Get Your Crafting Freak On

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!

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Resident Designer Jen, Mansfield Market May 2016

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.

Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

 

 

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I Dream Of Jeanie

 

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Stitch marker found on ETSY

 

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.

 

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Resident Experimenter Nori & Resident Designer Jen

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.

 

 

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Stylecraft Pattern

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.

Following the Flock

One lovely June day last summer, I went for a ramble. What Can I say? I lost my way. I found myself in the most romantic of settings— A lovely little B&B in Locharbriggs, Scotland. To be honest, I did have an agenda. 

I went to commune with nature and fell into the company of some very friendly Valais Blacknose Sheep at Whitehall Farm in Dumfries and Galloway.  They were adorable and I felt like I was going to pull a Wylie Coyote and pick one up and run off with it!!! Not that I could have done! They were bigger than I imagined them to be and had minds of their own! One of them took to leaning on me and most of them nibbled my sundress. It was the funniest thing I have ever experienced. I truly did feel like Little Miss BoPeep!

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Nibbling on Bo Peep…

Aside from the obvious which was going to Whitehall Farm near Duncow and becoming pals with the dreamiest little sheep, there was a fair bit of longing for simpler joys. There was also a fair bit of port, snowballs (basically sponge cake sandwich with jam covered in coconut… a MUST when up in Scotland), good food and hot weather up in sunny Dumfries & Galloway.

The flock I met was of Valais Blacknose Sheep variety. I bought a bag of wool. I believe it’s about 200g. So now I need to learn to spin it. The sheep themselves were just the friendliest sheep I have ever known. It was as if they knew I was there just to see them. They did not disappoint. They came up to me, leant on me, nibbled and my dress and genuinely just made me happy just to be surrounded by them. The wool itself is not very soft, though. I am not sure what I will make from it when I finally wash and spin it. I may just make a little sheep toy. I do have a pattern I can use!

diego

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Unfortunately, I did not go on the hunt for wool shops like I usually do on excursions like this. This is mainly due to me answering my more shocking desires of cake. Nevermind. Next time I will stick to business. Maybe…wp-1465825771026.jpegI got quite a bit of knitting done and finished the kitty cat hat I was working on. The fact that I finished it ON THE MOTORWAY was a bit shocking… The M6 was closed down for hours. There was not much for it. I was alone, the engine was off and I had no one to talk to. I related all this to the ladies at Yankee Yarns. They came up with an even better idea that would not involve the motorway!!!

Our Fearless Leader, Sara, organised a road trip to visit the sheep at Hooligan Yarns! This was over the May 1st Bank Holiday Monday. Resident Designer Jenny got up close and personal with the animals and is now coming up with interesting ideas inspired by the flock! Stay tuned! She will, most likely, be posting them soon!

sara sheep!!!

jenny goat

May The Wool Be With You

Yesterday was May the 4th. Star Wars Day! It is a quiet little celebration for a special brand of people. I am happy to say I am aligned to this particular group. You see, one fine summer day, an 11-year-old, frizzy-haired girl entered the cinema to watch Star Wars with her cousins and emerged a full-fledged Jedi Nerd. I am that nerd. I had my mother wrap my ponytails into Princess Leia-esque twirls on the side of my head. I ran around making vvvvoom-vvvvoom noises with my makeshift light sabre that I fashioned out of the cardboard roll from the toilet paper. I rolled up light blue construction paper, stuck it into the cardboard roll and taped it into a point. Little did I know that film was my gateway into nerd-dom for the rest of my life.

From there, I quickly fell down the rabbit-hole into Dungeons and Dragons, video games, Star Trek re-runs, new Star Trek movies, Doctor Who, Firefly, painting Warhammer miniatures… and then crochet and knitting. It was only a matter of time until all of these things came together like the BIG BANG to create my multiverse of passions.

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I am not the only nerd/geek/goober out there knitting and crocheting things inspired by my hobbies and proclivities.

Our Fearless Leader, Sara and Our Resident Designer, Jenny, are past masters at it! Sara made a Minecraft Creeper hat for her son and Jenny crocheted the Yoda (featured top photo). She all of a sudden pulled out of her bag of wizardry when we were talking in the shop last week about May The Fourth. We are all geeks at Yankee Yarns!

But I noticed something recently. At some point, being a nerd/geek/goober became fashionable! TRUE FACT! Once upon a time, I actually hid my geek hoping to be seen as one of the popular kids in school. I desperately lived in fear of being ridiculed for playing D&D with a bunch of guys in my mother’s front room. Now, characters like those in The Big Bang Theory have opened up the eyes of the masses to how cool it is to hang out with a bunch of egg-heads, wearing t-shirts with DC or Marvel comic book heroes on them and spinning yarns about the troubles we’ve been having with tribbles. It is also now considered cooler than ice planet Hoth to be an absolute legend with math!

Not a day goes by in my world that I don’t thank the old gods and new for my interests and creativity. Also, I am thankful for so many who are even more talented than I am who share their ideas!

I came across Knitting for nerds on Twitter who post a plethora of awesome projects and have given me such inspiration to create my own things.

I started off small. I made Star Trek potholders. Gradually, I became more and more ambitious. My most recent effort was a baby hoodie for my daughter’s friend. Years ago, she introduced me to the Mighty Boosh Show. She was and is a huge fan. Last year, she told us She she was having a baby so I magicked this baby hoodie up for her:

Incidentally, I introduced her to D&D and agreed to be the Dungeon Master for her, my daughter and all their friends. Crazy days!

17-03-31-05-50-56-110_decoBeing a Dungeon Master means I have a lot of spare grid paper lying about. With a bit of tracing paper, you can knock up all sorts of stuff, plot it on the grid paper and make knitting charts of all sorts of things. You can make Christmas jumpers with Daleks, Space Invaders or PacMan! But if this sounds daunting, I found a handy little site called Stitchboard where you can just upload a black and white “.jpg” of the artwork you want to use and BOOM! Personal geek stuff to make for your personal pleasure! I will caution, though. These cool logos are trademarked. If you are making them for yourself or to give as a gift, that is cool. But I think it would be bad juju to try to sell these off commercially. I did the Assasin’s Creed baby hoodie for a fellow geek when he found out he was going to be a Dad! He was over the moon!

If you want to knit your own design, go for it! There are tonnes of resources out there like The Knitting SiteStitch Fiddle, Annie Bee Knits, and the rest! Everything I have done is because I stand on the shoulders of giants! Getting the knowledge is the biggest part of the battle. Being creative is all yours!

At some point I will be making a hoodie for myself! But which design? WHICH DESIGN?!

Perhaps the real challenge is finding the time to make them all especially when you have a full-time job and other commitments.

Sometimes, I use the downtime at a con or whilst playing a tabletop game. The Malifaux bag I knitted was completed when I was “Hit Points” deep in a Pathfinder role-playing game. The bag was made for a guy who showed me how to paint the Malifaux miniatures.

So when you do find the time, it is like MAGIC! (See the picture below) You nerds might see what I just did there….. if you do, post a comment and I will tell you something about this particular skein of wool…

Obviously, if I need help to make something, I always go to Ravelry first. Remember, shoulders of giants!!!!

 

But for now, I am happy planning my future projects in between preparing for my next D&D campaign:

It will be another Dice Bag which I will be knitting for myself during the campaign I will be running. Yes… I am the Dungeon Master…

But getting back to the whole you can be a nerd, a hobbyist, a writer, a knitter and an armchair physicist, check out this cool article! For me, it’s the most exciting article I think I have read in a long time. It was written for scientists called Move Over String Theory, It’s Yarn’s Turn, by Stuart Fox on Science Line. This is the part where I “squee!” and most people look at me even more blankly as they did when I started talking to them about knitting… or Dungeons and Dragons.

I hope the 4th was with you yesterday… but beware all you Jedi. Today is Revenge of the 5th.