Posted on

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!!!

Posted on

A Sock Knitting Challenge

Hello, welcome to the latest of my intermittent blog posts!

Today I’m all about knitting socks.

Despite the popularity of this activity, and most of our knitting circle and other friends, having taken it up enthusiastically over the years, I have never felt the urge.

Towards the end of 2018 I decided, however, that it was about time I joined in with the fun.

I knew that I had all the skills required but I really wanted to experience the process so that I could include sock knitting in my list of workshops available. Therefore, I felt that I needed to set myself a goal and a time limit for the number of pairs of socks I was going to make in order to gain the know-how required.

So at the end of November the challenge began!! I was aiming to knit 6 pairs of socks by the end of February.

 

 

 

I had ordered myself some new sock yarn (I already had loads of this but I treated myself to one of the West Yorkshire Spinners Christmas sets), plus some patterns and a book because I didn’t just want to make the same pair of socks over and over again.

 

 

 

This is the first pair of socks that I produced. I loved the pattern and the yarn that I’d chosen but the knitting wasn’t very good. I’d used the needles suggested on the ball band and in the pattern but the tension was far too loose so I learned that I needed to use much smaller needles, which I have done ever since, and been much happier with the results.

For my second pair of socks I used the special Christmas yarn and a different pattern on much smaller needles. I love these socks which have been worn and washed very well.

Before starting this challenge I had envisaged only knitting basic top-down socks but I had bought this book which shows different methods of sock knitting. When I’m learning about & experimenting with my knitting I do like to try a variety of ideas and techniques to see what different results can be produced. The 3rd pair of socks fit perfectly and were knitted from the toe up.

I knitted these lovely red socks on a short circular needle rather than dpn’s.

We were now at the beginning of February, I had produced 3 pairs of socks and needed to knit another 3 to achieve my goal before the end of that month…progress had been slower than I’d hoped.

It was very definitely time to crack on and knit another pair of socks. I’d heard of afterthought heels and thought I’d give one a go for my next sock. Another interesting method of making a sock.

This is a top-down sock also from the Sock Anatomy book.

These socks were finished on 27th February so I’d failed my challenge as I was 2 pairs short!!

I really wanted to try making some very small socks for workshops as it’s obviously not going to be possible to knit a full size sock in a one day workshop.

So, I thought I’ll see if I can make some pairs of teeny tiny socks, good practise for workshops and maybe I could still say I’d made the full 6 pairs.

This is a book I bought from The Loveliest Yarn Company at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. It’s really cool as it gives a basic sock pattern with options for mixing and matching cuffs, legs and toes.

The socks are really mini & you can create your own set of little socks to make a fab Christmas decoration.

I thought I’d have a go at making one of the basic socks to see if you could do it in a day.

This one took me just a little bit too long to knit so I found a pattern for an even smaller one!!  I managed a pair of these teenier tinier socks by the 1st March and decided that that was satisfactory

The end of my challenge but definitely NOT the end of me knitting socks.

I will be running my first Beginners Sock Knitting workshop at Create in Wetherby on 8th June 2019…maybe I’ll see you there 🙂

 

Posted on

My Big Waves Brioche Cowl

This blog is mainly for people who have been to one of my recent 2-colour Brioche Knitting workshops.

Anyone who hasn’t tried this technique might also find it interesting to look at how the work grows and the kind of fabric that can be produced.

For those who haven’t heard of brioche knitting before, you might be  wondering what on earth I’m talking about,  maybe you would like to know a little bit more, or perhaps you could be interested in attending a workshop. For these reasons, I should probably write another blog about brioche knitting in the future!!

Thank you to all the people who have been along to one of my 2-colour brioche knitting workshops, I am sure that you will all agree that learning to do brioche knitting was quite entertaining.

Last week I was chatting with a lady who was making the cowl following on from the workshop, and she mentioned that it would be good to have photos of the work as it went along so that she knew what it ought to look like.

I thought that this was a splendid idea so I came home, chose some gorgeous colours of the Croft yarn  and cast on a new cowl for myself.

I have knitted the cowl and photographed it at significant points so that you can check your work as you go along if you need to.

I hope that these images will help to give you the confidence that your work is progressing ok or to show any errors that may have occurred.

I have amended the pattern as I realised that I have written the end section incorrectly.

I have sent a PDF with these changes to the person who organised your workshop.

Please ask them to send you a copy or email me directly stating which workshop you attended, and I will send it to you.

Posted on

Changes for Chains and Stripes

This blog was originally written in April 2015 but I wanted to re-visit it as I have recently added these knitting kits to my website having not had them on there for a while, so here is the story of my Chain Stripe Cushion knitting kits…

 

Today I’ve been finishing off something I started back in September!
IMG_0177After our annual visit to Cawood Craft Festival I realised that my original version of one of my knitting kits could do with a bit of updating. I designed this cushion some time ago now and we talked about it on the blog back in the summer of 2013.

When I had the idea for the cushion we had just started selling West Yorkshire Spinners yarns and I really wanted to make something which would show off the natural colours of the wool from Jacob sheep which they produce. I had been playing with the chain stripe stitch when knitting samples for my City and Guilds course and I felt that it was an ideal choice. I designed this little cushion, which can be knitted in a number of variations using the 4 natural colours available Ecru, Light Grey, Mid-Grey and Brown.

I don’t like having to insert zips and I really like these cocoanut shell buttons so I used this simple construction for the cushion. One long piece is knitted, folded and side seams sewn up, finally attaching the beautiful buttons which are included in the kit. I am very happy with the way the cushion looks, I love the Jacob wool which is ideal for home wares and many people have bought the kits and given positive feedback.

Why did I feel the need to improve the pattern then? Sitting in a tent in a field in North Yorkshire, I realised that, if I was designing the cushion today I would have made the stripes match up all the way round the cushion, and they just didn’t. It bothered me so much that I just couldn’t forget about it and I took one of my sample cushions and actually unravelled the cushion, re-knitting it to my new specifications. I have now knitted 3 samples in all of the new cushion and I am happy to say that the stripes match up beautifully all the way round except for where the rib occurs for attaching the lovely buttons which I don’t mind.
IMG_0770I have replaced the old  patterns in the kits and will re-vamp the packaging when I make some more and I now feel very satisfied with my little cushions again.

The kits contain all the wool you need to knit a cushion, plus the pattern and 3 buttons. You can buy them  online.

As I explain on the website, this kit makes a great gift for a knitter friend and the pattern is easy to follow for those who have not knitted for a while, or who are just learning but interesting enough for those with more experience to appreciate it

Posted on

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.

Posted on

Intarsia Knitting

Intarsia is a technique used in knitting to create patterns with multiple colours. It is possible to introduce areas of colour in any shape, size, and number.

The Intarsia technique is often used for sweaters with large, solid-colour features or ‘picture jumpers’ with designs such as fruits, flowers, geometric shapes or Christmas motifs like snowmen and robins.

Here is a new cushion I have designed (pattern available to buy) using the Intarsia technique to create these cute sausage dogs. There will be a workshop available in the New Year where you can learn how to make one if you’re not confident to do it alone!

Unlike other multicolour techniques (including Fair Isle, slip-stitch colour, and double knitting), Intarsia fabric is lightweight because it is only one strand thick, and yarn is not carried across the back of the work.

Not unlike a paint-by-numbers canvas, you place the coloured stitches in an intarsia design by following a chart row by row. It is much more difficult to follow a pattern written out line by line than to use a chart for this technique.

The most popular stitch for Intarsia knitting is stocking stitch but it is possible to use other stitches or combinations of stitches with often very attractive results.

Here reverse stocking stitch has been used combined with Trinity stitch.

 

This ‘M’ was an experiment which didn’t quite work out. A combination of Trinity stitch and stocking stitch for the ‘M’ shape may work out better.

 

When working in intarsia, it is easiest to use untreated yarns. Cotton, silk, and synthetic fibres are much more challenging to use because they are slippery.

Changing colours – When changing colours, you drop one strand of yarn and leave it hanging for use in the following row. Following the chart, work all the stitches you need in the first colour. Drop the old strand and forget about it until you need it again in the next row. Twist the new strand around the old one. Work with the new colour according to the chart. To change strands, bring the new colour up from underneath the old one. This twists the strands together, preventing holes from forming on the front of the work.

Knitting in intarsia theoretically requires no additional skills beyond being generally comfortable with the basic knit and purl stitches. It is important that your tension is even as it is easy to pull the yarn more tightly where the colours change and create uneven tension which does not look attractive.

Each area of colour in your design requires its own individual yarn supply, resulting in many strands hanging from your work. One way of keeping control of all these yarn ends is by winding a few yards of each colour onto its own bobbin.

Weave in the ends –Your intarsia fabric won’t be finished until all the ends are woven in on the wrong side, using a wool needle. If this is not done well it can spoilt the finished look of your work so take time to do it well. Because there will be so many ends to weave in, the very best thing to do is  weave them in every now and then as you work , rather than leaving them all to be sewn in after your knitting is finished.

Take time to play – If you are not familiar with this knitting technique it is worth taking some time to play with some odd bits of yarn and practice knitting from the chart you are about to use. Allow about 6 stitches either side of the motif and knit at least one sample. This will help you to choose what type of yarn to use. If you’re not sure try it in different yarns to make a comparison as the results can be surprisingly different in different fibres. Use simple geometric shapes to begin with, from squares and rectangles to diamonds and triangles. As your confidence develops, move on to more complex shapes and combinations of shapes. This is also a brilliant opportunity to incorporate small amounts of different textures and types of yarns into your knitting. Some exciting effects could be achieved by using multicolour yarns with the Intarsia technique, adding yet another dimension to your work.

 

 

Posted on 1 Comment

Let’s Talk About Fair Isle Knitting

I am really looking forward to the first of my new knitting workshops which will be at York School of Sewing on Friday 17th November.

The workshop will be an Introduction to Fair Isle knitting. You will receive a knitting kit to take away and complete your own version of my Petal Cushion Cover which is available in several colours, including those shown here.

If you’re keen to start creating beautiful designs using one or more colours, but have never tried, then this workshop could be for you.

You will need to be able to do both knit and purl stitch with confidence, if so, you really can progress onto Fair Isle knitting.

If you’re at all apprehensive about the thought of using more than one colour at once, then remember that traditional Fair Isle knitting uses lots of colours but never more than 2 per row!

The workshop begins with getting to grips with the techniques needed to get started with 2-colour (more if you like) knitting.

Contemporary knitting involves using any colour and knitting with frequent colour changes. This might sound a bit daunting, but once you know what you’re doing you can create some very impressive results and expand your enjoyment of your knitting hobby.

This type of knitting is also known as Jacquard, stranded or two-colour knitting. The knitting is usually done in stocking stitch but it is ok to experiment with other stitches if you wish!

I have been a bit silly in the past and seem to have either lost, given away or donated to charity most of my pieces of Fair Isle but this is something I knitted 30 years ago when I was 19.

I can remember seeing this in a magazine and loving it. I bought the wool stated on the pattern, for probably the first time in my life, and I think I even used the same colours which is something I rarely do. I like to come up with my own colour combinations because I really really want my hand-knits to be unique and individual.

In the workshop we learn about and practice, stranding and weaving the yarns at the back of the work, (as can be seen above) how to follow a chart, then we look at choosing yarns & colours for your fair isle knitting.

Here you can see I have been experimenting with doing some simple Fair Isle, choosing my colours from some inspiration and trying them in different sequences.

As I’ve done, its’ a good idea to use inspiration to help choose colours which might go together. Tear pages from magazines, collect fabric swatches or use your own personal photographs.

One thing to remember with this type of knitting is that you will use more yarn than when just knitting using one colour and your work will be alot thicker and warmer.

For Fair Isle wool works better than other more slippery fibres such as cotton. It is worth spending some time experimenting with different yarns to see how they knit up. If you are using a yarn which is more suited to this kind of work then you are more likely to be happier with the results. It’s so easy to be disappointed and to think that your work is no good when all you may need to do is change the yarn!

For this kind of knitting it is much easier to work from charts than from words so if you’ve never knitted from a chart now is the time to get your head around them. Once you do then that’ll be another knitting hurdle you’ve passed and as with most things you’ll probably find it’s alot more straightforward than you thought.

Once we’ve practiced the techniques you’ll be able to make a start on your cushion before taking it home to complete.

I love spending time helping people to make new steps with their knitting. It’s so rewarding when someone moves on from having never tried a technique, or they’ve tried on their own but not been able to conquer it, and you can see them filled with pride and enthusiasm over their new-found skill. Contact myself or York School of Sewing if you need to know more 🙂

 

Posted on 2 Comments

The Knotty Knitters Meet the Alpacas

Our knitting circle had a brilliant day out on Saturday.

It was part of my quest to have 50 special treats before my 50th birthday in October!! I wrote about this previously here.

When trying to decide what a group of friends who like to get together to knit and enjoy a cuppa might like to do for a fun day out I tried to think of something yarn related. What I came up with was Alpaca Trekking.

I love it.

I’ve done it before, as a fun activity to do with family & friends when my children were younger, and once, when I was Brown Owl for the local Brownie pack a few years ago we had a very pleasant evening stroll with the girls.

I always go to Treeside Alpacas who are absolutely brilliant. The owners are a lovely knowledgeable couple who really make it into a special experience. We saw them when we had our day out to Leeds Wool Festival where they were doing mini treks.

It was a rather windy on Saturday afternoon but we were very lucky and it didn’t rain on us!

First we spent a little time chatting and getting used to the 7 gorgeous fluffy boys. Then we all chose an Alpaca to walk with and set off on our trek. The Alpacas don’t rush, and the route around the farm is not too strenuous, so there was plenty of time to chat to Rosanne and Nigel about their characterful creatures and enjoy spending the time together. The walk back was a bit quicker as the boys knew they were going to get fed at the end.

I took a great many photographs but I’ve tried to pick out the best ones here.

 

Posted on

Shells and Gems

Back in May I wrote about my Shell scarf pattern which I had added to the shop.

I mentioned that I had bought this beautiful yarn at Spring Into Wool and I was planning to make another one.

I actually finished it a few weeks ago but it has been waiting to be blocked.

The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Wensleydale Gems and I absolutely love the colours it’s available in.

I was desperate to see what it would look like knitted into this scarf but I was a little concerned that it might be a hard or prickly yarn so different to the gorgeous soft Sublime Alpaca that the original is done in.

Not so, however. The yarn is so soft and fluffy – not as soft as the Alpaca – and it drapes beautifully.

I blocked it at the weekend and the sun was out so I grabbed some quick photos.

It’s so great to see my design in a different yarn and colours.

As you can see I also bought another yarn from Home Farm Wensleydales which is destined to become a Shell Scarf too!!

Posted on

Quick and Easy Scarf

A couple of weeks ago we had a little sight seeing trip to London for the weekend.

Obviously I needed a bit of knitting to take with me for the journey, and I had nothing appropriate on any needles, so a new project was called for.

Having found a very charming skein of sock yarn in my stash (Ripples Crafts Hand Dyed Sock Yarn), I cast on for a scarf and was jolly happy with myself!!

There was plenty of knitting time on the train and a tiny amount of knitting time during our stay.

On returning home I decided that the scarf was not going to be long enough with just this one skein of yarn.

I was very happy to find some yellow West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply which went really well with the one I was using and merrily continued with my new scarf. Now it is finished and I am very pleased with it.

This is such an easy stitch to do, creating something which looks very impressive, especially when combined with a yarn such as this from Ripples Crafts. It would make a nice winter scarf if done on larger needles using something chunky!!

I’ve written out the pattern and you can download it for free here.