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.
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.
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.
Yankee Yarns supports community events and champions charities and community programmes such as the Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme.
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!”
There is no way of sugar-coating it. We dropped the ball of yarn. There is no sense in making excuses. Before you read on, know that there is a slightly inappropriate photograph coming up later in this blog. If you are an individual of delicate sensibilities, you may want to stop reading when you get to the group photo.
All others, carry on… And Carry On Knit In Public Day!
“It kind of snuck up on us,” said Resident Designer Jenny as I walked into the shop last Friday afternoon. “Worldwide Knit in Public Day. It’s tomorrow. We kind of forgot.” She giggled. I put my things down, pulled up a chair and gazed at her.
“It’s not too late, though,” I said. “It’s tomorrow. I can be there. You can be there. We can call up the troops, surely?” We both looked at each other then looked out the window across the street from the shop. We both smiled and said in unison:
Ok, so yes. It was most certainly a last-minute event for us. We basically just picked up our stuff and met at the Redgate Inn at 2pm on Saturday 10th of June. There were six of us including a newbie we wrapped up into our colourful abyss of madness.
Danielle Landes started World Wide Knit In Public Day in 2005. It always takes place on the second Saturday of June every year so how it snuck up on us, I have no idea. I mean it’s only just the greatest, knitter-run, global knitting circle EVER! The event began as a way for knitters (and hookers, ) to get together, enjoy each other’s company, ideas and hints. But it is also to show off our obsession. Knitting and crochet are usually very solitary endeavours. So it is so nice to see all the images of knitters getting together in town centres, national parks, city parks, city libraries, street parties, university campuses, restaurants and…. pubs.
For it to have been a last-minute thing, it really did turn out rather well. We came prepared with all the yarn to make poppies for our event in November. But there was a lot of wine, cider and beer. Another diversion was the strange phallic bottle opener that took us a bit by surprise. There was a fair bit of laughing over it. Afterall, we are jolly good sports and women of the world! Bottle openers come in all shapes in sizes. Who are we to judge! Mind you, it was quite a gratuitous tool and perhaps rather awkward to handle. However such things like this are rather necessary to our requirements and we made use of the wood…. to open bottles… Moving right along…
The Redgate Inn is a welcoming place. It is dog friendly so it really is a great stop after an evening walk. This has been our Knit In Public venue for two years now. Last year, we had been more prepared. There was a raffle and more people knew about it so more people came. But we thank the pub landlord and staff for making our small group feel at home!
Our Fearless Leader Sara bought the first round. I started with wine but being a newly installed member of CAMRA , I moved on to beer. It was a half pint of Prior’s Well Brewery pale ale named Incensed. Absolutely lovely!
As Yankee Yarns Resident Writer, I began to document the afternoon. As the hours merged into one another, I rather lost my way. I am not sure if there was a whole lot of knitting going on but it was a great afternoon. Had it not been for other commitments like Angela being summoned home to feed Baby Ezra (to be fair, Daddy did not have the proper tools for this, if you get my meaning), we may have all stayed on into the evening. We may have even closed the pub! I slammed down the remains of another swift half, collected my knitting de trucs, and skulked off home with my WIP poppy. I sat down to finish the poppy but instead polished off a lovely 2015 Bordeaux Blason de Montbelly whilst listening to some bluegrass music and scribbling down notes about the afternoon.
I look forward to next year’s event. It will not get lost on our radar next time. We have just had so many planned events in the diary as of late. This is great news for Yankee Yarns!
One of those events a repeat of the Sock Clinic we had a few months ago. This one will be delivered at our second site, Unique and Beautiful, at 30 Outram St, Sutton-in-Ashfield NG17 4FS.
The two-part Sock Clinic will be on 22nd July & 5th August from Noon to 2pm
It was such a successful event last time when we held it at the Yankee Yarns HQ in Mansfield.
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. However, 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!
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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!
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!
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.
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…
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…
It is the first week of 2017. The festive frenzy of December is all over except for the shouting and the tell-tale signs of overindulgence around the waistline. The cold and frosty weather makes me want to cuddle in with a cup of coffee, my knitting and enjoy these last few days of comfort before I hit the office grind. However, I am mindful that perhaps I need to move around a bit. Luckily, the weather has been rather dry so everyday this week I have bundled up and ventured out for a walk in the dead of winter.
Who said dead? The colours have been absolutely inspiring! The beauty of drawing inspiration for the next project is out there! I admit, the idea of studying the Colour Wheel and creating mood boards can feel a bit overwhelming and time consuming. I already have an all consuming hobby. Creating mood boards just seems like it would take me away from all my proposed knitting and crochet projects!
Our fearless leader, Sara at Yankee Yarns, let me in on a great little secret. All the hard work has already been done for us on Pintrest. You just need to do a search, print it off and dance right on over to the shop and pick out the yarn. Or you can do what I do. I store a bunch of pallets on my phone. Check out Sara’s collection on the Yankee Yarns board. You can see the ones the I have picked for my board. I am basically planning cushions and throws for each room in my house!
A simple search for colour schemes or pallets brings up a plethora of ideas. Sara puts together project kits for her customers regularly. The last one offered at Yankee Yarns included a pattern for a Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice Cozy Nights Ripple Afghan, the six balls of yarn and a crochet hook. Since I am more of a knitter than a “hooker”, it was great to be able to go into Yankee Yarns and get a bit of schooling in crochet. The classes are 1.5 hour blocks on Mondays 12-2:30, 7:30pm-9pm Wednesdays 10-2:30, Thursdays 10-2:30, Fridays 10-2:30, and Saturdays 11-2. Just give Sara a ring.
At this rate, I am actually praying for a big snow day so I can get going on my next project. Aren’t we all???
Christmas time! I will keep this brief because I know there are presents to wrap, food to prepare, parties to attend and Noel nonsense to deal with on the domestic homefront. Nerves need to be kept calm.
All that running around whilst shopping in town can make you feel like The Fast and Furious meets Nigella meets Kirstie Allsopp. The last thing on our minds is our WIPs unless the WIP is one of the presents to go under the tree!
But perhaps you have been inspired by some of the lovely things you have seen at Christmas markets, online or in your own knitting group. You know what the memes state: Knitting is the new yoga.Hopefully, despite the festive frenzy, you will be able to cosy up with a nice cup of cheer and get those needles and hooks blazing.
Try this refreshing concoction:
Combine pomegranate and cranberry juice, vodka, Cointreau, soda water, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a punch bowl. Fill glasses with cranberries frozen in ice cubes, and serve. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.
If you prefer a warm drink next to you, try this recipe from A Brown Table. Who doesn’t like a bit of hot chocolate on the table next to you whilst you are knitting or crocheting with your knitting circle… or on your own? This one comes packed with the Full Monty of Christmas cheer: cinnamon and whisky. This recipe is enough for four people.
You will need:
4 cups whole milk
1 cup (5 3/4 ounces) dark chocolate chips, unsweetened
1 cup (6 1/8 ounces) milk chocolate chips, sweetened
1 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground + a little extra for dusting
1/4 cup whisky
a few marshmallows for garnishing (optional)
4 peppermint sticks (optional)
Place the milk in a thick bottomed saucepan. Heat the mixture on medium-low flame until the milk begins to steam with constant stirring. Reduce the flame to a gentle simmer.
Add the chocolate and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the hot milk and whisk constantly by hand until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove from the milk from the stove and mix in the whisky.
Pour the hot chocolate into serving mugs and top them off with a few marshmallows and dust with the extra ground cinnamon. Serve with the hot chocolate with the peppermint sticks and extra marshmallows on the side.
So there you go. Creative fuel for Yule.
If you would like the pattern for our Christmas Card, head on over to Yankee Yarns on Ravelry where you will find the jumper and stocking cards.
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!