Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Yarn Shows That I Love

For a few weeks now, I have been wanting to write about what type of yarn shows I enjoy and why. Oddly, I found it difficult to put into words until I came across a tweet that clarified for me why some excite me while others simply don't.

You may have been to Yarndale or Shetland Wool Week recently so I hope you can tell me why you enjoy them, too. Yarndale is on my list of show to visit one day and it is definitely one of the good ones that I don't want to miss out on.

The first show

Now, I was quite spoiled by my first ever wool show, which was the last ever Fibre Fest. It wasn't that far from me and I loved the day out and discovered so many wonderful sellers I hadn't even heard of before. Going to such a show opens your eyes to what is available out there and most of the wares won't be in your standard wool shops. So this was quite an exciting experience and I think back fondly of making my own batt with Wrigglefingers, buying my first two spindles, eating seabuckthorn ice cream (I had no idea what that even was at that point - other than delicious), and having a very random, though lovely chat with a fellow knitter as I rested my feet.

The Knitting and Stitching Show, by comparison, is a completely different animal. It has a far more commercial air about it, there are fewer independent vendors and the show is not about fibre and its origins, primarily - even if you focus solely on the knitting side of things.

A close-knit family

What I like about Wonderwool, Fibre Fest and Edinburgh Yarn Festival is that the atmosphere is much friendlier and personal. The majority visitors who go to these particular shows seem to know the vendors and other visitors. There is a closer relationship and the emphasis lies not on the buying (although of course it is important), but the experience. We want to get to know the people who supply us with yarns, dyes, accessories and tools. We want to hear how the product has been made, where the materials are from. The vendors are easy to speak to and usually small business owners, often one-person businesses. You can feel you matter to them and your purchase makes a difference.

The Knitting and Stitching Show is anonymous. It is big, with ample opportunity to spend money, but it's not as much fun or as exciting or varied. Will you find something unique? Probably not. Will you easily find the same products in shops? Absolutely. And you would never see sheep or alpacas there, I'd wager! 

What do you look for in yarn shows? Which is your favourite and are there some you hope to get to one day?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Cornish Tin II: I Finally Got It

Hurray! This week I got my hands on 4 hanks of Blacker Yarn's limited edition Cornish Tin II. I nearly forgot the day it launched and only my Twitter feed reminded me. 

Some colourways were already sold out when I checked with Blacker so I panicked and spent the tail end of my lunchbreak trying to make a purchase on the tiny screen of my phone. In the end I bought my hanks of 4-ply from Brityarn because Isla stocked exactly the two colours I had my eye on. 

If you really, really want to get your hands on some 4-ply or DK, you do need to hurry because there isn't much left, it seems. Check out all yarn stores you know of just in case. I missed out on the first Cornish Tin last year and am still sad about it.

The yarn feels lovely and soft and has a subtle sheen. It will work very well for the shawl I have in mind. I can't wait to knit one in two colours! This woollen-spun yarn is a blend of wool, alpaca and mohair - so it's something quite special to have in your stash. Nice and soft and not scratchy at all so far. You get about 350 m in a hank, so that's quite a good amount.

Have you managed to buy any of this yarn? Which colours did you choose and what are you planning to make?

Monday, 19 September 2016

A Woolly Engagement

Engagement photo shoot with a ball of wool

Yesterday, Mark and I had an engagement photo shoot,  3 months after our actual engagement and 12 months before the wedding.

Everything about the photos - from finding a photographer to worrying about how we will look in the photos - has been stressful because they are very important to me. However, we have a good photographer and the quality of his work is excellent. Will we look good in the pics? Goodness knows, but we can be sure that he will have done his best to make us look our best!

This photo wasn't actually part of the shoot because I was distracted at the time and forgot to mention this was one I definitely wanted. So I asked my colleague if she would take a quick snap during lunch and she did a good job, as you can see.

(For those obsessed with yarn - who isn't? - this is a ball of Blacker Yarn's Tamar in DK.)

There may be further yarny engagement photos to come, so keep your eyes peeled!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Wedding Shawl: Update 5

RosaFlora wedding shawl

I am in love with this shawl. RosaFlora took me only one month to knit, a third of the time I had anticipated. This is the first time, if I remember correctly, that I have knitted a shawl without any remaining mistakes. I couldn't resist adding more beads than the pattern called for, so the bind off is decorated with golden glass beads throughout. 

This is a delicate shawl made from pure silk and it is lovely. It is very large, too, even though I didn't block it aggressively and there was still a lot of give in it when I matched the dimensions suggested in the pattern. This is probably the largest shawl I have ever made.

silk beaded wedding shawl

The knitting didn't go as smoothly as hoped at the start, but I managed to fix it all. As I went on, the lace became easier to read and I made fewer mistakes. And, can I just say, stitch markers were essential! 

Then, just as I blocked the shawl, I realised I forgot one single bead in the bind off! Once the piece was dry, I undid part of the bind off to fix it and had to block that part again, but it was easier than I feared it would be. I am really looking forward to wearing this shawl on my wedding day! Only one whole year to wait now...

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Feeling the Need For Autumn Knits

Today is a grey rainy day and I am feeling very autumnal. During our weekly shop I had all these ideas of hearty stews and warming bakes that I only get once the leaves start to turn golden. No sign yet of changing leaves, but the temperature has fallen and it is dark and damp. We may yet get a few hot and sunny days, but today it feels like autumn.

Now that my wedding shawl is finished (watch out for the blog post coming up soon), I am thinking about what to knit next. My thoughts have turned to the wonderful 4 hanks of Blacker Yarn's Tamar in DK, but it has been impossible to find a nice shawl pattern for which I can use them all. All shawls that take my fancy are knitted in 4-ply and would be a little too bulky in DK, at times I don't have the right amount of yarn either. I will have to keep looking or come up with my own design, which I was hoping not to do.

Photo by David Fraser
During my search I once again stumbled upon a design that caught my eye as soon as it was published: Karie Westermann's Byatt. I love the two-tone section and am definitely going to knit this shawl at some point. I was hoping to use Tamar for it, but that won't quite work, I think. I am sure I have enough other yarn in my stash, though. 

Due to my pattern search not yielding quite what I was looking for, I returned to an older WIP from last year. You may remember my Pixelated Pullover that was nearly finished. In the end I only had one sleeve left to knit, but realised that there were quite a few things I wish I had done differently. The fit was off in places and I had a very, very huge sleeve. So I put it all aside and didn't feel like continuing. 

I still don't really feel like it because my mind is all about shawls right now, but this is probably the best time to get back into it. It's getting cooler and winter will be here sooner than I'd like, so having the jumper ready (or at least nearing completion) would be great. And so I got it out of its bag, delighted in the fact that the moths left it alone all this time, and started ripping back. Further and further. Row after row. 

Pixelated Pullower

I ripped back until I reached a suitable section from where I should be able to continue easily. That said, I haven't checked if I can find my place in the pattern yet. The jumper odyssey continues!

Monday, 29 August 2016

Knitting Inspiration: Autumn Is Coming

I know, I know, it's been pretty hot here lately and I am sure not many of you are thinking about autumn yet. Nevertheless, this is the best time to get ready for some autumn knitting so I have scoured Ravelry once again to bring you the four best seasonal knits to get you in the mood. Of course orange had to feature heavily. I just love how it makes the knits stand out and the colour does make me look forward to that season of falling leaves again.

So what should you be knitting right now?

1. Why, an acorn, of course! And this one's for free as well, so it can't possibly get any better. Knit it as a decoration or to cuddle with. It will make a great little gift, too, if you need something extra for a knitworthy friend.

2. Ysolda's patterns are well known and you have probably come across them before. Ishbel is a very popular shawl so if you haven't made it yet, this is your chance. It is perfect for lace lovers and is available in two sizes for one or two skeins of 4-ply, repectively. 

3. I have been following Amanda's blog, Owl Print Panda, for a while now and her knits and spinning are always fantastic. It comes as no surprise then that Baile, a beautiful cardigan with lace panels at the front, is so tempting. It will definitely keep you warm when the first chill of the season sets in.

4. Of course you can't have a selection of knits without a pair of socks. We will need plenty of them as it gets colder so why not get knitting now? These Jelly Rolls are fun to look at and knit. I want to wear them right now - never mind it's around 20 degrees C here at the moment. These socks are knitted in two colours, feature a double rolled cuff and are perfect for using up leftover yarn, too. Sold?

What autumn knits are you working on right now (or planning to start)? I will be making a shawl from Blacker's Tamar yarn that I got at the Edinburgh Yarn Fest earlier this year. I have four colours to play with and am really looking forward to it. Happy stash diving!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Wedding Shawl: Update 4 - The Beads Are Back

At last! The beads arrived quickly thanks to great customer service at Debbie Abrahams. I had to exchange my original purchase of size 8 beads for size 6 because I forgot what my go-to size was. Here they are now and I have been knitting away eagerly to make up for lost time.

That said, this shawl is a much faster knit than expected. Today I noticed I have only one chart left to knit. Amazing! This gives me lots of time to knit the pattern again, perhaps in another colour. I may end up with a choice of shawls on the big day!

How is your knitting going at the moment? Are you about to finish a project as well?