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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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Christmas Eve Blanket Knit-a-Long

Let me introduce to you my finished Christmas Eve Blanket…

I talked about how I came to be knitting a Christmas project in the summertime in my previous blog.

I have completed the design and the patterns are now being test-knitted by Sharon at Ewe and Yarn and Di at Knitting Pretty.

I am also knitting another sample so we will soon have 4 versions of the blanket in 4 different colourways.

The design aims to be flexible, so that you can mix and match the patterns, should you wish to not do some of the squares and create more versions of other squares instead.

I said that we were going to have a knit-a-long and that I was trying to find a way that I could incorporate some small workshops.

We launched the knit-a-long a few weeks ago and it is scheduled to begin on the 15th August with those taking part receiving patterns to download every 6 days until December.

Alongside the patterns I am making tutorial-style videos so that, even if you are not a confident knitter, it will still be possible to try out all of the techniques showcased in this design.

I will set up a special Facebook page for everyone to share their progress and ask any questions so that we can still be knitting along together, even though we are apart.

There is much excitement brewing now for the Christmas Eve Blanket knit-a-long and we are already fully international with people taking part from our local area but also from New Zealand and Switzerland.

If you are interested in joining us, you can purchase a kit from myself or from either Knitting Pretty or Ewe and Yarn.

I’ll be back soon with another blog to show you how our different coloured blankets are working out.

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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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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

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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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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.

 

 

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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!!

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Knit a Shell

I first introduced my Shell Scarf on the blog last August and now, finally, I’ve published the pattern for anyone to buy online!!

I was waiting for the scarf and pattern to be assessed by my City and Guilds Tutor, and then I decided to make an alternative version, which would be easier to knit, so it has taken some time to get it organised!!

As mentioned in the previous blog, the yarn I’ve used is the most gorgeous , Sublime Alpaca DK which is a gorgeously soft yarn, and the colour choices were influenced by my inspiration. The yarn also comes in a wider range of delicious colours.

The inspiration, by the way, came from the little shell which I found on a walk form Warkworth towards Amble in Northumberland earlier last year.

The original scarf, Scarf One, is triangular shaped and lighter weight for the Spring and Autumn, whereas the new design, or Scarf Two, is bigger and warmer to snuggle up in the Winter months.

Both are knitted in a drop stitch rib, which I chose because it is not only very effective but, the fabric produced looks like the pattern of ridges on the shell which was my inspiration. I also really really like the excitement of dropping stitches on purpose (I’m sad like that!!).

I hope the following images show how the two scarves differ.

 

If you’re a less confident knitter, then you could try scarf two as it has limited shaping so is not so daunting.

I bought some exciting yarn when I visited Spring Into Wool in Leeds recently so I’ll be posting photos of the scarf knitted in different colours and fibres over the coming months.

 

If you buy the pattern, I would love to hear which scarf you choose to create and what yarn you have used.

If you send me photos I’ll be delighted!!