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The Further Adventures of Chardonnay

Hello there.

Just taking a break from working on my up-coming knit-a-long to update you on the adventures of Chardonnay the sheep.

Chardonnays yarncrawl, which took her from Knaresborough to Harrogate and then on to Thirsk, has had to be interrupted for obvious reasons.

She’s been in for some repairs as described by Knitting Pretty’s owner Di Watson…

‘Recently we’ve had to shear her original pompoms and they grew back in a rainbow 🤷‍♀️ 

Her latest hat is fashioned from the top layer of Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake, made by Lynsey Gallant

( Chardonnay is all about re-using and eco-friendly)’

I popped in to see Chardonnay last week and I have to say I was impressed with her new look. She is sporting the very latest fashion for 2020 , the Rainbow & the face mask! As Di explains:

‘These lovely face masks have been beautifully made by Cath. They’re lined too! Great quality at £5 each-all of which goes to Martin House Children’s Hospice.’

I think Chardonnay’s is just perfect !

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Chardonnay in Harrogate

Hello from a sunny Yorkshire!

Last month I introduced you to Chardonnay and told you about the plans for this colourful Pom Pom Sheep to have her own yarncrawl which I’m very keen to follow.

This meant that yesterday I got to visit the lovely little shop Yarn Etc in Harrogate.

 

It’s a welcoming and colourful oasis just outside the town centre and it was very nice to meet and chat with Fiona who’s been hosting Chardonnay for the last few weeks.

Fiona tells me that Chardonnay has been very well admired, especially when she spent time sitting in the shop window where she could easily be spotted by passengers travelling past on the bus!

Yarn Etc is a busy little shop which hosts a popular knit and natter session on Monday evenings in addition to a varied programme of workshops. They also have a book club starting up which you can find out more about here

Many customers have been getting involved knitting poppies to display for Remembrance Day throughout the town and Fiona is hoping that next year they’ll have lots more for an even bigger display.

I enjoyed a good look around whilst I was there and I may have made a considered purchase or two.

Here is a flavour of what is on offer.

 

Chardonnay will be moving on to Thirsk very soon but before that she will be taking a little tour of the sights around Harrogate.

I can’t wait to see what she gets up to!!

 

 

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Chardonnays Yarn Crawl

Let me introduce you to Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is a sheep!! She’s a little bit of a diva, and she lives in the window of an amazing little yarn shop, Knitting Pretty in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

Chardonnay was created by Kt Arthur, Sarah Johnson and Kerry Young as part of a window display in Knitting Pretty for the FEVA festival 2019 (Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts). The display won the window competition (the 4th time the store has won this)

Sarah Johnson

Sarah tells me that she made the structure for a sheep which was originally used in the 2019 Great Knaresborough Bed Race, the ladies then re-purposed her for the FEVA window display.

Diane Watson, the owner of Knitting Pretty says

‘Knaresborough is a very friendly town, it has the world famous Bed Race in June, the FEVA festival in August – where the town goes pink – and Bright Friday in November when children carry lanterns from the castle to the market square ready for the start of the traditional Christmas market over the Saturday and Sunday. We have some fabulous independent shops as seen recently in the York Press

Knitting Pretty are stockists of Rowan, West Yorkshire Spinners, Adriafil, King Cole, Opal, Stylecraft, Clover, Knit Pro and so much more.

The store supports Martin House Children’s Hospice and to date have raised over £1ooo for them.

Knitting Pretty really is so much more than just a yarn shop.

Currently Diane’s community of knitters are making poppies for British Legion 100th anniversary in 2021, with the aim to have a breathtaking display at Knaresborough Castle. Knitting groups take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

I provide knitting workshops on several Saturdays throughout the year. It is always a fun day and a pleasure to be part of this fantastic enterprise.

Back the star of this blog Chardonnay…

Chardonnay is going on a yarn shop tour #chardonnaysyarncrawl where she will spend time in various yarn shops and hopefully get to know more about them and the towns they serve.

To kick this off, Diane and I took her on a tour of the town of Knaresborough. Thanks to the local green grocer for the loan of the sack trolley (Chardonnay is far too much of a star to actually walk around town).

We all had a fabulous time and Chardonnay certainly attracted a lot of attention. Everyone who saw her loved her and wanted to hug her and photograph her.

We started off in the market square where Chardonnay met Mother Shipton and Blind Jack.

Then it was a trip to the castle which was unfortunately closed but we all enjoyed the views!

Next, no visit to Knaresborough can be complete without including England’s oldest tourist attraction Mother Shipton’s Cave.

On the way there it made a nice change to admire some of the unique trompe l’oeil windows that are all over the town, and some more sheep 🙂

The people at Mother Shipton’s were amused to see Chardonnay. She brings colour and joy wherever she goes.

She would have loved a boat ride but it wasn’t possible due to high river levels.

However, Blenkhorn’s Boats were very obliging and allowed her to get onboard. Look how excited she was!!

That was enough excitement for one Saturday morning in October, and Di and I were getting a bit warm with wheeling Chardonnay around, so we headed back to Knitting Pretty.

There could be a whole other blog about this charming little shop and all the quirky little details, there’s something different to spot every time you go and they all have their own stories. Here is just a little taste …

 

 

The final photo is some yarn which had to come home with me.

This yarn is hand dyed locally in Knaresborough, and there is even a special colour called Knitting Pretty specially created for Diane. I have some ideas in my head for designing something special to knit with this beautiful bundle.

 

 

 

So what’s next for Chardonnay? The plan is that she will head off to Harrogate to spend some time at Yarn Etc, after that a visit to Sharon at Ewe and Yarn in Thirsk is on the cards. I’m sure it won’t end there, we need to get Chardonnay to visit as many yarn shops as we can.

I hope to follow her around on her travels and write about it here.

She will also be using the hashtags #chardonnaysyarncrawl and #chardonnayontour on instagram.

Give her a wave if you spot her she’s always happy to meet new fans!!!

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Why Learn to Knit?

To many people this may sound like a silly question! All the same I thought it was worth thinking about it.

If you’ve been taught a skill such as knitting, crochet or sewing at an early age then it can seem like the most natural thing in the world. If you’re not that fortunate then you may be thinking ‘I love making things for myself or as unique gifts and I’d like to learn a new craft so why would I choose knitting?’

I believe that knitting can be a relaxing hobby (maybe not so much at the first steps, but certainly when you get the hang of it) which engages the mind and fires creativity. There is always something new to learn or try if you wish to push yourself, on the other hand, some really easy straightforward knitting can be just the tonic when you’re feeling tired and stressed. You have the brilliant satisfaction of being able to spend your relaxation time productively with a beautiful finished item to be proud of as the end result.

Most people seem to have the desire to learn to knit for a specific purpose. The most popular one is probably the arrival of a new member of the family which seems to spur people into action and get them picking up the needles. For other people, the desire can be sparked by a specific item they’ve seen and really want to make for themselves. This is the reason I myself wanted to learn the ‘sister’ craft of crochet so that I could make things which had previously been untouchable for me because I didn’t know how to use a crochet hook.

Still need some inspiration? What might you be able to knit with just a little bit of knowledge?

Simple scarf like this one can easily be made with just basic stitches and you can make it for yourself or give as a gift!!

If you attend one of my Beginners Knitting workshops you will make one of these. You will take away the materials and pattern to make one for yourself, and when you’ve done that you can make more in different colours 🙂

 

These teddies are a really lovely easy knit which would be great to make for a new baby or small child.

Why not try making a baby blanket in a soft chunky baby yarn they’re really easy and quick to do for your new arrival.

You can make cushions for your home or as gifts. Try one of my simple but effective chain stripes cushions in beautiful but hardwearing Jakob aran yarn.

 

Will I need lots of expensive equipment?

Basically, no you won’t. Having said that, you will need some core items to begin with, and there are lots of products out there to tempt you, but it is up to you. If you would like to have lovely needles and notions you can do, but you don’t have to you can just stick to basic items.

A simple starter kit should probably contain –

  • a selection of smooth inexpensive double knitting weight yarns (you can move onto the fancy stuff and gorgeous natural fibres when you are more confident)
  • needles – again nothing too fancy needed unless you really want to, just some basic needles in the size appropriate for your yarn ie double knitting yarn 4mm needles or check your ballband to see what needles are recommended
  • pins
  • scissors
  • tape measure
  • yarn needle
  • safety pins
  • row counter and/or pencil and paper

There are lots and lots of other things you could have but you’ll probably decide for yourself as you go along what you would like and what you need and what you can very easily live without!!

 

What’s the best way to learn?

This is another question to which there are probably as many answers as there are people who are looking to learn to knit!!

There are a number of options or combinations of options.

Most people would prefer to be taught by someone who really knows what they are doing. If you have a family member or friend close at hand who can get you started and then be called upon when needed for further assistance then you are probably very lucky and should make the most of it!!

There are lots of books available Vogue Knitting – The Ultimate Knitting Book, is a very good book and has clear instructions and illustrations.

Youtube has many videos which will show you what to do and I have met lots of people who have successfully taught themselves to knit this way.

Make the most of any resources you can find such as Ravelry, twitter, facebook. Find out what works for you, give things a try and don’t be frightened.

As a small business, I am always happy to help people out with any problems they are experiencing and it is one of the best parts of my job to be able to show them the answer. You may not get this service from some of the larger retailers out there but I’m sure most small yarn shops are able to provide a similar service to customers and with the same joy and pleasure!!

I run regular Beginners Knitting classes in Knaresborough and York, for those who would like more focused attention. These are for one full day which is generally enough to go through casting on, knit stitch, purl stitch, rib stitch, casting off, changing colours or joining in new balls of yarn. The aim is to equip you with the basic knowledge you need to start knitting and we provide enough yarn for you to make a simple rib stitch scarf which you will start making during the class and then take away to finish at your own speed.

Because different people will have different aims for their knitting, each persons next step will be slightly different, however I do run a Beyond the Basics workshop.

If you have learnt knit and purl stitch and are ready to move on to knitting something more than straight scarves this workshop is for you. The aim of the workshop is to give you all the knowledge you need to make a simple garment. You will receive a kit containing 50g of quality double knitting yarn, 1m ribbon & 14 buttons.

You will learn different increasing and decreasing techniques to create some triangular pieces in stocking stitch.

We will look at blocking the work you have produced, and we will pick up stitches to make a buttonhole band.

Add a few pretty buttons and you have your own knitted bunting!!

Just a final warning. Knitting can be addictive. Once you’ve started you may not be able to stop and I think that’s absolutely fantastic!!!

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Popping Up All Over Again!!!

Hello. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get to my blog and it’s looking a bit neglected.

I thought I’d tell you about Judith and Jeans Pop-Up-Shop.

We had lots of stock which didn’t sell in our closing down sale when we left Tadcaster and it was all being kept at Mum’s house until she decided what to do with it.

Mum and Dad need to move house now so the time had very much arrived for all that lovely wool to be found new homes.

We had our one day only EVERYTHING MUST GO pop-up-shop at York School of Sewing in January when Nadine very kindly let us join in her monthly shop Saturday. It was a very lovely day with quite a crowd of people coming through the doors when we opened at 10am. It was very nice to see people from our days in Tadcaster and there were also plenty of Nadines’ customers popping along to get supplies for sewing and a bit of yarn at the same time. There were plenty of bargains to be had as we’d taken as much along as we possibly could of the beautiful yarns that we needed to say goodbye to.

We were kept occupied all day long and were very happy to have cars much emptier on leaving than they were when we arrived.

Mum held another little sale of her own at our local Methodist Church and managed to supply lots more people with something to add to their stash. I’m happy to say that, with the help of Ebay all that enormous pile of yarn is now re-homed.

HOWEVER, Judith and Jeans one day only EVERYTHING MUST GO Pop-Up-Shop is to return!!

We still have stacks of stuff and it is not going in that removal van with my parents 🙂

So, on Saturday 3rd March we will be re-popping at Yorks School of Sewing and once more EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!

Take a look at some of the goodies on offer

That’s just a selection. I have much more including cross stitch kits, knitting needles and much much more!

As usual you can also stock up on Nadines lovely Fabrics, Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, Charm Packs and Fat Quarters.

It’s not just all about fabric – there’s lots of Equipment and other Sewing ‘Must Haves’ too

Special offers and plenty of bargains.

Come along and have a browse, we’d love to see you.

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Something a little different…

A few months ago my son asked me if I would be able to knit a Leeds United cushion for his girlfriend to give to her Dad.

I said I’d give it a go but it would have to go to the back of the queue!!

On a recent trip to a lovely yarn shop called Knitting Pretty in Knaresborough I bought the perfect coloured yarn for the project, King Cole merino blend dk.

A couple of weeks ago I felt the time was right so I did some drawings for the family to chose from.

Once they’d let me know which design they liked the best I was off and running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I knit most of my cushions in one piece to reduce the number of seams needed.

Here it is being blocked…almost ready for sewing together. Just the small matter of embroidering on the LUFC and crocheting a white Yorkshire Rose to finish it off.

This is quite different from the kind of thing I would normally knit and I am pleased with the finished result, I think that I managed to fulfil the brief!!

I’m told that Olivia’s Dad was very happy with it too.

 

 

 

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Fun and Festive Knitting

My last blog was about the lovely Knitted Bible which came to our local church. I came away from my visit with a pattern for a knitted angel ,which people were being invited to make and donate to a collection at local churches. I thought I would contribute a few to the collection and enjoyed knitting up the simple pattern in some lovely soft Sublime Alpaca yarn.

img_3124I gave them to my Mum to take to the Methodist church and I am told that the angels were handed out to people who visited during the Christmas Tree Festival that was held in December. Hopefully people have enjoyed having these knitted angels in their homes.

I also spotted a bit of knitting on display in Wetherby which is always nice to see. I do like a knitted nativity!!

img_3159I like it because of the story it’s telling and the fact that you can create a tradition of taking the display out every year and I like the blissfulness of someone using their love of knitting to produce something which will bring pleasure to others.

In this case, it may have been a group effort and I like that too, how sociable to get together and do your knitting.

I shared this picture on twitter and a few days ago I got a tweet from Julie Wilcox who obviously likes a knitted nativity as much as I do. She was very lucky to find one in a charity shop. I wonder if someone donated it because it was unwanted? or maybe they knitted it specially for the shop to sell. It seems a bit sad to think it could have been unwanted, but I know that it is now being truly loved by someone who appreciates it. Whoever knitted it almost certainly enjoyed the process of creating it and now it’s bringing joy to someone else. Who says knitting is dull, boring and out of date?

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Knitted Bible comes to town!

There has been a display in our local church today showing 33 bible stories that have all been knitted!! This is the work of the congregation of St Georges URC Hartlepool and it goes on tour around the country.

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It was like the whole inside of the church had been yarnbombed!

They were happy for me to take photos and share them on here so here you are hope you enjoy.

this camel was lovely
this camel was lovely

This is such an impressive achievement and on several levels.

A brilliant way of depicting these stories and also a celebration of talent and imagination on the part of the knitters. All beautifully presented. Thank you to all those involved I know you have given joy to many.

I also came away with a pattern to knit an angel as part of a plan to ‘angel bomb’ the village!!!

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Thirsk Yarnbombing

I have had an inspiring experience this week when I visited the town of Thirsk to see the work of their yarn bombers. I had seen them on youtube  and knew I just needed to pay a visit if I possibly could. The ladies in the tourist information office were very helpful in advising me how to get to the 2 churches which had been decorated with thousands of knitted poppies. Walking toward the church I spotted this shop which seems to be housing some of the previous yarn bombings.

There were poppies everywhere.

The way that the church had been decorated was stunningly dramatic.

This was all very impressive and there was more to come. A short walk back into town and out again to Sowerby showed that many business and individuals had got involved with this amazing project.

So then I reached another church beautifully decorated with so many knitted and crocheted poppies.

The number of poppies that have been created is so impressive and the impact of the way they have been displayed was glorious, especially in the November sunshine. When you got up close the poppies were glistening with water droplets and you could see so much individuality had been put into the work with different stitches, types of yarns and poppies of all sizes.

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All coming together to create such a marvellous display. There were lots of people walking about admiring this work, I got chatting to a couple of ladies and we wondered what is going to happen to it all when the remembrance period ends and the display is removed? We hoped it was going to be re-used!! They say it will be on display for a couple of weeks so you may have time to see this fabulous work if you’re quick!!

Finally here are a few more displays that I spotted on my way back to the car.

 

 

 

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My First Yarndale

Yesterday was my first visit to Yarndale.

Even though it’s in Yorkshire I’d never actually been before! When you own a yarn shop it’s not easy to go to any events on Saturdays (unless you have a stand – which we never have) and Sundays at the end of September always seem to be really busy for our family. When you don’t have a yarn shop anymore such things get a bit easier to arrange.

I used the park and ride car park which was very easy. I could have got on one of the free shuttle buses but I needed to find a cash machine so walked the short distance from the car park into Skipton and had a wander through the town. While I was there I popped in to the appropriately named ‘Three Sheep Tearoom’ for a coffee and a very tasty sandwich.

Then it was another short stroll to the Auction Mart. There is a Yarn walk through the park, which you can follow but I missed it as started from the other side of town.

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I knew I must be almost there though when I saw this sign and followed the last part of the route, decorated with lots of knitted and crocheted bunting, down to the entrance to Yarndale.

 

I’d heard about what a good show this was and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a really relaxed atmosphere. The place was very busy and packed with stalls but most of the pens were a decent size so you could get in where you wanted to. Most importantly for a yarn show, there was plenty of yarn available, to suit all tastes and purses.

At one point whilst wandering around these characters suddenly appeared.

I have no idea where they were headed!!!

There was musical entertainment and plenty of food available too.

I was on a self-imposed yarn buying ban but I did purchase some quirky greetings cards from Temporary Measure. I got some from them at Woolfest and some of them have been used, so took the opportunity to stock up.

My personal highlight was the stand belonging to Anne Brooke where I bought some more cards and a small stitched picture.

I am very interested in this kind of work at the moment and it was lovely to see all her pieces. She has her own fabric range as well.

I also rather liked this on the Embroiderers’ Guild stand.

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