Thursday, 21 September 2017

Yarn etc

While planning a trip to Harrogate I came across this lovely shop called Yarn etc. having seen attractive interior photos on the shop's Instagram feed

Fiona Burks is the new owner and driving force. Along with two friends, both also called Fiona, (collectively the "Fi Amigos") they offer a friendly place to shop and enjoy learning to knit and crochet. After taking over in March 2016 the owner has transformed the shop and received a nomination in the British Knitting & Crochet Awards for the Best Local Independent Yarn Store, North of England. (Finalists to be revealed on 28th September 2017).

I arrived on a Saturday afternoon to find plenty of parking outside and this attractive window display featuring an underwater scene of sea creatures. 

Unfortunately, Fiona (the owner) was away when I visited, however, I was made very welcome by the other two "Amigos". Holding the fort were Fiona Warrington who teaches crochet and Fiona Finch who teaches knitting. 

On one wall a large blackboard was the main feature with information on knitting and crochet classes. It advertised a range suitable for beginners and more advanced, along with workshops with seasonal interest.

Other walls were full of colourful yarn displays...

Smaller displays including these cute mini 25g balls...

Displays with examples of finished items...

Popular book titles...

...and lots of finished knit and crochet items. In particular I liked this eye catching crochet throw using up spare yarn, created by the owner, Fiona.

I could spend all day, every day, in this lovely shop and chat about yarn with the Fiona's.  Just wish I lived nearer.

Best wishes for the British Knitting and Crochet Awards!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Bracken, heather, moss, thistle

Bracken, Heather, Moss and Thistle are names in a yarn range called Tweedy which I've been working with to make these Simple Mittens.

The yarn is DK weight, in a mix of cotton and premium acrylic. Recommend needle size is 4mm (US 6) and comes in balls 100g / 260m length. The rich colours of blue, green, pink and purple are accented by the natural cotton thread.

I was given this sample yarn by Stylecraft, enjoyed working with it and love the colours in the range. All of the plant varieties are found on and around the croft in varying amounts some more welcome than others...


Bracken is a plant which was growing in abundance on the croft and we've been working to control the spread of it. Happy to say I enjoyed working with this yarn colour combination. The rich brown and golden colours are very much representative of bracken as it starts to die back at this time of year. There's a definite autumnal feel to the yarn colours.


Heather is in full flower just now in August here in Scotland causing the hills to have a soft glow of purple and pink. The Tweedy yarn colours are muted and perfectly reflect the pinks and mauve's of this abundant plant.


There's no shortage of mosses on the croft due to the high rainfall and wet peaty ground we have here. The yellowy greens through to the darker olive in this yarn are a match for the mosses. Haven't seen any blue moss though. But the blues in this palette do compliment the greens.


The thistle has long been associated with Scotland and it's history. However, along with bracken, the thistle is a plant we have been attempting to control in parts of the croft where it was taking over.  The strong bold pink in this yarn is a very good match for the thistle flower and goes well with the vibrant green. A combination I like and will look forward to wearing these mittens to brightening up a dull winters day.

A lovely yarn to work with, interesting names and bold colours...

Friday, 11 August 2017

Knit one, post one

Bletchley Park the home of codebreaking, were asking knitters earlier in June to contribute items to their Knit one, post one campaign to help with set dressing their historic site. Hand knit garments and accessories from authentic 1940's patterns such as cardigans, hats, mittens and gloves were required. 

Items were to be used in a variety of ways:

1. Part of seasonal displays in the set dressed areas of the park, such as the Huts and the Mansion.

2. By Bletchley Park Education Team for public outreach programs.

3. For wearing as costumes by Bletchley Park staff for live interpretation or living history events, such as 1940's weekends.

As a thank you, a free season ticket was being offered to each knitter who contributed to the campaign.

I''ve always had a interest in the history and mistique of the WWII codebreakers. The oportunity to contribute and receive a free ticket to visit Bletchley Park seemed a good offer and an interesting knitting project to research and make.

Due to the shortage of time available, a set of mittens were my quick knit option. I asked the help of Barbara the Publications Curator at the Knitting and Crochet Guild (KCG) Collection for some assistance selecting a suitable 1940's knitting pattern.

Bestway and Femina are a couple of the brands available from the era and are held in the KCG archive. 

Eventually I settled on this Bestway pattern for a Fair Isle design set of mitts. 

1940's patterns were generally knit with 4ply and few used thicker than double knitting. In order to keep the character of the pattern I decided to use a 100% wool yarn called Spindrift by Jamieson's of Shetland

I happened to have some grey (Granite #122) Spindrift available and ordered a contrast green (Verdigris #772) to go with it.  This pattern has a fairly bold fair isle design on the back with a small repeating motif on the palm, a solid strip around the edges and an after thought thumb.

These are the finished mitts ready to wrap and post to Bletchley.

Once I've scheduled a trip south for a visit, another blog post might be in order with an update and pictures of the 1940's knit wear at Bletchley.

Monday, 31 July 2017

July Catch Up

July has been a busy month for me, finishing projects, starting new ones (more about these at a later date), then dividing time between Yorkshire and Scotland. Where did July go? Anyway, before more time slips by and August begins, thought I'd write a quick update.  

A few weekends ago I attended a very enjoyable Blogstars meet up in Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire. We catch up every six months or so to find out about the latest Stylecraft yarn releases, also to share "important" knitting and crochet chit chat. Meeting up on the day were, (see above group photo from left to right), Heather, Sarah, Phil, Lucia, Helen, Sandra, Kathryn, Emma, me, and seated Catherine. Also in attendance via Skype link from around the world were Angela, Zelna, Polly, Ann and MichelleTwo more Blogstars who were unable to make it on the day are Lucy, and Jane.

Stylecraft are launching a number of new yarn shades this Autumn / Winter. One yarn which I'm able to tell you about now is a particular favourite of mine, Batik DK. There are four new shades in the range, Silver, Mint, Rose and Lupin.

Inspired by Sandra's lovely and very organised collection of Special DK yarn samples which she brought with her on the meet up day... 

...I thought it was time to put my growing collection of Batik DK into some sort of order, using these cardboard embroidery bobbins...

The initial release of Batik DK included 16 shades...

... now total of 20 including the new shades...

I've enjoyed working with this yarn previously on a crochet project using a small selection of colours. There's more about this project in an earlier post here.

I have an idea for a knitting project using some of the new shades.  In the coming weeks and months I'll be able to tell you about that  and about even more shade additions. Plus there'll be news of other interesting and exciting developments from my day out in Yorkshire.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Harlequin Blanket

Finished off another blanket project. Seen here on a sunny morning on the croft in NW Scotland.

Knitted in soft pastel shades of blue, pink, lilac, primrose with a neutral shade to break up the colours. When the blanket hangs from one corner the repeating contrasting squares resemble diamond shapes, reminding me of harlequin fabric prints, hence the name. A two tone crochet border was also worked around the edge. 

It's the second blanket I've made in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Can't seem to fault this yarn, it is very easy to work with, washes really well and feels soft.

Instructions how to make this blanket below. Downloadable PDF available soon.

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino 50g
x2 204 Baby Blue
x1 608 Pale Lilac
x1 018 Citrus
x1 600 Light Pink
x2 001 Primrose
x5 065 Clotted Cream

You will also need
Pair of straight 4mm knitting needles
3.5mm crochet hook 
A tapestry needle for sewing the seams and weaving in ends

Finished Size
80cm x 92cm (32ins x 36ins)

21 st x 38 rows over 10cm

For each square cast on 25 stitches ind knit each row until work measures approx. 11cm (4.5 ins) and looks square shaped. Cast off. Make a note of how many rows have been knit and then make all the squares the same size. This will help keep a uniform shape and make sewing together easier. 

This blanket is 7 squares wide x 8 squares long (total 56). The following combination of colours, x6 Light Blue, x6 Primrose x6 Citrus, x5 Pale Pink, x5 Pale Lilac, x28 Clotted Cream

Making up
Lay out the squares following the diagram as shown. They look randomly spaced, but follow the sequence blue, yellow, green, pink, purple starting from the bottom right hand corner and then working from right to left. Orientate so that each square joins a cast on/cast off edge.

Use the neutral coloured yarn to sew all the seams in mattress stitch. Join the squares making vertical columns and then join the columns together. Weave in all the loose ends after seaming, working in along the back of each seam. Work a single crochet chain all the way around the edge in Baby Blue. Work single crochet in Primrose into each blue single chain stitch. Weave in loose ends.

Diagram showing squares sequence