It’s amazing what one skein can accomplish. Imagine how many skeins went into nearly 8,400 knitted and crocheted poppies! The commitment of the crafting community proved itself to be absolutely prodigious.
The marvel of it all got me to thinking about a Mindfulness seminar I attended where the topic of community came up. I know what you are thinking, and you’re right. Mindfulness is often seen as something quite solitary done by some bearded hippy dressed in hemp, sitting cross-legged on the edge of his serenity pond in his garden and chanting Om to his Koi.
Knitting, crocheting and crafting in general are seen as very solitary past times done by Nanas and spinster aunties who congregate a few times a year at some craft fayre in the village. But now we hear about knitting raves, crochet pub crawls, groovy dye & knit-ins (don’t even get me started on the psychedelics… and by psychedelics, I mean yarn) and Sit & Spins (where you bring your spinning wheel and play a bit of Prosecco Pong and let your mind spin a bit.
Being a part of a crafting community has so many benefits. Here are the top five:
The power of knowledge– there will be someone in the group with random knowledge (bare tings, innit galdem!) who can assist you in your crafting quest.
Not what you know, it’s who you know- Usually, the conversation goes a bit like this: “You are a great spinner, I see. Who taught you, can they teach me and how can I come by a Sleeping Beauty spinning wheel?
Inspiration! I know someone who started on scarves. She fell in with a merry bunch of wayward crocheters who kept showing up with different projects every time they met. She got tired of showing up still working on the same scarf pattern. So she took the plunge and now she is the Sunflower Blanket Master!
Opportunities and resources– Sharing is caring and often, one knitting circle turns into a virtual Diagon Alley of needles available to trade, gift or buy. In addition, custom patterns and interesting skeins often float over the table and into your trembling hands. It’s a truly magical place.
Fun. Well, there was that time with the aforementioned Prosecco Pong and a nefarious interlude involving a stitch counting guide and a customs agent… but that is another story.
The measurement of happiness is one of those questions that most people will debate. The old question to a question springs to mind: How long is a piece of string? Or, shall we say, yarn? To which our question-to-a-question’s-question would be: What yarn weight are you talking about? I know a group who might know. It all comes down to amazing gratitude and a community spirit. Come around to ours. As Our Fearless Leader Sara would say, “I’ll school you!”
Note from the blogger: Sorry I posted so late. I got all wrapped up. I’m all untangled now.
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!
Making 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
Make somechicks 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!!!
There is always something inspiring about getting together with friends to knit. I always learn something new. Sometimes what I learn is a new skill or a different technique on how to perfect a stitch. Other times I learn about people and what makes them tick. It is these little glimpses into other people that make me truly grow in my craft.
One Friday afternoon, I sat at the shop with Janet who was working on the tiniest little hat.
“Is that for a doll?” I asked.
“No, it’s for a charity,” said Janet. She went on to tell me about Gracie, her Manchester terrier who was the smallest in her litter with the biggest personality. Janet lost Gracie at 14 months to congenital renal failure that is common in the Manchester Terrier dog. Janet went on to tell me the story of the breeders, Phil and Estella. Estella gave Janet Pixie. Pixie’s pup, Mabel is on the calendar dog for January resplendent in her little hat.It is these hats Janet has almost continuously on her needles.
In the last two years, Janet has knitted up anywhere from 150 to 200 little wool hats. These are sold at the dog shows and on the Rattustrap Manchester Terriers website and all the money has gone to charity. These have been bought by loving dog owners all over the world from Finland to Florida!
These hats can be adapted to fit larger dogs and other critters around your house. Even cats (if they let you. You know what they are like!) Our fearless leader, Sara, made some for her kids and for herself. Janet wrote me out the pattern and I have a Mabel Hat on my sticks right now. Yankee Yarns’s resident designer has written it up on in our Ravelry. Get this pattern for free here!
“We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun…”
Everyday we meet people. Some of the people we meet simply pass through our lives relatively unnoticed. Other people stay with us like characters from a much read book. Then there are those that weave themselves into the very fabric of our lives.
One day I pushed a very heavy door and tumbled into a snug shop. The day had been inclement. In fact, that whole week had been barbarously black and white. I had been feeling rather out of sorts. The wind blew me into the shop and as I closed the door behind me, the whole room exploded into glorious technicolor. I was promptly enveloped in kaleidoscopic warmth of Nori, who had been looking after the shop whilst the proprietress was out on the school run.
Almost immediately, that day I became part of a tribe of knitters and crocheters (affectionately known as hookers in our subgroup). That Autumnal beginning spread into Winter projects before exploding into the pastel bursts of Spring. Those lengthening days melted into Summer and Red/White/Blue yarn bombs then fell away into Autumn again.
As we sit around the table a year later, we chat, drink tea or coffee, share ideas and laugh together. We have been making plans, spinning dreams and basically knitting and purling our way into each other’s futures.
There have been some challenges we have had to face both collectively and individually. However, our anniversary of how we came to k tog is a time to look forward and grow as a community. We do hope you will come visit us. And if you cannot walk through the door, visit us here on the blog every Friday. We will also be setting up our video show soon with tutorials, guests and most likely lots of shenanigans.
We will be issuing challenges and look forward to seeing your work and perhaps even communicating with you. So on behalf of Sara (our chief), Jenny, Nori and myself (resident scribe) Welcome and let the good times roll.
As if we die-hard knitters and hookers need any encouragement! I usually take my knitting everywhere. Or at least I am carrying around some needles and a ball of yarn. Another Knit In Public Day is coming up, so spread the news!
Let’s kTog! Saturday, 18th June at the Red Gate Inn on Westfield Lane. The weatherman says it msy rain. So this is a good excuse to come indoors and have a swift half/ wee dram/cup of tea and socialise with the area “Knitterati”. This eventcis open to all of any skill level. So come along! GET INVOLVED! Got a project you’re working on? Bring it! Need a project to be getting on with? Well there is Yankee Yarns right next door!
Also, there will be a raffle and prizes. Any money raised will be going to a local homeless charity.
If you have prizes you wish to donate (yarn, needles, sheep, interesting shiny and/or odd objects that you wish to donate, add them to The Stash!
If you would like more information about the day, the history of it or to set up your own even, check out the official Kbit In Public website here!
Like a Sherman tank trekking over the crest to its destination, the time for the upcoming yarn bomb is drawing near. Little bits of cleverly created pieces are making their way into Yankee Yarns ( the Yarn Bomb HQ). Our Yarn Bomb General and her lieutenants have been out to survey the area. Tape measures and mental calculations have been all over the Mansfield Market area. Hookers (crocheters… not the rugby players etc) and Knitters from all over the Mansfield area have rallied providing the most wonderful pieces.
Now is the time to piece them all together and make them up. Now this is the point of the project where so many knitters and crocheters falter. How many times have I heard the same lamentation: “Love working on my project but absolutely HATE sewing them all up!” The dread of making up the pieces even called for the idea of getting some experts in. The Girl Guides! Yes! Like little paratroopers, they will be deployed to help us out in the battle of Making up! I love the idea of that.
At last night’s knitting circle, we discussed the upcoming “Making Up Meeting” at Veolia on June 3rd from 10am to 4pm. Hopefully we will have enough people turn up to help put together all the fantastic pieces as well as have a bit of a giggle and copious amounts of tea and coffee. Who knows… there might be cake…
Life throws us some pretty random curve balls, my friends. It’s wonderful when we actually catch the opportunity and run with one!
A few months ago, I wandered into a knitting shop just happy that it was right in my neighbourhood. The knitting shop owner was looking to host a knitting circle and I was the unlikely leader of a rag-tag nomadic group who went from pub to pub on a semi – regular basis. Next thing I knew, we had a weekly group in our very own club house with the most colourful bunch of lassies (and from time to time those rare knitting/crochet dudes) this side of the Atlantic.
Suddenly, YARN BOMB! Talk about whirlwind escapades! We found ourselves knitting & crocheting patriotic items to string up in Mansfield Town centre for the celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. Our little yarn store has become Queenie Knits HQ. This is a bonafide event sponsored by the local oooooficials. Which leads us to…
…our group on hand to help out members of the public who might wander in looking to learn a new skill. Our group were invited to use Veolia ‘s meeting room to use as a venue to teach.
We will be there on Fridays with our needles and hooks ready to teach, chat and beguile newcomers with our whimsical conversation. In addition, the public will be offered the opportunity to have a look at the Veolia Recycling process. You can learn more at http://www.veolia.co.uk
We are looking forward to the next date. We were able to entice a new recruit to our motley crew… just like the Darkside of the Force. And just like the Dark side, we have cookies.
The dates of our sessions will be posted on the calendar of this blog. They are free to the public. All we ask is that you bring your own yarn. However, if you are a complete novice and just want to have a go, we will have yarn, hooks, needles and tools for you to borrow.
Like knitting in the rain and the snow where you know where to go and you feel like a part of you will die…if you don’t get this stitch right!
I had a terrific wash of inspiration at our last gathering in preparation for the impending Yarn Bomb. It calls for a flourish of national pride as well as a little vanity for talent. To accomplish this, I pulled out a vintage book given to me by my beautiful friend who inherited it from her mother.
The pages are slipping into sepia. However, the magnificent knowledge within these delicate pages feels exciting and new. There are directions within that feel rather archaic. But I think this lends to a rather legendary feeling of belonging to an ancient society.
I have been mentally skiving for days at work thinking about the patterns in Helen ‘s mum’s book of stitches. I have come to regard it as a kind of Knitters Grimoire. A Crocheters Book Of Shadows. It has me spellbound. It is almost as if I have been ruminating on an unrequited love!
I can see myself— later and possibly years from now— sitting at a desk like an old monk copying out these beautiful stitches with venerable titles: Harris Tweed Stitch, The Spindle, Pennant Pattern, Hatchets… all in an effort to keep the art alive! I can see passing it along within each generation of our little Knitterati circle.
But today, my only wish is to labour on with Interwoven Cables in delicious scarlet. This will be the vertical strip on the England flag. I will take short energy breaks (my Bounty chocolate and a cup of black coffee). I will relish this rainy day taken for myself to be with my knitting. My craft. My old love.