their country.
They are asking for help from the public in the form of knitting or crocheting poppies and sending them to us at Yankee Yarns or for the public to sponsor a poppy and pay a donation to help raise money for the Royal British Legion. The recommended donation will be £1 per participant.
So, we will be at Farnstock tomorrow taking donations and teaching people how to knit poppies. It has been a very busy time for us all!
We are also planning other functions but I cannot give away too much…. YET!
Nor are we making sure the Marines could take Iwo Jima with Code Talking. But boy do we know how to crack codes!
Novices and Non-Knitting/crochet folk often look upon patterns with a mixture of fear and awe. There are abbreviations, symbols and charts all thrown together in some kind of alchemy to create gold out of a sheep.
It is not only the novices that get the fear when they look at a pattern. Recently, I seemed to stumble at each step of the Cherry Lace Shawl pattern we did in the recent workshop at Yankee Yarns! In an effort to make progress and understand the pattern, I enlisted the aid of one of our talented regulars, Angela.
“So,sloppy, purl, normal,normal, sloppy, purl, tight…”coached Angela in my attempt to read the chart before me and keep track of my stitches. I agree, it is an unconventional and slightly controversial approach. But we were dealing with a complicated lace design and sometimes it just comes down to this… ANARCHY.
We do need to consider, besides the runic feel of the abbreviations, how we seem to “wrap and turn” our heads around the slang we acquire along the way from other knitters, You Tubers, Ravelry and blogs. There is a brilliant list of this on Stitch & Unwind.
We are mostly familiar with handy terms such as WIP and frog. There is also OTN (on the needles) and my favourite one (for all the wrong reasons) UFO aka an abandoned, neglected WIP! There are some terms I have never encountered like “vanilla”. This is an easy or plain pattern. Another one is the acronym SEX. This means “Stash Enhancement Experience”, which is the act of buying more yarn.
I need to let you know, the yarnies that attended the Cherry Leaf Shawl cracked the code and cracked on with learning how to block their lace shawls. You will be able to see this soon on the You Tube chanel.
It’s summertime in Old Blighty. This means it’s all about catching the glorious rays of the sun and releasing your inhibitions as you sway and sing along with a crowd. It’s about enjoying open air concerts with family or sitting outside a tent with friends getting ready to brave another three-hour stand in front of a live band. If the rain comes, it’s about sloshing about in a purple poncho and magical unicorn wellies and making friends with strangers in the queue of the communal commodes. It’s about girls sitting on boys shoulders waving a flag and crowd surfing. It’s about the music festivals! There are over 100 different festivals happening all over the UK. All these festivals feature a myriad of musical musings in a gratuitous amount of genres. The first music festival happened in the 1960s after the triumph of Woodstock in the States, according to Wikipedia.
Imagine my delight to be asked to volunteer at one. Our Fearless Leader Sara asked me if I fancied helping out at an upcoming music festival just 20 minutes away from where we live in Mansfield on the 22nd of July.
“We were there last year, ” she said. “It was so cool!”
Farnstock is an event set up initially as a great way to raise funds for St. Michael’s Primary School in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire. It’s a day out for families to enjoy music, the festival atmosphere, food and drink.
My favourite quote by Justin Hevness in an article in The Nottingham Post in 2014 sums up the general vibe of the event. Hevness said, “(The Festival) came about by a culmination of a mad idea, a fantastic school that needs money-raising for it and a headmaster who knows how to rock!” What’s not to love? Crafty ones that we are, we are on the bill as the Yankee Yarnbombers. We will be there. Come look for us. We will be the ones rocking out, using 12mm needles like drumsticks and throwing psychedelic skeins of light into the crowd…
Most likely, we will be the ones with knitted flowers in our hair and be teaching people how to knit in a tent demurely sipping cider…. and rocking out. (Freeeeeebird!!!!)
I walked in to see Our Fearless Leader Sara’s happy little face. She was looking at her iPhone and beeming.
“Dude,” she said. “This lady came in earlier this week and she’s just posted us such a nice review!”
“Cool, dude!” I said as I pulled up a chair and took out my current WIP (one of…). “What did she say?”
“She said we were an Aladdin’s Cave!”
I sat there and thought about it. I know the story. Heck, I read the book to my kids and have seen a few versions of Aladddin and the Lamp including the panto in Nottingham with everyone shouting IT’S BEHIND YOUUUUUU! But I had never heard someone describing a shop in this way.
“It’s a saying,” said Resident Designer Jen. “You have never heard it before?”
So I did what any good writer and former journalist would do….
I looked it up.
The shop is small. It’s no bigger than most people’s front room. It used to be a green grocer. But now it has all the colours of a magic spectrum as well as other treasures.
It is a place of knowledge, ideas, charity and “phenoenal [knitting skills] in an itty-bitty living space.” The shop has become the regular haunt of an ecclectic mix of people who come together in community. Yankee Yarns welcomes everyone and anyone to come in, browse, chat and become part of the furniture.
Yankee Yarns supports community events and champions charities and community programmes such as the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme.
I will say, time really does stand still when you stay at the shop to knit, crochet or just talk. All of a sudden, you look at your time piece and BOOM! Hours have flown! In the words of the Genie of the lamp (the Disney version): “Ten thousand years in the Cave of Wonders oughta chill him out!”
“The air was sultry. The day was bright. The oppressive sun seared our skin as we set out across the market town of Mansfield in search of knowledge. A challenge had been set to learn to knit the fabled Cherry Leaf Shawl. The lace shawl is an intricate, delicate design that has set many a heart on fire. This blazing day, six intrepid ladies traversed the cruel temperatures on a quest to acquire the knowledge, the skill and courage to make the mythical garment. But there would be tests of technique they would need to pass….
Pass they did.”
Woollyelly, designed the pattern expressly for the Yankee Yarns Workshop Series. June 17th was the first of three in the lace knitting series. As with any fabled quest, there were three milestones we were meant to pass. Woollyelly (who will from now on be known as the Bridgekeeper) guided us through each of them.
The Colour : The first hurdle we had to surmount was which colour we needed to choose. The price of the workshop included two 50g (210m) skeins of Superba Premium Superwash. It is a 4 Ply Yarn. It is 75% Virgin Wool, 25% Polyamide. It’s great for socks and typically you would use a needle Size of 2 – 3mm. But we used 4mm circular needles because we are working with lovely large holes. The stumbling block was really deciding on the colour. I changed my mind six times before finally using the red as is shown in the pattern. I thought I would be kicked out of the shop for vacillating between colour choices. When I jumped this first hurdle, I felt my energy level up and I was ready to tackle the next round which would be a contest of skill…
The Technique: The finished shawl is a top-down shawl design and starts at the centre where the shawl would rest on the nape of your neck. Rather than casting on in a regular way, the cast-on technique is not so much started as it is “realised”. The name of this bit of sorcery is The Garter Tab Cast On. We began at the centre back, with 3 stitches wrapped around a diaper pin stitch marker. knitting off the stitch marker, it lengthens as it grows in a rectangular shape and then morphs into a lovely curved design. This technique ensures the start blends seamlessly to form the top horizontal line of the shawl. The effort not only is worth the effort but gains you valuable XP and street cred.
The bonus skill is the Yarn Over. To make lovely big holes, we learned the most efficient way to YO. Three of us were doing it backwards making holes that were far too small and would have compromised the beauty of the finished product.
“Only three rows in and already it is so pretty,” remarked Angela as she passed that crucible. “It’s RIDICULOUS!”
The Count: Spellweavers, magic users, conjurers of lacy things… this was our destiny. But we had to be mindful of our craft. We knitted four rows that made up the foundation stitches. We set off on our course to knit rows three and four for a total of 66 times until we ended up with 70 stitches. We had to stay on the path so out came the “runes”.
Our time had been suspended in magical clicks of needles and discussions of all good things. But the sands on the glass ran out and we rambled out into the night on our individual side-quests…
… and to prepare for the next level at the second workshop.
There is no way of sugar-coating it. We dropped the ball of yarn. There is no sense in making excuses. Before you read on, know that there is a slightly inappropriate photograph coming up later in this blog. If you are an individual of delicate sensibilities, you may want to stop reading when you get to the group photo.
All others, carry on… And Carry On Knit In Public Day!
“It kind of snuck up on us,” said Resident Designer Jenny as I walked into the shop last Friday afternoon. “Worldwide Knit in Public Day. It’s tomorrow. We kind of forgot.” She giggled. I put my things down, pulled up a chair and gazed at her.
“It’s not too late, though,” I said. “It’s tomorrow. I can be there. You can be there. We can call up the troops, surely?” We both looked at each other then looked out the window across the street from the shop. We both smiled and said in unison:
Ok, so yes. It was most certainly a last-minute event for us. We basically just picked up our stuff and met at the Redgate Inn at 2pm on Saturday 10th of June. There were six of us including a newbie we wrapped up into our colourful abyss of madness.
Danielle Landes started World Wide Knit In Public Day in 2005. It always takes place on the second Saturday of June every year so how it snuck up on us, I have no idea. I mean it’s only just the greatest, knitter-run, global knitting circle EVER! The event began as a way for knitters (and hookers, ) to get together, enjoy each other’s company, ideas and hints. But it is also to show off our obsession. Knitting and crochet are usually very solitary endeavours. So it is so nice to see all the images of knitters getting together in town centres, national parks, city parks, city libraries, street parties, university campuses, restaurants and…. pubs.
For it to have been a last-minute thing, it really did turn out rather well. We came prepared with all the yarn to make poppies for our event in November. But there was a lot of wine, cider and beer. Another diversion was the strange phallic bottle opener that took us a bit by surprise. There was a fair bit of laughing over it. Afterall, we are jolly good sports and women of the world! Bottle openers come in all shapes in sizes. Who are we to judge! Mind you, it was quite a gratuitous tool and perhaps rather awkward to handle. However such things like this are rather necessary to our requirements and we made use of the wood…. to open bottles… Moving right along…
The Redgate Inn is a welcoming place. It is dog friendly so it really is a great stop after an evening walk. This has been our Knit In Public venue for two years now. Last year, we had been more prepared. There was a raffle and more people knew about it so more people came. But we thank the pub landlord and staff for making our small group feel at home!
Our Fearless Leader Sara bought the first round. I started with wine but being a newly installed member of CAMRA , I moved on to beer. It was a half pint of Prior’s Well Brewery pale ale named Incensed. Absolutely lovely!
As Yankee Yarns Resident Writer, I began to document the afternoon. As the hours merged into one another, I rather lost my way. I am not sure if there was a whole lot of knitting going on but it was a great afternoon. Had it not been for other commitments like Angela being summoned home to feed Baby Ezra (to be fair, Daddy did not have the proper tools for this, if you get my meaning), we may have all stayed on into the evening. We may have even closed the pub! I slammed down the remains of another swift half, collected my knitting de trucs, and skulked off home with my WIP poppy. I sat down to finish the poppy but instead polished off a lovely 2015 Bordeaux Blason de Montbelly whilst listening to some bluegrass music and scribbling down notes about the afternoon.
I look forward to next year’s event. It will not get lost on our radar next time. We have just had so many planned events in the diary as of late. This is great news for Yankee Yarns!
One of those events a repeat of the Sock Clinic we had a few months ago. This one will be delivered at our second site, Unique and Beautiful, at 30 Outram St, Sutton-in-Ashfield NG17 4FS.
The two-part Sock Clinic will be on 22nd July & 5th August from Noon to 2pm
It was such a successful event last time when we held it at the Yankee Yarns HQ in Mansfield.
I agreed to meet my daughter for lunch in the historic Lace Market in Nottingham. Since coming to the UK, I have been a fan of the old Victorian and Georgian architecture of this protected heritage area.
I mused over the beauty of the old brick juxtaposed by the hip and fashionable décor. I tried to imagine these buildings as warehouses and workshops when Nottingham was the centre of the world’s lace industry during the British Empire.
These renovated buildings are now luxury apartments, high-spec offices, academic buildings and restaurant/bars. This day, I was sitting in the trendy Annie’s Burger Shack. My daughter was running late but I had a nice drink and my knitting to keep me company whilst I waited.
Musing about the history of the lace and hosiery industry in the area got me to remembering my own great-grandmother working “lace” doilies out of silk yarn using only her fingers. She did it as a hobby and I marvelled at her patience with it. She could do other things but it took ages to wait for anything bigger than doilies. I loved these little things but found myself shopping for machine-manufactured items because I was impatient. This was how the lace industry changed in England. The lace machines pretty much wiped out hand-knitted lace industry. But now, the mystique of hand-made pieces of art make me want to learn lace making like my great-grandmother did— Not to sell but to create beautiful lace things for my own joy. However, the task seems daunting!
Our Fearless Leader Sara, as if by magic, came up with a most agreeable solution! Why not knit up the lace as they did before the invention of the lace machine? Yankee Yarns will host a Lace Workshop featuring local dyer, Woollyelly, who will be teaching the art of knitting her original design pattern Cherry Leaf Shawl.
Woollyelly, AKA Ellena Kirk, is an accomplished knitter. She started knitting 37 years ago as a child. As she grew older, she grew bolder venturing into the world of crochet in 1997. Then she got adventurous with her knitting. After watching a hand-spinning demo in 2007, she joined a local guild and began spinning. Her passion for dying her own yarn and weaving with it brought her to Yankee Yarns. We have some of her 144 hand-spun works of wonder in our shop.
Our Fearless Leader Sara said Woollyelly designed the Cherry Leaf Shawl special for our workshop. The pattern is on sale on Ravelry for those of you who are already accomplished or unable to make the workshop at our shop in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.
You can attend the workshop at 11 am over three Saturdays: June 17th, July 1st and July 8th. Each session costs £20 but if you block-book, the whole workshop will only cost £45. The price includes Woollyelly’s Shawl pattern, two balls of Rico Superba Superwash in your choice of 17 colours, refreshments and hours of lovely company. So join up as soon as you can as space is limited!
To learn more about the history of lace in Nottingham, please click here!
I woke up at 4:30 am on 23rd May to a message on my phone from my friend, Rita, in the States. “Are you ok. I heard there was a bombing in your area. Are you ok.” I was still half asleep and my mind raced at the thought that I might have slept through a national disaster. It’s odd how we seek news and information these days. In my morning haze, my fingers went immediately to the social media of my choice.
And there it was. A bomb wreaked havoc in the foyer of the Manchester Arena following a concert by American singer Ariana Grande. There were parents and children, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends all making their way out from what had been a most enjoyable concert. It was tragic news.
Later on my commute into work, I heard on the radio that it had been a suicide bombing. The Greater Manchester Police declared the incident as a terrorist attack. It was the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since the 7 July 2005 London bombings. But I call it a Sad Misguided Act that senselessly killed 23 adults and children, including the suicide bomber, and injuring 116 others. It’s sad and misguided because of the people behind this all lack love and compassion. They lack beauty and happiness in themselves. They are brainwashed into thinking this life is a stop-gap to a better one. To be honest, they do not seem to see that they are actually robbing themselves of a happy and profound existence by committing these cowardly acts of violence on their fellow human beings.
But we do not retaliate. We reach out to those in pain and try to help. Yankee Yarns has come up with a pattern to support the victims and survivors of the Manchester bombing. The #HEART4MCR pattern is on sale on Ravelry for £1.20. All proceeds from the pattern will go directly to the WE[HEART]MCR Emergency fund.
You can also find a couple of video tutorials to learn new techniques and crochet along in real time. Obviously, the YouTube tutorial is free. You can get the pattern there. But the one on Ravelry is just a simple way for people to donate and show support for the people and families affected by the bombing.
Being Yankee Yarn’s Resident Writer, I love going to the shop every Friday to get my next topic from Our Fearless Leader Sara for the blog. We usually sit, catch up, talk about all the “cray haps” and brainstorm business ideas with a “spontaneous” cup of coffee (and sometimes a vegan treat.)
Booyah, baby! Corporate as you like!
Last Friday was a little different. When I walked in, there was already a full-blown meeting taking place. I got to be the proverbial fly-on-the-wall during a visit with The Yarn Sales Santa! Our Fearless Leader Sara and Resident Designer Jen were all abuzz and grooving on the exciting new patterns and yarns that will be coming into our second site in Sutton-In-Ashfield, Unique & Beautiful.
Unique & Beautiful is a new venture in Sutton-in-Ashfield offering handmade crafts from over 25 local artists. Yankee Yarns sells a very small range of end-of-line and discounted wool at that site. But now, we will exclusively be selling our new line of King Cole yarn there!
“We are getting lots,” said Our Fearless Leader Sara. “We are getting ‘sick’ wool!” There will be 4 ply, baby wool, Aran and a very exciting yarn — Tinsel Chunky!
“We are getting every single pattern available for it!” she said. This really is fantastic news. Over a year ago, I became enamoured with this yarn and made a dozen owls and hedgehogs as presents for just about everyone I knew.
Our Fearless Leader Sara will be knitting the dragon pattern when the yarn comes in. When she finishes it, she will exhibit it at Unique & Beautiful. I cannot wait to see it! Better yet… I cannot wait to knit it. It’s time I get to crafting again!
Speaking of crafting, Yankee Yarns is at the Love Your Local Market event today, May 26th, from 11 am to 2 pm along with other arts and craft presenters. The market will be a cornucopia of homemade products, crafts, gifts and food.
We will be offering free crochet sessions and teaching folks how to make a poppy. We are encouraging everyone to be a part of the Mansfield Poppy Parade because raising money for the British Legion is something near and dear to our hearts! If you are in the area, pop in and meet us! If you are not local, you can still take part by knitting the Poppy Pattern found on the Mansfield District Council website and sending them to us.
Going into the Yankee Yarn shop is a little like going over to my cousin’s house. Our Fearless Leader Sara is from Louisiana and I am from Texas. We are kindred spirits not only bound together by our birth nation or the fact that we boldly set out to make our ex-Pat existence nothing short of awesome sauce. Of course, we have the whole knitting connection and we are both Mums of crazy dual national children. But our easy friendship sparked because we recognised we were both surreptitious rebels.
In fact, Resident Designer Jen and even our lovely, serene Resident Experimenter Nori have a maverick streak in them. Most of the ladies that come into the shop have a bit of an untamed flair about them, to be fair. The knitting shop is like an outlaw’s hangout and we are all like wild, Wild West gunslingers— only our holsters hold balls of yarn and we are armed with hooks and needles.
So when Stylecraft came out with an exciting, new yarn “that captures the spirit and heritage of the denim” that is, incidentally, the trend this season, it made all of our eyes big with wonder. Jeanie Denim Look is inspired by the timeless and classic hues of denim. It is available in 100g balls in four shades: Dixie, Memphis, Delta, and (to my heart’s joy) Texas. The colours go from the retro 70s indigos to lighter blues like the stonewashed fashions of the 80s. Imagine the pieces you can make! Whatever your denim style — country western, rocker, chic, student-look—it is all up to you!
It is aran weight yarn, but its cotton acrylic blend means you can throw it in the wash and tumble dry without ruining the garment. It is soft. One of our customers said it was like working with chenille. Another said it was like working with velvet.
“Fuzzy feel good to the touch,” said Yolie Hume. “I am working on a cable sweater and it just feels so lush!”
“On circulars, it doesn’t snag,” said Becca MacDougal. “It does not split either. “ The yarn keeps its integrity even after you have to pull it all back and start over.
“I wish I could blink like I Dream Of Jeanie and have a sweater,” Said Our Fearless Leader Sara.
We have the patterns in the shop and will be getting more. I am thinking of challenging Our Resident Designer Jen to whip up a western style cardigan to go with my sundress, cowboy boots and Stetson. Watch this space.