The Skein Chronicles: Part 3- From Skein to Eternity

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!”

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Note from the blogger: Sorry I posted so late. I got all wrapped up. I’m all untangled now.

 

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The Skein Chronicles: Part 1- One Night Skein

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I had too many beers. Had my beer goggles on or something. At first, I thought, “Oh! Hello!!!!”Then it all got a bit out of hand. Everyone looked at me like I had gone a bit mad. Kicking myself now. And so, so careless! Right at that time, it seemed a good idea. Easily done in that light. Never again…

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No doubt, everyone has yarn in their stash that seemed a good idea at the time. I have one burning a hole in my Yarniverse right now. It’s a monstrosity. I was told it was bought at the Knitters Yarn Con aka Yarndale. Of course, when I heard this, all I could think was “Let’s see it! I bet it’s an artisan’s skein!” Everyone around the table looked at me in sheer bemusement. For whatever reason, they thought it was the ugliest thing they had ever seen. I do not want to post a picture of it for three reasons:

  1. 1. If the “artisan” sees it, he or she would be hurt. I’m a lover and not a fighter. The last thing I want to do is offend someone.
  2. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think I see some funky potential in it. I remember seeing it and thinking, “This would make a cool trim for a poncho one can wear at Glastonbury with some very fashionable wellies!
  3. I kind of lost it in my Yarniverse. (That’s my story and I am sticking to it!)

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There are so many reasons we end up with “ugly” skeins of yarn.

I spoke to some people who all admitted (under the cover of darkness) that they owned some balls of yarn that were of an unconventional aesthetic quality. There are so many reasons for these acquisitions.  I was so fascinated, I wrote them down!

Here they are in no certain order:

  • I inherited it from my dead Auntie Beatrix (not her real name). Don’t have the heart to throw it out.
  • When I bought it, it was a really pretty blue. I have no idea what colour that is now. I call it “Kebab”.
  • It used to be pretty but I have frogged it so many times, it’s gone a bit “bit-y”.
  • It was so very expensive. So I thought, “Yes!” But look at it. It’s only a 50g ball, it goes with nothing, it is scratchy and hideous. Maybe it can be a dishcloth?”
  • It seemed a good idea at the time. I thought it would match the cream Arran.
  • I washed it by mistake. Maybe it can be used for hair for a doll or something. So I am keeping it.
  • I have no idea how this got in my stash. Do you want it?
  • Someone gave it to me. I didn’t want to say no.
  • I dyed it myself. It was the first one I ever did and I used beetroot. But it came out like this.
  • I spun it myself. It’s a bit wonky but I thought it looked a little artsy.
  • It was on sale.

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I will say so many of these balls, skeins, hanks and cakes make it into the charity shop, yarn bombs or newbie’s knitting bags. Be honest. How many do you have? We’d be interested to know.

Secret to Knitting, the Yarniverse & Everything

 

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I spent Sunday sitting across from my friend at her dining room table as her husband multi-tasked. He prepared Sunday dinner, played with their wee boy and topped up our wine glasses like some kind of Autumnal Lord of the Dance. It was the Sunday after the clocks went back and the daylight felt almost surreal. Also, despite the weather being quite chilly outside, the late afternoon sun cascaded in through the window and warmed us up quite a bit. The table was strewn with mad skeins of yarn and WIPs. Nearly a week later, I reflect on that day almost in poignant nostalgia as one does over old Polaroid pictures of decades past. I did not want those hours to end. This kind of emotion only happens to me at this time of year.

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The Autumn equinox is celebrated by the spiritual as a celebration to honour the change in seasons. From September onwards, the beginning of the season poses a massive challenge to our human survival. The days get shorter, the nights grow colder and we start to reflect, harvest and prepare for the harder, leaner times of winter. It is a time where we develop the urge to stay warm and be comforted by soft, woolly things. As the days grow shorter, so many of us find we begin to tune into our inner voices, slow down a bit and even look for things that we can ponder over.

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I usually ponder over a bunch of good poetry, some lovely Tibetan singing bowl ambient music and a good strong cup of coffee. Resident Designer Jen gets into her podcasts! Although she did turn me on to a lovely bit of poetry that incorporates knitting and state of mind. The subject matter also resonates with the feeling of this time of year. She said “I just… love the idea of one loop, one stitch, one row, one skein – progression, hope, healing, coming back to ourselves; renewal and regrowth.” It is not difficult to see why this time of year has inspired so many poets to write about it.

 

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Rico Creative Bonbon Super Chunky at Yankee Yarns!

 

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Resident Designer Jen listening to podcasts & getting into the brioche

For those of us in crafty circles, the season inspires us to create and experiment with browns, muted greens, oranges, gold and reds. We look at different, chunkier textures in patterns and stitches. We even start to hoard more supplies and collect new items for the colder months.
The experiment for this season is Brioche. Not the bread (which is actually a good idea at this time of year with a nice warm cup of cocoa). Knitting brioche is a stitch that involves yarn overs that are knitted together with a slipped stitch from a previous row giving it a “tucked in” look that is cosy and warm. Brioche creates a uniquely beautiful fabric —thick, reversible and stylish—perfect for winter woollies. Coupled with Rico’s super chunky bonbon yarn, this makes for a truly gorgeous beanie.

Yankee Yarns newest will be offering a workshop to teach you how to knit the Bonbon Brioche Beanie. We convinced Resident Designer Jen to step away from her Green Man Dishcloths and give us a sneak peek at the beanie knitted up using the super lush Rico Creative Bonbon Super Chunky. This yarn is a win because it knits up or crochets up super quick. This means you can get all the hats, scarves and boot toppers made up for the season!

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Here are the Yankee Yarns series of Saturday workshops on different brioche techniques:

· Knitting brioche on 2 needles: 18th November

· Brioche in the round: 25th November

· Two colour brioche: 9th December

If you fancy reading some poetry on brioche, click here. If you fancy baking some brioche, click here and bring us some. We’ll put the kettle on!

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Epic Fail Cocktail

 

imageThe dictionary definition of an epic fail is the neglect or omission of expected or required action in grand scale. Sometimes “grand scale” means your gnome hat becomes big enough to fit a giant. However, it does not always follow that mistakes such as these are necessarily failures. I will use an expanded use of the title of a book by Naoki Higashida: “Frog seven times, crochet or knit up eight.” What this means is sometimes it is necessary that the skills required to create that special project needs to be forged in the fires of failure. By trying and failing, we eventually achieve the success beyond our wildest dreams.

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We all have to start somewhere. It is very rare that someone takes to knitting on the first try. Even under the watchful eye of a knitting Yoda, it is often difficult to find our groove and move into the effortless knit-and-purl of meditative legend early on. Even when we finally get the gist of the garter stitch and slink off to our well-lit knitting sanctuary to knit along with either a knitting how-to book or You Tube, we still eventually skip along the path of disaster. Some of the common mistakes  we experience are dropping stitches, tension inconsistencies, forgetting where you were in the pattern, misinterpreting the pattern, going rogue on the pattern, forgetting where you are in the row follow you as you level up in your knitting. I discovered that the “bosses” we need to fight to keep levelling up become more and more about battling our own hubris. We get more clever and decide to mess about with the math so we can use a different yarn, bigger needles or smaller needles and then we realise we got the math wrong. Yes! Fails are not solely exclusive to newbies. Recently, Our Fearless Leader Sara committed an “whoopsie” where she skilfully knitted some gorgeous cabled mittens for her TWO LEFT HANDS. Yes. She knitted two lefts.

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I was amazed at the examples I found on epic fails on the internet! It seems there are as many examples of mistakes as there are knitters and crocheters on this magnificent planet. It also made me feel better to know I am not alone. When I first started knitting, I came by a book with instructions on how to make a knitted patchwork knitted throw blanket. I set about making it as per the instructions but ran out of the right yarn so I decided to raid my modest (at the time) Yarniverse. I was a rookie. I had not been knitting a year and my squares came out more— how shall I say it?— Abstract. The blanket is more of an oblong super-shawl. It is rich in colour and it is warm. It’s perfect for snuggling in with my son and a book on cold winter nights and it is perfect comfort for when I am feeling down and under the weather on sick days. This imperfect, oblong blanket/ super shawl serves as a reminder that nothing in life is a mistake.

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Most of my jumpers have sleeves that are far too long and most of the hats I’ve made are either far too slouchy or become beanies. The yoga warmer with one sleeve a totally different colour to the rest of the garment was because I ran out of yarn and had to order more but the dye lot was slightly off (mail-order. Don’t get me started.) However, my talent is the way I wear the garments as if I meant them to look that way. I basically use all the confidence of a model on a catwalk and summon my inner Coco Chanel and call it my own haute couture. Why not? If the big fashion houses can get away with it during fashion week, why can’t I?

 

Resident Designer Jen related a conversation in the shop this week.  A Mum was speaking to her daughter who is our latest novice in the world of knitting.
Mum: You’ve done 2 left sides for that cardi!

Daughter: I know, but it all still fits together so it’ll be OK.

Mum: The sleeve will still fit, as it’s a straight line.

Daughter: I can’t see what your problem is, I’m not taking it out!
So now she has a cardi which only really fits well when her right arm is stretched across her body.

fail manBut even Resident Designer Jen is not exempt from knitting kafuffles. This is from her email to me:

“I bought a fabulous book – SystemHATic, by Rico Design – and instantly wanted to make something from it. I have been meaning to try brioche for some time, and had some Rico bonbon yarn in my stash, so the brioche beanie pattern was just too good an opportunity to miss…
I must admit, I struggled at first. A lot. I was fine with row 1, and then it all went wrong for me on row 2. I checked out YouTube and blogs, knew that I should be able to do it but couldn’t. And then, after 2 or 3 hours of this pain, I realised: I had been trying to knit the hat in the round, when the pattern was actually written for 2 needles, worked flat and then seamed. Which would totally explain why it wasn’t working.
Reminder to self: READ the pattern, then READ it again. Doh!”

Bless her heart!

I think the best kind of example of knitting mistakes are the ones you make when a few bottles of prosecco come out and there are a few of us around the table talking about something completely unrelated to knitting. The epic failures that come out of these sessions are legendary. But if you want to know more about these, you will need to leave me a message in the comments. Alternatively, you can come in and visit us at Yankee Yarns. We’d love to hear about your knitting misadventures!

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Tea & Company

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Overheard at a tea house:

Lady One: “Hey! Sorry I am late traffic.”

Lady Two: “That’s ok. I brought my knitting and I got a cuppa.”

Lady One: “Oh my days! What are you knitting now? Tea towels?”

Lady Two: “No, no, this one is for charity. It’s for preemie babies!”

Lady One:“Are you sure it’s just not another excuse to knit???”

Me over on the next table: The penny drops.

I am one of those kinds of knitters who will accept any opportunity to knit. Why not use my talents to give back to the community? Why not hone my skills with each project?

All kidding aside, there are so many benefits to donating your knitting and crochet work to charity. In addition to helping others in need, it also gives knitters and crocheters the chance to get more involved in the community by discovering new volunteer opportunities. In addition, there is the opportunity to learn a new skill, increase your skill base or teach others the skill. There are patterns that challenge all skill levels. Mastering the skill gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. However, knowing that I am making something precious for others makes the experience richer.  It brings me an amazing feeling of self-worth, helps me relax and practice mindfulness and gives me joy. What’s not to love?

Here are some guidelines to knitting or crocheting for charity:

  • Follow the pattern. The pattern is there for a reason. They have been tried and tested.
  • Make sure the garments are big enough (unless you are knitting for premature babies.
  • Don’t use a free pattern to sell your stuff. These are intended for charity
  • Ask your local yarn store for help either with the pattern, finding a suitable/affordable yarn or with the pattern instructions. Yankee Yarns is the nerve centre of all things yarn. Any of the Knitteristas that come into the shop to knit can help out.
  • There are many charities out there that rely on the generosity of knitters to help them raise funds and awareness of issues. Check the details of the charity and make sure it is a reputable one. You can click on the UK Handknitting website to help you with this.

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The vintage poem appeared in an Australian newspaper in 1918 for the war effort. And if you think about it, there were knitters from the US, Canada and the UK all clicking away to ensure “our boys” had warm things to wear on the front. It looks like we are still doing this only now it is in remembrance of all who fought and fell in the wars. We have had a load of knitted and crocheted poppies come through the door. It is impressive and heart-warming to see all these ladies come through the door to drop off their donations at Yankee Yarns. There are Plenty of Poppies!!!   Wouldn’t it be great if we could see 150,000 Poppies??? We are working on it!!!

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Read the post from the Mansfield District Council Facebook page below:

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Ready, Steady… KNIT!!!!

“I just want to finish work today so I can go home and speed-knit!” said Sam Wibberley as she came out of the staff kitchen with her first cup of tea of the morning. She is expecting the arrival of her cousin this weekend with her brand new baby in tow. Well, newish baby.

Sam started knitting a floppy teddy bear for the new-born four months ago. For one reason or another, meeting the new arrival had been postponed and for the last week she has been “speed-knitting”. I loved hearing how Sam was already looking forward to going home to get more progress on the floppy teddy bear (95% complete at this point) and it was only 8am on a Thursday morning.

This is a common phenomenon. Even I have two projects on the go right now for people who just had new arrivals. One became a new dad of a three-year-old boy. He and his wife adopted the wee man and I excavated my pattern book from the many pattern tomes in my Yarniverse and decided on a lovely cable jumper for him to wear through the winter. So far I have the back done and am now moving on to the front so still, only 25% done and it is middle October… tick tock.

road knittingThen I have another more immediate speed-knit I felt compelled to do for another work for someone who just became a new dad. This was a surprise birth that not even HE knew about! One day, He and his girlfriend were just a couple, and then BOOM! Parenthood. To quote his manager when he called in to let her know he could not come into work that day because he was at the hospital with his girlfriend in labour, “WTF?” Anyway, he and his girlfriend wheeled the wee lassie in to show her off in their quickly bought pram. All I could think (after I got all broody and dreamy about what a pretty baby girl she was) was, “She needs a bonnet!!!!!” So here I am flicking yarn like a maniac whenever I have my hands free as I listen to Grime or heavy metal music.

lullabyeIt’s all about the babies, isn’t it? So is it any wonder, Yankee Yarns is promoting knitting hospital hats for King’s Mill ICU babies. The hospital has adopted a new safety initiative to help keep the babies warm in the first crucial hours after birth. A traffic light system of red, yellow and green hats on these babies will help staff and parents understand the changing temperature of the babies, ensuring they are kept at the right temperature and being aware of any signs of developing an infection.

Our Fearless Leader Sara wrote a pattern to go with the Stylecraft Lullaby DK yarn we have at Yankee Yarns so you can knit up these little hats for the babies.

“Yes ma’am,” said Sara when I asked her if this was her own design. “I made the whole thing up. Like my lavish lifestyle!” LOL.

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Stylecraft Lullaby DK knitting yarn is the perfect yarn for babies, especially the brand new ones because it’s super soft! This truly is a speed-knit because it takes a 4mm needle to knit up these gorgeous little hats, and the colours are absolutely beautiful. The yarn is functional, too. It’s a blend of acrylic and nylon so it can be machine washed and tumble dried on a low setting. It feels lovely when you knit it up, too.

Have a look at our FREE pattern in aran .   There is one in double knitting, too! Come and get your yarn! Have a coffee with us! Alternatively, you can knit up the traffic light hats and send them to us at 185 Westfield Lane, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, NG19 6EH UK. We will make sure they get to Kingsmill Hospital!

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Yarn & Yarnability

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Hiya!

A beautiful thing was said in the shop the other day. It was one of those quintessential “Narrrrr how lovely” moments. Our Resident Experimenter Nori was working on her newest project using a seriously sumptuous yarn.

“That is gorgeous!” I said. “Where did you get it?”

hiyahiya2Quietly– reverently— she said she got it from one of our favorite customers. She had it in her stash for ages and gave it to Resident Experimenter Nori, most likely to make room for some of the newer yarns. Then she smiled angelically and said, “Janet always makes things for other people. So I am making something for her out of her own yarn.”

We all sat there beatifically looking on; as you do when you think of what a beautiful world we live in.

hiyahiya3It is the labor of love that binds us to a strange kind of joy. When you find something you enjoy, anything to do with it makes any endeavor feel as if it is what you were meant to do. When you love something so much, you will work tirelessly to create something that not only you will enjoy, but will be enjoyed by countless others.

The Shanghai designer, Qianer Huang loved knitting and designing beautiful creation so much, she wanted to design special tools to work her craft. With the help of her brother and father, who are both engineers, she worked to design the distinctive knitting system called HiyaHiya. hiyahiya1

HiyaHiya is a China based company founded in 2002. It developed into an international brand and built a solid reputation for pioneering design. Knitters all over the world have become enthralled with the needles.  At first, the needles were only available in the United States but now they are gaining in popularity here in the UK!

Yankee Yarns joined the “knitting revolution” starting with stocking the DPNs during the recent sock clinic but we now have a range of HiyaHiya needles in the shop.

hiyahiya5I was able to work with the small cable needle. These are perfect for small circumference knitting. I felt the same way with the DPNs when knitting the toe-up socks. I tried using some other DPNs as a comparison and quickly decided that I am now rather spoiled. HiyaHiyas just felt better in my hands and did the yarn did not slip all over the place. This really helped with my “Knitting Mindfulness.”

 

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What I think I look like when I am in my Knitting Mindfulness trance…

 

Yes, they make you feel a bit like some kind of knitting hero with a knit-purl superpower. Speaking of knitting superpowers, I found a lovely new stitch for you to experiment with when you get your new HiyaHiya needles. It’s called the Chinese Wave. Have a go!

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DISCLAIMER: We know anime is Japanese. But we are geeks. We wanted an excuse to post these cool anime memes. Just play along. It’s more fun this way.

I Want Candy

 

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. There was nothing better than when we were kids and running down the street to old candy shop with my friends. Half of the time we spent outside counting up the change we had between us and the other half of the time was spent arguing about what we were going to buy with our money before we even entered the shop. Once we got into the shop, our eyes went wide with wonder as we stood transfixed with an overwhelming colour spectrum of choice.

 

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Courtesy Woolly Wanderer

Our Fearless Leader Sara and I grew up in the States and the sweets we went mad for included (but not limited to) Pop Rocks, Candy Cigarettes, salt water taffy, candy corn, Atomic Fireballs, Wax Lips, jawbreakers and candy swirl lollypops. The stuff was just so addictive. It’s a very good thing my mother had such a great dental plan because I still have every tooth I was born with!

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. There was nothing better than when we were kids and running down the street to old candy shop with my friends. Half of the time we spent outside counting up the change we had between us and the other half of the time was spent arguing about what we were going to buy with our money before we even entered the shop. Once we got into the shop, our eyes went wide with wonder as we stood transfixed with an overwhelming colour spectrum of choice.

These days, I have to be careful with my sugar intake. Don’t we all? But that feeling of falling in love with colourful sweetness is still there. Only now, that feeling of wonder has been transferred to the newest yarn in the shop.

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Another Stylecraft sweet selection has made it on to the Yankee Yarns shelves and favourites list! It is Special Candy Swirls.  You can choose from these nine delicious colours: Apple Sours, Very Berry, Fruit Salad, Coconut Ice, Strawberry Taffy, Blueberry Gum, Sugar Plum, Liquorice Whirl. These come in 150g balls with 484yrds/443m in them. The yarn is 100% Acrylic so garments you make are durable and washable. It takes a 4mm needle or hook.

It is a very versitile yarn and knits up well giving you a soft, wearble item.

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Yvain modelling the Shawl & Poncho made by Jenny Newman in Stylecraft Special Candy Swirl Apple Sours

We also have a selection patterns for you to look at. Resident Designer Jen whipped up the Special Candy Swirl DK Pattern 9417 Shawl & Poncho just this week! This gorgeous Poncho is done using a Cluster Stitch. In the words of The Mighty Boosh’s Vince, “It’s impossible to be unhappy in a poncho!”

Of course, Resident Designer Jen cannot is rather addicted to the yarn and already has another project on the needles!

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Come on in or contact us for more information. Or just send us a nice message. It’s so nice to hear from you all!

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