What makes me buy yarn?

So for today’s blog post I thought I would touch on yarn – otherwise known as ‘stash’. We love our stash don’t we?

In the timeline of stash development most knitters (but not all knitters!) start off with good old acrylic, in mostly pale solid colours. For perhaps baby gift knitting such as cardigans, blankets and hats.

Overtime (and this period of time varies depending on the knitter) we visit yarns shops and gradually meet more and more new pretties (yarn) and slowly our stash grows from acrylic to merino, from merino to alpaca, from alpaca to silk or cashmere (the good stuff!). Our fibre exploration grows and grows. There is so much natural fibre options out there these days and once you are hooked on the natural stuff it is very hard to go back to squeaky acrylic (IMO).

When you get to this stage I was told that means you are a yarn snob. But I say stuff that label. It just means you embrace the natural beauty of the world. Acrylic does have its place – personally I just can’t knit with it any more as it makes my hands itch.

So as you discover new fibres for knitting you also gradually get to grips with colour. I absolutely adore colour. For me colour is life! Why just have dull pale shades of black and white when you can have rainbows!

And colour is a huge thing to. There are deep tones, brights, pale natural shades and neons. There are solids, semi solids, speckles and gradients.

In fact the choice of both colour and fibre is mind blowing!

Now I’m going to set you a task – this weekend have a really good dig through your stash. What do you see? Do you see any trends? Do you have lots of one particular colour? One particular fibre? Do you have lots of every colour and fibre? Stash dive and explore. I promise you will be surprised when you look at the bigger picture.

For me colour goes along side my mood. So some days I crave bright pinks and reds (like a hug) and other days I need calm so I’m more drawn to blue. There is a psychology behind colour too. And as an holistic practitioner colour also means healing (I will talk more about this soon).

My colour palette used to focus on shades of reds or pink. Actually I would knit a lot with red. But over the last couple of years I have noticed this has changed and I’m exploring colour more & more. But not more muted tones. I’m actually growing a deeper bond with warmer tones of colour, although I’m still not sure about wearing neons. I have knit with them but I think you need a particular confidence to wear them and I’m not quite there yet. But Stephen West knows how to rock those beauties!!

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen me posting about my purchases last weekend at a yarn festival. Here’s a flash below. As you can see I really do love colour! I think its the colour that draws me to yarn purchases the most.

Did you know if you’re a member of ravelry and you have your stash uploaded there you can do in a colour search in your stash. I will put up a tutorial on how to do this over the weekend.

So take an hour this weekend. Review your stash. Explore what you have and come back next week to find out more about what your stash says about your personality.

Enjoy!

PS. I bet you find yarns you forgot you had too!!

 

Springtime Yarn

It’s sunny here today and even tho its still cold oputside that makes me think of springtime…and what yarns I have in my stash to knit with this Easter. So I thought I would flash some stash spring themed yarns today…

So first up I have a local hand dyer – Dye Candy – Lindsay AKA Hutch is a magician when it comes to colour combos and looking at this skein makes my heart melt. I love the greens, yellow and pinks that she has incorporated on this…so much so that I bought two different sock bases and a DK base in the same colourways lol!!

Dye Candy SW Merino Cashmere/Nylon Sock in colourway Prairie

IMG_0850Next up we have some yarn from one of my favourite yarn brands – Malabrigo! Two skeins of pink… one in Rios English Rose (left) and the other in Baby Silkpaca Lace in Fuchsia (right).

Malabrigo Yarns are a firm favourite of mine. You get really good quality for reasonable price per skein. I always recommend these yarns to new knitters as a good way to try natural fibres and move away from acrylic. I’m not a fan of acrylic myself but there is a place for it and I did start out using it as a new knitter so I can’t complain. But these days my view is everyone’s time is precious so why spend it with acrylic on the needles and not some fabulous Merino, Cashmere, Alpaca… or other natural fibre.

Now when you think of springtime the colour you will think of first is probably yellow… and probably because spring is represented by daffodils. The next yarn I’m going to flash is some fabulous lace weight from Eden Cottage Yarns. Victoria is passionate about hand dyeing and her colour palate comes from the landscapes around her. This skein is Pegasus Lace which is a beautiful baby alpaca and silk in a very bright yellow colourway called Dandelion.

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Now living in Northern Ireland when you think of springtime you also think of the green fields in the meadow. Jenny from Townhouse Yarns has expertly hand dyed this next Skein on her Chatham Lace base of Merino and silk which has sadly been discontinued so I suppose this yarn is now vintage stash!IMG_0846

Another favourite of mine is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light. This yarn is soft and has a lovely stitch definition. This colourway is a limited colourway from the Loop called London Cosmopolitan, and a gorgeous shade of warm orange with subtle hints of pink.


Finally another Irish hand-dyer. This skein has been in my stash for a few years now and I still haven’t decided what it will become (suggestions please!) but it is so pretty to look at and whats not to love about Alpaca, Silk & Cashmere right? Coolree Yarns are based in Wexford and you definitely want to get your hands on a skein or two! This skein has been dyed in a lovely spring blue colourway called ‘Cornflower’.

So what yarns are you lusting over this spring? Please leave me a comment and let me know…

 

4 Knit-a-longs for Autumn/Winter 2015

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It’s September and the cold weather is definitely upon us. So that means knitting season is finally here! Whoop! Grab your woolly yarns, your favourite needles and cast-on something selfish for yourself before the Christmas knitting rush happens.

For me the last few months have been filled with gift knitting including lots of baby knits. So I have decided that September is my selfish knitting month. Though where to start that is the problem.

Do I (a) get the wips down or (b) start a new project. (I can hear a wee voice in the background shouting “Get those wips done Gill!”right Nicki!) But of course me being me I decided to cast on something new lol.  After a long time trawling through ravelry I noticed that there was an awful lot of KAL’s either just started or coming up in the next few months (so much temptation!!).  I love a good KAL and a few have been added to my list already – must find more knitting time lol.

I thought I’d give you all the low-down here on what’s on the radar for this season. So grab a cup of tea and join me…

Irish designer Carol Feller has just announced her Autumn Sweater KAL.  The pattern is Mithral a stunning lightweight sweater made from Fyberspates new Cumulus yarn.  The yarn is itself is just as its name suggests…like working with soft fluffy clouds!

It is a heavy lace weight (3-ply) with a really gentle halo, made from 74% alpaca and 26% mulberry silk.  Its a great alternative to mohair and for me that was a big pull factor in trying it out – I’m allergic to mohair.  I have some fibre allergies including BFL (which seems to be everywhere these days!) and having asthma means I need to be careful as to what I knit with.  But I’m always keen to try something new out with the hope that it will expand my fibre choice! I have knit with both silk and alpaca before but it was the fluffy halo that had me worried.  Back in the summer I was knitting with Juniper Moon Herriot (super soft alpaca) and a few rounds into knitting a hat I took a major sneezing fit.  Sadly back off the needles and onto the winder it went…but the beautiful grey skein found a home (I know Grainne will enjoy it!).

So back to the sweater. I’ve long been an admirer of Carol’s designs.  I have made a couple her things including a junior Ravi (my Ravi is still on the needles Una!!) for a friends little girl. Mithral is stunning!! Knit from the top-down with set-in short rows for the sleeves, Carol says that Mithral is a light warm sweater for cooler days when you don’t want the bulk of a chunky sweater.

The KAL will commence on the 1st October 2015 and you can sign up on ravelry here.  There is also several LYSs joining in on the fun including one of my all time favourites – This is Knit.  You can sign up with them through their website here. The colours that the yarn comes in are like candy in a sweet shop. This is Knit have got plenty for you to choose from as you can see the image below…

imageWhat colour did I choose?  Well it was a very tough call.  To be honest I love all the shades but I was most torn between bottle Green, Ruby Red and Magenta.  In the end it was Magenta that swung it as I don’t have any pink sweaters! I got two skeins from This is Knit and I have just cast on the swatch – yes a swatch Nicki! But not your average swatch because Carol understands how most knitters feel about swatching for projects. It’s hard using pretty yarn just to make a square. In fact its a waste of good yarn really! So Carol has created a Hat swatch and that means I’ll have a matching hat for my sweater – genus idea or what!

I’ve just done about 20 rounds so far but I’m already in love with this yarn! In fact I’m even considering making my dog (Poppy) a cumulus sweater for christmas lol.  I know my dear friend Jo will be horrified by that suggestion but it seems to have gone down well with Carol and Jenny (Fyberspates) on twitter lol.

I’ll keep you all posted as I make progress with the KAL over the next number of weeks.

For weeks now Kate has been teasing us with what to expect in her first yarn club and today it finally happened. It was the battle of the internet this lunchtime as dedicated fans rushed to their computers to sign up for Kate’s much anticipated yarn club.

imageAs 12 noon struck the website got a little mental. Demand was high (but we always knew that would happen as Kate’s designs as much loved by many!) and there was a lot of anxious chatter on twitter while folks were trying to sign up. But Kate was so attentive with plenty of reassurance that things will calm down. I was very lucky to grab a place and I’m super excited for my parcel to arrive.  And a few of my fellow Irish knitters joined in on the fun too…waves to Una, Fiona and Mairead!

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So what is this club?  Well for many months now Kate has been working behind the scenes on a secret project.  A project that has envisaged her goal of creating her own yarn range.

Buachaille is yarn raised in Scotland and made in the UK from a blend of carefully sourced Scottish wool.  The yarn is also ENco certified which means that the yarn has no harmful pesticides from the sheep that grew it (this is probably the best part because that means its super environmentally friendly!).

So what do you get in the club?  Well its not just called Seven Skeins Yarn Club for nothing…seven skeins of Buachaille, one in each of the seven shades – Yaffle (Yellow-Green), Between Weathers (Blue), Highland Coo (Brown-Red), Islay (Teal), Haar (Light Silver), Islay (Blue-Green) and Ptarmigan (Undyed Natural). Plus you get a limited edition Buachaille Tote, along with seven exclusive patterns to the club and a print copy of Kate’s new book Buachaille: At Home in the Highlands.  

You can find out more about the club including the background from how the label design came about to the process for creating the yarn on Kate’s blog here.  But more importantly there are is still places left in the club here if you wish to sign up. But they won’t hang around for long so don’t waste any time! Go grab yourself some Buachaille yarn!

imageJust like last year Ysolda has released another Knitworthy collection to keep us all on focus for the knitting season. The collection is intended to enable knitters make good gifts for their loved ones and the pattern release schedule is aimed towards Christmas gifting.

The first of eight patterns came out earlier this month and I have just finished my Liebevoll Shawl. The shawl features a very fun cable design that uses Barbara Walker’s closed ring cable technique to enable the cables being worked as a horizontal panel at the bottom of the shawl.  The shawl is worked bottom up, beginning with a wide garter edge before starting the cable panel.  Next is short rows to curve the shawl and then you finish the top straight edge with some grafting before blocking.

The cable panel has charted instructions but don’t let that put you off. I found the pattern very intuitive and enjoyed learning the new closed ring technique. Although to be very honest I kinda got stuck on the short row shaping section but I blame tiredness from too many late nights this week!!

imageYsolda was super helpful when I contacted her on twitter.
The best advice she gave me was to step away from the knitting! haha.  Good advice! It was much better in the morning.  I’ll share my finished shawl in another blog post shortly but here’s a sneak peak of it blocking in the meantime…

imageAs with all of ysolda’s designs she always provides lots of assistance through social media (just fire her a message) or stunning video tutorials on her website.  For the Liebevoll shawl she released 4 video tutorials for doing the cable panel.  You can watch them on her blog here

imageThe second pattern in the collection has already been released this week. The Kaerlig mitts are stunning!! The construction follows the shape of the hand, using simple rib and garter stitches. You need between 100 and 415 yards of fingering weight for these and Ysolda used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light for her mitts in ‘Tern’ a really cute neutral colour. I’m really impressed with this design. So simple but lots of techniques to learn as you make them including provisional cast on, magic loop, and three needle bind off. In fact a great project for an adventurous beginner knitter who is keen to learn!

So there is still 6 more designs to come and based on last years collection I’m already dreaming of hats and colourwork!  You’ll remember last time round I blogged about my Bronntanas hat here and there was also a tutorial on how to do the felt join here.  You can see below that last years designs were stunning!! You can still get them on ravelry here.

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Felicity Ford (AKA Flex) – knitter, podcaster and soundartist – is the genus behind Knitsonik.  I was very blessed to support her kickstarter campaign last year when she looked for support to get her Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook published.  In fact I was one of the lucky 50 supporters who got their name in the book!

So I was well excited when I heard that Knitsonik was doing a design mitt-along.  I have been creating designs in the background for a wee while but just had the confidence to release any patterns out into the big wide world. So I thought this might be a great opportunity to get back to being more creative again (see Sharon I was listening on Wednesday! lol).

So how does the KAL work? On 1st October everyone will cast on the mitts using the formula pattern in the design kits (kits are sold out I think sorry). Everyone will use the formula but design their own pattern using the 8 shades of Jamieson & Smith Shetland in the kit.  I posted pictures of the yarn on instagram this week…

imageAs you can see there is a mix of greys, blues, greens and yellows.  All colours relate to the Roman Wall image that Flex has picked for comrades to use as inspiration for design.  I can’t wait to start this KAL. It is going to be interesting how everyone’s mitts look – different or maybe not so different.

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So I guess it looks like my knitting time is sorted until Christmas now haha!!  I am looking forward to each and everyone of these KALs though.  Hope you have found this post informative.  I’m sure I’ve either scared the life out of you or perhaps inspired you to join me? Please let me know.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on KALs…have you done them before and what did you think about them?

Pattern Monday: Loop 10

Did you know that The Loop is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year?

In honour of this milestone This Loop have collaborated with 12 independent designers and yarn dyers who have supported them over the years to create an anniversary pattern book called Loop 10.

The book won’t be officially available until September but over the last while they have been teasing us with previews of the patterns and bespoke yarns on ravelry.

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So here is the low-down of what’s been released so far…

Islington Shawl by Kirsten Kapur

A crescent shaped shawl using two shades of DyeForYarn Merino/Silk fingering weight yarn including the bespoke shade ‘Golden Beehive’.  Kirsten is a lover of two coloured shawls and has used a combination of garter and diamond lace with a crochet edge to create a beautiful textured shawl.

Isokon Mitts by Ysolda Teague

Isokon is a name that comes from 1930’s English architecture.  Using Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca Silk in bespoke ‘Angel Islington‘ colourway, Ysolda has created these understated mitts with clever shaping that follow the contours of the hand.

Meandering Shawl by Stephen West

Its no surprise that Stephen West has used his trademark ‘Brioche’ style to create this zig-zag constructed shawl with a scalloped. Stephen has used Madelinetosh Merino Light in bespoke shades ‘Ghost‘ and ‘London Cosmopolitan‘ which is favourite yarn of mine.

Rosemaling Mitts by Dottie Angel

A great pattern for beginners who want to try embroidery, these mitts are easy level knitting.  Dottie designed these mitts using The Uncommon Thread in the bespoke ‘Turbillion‘ colourway with embroidery done using Pigeonroof Studios Mini-Skein twist sock.

Silene Cardigan by Pam Allen

Pam has created this one-piece cardigan with raglan shaping and pretty eyelets.  Quince & Co Lark in bespoke colourway ‘London Rose‘ shows the swing design off to perfection.

Wreath Shawl by Meghan Fernandes

This design is inspired by both the designers and dyers time in England.  Meghan has used a dainty stitch with a border of overlaping branches to show of the subtle natural bespoke colourway ‘Speckled Mist‘ in Viola Merino Fingering.

…congratulations to The Loop and wishing them many more yarny years to come!

I’m a big fan of the Loop and been a customer for years now. If your looking for a little bit of extra special yarn then they are the place to go. Unfortunately I’ve only ever shopped with them online…but visiting their bricks & mortar shop in definitely is on my knitting buck list! In the meantime I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!! So congratulations to The Loop and wishing them many more yarny years to come!!