Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yorkshire & Yarndale

Yorkshire and  Yarndale seems like ages ago now but it's only about 3 weeks ago, I think. We had another great visit to Yorkshire. Last week we were able to stay for 5 days after Yarndale to explore Yorkshire. Unfortunately we weren't able to do that this time. But we did travel up a day early so we had the Friday to explore. This time we chose to stay in Bradford and I must admit I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I'd heard mixed things about Bradford from Yorkshire friends. But we loved Bradford. Our hotel was central but in a quiet area (well, quiet for a city anyway). It was a short walk into the City Park area and we loved the free city busy. We decided to visit the National Media Museum and could have easily spent all day there. I highly recommend it.  But we only had the morning free. 

For lunch we headed to the City Park and no, it's not flooded. That's the water feature.

After lunch we drove up to Skipton and accidentally chose the scenic route and it took us ages. Yarndale is held in an auction mart, basically a cattle market, so transforming it into a yarn boutique is a challenge. This is after we'd put up the wall coverings and had all our stuff dumped.

But transform it we did and I was happy with the result. 

We had our new Midnight Stole sample on display. My original sample was knitted i hand-dyed yarn and was much admired and I wondered if the new Moon Night sample would be as popular (by the way, there'll be Midnight Stole kits in the shop this week) and it was.

Our other feature shawl was Delphine which was also much admired.

We had a fabulous show! It seemed slightly quieter than last year but I think that was because the show was larger and better organised this year. Last year the organisers were taken by surprise by how many knitters turned up. They listened to stall holders and visitors and implemented some changes for this year.

Sales-wise, we did about the same as last year so it was a successful show for us. Join top with Woolfest!

Lucy of Attic 24 had appealed to her blog readers for crocheted mandalas and they made a colourful display at one end of the auction mart.

There were a lot of them:

If you came to our stall at Yarndale then thank you very much for your support. If you missed out then there's lots of yarn in the shop now.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What have I been knitting?

I seem to have completely lost the plot when it comes to blogging. I've got a couple of blog posts, including one about Yarndale, half-written in my draft folder but I'm in the middle of several deadlines, book editing and this is my busiest time teaching, so blogging has taken a back seat. I have done lots of knitting though. I've got a pile of designs which I'd like to self-publish before the end of this year or early next year so I'm slowly working my way through those too.

I sent out a newsletter yesterday with a 15% discount. I've got new colours, beads, kits, shawl pins and some other stuff in the shop. Use code: oct15 to claim your 15% discount. Valid until midnight Monday 20th October

To try to get back into blogging groove, I thought I'd share a few things I've been knitting. Below is the next pattern to be published: my 'Vinter Votter'. Vinter is winter in Norwegian and votter is mittens. So these are winter mittens. These mittens are inspired by traditional 'Selbu' mittens and feature snow flake motifs which are so popular in Norwegian mittens. 

The plum/light grey (it looks white but is grey) is Quince & Co Chickadee and knitted up to a slightly larger tension than the pattern states which makes these mittens perfect for me and I'm keeping this pair for myself. The grey/green pair is the official sample pair and were knitted by Gwen in Lang merino. More details when the pattern is ready which will be very soon, hopefully in the next few days.

I've been working on more mittens. I've been wanting to knit something with Navia Duo for a long time. I've used it for swatching a few times and it's lovely. So I cast on for a new pair of mittens inspired by Norwegian waffles. All Norwegian homes have a waffle maker and the motif on these mittens remind me of the traditional waffle shape. This is the large size which is quite large. They would fit a man quite nicely. They're slightly large for me and I've got man size hands. I'm working on a smaller pair too. I've just finished re-charting the smaller size this morning and now I need to dig out some yarn to knit them in.

Although I love mittens and will actually wear them when the weather gets colder and I'm especially looking forward to wearing them in Norway at Christmas but I wear fingerless mittens most of the time. My hands are always cold. I've had a stitch pattern in my head for a while so I charted it out and it knitted up exactly like I hoped it would. The yarn is Navia Duo again.

Here's the front of the mitten:

And here's the back:

Before we left for Yorkshire last month I cast on for a crescent shawl. I used a slightly different construction method than I've done before and added some short rows. I didn't check how the size was working out till I cast off a few days after we got back but I love the size of this. It's bigger than I thought it would be.  I bought the yarn in Jersey last March and I got Vanessa to model it for me when she was home last weekend. I'm working on finishing the pattern so I can send it to the tech editor. I'll talk more about it when it's ready for publication. I'm really looking forward to wearing it this winter. I think it'll be my favourite scarf.

I've been very tempted by Navia lately and I've been dreaming of doing something with neon pink and silver grey. I couldn't resist a bright blue either and a few days ago I cast on for this scarf. I've got a bit further by now and I'm loving it. I had a outline plan when I started but I'm designing on the go.

I've also got a new circular shawl on the needles which I'm designing 'on the go'. I did take photos but they seem to have vanished so I'll share some photos another time.

I've also got a couple of simple projects on the go but I'm not sure if I'll finish them or not yet. Not quite sure if they're working out as I hoped, so I've put them on hold for now.

This weekend I'll mainly focus on mittens I think. What's on your needles this weekend?

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Kick Start Your Autumn Knitting

Its finally getting a bit colder in the UK. Many knitters are excited about this. I must admit I'm not. I'm very sad to see the end of summer. We've had some very autumnal, stormy weather this week so I think summer is well and truly over. 

I've got lots to tell you about but since we got back from Yarndale it's been crazy. I've had deadlines, been teaching and I'm in the middle of book editing. So today I just wanted to tell you about a little discount to kick start your autumn knitting.

Use code: knitautumn to get 15% off any order from my online shop & 25% off any pattern order of 4 patterns or more in my Ravelry Pattern ShopBoth valid until 15 Oct.

There are kits, beads, knitting needles, shawl pins and yarn.

I've got lots of knitting to share but until next time I'll leave you with a sneak peak of what I cast on tonight. I got a bit further than that and it's looking good but it got too late to take photos.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ready for Yarndale

Who's coming to Yarndale this weekend?  Its been a busy week getting ready. Remind me next time I do a show not to schedule any design deadlines in the 2 weeks before/after the sjow. Its been crazy. But yesterday we headed to Yorkshire.  

The big box of yarn above arrived full of Schoppel and Lang yarns.  Here are a few of my favourites. 

I love this 6 Karat colour combo. There will definitely be a new shawl design in this combo.

New to me is Lang Mille Colori Sock and Lace. Its a beautiful sock yarn with long stripes. Here's a bright colour combo:

And a slightly less bright but very pretty pair:

Lang also do these cute little 25gr balls of lace in some fab colours.  The green and blue ones will definitely become a new design too.

 Of course I had to re-stock the Zauberball yarns. We sold lots of these pretties at Woolfest. 

These are my favourite colours, especially the green above. In fact it nearly became my travel project. 

A big box of colourful goodness.  We will hace our Lotus Yarns as well of course. 

And we'll have beads, crochet hooks, circular needles & a few other knitting accessories & lots of patterns. 

I cast on for a new knitting project which I'll blog more about another time.

We loaded the car. Our car is quite small and it takes careful planning to fit it all in. Tge bike was dropped off at Vanessa's in Bristol on the way.  We had a lovely lunch with her.

Will we see you at Yarndale this weekend? 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Free Pattern Weekend - the Sunshine Scarf

The Sunshine Scarf was originally designed for the Lace Lovers Club. It was the last parcel in July with a skein of yellow Lotus Cashmere Fingering. I designed this as a light summery scarf but as its cashmere it'll be warm enough for autumn/winter without adding bulk.

This scarf takes just one 55gr (365m/400yds) skein of heavy lace weight but you can easily make it wider and longer but you will of course need more yarn. The pattern includes instruction on how to make it wider.

To take advantage of this offer, go to Ravelry, click on 'buy it now' then click on 'buy now'. The pattern will then be added to your Ravelry library and you can download it. It looks like the pattern isn't free as this is set up like a sale. From midnight Sunday 21 UK time the pattern will be £3.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beaded Lace Knitting

I wrote a book this year. I finished it in early August and while we were in Spain I had an e-mail from my editor with a copy of the cover of the book. I was so excited! 

I'm very happy with the cover - my favourite colours! The shawl worn by the model is probably one of the most difficult designs in the book.

So here's the Cover - Tadah:

And I've just discovered this morning that the book is on pre-order on Amazon. The book won't be out until May next year but you can pre-order now (there's an affiliate link in the side bar - top left).

As the title suggests, the book is all about beaded lace knitting. I love knitting lace with beads and working on this book has been a lot of fun and hard work. 

There will be shawls, scarves, cowls, garments and mitts using a variety of yarns including luxury yarns and budget yarns. My knitters were amazing and I couldn't have done this without them. I'll talk more about the individual designs and my wonderful knitters when I'm allowed to share more. A huge thank you to all the yarn companies who supported the book.

I'm very happy with the photos and I'm so grateful to Stackpole Books and my editor for contacting me last year about doing a book. I'm looking forward to sharing more about the book closer to the publishing date

Monday, September 15, 2014

Etherow Shawl by Fyberspates & a Stretchy Cast Off Tutorial

Last week Fyberspates published a collection of patterns for their beautiful Cumulus yarn. Cumulus is an alpaca/silk blend which is in-between a lace weight and 4ply/fingering weight. It's a perfect yarn for shawls. One of my designs in this collection is the Etherow shawl.

Etherow is a big triangular shawl, it's the kind of shawl you can really wrap around you. Because it's knitted in a light weight yarn, it works just as well, bunched up around your neck worn as a scarf or wrapped around you like a shawl. It's worked from the top down with an all over lace pattern. 

I love using the crochet chain cast off on lace shawls. The crochet loops look so elegant with a delicate shawl. A crochet chain cast off is easy to do. All you need is to be able to crochet a chain. If you've never crocheted before, there are lots of online tutorials and videos that'll show you how to crochet a chain. Because I use this cast off for a number of my shawls, I've made a little You Tube video to show you how. You can find it here. If you've never crocheted before it may be an idea to knit a little swatch to practice on.

Some knitters aren't very keen on the crochet chain cast off, so if that's you then don't worry. You can use a normal stretchy cast off instead. My favourite stretchy cast off is the Russian Cast Off. This is my go to cast off for lace shawls.

(Cast off = Bind off).

Here's how to do it: 
1. Knit two stitches.

2. *Put your left needle into the front of those two stitches from the left and knit them together. This is the same as if you slip both stitches back to the left needle and knit them together through the back loop.

You've now got one stitch left on your right needle

 3. Knit the next stitch

Repeat from * until you've cast off all or the required number of stitches. You're left with one stitch on your right needle. Fasten this stitch off as normal.

This will create a cast off edge that's stretchy enough to block into picot edges. There are other stretchy cast offs but this one is so quick and easy to remember. This morning I was casting off a new shawl design with over 520 stitches. I timed myself but didn't knit particularly quickly and I cast off all the stitches in about 34 minutes. 

Etherow is available from Ravelry and it'll also be available from you local Fyberspates stockists.