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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 ūüôā

 

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Easter Bunnies

This is my first blog this month as I’ve been away on holiday with my family. We had lots of fun in the snow and arrived¬†home totally exhausted!!

Now we are home winter is on the way out (almost) and, as we are rapidly heading towards Easter, I decided to dig out a project I  created a couple of years ago.

It’s a little gift bag (it holds a couple of Cadburys cream eggs) and I think they look very seasonal just sitting around with the eggs inside waiting to be discovered!! If you’re having an Easter egg hunt then you could maybe hide some special eggs inside just to add to the fun.

They are quick to knit and you can use any oddments of yarn you like really. I have used about 25g of dk for mine but you could definitely experiment with different yarns. If you made them using some really chunky yarn then you might even get a full sized Easter egg in there!! We have blogged about this project before when I had given my friend the knitting bug and she re-discovered the joys of knitting after a break of many many years. ¬†Although Karen is very clever, I do think the fact that she was able to knit her own bunny after such a long time away from the craft, shows that it is a project for all levels of knitters. I am also very pleased to say that she has kept on knitting and this week proudly showed me her very first hand-knitted sock ūüôā

If you¬†love easter and chocolate and knitting and would like to make your own little bag then I have added this pattern to my website for you and it won’t cost you anything to download it. If you do then I would be thrilled to see photos of the finished results and share them on my social media.

Happy Knitting x

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Our Day Out

I am on a bit of a mission at the moment to explore, and learn from experiencing, new techniques and different crafts. I am calling it a ‘gap year’ and combining it with celebrating #my50thyear!! This week, my¬†mission found myself and my lovely friend Karen (who came occasionally to the shop in Tadcaster to run workshops) enjoying a workshop at Blacksmith Shop Crafts which is in the little village of Foggathorpe near York.

The workshops take place in the home of Anna who was a very friendly host. There was a small group of us and the morning began with a welcome coffee or tea as we admired the creations of Linda Hoyle our tutor for the day.

Linda makes beautiful wire sculptures and we were all going to make our own wire hares.

The process was reasonably straight forward which was great because none of us had ever worked like this with wire before. Linda was a calm and patient teacher and explained each individual step as we went along. This is how things took shape…

This workshop was made extra special by having a break for a delicious home-made lunch in Anna’s gorgeous kitchen.

It is obvious that Anna takes great pleasure in providing a quality experience for her guests, in her own words ‘It is so wonderful to be with people who love making things or at least are prepared to have a go of making things! I love the company too and find it definitely makes my life more interesting’¬†which is a sentiment I can totally agree and identify with.

There was so much about this day that I found completely inspiring – the setting was so pleasant, Anna and Linda were both fab, we were enjoying experiencing something different,¬†¬†plus¬†it was so very nice to spend the day with Karen as we don’t ever get to spend so much time together.

We are very pleased with and proud of our hares.

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Crazy Lazy Daisy Cats

Just thought I would share something I did last week.

This little project has been hanging around since the summer when I did some insane embroidery whilst on holiday.

I was in need of a new make-up bag so decided to make one for myself.

Having routed out some suitable contrasting fabrics and a zip I was ready for action.

 

It didn’t take long to construct a little zipped bag which I lined with the cheerful pink and green fabric in what looks like a roof-tile design.¬†I have 2 bags now…one to keep my embroidery projects in and one to store make-up ūüôā

The finished embroidered design is definitely more than slightly over the top, but I am pleased to have put it to good use. I am always underwhelmed with my zip fitting skills and this occasion is no different. The zip is fitted and it works fine and it looks ok, but could most certainly have been done much better. Therefore I have booked myself a day out to learn how to do it properly at York School of Sewing. I’ll let you know how I get on!!

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Workshops Past and Present

Before Christmas I came across some photographs from workshops that we ran from the shop in previous years.

This was one of my favourite things to do in the shop. Although they took a lot of planning and organisation, it  was always a great buzz to have a room full of people all getting creative together and producing something to take home they could be proud of.

These are a few of my favourites from past Christmases.

Looking through these photos reminded me, not only of all the fun we had, but also that one of the projects which I’d started making was a Christmas stocking which still needed to be finished off. I dug out the project, which I’d packed away with all the bits I needed to finish it off, and spent a pleasant and satisfying few hours getting it finally completed.

This was a very nice way to pass a bit of time quietly by myself, as was a workshop I attended this week at Dragon Willow ¬†this time with my sister. A completely different craft and something which I’d never tried before, we made our very own baskets.

The location for the workshop was in a Yurt located in a fruit orchard in North Yorkshire and it was fabulous.  As it was just the two of us we had lots of attention from Leilah, who was extremely calm and patient throughout. Such a relaxing way to spend some time together, plenty of refreshments were available to us with a snacks to graze on and a variety of hot or cold drinks, and we came away each the proud owner of a fantastic willow baskets.

If you fancy trying something out there is a good range of courses available to try, some in the Yurt and others at different venues.

I would really really like to have one of these in my little garden!!

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Not a very good picture I’m afraid but hopefully you can see that it’s a brilliant¬†Peacock!!

I have lots of friends who love¬†taking time out for a pamper day, and I know that they find this to be marvellous way to relax and wind down, but give me some quality time making something totally unique and learning about crafts new and old any day. That’s my kind of relaxation!

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Fantastic Fairy Lights

This week I have been back to the lovely little farm shop and campsite at Colton near York, which was where I attended the Indigo workshop recently. This time the workshop took place over a couple of evenings and was run by designer maker Joanna Coupland who showed us how to make some pretty fairy light decorations. The first evening was about constructing some wire shapes and covering them with tissue paper using wallpaper paste. Joanna brought some of her beautiful creations along to show us, click on the link above to see her website.

The second evening was all about decorating our lights. We used acrylic inks and paints and then went wild with glitter and embellishments. As you can see from the pictures below we all let our imaginations run away with us. The finished items were attached to a string of standard fairy lights which definitely did not look ‘standard’ when we’d finished with them!!!

Both of these evenings were massively good fun with a great teacher and once again a very friendly group of ladies. These are some of our finished items.

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Free Motion Embroidery Class

Having really loved the last class I attended at York School of Sewing where I learnt the basics of patchwork and quilting, I decided it would surely be a good idea to try out the Free Motion Embroidery day that was on offer last Friday.

Free motion embroidery is basically making pictures using your sewing machine, and you can create your own works of art. My Pinterest is filling up with ideas and inspiration for this craft.

All I can say about the day is I loved it!

Heather was a brilliant tutor and we all got to try out the techniques needed to get started. We tried out different methods, to see what suited us best and generally had a play around.

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This is one of my practice pieces.

 

We were all to make a cushion using shapes cut from different coloured fabrics provided, from which we could make up our own flower shapes. We started by all stitching the same big flower using some lovely variegated embroidery thread and then built our own designs up from there.

 

Here are some works in progress!

 

I¬†am thrilled to have learned how to do this and am already planning all the projects that I’m going to tackle. Ideas are flying around in my head like mad.I’ve already started sketching out some ideas but first of all I need to buy the correct foot for my sewing machine and gather all my fabrics together, ¬†then¬†there’ll be no stopping me!!

Here are the finished projects. Although we were all provided with the same resources, they are far from identical.

Don’t they all look so lovely?

 

 

 

 

 

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Look holes- and now it’s a Bunny Bag

Karen has been catching the knitting bug…

”When I was at Needlecase teaching the last Sew it’s Friday Garden Patch embroidery earlier this month Judith showed us some gorgeous Easter Bunny Bags she had made. Having then written a free knitting pattern for them several of us were tempted to have a go so Judith kindly handed us all a copy.

I haven’t knitted anything since I threw a bootee across the sitting room when I was about 20 years old, I was struggling and struggling again with the shaping and it got the better of me!

That was about 25 years ago or so and I swore I would never knit again.

Anyway getting back to the Bunny Bag; I have been thinking about picking up the knitting needles again but worry that I just don’t have the time and energy for another aspect of making but I just couldn’t kick the idea out of my mind.

Well when I saw¬†the Sirdar Americana cotton blend double knitting wool in a gorgeous pinky, cream and duck egg combo I just couldn’t resist!

I cast on and got started and couldn’t believe how the therapeutic clicking and wrapping of the wool around the needle came back to me – loved it. And when I’d made my row of holes!! Whoopee! Sorry, I know you clever knitters will probably think I’m a bit silly getting so excited about a row of holes but believe me those bootees have haunted me off and on throughout my adult crafting life – I had been defeated! But not any more!!

Everyone in my household have been very impressed at my cleverness – except my mum who calmly declared “we’ll of course you can knit, I taught you and it’s like riding a bike, once you know what to do you can do it” (I had been hoping for a bit more of a wow but I suppose she is my mum…)

I looked through my scraps of wool, bits I collected together after I’d been on The Introduction to Crochet workshop Judith regularly runs at Needlecase a year or so ago, in order to knit the inner ear in and came up with a pleasing shade of purple.

Bunny knitted up very quickly though I did find all the counting a little hard to do when I was on the last purple ear and I was tired. At one point I did have to ring Judith though as my knitting all became ‘reversed’ and I has the nice smooth knitting on the back and the bumpy bits were on the front. A couple of unpicks, recounts and knit agains soon sorted that out thankfully and this Bunny didn’t fly across the room – oh how I have matured and grown up!!

I followed Judith’s advice on blocking my knitting before stitching up.¬† Here it is all pinned out onto the back of one of my cutting boards.¬† I sprayed with water and left it to dry.¬† How clever and simple that process is.

It took me a couple of good sessions to knit it, two evenings worth of time maybe and I made it up last night. Instead of using a running stitch to sew the ears up as Judith suggested I used a blanket stitch which I’m pleased with as it means that you get to see the plain purple wool colour on the outside of the ears.

I also found some matching purple ribbon in my stash that I’ve threaded through those lovely holes. The ears are a little bit over stuffed I fear, so they are a bit heavy but perhaps he’s just eaten a lot of chocolate. I have to say I’m not certain about this Bunny’s expression though, as I took these photos I wanted to shout and encourage at him ‘smile’, ‘say cheese!’ as he does have a bit of a solemn – or do I mean sullen face?

Never mind I am chuffed to bits that I have knitted something after all these years and a craft you once enjoyed has got to be worth a revisit at some stage.

Will you be able to find time to knit a cute Bunny Bag in time for Easter? Have you ever had break from a craft and come back to it with renewed energy? I know Judith and I would love to see your Bunny Bags, do share.

Happy Easter

Karen x”