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!”
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 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.
You would think one would be satisfied with being a member of one crafty club. After speaking to several of the ladies in my milieu, I realised I am not alone in the fact that sometimes one circle is not enough. Most of the ladies belong to spinning guilds, sewing bees, craft groups as well as regular knitting circles. The ladies I know may as well create some kind of logo inspired by the olympic rings with all the clubs and organisations they belong to! The knowledge and inspiration that comes from such associations are truely mind enhancing.
“I think my next thing is to get a loom,” said Rachel Williams of the Knitting Kninjas and W.I. I never thought about using a loom until just that moment. Rachel talked a bit about it as she crocheted, ruminating out-loud on where she would fit a loom in her house. Lizzie Vershowske, member of the Knitting Kninjas and The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers said she often thought of getting a loom. However, as the owner of four spinning wheels and a handsome stash of yarn, she would not know whether she would be able to compete for space in the house she shares with her husband (who has his own sizable hobbies). These ideas flowered in my head rendering me into an eclectic stupor as I sat knitting my third pair of socks. The conversation meandered into knitting and crochet holiday destinations like Cornwall, Scotland and France. I snapped out of a dreamy trance, as I enthusiastically shouted “Let’s do this!” as if I was on some kind of adventure party. Roll that dice, we are on a side quest!
Of course not all the ladies were present that night. Sometimes life with its endless tug of responsibility does keep us from our crafts. One very lovely lady (who shall remain nameless and blameless) had a credible excuse for not being able to attend. She and her partner were to go car shopping because they have been cruising with the devil in their deathtrap of a car. However, she did drop in the fact that she hoped to attend the next months session with a different project and not the one that she has been working on for the last three knitting circles. Her Project of Shame is the one that she just cannot seem to finish for one reason or other.
“It’s only the tiniest of jumpers and I have only got this far,” she said indicating a measure of about 40 rows using her hands. I think we all have a project like this. Mine is wallowing in what I can only describe as My Project Oubliette.
So many of us work on multiple projects. The thing is, eventually we are meant to finish them. I know that many of the ladies I know actually DO finish their projects to perfection. But then, here is me who has been working on the same sparkly gold Christmas jumper for the last three years. It has languished in my Project Oubliette all but forgotten as I go on to buy more and more interesting skeins of yarn and print out all sorts of someday projects. Yes. I have a Project of Shame.
I think it is time to go down into the dungeon and pull out the sparkly Christmas jumper and get working on it again before I start any more projects. I currently have three on the go as well as looking for time to knit poppies for November. I am now resolute to finish it at my weekly knitting circle. If you would like to check up on me and my progress, do come to Yankee Yarns on Mondays at 7:30.
There is not much I take seriously. What I do take seriously is cake. These days the cake has taken our shop by storm in the form of Caron Cakes.
The colours are so rich, you just want to eat them up. The best bit is there are no calories in this kind of cake.
Let me shoot you some stats on this multipurpose yarn:
Can be used for knitting, crocheting
Multi-Project Versatile that grows quite fast!
Variegated (five vibrant colours in each ball)
Weight: Medium Worsted ( like 10 ply, Aran)
Contents: 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool
Skein Weight: 7.1 oz./ 200g
Yardage: 383 yds. / 350 m
Knitting Gauge: 18 sts – 24 rows = 4″ (10 cm)
Crochet Gauge: 13 sc – 14 rows = 4″ (10 cm)
Suggested Knitting Needle: 5 mm, US – 8
Suggested Crochet Hook: 5 mm, US – H/8
You can find lots of ideas and patterns to crochet or knit on Ravelry. Alternatively, you can just come into the shop and our Resident Designer, Jenny, will be happy to help you out.
Before I heard of this yarn, I had no idea that the term “cake” was in reference to the yarn ball type. Every day is, indeed, a school day! I found out on Interweave that yarn comes wound up in one of 11 + 1 ways! I had to look them up but here is a list with my take on each one.
Hank– Sounds like a cowboy with a lasso. It’s basically just yarn wrapped around and tied. This is the best way to use it when you are using hand looms.
Folded Hank- a neater version of the cowboy. This cowboy is going courtin’. But when you need to use it, you will need a partner who will hold it for you looped on their arms while you gossip and wind it into a ball.
Twisted Hank or Skein the cowboy with his knickers in a twist because he needs the bathroom and has crossed his legs… Skein is the generic term we all seem to call any ball of yarn. But I especially like it when it is twistd up like this. The wizards who hand-dye sell their works in this manner. It really captures the colours and how they blend and work into
Pull Skein- Basically, these are ready to use as you pull the yarn from the centre and just knit. But they do get a little sloppy towards the end so you end up winding it into a ball.
Bullet Skien- quite possibly the most common way we see our yarn for sale. Incidentally, this is the best way to stash them in a pillow cushion so your husband has no idea how much yarn you actually stash…. shhh
Ball- In the words of William Butler Yeats from his poem The Second Coming, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” So you wind this sucker up tight, plop it in a lovely in a yarn bowl in a decorative part of your living room near your Yarniverse!
Donut Ball- I just got a mental image of two cops in their patrol car parked behind a billboard knitting away with fluffy cashmere doughnut balls in a box between them. Oh, the joy!
Hard Core Ball- So this type of yarn ball has nothing to do with Basketball’s Goon Squad like Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman or Philly 76ers Charles Barkley. It has to do with skinny yarn like the kind used for making nets and wound up tight. Booyeah.
Cone-this is often associated with cheap granny yarn that you find up in the loft. You get lots and lots of yardage on this bad boy. It’s not old-fashioned anymore, however. Sugar ‘n’ Cream has lots of its cotton yarn in fresh new colours on cones with names like Ahoy or Faded Denim.
Cake- Ah ha!!! Remember those Hanks? Well, you get cakes from them when you wind them up. Click to see a video HERE!
These are the 11 types of balls. According to Interweave, there is one more that lurks at the bottom of your stash called the ***Hankenstien***
It may seem a bit early to talk about Remembrance Day. After all, Armistice Day is in November. We have only just started to do our merry dance into spring! Oddly enough, it was in the spring of 1915 that a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired by the sight of poppies growing in the razed fields. The poppy was one of the only plants to grow in the fields after the war ripped through it. His good friend had fallen in Ypres in WWI and the sight of the scarlet flowers waving in the breeze moved him so much that he wrote his now famous poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’. After the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance.
The Mansfield District Council is organising a Poppy Parade for Remembrance Day. This is unlike any yarn bomb I have ever seen. The Council is calling on all local (and not so local) Knitters and Crocheters to make poppies.
All the knitted and crocheted poppies will be gathered in October and sewn together to create an enormous curtain in Mansfield town centre. Your poppies can be dropped off at the Mansfield Civic Centre. Alternatively, you can either drop them off or send them to us at Yankee Yarns. That’s right! We are working along side of the Council to make this happen! After the last yarn bomb to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, we are committed to making this bigger and better.
“This will be HUGE,” said Sara, our Fearless Leader. “We were approached and we are stepping up!”
You can click here to download and print the free patterns.
Then again, you may have a favourite poppy pattern of your own. These are very welcome, too!!! Join us!
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!