Cherry Leaf Lace & A Pretty Face…

 

Yvain modelling WoollyElly’s Cherry Leaf Shawl

 

I agreed to meet my daughter for lunch in the historic Lace Market in Nottingham. Since coming to the UK, I have been a fan of the old Victorian and Georgian architecture of this protected heritage area.

lace market
Nottingham Lace Market

I mused over the beauty of the old brick juxtaposed by the hip and fashionable décor. I tried to imagine these buildings as warehouses and workshops when Nottingham was the centre of the world’s lace industry during the British Empire.

 

These renovated buildings are now luxury apartments, high-spec offices, academic buildings and restaurant/bars. This day, I was sitting in the trendy Annie’s Burger Shack. My daughter was running late but I had a nice drink and my knitting to keep me company whilst I waited.

Musing about the history of the lace and hosiery industry in the area got me to remembering my own great-grandmother working “lace” doilies out of silk yarn using only her fingers. lace machineShe did it as a hobby and I marvelled at her patience with it. She could do other things but it took ages to wait for anything bigger than doilies. I loved these little things but found myself shopping for machine-manufactured items because I was impatient. This was how the lace industry changed in England. The lace machines pretty much wiped out hand-knitted lace industry. But now, the mystique of hand-made pieces of art make me want to learn lace making like my great-grandmother did— Not to sell but to create beautiful lace things for my own joy. However, the task seems daunting!

Our Fearless Leader Sara, as if by magic, came up with a most agreeable solution! Why not knit up the lace as they did before the invention of the lace machine?  Yankee Yarns will host a Lace Workshop featuring local dyer, Woollyelly, who will be teaching the art of knitting her original design pattern Cherry Leaf Shawl.

Woollyelly, AKA Ellena Kirk, is an accomplished knitter. She started knitting 37 years ago as a child. As she grew older, she grew bolder venturing into the world of crochet in 1997. Then she got adventurous with her knitting. After watching a hand-spinning demo in 2007, she joined a local guild and began spinning.  Her passion for dying her own yarn and weaving with it brought her to Yankee Yarns. We have some of her 144 hand-spun works of wonder in our shop.

Our Fearless Leader Sara said Woollyelly designed the Cherry Leaf Shawl special for our workshop. The pattern is on sale on Ravelry for those of you who are already accomplished or unable to make the workshop at our shop in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

You can attend the workshop at 11 am over three Saturdays: June 17th, July 1st and July 8th. Each session costs £20 but if you block-book, the whole workshop will only cost £45. The price includes Woollyelly’s Shawl pattern, two balls of Rico Superba Superwash in your choice of 17 colours, refreshments and hours of lovely company. So join up as soon as you can as space is limited!
To learn more about the history of lace in Nottingham, please click here! 

 

Magic Heart With A Heart

2MCR

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.

1MCRBut 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.

 

 

Get Your Crafting Freak On

Being Yankee Yarn’s Resident Writer, I love going to the shop every Friday to get my next topic from Our Fearless Leader Sara for the blog. We usually sit, catch up, talk about all the “cray haps” and brainstorm business ideas with a “spontaneous” cup of coffee (and sometimes a vegan treat.)

Booyah, baby! Corporate as you like!

Last Friday was a little different. When I walked in, there was already a full-blown meeting taking place. I got to be the proverbial fly-on-the-wall during a visit with The Yarn Sales Santa! Our Fearless Leader Sara and Resident Designer Jen were all abuzz and grooving on the exciting new patterns and yarns that will be coming into our second site in Sutton-In-Ashfield,  Unique & Beautiful.

Unique & Beautiful is a new venture in Sutton-in-Ashfield offering handmade crafts from over 25 local artists. Yankee Yarns sells a very small range of end-of-line and discounted wool at that site. But now, we will exclusively be selling our new line of King Cole yarn there!
“We are getting lots,” said Our Fearless Leader Sara. “We are getting ‘sick’ wool!” There will be 4 ply, baby wool, Aran and a very exciting yarn — Tinsel Chunky!

 

“We are getting every single pattern available for it!” she said. This really is fantastic news. Over a year ago, I became enamoured with this yarn and made a dozen owls and hedgehogs as presents for just about everyone I knew. 

Our Fearless Leader Sara will be knitting the dragon pattern when the yarn comes in. When she finishes it, she will exhibit it at Unique & Beautiful. I cannot wait to see it! Better yet… I cannot wait to knit it. It’s time I get to crafting again!

crochet market
Resident Designer Jen, Mansfield Market May 2016

Speaking of crafting, Yankee Yarns is at the Love Your Local Market event today, May 26th, from 11 am to 2 pm along with other arts and craft presenters. The market will be a cornucopia of homemade products, crafts, gifts and food.

We will be offering free crochet sessions and teaching folks how to make a poppy. We are encouraging everyone to be a part of the Mansfield Poppy Parade because raising money for the British Legion is something near and dear to our hearts! If you are in the area, pop in and meet us! If you are not local, you can still take part by knitting the Poppy Pattern found on the Mansfield District Council website and sending them to us.

Hope to see you there!

Cheers!

 

 

 

I Dream Of Jeanie

 

genie
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.

 

nori and jen
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.

 

 

jeanie pattern pic
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.

My Bae: Knitting 

According to the Urban Dictionary, the  word “bae” means “before anyone else.” It is usually a pet name for someone with whom one would cuddle up.

Lately, the only cuddling up I do is with a hot water bottle, on the sofa, binge watching Prison Break with my latest W.i.P.  and a cup of mocha—

And this pleases me greatly.

In an age when instant gratification seems to be the end-all-be-all of our mortal existence, the sublime little happiness of spending days/weeks/months on a single garment is lost on so many people. Knitting socks or crocheting a blanket is a long love affair. Each stitch or chain grows with our affection for the person for who we are making the thing. But not everyone gets it.

Case in point, the following is a transcript of a conversation between me and an old colleague.

Roger: “YOU knit?!”

Me: “Yeah.”

Roger: “How many balls of wool do you need to make a jumper?”

Me: “Depends on the jumper.”

Roger: “Like… for me. How much?”

Me: “Depends on the pattern… depends on the size needles… depends on the yarn…”

Roger: “Guess-timate…”

Me: “Let’s see… for this pattern, your build would need something like 12 skeins with this particular wool would be about £52 maybe more.”

Roger: “How long would it take?”

Me: “Depends, again… I got work…I got stuff to do… books… kids….etc…”wp-1464102803138.jpeg

Roger:”So a long time?”

Me: (nods and makes an emoticon-worthy scrunchie face).

Roger: “I could just go to the cheap shop and buy one for half the price tomorrow.”

Me: “Yeah.”

Roger: “I don’t see why you would bother.”

Me:” I wouldn’t bother… for YOU anyway.”

Obviously, the guy I was talking to was not my “Bae”. People who mean the most to me are the ones who get showered with my time, affection and my knitting. I think of all the things I have knitted up since I first learned how to knit almost 10 years ago, I have only knitted a handful of things for myself. The rest go to those that come before anyone else. Which is a beautiful thing.

Let Them Knit Cake!!!

17-04-12-19-43-14-739_deco

17-04-12-19-32-48-693_deco

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.

YARN BALL TYPES 1

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

 

 

YARN BALL TYPES 2

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***

17-04-12-20-21-08-057_deco

17-04-12-19-31-43-691_deco

17-04-12-19-43-14-739_deco

Though Poppies Grow…

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.

REMEMBER POPPY PARADE 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.

REMEMBER CROCHET

REMEMBER KNIT

Then again, you may have a favourite poppy pattern of your own. These are very welcome, too!!! Join us!

Go Forth And Knit!

17-03-23-07-58-40-075_deco.jpg

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.

lamb chop

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!!!!

knit all the things

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.

wp-1487839466722.jpg

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.

17-02-23-08-40-34-727_deco.jpg

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.

17-02-23-08-49-15-327_deco.jpg

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!”

17-02-23-08-52-31-268_deco.jpg

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.

wp-1487838723419.jpg

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!

wp-1487838668294.jpg