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.
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 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.
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!!!
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 🙂
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.
This year for my birthday my sister very kindly booked me a footstool making workshop with Louise at Scruffy Upholstery in Tadcaster.
I haven’t done any upholstery before but it’s something I’m keen to try.
The first challenge (and I didn’t have much time) was to find a piece of fabric to take along with me. I checked my stash and found nothing to inspire 🙁
Then I remembered that I’d seen a pile of different remnants of fabric in the Home Farm shop where I meet up with a group of ladies (aka the good humoured ladies) every week for a crafty, cakey, tea drinking morning. So, the next time I was there, we got it all out and enjoyed a good route through.
Some of the fabrics were truly vintage and we had a fine time deciding which ones were suitable, and what we might/could/would/should make from the rest. Here a selection of some of my favourites.
Finally I narrowed it down to 2 contenders.
Then came the workshop!! Run by Louise in her studio in Tadcaster we were well looked after with lots of instruction and information so that we knew what we were doing every step of the way.
It took place over 2 evenings. We were only a small group, we learnt a lot about how the footstool is constructed and which materials to use.
None of us had every used a compressed air staple gun before and we were all a bit cautious…but we survived!!
Here you can see some of the stages of construction that the footstool went through. Louise was excellent at showing us where to staple and how to fold the fabric so that everything was held in place without it showing.
Thank you Deborah for buying me the class, thanks Angela for allowing me to buy some fabric from you (even though you wanted to keep it all for yourself!) and thank you Louise for running such a great workshop xx
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
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!!!
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.
Yesterday was a big day for me when the fabulous piece of paper arrived in the post.
This is the culmination of almost 7 years work (if I’d been quicker I’d have received a proper City&Guilds one) and I guess it now means that I’m officially a knitter & designer!!!
I have been knitting for a very long time, since I was taught by my grandma as a child. My grandma and my mum were always knitting and I wanted to be able to do it so much.
I learnt so much from both of them, and from trial and error.
I was very lucky having someone on hand to ask when I was struggling and as a result of learning at a young age I’ve had a lifelong passion for knitting and everything connected to it.
Early in 2010 I decided that I wanted to build on my passion and add some more formal learning to all that I’d managed to learn so far. I did a bit of research and chose to sign up with Loraine McClean of Knit Design Online. There was a waiting list so I had to wait a few months to get going and I think I began the course early in 2011. If you are at all considering doing something similar I would recommend having a look at Loraine’s website & thinking about the courses she is offering.
It is no exaggeration to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed working through the 12 modules that would arrive in the post.
It has been a marvellous opportunity to experiment with so many different techniques, stitches & yarns which is something that I’d never thought to do for myself before. I wasn’t afraid to substitute yarns and try things I hadn’t done before, but always following a pattern.
I have learnt to be much more strict with myself and re-do things until they are spot on as Loraine doesn’t accept anything less than your very best, and I hope this means that I will always produce items of a high standard which I can be proud of.
I’ve never had any training in art, as I was not considered creative enough to do art at school, so I was a little scared of some of the artwork we had to do. I had, however, had alot of experience doing painting, gluing/sticking & making creative messes with toddlers, and I just approached most of the tasks from this level, followed the instructions in the module and managed to present some pleasing results most of the time. It was always a delight when the assessment came back and I found out I was actually quite good at some of these tasks.
I’m more confident now but there is definitely room for new skills to be acquired!
We also studied different types of yarns and fibres and learnt about their properties and which ones work best for certain projects and why. Finally we had to design and knit our own garments which I now have the courage to do independently. I have so many ideas and inspirations which I now can’t wait to follow up over the next few years.
Doing this course has been an absolute joy and I never ever ever want to stop building on the foundation it has given to me.
Here are the main items I have produced throughout the process.
Having taken a year out after closing the shop I’m being a bit slow getting going again and finding it hard to discipline myself around settling down to do some work.
There are so many distractions and other things to do!
Also it’s my 50th year and I’m celebrating in style by giving myself 50 special treat so I’m rather busy!
There are a number of reasons I decided to do this but the main one is that, I feel like sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to be spoilt and tend to say ‘oh yes I’d like to do that one day when the children are older/we have more money/we have more time ‘etc etc, when really we should be living life as fully as possible, doing the things we love.
It’s also been a fabulous opportunity to share the fun with some of my fantastic friends.
So here’s a taste of some of the things I’ve been getting up to over the last (almost) 12 months.
My name is Judith and I love all types of needlecraft, particularly knitting! Now that our shop has closed, I am looking forward to lots of inspiring adventures and explorations, trying to find out what new and exciting things I can create and learn in the wonderful world of textiles.