Christmas time! I will keep this brief because I know there are presents to wrap, food to prepare, parties to attend and Noel nonsense to deal with on the domestic homefront. Nerves need to be kept calm.
All that running around whilst shopping in town can make you feel like The Fast and Furious meets Nigella meets Kirstie Allsopp. The last thing on our minds is our WIPs unless the WIP is one of the presents to go under the tree!
But perhaps you have been inspired by some of the lovely things you have seen at Christmas markets, online or in your own knitting group. You know what the memes state: Knitting is the new yoga.Hopefully, despite the festive frenzy, you will be able to cosy up with a nice cup of cheer and get those needles and hooks blazing.
Try this refreshing concoction:
Combine pomegranate and cranberry juice, vodka, Cointreau, soda water, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a punch bowl. Fill glasses with cranberries frozen in ice cubes, and serve. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.
If you prefer a warm drink next to you, try this recipe from A Brown Table. Who doesn’t like a bit of hot chocolate on the table next to you whilst you are knitting or crocheting with your knitting circle… or on your own? This one comes packed with the Full Monty of Christmas cheer: cinnamon and whisky. This recipe is enough for four people.
You will need:
4 cups whole milk
1 cup (5 3/4 ounces) dark chocolate chips, unsweetened
1 cup (6 1/8 ounces) milk chocolate chips, sweetened
1 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground + a little extra for dusting
1/4 cup whisky
a few marshmallows for garnishing (optional)
4 peppermint sticks (optional)
Place the milk in a thick bottomed saucepan. Heat the mixture on medium-low flame until the milk begins to steam with constant stirring. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer.
Add the chocolate and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the hot milk and whisk constantly by hand until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the milk from the stove and mix in the whisky.
Pour the hot chocolate into serving mugs and top them off with a few marshmallows and dust with the extra ground cinnamon. Serve with the hot chocolate with the peppermint sticks and extra marshmallows on the side.
So there you go. Creative fuel for Yule.
If you would like the pattern for our Christmas Card, head on over to Yankee Yarns on Ravelry where you will find the jumper and stocking cards.
There is always something inspiring about getting together with friends to knit. I always learn something new. Sometimes what I learn is a new skill or a different technique on how to perfect a stitch. Other times I learn about people and what makes them tick. It is these little glimpses into other people that make me truly grow in my craft.
One Friday afternoon, I sat at the shop with Janet who was working on the tiniest little hat.
“Is that for a doll?” I asked.
“No, it’s for a charity,” said Janet. She went on to tell me about Gracie, her Manchester terrier who was the smallest in her litter with the biggest personality. Janet lost Gracie at 14 months to congenital renal failure that is common in the Manchester Terrier dog. Janet went on to tell me the story of the breeders, Phil and Estella. Estella gave Janet Pixie. Pixie’s pup, Mabel is on the calendar dog for January resplendent in her little hat.It is these hats Janet has almost continuously on her needles.
In the last two years, Janet has knitted up anywhere from 150 to 200 little wool hats. These are sold at the dog shows and on the Rattustrap Manchester Terriers website and all the money has gone to charity. These have been bought by loving dog owners all over the world from Finland to Florida!
These hats can be adapted to fit larger dogs and other critters around your house. Even cats (if they let you. You know what they are like!) Our fearless leader, Sara, made some for her kids and for herself. Janet wrote me out the pattern and I have a Mabel Hat on my sticks right now. Yankee Yarns’s resident designer has written it up on in our Ravelry. Get this pattern for free here!
We all do it. We all hoard wool. Like dragons guarding treasure, we are protective of our spun balls of colour. I have a friend that calls her hoard, “My Precious”. Another friend calls it her “Tangled Web”. I call mine, My Yarniverse .
Whatever you call it, it is our Stash. To some of us, the size of it is of great pride and joy. To others, it is a secret that must be kept from the man of the house.
I met up with another knitter for coffee the other day. Let’s call her “Jane”. She is a novice (she’s only been knitting since June) and already she has amassed a great hoard of yarn. Some of it was inherited from her husband’s late auntie. It was this pile of historic yarn, abandoned W.I.P.s and vintage needles that got Jane knitting.
“I can cast on, do stockinette and so far I have made a few scarves,” she said. Her eyes were ablaze as she opened up a canvas bag. Within the bag were six skeins of naturally dyed, hand spun, pure wool yarn from crossbred sheep and alpaca that she bought from a seller at a craft fair. ALPACA!
Bashfully she looked up from the bag and whispered, “I am not sure how I am going to smuggle it into the wool I already got at home without him asking how much it cost.” I nodded quietly calculating there must have been about £70 pounds worth of yarn there.
“Chances are your hubby may never know,” I said. And then we Googled closed storage containers together from one of the value shops and planned her the Smuggling In Ops.
There is no way of understanding exactly how this yarn addiction begins. It almost always starts off innocently by finding a pattern that calls for a certain amount of balls for the size you want to make, and then you quite possibly buy one extra (just in case) or find that your tension was really rather tight so you are left with a bit. But ultimately, you wander around a shop looking for laundry detergent, toothpaste and bin liners and find three skeins of wool for the price of two. You see a cobalt blue looking one then remember that lovely cowl pattern you saw on Ravelry. You remember that you decided to make one at some point in the near future. But what if in the future these skeins aren’t on sale? You think to yourself you had better get them now, just in case. You think to yourself “that would look so pretty on (insert person’s name of your choice with the glorious blue eyes HERE)”. You are pleased. You put it in your cart and spot another skein in a different color. Only this one is not in the sale. But this one is even softer and the color is like autumn walked into the shop and kissed you on the forehead. So you buy four. It begins. You store it in the boot of your car until your husband leaves the house. You run out as soon as he has turned the corner and bring the wool in and…. Stash it…. True story…
Well, here comes 2017 and with it comes new lines of wool. That stash is starting to bulge a bit and it may be the time to get some of that old stuff out of the dark and onto your needles and hooks. The New Year is all about new beginnings so Yankee Yarns would like to throw out the dragon-scaled gauntlet!
We challenge you to make stuff out of your stash. Only your stash!
And we would like you to send us your photos so we can put them up in our gallery. Of course we will give you props. When you send us your photo, we would like to know:
Your name (alias or just first name is ok)
How long you have had that wool in your stash
And if there is a story attached to the yarn, then even better!
Send to Yankeeyarns@gmail.com and we will showcase your work in the Stash Buster Challenge tab.
Do you just want to make squares? Check this out. A knit for Charity is a great way to stash bust.
Now a word from Sara, our fearless leader at Yankee Yarns :
“The pink vest Loxley wearing is 10 year old wool with the green stripe new wool. It was the exact colour she wanted. Mix the old and the new because I didn’t know it then but it’s exactly what I needed now. You know your own taste, so when you see something you can’t pass up trust your own taste because chances are you’ll end up (eventually) making something you love.”
Lately, it feels like I cannot swing a fox without hitting someone who is taking up “The Three Peaks Challenge”. For those of you who do not know, it is when climbers take on climbing three mountains in a certain amount of hours depending on the mountains of their choice. I know three people who are looking to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in 2017 as part of their New Year’s resolutions. Awesome and insane!
Although I can admire my physically fit and fearless friends, my aspirations are a bit more grounded, as it were. I have decided that each of my mountain climbing friends will receive a pair of socks! However, in all my years of knitting I have never learnt to knit socks. Therein lies my challenge!
This brings me to the latest and greatest knitting class at Yankee Yarns. The Sock Clinic! Anyone who takes this course will come away with their own sock template and pattern to make bespoke socks for anyone on their sock wearing list.
The Sock Clinic is two consecutive Saturdays, 4th and 11th February from Noon to 2 pm. The first session covers starting the sock at the toe, how to shape it and working it up to the heel. The second session covers short row shaping heel. Each class is limited to six people. If you book the two Saturdays in a block, it costs £30. If you only want to book one Saturday session, it costs £20. The Sock Clinic includes 1 skein of Head Over Heels wool by Stylecraft in your choice of 6 colours:
You will have to bring your own 2.5mm circulars or DPNs but there will be needles available for purchase at the session. Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided.
These sessions are also available to buy as a gift voucher for that knitter on your Christmas list!
There will be future sessions in March, April and November. Please keep checking the Yankee Yarns Calendar of Events tab for the confirmed dates.
Once you have rocked on knitting socks, we’d love to see them. We will even post them up in our gallery! Let’s get clicking.
Check out these Socks Fun Facts we found!!!
The oldest known socks were found in Egypt and date back to between the years 250 and 420.
The word sock came into Old English from the Latin soccus, a loose-fitting shoe or slipper. The modern meaning arrived around 1400.
Albert Einstein never wore socks. He gave them up as a child, annoyed at the holes made by big toes.
A thousand-year-old Viking sock from Coppergate, York was included among the BBC’s 100 items that tell the History Of The World.
The Merry Wives Of Windsor is the only Shakespeare play that mentions socks.