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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Cherry Leaf Lace & A Pretty Face…

 

Yvain modelling WoollyElly’s Cherry Leaf Shawl

 

I agreed to meet my daughter for lunch in the historic Lace Market in Nottingham. Since coming to the UK, I have been a fan of the old Victorian and Georgian architecture of this protected heritage area.

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Nottingham Lace Market

I mused over the beauty of the old brick juxtaposed by the hip and fashionable décor. I tried to imagine these buildings as warehouses and workshops when Nottingham was the centre of the world’s lace industry during the British Empire.

 

These renovated buildings are now luxury apartments, high-spec offices, academic buildings and restaurant/bars. This day, I was sitting in the trendy Annie’s Burger Shack. My daughter was running late but I had a nice drink and my knitting to keep me company whilst I waited.

Musing about the history of the lace and hosiery industry in the area got me to remembering my own great-grandmother working “lace” doilies out of silk yarn using only her fingers. lace machineShe did it as a hobby and I marvelled at her patience with it. She could do other things but it took ages to wait for anything bigger than doilies. I loved these little things but found myself shopping for machine-manufactured items because I was impatient. This was how the lace industry changed in England. The lace machines pretty much wiped out hand-knitted lace industry. But now, the mystique of hand-made pieces of art make me want to learn lace making like my great-grandmother did— Not to sell but to create beautiful lace things for my own joy. However, the task seems daunting!

Our Fearless Leader Sara, as if by magic, came up with a most agreeable solution! Why not knit up the lace as they did before the invention of the lace machine?  Yankee Yarns will host a Lace Workshop featuring local dyer, Woollyelly, who will be teaching the art of knitting her original design pattern Cherry Leaf Shawl.

Woollyelly, AKA Ellena Kirk, is an accomplished knitter. She started knitting 37 years ago as a child. As she grew older, she grew bolder venturing into the world of crochet in 1997. Then she got adventurous with her knitting. After watching a hand-spinning demo in 2007, she joined a local guild and began spinning.  Her passion for dying her own yarn and weaving with it brought her to Yankee Yarns. We have some of her 144 hand-spun works of wonder in our shop.

Our Fearless Leader Sara said Woollyelly designed the Cherry Leaf Shawl special for our workshop. The pattern is on sale on Ravelry for those of you who are already accomplished or unable to make the workshop at our shop in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.

You can attend the workshop at 11 am over three Saturdays: June 17th, July 1st and July 8th. Each session costs £20 but if you block-book, the whole workshop will only cost £45. The price includes Woollyelly’s Shawl pattern, two balls of Rico Superba Superwash in your choice of 17 colours, refreshments and hours of lovely company. So join up as soon as you can as space is limited!
To learn more about the history of lace in Nottingham, please click here!