Hooked on Colour

With the recent grey, blustery weather and the general in-between-y kind of mood of this time of year, who doesn’t need a bit of colour? Better still, a bit of colour and company. Oooo! Even better than that, colour, company,  tea and… (dare I say it) cake!?

Well, last weekend Yankee Yarns took a road trip to Stitches in Birmingham. CHSI Stitches is the geek con for anyone who is lucky enough to have a yarn store. There, you are privy to all the workshops, all the demonstrations and all the new stuff. In fact, it is Europe’s largest trade show for all of the creative craft industries— That is the art, craft, needlecraft and hobby sector.


Over 300 suppliers from all over the world converge to display their new and innovative products. If you think you get tempted to buy another skein of wool to hide in your stash everytime you walk into a wool shop, think what it was like for our Fearless Leader, Sara?

The pull was just too great for us and inspiration hit big style.Yankee Yarns is getting new stock to add to our already vibrant shelves.To say that we have had our Cake and eating it too is an understatement.


We are excited to announce Yankee Yarns will now be the local cake house. Caron Cakes are 200g Aran goodness. To put it simply, thay are GORGEOUS diversity of colors that are 80% acrylic and 20% wool.

“I LOVE them!” said Sara. “I wanted to get one (at Stitches) but you can’t buy anything there.” So instead, Sara decided she just needed to stock it.This yarn is the perfect multipurpose yarn that is soft and versitile. It can be used for garments, accessories and home décor projects in knitting or crochet. Each vivid, variegated ball features five bright colors. Lush! And check out the names of each one. You just want to eat them up.


Also on Sara’s list is Caron Simply Soft. It is 100% acrylic so it is both machine washable and will tumble dry on a low heat!

The proverbial icing on the cake comes in the form of some new and innovative needles. HiyaHiya Needles are completely interchangeable needles. Sara was bubbling with excitment. “Straight and circular. One set makes everything. Every length!”


In addition to the new stock, Yankee Yarns is happy to announce we are now in Crochet Now Magazine for the next five months in the Shop Local section. If you come in and buy a magazine and spend £15 or more, you get a coupon to fill in and Crochet Now will send you 3 free gifts!

Speaking of crochet, we have a lovely little pattern for you. African Flowers! Head over to Ravelry for the free pattern, including full colour tutorial. You can make them and put them out on their own to use as coasters or you can attach them and make a blanket out of them. Really, your creativity is the limit. They make lovely house-warming gifts. Heaven knows we have enough stash yarn to work through and this will help with your Stash Bust Challenge for the year.


So let’s get hookin’! And remember to send us pictures of your creations so we can get them on our Rogue’s Gallery. We just love to see what you are working on!



Simply Sock Clinic Part II – Sharp Row Heel & Turn aka Big Bang Theory

17-02-13-11-11-38-726_decoMath Word Problem

Question 1—25% of grade

Six ladies were knitting in a sock workshop. They all were about to learn how to do the heel. They had 120 minutes to complete the heel. One lady had 50 stitches on her needles. Two had 56 stitches on their needles. Two had 40 on their needles and the last one had 89 on one and 84 on the other. If each lady had to divide stitches onto three needles, dividing a half of all stitches on one needle and a quarter each on the other two needles, then how long would it take for all of them to lose their minds.

(Answer found at the bottom)

We all slipped through the doors of Yankee Yarns on a freezing, flurry-filled Saturday. Each of us had our socks knitted up to the heel and was in absolute anticipation of learning the new skill, Short-Row Shaping.  Deborah Bown, one of the participants, even took the whole week off work so she could devote the time to her sock! I think we all brought a level of commitment to this endeavour that one would find amongst those working on the Hadron Collider. Hannah Smith summed it up best when she said, “This is when I have to choose between knitting and sleep.”


I have often heard it said that most knitters tend to view making socks with either rampant trepidation or mystical fascination. Jenny, our resident designer, said once you get around the first fiddly part when working on the toe, the heel is easier. As it is with most things, until you break through from learning to mastering, there are stumbling blocks and much (mostly me) swearing. For us on Saturday, it all started with the maths.

We all read the bit on the recipe with the formula and began counting stitches. I don’t know if it was the fact that, it being Saturday, we all plummeted into a strange dyscalculic mode. Perhaps we all just got confused with all the counting-out-loud. Whatever it was, the general frenzy of the room had Jenny going around the table checking and double checking our computations. Everyone had some sort of diagram or workings-out scribbled on their pattern.  Our Fearless Leader Sara was rocking in the corner and before you knew it we were “stash deep” in String Theory!


Well, maybe not quite but you get a general idea. You would have thought we were calculating math to discover dark matter or black holes.

“I think I found a hole,” said Sara. “Oh! No… no. It’s fine.” (Our Fearless Leader never drops the stitch!)

Out of chaos comes order. Once the arithmetic was all sorted, we could concentrate on the technique of wrap and turn on the increase. But even that got a bit transcendent when we approached the decrease. Angela Burrows got there before us and alerted us.

“You’re gonna love this,” she muttered. “It’s a right bastard to do.”

“I thought I could knit before I started to make a sock!” said Janet Garner

However, things quickly spun in a different direction. The geeks in us began to surface through the madness and it called to mind my experiences around another type of table.

“This is all witchcraft.”

“Yeah if maths doesn’t work, summon the sock demons.”

“What’s my saving throw?”

“That’s a +45 spell power and 27 to stamina.”

We all got there in the end. The best bit is we all left with our heels completed and every strand of hair on our heads.


So what was the answer to the above math word problem? Well, considering we started the workshop at Noon and were due to leave at 2 pm… the last person didn’t leave until nearly 4 pm. One of us experienced a harrowing moment when the double pointed needle broke mid row and posted it on Facebook late on Saturday night. Some of us saw each other on Monday afternoon and exchanged knowing little glances and I believe I detected a slight twitch in (name withheld)’s eye…


Using the formula C= π*d = 2*π*r. Thus pi equals the knitting circle circumference divided by its diameter. The answer is they lost their minds in 0.16666666666 seconds. Hehe…


Just jokes. 


The Socks Vs. The Knitters: A Post-Game Report

Head Coach Jenny Newman

Postgame vs. Yankee Yarns, February 4, 2017

Q: You said you had great leadership, what in particular makes you say that after a session like this?

A: It was the encouragement and the positive vibe at the table. Picking each other up, you know if it’s not stitch by stitch, it’s knitter by knitter.

Q: Coach, you preach a lot about yarn security. What did you say when you see four veterans mishandle the skein when you guys are knitting in the round?

A: We need to handle the skein better. We need to take care of The Toe-Up Sock Project, whether it was dropped stitches, fumbles, tangled fumbles, whatever it is, we need to take care of the skein better, no question. What we do in practice needs to show up in the game. We took care of the skein well last week other than one minor incident, but this week, we need to do a better job, we need to clean that up and short-row heel….


Last week we had our first session of the Yankee Yarns Sock Clinic. There is nothing finer than learning something new even through a bit of blood, sweat and tears. Well maybe not tears but there was definitely some swearing. Six ladies around a table hopped up on extra strong coffee and cookies handling 30 DPNs and a new technique for knitting a sock from the toe up is bound to be a shocker. But under the watchful eye of our resident designer, Jenny and our fearless leader, Sara, we left the two-hour session with our sock underway.

The clinic started with an interesting insight into the history of socks followed by a “Blue-Peteresque” making of a template for the socks (video below).Once we cast on our stitches, the game was afoot!

angela     “Such tiny little needles. It’s like working with toothpicks,” said Angela Burrows as she furiously wielded the 10cm 2.5 DPNs. “But once you get around the fiddly bit, it gets easier!” The sock begins with the toe and this seems to take most seasoned knitters aback. However, the strategy used in this workshop is to get a nearly invisible seam. “The best thing is there is no sewing up,” said Sara, our Fearless Leader. “I’m all for that!”

img-20170207-wa0001.jpeg     The best thing about this kind of small project is that you can carry it around with you and work on it where ever you may roam. I took mine to work and surreptitiously got some rows in waiting for meetings to start and at my lunch break. I took it to the post office and knitted whilst I waited in the queue. I was even tempted to take it out when I was stuck in Nottingham traffic on my commute home… but I decided that might not have been wise. But I will say, I got out of so many chores as my family knew that if I mastered this project, they would be in line to get some one-of-a-kind groovy socks to show off. “It’s all about the love,” said my 11-year-old Cody. “A lot of love goes into it. It must if it has you so focused!” (Bless him.)

Tomorrow is the second session when we will learn how to work the heel and the leg. We will bring in our socks knitted up to just before the heel of the foot in all their striped glory.

The two session clinic costs £30 and includes a skein of Stylecraft Head Over Heels in your choice of colour and refreshments. The next Two Session Sock Clinic will be coming up. Please check the Facebook page for this and all upcoming events!


The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants

The minute the calendar flips to February, everything goes red and the world goes into a get-loved-up mode or anti-love-crusade. It is amazing how February can be so stressful. To some in the bloom of new romance it can be just as fought as Christmas! After all, the conditioning that goes into this “holiday” started back when we were kids learning how to cut up red construction paper into the shape of hearts. I cut small red ones and glued them on to bigger pink ones then wrote “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “Will you be mine?” on them and then strung them together to make bunting out of them to decorate the classroom. Some of the more creative kids added polka dots or white lace to theirs. The memory of it still makes me smile. These were the days before we knew what it was like to have our own hearts ripped in two… or worse… chucked on the fires of the disillusioned. 

But time heals all wounds; Knitting also heals all wounds. So now I am able to revive my love of hearts. Romantic Realist that I am, it is nice to find that my delight in making little love hearts is still pretty prominent. The medium of material used for this art has changed, however. Instead of paper, I get to use wool! Also, where is it written that the love hearts must be relegated to red? Love comes in all colours.Yankee Yarns has an assortment of lovely yarn. But we are lucky to have a new selection of hand spun and dyed wool by a local yarn artist.

Woollyelly is local to Mansfield and has some beautiful skeins that will delight the most eclectic romantic.Of course, there is a rich red that will appeal to the traditionalists! 

So! What do you think? Ready to fall head over heels in love with some yarn? Well, if so, we also have a quick pattern you can use to knit up a sweet little heart for your Valentine! We call it the POWER PUFF HEART!  It can be stuffed to make a tiny pillow or filled with lavender to be tucked away in the lingerie drawer (rrrarrr!). Or you can knit one to be applied to blankets, headbands, hats or pockets. (Or you can affix one to the sleeve of a jumper like I have.)

For a spot of fun, get your knitting circle clicking and make lots of them in all colours, string them together and POOF! You got yourself a nostalgic version of the classroom style bunting from your school days!

Make sure you drop us a line with pictures of your heartfelt creations! We would LOVE to see them and show them off here on our blog. The best part of this pattern is that you can use your yarn stash.


We are going to also give you another little project, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Our resident designer, Jenny has the sweetest little pattern on Ravelry that she has offered for free for our own joy. It’s the Chunky Bits & Bobs Bag. A friend of mine has asked me to knit one up for his sweetheart and he’s asked me to insert the quirky yet poignant poem by E.E. Cummings inside the bag along with the Power Puff Heart.

bag[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                                                      i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)