The Dales Blanket: Malham

Rowan Heritage Tweed Shade Card

Unpacking new yarn is one of the perks of working in a yarn store, and this week a new delivery from Rowan filled me with excitement. It wasn’t just the arrival of a new 4 ply yarn, so much as the names. These yarns are all named after places in the Dales, mostly Yorkshire and Derbyshire. These are places I know well and the names brought back so many memories of my student days spent in Settle, Malham and Ingleborough. Weekends spent with my caving buddies, the place I met my husband and where I first slept on a bar room floor (don’t ask, I was young and foolish!)

I knew straight away I needed to do something special with this yarn and so the idea came to make a blanket, each square knitted in a different pattern, with a different shade named after a place I’ve been to or have some family connection with.

Mr T at Malham Cove

So this week I’m introducing you to Malham. The yarn is a tweedy grey which I think will lend itself to a textured stitch and while I knit I’ll remember the many vists we made to Malham cove, watching Mr T and friends abseiling off the top,  full of bravado. Winters, when the snow was so thick we wished we had  flasks of hot chocolate and summers so warm we stopped to swim at Malham Tarn. I’m off to cast on my first square. I hope you’ll follow me as week by week for the winter I knit my “Dales Blanket” , one memory at a time.

Fine Tweed Shade No: 366

New Hats for My Wishlist

Woolly Wormhead design: Propello

OK, so maybe a trip to Fibre + Clay on my day off is a bit of a busman’s holiday, but I couldn’t resist the Woolly Wormhead Trunk Show today. Woolly has been one of my favourite hat designers for such a long time, she writes so well and I must admit I envy  her technical ability (knitting sideways … grafting … take a look at the how -to’s on her website, I’ve learnt so much from them).

There were lots of familiar faces , all trying beautiful hats and there was much giggling and egging each other on to try new styles and convincing ourselves to buy patterns which stretched us as knitters, though I’m pretty sure that Heike won’t have a problem with the Vlora pattern she bought (and looked great in).

Woolly Wormhead was kind enough to design a hat to celebrate her return to Fibre + Clay which is available for sale in the shop. It’s called Rennie and is knitted in my favourite Shilasdair Luxury 4 ply and just happens to be the same colour as my Ishbel.

Sadly I forgot to ask someone to take a photo of me wearing the Rennie / Ishbel combo so you’ll have to wait until I’ve finished my Rennie to see the two together, meanwhile I have included a photo of me wearing the one made by Woolly Wormhead.

Woolly Wormhead design: Rennie

As I was so mean asking the other ladies to pose for me I thought it only fair to include a few photos of me  here (apologies readers!) I couldn’t help thinking the wonderful Andrea Ellison should have been there to capture the day. maybe I’ll drag her along next time.

A big thanks to Riana for organising the Trunk Show (the day after her exhausting visit to RHS Tatton and the summer Pimms and Cupcake evening for Knit Group) and to Woolly Wormhead, who is just as nice in real life as I thought she’d be. There’s still time to catch up with Woolly if you’re in the North West as she’s at Purl City in Manchester on Sunday (you need to book with the shop first). Failing that, find her on Ravelry or visit her website where you can buy individual patterns and books. I’ll leave you with a sneaky peek of something I’ll be knitting later in the year, first of all though I’ll  need to stock up on some of my favourite Natural Dye Studio yarns!

Sssh secret!

Oh – and don’t forget – there’s  still time to vote for me!

A Few Woolfest Thank You’s …

First of all, yes thank you, Woolfest was  fantastic. Every time I turned round I saw another familiar face and by lunch time my jaw was aching from so much smiling and laughter. The range of stalls was everything I could have hoped for, lots of familiar faces and some new yarn suppliers / dyers I hadn’t come across before. Needless to say I spent too much and came home with the longest wish list ever!

So, back to those thank you’s…

First off, a big thank you to Kerrie from Inside Crochet, who promised to save me a subscriber goody bag and didn’t forget. I stopped off at the Inside Crochet stall as soon as I arrived and introduced myself, I’m glad I did. Kerrie and Wayne were lovely, and my goody bag was filled with all kinds of treats.

I did stop by later in the day to show off some of my purchases – but couldn’t get near enough to chat – so many people browising the magazines and (hopefully) taking out subscriptions. Kerrie’s company publish “Knit” alongside“Inside Crochet”, and also my favourite “lifestyle” magazine of the moment, “Handmade Living” (I’ll be doing a full review of issue 3 very soon – but I’m still busy sewing a couple a projects from issue 2)!!

My second thank you goes to Vikki from Wild Fire Fibres, not only did she let me fondle all her yarn  mind her stall while she went for lunch, she tucked all my purchases under her table as I’d bought more than I could carry – including a gorgeous sock yarn she had dyed the most glorious shade of pink (it’s destined for socks – Knitsister will be proud of me!)

I’ll be doing a few posts over the next couple of weeks telling you about some of the sights and sounds of Woolfest, but can’t end this post without saying a big thank you to all the Woolfest organising team and all the volunteers to helped out on the day. I can’t begin to imagine how much work goes into making Woolfest run so efficiently and yet remain so down to earth and friendly (the friendliest fibre event of the year I would say). Needless to say, I’ll be back next year and hopefully meeting up with some new friends I made this year. Why not put it on your calendar now and come with me? (Third weekend of June 2012).


Things I’m Loving …

This week I’m loving …

The beautiful photos of her latest knitted animals  Julie has posted over on Little Cotton Rabbits

The comments on Emma Varnam’s blog – so much love and laughter …

Browsing the Woolfest programme, and feeling like an excited kid as I count down the days to my visit …

Knitting … I’ve just cast on Tirrold, a beautiful lace weight vest from Jeni’s new book “The Scrumptious Collection), pictures will follow soon.

And … spending time at the allotment between showers, picking the first ripe strawberries and salad leaves from the garden.

What are you loving just now?

A Pair of Duffers

I’ve been intrigued by this  link on Mousy Brown’s blog for a while, I’m not a big felter, but I do love a pair of comfy slippers and I had wondered “Has Mousy Brown made a pair? What did she think”?

Well, I don’t need to wonder any more, because not only did she post a pair she had made on her blog, I finally gave into temptation and this morning I made my own. Literally, in a morning.

Duffers, before felting at 40 degrees, no spin

I used three balls of Drops Eskimo pure wool which I bought yesterday while I was in town with Debbie and Caroline. I printed off the pattern from Ravelry at 9am and by 4pm I was wearing them! (OK, so they aren’t quite dry yet, but I’m working on the principle they’ll be moulded to my shape!

Thank you so much for reminding about this great pattern Mousy Brown, I hope your slippers are as comfy as they are beautiful.

I’m tempted to say, let’s all have a felt along, get your pattern, find 300m of wool in your stash and make a pair. Shall we?


April on the Needles (and hook)

Looking back at my finished projects this month I’m surprised how little I have achieved. It’s a sign that summer is coming and knitting will give way to growing for a while. Not pictured here is the huge beast of a jumper knitted for the teen – which used 13 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran – no wonder there has been little else on the needles!

Any way, Easter knitting was fun and I did manage to finish a couple of gifts (still secret so no pictures yet). Now  the weather is warming up, I’m turning my thoughts to Christmas knitting and lots of tiny projects which I can work on in the garden, all suggestions for summer knitting and crochet welcome.

How I Spent My Day Off…

There has been a bit of a yarn theme running through today. First off, I sewed up a bunch of crochet flowers I’ve been making as my March “Stashbuster” project. They only take a few minutes each and now I have more than I know what to do with. I’m sure a few lucky ladies will be glad to take them off my hands …

I also took a trip to my Local Yarn Store. Yes, I know I work in a “wool shop”, so that might sound like a bit of a Busman’s Holiday, but it’s always such fun to see yarns  we don’t stock at work and today was extra special as I discovered an old colleague from years back  hard at work there. You know, yarn stores are always filled with the nicest of people and so I’m not surprised that one day I should come across someone I know in another!

It was so lovely to just wander and fondle the yarns. Just when I thought my afternoon couldn’t get better home made cake appeared (it was meant for the work shop ladies, but us customers must have looked hungry). So, Ladies of Stash, thank you for making my visit such a lovely afternoon, but now I must go find a home for my beautiful new yarn.

Happy knitting everyone.

A Tale of Four Baby Blankets

Many (many) years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter I was given three baby blankets.

The first arrived from my Mother – in – Law, a machine knitted white acrylic blanket. “You can put it straight in the washing machine, no special care needed” she added. I loved that knitting machine, the ability to whip up a garment in no time, I’m hoping it will find it’s way to me one day.

The second and third arrived from my best friend, “M” with whom I’ve sadly lost touch. One, a knitted blanket she had made for her fist baby  and the other, in crochet, had been made for her youngest son by my Dad.

Sadly, by the time I produced a Grandchild Dad’s crochet days were over, so this hand me down was extra special.

These blankets were used and loved, moved house with us and now reside in ziploc bags under my bed. Whenever a baby visits they are pulled out and the little one is allowed to lie on them and gurgle up at the adoring adults.

OK, so none of these three will win prizes for the most luxurious yarn used or the most complicated stitch pattern.  But, they were made with affection and given in a spirit of generosity, two things you just can’t buy at your  Local Yarn Store.

“Ah”, I hear you say “That’s only three, what about the fourth, the one you promised us . Did you forget or miscount?”

No, it’s just the fourth baby blanket is still on the hook. My contribution to a collection I would call true “Heirloom Blankets”. It’s destined for a friend of a friend. No fancy stitches, just a rather large Granny Square, crocheted in organic cotton for a summer baby. I hope it will carry on the tradition to another generation. A simple gift made with care means far more to me than any fancy designer label.

(Shoes   and handbags excepted, of course!)


Lazy Sunday

I love Sundays, especially when the sun shines. It’s a day to be with the family, enjoy the simple things in life. So, after a spot of baking and an hour or two in the garden I decided to sit down with my scrap box and do some indulgent knitting. This teeny little neck warmer was the result.

I talked about the pattern in a previous post, and embellished it with another sweet  little flower. The neck warmer used up half a ball of Rowan’s Alpaca Cotton that’s been lying around and the flower took a tiny scrap of Kidsilk Haze. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I spent a happy hour knitting and sewing and I’m sure it will find a grateful home.

Now, it’s back to more complicated patterns and a felting project I’ll tell you more about next time.


Moebius Cowl

I’m so pleased with how this turned out. I’m a big fan of Cat Bordhi and her online tutorial makes casting on “Moebius style” so easy.

When I’m working at Fibre and Clay, customers are often aghast that I’ve never knitted with Noro, so this seemed the ideal project. Buy a ball, cast on and make a little something. Fibre and Clay are running a workshop on Moebius knitting later this month with  Heike Gittins so if you would like to have a go,  get in touch with the shop or check out Cat Bordhi’s video.

It’s easy when you know how!