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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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!

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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!

Cheers!

 

 

 

Hooked on Colour

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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!

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She Comes In Colours

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.17-01-05-19-57-43-970_deco.jpg 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. wp-1483645572625.jpgThe 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???dr-who-knitting-meme

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

Reap &Sew: The Battle Of Making Up

Like a Sherman tank trekking over the crest to its destination, the time for the upcoming yarn bomb is drawing near. Little bits of cleverly created pieces are making their way into Yankee Yarns ( the Yarn Bomb HQ). Our Yarn Bomb General and her lieutenants have been out to survey the area. Tape measures and mental calculations have been all over the Mansfield Market area. Hookers (crocheters… not the rugby players etc) and Knitters from all over the Mansfield area have rallied providing the most wonderful pieces.

Now is the time to piece them all together and make them up. Now this is the point of the project where so many knitters and crocheters falter. How many times have I heard the same lamentation: “Love working on my project but absolutely HATE sewing them all up!” The dread of making up the pieces even called for the idea of getting some experts in. The Girl Guides! Yes! Like little paratroopers, they will be deployed to help us out in the battle of Making up! I love the idea of that.

At last night’s knitting circle, we discussed the upcoming “Making Up Meeting” at Veolia on June 3rd from 10am to 4pm. Hopefully we will have enough people turn up to help put together all the fantastic pieces as well as have a bit of a giggle and copious amounts of tea and coffee. Who knows… there might be cake…

Hoping to see you there!

 

 

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.

Hey, Daddy-O. Don’t Be Square…

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I am still chuckling about the story of a very particular lady who is a bit of a square when it comes to knitting. She cannot get over the fact that anyone under the age of 40 could know anything about knitting/crochet/yarn/life.  Apparently, she came into the shop one afternoon and directed all her conversation to the owner’s mother (who was only visiting). The customer was determined to “out-expert” the young knitting-shop-owner-scalawag. She issued her orders and the shop’s owner scurried around to provide the customer with what she required. She paid, gathered her items and blew out of the shop like hurricane leaving the shop owner standing there slightly nonplussed.

A few days later, the Hurricane was back. With the same agitation as she had when she first visited the shop, she stated that she was sold a pair of “square” 4.5 mm needles instead of round ones… (Please insert awkward silence and seething stare here…) In a flurry, the shop owner apologised and offered her a conventional pair of needles. However,  the customer angrily replied that no, actually… she required an additional pair of these strange square needles in size 5 mm and to make sure they were the square ones because “that will be all I will be using from now on!”… (Please insert awkward silence and seething stare here…)

And now you are sitting there and wondering, “What? Square needles?” or “Why angrily?”

Right… let’s address the whole “square needles” thing first. They are a product advertised to be a knitter’s favourite needle because the design makes it more comfortable to hold and offers “hours of pleasurable knitting with no hand fatigue.” They are recommended for anyone who has arthritis or carpal tunnel. The ergonomic design is cuboid-shaped and gradually tapers into the needle points. In rosewood textured laminated wood, they are a delight to the eye, as well. They are light-weight, durable and flexible.

Engineering specs aside, what I really love about these needles is that it seems easier to do colour work with them. It is easier to manipulate the yarn on the needle because it sits on a firm edge of the needle and gives you a better grasp when you weave the different strands behind the work to carry the colours along. In addition, I use a Cubics double pointed needle (DPN) to mark my place on the chart pattern as I work because it won’t roll away! The DPN works fantastically as a cabling needle, as well. Unlike the smooth metal needles, the Cubics has a polished, porous surface and this helps add drag to your yarn but not as much drag as bamboo, plastic or cheap wooden needles. When you work with them, they feel secure and not slippery. It makes it less fiddly and easier to start your foundation row when knitting in the round!

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Doing some investigating, I found out these kinds of needles have been around since around 2006 but now they have been honed better and only starting to gain more attention. The needle points have been perfected to make sure they are the same as standard needles. Still, you may need to practice with them a bit and make a swatch or two just to ensure your gauge is correct.

wp-1462184970904.jpegI will be trying the circulars next.

Are these the end-all-be-all in knitting accouterments? For me they are… and for our Hurricane Customer, seemingly! But as always, our choice of needles are as personal as the kind of underpants we prefer to wear. All I can say is come into the knitting shop and have a go. As for our Hurricane Customer— why was she so tempestuous? Ah, who is to say? There is nothing as funny as folk.

 

***Apologies so late. It’s a Bank Holiday!

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Raspberry Beret

 

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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: http://www.lindysknitslaces.com/tag/bee-stitch/

Voila! Veolia!

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Life throws us some pretty random curve balls, my friends. It’s wonderful when we actually catch the opportunity and run with one!

A few months ago, I wandered into a knitting shop just happy that it was right in my neighbourhood. The knitting shop owner was looking to host a knitting circle and I was the unlikely leader of a rag-tag nomadic group who went from pub to pub on a semi – regular basis. Next thing I knew, we had a weekly group in our very own club house with the most colourful bunch of lassies  (and from time to time those rare knitting/crochet dudes) this side of the Atlantic.

Suddenly,  YARN BOMB! Talk about whirlwind escapades! We found ourselves knitting & crocheting patriotic  items to string up in Mansfield Town centre for the celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday. Our little yarn store has become Queenie Knits HQ. This is a bonafide event sponsored by the local oooooficials. Which leads us to…

…our group on hand to help out members of the public who might wander in looking to learn a new skill. Our group were invited to use Veolia ‘s meeting room to use as a venue to teach.
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We will be there on Fridays with our needles and hooks ready to teach, chat and beguile newcomers with our whimsical conversation. In addition, the public will be offered the opportunity to have a look at the Veolia Recycling process. You can learn more at http://www.veolia.co.uk

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We are looking forward to the next date. We were able to entice a new recruit to our motley crew… just like the Darkside of the Force. And just like the Dark side, we have cookies.

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Courtesy of Veolia

The dates of our sessions will be posted on the calendar of this blog. They are free to the public. All we ask is that you bring your own yarn. However, if you are a complete novice and just want to have a go, we will have yarn, hooks, needles and tools for you to borrow. image

Hope to see you there!

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