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.

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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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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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Mellow Yellow

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We never need a reason to yarn bomb a thing so it was no great surprise to walk into the shop last Friday to see the Yarnistas of Yankee Yarns wielding their crochet hooks. The color yellow was everywhere.

“It’s for the Tour of Britain,” said Our Fearless Leader Sara. The bike would be one of many yellow bikes on the trail for the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain which is a multi-stage cycling traversing the roads of Britain. There are 10 stages with Mansfield being the start point of Stage 5 on 6th September.

Cyclists have been competing for the best time since the first British stage just after WWII. So it was a thrill to be amongst those who rallied to support the event by adorning the race route with yellow bunting, flowers, painted bikes and our yarn-bombed push bike.

 

 

Starting in Mansfield, the route took cyclist on a 6 km odyssey around the town centre before starting the sprints and hill climbs out towards Sutton in Ashfield. The eight-day event was televised on ITV and attracted an estimated 1.6 million spectators. The people of Mansfield and surrounding areas turned out in form to cheer the cyclist on waving banners and shirts.

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Being a part of the community spirit is a big deal to Yankee Yarns. We like to support others. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But decorating the bike for the event went a bit deeper than that. Designer Jen explained it best when she remarked at how important it was that so many people contributed a small piece to the finished yarn bomb. She added how each chain, each inch, each link reflected each individual person. Because of this, the finished piece was better than we ever imagined it would be.

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“For example,” said Designer Jen, “Angela made a little bow which in itself would have looked quite small and insignificant (albeit beautiful). However, this was one of the final pieces to go on, atop the handle bars, and totally finished off the bike!”

Designer Jen went on to say how the collective creativity, common cause and community spirit mirrored the community effort of the crowd who came out to support the cyclists along the Mansfield to Newark route.17-09-07-16-32-20-436_deco

Thirty-six hours in total went into yarn bombing the bike. This time includes the time making the pieces and putting them together. Knitting and crochet are a bit like a race. There are times we find ourselves feverishly working against the time clock— trying to get just one more row in before (insert your road block here.) There are quick wins like baby booties, small toys and dishcloths. These are like sprints— quick and exhilarating. Then you have those leg races that keep you going for hours taking turn after turn. These are like making jumpers or ornate garments. Finally, there are the contests of endurance. These bring you the adulation of the crowds when you roll out a patchwork quilt or multicoloured blanket.

Trials and tribulation aside, being able to be a part of something bigger than ourselves— either as a participant or a spectator— and come together to appreciate the talent of others, it is a celebration of life.

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