Thursday, 31 March 2011

New Workshops

The Flatter your Shape workshop is this weekend, it is one of Eleanor's favourites. From the beginning of my knitting career I've been designing, in terms of changing patterns, plugging in stitch patterns and making things bigger... I've been doing this for so long that I don't even realise that I'm doing it anymore and I have collated all my tips and tricks for your delectation.

The workshop will fit in with lots of others; the Finishing workshop, the Adjusting and Reading Patterns workshop, as well as hopefully the Troubleshooting workshop (which will be on the 26th June). We'll learn about short row shaping, darts, decreases and increases, colour theory, choosing patterns, how to work out your shape and how to adjust patterns to suit it. It's going to be a good proper workshop and will be geared towards the people on it. You're encouraged to bring a few examples of your own clothes, that you think suit you or not and we'll be able to talk about the theory behind it.

So roll up folks and start making knitwear that really suits the wearer.

To book a place, come into the shop, call us on 0115 947 4239 or go online  (three spaces left so don't wait too long!). Workshop cost is £30.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Dark Side.....

If you've been into the shop at all, you'll know that I spend much of my crafting time doing commissions for other people. I love it because of the challenge. One of the biggest challenges for me is all the crochet that I have been asked to do. I only learned to crochet about 2 years ago, after many years of trying. It was the lovely Pete who sat me down and sorted me out - I'm forever in his debt. For the longest time I was happy enough to granny square along, see this granny square blanket of doom.

The cat looks content but I wasn't happy that I was less than half way through and I'd been doing it for nearly a year. But it got done and its beautiful and is happily scrunched up on my bed as we speak (so no FO picture here).

Until I opened the shop thats as far as I got. I think the biggest part of the problem was that I had to look at the work as I was doing it which is something I haven't had to do in knitting for years. It was turning TV programmes into radio programmes and don't shoot me for this but I am not a big fan of the radio.

My Grandma on my dad's side was a big crocheter and it was beautiful. Here's a close up of one of her immaculate doilies.

My other Grandma hates crochet and she was the one still around to influence me, so crochet was never really on my radar. I also think that because there's not a machine that can crochet it never became part of the mainstream like knitting is (incidentally, it's not often that you see true crochet in the shops and if you do it's hand made which is something to think about when you consider the prices that they charge...).

Crochet is definitely on the up at the minute, I think its because of the revival in knitting and handicrafts which started around five years ago and also because of the interest in the seventies. And as crochet becomes more popular there are more websites devoted to it. Hopefully this will translate into more patterns and more modern patterns for us to be able to provide for you. Here's hoping.

So here's a few things that I have been up to crochet-wise since the shop has been open.

This was my first crochet commission ever. It was also the first thing that I reverse engineered in crochet. The original was from H&M and it was a much loved and much battered summer hat to keep his afro under control. The H&M hat is no longer, I cannabalised it for the plastic rim. Here's a close up.

It's a funny sort of a rib. I made a basic treble hat in a sort of slouchy beanie style. And then made vertical ribs by chaining and slip stitching bi-secting the hat into six sections. I know now that I could have incorporated the vertical ribs at the time of crocheting the actual hat thus saving me about half an hour's worth of sewing in ends. 

Technically I haven't crocheted this since the shop has been opened but I have crocheted a similar one as a commission that's happily adopted in it's new home, so you'll have to coco with this (available to buy in the shop so I'm not completely cheating). You eagle eyed crocheters will see just how simple this but it was my first introduction to anything other than trebles and chains and how I learned to increase and to crochet into the front and back legs. It is a curly wurly scarf, dead long and silky smooth in an alpaca.

And here I am back again crocheting granny squares but this time I'm making a patchwork jacket and it really is a coat of many colours. The mission statement for the job is to make it as near as possible to an awful seventies monstrosity blanket. The lady choose five or six central colours that she really liked and told me to use up all my odds and sods provided there weren't pastels, neon or red. Boy have I had fun, a hundred and one squares in under a week, just the ends to weave in now - wish me luck.

So its called the dark side because now I'm obsessed with crochet I've got no time for my bloody knitting! And on that note I'm off to hook some more.
See you soon

Saturday, 26 March 2011

My fibre/fluff challenge #4

Leaving the embellisher aside for a day or two, I have dug out a 1960's toy loom, Spears weaving loom no2 to be exact and a ball of Mirage that has been hanging around ever since I realised my preference for using hand spun for my knitting.. Yes, I know I'm weird like that and Eleanor keeps reminding me :-) Suppose that's what comes from being a spinner first then a knitter.

Anyway, here is the progress so far.

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and a glimpse into what the 1960's child was expected to produce from this toy

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Now bearing in mind the Health and Saftey warnings on everything these days, would you use oven gloves made by your child on her toy loom?

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Hopefully my next post will be something small made from this cloth.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

My fibre/fluff challenge #3

shop and birthday 141Hi, me again, still playing with the embellisher, this time just with the yarn and a little felt to get it started. Then its a case of working round and round until you have this.
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So what do you reckon, felted brooch to match the jumper, cardigan, hat? felted buttons..not sure about that...felted embellishments?

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any ideas would be appreciated :-)


Friday, 18 March 2011

My fibre/fluff challenge #2

Ok , so you take one ball of Mirage and one lump/bump/ball of spinning fibres.
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shop and birthday 122The spinning fibres are teased out and layered, then placed under the needles and felted. The yarn is a soft twist single so it was untwisted and the colours separated and teased out. The next step is a sort of magic as the machine felts   all the fibres together. Note the guard round the needles that stops you becoming part of the art :-) Next add a few stitches and I think this may be the cover to a new needle case for my embroidery needles.
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Tuesday, 15 March 2011

My fibre fluff challenge #1

Hi, for those who haven't met me, I'm the one who spins and a consequence of that is that I knit with hand spun rather than commercial yarns. Now I know that this sounds a little strange when I co-own a knitting shop but it is the knitting and the process that interest me.
shop and birthday 140So I've set myself a little challenge, to use items/materials from the shop to create something other than knitting or crochet, I will allow the use of some hand spun and some embellishments, beads etc and embroidery threads. But really I am looking to try and use the yarns and fibres that can be readily purchased from Knit Nottingham.
Am I being a bit crazy here, what do you think? or should I just knuckle down and knit a shawl with some riot? and come to that, have you seen the new colours!!!

Anyway I have dug out a useful piece of kit, some remnants of Mirage and some spinning fibres.
 For the uninitiated, this is an embellisher, looks like a sewing machine but has 5 felting needles which go up and down. These needles are barbed so they mesh the fibres together to form a felted cloth. You can buy felting needles and use them in a wooden needle holder to achieve the same effect, this is just a lot faster.

Before I go any further, here is a video that shows how the machine works and if you look very carefully you will also see that it is also easy to break the needles!! If you know me, you may notice that most of this if filmed using my left hand and this is the reason that I tend to spin left handed, you will see that when my right hand appears it is in plaster!! yes, the moral of the story is don't go ice skating, you may end up as a knitting shop owner.

My fibre fluff challenge #2 to follow shortly


Spinning workshop

On the 20th March we will be holding our first spinning workshop, to be taught by our favourite spinner, Guzzi Sue  (and no, not just saying that because she is our business partner!). So to mark the event, this week and next the blog will be focussed on some classic Guzzi Sue posts. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A Quick Hello and Interlude

Alright Everybody!

I've been MIA - too much knitting and not enough talking about knitting I'm afraid (actually it's been mostly crochet) but I thought I'd pop by and share a thought.

I've never really had a blog before and I've certainly never looked at blog statistics before. We get stats for our website and facebook too - which is interesting but I check out the stats here every time I pop by. I'll tell you the most interesting bits:

We've had just under 5,000 hits in our blog's lifetime. Is that a lot? Probably not, but I think it's unique hits so 5,000 of you wonderful people have had a little look into our lives. Are they all knitters? Spinners? Want to be? Interested in what Liese is learning? What Sue is creating? Or what I'm babbling on about?

The most interesting place they've come from (I think) is South Korea. I don't know much about South Korea - I guess they're not as angry as North Korea and they were picked as my team for some World Cup thing when I was in Brownies. That's it. Is there a big knitting tradition in South Korea? I know Japan's famous for gorgeous crochet and it's not far from there. Lace. I'm guessing South Koreans are massive lace knitters. Anybody from South Korea want to say hi?

Slovenia, Russia, Pakistan, the Netherlands and Canada are others. How exciting!

The two most popular browsers are internet explorer and firefox - they're level pegging at the moment but sometimes firefox pips i.e. to the post. Funny that - I don't think much to firefox, it feels like a kind of geeky thing to me and I'm most certainly not one of them, when it comes to computers anyway... 29 pageviews came from Opera. 46 came from Ubuntu - that must be a mega geeky thing because I've not even heard of it.

8 people came from this blog - - a lovely lady who comes to our knitting group bringing *shock horror* crochet in her wake.... Go and give her quilts some love, they are a thing to behold.

7 people came from this blog - - a lovely customer who likes chunky knits (the quicker the better, who can blame her?). Her jewellery is just divine. Hopefully you can see her gorgeous blue beads - I love them so much I made a funny sound.

The most popular page of all time is the Heart Art page. Tut tut - I didn't write that one, you've all got to go and check out the blocking workshops. I was going to say 'not really' but I'm deadly serious... The lovely Pete's Artisan page has got some love too (we haven't forgotten that series, just been sidetracked by lovely yarn...).

You'll be pleased to know that pageviews are steadily rising from none in July (the blog wasn't invented yet) to over 600 a month! Again, this feels like a lot, I feel like a celebrity.

That's enough wittering. I promise there will be knitting or crochet next time. Pictures too!

Love Eleanor.

Monday, 7 March 2011

New Year challenge update


As I write this I am hanging my head in shame, March has snuck up on me while I am still wondering what happened to February?  The great blanket squares challenge of 2011 is floundering and at risk of sinking into the murky depths of my busy life!! Any spare hours have been used to finish off a few projects, these were then sent off to their new homes. Sadly I did not take any pictures apart from the one first attempt at a teapot cosy...not perfect but I am proud none the less.

Anyway I have not given up hope....longer nights are on their way back, so that and my faithful coffee pot may yet save the challenge. So there will be a short(ish) intermission on the updates, just to give me time to catch up, so the next update will be in May.

Happy knitting to all

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Heart Art, Update three...the story so far...

HEART ART....starting to get to grips with the heart, yes I know the backcloth needs ironing but I'm looking to see if we have enough squares to make it interesting, what do you think?