Yarn & Yarnability

17-09-25-13-20-43-575_deco

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a knitter or crocheter in possession of a good stash, must be in want of a WIP.

On the coach to Yarndale last Saturday, it became apparent that I belong to a collective of crafters who share the same secret. Amidst the plethora of our individual stashes, we each harbour a ridiculous amount of projects known as Works in Progress (WIP)

I need to back up a bit. In preparing to go to my first ever Yarndale, I went through my Yarniverse with the aim to inventory everything I had in order to plan a maximised spending strategy. Yarndale is the quintessential Yarn Con of the knitting, spinning and crocheting population. Not only can you find all manner of wool there, but there are other crafty things there to tempt you.

IMG_20170925_132704

Because I wanted more knitting needles and more skeins of hand-dyed, I needed to assess what I already had, what I wanted to make and what I would need to get so that I could go to Yarndale with a realistic budget. Simple!

No. Not so simple. By looking through all the bags and Yarniverse, I realised most of my needles were missing because there were already had stitches on them from WIPs in different stages of completion. There was the ornaments of Christmas past, a birthday present-gone-wrong, a summer vest from when I was a different size, a sock of nefarious origin, a poppy, a Clanger, and three shawls (two on needles, one on stitch holder). There was also one thing in there that I don’t even remember starting or what the devil it was supposed to be. It was on metal needles so I wager this is a leftover from my days as a complete novice!

What makes this really unsettling is that I had always been an organised person with drive and commitment to get a job done. But anything that I have ever been in my career life or even my social life has gone up in smoke when it comes to my craft! However, on the bus ride to Yarndale, I learned I am not alone.

Angela Burrows, one of Yankee Yarns favourite regulars, confided how she set on to finish projects during the run-up to Yarndale. She spent a fortnight “WIP-busting”. This, she confessed, was her Stash Acquisition Justification Mission which we will now put into the acronym, S.A.J.M.

“I have loads of finishes already this year,” she said. “…2 shawls, a teddy, Ez’s Dino onesie. I still have a shawl to turn into a FFO from a FO,  3 blankets, 2 Hygge CALs and pair of socks on the go…but who’s counting.”

What’s an FFO? It’s a Fully Finished Object. Angela is a trailblazer. Angela went on to say she “FFOed” Sophie’s Universe pattern she had been working on in the days leading up to Yarndale.  Of course, there are still WIPs that had been left behind. She found three baby blankets she started and 10 poppies.

Diabolical!

“We have an illness,” she said. I’m certain, but it makes me happy.” She would not really comment on the embroidery WIPs only to say there is enough for 10 lifetimes.

IMG_20170927_145330-1

But this is not uncommon. I went around Yarndale and noted some of the comments made by miscellaneous ladies AND gentlemen:

“That’s yarn is gorgeous! What will you make with it?” The answer, “I don’t know. But I needed it in my life.

“I think I am going to have to hire a cleaner. I’ll never clean the house now.”

“I’m sure eight of these will do. But I had better buy 10 just in case.”

“These will live in the boot of my car until I can figure out where I will put it. If he finds out, he’ll kill me.

“I don’t know when I will get to these patterns. It’s just nice to know they are there.”

“This skein looks a little like that skein but its ok. I will figure out what I am doing with each of them.”

“It’s so pretty. I love the colours. I almost don’t want to crochet it. I just want to sit and look at the skin whenever I feel a little sad.”

Using the Lean Six Sigma Project Opportunity of reducing manufacturing work in progress, I took five techniques and applied them to crafting WIPs. My understanding of reducing WIPs is that it would lead to a higher sense of achievement, peace of mind and freedom from clutter. So, here we have to focus on the raw materials as well as finished projects.

  1. Forecasting and WIP Levels– Here we make sure we keep an inventory of our materials from tools, wools and spools. This way we can make appropriate judgments according to demand. Keeping a list of things we want to make vs what we need to make and noting the time it might take to accomplish the project would help in the decision-making process. “Accurate forecasting promotes awareness, which leads to sound planning” according to Forrest W Breyfogle III in his paper on Shifting the Paradigm.
  2. Sharing Capacity– Sometimes we just bite off more than we can chew. This is just the fact. Whether it is due to our own ambition or just because we love our hobby so much. This is when we experience a “bottleneck” of projects. During this time, wouldn’t it be great if we can just hand something over to someone in our knitting group to help out? Whether it is making something up, lending a hand to a fellow knitter by doing a bulk knitting session of boring garter stitch or crocheting a few granny squares to add for someone so they can add them to their blanket. The idea is lovely and makes sense.
  3. Machines– A knitting machine could be used for those needful projects like a school jumper or the centre part of a big blanket. Anything you can set up and whip up. This will give you time to lavish on the quick-win projects like dish towel presents or crochet hats etc.
  4. Just in Time (JIT) – This is adhering to a schedule to make the projects you want in the desired quantities, just when they need them. You know Christmas is in December. How many ornaments have you decided to make? What about the Christmas Santa hat to wear at your son’s Christmas play? Easter egg chicks don’t come before Christmas projects. Basically, if we have a good schedule and track our progress, we can determine what the right number of projects is for us, as individuals, to have on the go. For some it is five; for someone else, that number might be much higher or much lower.
  5. Time-Saving Is this the right project for you??? This is a controversial point. If the WIP you are working on is not met with absolute love or even love/hate emotion, perhaps you should frog it and invest the time in the projects you actually do love. It’s not giving up. It is about knowing when to say when.

I’m interested in what number of WIPs is right for each individual. Drop us a line with your ideas, comments or rants! We’d love to hear from you!

img_1648

Advertisements

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.

20170825_122936

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.

wp-1505307470256.

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.

20170804_160046

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.

17-09-13-14-37-21-734_deco

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!

FB_IMG_1501921081056

 

Unravelling The Mystique

Every now and then we come upon something new that is based on something old. It’s like the feeling you get when you hear a re-make of an old song. The memory is there but just out of touch. Sometimes you feel yourself searching in the catacombs of your mind for that one small glimpse of times long past. All at once, you might find yourself becoming rather nostalgic and playing through long treasured memories. It’s easy to go to those lovely regular memories that forever keep you suspended in a feeling of love. But some memories are bittersweet. Even so, they are hard to let go.

I discovered two absolutely odd but wonderful yarn related treasures recently. I stumbled upon a mystically glorious puzzle platform video game called Unravel. The video game was developed by the Swedish company which lends to it’s sublime forgeign feel. It’s a story about a doll made of yarn that comes to life. The doll’s name is Yarny and the mission is to mend broken bonds. The write up states “the yarn represents the love and connection between people.” Isn’t this just what yarn does? How many times have you gone into a shop, reached out to touch a ball of yarn and instantly transported yourself into a sentimental reverie? Perhaps you think about wearing a crocheted poncho your auntie made for you in the 70s. Or you think to how you knitted your expected baby socks only to remember that baby was now having babies of their own? Or you just think of a place. A long ago time. An afternoon. Giggling and cotton candy.

This brings me to my second yarny find! When I went into the shop last weekend to speak to Resident Designer Jen, I came upon a strange and interesting donut ball of wool that lookedmystiq3 like the ribbon-like laced I used to on my rollerskates when I was nine years old. These were so pretty and flat but if you laced them right, you looked like a floaty little princess with ribbons flying off the tops of your skates at the roller rink. Mine were a strange Pepto Bismol pink with a white gradient. I longed to find some in baby blue. I never did. But that day when I walked into Yankee Yarns, there it was— and wasn’t.

mystiq4The yarn is from Stylecraft and it’s not called Mystique for nothing. It has been dubbed as “an industry first.” Unlike my rollerskate ribbons, this wool is light and airy because it is made from a polyester and viscose blend. Resident Designer Jen is making a light summer cardigan out of it.

Stylecraft Mystique

“It knits up so quickly, ” she said. “I could have finished it in a couple of evenings if other stuff did not keep coming up.”

Mystique comes in 50g balls in six colours it washes well and dries super quick. You only have to knit a few rows to see it’s unusual texture work it’s magic. It can be used for Knitting or Crochet. While it is unlike a regular yarn so not as easy to compare, Mystiquue generally works to a chunky/bulky or 12 ply gauge. You would need 8mm needles or hook. The yarn length is 110m (120yds). It calls for a tension of 12 stitches, 16 rows to 10cm/4″.

This is definitely one for my stash. This yarn eureka moment was a bit like Yarny lassoing an almost forgotten memory for me. Mystique reminds me of something else that I just cannot put my finger on. All I know is I would love to make a spring / summer top and maybe even dust off my rollerskates and have an afternoon on some long pavement by a beach… Lots to think about now!

Yarn Of Wonder

ALADDIN1

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.

aladdin4

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.

aladdin3

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.

aladdin2

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.

 

 

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.

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.

IMG_-1vmug7

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.

Of Knitting Circles, Eclectic Abyss & The Project of Shame

FB_IMG_1492712210564
Il Knitterati, IlumiKnitty & Knitting Knijas logo Sponsered by Yankee Yarns Stitch & Bitch courtesy @BakerHobbies

You would think one would be satisfied with being a member of one crafty club. After speaking to several of the ladies in my milieu, I realised I am not alone in the fact that sometimes one circle is not enough. Most of the ladies belong to spinning guilds, sewing bees, craft groups as well as regular knitting circles. The ladies I know may as well create some kind of logo inspired by the olympic rings with all the clubs and organisations they belong to! The knowledge and inspiration that comes from such associations are truely mind enhancing.

“I think my next thing is to get a loom,” said Rachel Williams of the Knitting Kninjas and W.I. I never thought about using a loom until just that moment. Rachel talked a bit about it as she crocheted, ruminating out-loud on where she would fit a loom in her house. Lizzie Vershowske, member of the Knitting Kninjas and The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers said she often thought of getting a loom. 20170215_185215However, as the owner of four spinning wheels and a handsome stash of yarn, she would not know whether she would be able to compete for space in the house she shares with her husband (who has his own sizable hobbies). These ideas flowered in my head rendering me into an eclectic stupor as I sat knitting my third pair of socks. The conversation meandered into knitting and crochet holiday destinations like Cornwall, Scotland and France. I snapped out of a dreamy trance, as I enthusiastically shouted “Let’s do this!” as if I was on some kind of adventure party. Roll that dice, we are on a side quest!IMG_20161019_142611

Of course not all the ladies were present that night. Sometimes life with its endless tug of responsibility does keep us from our crafts. One very lovely lady (who shall remain nameless and blameless) had a credible excuse for not being able to attend. She and her partner were to go car shopping because they have been cruising with the devil in their deathtrap of a car. However, she did drop in the fact that she hoped to attend the next months session with a different project and not the one that she has been working on for the last three knitting circles. Her Project of Shame is the one that she just cannot seem to finish for one reason or other.

“It’s only the tiniest of jumpers and I have only got this far,” she said indicating a measure of about 40 rows using her hands. I think we all have a project like this. Mine is wallowing in what I can only describe as My Project Oubliette.

So many of us work on multiple projects. The thing is, eventually we are meant to finish them. I know that many of the ladies I know actually DO finish their projects to perfection. But then, here is me who has been working on the same sparkly gold Christmas jumper for the last three years. It has languished in my Project Oubliette all but forgotten as I go on to buy more and more interesting skeins of yarn and print out all sorts of someday projects. Yes. I have a Project of Shame.

I think it is time to go down into the dungeon and pull out the sparkly Christmas jumper and get working on it again before I start any more projects. I currently have three on the go as well as looking for time to knit poppies for November. I am now resolute to finish it at my weekly knitting circle. If you would like to check up on me and my progress, do come to Yankee Yarns on Mondays at 7:30. 

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