Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018 Part 2

It’s taken me a while to write this post because I’ve found Edinburgh Yarn Festival a real challenge to describe. It stands apart in my mind from all other yarn shows and I wanted to explain exactly why that is.


For a start, it’s a big show. Much bigger than you would imagine from the size of the building that contains it. This year, I think for the first time, there was a marquee at the back of the venue which had space for 500 knitters and crocheters to sit and chat, drink tea, eat cake and knit, and crochet, and there wasn’t a single time when I ventured in there, where it wasn’t filled to that rafters with happy gossiping voices all cooing over each other’s yarn purchases and projects. It was a truly wonderful thing to behold. It was also nice to be able to get a seat whenever you needed one rather than having to squeeze your bum on the end of a sofa where there really isn’t a bum sized space.

This also has the added bonus of making the market place much less of a crush. There wasn’t a point where I couldn’t squeeze through the throngs or couldn’t get the see a stand. I had time to browse, time to read labels and time to squish, which made the whole experience rather relaxing.

There was also another smaller area for refreshment (my friends dubbed it the purple room) which contained the lovely podcast lounge where I wanted to linger but there was never a spot free – and I was, ridiculously, too shy to speak to Louise Scolley from Knit British, who hosts it – but no matter, there is always next year. Blacker Yarns and Garthenor were also here and I gathered lots of ideas for future online purchases.

So, to the market place. For me, this was a delight as there are so many vendors from the Scottish Highlands and Islands who so rarely get to shows further south. It was fabulous to be able to talk to so many passionate producers of yarn, who could tell you which farms their fleece comes from, describe the sorting process of the fleece and talk with love about their mill equipment and their product. It gave me a real buzz to know that my yarn purchases were supporting the employment of so many, often in quite rural locations where jobs are scarce..

Obviously, at this point, I was sticking to my 2018 resolution to only buy yarn that is grown spun and dyed in the UK, so my first purchase was from the Knockando Woolmill, who are based nearish to Inverness but not actually near to anywhere really. Their history stretches back to 1784 and they are still using some equipment dating from 1870. The mill is run by a charitable trust which was established in 2000 with the aim of “rescuing and restoring the mill to ensure its future survival and promoting and educating people about its unique heritage”. The restoration of the mill was completed in 2013 and they produce the most gorgeous textiles, but it was their yarn that interested me most.  I was particularly drawn to an undyed North Country Cheviot double knit yarn which was grown on Dalrachie Farm, located just 12 miles from the mill. This news, together with their story, pressed all my sustainability and supporting British farming and industry buttons, so I bought a sweater quantity. And I’m now on the search for the perfect project to do justice to the yarn, and to the mill.


Then on to The Knitting Goddess and her One Farm Yarn was on my list. I’d previously purchased a set of grey and black mini skeins together with an undyed skein and then decided, for the shawl project I had in mind, I need a further set of mini skeins, and another undyed skein just to be on the safe side. The ply on this yarn is really pretty and The Knitting Goddess’s colours are gorgeous, plus the fact the yarn is NOT well travelled speaks to my eco soul.

Next stop was Uist Wool. I have been stalking them on social media for a while. The idea for the mill, built in North Uist in 2013, “emerged from a collective will to find a fresh purpose for local fleece that would reconnect the community with their cultural heritage of wool-working”. They have restored machinery that has its origins in mainland mills from the middle of the 19th century and the wool they produce is very individual. I wanted some buttons for my striped cardigan and they stock porcelain buttons from Shoreline Stoneware. The buttons take their inspiration from the shoreline of Uist and are just a joy.

I also had to have yarn from Uist Wool but I was aware that my carry on bag was filling up so I decided to restrict myself to just one skein. This makes the skein I chose even more precious.

I also visited Jamiesons Of Shetland and bought these gorgeous 25g balls of their Spindrift yarn, without a project in mind but I’m thinking a fairisle cowl.

Then we stopped at The Crochet Project and coo-ed over all the shawls and I bought the lastest shawl pattern book on a complete whim. At this point we stopped for a cup of tea and a piece of cake and I observed my now bulging bags and announced to my friends that I might not be able to buy any more yarn, otherwise I might not be able to get it home.

So, I think there might have been something in that tea, because I went to the Iona Craft Shop stand next and bought a cone of their gorgeous single origin double knit wool in the sea greeen colourway. Yes, that’s right, a cone. Not a skein but a huge, incompressible, how am I ever going to get this in my carry on bag?, cone. Still it gave my friends a huge laugh when I sheepishly unveiled it and just look at those colours, and I did eventually manage to arrange the bag to squeeze it in, so it all worked out well in the end. I think I’m going to knit a Tin Can Knits Windswept sweater with it.


Well, after that, the gloves were well and truly off. I decided to buy presents for a couple of friends who weren’t able to come to the festival so purchased a gorgeous alpaca and rose fibre blend from The Border Mill. It will be interesting to see if the rose fibre helps to mitigate alpaca’s desire to stretch. I also bought another friend a present but haven’t given that to her yet so I’m not going to talk about that one, to maintain the surprise.

Then we went to visit Ginger Twist Studios and I must admit with all the gorgeous colours and squishiness and with Ginger being so lovely and friendly, I completely forgot about my resolution to buy British and, in what I can only describe as a buying frenzy, grabbed these three gorgeous superwash merino beauties.

What can I say? It was late, I was overcome with yarn fumes. I am weak. But do I regret it? Not on your life!

And then after having our photo taken with the 8 foot high Toft crochet highland cow, I bought the yarn to make myself one. I have no idea about the yarn’s provenance. I just wanted it. This has been carefully stored away in my cupboard along with all the other kits I’ve bought from Toft and not yet made. I really really must get around it one of these days.

Finally, we stopped off at the Stephen and Penelope stand where my friend bought an armful of mini skeins and I had a little chat to Stephen West, who despite being a total knitting celebrity, was fabulously down to earth and just as chatty and smiley at the end of 3 days of festival as he had been at the beginning. We discussed strategies for squeezing my bulging purchases in my carry on bag and we agreed that I might need to leave all my clothes behind in the hotel room (although not the precious hand knits – I would wear all those – no matter how warm the airport might be). Thankfully, it didn’t come to that and I did manage to get everything in, for yarn is surprisingly compressible. Well, except when it’s on a cone…

Sadly, it wasn’t all fabulous. I’d taken some finished projects to show some vendors what I’d made with their yarn and one or two did not utter the words “ooh, it’s so lovely” or anything similar which was a bit deflating. One of my friends thought one vendor was downright rude about one of my makes, but you can’t please all the folks and maybe the vendor was a bit jaded by it being the last day. I’m not into naming and shaming, but I doubt I’ll be buying their yarn again.

But, it was almost perfect. It was brilliant to hear so many soft friendly Scottish voices and if you have never heard a Shetland dialect before, it is a thing of wonder! There was so much gorgeous yarn for sale, I could easily have spent 3 times as much so I think I’ll be returning next year, with a bigger budget and a case that is going in the hold.


Links to all venders patterns etc are detailed below:

To read more about the Knockando Woolmill’s story including a rather fun timeline, click here

To see One farm Yarn on The Knitting Goddess Website click here

Click here for Uist Wool and here for Jamieson’s of Shetland

To go to the Iona Craft Shop, click here and to see the Windswept sweater by Tin Can Knits, click here

The Border Mill is here

For Ginger Twist Studio, click here and for Toft, click here

And lastly for Stephen and Penelope click here.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2018

I thought I’d share a few pictures of my Edinburgh Yarn Festival experience. I had the most amazing time, bought way more yarn than I should have done and then thought I’d lost it all when it didn’t come off the carousel at Heathrow (it did turn up eventually after someone was sent to hunt in the bowels of the plane 😅). I’ll write about the things I bought in a day or too, but in the meantime, feast your eyes….




February 2018 Makes

Soooo was your February all hearts and flowers? 

As ever, mine was filled with yarn. I finished my Alocasia sweater and it is a delight, although rather to fine to be worn everyday. It’s a merino/silk mix so I can’t really see myself doing the housework or walking the dog in it (my two daily activities aside from knitting), so I haven’t worn it yet. I don’t really hold with saving clothes for best but, in this case, given the amount of work put into it, I’m willing to make an exception. This was also the first large garment I’ve made for myself from yarn that I dyed. So, I’m really not kidding when I say I’m saving it for best!


I also managed to finish my Dad’s team socks with self striping sock yarn from Devon Sun Yarns. They were a challenge as my Dad had polio when we was a child (in the days before vaccinations) and the disease as left him with rather odd shaped feet. So, consequently they aren’t my prettiest make ever but they were made with much love and my dad is delighted with them.


Last up was a hat made from Ryeland wool. Those of you who follow me on Instagram might know that I’m taking part in the Knit British Wool Exploration during 2018. Each month is a different breed yarn. March is Ryeland so I was getting a bit ahead of myself and I meant to cast on a swatch but by the time I’d cast on, I was making a hat. The yarn was so deliciously springy I knew it would be great for a hat. And being aran weight, it knitted up really quickly. The hat pattern is one that I wrote called Curlew. The hat, after being dipped in some blue dye, has been gifted to my brother and he was so pleased with it, he wore it home. Of course, this means I still need to knit a swatch and get trialing it’s wearability next to the skin (although I’ve a pretty good idea already as I’ve already worn the hat a bit).

 
I also have a confession to make. I got a serious attack of castonitis and actually had these three things plus another pair of socks on the needles at the same time. This was an interesting test to my usual monogamy and it’s not one I will be repeating for a while. I felt a disproportionate amount of anxiety about having extra wips hanging about. I also felt like it took ages to get things finished as I was splitting my knitting time between the various projects. 


So what do I have on my needles currently? The forth project mentioned above are some Tin Can Knits Lumberjack Socks I’m making in a gorgeous British Falkland Islands Merino/Silk double knit but I’ve hit a snag in that I’ve lost all but three of the needles and this isn’t enough to knit in the round. 

I’ve also cast on and knit a good part of a Siri cardigan. I’d like to finish this before I go to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (squeeeee – I’m soooo excited) which is now in less than two weeks, so I need to get a wiggle on.

And on that note, I’m going to say goodbye and see you on the other side of Edinburgh Yarn Festival xxx

Links to the patterns etc are below:

Alocasia sweater pattern on Ravelry

Devon Sun Yarns

Curlew hat pattern on Ravelry

Lumberjack socks on Ravelry

Siri cardigan on Ravelry

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 

My Unravel 2018

Unravel is my local yarn festival as it’s only about 40 minutes from my house and I go almost every year, but I missed last year due to my husband’s big birthday celebrations occurring on the same weekend. So I was super excited to go this year, especially as I was going with my lovely friends, the Possiwools.


This was the first yarn festival I’d attended since I resolved to only buy yarn grown, spun and dyed in the UK, and I think, when I made this resolution, I was expecting this would be a big limiting factor on my purchasing and that I might actually reduce my stash over the course of 2018. How wrong I was.

We all met up over coffee and by 10.30am had hit the Great Hall, and the first vendor I saw was The Little Grey Sheep who are based about 20 minutes from my home, so are very local to me and consequently hit all my buying local buttons. I didn’t have a clear idea of what I would want to make in their yarn until I saw their samples of the Raven sweater by Marie Wallin and was smitten. Emma really knows her colours so I was happy to let her guide me and very quickly came away with a sweater quantity of yarn in my bag. And it felt really good knowing I was supporting a small local business. 


Then a good squish of yarns at John Arbon and New Forest Mohair, and a lot of admiration of Jon’s fabulous Dashounds Through The Snow Christmas Jumper at Easy Knits, and I purchased Alison Ellen’s great book, Knitting Colour, Structure and Design (expect to see entrelac in my future) and Rachel Coopey’s Socks Yeah! book because her gussets are just so gorgeous (not a sentiment you can generally express publicly without attracting strange looks, unless it’s within a group of knitters).

My next yarn purchase was from Daughter of a Shepherd. I just love her story and it was reading her blog, after listening to a Knit British podcast, about how little farmers are paid for their fleece and that it’s often not worth the transportation cost to market, so they bury it, use it as compost or burn it, that made up my mind to buy British. I’m so pleased she and her father took the decision to have their yarn spun because it is a beautiful product. I bought 400g of Brune,  a double knit weight yarn with the idea of making a Bavaria shawl by Isabell Kraemer.


Next up was a squeeze of the yarn at Baa Ram Ewe in the Cellar Bar before we left the festival and took a short walk to a cafe in the town for lunch. Returning to the festival, we proceeded upstairs. In the Barley Room I discovered the Cambrian Mountain  Wool CIC, who are a community interest company developing fine yarns from Welsh wool, and I was so impressed with their shearling yarn I bought a sweater quality with the idea I would dye it and make something gorgeous. Also in the Barley Room was Whistlebare whose mohair goats are just the cutest thing ever. They have a new no nylon sock yarn called Cuthbert’s Sock which I was keen to try and I managed to grab a skein in their Monk’s Journey colourway with a contrasting mini skein for toes and heels. A couple more skeins of 4ply may have also “fallen” into my bag, just because…


Into the Tindle Studio and I couldn’t miss the Garthenor stand. Even if you ignore the yarn, it’s a lovely display and it makes buying their yarn very easy. Each row corresponds to a yarn weigh from lace weight at the top through to chunky at the bottom. I bought 3 50g skeins of their 4ply yarn (although at 135 metres per 50g, it’s almost a sport weight), without a project in mind. Pattern suggestions gratefully received.

Just off the Tindle Studio is the Courtyard Kiln where I had a lovely chat with the ladies from the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop and saw the difference in loftiness between the ecru and darker natural Wensleydale yarn. I purchased a couple of balls of the dark undyed double knit, again, without a project in mind but I do have some cream undyed Wensleydale DK in my stash so this might become a monochrome fairisle project in the fullness of time.


Next up was Bigwigs Angora (oh those bunnies are soooo soft) and Hill View Farm who are on my list to buy from just as soon as some equilibrium has been restored to my bank balance (they have a peach colourway that I MUST have). Then a quick scoot through the Tannery to say hi to the guys at A Yarn Story and admire the incredible needle felt sculptures of Jenny Barnett (maybe next year I will try my hand at needle felting) before it was time to say goodbye to my wool buddies and head back to the car, bags bulging, slightly foot sore but very, very happy.

Links to the exhibitors are below:

The Little Grey Sheep

Raven sweater by Marie Wallin

Daughter of a Shepherd

Bavaria shawl by Isabell Kraemer

Cambrian Moutain Wool CIC

Whistlebare

Garthenor

Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop

Bigwigs Angora

Hill View Farm

January 2018 Makes

So how was January for you?

Mine was, as they always are, grey, cold and strewn with coughs and colds. But, on the knitting front, I have been on fire! I have six finished objects to show off. Admittedly two were very well under way at the start of the month but I’m finishing the month with two well under way so I’m including them in January’s count. I also had a lovely meet up at Flock on The Plain with a group of ladies who are my woolly tribe. We call ourselves the Possiwools, after one of our members put a “possible wool meet up” in her family diary and her teenage son shortened it, and they really are the best sort of people. I want to gush on about them and tell them all how much I love them but I’m not sure I could do them justice. Maybe I’ll save that for another day.

So…. my finished wips.

First off the needles was my Whitehorse Sweater by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks. This is the second sweater of Caitlin’s I have made and I was as pleased with this one as I was with the first. The yarn was a lovely soft blue faced leicester double knit from The Uncommon Thread. I adore the finished piece and have worn it several times already this month.


The next item finished was a pair of socks in Regia yarn in the pattern A Nice Ribbed Sock. I don’t usually buy commercially produced yarn, preferring small independent hand dyers, but this, and a couple of other balls, fell into my basket after a lecture by Arne and Carlos about their life and home in Norway and their design inspirations.  The pattern is my go to pattern for socks. I always worry that a plain sock will go baggy with wear, so the little bit of rib in this pattern provides a bit more ping back, and its not such a in your face pattern that it disturbs the colour of the yarn.


Next to be finished were these socks for my mum. The pattern is the Diagonal Lace Sock from the book Socks from the Toe Up, and was my first toe up sock. I learned, as most people do, to knit stocks cuff down but always worried about knitting the leg too long and not having enough yarn to complete the toe, but with toe up, you just knit until you’ve used up your wool, or reach the leg length you desire. The yarn is a Merino/Nylon mix hand dyed by Norah George Yarns and the combination of yarn and pattern is so pretty, I stopped knitting often to admire them. They would have been finished a lot soon had they been less pretty!


Also knitted this month was this cute hat for my little boy. Obviously my little boy already had a lovely hand knitted hat but this was “lost” at some point over the Christmas holidays, so he needed another. I won’t dwell on the fact that, a few days, ago, I found the missing hat, at the bottom of the hat basket, presumably where it had been all the time. This hat was a super quick knit in an aran weight yarn that I dyed myself. The yarn is a Merino/Donegal Nep mix (I just love all this little woolly neps) and the pattern was my own Curlew pattern, although I did a modified brim and crown decrease.


The next finished item took a lot of knitting. It’s a wrap made using a Thirty Shades pack I bought as a 6 month club yarn from Jo Knit Sew last year. I’d been on the look out for a pretty knitted pattern, that would do justice to the yarn, for a while and knew I’d found the one in Melanie Berg’s True Colours. However, I had 30 colours to work through and so the shape of Melanie’s shawl wouldn’t have worked, so I took the repeated pattern from her chart and used that to create a rectangular wrap. It really is one of the most beautiful things I have ever made. Light and airy with the lace work but, at the same time, warm and cosy as its made in a light double knit weight merino yarn, and all the colours of the rainbow. I’ve yet to get a decent photograph (good natural light in my cottage is non existent in January) so here is a picture of it on the blocking mats. I’ll post more pictures when light levels improve!


Last to be finished were my Polgooth Socks in Blacker Yarns Classic Double Knit. These socks are incredibly special to me as they represent the first item I have made in wool grown, spun and dyed in the UK. The wool is a mix of white fleece to which Hebridean, Black Welsh Mountain and Blue Faced Leicester are added, and after all the super soft merino I’m used to, the texture of this yarn was challenging. I knitted the first sock and it was so stiff I was really worried so, before I knitted the second, I washed and blocked the first, and, what a difference that made. The knitted sock became soft and squishy and a pleasure to wear. The socks fit really well too and the gusset decreases are so lovely to look at, its a pity they are hidden in my shoes.
So, that was my January. I can’t promise to keep up this blistering pace throughout February but I have plenty of patterns and yarn already lined up for future projects so you can be sure my needles wont be idle.

And before I leave you I wanted to wish you a good Imbolc. This is, according to Wikipedia, an Irish Gaelic traditional feasting festival, celebrated at the beginning February, marking the beginning of spring. I’ve been noticing some signs of the start of a change in the season; the snowdrops are out in perfusion in our valley and I realised, with thud of joy in my heart, when I closed the curtains at 5pm last week, that it wasn’t yet completely dark. The long light nights of summer are returning. I imagine our ancestors noticed these things too and it gave them good cheer. Happy Imbolc!

Resolutions 2018

Happy New Year my lovelies. I hope you all had a wonderfully woolly time over the holidays.

In my usual style I’m well behind all those organised people who published their blog posts about their New Year’s Resolutions (or lack of them) before the new year actually started, and here I am, over a week into the New Year and only just getting down to it. But after being so successful with keeping my resolutions for 2017 (see here), I wanted to continue with resolutions in 2018 that left me with an equally positive feeling.


Last summer, whilst on the beach, watching the children make their millionth sandcastle of the holiday, I idly wondered if there were any knitting podcasts I could listen too, so I did a quick search on my phone and, to my delight I found there were indeed plenty. So in I dived. And what an interesting experience it was. I was really surprised to see so many video podcasts – I hadn’t really realised such a thing existed; this is partly due to my technological incompetence but also partly to do with the fact that, living in the wilds of the countryside, we have such slow and ponderous internet service and lack of mobile phone signal that we can’t actually watch much downloadable content without a maddening amount of buffering and the “whoops something has gone wrong” notification of doom appearing at all too frequent intervals. This will hopefully change at some point in the next few months as a Gigaclear are currently digging up all the roads, installing high speed broadband across our little corner of West Berkshire, but in the meantime, I’ve basically had to content myself to audio podcasts, which are easier to download.

A particular favourite of mine is the KnitBritish podcast by Louise Scollay. Listening to her podcast has made me realise I’ve been very undiscerning in my yarn buying. I’m a sucker for colour. I’m also a sucker for silk and soft squishy Merino, and the bounce of Blue Faced Leicester, but it had never occurred to me before, I knew very little about the provenance of my yarn, save for the hand-dyer who dyed it. Through Louise’s podcast I’ve come to understand it is possible to buy wool and know not only the breed of sheep whose fleece comprise the wool but also where the sheep live and even, possibly, the name of the shepherdess. 


I’ve been a big supporter of locally grown food for many many years, shopping through veg box delivery schemes, at farmers markets and, since, moving to the country, at farm shops. We eat seasonally and try very hard not to buy products grown outside the UK. I do sometimes look wistfully at things like out of season asparagus in the supermarket but not buying it all year round makes the times we do have it extra special. I also shop locally as much as possible for other things; my garden is stocked almost exclusively with plants bought in local independent nurseries and my kitchen came from a small local company. I do primarily because of the money multiplier. Money spent in the local economy is spent many times over because independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to national and multinational businesses. Going local creates more local wealth and jobs.

So, why wasn’t I doing this with my yarn buying? I don’t know. I don’t have any explanation for it. Possibly I’ve been high on yarn fumes. But no more. This year, when I buy yarn, I will only buy British Yarn. Yarn grown, or milled and dyed in Britain. I will be majoring on provenance. And if I can know the name of the Shepherdess, and the sheep, all the better. 

As Louise says #lovelocalwool

Knitting monogamy

At the start of this year I resolved to finish all the things (see here). So, I figured that as this year was nearly over I should formally review where I’d ended up. My finishing all the things wasn’t solely focused on my crafting but also extended to the housework and chores. 

As I sit here there are two baskets full of clean but unfolded laundry sat in the living room and the vacuum is sat next to the couch instead of back in the cupboard under the stairs, where it belongs. So, in this regard, my resolution has not been entirely successful. And I’m not even going to think about my yarn and fabric stashes.


However, I did spend a small eternity finishing all my knitting and crochet wips, and since then, I’ve been a more or less monogamous knitter. To anyone who knows me, this thought would be startling enough but, the real revelation for me is how much I like the one project at a time approach. I’ve written before about the phases I would go though during the life of a project (here if you haven’t read this before) and it nearly always ended up with me loathing the item and moving on to something else, leaving the unfinished item sulkily looking at me from the wip basket, sometimes for months. Then I’d have to summon colossal amounts of will and set aside long periods of time in the purgatory of finishing all the wips. This is a fairly dispiriting cycle, especially for an activity I undertake voluntarily. 

But, now, with one item at a time, this just doesn’t happen. Not only does the unfinished item not end up sulking in the wip basket but I’m not even feeling the dissatisfied thoughts that used to lead to me falling out with them. The thrill of finishing an item is still there but without the negativity that used to precede it. This means, for just about the first time in my knitting life, I am enjoying the process of the knitting as much as the production of the finished garment. And, because I’m enjoying the process, I’m finishing many more items, in a glorious virtuous circle of yarn.


So if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your wip basket, I can heartily recommend ditching it and getting your monogamy on. 

Luscious Loop

Let me tell you about my recent visit to Loop…

It’s 12 years since Loop first opened so a visit was long overdue. I really can’t believe I hade’t made the trip before but a combination of work and babies had kept me too busy to make the pilgrimage. But all that changed when, a couple of weeks ago, on a bit of a whim, I decided to fill in some time before meeting a friend in London, with a trip to Loop.


Loop sits in a quiet street full of quirky and interesting shops, in Camden Passage just off the busy A1 in London, a short walk from Angel tube station. The shop front is gloriously colourful and yet oozes sophistication. You enter through a door so narrow that you wonder for a moment if this is actually the way in. Then you see a note telling you to “push door hard”, and it crosses your mind you may have fallen down a rabbit hole but, you do as you are told, the door flies open, and you are in.

Now, I’d long known from conversations with other knitters that Loop is a very special yarn store. But I hadn’t realised quite how special. It is, quite simply, the best yarn store I have ever been inside, and by quite a big margin. The moment you enter, you are aware you are in a place apart from the rest. In most yarn stores you will find lots of commercial yarn and when you visit yarn stores as often as I do, that can all start to feel a bit samey. But Loop has a huge amount of hand dyed yarn on display and only a very little commercial yarn (and only then at the luxury end of the market). Well, you know what a sucker I am for handdyed, and there was just so much fabulous yarn, I lost myself for some time just squishing and stroking it all before finally gathering some focus.



The store is laid out on two floors with a stock room above (and maybe below but i forgot to ask). On the ground floor is lace and sock weight yarn, and on the first floor is dk, aran and heavier weights. The store will have only one or two skeins of each yarn in each colour way on display, but don’t let that worry you as they have “sweater quantities” in the stock room. I really really wanted to see inside the stock room.

So, I’d gone to Loop with the half formed idea of buying yarn for a new sweater for myself – Whitehorse by Caitlin Hunter of @boylandknitworks. I’d been on the look out for a special yarn for a while but nothing had quite hit the spot. I needed a dk weight for the sweater so after a bit more drifting about squeezing the sock and lace weight, I headed upstairs.


Upstairs, there is a lovely Ercol day bed (I don’t think I’ve mentioned I have a minor obsession with 1960s Ercol furniture) just begging to be sat on and a similarly special Ercol table, on which sat lovely knitting books. And lots more yarn. Also upstairs was a fabulously knowledgeable lady called Jane who, I realised when I got home, is @probablyjane, someone I’ve long admired over on Instagram. I was really sad that I didnt get to tell her how much I loved her fun feed so I’m going to mention it here in the hope she might one day see it.


So, Jane helped me focus my search.  It was really helpful to have someone so knowledgeable about each dyer and base. I did eventually settle on some yarn for my sweater and Jane scooted off upstairs to the store room to look for 4 more skeins in the same dyelot. This left me a few more minutes to squeeze and stroke all the luciousness and flick through a few books before I realised the time, and had to pay and depart. I bought 5 gorgeous skeins of Blue Faced Leicester light DK in the Lila colourway from The Uncommon Thread (@theuncommonthread), a dyer from Brighton who I hadn’t come across before and the most gentle book called Making Winter by Emma Mitchell (check out her beautiful instagram feed @silverpebble2) which has been my bedtime reading every evening since.


So, Loop, I love you. I can’t wait to visit again.

Finishing All The Things

I’ve been quiet on here. But I’ve also been busy. Really busy. Finishing all the things. It’s the middle of April and I’m still keeping up with my New Year’s Resolutions. This is unheard of. I never, and I really do mean never, manage to successfully keep a new leaf turned over. In common with almost everyone else who has ever made a New Year’s Resolution, I’m usually waivering by mid January and, by mid February, I have completely forgotten I ever resolved to do anything. But not this year. If WordPress did emoticons, this would be a smug smiley face.

As some of you might know, I started decluttering my house last year and this has continued apace, with car loads of excess stuff going to charity and, lately, the disappearance of several large pieces of furniture deemed no longer necessary. If you have less stuff, you need less cupboards to put it in,  and I also want to minimise the chances of excess stuff accumulating in all those cupboards again. There is still some way to go on organising our remaining things and there are still areas I need to declutter like my children’s art projects (having previously kept every paper they’d ever made a mark on, in ordered document files, in the manner of librarian or, person with crazy hoarding tendencies) and my craft supplies (there is just so much ranging over so many crafts, its a bit difficult to know where to begin), but the house is, finally starting to feel less crazy and we actually have some space.


I’ve made some changes to the organisational aspects of our home too. The biggest improvement here has been in the way we do laundry now. Previously everyone put their laundry in one giant mountain, requiring herculean efforts to reduce it back down to the point that the lid on the basket would shut. Only once had I ever seen the bottom of the laundry basket and that was the day I bought it. Since then, it’s been in permanent crisis. It also meant I never felt I was getting anywhere, despite all the effort, which was dispiriting, and made me loath laundry and often clean laundry would remain unsorted and unfolding in heaps all over the house because I just couldn’t face it any more. This did not improve the overwhelming feeling of clutter at home. And because it sat around for ages in heaps, it got badly crumpled and then needed ironing.

Now, each member of the family has their own laundry basket in their bedroom and only their items go in their basket. I have a separate basket in the utility room for whites and another for delicates. When someone’s laundry basket is full, I remove the whites and delicates (these go in the whites and delicates baskets, obviously), and wash the remaining clothes. Then the clothes go from the washer into the dryer (or, if the weather is nice, onto the line), then are folded from the dryer back into the basket, which then goes upstairs, clothes are put away and the basket is then ready to be refilled. Clearly we aren’t wearing any less clothes but an entire level of sorting has been stripped out of the system, and I get to feel like I’m actually winning because  of the frequently empty laundry baskets. I wash the whites and delicates once a week, and these do still need sorting but it’s not such a massive job because the whites are mostly my husband’s and the delicates are mostly mine. 


I’ve also made progress with finishing my woolly wips. Lately I have finished my Cuddlebums 2016 shawl club (now a fab poncho), a sockhead hat in a lovely Devon Sun Yarns rainbow, and my temperature wrap. This is my most “handmade by me” item ever as I dyed the yarn for it, in my kitchen, after much instruction from Daisy of Devon Sun Yarns. To read more about the dyeing, see here. This was knited in brioche and was a long knit but very quick in the finishing as I left a long end on each colour change and it took almost no time to turn them into a fringe. I’m going to remember this for future projects.



But I do have a confession to make. I have taken a slight detour from finishing my existing wips, by casting on a Colour Affection shawl. This isn’t strictly within my resolution BUT, the wips I still have to finish each only have very small amounts left to do. And we were away for a week on holiday and I needed something that would take time to make, without taking up huge amounts of space in the suitcase. I’ve wanted to make a Colour Affection shawl for the longest time after seeing Daisy’s one and pestering her to dye me some yarn so i could make a more or less identical one myself. I’ve had this yarn in my stash for at least a year so it seemed crazy not to take advantage of a big chunk of time and get knitting. I’ll show you some pictures of this in my next post. In the meantime, I’m off to test the new laundry system with the mountain of holiday laundry.

Love it Hate it Love it

 

Whilst I have been labouring on my many unfinished wips, I’ve been thinking about why so many have been consigned to the bottom of the wip basket and, have concluded that it’s more than just the delight of casting on with new yarn.


This story will be pretty familiar to anyone who is a crafter but to my non crafting friends, this might come as a bit of a surprise and you’d be forgiven for wondering why I put myself through this all the time.

Almost every project I undertake goes as follows:

  • Buying the yarn or getting yarn in the post “Ooh lovely lovely yarn. Squeeeee. So excited, must cast on”
  • Upon casting on “Oh my goodness this is so amazing, I’m so in love with this”
  • About 1/3 of the way through “So so loving this. Whoo hoooo. Must knit/crochet faster”
  • About 1/2 way through “Hmmm. Is this going to look alright? Is it going to fit? Maybe I should have made something else with this yarn? Hmmm. I’m not sure I even like the yarn any more”
  • About 2/3 of the way through “Ugh. This is awful. I hate it. Why did I ever think this would work? What a colossal waste of time. I can barely bring myself to finish” and, if I’m feeling particularly grim, it’s at this stage that things get relegated to the bottom of the wip basket, never to be seen again (or at least only seen again when I can’t get any more unfinished projects in the wip basket and, like now, have a purge).
  • On completion “I love love love it.”

I know, I know. And let’s not forget, I do this to myself voluntarily.

The plus side of this behaviour is that, once I can bring myself to restart the wip, I’m nearly always pretty quickly into the gratification of completion. So, hurrah for finishing wips is what I say. Here is the latest one I’ve finished – my yarn eating crochet flower rainbow blanket.