Monday, 11 July 2016

Visit to Stylecraft Mill

While down in Yorkshire I made a trip to the small town of Slaithwaite near Huddersfield. I'd been invited by Stylecraft Yarns to meet up with a number of blog writers and yarn enthusiasts for the first, of hopefully many, Blogstar Meet Up's.

We were made very welcome by Annabelle, Juliet and Sophie. First and most important on the agenda was tea and biscuits with a helping of yarn to admire.
Then came an "ice breaking" session where we had the opportunity to meet the other bloggers. I had been following a number of people's blogs for sometime but never met any of them in person. It was so good to meet such an enthusiastic and talented group of yarn loving people.

They were:
Heather Leal  - The Patchwork Heart
Sandra Paul  - Cherry Heart 
Kathryn Senior - Crafternoon Treats
Helen Kurtz - Josie Kitten
Sarah Shripton - Anna Boos House
Sue Pinner -  Shropshire Scrapper Suz
Phil Saul - The Twisted Yarn
Lucy - Attic 24

After meeting everyone, Annabelle and Juliet gave a presentation introducing the Stylecraft Autumn Winter 2016 collection, along with insights about how the yarns and patterns had been inspired and developed.

Even though it was the beginning of July, plans had already been made for Christmas jumpers!

I was surprised to see this furry fellow modelling the Christmas Jumpers. My first thought was, it's "Bertie" from the Highlands of Scotland. Bertie having already been a star in the Visit Scotland Ambassordog Competition perhaps had moved on to a successful modelling career for Stylecraft.

Bertie has previously been seen showing off his Fair Isle jumper, knitted by his owner/my lovely neighbour Gail, made with yarn from my Shetland sheep.


However, it was not Bertie modelling the Christmas jumpers, but a look alike, apparently the photographer's dog had been the star in the jumpers on this occasion.

Moving on, after the presentation there was a chance to look at the latest yarns and new colour additions to the ranges...

The morning flew by looking at all the yarn, then we were treated to a delicious lunch and the opportunity to chat some more. Lucy from Attic 24 gave some interesting insights about Yarndale and how this year's event organisation is progressing.

There was a chance to take the obligatory group photo...back row Sandra, me, Helen, Sarah, front row, Kathryn, Heather, Phil, Lucy, Sue.

Image courtesy of Sophie at Stylecraft

I returned home with some yarn samples and other knitting and crochet goodies.

All the 16 colours of Batik DK were in a sample pack. Haven't yet decided what I'm going to make with these, but quite tempted to try a crochet project. Sue Pinner has been designing crochet projects to make with this yarn. Head over to Sue's blog if you would like a peek at some of the new designs.

Best of all, I left Slaithwaite inspired by the lovely people I'd met and their enthusiasm for their work and yarn.

Thank you Annabelle, Juliet and Sophie for such a well organised day.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

June already...

Not sure where nearly half the year has gone. Time for an update on the blog with a few knitting and other snippets. 

Back in February I joined in with the Colourwork Knit Along on Ravelry organised by designer Ella Austin. There were prizes to be won. As I don't usually win anything, I was delighted to win a prize to choose one of Ella's knitting kits from her Etsy shop. The Tawny Owl caught my eye and I was thrilled to receive the kit through the post several weeks ago. The kit includes custom hand dyed yarn from Fybrespates and a lovely pattern booklet with clear instructions, charts and photographs.  

I've been deliberating whether to start on the owl knowing I have another project waiting to be finished.

There is a part finished pair of socks. 

Actually, make that two part finished pairs of socks (the second one being discovered at the back of a cupboard whilst looking for something else). Hoping to work on these over the weekend and make at least some progress towards a matching finished pair at least.

Other none knitting news, after much deliberation I've treated myself to a new set of coloured pencils for design and drawing purposes (Staedtler Ergo Soft). Admitedly, I needed a small mortgage to pay for them but they are a pleasure to use and handle. Enjoying the rainbow of shades and colours.

On the theme of rainbows, here's a shot I took back in May. It reminded me that there's sunshine after the rain...

Wishing you a good weekend!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Dovestone Smallholding Knitted Shetland Pony

This knitted character is "Shetland Pony" from Dovestone Smallholding by Ella Austin. The pattern book is available from Ravelry as a digital eBook or as a printed edition from Baa Ram Ewe. The collection features 7 toy patterns and a play mat made with Titus DK Dovestone yarn from Baa Ram Ewe in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

After receiving a copy of the eBook from Ella and browsing the designs I knew I'd have to make at least one of the cute and irresistible characters. As I'm a fan of most things "Shetland" it became obvious  it had to be the "Shetland Pony". The other toys are Lucy Doll, Dabbling Duck, Fancy Hen, Plum Pudding Pig, Wensleydale Lamb, Moggy the cat and the Hedgerow play mat.

Dovestone Smallholding Image copyright Baa Ram Ewe used with permission

Dovestone Smallholding Image copyright Baa Ram Ewe used with permission
Dovestone Smallholding Shetland Pony Image copyright Baa Ram Ewe used with permission

The pony pattern uses two colours. In the book it's grey for the main colour and a contrast of blue for the mane and pattern detail. Checking my stock of yarn I had just enough Debbie Bliss Bluefaced Leicester DK, in Grey and Burnt Orange and decided to put this to good use. The recommended needles are 3mm long dpn's. 

The instructions are very detailed, nicely laid out with lots of close up images of the finished items. I found the knitting relatively easy. There are a few technical skills required for the pony such as working with two colours of yarn, also grafting stitches and the book includes details. A 'cable cast on' was recommended for the pony legs. A new one for me and it has nothing to do with cables. The instructions are not in the book but a quick search online brought up a number of tutorials including a video. It's a very useful technique for creating a cast on edge which is not too tight and stretches. You start with a slip knot and use the working yarn to make the stitches, avoiding the need to measure out yarn in advance to cast on as in the long tail method.

Pony turned out slightly larger than I thought but that was probably more to do with my knitting than anything else. The best part was completing the knitting stage and putting him together. I found some heart shaped wooden buttons for the eyes. Wasn't too sure these would work but once I had them in position he really came to life, so to speak. 

Just for the photos I made a "stable" for him but in reality he'll be sitting inside on the sofa....

Monday, 22 February 2016

Retro 70's Look

Continuing the theme of knitted mittens on this blog, another pair came off the needles last week. The Bunty Mitts by Ella Austin have a retro feel to the design. It was the bold flower and leaf pattern that caught my eye. Very reminiscent of the 1970's wall paper and fabrics I remember from my childhood. They also look very cheerful for these cold, dull, winter days we're having here in NW Scotland at the moment.

The pattern is well written with a chart for the colour work. I needed to watch the tension as the yarn is carried across more than five stitches in places. Also needed a fair amount of concentration. I lost the plot a few times, pulling back the stitches more than once, but it was worth the effort re-knitting. I particularly like the strip effect on the thumbs with the smaller flower detail. My Bunty Mitts project details can be found on Ravelry here.

Here's the information on the yarn I used: Yarn Stories Fine Merino 4ply 50g balls in French Navy, Cream, Burnt Sienna. 

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Stylecraft needs you!

Image courtesy of Stylecraft

Stylecraft are looking to expand the range of colours in the Special Aran and Chunky range of yarns. The popular DK range is the starting point for colour choices, with more than 80 shades in the range. There's still time to nominate a colour before the end of February by clicking on the link here

The 12 most popular colours will be put to a public poll which will be launched on Mothers Day (UK 6th March). From these the most popular six colours will be chosen. The new shades will be launched in both Aran and Chunky ranges in October 2016.