All Who Wander Are Not Lost

 

17-09-13-13-04-55-490_decoIt was one of those rainy days where I sat at my desk having five minutes with a coffee before the next big meeting. A part of me went into a slight melancholy as I mentally began to tick all the things I still had to do in the day. I noticed I was headed into a dark little place in my head. In order to change the direction my head was going in, I picked up two pencils from the pen pot on my desk, took out a bit of yarn I had stashed in my handbag and casted on a few little stitches. I knitted about 10 rows of a tiny little scarf, just for fun. That one little action must have released endorphins or something because I was able to finish my coffee, pick up my notes and head into the meeting with a much clearer head. This little exercise was an act of Mindfulness and something that I have been quite passionate about for a long time. Too many times we forget to stop, look around and see what we actually have in our lives. This kind of pattern leads to blue days. I’ve heard people lament about how they are in some kind of way because they “don’t have much” in their lives at that moment. However, I notice how often they forget to take stock in what wonderful gifts they possess in that current moment.

I have noticed how often people forget to take stock in what wonderful gifts they possess. So many of these gifts are everyday, basic needs we take for granted. It is easy to forget how privileged we are when we are able to take basic needs like sleep, nourishment and safety for granted. I have come to understand how gratitude for all the gifts, both large and small, is what keeps us from the melancholy.

20170825_122628-ANIMATION-1We were talking about this in the shop the other day. We get into all manner of conversations there. Our eclectic natures encourage topics from the esoteric to downright bawdy. There are so many times I wish we could have been recording our discussions. We went from arguing a theological point then somehow segued into whether I could be paid in wool rather than cash and something about a sheep…

It was decided that I could be paid in wool and I chose a skein. Our Fearless Leaser Sara all of a sudden got a twinkle in her eye and asked me if I wanted her to wind it up for me.

“I got a machine!” she said. I remember how her daughter stood by, squealing in absolute glee as she watched her Mum set the winding machine up. I felt the wonder of it all as I watched my yarn spin round and round on a clever little machine. I remember the gratitude of looking at the neat little cake of yarn Our Fearless Leader Sara presented to me. This is the kind of thing that will forever remain as a snapshot of joy is in the scrapbook of my mind.

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That little episode inspired me to document the memory and commit it to something that would stand the test of time. This could be something tangible. This would be something I could take into my hands and look over when and if those blue days ever threaten my inner peace again, There are so many ways to keep these treasures. It seems everyone has a blog, iPhone, online Ravelry account etc… but I decided to make an old-fashioned scrapbook.

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The scrapbook will also serve as a kind of project log for me to look back on. It can be a place for little bits of yarn, description, maker, patterns, thoughts and what inspired me to make the things I do. I decided to have a bit of structure to it.

Stash – A documentation of the yarn. I could keep a list of things left over in case I need to buy more to make something else without buying too much. That way I have more money to buy other yarn!

Tools – Again, this way I don’t spend money buying multiple of the same needles, hooks or patterns.

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Current Projects – Who doesn’t work on multiple projects? It’s just something that happens when we are so lucky to have the skill and desire. But sometimes we do bite off more than we can chew and we kind of lose the plot when we pick up a project we have not touched in ages. A journal documenting certain nuances of projects would be really helpful.

Goal Projects – I love to plan. This section would be where I can list the things I need for the next big project, keep track of all supplies I need and have and jot down any notes  to help me achieve it. It could be a tracker complete with test square or a sample of the yarn.

Events – Lists and pictures of yarn events, yarn bombs, charity knitting, crochet/knit-alongs, workshops and speciality visits like the trips to see Valaise Blacknose sheep flock in Dumfrieshire, Scotland or Hooligan Yarns in Bilthsthorpe

Skills & Techniques – This is the section where I will list stuff I need to learn like pattern making, entrelac knitting and spinning!

Frequently Used Measurements – This is where I would record how many stitches I usually cast on to make that favourite baby blanket, the top-down jumper or the dice bag I always make for people I love. It may need a pocket for the sock templates.

Inspiration– This is a great place to paste colour swatches of colour combinations that you might find at the DIY store in the paint section. The last time I went to decide on a colour for my living room, I planned on using the colours on the swatch for an afghan that would look perfect draped over the comfy couch. I also made some throw pillow covers.

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Of course, what is a scrapbook without pictures. There will be lots of these with random quotes, mottos, lyrics and poetry. It would be a wild and rambling place for my mind to wander and collect those little bits of life that I am so grateful to have!

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Mellow Yellow

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We never need a reason to yarn bomb a thing so it was no great surprise to walk into the shop last Friday to see the Yarnistas of Yankee Yarns wielding their crochet hooks. The color yellow was everywhere.

“It’s for the Tour of Britain,” said Our Fearless Leader Sara. The bike would be one of many yellow bikes on the trail for the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain which is a multi-stage cycling traversing the roads of Britain. There are 10 stages with Mansfield being the start point of Stage 5 on 6th September.

Cyclists have been competing for the best time since the first British stage just after WWII. So it was a thrill to be amongst those who rallied to support the event by adorning the race route with yellow bunting, flowers, painted bikes and our yarn-bombed push bike.

 

 

Starting in Mansfield, the route took cyclist on a 6 km odyssey around the town centre before starting the sprints and hill climbs out towards Sutton in Ashfield. The eight-day event was televised on ITV and attracted an estimated 1.6 million spectators. The people of Mansfield and surrounding areas turned out in form to cheer the cyclist on waving banners and shirts.

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Being a part of the community spirit is a big deal to Yankee Yarns. We like to support others. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But decorating the bike for the event went a bit deeper than that. Designer Jen explained it best when she remarked at how important it was that so many people contributed a small piece to the finished yarn bomb. She added how each chain, each inch, each link reflected each individual person. Because of this, the finished piece was better than we ever imagined it would be.

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“For example,” said Designer Jen, “Angela made a little bow which in itself would have looked quite small and insignificant (albeit beautiful). However, this was one of the final pieces to go on, atop the handle bars, and totally finished off the bike!”

Designer Jen went on to say how the collective creativity, common cause and community spirit mirrored the community effort of the crowd who came out to support the cyclists along the Mansfield to Newark route.17-09-07-16-32-20-436_deco

Thirty-six hours in total went into yarn bombing the bike. This time includes the time making the pieces and putting them together. Knitting and crochet are a bit like a race. There are times we find ourselves feverishly working against the time clock— trying to get just one more row in before (insert your road block here.) There are quick wins like baby booties, small toys and dishcloths. These are like sprints— quick and exhilarating. Then you have those leg races that keep you going for hours taking turn after turn. These are like making jumpers or ornate garments. Finally, there are the contests of endurance. These bring you the adulation of the crowds when you roll out a patchwork quilt or multicoloured blanket.

Trials and tribulation aside, being able to be a part of something bigger than ourselves— either as a participant or a spectator— and come together to appreciate the talent of others, it is a celebration of life.

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Hiya!

A beautiful thing was said in the shop the other day. It was one of those quintessential “Narrrrr how lovely” moments. Our Resident Experimenter Nori was working on her newest project using a seriously sumptuous yarn.

“That is gorgeous!” I said. “Where did you get it?”

hiyahiya2Quietly– reverently— she said she got it from one of our favorite customers. She had it in her stash for ages and gave it to Resident Experimenter Nori, most likely to make room for some of the newer yarns. Then she smiled angelically and said, “Janet always makes things for other people. So I am making something for her out of her own yarn.”

We all sat there beatifically looking on; as you do when you think of what a beautiful world we live in.

hiyahiya3It is the labor of love that binds us to a strange kind of joy. When you find something you enjoy, anything to do with it makes any endeavor feel as if it is what you were meant to do. When you love something so much, you will work tirelessly to create something that not only you will enjoy, but will be enjoyed by countless others.

The Shanghai designer, Qianer Huang loved knitting and designing beautiful creation so much, she wanted to design special tools to work her craft. With the help of her brother and father, who are both engineers, she worked to design the distinctive knitting system called HiyaHiya. hiyahiya1

HiyaHiya is a China based company founded in 2002. It developed into an international brand and built a solid reputation for pioneering design. Knitters all over the world have become enthralled with the needles.  At first, the needles were only available in the United States but now they are gaining in popularity here in the UK!

Yankee Yarns joined the “knitting revolution” starting with stocking the DPNs during the recent sock clinic but we now have a range of HiyaHiya needles in the shop.

hiyahiya5I was able to work with the small cable needle. These are perfect for small circumference knitting. I felt the same way with the DPNs when knitting the toe-up socks. I tried using some other DPNs as a comparison and quickly decided that I am now rather spoiled. HiyaHiyas just felt better in my hands and did the yarn did not slip all over the place. This really helped with my “Knitting Mindfulness.”

 

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What I think I look like when I am in my Knitting Mindfulness trance…

 

Yes, they make you feel a bit like some kind of knitting hero with a knit-purl superpower. Speaking of knitting superpowers, I found a lovely new stitch for you to experiment with when you get your new HiyaHiya needles. It’s called the Chinese Wave. Have a go!

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DISCLAIMER: We know anime is Japanese. But we are geeks. We wanted an excuse to post these cool anime memes. Just play along. It’s more fun this way.

Winding Roads…

roadI met the first knitter I ever knew at a bus stop in the Seattle neighbourhood of Fremont. She was working on mittens. It was 8:30 am on a crisp but dry October day. I sat there in awe as she worked her needles and spoke about all things and nothing. She had a dreamy little voice and I hung on her every word like a kitten following a key dangled by a length of yarn. She said she was going to take the bus and “just go, you know? I need to just go and see my sister in Poulsbo. And then maybe keep going. Maybe go see my brother in Vancouver. I don’t know. But I will finish these mittens on the way. I’ll need them soon.”

There was something very sad but beautiful about what she talked about. She said she had things she had to do and she had a far way to go. I nodded like I knew even though I didn’t, really. Little did know that I had a far way to go, too. But I had appointments to keep and opportunities to turn. Life was just too full of the things I needed to do to accept the lessons right away. When she boarded the bus, she gave me a a small wave. Her words wrapped around and around in my mind. The bus pulled way and the last glimpse I had of her through the window was of her bowed head. She would be working her needles again. Nothing mattered but getting those mittens done. It would be cold soon— especially where she was going. Looking back, this brings to mind a quote from one of my favourite writers, Jack Kerouac. He wrote; “But no matter, the road is life.” For her the knitting was life at that moment as she embarked on some enigmatic road trip.

Speaking of on the road, Yankee Yarns will be On The Road in September. We are away on a coach trip to Yarndale! on September 23rd. The coach will be picking us up across from the shop at the Redgate Pub at 8 am. Then we will go, W.I.P.s on our sticks to the event in Skipton where we will get a chance to look at all things yarn! This will be my first Yarndale and all I can say is that I am looking forward to it more than Christmas! We will spend the day there browsing and buying to our heart’s content until we catch the bus back to Mansfield at 4 pm. It’s £20 for the bus so if you fancy a road trip, drop into the shop and speak to Our Fearless Leader Sara at the shop and book on to the coach!

To book the admission fee for the event itself, you will need to book online at http://yarndale.co.uk/buy-tickets-2017/ Tickets cost £8. If you prefer to pay at the door, the price is £10.

20170513_101002So which W.I.P. will I be bringing with me? I believe the best kinds of projects to take on road trips are anything on a circular needle.  I have a top-down jumper that I am working on and the needles I am using are some from the new range of Knit Pro Needles we stock at Yankee Yarns. They are called Royale. They are colour-coded laminated birch wood needles. They start from 3mm (US 3) and go up to the 12mm (US17). They come in Purple Passion, Royale Blue, Aquamarine, Orange Lily, Fuchsia Fan, Grey Onyx, Cherry Blossom, Misty Green, Candy Pink and Burgundy Rose.

I first decided to try these on a whim. I was attracted to the colours like a bee is to flowers.But it is not just the aethestic design with the smooth surfaces and shiny brass tips. They are a perfect balance of form and function. I use the fixed circulars. They have a swivel mechanism that allows the cable to rotate. This helps with smooth, kink-free knitting and absolute flexibility.

Knitting with these needles feel smooth and effortless.The laminated wood holds yarn in place without sticking like bamboo but feel sturdy in my hands. They just feel more solid than my other wooden circulars. They are the best needles I have knit with so far. The cord is light but strong and it is easy to get lost in the minutes as I knit into the hours.

So I am all ready for being on the road.

 

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I Want Candy

 

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. There was nothing better than when we were kids and running down the street to old candy shop with my friends. Half of the time we spent outside counting up the change we had between us and the other half of the time was spent arguing about what we were going to buy with our money before we even entered the shop. Once we got into the shop, our eyes went wide with wonder as we stood transfixed with an overwhelming colour spectrum of choice.

 

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Courtesy Woolly Wanderer

Our Fearless Leader Sara and I grew up in the States and the sweets we went mad for included (but not limited to) Pop Rocks, Candy Cigarettes, salt water taffy, candy corn, Atomic Fireballs, Wax Lips, jawbreakers and candy swirl lollypops. The stuff was just so addictive. It’s a very good thing my mother had such a great dental plan because I still have every tooth I was born with!

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. There was nothing better than when we were kids and running down the street to old candy shop with my friends. Half of the time we spent outside counting up the change we had between us and the other half of the time was spent arguing about what we were going to buy with our money before we even entered the shop. Once we got into the shop, our eyes went wide with wonder as we stood transfixed with an overwhelming colour spectrum of choice.

These days, I have to be careful with my sugar intake. Don’t we all? But that feeling of falling in love with colourful sweetness is still there. Only now, that feeling of wonder has been transferred to the newest yarn in the shop.

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Another Stylecraft sweet selection has made it on to the Yankee Yarns shelves and favourites list! It is Special Candy Swirls.  You can choose from these nine delicious colours: Apple Sours, Very Berry, Fruit Salad, Coconut Ice, Strawberry Taffy, Blueberry Gum, Sugar Plum, Liquorice Whirl. These come in 150g balls with 484yrds/443m in them. The yarn is 100% Acrylic so garments you make are durable and washable. It takes a 4mm needle or hook.

It is a very versitile yarn and knits up well giving you a soft, wearble item.

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Yvain modelling the Shawl & Poncho made by Jenny Newman in Stylecraft Special Candy Swirl Apple Sours

We also have a selection patterns for you to look at. Resident Designer Jen whipped up the Special Candy Swirl DK Pattern 9417 Shawl & Poncho just this week! This gorgeous Poncho is done using a Cluster Stitch. In the words of The Mighty Boosh’s Vince, “It’s impossible to be unhappy in a poncho!”

Of course, Resident Designer Jen cannot is rather addicted to the yarn and already has another project on the needles!

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Come on in or contact us for more information. Or just send us a nice message. It’s so nice to hear from you all!

Please Like and share to everyone you know!

Unravelling The Mystique

Every now and then we come upon something new that is based on something old. It’s like the feeling you get when you hear a re-make of an old song. The memory is there but just out of touch. Sometimes you feel yourself searching in the catacombs of your mind for that one small glimpse of times long past. All at once, you might find yourself becoming rather nostalgic and playing through long treasured memories. It’s easy to go to those lovely regular memories that forever keep you suspended in a feeling of love. But some memories are bittersweet. Even so, they are hard to let go.

I discovered two absolutely odd but wonderful yarn related treasures recently. I stumbled upon a mystically glorious puzzle platform video game called Unravel. The video game was developed by the Swedish company which lends to it’s sublime forgeign feel. It’s a story about a doll made of yarn that comes to life. The doll’s name is Yarny and the mission is to mend broken bonds. The write up states “the yarn represents the love and connection between people.” Isn’t this just what yarn does? How many times have you gone into a shop, reached out to touch a ball of yarn and instantly transported yourself into a sentimental reverie? Perhaps you think about wearing a crocheted poncho your auntie made for you in the 70s. Or you think to how you knitted your expected baby socks only to remember that baby was now having babies of their own? Or you just think of a place. A long ago time. An afternoon. Giggling and cotton candy.

This brings me to my second yarny find! When I went into the shop last weekend to speak to Resident Designer Jen, I came upon a strange and interesting donut ball of wool that lookedmystiq3 like the ribbon-like laced I used to on my rollerskates when I was nine years old. These were so pretty and flat but if you laced them right, you looked like a floaty little princess with ribbons flying off the tops of your skates at the roller rink. Mine were a strange Pepto Bismol pink with a white gradient. I longed to find some in baby blue. I never did. But that day when I walked into Yankee Yarns, there it was— and wasn’t.

mystiq4The yarn is from Stylecraft and it’s not called Mystique for nothing. It has been dubbed as “an industry first.” Unlike my rollerskate ribbons, this wool is light and airy because it is made from a polyester and viscose blend. Resident Designer Jen is making a light summer cardigan out of it.

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“It knits up so quickly, ” she said. “I could have finished it in a couple of evenings if other stuff did not keep coming up.”

Mystique comes in 50g balls in six colours it washes well and dries super quick. You only have to knit a few rows to see it’s unusual texture work it’s magic. It can be used for Knitting or Crochet. While it is unlike a regular yarn so not as easy to compare, Mystiquue generally works to a chunky/bulky or 12 ply gauge. You would need 8mm needles or hook. The yarn length is 110m (120yds). It calls for a tension of 12 stitches, 16 rows to 10cm/4″.

This is definitely one for my stash. This yarn eureka moment was a bit like Yarny lassoing an almost forgotten memory for me. Mystique reminds me of something else that I just cannot put my finger on. All I know is I would love to make a spring / summer top and maybe even dust off my rollerskates and have an afternoon on some long pavement by a beach… Lots to think about now!

Woolywood Nights, An Artful Dodger & Fame!

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By A.E. Wallace for Yankee Yarns

Sitting in a shop. Summer. The door is wide open. Three ladies talking the stuff of life as needles click-clickity click over  soft ambient music. A breeze swirls through the open door and spreads the coolness of fresh cut grass over the smell of filtered coffee. One of the ladies stops knitting puts down her work and stretches her fingers— rubs her neck— looks around. Idly, she mentions a documentary she saw the night before. It’s about art. It’s about artists. It’s about Yarn Artist!

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By A.E. Wallace for Yankee Yarns

 

Enraptured, they listen to her weave the story out of snippits from the documentary.

The film is called, Yarn! It’s about wool graffiti artists, circus performers and structural designers who use yarn to create visually striking artwork.

All of the ladies stop what they are doing. They want to hear more. See more. One thing lead to another and as quickly as a , a movie night party is in the diary complete with food, a circle of yarn addicts and alcohol. This is like no knitting circle you have ever heard about.

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By A.E. Wallace for Yankee Yarns

Yeah. This isn’t that out-dated preconception of granny knitting. This is art coming to life. This is pure rock n roll, baby. And the beauty of it is that people are starting to click that knitting and crochet are no longer done out of necessity. It is done out of love. It frees you while you work. It is the endeavour that builds and shapes you. It is the skill that keeps you sharp and engaged. You are creating. You are building. You are meditaing. You become one in the moment with every stitch. And somehow, it unites you with others. You become bonded with the recipients of your work. You become knitted to others like you.

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By A.E. Wallace for Yankee Yarns

Speaking about unity and community, Yankee Yarns is featured in the Shop Local section of Crochet Now Magazine.

 

Pom-poms and Circumstance!

Armed with all the riotous of a stash collection, he Yankee Yarners set up a stall at the Farnstock Festival last Saturday, July 22nd. The objective was to make Pompoms with kids, mums and dads who attended the event.  These pom poms were then sewn on to a huge Farnstock sign. We want to thank ALL the participants who came over and visited us at the stall!

 

Cheers!!!

Making News. Making Poppies

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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.

We are also planning other functions but I cannot give away too much…. YET!

Spoilers!

 

Knit-Talkers- Cryptanalysts Of Yarn

Ok. So it is not that we are breaking codes at Bletchley Park penetrating the secret communications of the Axis Powers huddled up in the cold

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.