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!

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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.

Rookie Mistakes

The Dream: You found a nice pattern online for free and you print it out.  You look in your Knitting Notebook and see you already have the correct needle size and you know you have plenty of markers.  The pattern calls for 10 balls of Crystal Palace Nubbles – Icestorm Yarn. You notice this yarn has been discontinued. You ring up the local yarn store and the lovely lady thinks she has some in a basket in her cellar. She will ring you back as soon as she counts it. Ten minutes later you are on your way to the yarn store to collect the 10 balls. It’s discounted and you save 66%! You have a cup of coffee with the owner of the yarn store and begin knitting the piece right there and then.  You spend the next two weeks knitting whenever you can and in the third week, you have completed the project and make it all up. It’s a perfect fit. You only have two inches of yarn left over and this goes into your Knitting Notebook and the area marked “Samples of Yarn”. You take a Poloroid picture of yourself in your finished project and insert it in the Knitting Notebook. You take another picure on your phone and post it on Ravelry and all the social media platforms you are on. You get a culminated 1000 likes. The finished project goes well with your skinny jeans (you’ve been doing Pilates, after all!), Ugg Boots, the tan Michael Kors handbag of the year, Oakley sunglass and Channel scarf. Your hair and makeup are on point! You look like a “How-To-Accessorise” model on Pinterest. Happy days!

The Reality: Buy another pair of needles because you can’t remember if you have them. Find the exact same pair in your knitting bag. Couldn’t find the 10 balls of yarn at the local shop. Google search brings up a discontinued yarn shop that has 10 on sale at $2.72 each from $8 each. It’s a saving of 66% but it still needs to be shipped from America and you live in the UK. You read the shipping information and get confused. You end up paying more than full price. Oh well. You bought it so now knit it up. Your gauge is off and you wind up with a shortage. Gotta frog it. You start with sleeves. They look great. You mess about with the length of the front and back and when you finally finish it, you reckon it looks like a crop top jumper from the London Fashion. You put it on.  You look like an out of work busker. You rationalise. It’s good to wear when you wash the car. Meh.

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Yankee Yarns Fearless Leader, Sara, said this can happen to ANYBODY.  “Sit down. Let me tell what I did,” she said. “This is what is happening right now.”

Sara decided she would make herself something, for a change. She picked out expensive 100% chunky wool. She needed 13 100g balls to make a cardigan. She cost it up and placed the order. When they arrived, she nearly collapsed.  What she thought were 100g balls turned out to be 50g balls. She made a slight error. She had to order more.

“It was supposed to be a £40 cardigan,”she said. “Now it’s a £80 cardigan. OUCH!!!” The moral of the story, she says, is ALWAYS double check your yarn.

  • ALWAYS double check your yarn
  • ALWAYS double check the yards
  • ALWAYS double check the grams
  • ALWAYS make sure how much the pattern requires. If you have any question at all, double check with your local yarn store…

“I cannot believe I made a rookie mistake!” Sara yelled.

“Like, do you even KNIT, bruv?!” I said.

“I know, right??!!” Sara said.

Whilst she was on the rant, Sara described how, in her need to not waste the wool, she needed to find an alternative to the Long Tail Cast On.

Sara really hates that method but it gives you a good stretch where you need it. “The problem is that it wastes so much wool! And it looks a little loose.”

Well Sara found the best cast on technique!

“You need to check it out. I school you!!!” she said. There may be another name for this cast-on but Sara calls it the Stretchy Ass Cast On. This cast on method gives your project the stretch without being sloppy. Sara said, “Step away from the long tail!” 

Also! Be sure to come in and check out Crochet Now! We are in the magazine! Spend £15 and get a free gift from Crochet Now!

 

The Seven Deadly Sins of Knitting/Crochet

 

You may or may not know that Our Fearless Leader, Sara, is from Louisiana. A few weeks ago in the run up to Ash Wednesday, Sara got rather thoughtful and went into a bit of reverie about home. She spoke of how her kinfolk would be gearing up for Mardi Gras, otherwise known as Fat Tuesday.  There are similar colourful celebrations in Brazil and Venice where people don masks and feathers. Festivals carry on into the night with all the colours, lights and sounds. There is so much food! There is so much drink! People dance, sing and have fun! There are also tales of so much dissipation!

In England, it is a bit more subdued (collective sigh…).  The faithful call it Shrove Tuesday.   But it is affectionately known as Pancake Day. It was called this because the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday was the day when everyone is supposed to use up rich foods, like eggs, milk and sugar before the 40 days of fasting during Lent.

As is the way in most of our conversations in the shop, we went from nostalgia to factual to surreal as we mused on the secret (and not so secret) behaviours of all the knitters and hookers we know. Basically, we talked about our (unhealthy?) interest in all things to do with our hobby. We talked about the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. This is when we came up with the Seven Deadly Sins of Knitting & Crochet.



Lust–Wool Kleptomania or the intense desire or need to buy ALL THE YARN! This is really signified by a secretive demeanour when buying and bringing yarn into the house without the spouse knowing. You spend hours walking around events like The Nottingham Yarn Expo or some other event with your grocery money or the Secret Bank Account money that you keep and use to embezzle from the joint account…. Hypothetical, of course!!!!

 

 

Envy–Wanting the wool others have or “painful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage”.  You will be sitting at your knitting circle and everyone is having a good time. Then someone comes in with a delicious looking yarn that is softer than a baby’s bottom. The colour swirls into a lusciously variegated riot of beauty and all you can think of is that lovely, lovely day at the seaside when you watched the sunrise and that glorious warmth on your face…This leads to…


Gluttony–Wool Hoarding or the excess in acquiring such skeins, balls, cones and cakes for one’s own pleasure.  Such acquisitions are “earmarked” to be used “at some point” to make “presents” for everyone “this year”.   Heard in the shop: “I don’t really need another ball of yarn but I FEEL I need it…” That sums it all up, really.

Greed— Not wanting to share your wool with anyone or unnecessary or shameful hoarding.  We have either been on the receiving end or the delivering end of this when we are ok to offer up that bargain bucket wool we found at the charity shop, that DK in white or baby blue, to the newbie in the circle so they can practice casting on. But answer truthfully; would you part with the hand-dyed skein of Paco-vicuña called Inca Sunrise? Hmmm? … Hmmmm?!

Sloth— Not doing anything because you need to finish that one more row or disinclined to activity or exertion. “Here comes summer, we need to hit the gym. There is a beginner’s aerobics on Monday night… NOPE! I need to be at the knitting circle. Oh well…. “Or how about this scenario:

Mum: Daughter of mine, you need to learn how to run a household now. It’s time.

Daughter:  Before or after my GCSE homework? What do I need to do?

Mum: After the GCSE homework. Wash the dishes first, dry them, put them away then do the same with laundry. So you understand what it is like, remember to clean the rooms as you go. Don’t worry about the garden. Your brother needs to learn how to deal with that and to throw out the trash.

Daughter: But he’s three.

Mum: Don’t worry. I will be out in the garden supervising whilst I make this jumper for him. Then I need to make your hat for winter so… oh! can you put the kettle on for me?

***Please note, no children were hurt in the creating of this scenario***

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Wrath–The emotional response to perceived wrong and injustice done to us in the course of our knitting or crocheting. There are two instances when one loses their temper when working on a WIP. The first one is shouting at your pattern, needles or yarn for not cooperating. This is often followed by chucking said materials across the room or down into your knitting bag and then storming off into the kitchen to flip the kettle on. In the time it takes to brew the tea and pad back into your comfy chair, you soften and seek to make amends with your pattern/needles/yarn. Usually, that bit of time to step away gives one clarity and progress is often made in the second (or third) pass. All is then well with the world because our hobby is a very forgiving hobby.

The second instance of wrath is more serious. This is when we lose our count. This is often preceded by someone walking in, seeing you sitting there (apparently doing nothing) and deciding to engage in some kind of conversation with you. What they do not seem to comprehend is that you are mid-row working cables in an extraordinarily complicated array of mental math.  Vengeful anger and serious indignation bubbles under the surface and then you unleash your fury like a sorcerer releasing fireballs. Now, I know I have waxed lyrical about knitting being therapeutic. But everything has a dark side. Intense concentration in anything can make the most tranquil knitter/hooker raise a hornet’s revenge when interrupted mid-row. I am not making excuses. I am simply stating facts here….

Pride — Showing off your stash or showcasing finished projects on some social media platform. The actual sin is the quality or state of being proud and possessing an inordinate self-esteem. Ok. For me, I do not think you can have too much pride in your work. Think about it. You spend hours honing your craft and someone comes along and appreciates it. Sometimes they even ask you to make them something! Part of you thinks you are the bee’s knees. The other part of you wants to charge them up the yang (unless they are family and then you kind of just agree.) Some of us get so good we open up an Etsy shop or sell on Ebay. I think it is a lovely thing to be so confident and proud of your work. I cannot and will not count this as a sin. Go ahead! Snap a picture and show it to the world on our preferred social media platforms! Make a video and upload it! Celebrate it!

But do remember, sometimes we think everyone feels the way we do about yarn. We think we can leave our stuff everywhere. We hijack a corner in our living room or take over areas meant for other family members. We believe our way is the right way.You leave your stuff out because you are sure no one will disturb it and then here comes the cat, toddler or dog!. In minutes, your work comes off the needle or the yarn becomes an unrecognisable tangle of shame! This is when, actually, Pride comes before the fall.

So with this, just take care and understand that with all the bright and light side of our craft comes the darkness… We really do need to be balanced and understand our foibles no matter how funny they can be.

To quote our Fearless Leader Sara “REPENT!  THE END OF YOUR PROJECT IS NIGH!!!”

 

 

 

Knitting Pretty: Stress Relief

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Going through Pinterest one Sunday afternoon, I saw the funniest little meme. It simply said, “I knit so I do not kill people.” I nodded, solemnly and saved it to my board. That one meme contained all the gravity, complexity, turbulent vexations of my soul.

The fact that someone out there created this meme is proof that we are not alone in our efforts to combat stress through knitting. I showed this to one of my non-knitting friends who quizzically searched my face.

“You are so happy and sweet, though,” she said. “You look so serene all the time.”  All I did was wink and smile. No one needs to know what a hot mess I am. To quote an Alice in Chains song, “Like the coldest winter chill, heaven beside you, hell within.” But when I knit, all the anxiety, all of the stress seems to fall away. When I put my needles down, then I feel I can look at things clearly again. It is like a mini holiday for the soul.

Thinking back into history, so many images exist of women knitting as they waited out some kind of big event. My auntie said she would sit and knit or crochet for her brothers who were fighting in the European Theatre during the war. Being from a warm climate, she knew they would have been freezing their butts off “over there fighting the Hun”. She said knitting was kind of like a prayer to the Almighty to keep them safe and this gave her comfort.  As long as she was knitting for them, they would be ok. I guess it worked for her because they all came back. Also, I found out that in WWII, they actually used knitting as a code!  But I digress…

knitting-skillsElizabeth Zimmermann, British-born hand knitting teacher and designer who revolutionised the way we knit through her books like Knitting Without Tears said, “Properly practised, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit, either.” Knitting is an effective therapeutic activity. Film stars do it in between scenes.  It has been quoted as a “mental-yoga” because it keeps you in the moment, concentrating on the stitch count and musing on the colour of yarn. It brings you out of your reality into a kind of suspended animation.

 

17-03-09-09-08-03-194_deco.jpgSpeaking of colour and comfort, Yankee Yarns has in stock Swift Knit Tweed by Stylecraft. The colours are bold and rich and give you a kind of colour comfort like when you see a beautiful sunset or walking in nature. The tension is 9 stitches and 12 rows for a 10x10cm tension square using 10mm needles so I am thinking of making a wrap for when I am drinking my cup of tea by a roaring fire on a Welsh beach. After all, when things are going a bit stressful, who doesn’t think of a holiday!?

 

Knit Happens. YO it.

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I find myself floating in and out of the day to day grind. Perhaps I have a touch of Spring Fever. Whatever it is, it has me smack dab in a tangle of existentialism. My head is neither here nor there and I fear that I find myself pondering far too much on what it all means. In an effort to cut through the fog, I find myself digging into my magic bag of hold all— The knitting bag. There is something gratifying about holding on to something tangible and creating something wonderful out of a ball of colour. This “existential knitting” is not something I alone have coined. All I had to do was type Existential Knitting into Google and all sorts of hits came at me. My favourite led to a lovely little pattern called The Ribellion Cable! That set me on to a wonderful odyssey of the mind. I realised I work myself out of the funk when I am engaged in a project (or two or three…) If I am not knitting or crocheting, then I am thinking about it.

The thinking about knitting got me motivated to start planning my knitting more. I suppose this is all in a goal to become more centred and balanced. I began to include it into my working day ages ago when I started a monthly knitting circle at work for those who could not make it to the Yankee Yarns session on Monday nights. I made sure I inserted it into my Google Calendar and sent the Knitting Kninjas a monthly invitation. My non-knitting colleagues got a kick out of this and all I could retort was “Get over it! Knit happens!”

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Knitting is a big deal to us die-hards and dabblers. In this age of electronically charged immediate gratification, the fact that we can slow down and take our time with something is more than just a hobby. It’s a way to peace of mind. So I have taken it a step further and have started to keep a bullet journal to keep track of all manner of things   — Life, work, passions–  and I can see how knitting falls into one of my main priorities.

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There are all kinds of apps out there and when we are at the shop, we often whip out our phones to show off our knitting photos or knit as we glance at our iPad to follow a pattern we have saved on it. Also, you can keep track of your projects in an online journal on Ravelry. But my interest in my “Bujo” is becoming an obsession. I have decided to go back to basics and start a Knitting Journal based on the Bullet Journal concept. Although online websites, apps and spreadsheets are a boon to organisation and inspiration, there is something to be said about being meditative and quiet with one’s hobby. It is called getting back to basics and knitting “in the moment”.

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Now, you can make your own or buy a Knitters Notebook to start you off. This way you can keep track of projects, photos of your work, yarn stash, needles, ideas, samples of yarn, grid paper with charted stitches, conceptions and wishlists. It’s therapeutic. But beware… it can be addictive and in some respect, it has become a whole other hobby!

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!

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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….

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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!

 

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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