The Skein Chronicles: Part 3- From Skein to Eternity

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It’s amazing what one skein can accomplish. Imagine how many skeins went into nearly 8,400 knitted and crocheted poppies! The commitment of the crafting community proved itself to be absolutely prodigious.

The marvel of it all got me to thinking about a Mindfulness seminar I attended where the topic of community came up. I know what you are thinking, and you’re right. Mindfulness is often seen as something quite solitary done by some bearded hippy dressed in hemp, sitting cross-legged on the edge of his serenity pond in his garden and chanting Om to his Koi.

Knitting, crocheting and crafting in general are seen as very solitary past times done by Nanas and spinster aunties who congregate a few times a year at some craft fayre in the village. But now we hear about knitting raves, crochet pub crawls, groovy dye & knit-ins (don’t even get me started on the psychedelics… and by psychedelics, I mean yarn) and Sit & Spins (where you bring your spinning wheel and play a bit of Prosecco Pong and let your mind spin a bit.

Being a part of a crafting community has so many benefits. Here are the top five:

  1. The power of knowledge– there will be someone in the group with random knowledge (bare tings, innit galdem!) who can assist you in your crafting quest.
  2. Not what you know, it’s who you know- Usually, the conversation goes a bit like this: “You are a great spinner, I see. Who taught you, can they teach me and how can I come by a Sleeping Beauty spinning wheel?
  3. Inspiration! I know someone who started on scarves. She fell in with a merry bunch of wayward crocheters who kept showing up with different projects every time they met. She got tired of showing up still working on the same scarf pattern. So she took the plunge and now she is the Sunflower Blanket Master!
  4. Opportunities and resources– Sharing is caring and often, one knitting circle turns into a virtual Diagon Alley of needles available to trade, gift or buy. In addition, custom patterns and interesting skeins often float over the table and into your trembling hands. It’s a truly magical place.
  5. Fun. Well, there was that time with the aforementioned Prosecco Pong and a nefarious interlude involving a stitch counting guide and a customs agent… but that is another story.

The measurement of happiness is one of those questions that most people will debate. The old question to a question springs to mind: How long is a piece of string? Or, shall we say, yarn? To which our question-to-a-question’s-question would be: What yarn weight are you talking about? I know a group who might know. It all comes down to amazing gratitude and a community spirit. Come around to ours. As Our Fearless Leader Sara would say, “I’ll school you!”

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Note from the blogger: Sorry I posted so late. I got all wrapped up. I’m all untangled now.

 

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The Skein Chronicles: Part 1- One Night Skein

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I had too many beers. Had my beer goggles on or something. At first, I thought, “Oh! Hello!!!!”Then it all got a bit out of hand. Everyone looked at me like I had gone a bit mad. Kicking myself now. And so, so careless! Right at that time, it seemed a good idea. Easily done in that light. Never again…

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No doubt, everyone has yarn in their stash that seemed a good idea at the time. I have one burning a hole in my Yarniverse right now. It’s a monstrosity. I was told it was bought at the Knitters Yarn Con aka Yarndale. Of course, when I heard this, all I could think was “Let’s see it! I bet it’s an artisan’s skein!” Everyone around the table looked at me in sheer bemusement. For whatever reason, they thought it was the ugliest thing they had ever seen. I do not want to post a picture of it for three reasons:

  1. 1. If the “artisan” sees it, he or she would be hurt. I’m a lover and not a fighter. The last thing I want to do is offend someone.
  2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think I see some funky potential in it. I remember seeing it and thinking, “This would make a cool trim for a poncho one can wear at Glastonbury with some very fashionable wellies!
  3. I kind of lost it in my Yarniverse. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it!)

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There are so many reasons we end up with “ugly” skeins of yarn.

I spoke to some people who all admitted (under the cover of darkness) that they owned some balls of yarn that were of an unconventional aesthetic quality. There are so many reasons for these acquisitions.  I was so fascinated, I wrote them down!

Here they are in no certain order:

  • I inherited it from my dead Auntie Beatrix (not her real name). Don’t have the heart to throw it out.
  • When I bought it, it was a really pretty blue. I have no idea what colour that is now. I call it “Kebab”.
  • It used to be pretty but I have frogged it so many times, it’s gone a bit “bit-y”.
  • It was so very expensive. So I thought, “Yes!” But look at it. It’s only a 50g ball, it goes with nothing, it is scratchy and hideous. Maybe it can be a dishcloth?”
  • It seemed a good idea at the time. I thought it would match the cream Arran.
  • I washed it by mistake. Maybe it can be used for hair for a doll or something. So I am keeping it.
  • I have no idea how this got in my stash. Do you want it?
  • Someone gave it to me. I didn’t want to say no.
  • I dyed it myself. It was the first one I ever did and I used beetroot. But it came out like this.
  • I spun it myself. It’s a bit wonky but I thought it looked a little artsy.
  • It was on sale.

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I will say so many of these balls, skeins, hanks and cakes make it into the charity shop, yarn bombs or newbie’s knitting bags. Be honest. How many do you have? We’d be interested to know.

Epic Fail Cocktail

 

imageThe dictionary definition of an epic fail is the neglect or omission of expected or required action in grand scale. Sometimes “grand scale” means your gnome hat becomes big enough to fit a giant. However, it does not always follow that mistakes such as these are necessarily failures. I will use an expanded use of the title of a book by Naoki Higashida: “Frog seven times, crochet or knit up eight.” What this means is sometimes it is necessary that the skills required to create that special project needs to be forged in the fires of failure. By trying and failing, we eventually achieve the success beyond our wildest dreams.

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We all have to start somewhere. It is very rare that someone takes to knitting on the first try. Even under the watchful eye of a knitting Yoda, it is often difficult to find our groove and move into the effortless knit-and-purl of meditative legend early on. Even when we finally get the gist of the garter stitch and slink off to our well-lit knitting sanctuary to knit along with either a knitting how-to book or You Tube, we still eventually skip along the path of disaster. Some of the common mistakes  we experience are dropping stitches, tension inconsistencies, forgetting where you were in the pattern, misinterpreting the pattern, going rogue on the pattern, forgetting where you are in the row follow you as you level up in your knitting. I discovered that the “bosses” we need to fight to keep levelling up become more and more about battling our own hubris. We get more clever and decide to mess about with the math so we can use a different yarn, bigger needles or smaller needles and then we realise we got the math wrong. Yes! Fails are not solely exclusive to newbies. Recently, Our Fearless Leader Sara committed an “whoopsie” where she skilfully knitted some gorgeous cabled mittens for her TWO LEFT HANDS. Yes. She knitted two lefts.

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I was amazed at the examples I found on epic fails on the internet! It seems there are as many examples of mistakes as there are knitters and crocheters on this magnificent planet. It also made me feel better to know I am not alone. When I first started knitting, I came by a book with instructions on how to make a knitted patchwork knitted throw blanket. I set about making it as per the instructions but ran out of the right yarn so I decided to raid my modest (at the time) Yarniverse. I was a rookie. I had not been knitting a year and my squares came out more— how shall I say it?— Abstract. The blanket is more of an oblong super-shawl. It is rich in colour and it is warm. It’s perfect for snuggling in with my son and a book on cold winter nights and it is perfect comfort for when I am feeling down and under the weather on sick days. This imperfect, oblong blanket/ super shawl serves as a reminder that nothing in life is a mistake.

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Most of my jumpers have sleeves that are far too long and most of the hats I’ve made are either far too slouchy or become beanies. The yoga warmer with one sleeve a totally different colour to the rest of the garment was because I ran out of yarn and had to order more but the dye lot was slightly off (mail-order. Don’t get me started.) However, my talent is the way I wear the garments as if I meant them to look that way. I basically use all the confidence of a model on a catwalk and summon my inner Coco Chanel and call it my own haute couture. Why not? If the big fashion houses can get away with it during fashion week, why can’t I?

 

Resident Designer Jen related a conversation in the shop this week.  A Mum was speaking to her daughter who is our latest novice in the world of knitting.
Mum: You’ve done 2 left sides for that cardi!

Daughter: I know, but it all still fits together so it’ll be OK.

Mum: The sleeve will still fit, as it’s a straight line.

Daughter: I can’t see what your problem is, I’m not taking it out!
So now she has a cardi which only really fits well when her right arm is stretched across her body.

fail manBut even Resident Designer Jen is not exempt from knitting kafuffles. This is from her email to me:

“I bought a fabulous book – SystemHATic, by Rico Design – and instantly wanted to make something from it. I have been meaning to try brioche for some time, and had some Rico bonbon yarn in my stash, so the brioche beanie pattern was just too good an opportunity to miss…
I must admit, I struggled at first. A lot. I was fine with row 1, and then it all went wrong for me on row 2. I checked out YouTube and blogs, knew that I should be able to do it but couldn’t. And then, after 2 or 3 hours of this pain, I realised: I had been trying to knit the hat in the round, when the pattern was actually written for 2 needles, worked flat and then seamed. Which would totally explain why it wasn’t working.
Reminder to self: READ the pattern, then READ it again. Doh!”

Bless her heart!

I think the best kind of example of knitting mistakes are the ones you make when a few bottles of prosecco come out and there are a few of us around the table talking about something completely unrelated to knitting. The epic failures that come out of these sessions are legendary. But if you want to know more about these, you will need to leave me a message in the comments. Alternatively, you can come in and visit us at Yankee Yarns. We’d love to hear about your knitting misadventures!

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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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Yarn Of Wonder

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Yankee Yarns supports community events and champions charities and community programmes such as the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme.aladdin5

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!”

It will. It will chill you out. Come on in.

 

 

Worldwide Knit In Public Day: A Recapitulation

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WKIP with Yankee Yarns at The Redgate Inn 10/06/17

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:

“Pub?”

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Redgate Inn, Ladybrook Mansfield Notts

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.

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Left to right: Julie, Janet, Angela, Our Fearless Leader Sara & Resident Designer Jenny

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…

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The less said the better…

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.

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Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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.

 

 

 

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Middle right photo: Resident Writer Ann. (Me!) “I had every intention to get going with the poppies. Then beer happened.”
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clockwise: 1. Angela’s creation. 2. Angela smiles!  3. Janet and daughter Angela
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Remains of the day!!!!!

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.

Go Forth And Knit!

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The days are growing longer and it is almost time for the clocks to Spring Forward in the UK. The anticipation of the extra light has us all abuzz like fantastical little buzzy bees. Although there are still the same 24 hours in the day, the perception that we will all have so much more time to go and do stuff is down to how far up we are in the hemisphere. The sun just goes on and on. Those of us lucky enough to live in Scotland will enjoy the daylight far into the wee hours of the next day! This just makes me happy. In addition, there is the promise of a plethora of social events coming up. There will be music festivals, art festivals, food festivals and car festivals. The things that all these festivals have in common is there is plenty of downtime to sit, have a natter and work on our projects. As they say, Spring has sprung!

The energy is through the roof, yo.

I’mma gonna slap me a stitch!

knit purl to do listMaking a “To-Do” list.

So here we go. There are a few things we might want to do to plan our hazy lazy days in the sun. After all, winter comes around so quickly. We need to make the best of the light we get! Now, I know what you are thinking (and you are right.) You are factoring in those days of Spring showers that always threaten us with darkness. There is one happening right now. But when the showers come, I use the time to think and make lists. Remember, all showers pass! Here is my list so far

  1. Make some chicks for charity. These are little hollow chicks that are quick to make. You can fit Cadbury Cream Eggs inside them and sell at church or school fundraising events. I bought some years ago. After Easter, I sewed them onto a Memory Quilt for my son. Every year I add on to the quilt. The idea is that it will grow with my son.
  2. Learn how to make my own patterns. Knitwear and crochet trends for this Spring are all over the fashion blogs. So many of them feature pretty lacework or loopy designs with contrasting colours. Our Resident Designer Jenny says it really is quite satisfying making your own designs and it really just takes a bit of patience. Yankee Yarns plans to deliver a workshop on patterns soon. Keep checking back!
  3. Attend a Worldwide Knit In Public Day event on Saturday, June 18th.
    Last year, Our Fearless Leader Sara organised the event at the Redgate Pub next door to the shop. There was a raffle with great prizes. This year promises to be an even bigger event as the knitting & crochet community has grown exponentially.
  4. Recruit Knitting/Crochet apostles! There is nothing like getting some newbies onboard and then taking them to the knitting in public event! Once they are in… THEY ARE REALLY IN.
  5. Hitting my steps and counting my stitches ON-THE-GO! I read a story of a runner who knitted whilst running in the New York Marathon! Now, I don’t think I could go for a run and knit at the same time but I could definitely walk and get my 10k steps a day whilst I knit. The key is to make a yarn holster that would hold my ball of wool. I need the exercise but I need to knit even more. This will be perfect for the long days!
  6. Plan a Knitting Holiday with the ladies in the circle.

You may chuckle at the last one, but is it so far-fetched? What could be better than finding a really pretty place, pouring some prosecco into a glass in the middle of the day and knitting with my gregarious posse? It is actually a thing! It could be as simple as getting our camping equipment and striking out in the Big Country with our WIPs and needles. Or it could be something more structured like the Knitting Retreat In France.

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Last year, I booked into Southpark House   in Locharbriggs. The breakfast is amazing there! I went to visit the Valais Blacknose Sheep. It was a love affair.I did get a bit distracted by other lovely activities at the time. The visit was all too short. I think the next time I will make sure I stay longer and wear comfier clothes. The sheep were super friendly at feeding time!

So, there. I’ve given you plenty to think about. Let’s get out there and knit all the things!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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!

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Cast On, Knit Up, Drop Out: Understanding Knitting Patterns

HEY!

PEOPLE OF THE WORLD!

KNIT UP!

KNIT UP!

In doing some research on Timothy Leary, I came across some rather groovy experimental videos. He said that the natural state of the brain was chaos. It is when we are overloaded by information and stimuli that we are able to be reprogramed. Basically, out of chaos comes a kind of order.

Lights and colours kept flashing before me and my mind suddenly snapped to that pattern I had been agonising over. The feeling of gaining some kind of clarity comes at the darnedest times. I stopped doing the work I was doing and went to my knitting basket, pulled out the pattern and just took the time to read it. Now at this point, many of you might be saying to your self, “No duh! Who doesn’t read the pattern before you start?” The answer, my friend, is LOTS OF PEOPLE. But it’s not about just reading the pattern. It’s about becoming one with it.

At the last knitting circle I attended at Bugman’s Bar with the Knitting Kninjas, I mentioned how I was still studying the pattern I was currently working on. One of the ladies was nonplussed. “You study it? I just start it!” she said. One of the beginners looked at my pattern and mearly shook her head. “I’ll never get there,” she sighed.

Knitting patterns can be very confusing. The abbreviations and symbols can look as if it is some ancient language. Throw in some runes and you have something you would see on an alien’s information display in its helmet. (he he) But seriously, it looks daunting. Once you become familar with the chaos, the order appears. You just need to chunck it down. Take it line by line and take your time.

The first thing to do is become familiar with the knitting abbreviations. I bought a book when I first learned to knit. I carried it around with me in my knitting bag. 20170127_100027.jpg

I first got used to the basic ones which are:

K or k = knit stitch
P or p = purl stitch

CO= cast on

BO= Bind off

Inc= increase

Dec= decrease

Rep= repeat

sl= slip stitch or slip a number of stitches

YO= yarn over as in taking the yarn over the needle

Tog= together as in knit two stitches together

Work Even= continue to what you have been doing without increasing or decreasing

Maintain Pattern= this means continue to do what you have been doing whilst dcreasing or increasing on the rows given.

Another helpful bit of advice was to print out a list of abbreiviations, laminate them and keep them in your knitting bag. I found a list on the Craft Yarn Council’s Yarn standards page.

It is a feeling of absolute joy when I all of a sudden “Get” the pattern. The soundtrack in my mind suddenly snaps into Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” and the cinematography becomes all golden. A very nice lady and self proclaimed Old Hippie told me once, “You just can’t rush things, sugar. Take your time. Breathe in…out and it all becomes clear.” (Thanks Mom)

You can find detailed help on how to understand knitting patterns on Wikihow.

We call this process “turning on.” And secondly, we seek to express the revelation, the glory, and the confusion and the paradox which comes to us from turning on in acts of glorification, of communication, of expressing the wonder and the meaning. It’s this process of acting it out that is called “tuning in.” But in order to turn on and tune in, you must of course “drop out.” — Timothy Leary

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