Levelling Up: Lace Workshop Session One

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“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.

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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…

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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”.

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

I Dream Of Jeanie

 

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Stitch marker found on ETSY

 

Going into the Yankee Yarn shop is a little like going over to my cousin’s house. Our Fearless Leader Sara is from Louisiana and I am from Texas. We are kindred spirits not only bound together by our birth nation or the fact that we boldly set out to make our ex-Pat existence nothing short of awesome sauce. Of course, we have the whole knitting connection and we are both Mums of crazy dual national children. But our easy friendship sparked because we recognised we were both surreptitious rebels.

 

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Resident Experimenter Nori & Resident Designer Jen

In fact, Resident Designer Jen and even our lovely, serene Resident Experimenter Nori have a maverick streak in them. Most of the ladies that come into the shop have a bit of an untamed flair about them, to be fair. The knitting shop is like an outlaw’s hangout and we are all like wild, Wild West gunslingers— only our holsters hold balls of yarn and we are armed with hooks and needles.

 

 

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Stylecraft Pattern

So when Stylecraft came out with an exciting, new yarn “that captures the spirit and heritage of the denim” that is, incidentally, the trend this season, it made all of our eyes big with wonder. Jeanie Denim Look is inspired by the timeless and classic hues of denim. It is available in 100g balls in four shades: Dixie, Memphis, Delta, and (to my heart’s joy) Texas. The colours go from the retro 70s indigos to lighter blues like the stonewashed fashions of the 80s. Imagine the pieces you can make! Whatever your denim style — country western, rocker, chic, student-look—it is all up to you!

 

It is aran weight yarn, but its cotton acrylic blend means you can throw it in the wash and tumble dry without ruining the garment. It is soft. One of our customers said it was like working with chenille. Another said it was like working with velvet.

“Fuzzy feel good to the touch,” said Yolie Hume. “I am working on a cable sweater and it just feels so lush!”

“On circulars, it doesn’t snag,” said Becca MacDougal. “It does not split either. “ The yarn keeps its integrity even after you have to pull it all back and start over.

“I wish I could blink like I Dream Of Jeanie and have a sweater,” Said Our Fearless Leader Sara.

We have the patterns in the shop and will be getting more. I am thinking of challenging Our Resident Designer Jen to whip up a western style cardigan to go with my sundress, cowboy boots and Stetson. Watch this space.

Let Them Knit Cake!!!

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There is not much I take seriously. What I do take seriously is cake. These days the cake has taken our shop by storm in the form of Caron Cakes.

The colours are so rich, you just want to eat them up. The best bit is there are no calories in this kind of cake.

Let me shoot you some stats on this multipurpose yarn:

  • Can be used for knitting, crocheting
  • Multi-Project Versatile that grows quite fast!
  • Variegated (five vibrant colours in each ball)
  • Weight: Medium Worsted ( like 10 ply, Aran)
  • Contents: 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool
  • Skein Weight: 7.1 oz./ 200g
  • Yardage: 383 yds. / 350 m
  • Knitting Gauge: 18 sts – 24 rows = 4″ (10 cm)
  • Crochet Gauge: 13 sc – 14 rows = 4″ (10 cm)
  • Suggested Knitting Needle: 5 mm, US – 8
  • Suggested Crochet Hook: 5 mm, US – H/8

You can find lots of ideas and patterns to crochet or knit on Ravelry. Alternatively, you can just come into the shop and our Resident Designer, Jenny, will be happy to help you out.

Before I heard of this yarn, I had no idea that the term “cake” was in reference to the yarn ball type. Every day is, indeed, a school day! I found out on Interweave that yarn comes wound up in one of  11 + 1 ways! I had to look them up but here is a list with my take on each one.

YARN BALL TYPES 1

Hank– Sounds like a cowboy with a lasso. It’s basically just yarn wrapped around and tied. This is the best way to use it when you are using hand looms.

Folded Hank- a neater version of the cowboy. This cowboy is going courtin’. But when you need to use it, you will need a partner who will hold it for you looped on their arms while you gossip and wind it into a ball.

Twisted Hank or Skein the cowboy with his knickers in a twist because he needs the bathroom and has crossed his legs… Skein is the generic term we all seem to call any ball of yarn. But I especially like it when it is twistd up like this. The wizards who hand-dye sell their works in this manner. It really captures the colours and how they blend and work into

Pull Skein- Basically, these are ready to use as you pull the yarn from the centre and just knit. But they do get a little sloppy towards the end so you end up winding it into a ball.

Bullet Skien- quite possibly the most common way we see our yarn for sale. Incidentally, this is the best way to stash them in a pillow cushion so your husband has no idea how much yarn you actually stash…. shhh

 

 

YARN BALL TYPES 2

Ball-  In the words of William Butler Yeats from his poem The Second Coming, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” So you wind this sucker up tight, plop it in a lovely in a yarn bowl in a decorative part of your living room near your Yarniverse!

Donut Ball- I just got a mental image of two cops in their patrol car parked behind a billboard knitting away with fluffy cashmere doughnut balls in a box between them. Oh, the joy!

Hard Core Ball- So this type of yarn ball has nothing to do with Basketball’s Goon Squad like Chicago Bulls Dennis Rodman or Philly 76ers Charles Barkley. It has to do with skinny yarn like the kind used for making nets and wound up tight. Booyeah.

Cone- this is often associated with cheap granny yarn that you find up in the loft. You get lots and lots of yardage on this bad boy. It’s not old-fashioned anymore, however. Sugar ‘n’ Cream has lots of its cotton yarn in fresh new colours on cones with names like Ahoy or Faded Denim.

Cake- Ah ha!!! Remember those Hanks? Well, you get cakes from them when you wind them up. Click to see a video HERE!

 

These are the 11 types of balls. According to Interweave, there is one more that lurks at the bottom of your stash called the ***Hankenstien***

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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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Simply Sock Clinic Part II – Sharp Row Heel & Turn aka Big Bang Theory

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Question 1—25% of grade

Six ladies were knitting in a sock workshop. They all were about to learn how to do the heel. They had 120 minutes to complete the heel. One lady had 50 stitches on her needles. Two had 56 stitches on their needles. Two had 40 on their needles and the last one had 89 on one and 84 on the other. If each lady had to divide stitches onto three needles, dividing a half of all stitches on one needle and a quarter each on the other two needles, then how long would it take for all of them to lose their minds.

(Answer found at the bottom)



We all slipped through the doors of Yankee Yarns on a freezing, flurry-filled Saturday. Each of us had our socks knitted up to the heel and was in absolute anticipation of learning the new skill, Short-Row Shaping.  Deborah Bown, one of the participants, even took the whole week off work so she could devote the time to her sock! I think we all brought a level of commitment to this endeavour that one would find amongst those working on the Hadron Collider. Hannah Smith summed it up best when she said, “This is when I have to choose between knitting and sleep.”

 

I have often heard it said that most knitters tend to view making socks with either rampant trepidation or mystical fascination. Jenny, our resident designer, said once you get around the first fiddly part when working on the toe, the heel is easier. As it is with most things, until you break through from learning to mastering, there are stumbling blocks and much (mostly me) swearing. For us on Saturday, it all started with the maths.

We all read the bit on the recipe with the formula and began counting stitches. I don’t know if it was the fact that, it being Saturday, we all plummeted into a strange dyscalculic mode. Perhaps we all just got confused with all the counting-out-loud. Whatever it was, the general frenzy of the room had Jenny going around the table checking and double checking our computations. Everyone had some sort of diagram or workings-out scribbled on their pattern.  Our Fearless Leader Sara was rocking in the corner and before you knew it we were “stash deep” in String Theory!

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Well, maybe not quite but you get a general idea. You would have thought we were calculating math to discover dark matter or black holes.

“I think I found a hole,” said Sara. “Oh! No… no. It’s fine.” (Our Fearless Leader never drops the stitch!)

Out of chaos comes order. Once the arithmetic was all sorted, we could concentrate on the technique of wrap and turn on the increase. But even that got a bit transcendent when we approached the decrease. Angela Burrows got there before us and alerted us.

“You’re gonna love this,” she muttered. “It’s a right bastard to do.”

“I thought I could knit before I started to make a sock!” said Janet Garner

However, things quickly spun in a different direction. The geeks in us began to surface through the madness and it called to mind my experiences around another type of table.

“This is all witchcraft.”

“Yeah if maths doesn’t work, summon the sock demons.”

“What’s my saving throw?”

“That’s a +45 spell power and 27 to stamina.”

We all got there in the end. The best bit is we all left with our heels completed and every strand of hair on our heads.

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So what was the answer to the above math word problem? Well, considering we started the workshop at Noon and were due to leave at 2 pm… the last person didn’t leave until nearly 4 pm. One of us experienced a harrowing moment when the double pointed needle broke mid row and posted it on Facebook late on Saturday night. Some of us saw each other on Monday afternoon and exchanged knowing little glances and I believe I detected a slight twitch in (name withheld)’s eye…

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Using the formula C= π*d = 2*π*r. Thus pi equals the knitting circle circumference divided by its diameter. The answer is they lost their minds in 0.16666666666 seconds. Hehe…

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Just jokes. 

 

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

The Stash Buster Challenge, 2017!

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We all do it. We all hoard wool. Like dragons guarding treasure, we are protective of our spun balls of colour. I have a friend that calls her hoard, “My Precious”. Another friend calls it her “Tangled Web”. I call mine, My Yarniverse .

Whatever you call it, it is our Stash. To some of us, the size of it is of great pride and joy. To others, it is a secret that must be kept from the man of the house.

I met up with another knitter for coffee the other day. Let’s call her “Jane”. She is a novice (she’s only been knitting since June) and already she has amassed a great hoard of yarn. Some of it was inherited from her husband’s late auntie. It was this pile of historic yarn, abandoned W.I.P.s and vintage needles that got Jane knitting.

“I can cast on, do stockinette and so far I have made a few scarves,” she said. Her eyes were ablaze as she opened up a canvas bag. Within the bag were six skeins of naturally dyed, hand spun, pure wool yarn from crossbred sheep and alpaca that she bought from a seller at a craft fair. ALPACA!

16-12-07-21-17-11-765_deco.jpgBashfully she looked up from the bag and whispered, “I am not sure how I am going to smuggle it into the wool I already got at home without him asking how much it cost.” I nodded quietly calculating there must have been about £70 pounds worth of yarn there.

“Chances are your hubby may never know,” I said. And then we Googled closed storage containers together from one of the value shops and planned her the Smuggling In Ops.

There is no way of understanding exactly how this yarn addiction begins. It almost always starts off innocently by finding a pattern that calls for a certain amount of balls for the size you want to make, and then you quite possibly buy one extra (just in case) or find that your tension was really rather tight so you are left with a bit. But ultimately, you wander around a shop looking for laundry detergent, toothpaste and bin liners and find three skeins of wool for the price of two. You see a cobalt blue looking one then remember that lovely cowl pattern you saw on Ravelry. You remember that you decided to make one at some point in the near future. But what if in the future these skeins aren’t on sale? You think to yourself you had better get them now, just in case. You think to yourself “that would look so pretty on (insert person’s name of your choice with the glorious blue eyes HERE)”. You are pleased. You put it in your cart and spot another skein in a different color. Only this one is not in the sale. But this one is even softer and the color is like autumn walked into the shop and kissed you on the forehead. So you buy four.  It begins. You store it in the boot of your car until your husband leaves the house. You run out as soon as he has turned the corner and bring the wool in and…. Stash it…. True story…

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Well, here comes 2017 and with it comes new lines of wool. That stash is starting to bulge a bit and it may be the time to get some of that old stuff out of the dark and onto your needles and hooks. The New Year is all about new beginnings so Yankee Yarns would like to throw out the dragon-scaled gauntlet!

fb.me/CosyCrochetbyMarieBy Marie King at Cosy Crochet

We challenge you to make stuff out of your stash. Only your stash!

And we would like you to send us your photos so we can put them up in our gallery. Of course we will give you props. When you send us your photo, we would like to know:

  1. Your name (alias or just first name is ok)
  2. How long you have had that wool in your stash
  3. And if there is a story attached to the yarn, then even better!
  4. Send to Yankeeyarns@gmail.com and we will showcase your work in the Stash Buster Challenge tab.

Do you just want to make squares? Check this out. A knit for Charity is a great way to stash bust.

Now a word from Sara, our fearless leader at Yankee Yarns :

“The pink vest Loxley wearing is 10 year old wool with the green stripe new wool. It was the exact colour she wanted. Mix the old and the new because I didn’t know it then but it’s exactly what I needed now. You know your own taste, so when you see something you can’t pass up trust your own taste because chances are you’ll end up (eventually) making something you love.”

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Some Stash Buster mini projects.

 

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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!