knitting

The Great London Yarn Crawl

Last weekend I joined with fellow yarnies and took part in the Great London Yarn Crawl. Organised by Yarn in the City the event has been running for 4 years now and it’s a day for crafters to take a tour of some of the wonderful haberdashery and yarn shops that London has to offer.

There were 12 teams this year, each with a planned route to visit 3 or 4 shops. I was on Team Mosaic, one of the 4 shop routes.

On Saturday morning, my friend Vero and I braved the rain and caught the train to London where we were to meet the others at a coffee shop in Angel and get acquainted over tea and cake, and receive our goodie bags full of yarny treats!

glyc

The first stop on our route was Ray Stitch, a sewing and haberdashery shop in Angel, Islington.

ray-stitch

Full of beautiful fabrics, buttons and books…I was very tempted to buy a pattern and some fabric but I stopped myself as I know it will lead me down a whole other rabbit hole! So I settled for a selection of pretty buttons and scissor charms.

Buttons.jpg

Next up was Loop. I have visited this shop before and already knew it would be where I spent most of my budget for the day…this shop is yarn heaven!

loop

Just look at all these pretties…

loop-yarn-shop

Needless to say I didn’t come out of there empty handed. I bought 2 skeins of Dye for Yarn which I want to match up with some Hedgehog Fibre yarn I already have. And I got a pretty little needle measurer too  🙂

dye-for-yarn

And the one thing I had been lusting after for ages….a Japanese knitting stitch book! I have been trying to find one of these for ages but they are not easy to come by. This was top of my list for the day and I was over the moon to find it!

japanese-knitting-book

We stepped out of Loop, back into the rain and found a pub for lunch.

Fully refreshed we carried on our journey by Bus to Stoke Newington, the home of Knit With Attitude

knit-with-attitude

Part of the shop was also a gallery with interesting art prints, jewellery and gifts. If you ever find yourself in Hackney this is one shop well worth a visit, and the staff were so friendly and helpful too!

The last shop on our route was another 2 bus rides away, across to North London to Fringe.

fringe

A real treasure trove of a store, there was so much to see – and they also had a pop up event with knitwear designer Erika Knight!

fringe-london

As we walked into the shop we were handed gift bags by the staff containing 3 balls of vintage mohair yarn. The lady told us that one day a man came into the store with bags of yarn which belonged to his late wife. She had been a knitwear designer and made some beautiful garments that had appeared in magazines.

fringe-yarn-shop

Just…wow!

fringe-glyc

Her husband wanted her yarn to go to people who would appreciate it, so he donated it to the shop. Isn’t that a lovely gesture? Unfortunately we don’t know the name of the designer but I’ll certainly be putting her yarn to good use at some point in the future.

vintage-yarn

And so, weary but happy we caught a train back to Moorgate where all of the teams came together to wrap up the day, show off our new purchases and have a well deserved drink! There was also a raffle to raise money to the supported charity, Refuge.

It was a brilliant day, very well organised and I met some lovely fellow knitters too. Now to get that lovely new yarn on the needles…

Until next time, happy knitting! x

knitting

Note to Self. Remember to Make Notes!

Last year I visited the Sheep Shop in Cambridge and came away with 2 skeins of the most gorgeous Lotus Tibetan Cloud 100% yak laceweight yarn. It’s sooo soft and dreamy I just couldn’t resist!

Tibetan_Cloud_Fingering_medium2.JPG

I knew right away that it wanted to be a pretty little shawl and thought I would have another go at designing a pattern. I decided to make a thin crescent shape shawl, one that increases 4 sts at the beginning and end of each right side row and 2 sts every wrong side row. After looking through some stitch pattern books I was drawn to a diamond design shape ‘Starlight Lace’ from the Barbara Walker – Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns book.

Starlight lace

So armed with charting software, notebook and pen I started to put the pattern together and knit the shawl as I went along, writing everything down as I did it…well I say everything… I kind of wrote things down on various notebooks, on my phone, on scraps of paper and on the computer pattern too and I even remember on a couple of occasions thinking ‘I don’t need to write that down because I’ll remember that’. Of course you will Jem! What was I thinking….and to make matters worse I finished the shawl and then decided to wait another 6 months before attempting to write the pattern up :-/

I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago, after searching high and low for a missing notebook and swatches…I couldn’t put it off any longer or it would never get done!

And it wasn’t that bad once I got back into it, the bits of scribble I had started to make sense and I was eventually able to piece the pattern back together. I did have to cast on quite a few swatches though mainly to keep track of the edge stitches as the stitch count varies on some rows.

BoR Shawl.jpg

But I think I cracked it. It’s now gone for tech editing so fingers crossed it’s all ok….

The beauty of the rain

And here’s a little peek at the final design. Next step is to get some decent photo’s 🙂

Beauty of the Rain

I’m off to buy some more notebooks tomorrow 😉

Happy knitting! x

knitting, Spinning

Putting a Spin on Knit

I have been interested in learning how to spin on a spindle since I saw the Spin City stall at Festiwool last November and Louise, the owner, was kind enough to give us a quick demonstration.

Spin City SpindesI was tempted to buy one there and then but I held off as I had a lot of other projects to be getting on with that the time. So when my friend (and podcaster extraordinaire) Vero mentioned doing a spinning session at our monthly knit night I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give a go!

Vero kindly put in an order at Spin City for some spindles and luckily they arrived on Wednesday night, just in time for knit night 🙂 This was the spindle I chose.

Spin City SpindleVero also brought along some bags of fibre for us to try with the spindles.

Spindles and fibreWe joined the fibre to the spindle using a piece of scrap yarn…

Spindle

And off we went!

Spinning

This was my very first attempt and as you can see the yarn is varying in thickness…I have a lot of practicing to do!

Today I took the yarn off the spindle and transferred it to the middle of a kitchen roll as I was curious to see how it would knit up. You can see how uneven it is from the stitches on the needle…

Knitted hand spun

…and just look at the cast on stitches too! I kinda like it though 🙂

The drafting and spinning process hasn’t ‘clicked’ for me yet but I am sure it will with more practice. And on that note I’m off to give it another go – wish me luck! 🙂

knitting, Photography

Photography & Knitting

Happy New Year!

As a PA by trade I love a spot of forward planning and the start of the new year is a great chance to do just that. I took the opportunity of the break between Christmas and New Year to work on some unfinished projects and think about things that I would like to accomplish this year.

One thing that I have always wished I could do better is to take better photographs so over Christmas I enrolled on the Craftsy Course ‘Shoot It – A Product Photography Primer’ with Caro Sheridan. It’s a 10 lesson online course that teaches you how to take beautiful shots of your handmade products and garments. At 2 and a half hours it wasn’t a long course but it did offer some useful tips on composition, colour and post processing. A couple of areas I wish there had been a bit more content on were on camera settings and lighting. However, it was great as a starter course and the instructor really knew her stuff. And now I want to learn more!

So next Saturday I am off to London to do a ‘Photography for Knitting and Crochet Course‘ with Emily Quinton from Makelight and Kate from A Playful Day. I can’t begin to tell you how much I am looking forward to it!

I also signed up to the free online taster course with Makelight, every day for 5 days Emily sends an e-mail with hints and tips designed to improve and inspire your photography. I am on day 4 and there has been much to think about, including how to use Instagram better. I have had an Instagram account for a while now but not really paid much attention to it so I spent some time the other day looking at other people’s photo’s and it has really inspired me to get more creative with my pictures.

If you are on Instagram I would love to see you there, I am @jemarrowsmith so do pop by and say hello!

Another thing I want to improve on this year is using Ravelry better to document projects and stash. It’s a chance to delve back into the stash and think a bit more about what I have and what I can make with it. I love that Inspiration Knits recently declared 2016 the ‘Year of Yarn Stash Love‘ and has invited people to join in by sharing photo’s on Instagram of yarn stash and WIP’s with the hashtag #yarnstashlove

So here is my offering for today, my most favourite yarn ever! This gorgeous silk and baby camel blend from Copperfield Yarns and hand dyed by Oliver Twists was purchased at The Knitting & Stitching Show in Alexandra Palace in 2014 and I am still searching for the perfect pattern for it…

Copperfield Yarns Oliver Twist

In knitting news I have finished my Spectra which I started at the brilliant workshop with Stephen West in Dec. It’s blocking at the moment but will post some pictures soon.

I have also nearly finished Peggy Sue, I just need to add the button bands.

Peggy Sue Progress

My next project is going to be a shawl that I am designing as part of the C&G knitting course. I am going to be using the Uncommon Thread Tough Sock yarn in colours (top to bottom) Bois, Tea Smoked and Squirrel Nutkin.

Uncommon Thread Tough Sock

2016 is already looking to be an exciting year with lots of fun things planned including making my first custom made sweater, a knitting weekend and a trip to Iceland! I do hope you will join me along the way 🙂

Until next time, happy knitting! x

knitting

There’s a hole in mi knitting, what am I gonna do?

UB40 once sang ‘there’s a rat in mi kitchen, what am I going to do’….which is a scary thought indeed, but a hole in my knitting?! Nooooooo!!!!! I couldn’t think of anything worse 😦

A couple of nights ago I was getting ready to take a stroll down to the shop and with the weather being a bit nippy I decided to wear my Holden Shawl.

DSC07702

But imagine my horror when I found THIS!!

Hole in Knitting

It wasn’t actually this bad when I found it but I panicked and started pulling at the yarn trying to tie it up at the back, and ended up dropping more stitches. I was so annoyed 😦

After calming down I did what any sane and rational person would have done in the first place and headed straight for the internet for a solution to all my problems. And it turns out there are quite a few.

I decided to try this one from Knitty and here is what I did.

Firstly I secured the live stitches on stitch holders and assessed the damage (in doing so I inadvertently made the hole even bigger, grrrrr)

Knitting hole

Then I loosely grafted the live stitches together.

fixing hole

The area of damage was 4 stitches by 2 rows.

Luckily I had some spare yarn from this project as I had done a little gauge swatch when I made the shawl last year, so I unravelled about a third of that.

Unravelling a swatch

As  you can see the yarn had lots of kinks in it so it needed to be straightened. One of my favourite methods of straightening small amounts of yarn is by using a teapot.

straightening yarn

I threaded the yarn through the steam hole in the lid of the teapot and pulled it back out through the spout. Then very carefully I partially filled the teapot with hot water, just enough so as not to make contact with the yarn, then slowly started pulling the yarn from the spout. When I reached the end I refilled the teapot and reversed the process pulling the yarn back through the lid, and hey presto!

straightened yarn

Lovely straight yarn 🙂

yarn

Back to the shawl…the instructions on Knitty said I would need as many lengths of yarn as there are rows missing, and the yarn needed to be about 3 inches longer than the gap.

The trick is to lay the yarn over the hole and use these lengths of yarn to rebuild the stitches using a crochet hook to pull the yarn through.

fixing knitting hole

First row done.

Row 2

2nd row.

You then graft the 2 sets of live stitches together. An excellent tutorial on grafting can be found here.

I must admit it took me a couple of attempts to get a result I was ok with, and where it was still a bit messy in places I used a duplicate stitch to tidy it up. It’s by no means perfect but luckily for me the yarn hides a lot of sins, and I think once I have it on it will become less noticeable…

Repaired hole

…especially if I wear it as a scarf 🙂

Holden

If you find a hole in your knitting my one piece of advice would be – don’t panic! There is always a way to fix it, and thanks to the internet it doesn’t have to be scary. Now I would take a hole in my knitting over a rat any day!

Happy knitting x

knitting, Uncategorized

Christmas is Coming…

Isn’t that a great name for a yarn? Last week I shared my spoils from Festiwool which included this beauty ‘Christmas is Coming’ by Rosie’s Moments.

Christmas YarnIt’s so festive, it makes me happy every time I look at it! I have been itching to wind it up and cast something on this week, but have been super disciplined and finished my yak shawl first 🙂

Here it is ready to be blocked tomorrow.

Tibetan Cloud ShawlSo now that’s off the needles I went ahead and wound up the Christmas yarn today – see how it sparkles?

Yarn winding

Christmas yarnI have since been trawling through Ravelry looking at shawl patterns that will show off this beauty, and I just can’t make up my mind…

You will see from the pictures above that the colour changes are fast and frequent so I want something fairly simple that will let the yarn do the talking…and I have narrowed it down to these 5 designs…

Nirmilintu by Heidi Alander

Nirmilintu shawlWhat I love about this design is that the lace pattern looks like little Christmas trees 🙂 I think they may get lost in the yarn though…

Pogona by Stephen West

Pogona shawlThis shawl is such a beautiful shape and the stitch patterns will show off the yarn perfectly.

Summit by Mandie Harrington

Summit Shawl

I love, love, LOVE this stunning and unusual design! I won’t have enough yarn to make the full size wrap though so it will probably end up more of a scarf.

Miss Winkle by Martina Behm

Miss Winkle Shawl

A simple, squishy garter stitch shawl with a pretty loop edging, this could work nicely 🙂

Filigree Shawl and Scarf by Michele Bernstein

Filigree Shawl

Finally a lovely classic shawl with just the right amount of lacework. And I do love lacework…

I knit up a swatch to see how the yarn works: 15 rows of garter st, 15 rows stockinette, 1 knit row and a leafy lace pattern (please forgive the bad photo)

SwatchWhat do you think? Which pattern would you choose for this yarn?

Any suggestions will be gratefully received as I really cannot make up my mind!

Happy knitting x

knitting, Uncategorized

A Visit to Festiwool!

Last weekend my friend Vero and I took a trip to Hertfordshire to check out Festiwool. Festiwool is a fairly new yarn and wool fair, I think this is its 2nd or 3rd year.

We drove through the pouring rain on Saturday morning arriving around 11am and made a plan to try and complete a circuit of the exhibition before buying anything…

There was a good selection of stalls selling every kind of yarn imaginable from brightly coloured roving to some seriously sparkly silk.

Sparkly yarn

And there were some lovely projects that caught my eye as we wandered round. Check out this adorable cat tea cosy from the Woolly Chic stall.

Wooly Chic cat tea cosy

The cute crochet gingerbread people from the Crochet Chain

The Crochet Cabin Gingerbread

And this stunning Persian tile blanket by Janie Crow

Janie Crow Perisian Blanket

One stall that really captured my imagination was Maggie Stearn and her examples of solar dyeing with natural materials.

Yarn solar dyeing

The process involves placing fibre or yarn in a jar with the dye material and mordant and leaving somewhere warm and sunny for weeks (or months) and letting nature do it’s work. Some of the examples shown were colours obtained from saffron, indigo, red cabbage, flowers and even avocado!

I was very tempted to buy a kit, but I didn’t – it’s the wrong season for sunshine here at the moment…I might give it a go next summer though!

I was also inspired by the Spin City stall with the abundance of vibrant coloured fibres and gorgeous sparkly drop spindles.

Spin City Spindes

Spinning is something I have yet to try my hand at and Louise from Spin City was only too happy to give a demonstration on how it works. It does look like fun but I resisted the urge and didn’t buy one at the time as Vero kindly offered to lend me her drop spindle to see how I get on first.

So that was a circuit completed and it was time to do some shopping! On my list of definite things to get were buttons for my Peggy Sue cardigan. A visit to the Textile Garden button stall ticked that one off.

Textile gardens buttons

I got 2 different types as I couldn’t make my mind up…I think I prefer the blue and white but then again I do like the contrast of the green…decisions, decisions….

Buttons

I was also in the market for a pretty yarn bowl. Plastic tupperware bowls are all very functional but not so inspiring… I ended up buying this beautiful hand made bowl from Wendy Fowler Pottery.

I love the quirky, sketchy nature of the design.

I had seen a really handy gauge swatch and needle measurer on the Rosies Moments stall which I went back to get.

Gauge and needle measurer

And whilst I was there I also saw this amazing Christmassy yarn.

Christmas Yarn

It’s a fingering weight merino and nylon blend with added sparkle. I couldn’t resist!

I also picked up a sock kit. It came with aran weight yarn, a little project bag, 4 x 5mm dpns and a sock pattern, all for just £12! This is the yarn that I chose. I showed it to Mr. A when I got home and he really liked it so I will be making the socks for him 🙂

Aran sock yarn

My final purchase of the day was this little project bag from Watercolours and Lace. It has cats on it. I was sold.

Knitting project bag

All in all I was impressed with Festiwool, there was a great selection of stalls and interesting things to see and I came away feeling very inspired.

Note to self though, I.do.not.need.any.more.yarn*

And speaking of yarn if you want to see some seriously lovely stash then check out Vero’s brilliant podcast Along the Lanes. This week she takes us through her amazing yarn and fibre collection, and also has fun with mixed media painting. Who would have thought bubble wrap could have so many uses!

*for now!…

 

knitting

Lovely, Squishy, Stash Acquisition

A couple of weekends ago  Mr. A and I took a trip to Cambridge. Cambridge is not far from us and I had heard wonderful things about the LYS there but as it’s quite a trek out of town I had never been before. I sold it to Mr. A that if I could go to the LYS he could go to the music shop afterwards and play on some guitars. It was a deal!

The Sheep Shop didn’t disappoint, although it is quite small it is packed to the rafters with lovely yarny goodness. As well as a good range of some of the more commercial yarns they also have a great selection of luxury and local yarns.

As soon as I stepped inside I knew I wouldn’t come out empty handed….here is what fell into my basket.

Araucania Puelo Baby Llama

1 skein of seriously squishy Araucania Puelo Baby Llama in a blue & grey colourway.

Sparkleduck Harmony Aran

1 skein of Sparkleduck Harmony Aran (50% extrafine merino and 50% silk) in the beautiful Autumn Leaves colourway.

Tibetan Cloud Fingering

And 2 skeins of Tibetan Cloud Fingering (100% yak) in Cornflower. It’s sooo dreamy I just had to drop everything and cast on a new shawl…

Tibetan Cloud Yarn

I have had to stop knitting it now as I have come to a beaded row and the beads I ordered earlier in the week haven’t arrived yet. I am keeping everything crossed that they come tomorrow!

I didn’t realise at the time but the Sheep Shop also runs classes and workshops. My friend Vero sent me a message last week to see if I would be interested in attending a ‘Top Down Shawl’ workshop in December with Stephen West!! Oh my goodness, I couldn’t sign up fast enough – excited is not the word!!

So as well as these little beauties I have also ordered 2 skeins of ‘Dream in Color – Smooshy’ one in a deep pink and one in grey for my next project, Stephen West’s gorgeous Chadwick shawl.

knitting

A Day to Dye For!

I had an awesome day on Saturday courtesy of my friend Vero. Yarn dyeing is something I have wanted to try for a while but didn’t have a clue where to start, so when Vero offered to show me the ropes I jumped at the chance!

I arrived on Saturday morning with my tubs of yarn that had been pre-soaked on Friday night…

Soaking wool

…and my sample pack of Landscape yarn dyes.

2015-03-14 11.33.19

Then Vero got out her yarn dyes…

Yarn Dyes

…we couldn’t help but line them all up in colour order and stand back and admire…look at all those lovely colours to play with!

Then the fun really started 🙂 Armed with our big pots and canvases of blank yarn it was tricky to know where to start, so many possibilities lay ahead.

Yarn for Dyeing

I decided to do a solid colour first on some chunky mohair and borrowed some of Vero’s ‘Rust’ dye. In it went!

Dyeing yarn

It was a bit too bright at first for my liking so I added a touch of ‘wombat’, a dark brown colour which made it a really deep orange.

Next into the pot was some 2 ply lace yarn. I had visions of a duck egg blue for this one but it came out more turquoise…I have a pretty beaded shawl in mind for this one.

Dyeing lace yarn

After 2 solid dyes I was ready for a bit of experimenting with colour grading. Here is an action shot of some chunky baby alpaca using the leftover wombat colour.

Dip dyeing

I also had a little bit of undyed cashmere in my stash so I treated that one to a dye bath of 3 colours.

Dyeing Cashmere

Next up was 2 skeins of superwash merino. I decided to do these both the same colour with the vision of making a small short sleeve cardigan (if I have enough) I used a whole sample pot of the ‘Lichen’ dye but when I put the yarn in I resisted the urge to swash everything about so that it would have different depths of colour. I’m really pleased with the way this came out.

Merino dyeing

Last up I had a little ball of silk. And here I must apologise profusely to Vero as I rather overestimated the amount of dye I would need for such a small amount of yarn. It dawned on me this morning that in my wisdom when I decided to weigh the yarn and calculate the amount of dye required I didn’t take into account that said yarn was very wet! Hence we had enough Plum dye going to have redyed our whole days efforts twice over, oops! As it turned out Vero had to raid some more of her stash to plop into the dye bath. I do hope she will forgive me for my rookie error, I’m hoping the fact that it is a very very lovely colour will make up for it!!

As well as the abundance of plum yarn Vero also dyed some beautiful blue and green yarns that she is going to crochet into a blanket.

Dyed yarn drying

And some lovely dusky pinks and purples

Dyed yarn

All in all it was a fantastic day, I learnt tons in great company and I really hope we can do some more soon! Now I just need to decide what to make with it all….

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knitting

Beads, trains and sea sparkle!

March and April are turning out to be crazy months where the social diary has exploded and we have something on every weekend now until the first weekend in May! Whilst that means we have lots of fun things to look forward to it does mean that I am going to need to squeeze in extra knitting time during the week to keep on track with my C&G course. I have made great progress on module 5 so far and next up is beading samples.

Beads

Last weekend was spent by the seaside visiting my friend, it was the first weekend this year when it really felt like Spring was on it’s way. Just look at that blue sky!

Worthing

Worthing Pier

Work is also seeing me travel to London a bit more frequently so in order to stay on track I have started making samples on the commute.

Train Knitting

This coming weekend is one that I have been particularly looking forward to as I am getting together with my friend I met at knitting group to take my first steps in yarn dyeing! I have lots of lovely undyed yarn and a sample kit of dyes from Wingham Wool Work in the Mountain Colour range.

Undyed Yarn

I can’t wait to see what colours these skeins become. To get inspired I have been looking through my postcard box and Pinterest to see what combinations catch my eye. Here are a few of my favourites.

Watercolour Painting - Sunset Storm Seascape

This watercolor painting “Tormenta” is an original watercolour painting by professional Artist Brazen Edwards. Photo taken from Pinterest

Succulent Gradient

Photo from Pinterest

Beach sun

Sea sparkle! Photo from Pinterest

I had better stop there otherwise I will be here for hours!! I’ll let you know how it all goes next week…