Knit-Talkers- Cryptanalysts Of Yarn

Ok. So it is not that we are breaking codes at Bletchley Park penetrating the secret communications of the Axis Powers huddled up in the cold

Nor are we making sure the Marines could take Iwo Jima with Code Talking. But boy do we know how to crack codes!

Novices and Non-Knitting/crochet folk often look upon patterns with a mixture of fear and awe. There are abbreviations, symbols and charts all thrown together in some kind of alchemy to create gold out of a sheep.

It is not only the novices that get the fear when they look at a pattern. Recently, I seemed to stumble at each step of the Cherry Lace Shawl pattern we did in the recent workshop at Yankee Yarns! In an effort to make progress and understand the pattern, I enlisted the aid of one of our talented regulars, Angela.

“So,sloppy, purl, normal,normal, sloppy, purl, tight…”coached Angela in my attempt to read the chart before me and keep track of my stitches. I agree, it is an unconventional and slightly controversial approach. But we were dealing with a complicated lace design and sometimes it just comes down to this… ANARCHY.

We do need to consider, besides the runic feel of the abbreviations, how we seem to “wrap and turn” our heads around the slang we acquire along the way from other knitters, You Tubers, Ravelry and blogs. There is a brilliant list of this on Stitch & Unwind. 

We are mostly familiar with handy terms such as WIP and frog. There is also OTN (on the needles) and my favourite one (for all the wrong reasons) UFO aka an abandoned, neglected WIP!  There are some terms I have never encountered like “vanilla”. This is an easy or plain pattern. Another one is the acronym SEX. This means “Stash Enhancement Experience”, which is the act of buying more yarn.

 I need to let you know, the yarnies that attended the Cherry Leaf Shawl cracked the code and cracked on with learning how to block their lace shawls. You will be able to see this soon on the You Tube chanel.


Levelling Up: Lace Workshop Session One


“The air was sultry. The day was bright. The oppressive sun seared our skin as we set out across the market town of Mansfield in search of knowledge. A challenge had been set to learn to knit the fabled Cherry Leaf Shawl. The lace shawl is an intricate, delicate design that has set many a heart on fire. This blazing day, six intrepid ladies traversed the cruel temperatures on a quest to acquire the knowledge, the skill and courage to make the mythical garment. But there would be tests of technique they would need to pass….

Pass they did.”


Woollyelly, designed the pattern expressly for the Yankee Yarns Workshop Series. June 17th was the first of three in the lace knitting series. As with any fabled quest, there were three milestones we were meant to pass. Woollyelly (who will from now on be known as the Bridgekeeper) guided us through each of them.

Woollelly aka Ellena Kirk

The Colour : The first hurdle we had to surmount was which colour we needed to choose. The price of the workshop included two 50g (210m) skeins of Superba Premium Superwash. It is a 4 Ply Yarn. It is 75% Virgin Wool,  25% Polyamide. It’s great for socks and typically you would use a needle Size of 2 – 3mm. But we used 4mm circular needles because we are working with lovely large holes. The stumbling block was really deciding on the colour. I changed my mind six times before finally using the red as is shown in the pattern. I thought I would be kicked out of the shop for vacillating between colour choices. When I jumped this first hurdle, I felt my energy level up and I was ready to tackle the next round which would be a contest of skill…



The Technique: The finished shawl is a top-down shawl design and starts at the centre where the shawl would rest on the nape of your neck. Rather than casting on in a regular way, the cast-on technique is not so much started as it is “realised”. The name of this bit of sorcery is The Garter Tab Cast On. We began at the centre back, with 3 stitches wrapped around a diaper pin stitch marker. knitting off the stitch marker, it lengthens as it grows in a rectangular shape and then morphs into a lovely curved design. This technique ensures the start blends seamlessly to form the top horizontal line of the shawl. The effort not only is worth the effort but gains you valuable XP and street cred.

The bonus skill is the Yarn Over. To make lovely big holes, we learned the most efficient way to YO. Three of us were doing it backwards making holes that were far too small and would have compromised the beauty of the finished product.

“Only three rows in and already it is so pretty,” remarked Angela as she passed that crucible. “It’s RIDICULOUS!”

The Count: Spellweavers, magic users, conjurers of lacy things… this was our destiny. But we had to be mindful of our craft. We knitted four rows that made up the foundation stitches. We set off on our course to knit rows three and four for a total of 66 times until we ended up with 70 stitches. We had to stay on the path so out came the “runes”.



Our time had been suspended in magical clicks of needles and discussions of all good things. But the sands on the glass ran out and we rambled out into the night on our individual side-quests…


… and to prepare for the next level at the second workshop.

Get Your Crafting Freak On

Being Yankee Yarn’s Resident Writer, I love going to the shop every Friday to get my next topic from Our Fearless Leader Sara for the blog. We usually sit, catch up, talk about all the “cray haps” and brainstorm business ideas with a “spontaneous” cup of coffee (and sometimes a vegan treat.)

Booyah, baby! Corporate as you like!

Last Friday was a little different. When I walked in, there was already a full-blown meeting taking place. I got to be the proverbial fly-on-the-wall during a visit with The Yarn Sales Santa! Our Fearless Leader Sara and Resident Designer Jen were all abuzz and grooving on the exciting new patterns and yarns that will be coming into our second site in Sutton-In-Ashfield,  Unique & Beautiful.

Unique & Beautiful is a new venture in Sutton-in-Ashfield offering handmade crafts from over 25 local artists. Yankee Yarns sells a very small range of end-of-line and discounted wool at that site. But now, we will exclusively be selling our new line of King Cole yarn there!
“We are getting lots,” said Our Fearless Leader Sara. “We are getting ‘sick’ wool!” There will be 4 ply, baby wool, Aran and a very exciting yarn — Tinsel Chunky!


“We are getting every single pattern available for it!” she said. This really is fantastic news. Over a year ago, I became enamoured with this yarn and made a dozen owls and hedgehogs as presents for just about everyone I knew. 

Our Fearless Leader Sara will be knitting the dragon pattern when the yarn comes in. When she finishes it, she will exhibit it at Unique & Beautiful. I cannot wait to see it! Better yet… I cannot wait to knit it. It’s time I get to crafting again!

crochet market
Resident Designer Jen, Mansfield Market May 2016

Speaking of crafting, Yankee Yarns is at the Love Your Local Market event today, May 26th, from 11 am to 2 pm along with other arts and craft presenters. The market will be a cornucopia of homemade products, crafts, gifts and food.

We will be offering free crochet sessions and teaching folks how to make a poppy. We are encouraging everyone to be a part of the Mansfield Poppy Parade because raising money for the British Legion is something near and dear to our hearts! If you are in the area, pop in and meet us! If you are not local, you can still take part by knitting the Poppy Pattern found on the Mansfield District Council website and sending them to us.

Hope to see you there!





Socks On The Rocks

Lately, it feels like I cannot swing a fox without hitting someone who is taking up “The Three Peaks Challenge”. For those of you who do not know, it is when climbers take on climbing three mountains in a certain amount of hours depending on the mountains of their choice.  I know three people who are looking to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in 2017 as part of their New Year’s resolutions. Awesome and insane!

Although I can admire my physically fit and fearless friends, my aspirations are a bit more grounded, as it were.  I have decided that each of my mountain climbing friends will receive a pair of socks! However, in all my years of knitting I have never learnt to knit socks. Therein lies my challenge!

This brings me to the latest and greatest knitting class at Yankee Yarns. The Sock Clinic! Anyone who takes this course will come away with their own sock template and pattern to make bespoke socks for anyone on their sock wearing list. fox-on-knox

The Sock Clinic is two consecutive Saturdays, 4th and 11th February from Noon to 2 pm. The first session covers starting the sock at the toe, how to shape it and working it up to the heel. The second session covers short row shaping heel. Each class is limited to six people. If you book the two Saturdays in a block, it costs £30. If you only want to book one Saturday session, it costs £20. The Sock Clinic includes 1 skein of Head Over Heels wool by Stylecraft in your choice of 6 colours: stylecraft-head-over-heels-4-ply-sock-yarn-100g-_57

  • EVEREST 3098
  • FUJI 3101
  • OLYMPUS 3102
  • EIGER 3103

You will have to bring your own 2.5mm circulars or DPNs but there will be needles available for purchase at the session. Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided.

These sessions are also available to buy as a gift voucher for that knitter on your Christmas list!

There will be future sessions in March, April and November. Please keep checking the Yankee Yarns Calendar of Events tab for the confirmed dates.

Once you have rocked on knitting socks, we’d love to see them. We will even post them up in our gallery! Let’s get clicking.


Check out these Socks Fun Facts we found!!!

  1. The oldest known socks were found in Egypt and date back to between the years 250 and 420.
  2. The word sock came into Old English from the Latin soccus, a loose-fitting shoe or slipper. The modern meaning arrived around 1400.
  3. Albert Einstein never wore socks. He gave them up as a child, annoyed at the holes made by big toes.
  4. A thousand-year-old Viking sock from Coppergate, York was included among the BBC’s 100 items that tell the History Of The World.
  5. The Merry Wives Of Windsor is the only Shakespeare play that mentions socks.



For Every Season Knit The Wrap and Turn, Turn, Turn

“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.

By A.E Wallace

To Err Is Human. To Knit Is Divine.

Mistakes in knitting! We’ve all done it. Heck! Sometimes the pattern itself has a mistake on it! And when we are relatively new to the craft/art/addiction, we do not always realise it until we are far too late! But this does not mean that you are rubbish or will never get good like that one auntie that everyone has who can talk, watch tell AND knit an Aran jumper full of cables from memory.

Life’s little accidents often are a wonderful catalyst to invention. If you google “Art Created By Mistake” you will find a plethora of hits you can peruse that will show you numerous inventions and art that came from a blunder. Everyone from Tim Burton to Franz Kafka is in the elite club of art from mistake. The creation of cornflakes (something too adult to mention) to the creation of potato chips (angry chef) are examples of things taking an entirely new turn.

vamipre knitsThe whole reason I am bringing this up is because I knitted up a beautiful pattern found in Vampire Knits by Genevieve Miller. It’s called The Shapeshifter Shrug which is an extraordinary Mobius shawl. After much intense concentration and pains in frogging, I finally cracked it. It was going beautifully until I needed to graft it together. The project is worked in two lengths and joined in the center back. This is great because you can adjust the length depending on how you want it to fit.vampire knits sh

However, if I knit this pattern again I will knit it up all as one piece. I hate grafting together. The piece was to wild and I just struggled managing it whilst doing the Kitchener Stitch. I think it took longer to attempt this than actually gwp-1463563099597.jpegetting into the groove of the pattern itself! Because I made a fair few mistakes, I decided to experiment and it went a bit wrong. It ended up making it much longer than I had initially intended.But I find this makes it even more of a versatile shawl/scarf/shrug.

I’ve had compliments on it. I was told it was a very “Steam-punk” design. It will look great with my brocade gold and brown corset! So there you go… art out of error.

Raspberry Beret



For days now, the death of Prince Rogers Nelson has dominated the headlines, airwaves and thoughts of the world. Not only was he a multi-platinum selling musician, he was a truly original and boundless artist. His productions were both a treat for the ear as well as the eye and fans were ever inspired by anything Prince created.

We became incredibly nostalgic on Friday night. Out came the 1985 vinyl, Around the World in a Day and we listened to the hit, Raspberry Beret. Naturally, the next thing that happened was a search for a pattern on the internet. I went straight to Ravelry and found one using the Bee Stitch.

The Bee Stitch is a multiple of 2 stitches plus 1 over 4 rows. It is made by “knitting 1 below (K1b)” and you need to have an odd number of stitches.

Row 1: Knit

Row 2: (Right Side): *(K1, K1b); Repeat from * across to last stitch K1.

Row 3: Knit

Row 4: *(K1b, K1); repeat from * across to last stitch, K1b.

Repeat these 4 rows for desired length of fabric. This 4 row repeat creates a diagonal patterning.

I have never tried the Bee Stitch before and I am looking forward to trying it out. I looked into my “stash” that I call My Yarniverse and found a lovely raspberry coloured wool but it is rather fluffy wool. To show off the stitch, I really need to find something different. I thought perhaps it could be cotton from Sugar n Cream. I did the silly thing of announcing this to The Husband who pointed out that I had three WIPs going, a yarn bomb coming up and “orders” for winter hats for the family etc…

Well, I never said that the Raspberry Beret would be for me, per se, an my daughter is a member of the family. She often forgets her hat at home since she uses the hoodie of her parka so I often use her hats… So I am off to the Yarn Store to check out raspberry coloured yarns.


Bee Stitch Beret Courtesy: