Friday, 22 July 2011

I really should be doing other stuff...

But my eyes are going funny from all the html code and I just can't face tidying... So I'm here, talking to you, with a cup of coffee and it's making me much happier and less stressed. Hello lovely crafters!!

I've got so much to say - it's been the most manic time. Sort of like how it was before Christmas. We wrote in the business plan that summer would be a quieter time of year, and so it has been... in the shop. Blimey! Everything else has just blown up all of a sudden!!

There's news on the shop worker front: Liese has only gone and got herself a proper job!!! So she's going to be taking a step back on the marketing and her going out and about bits and bobs (though I'm dead impressed with the lacework she's been getting up to so I hope we at least get updates here...). Same goes for Jazz. I think she made herself bankrupt when she went to Knit Nation and scored Wollmeise (she's not shown me the colour yet, she may think I'd be forced to steal it for her own good, she'd be right...) so she's off answering phones and not being allowed to knit all day (mwahahaha!). We'll miss them both and we'd like to thank them for all the hard work they've put in - sad times.  

But they both need replacing so we've scoured the globe to find June! Funnily enough, though we trawled and trawled for your benefit, June just lives around the corner! Funny that... Anyway, she knits like a dream, she has a dry wit, good toenails and she drinks red wine like a trooper (and white wine. And gin. And vodka. We think she'll fit right in here...). She'll be taking over the marketing so you'll here a lot from her on here, over on facebook and on rav. She'll also be in the shop a fair bit so come and make her acquaintance - you won't regret it. :)

And now for the most exciting news!! I'M HAVING A HOLIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not going anywhere, mind you. But I am having eight glorious days of sunbathing (maybe), knitting (definitely), laying in bed 'till noon (somebody would be in trouble if I didn't...). Oh, and a bit of finishing up WIP's.

But, you know me folks, I'm disorganised and a bit of a workaholic so I've only gone and booked myself in to do some workshops at Husqvarna. Beginner's Knitting and Beginner's Crochet on the 29th and 30th (respectively) to be precise. Click those links to book yourself in - there's space on both but a few more on the knitting so get in there quick for crochet and spread the word to non-knitters. It'd be a great day out for mother and daughter bonding or father and daughter, father and son.... basically anybody and anybody and if you book two workshops, or two people on one workshop, at the same time we give you a discount (you'll have to pop in or ring through for that though, it's not been listed on There'll be tea and biscuits - we promise! :)

Anyway, back to the holiday. I have a list of things to do as long as an 80cm circular plus my arm! It mainly includes getting things on the webshop which is a t.e.d.i.o.u.s. job. Blimey. Who does html for a living and why?! It's extra irritating for me because apparently my, and only my, internet explorer doesn't like the admin part of our webshop so I have to use the opera browser which plods along like my old BBC computer from when I was about four... Oh, such is life. But I do now have the needles, hooks and notions on there and pretty soon there will be patterns (but that's the bit that's so frustrating it's making me want to break knitting needles into tiny. Little. Pieces. Have I managed to get over how frustrating I find this yet?!!?).

Finally, one of our customers gave me this:

I know you can't see it very well, but it's a cupboard to make the pattern folders tidy as a swap for some yarn that's been in my stash for about forever and I was never going to use. Maybe I'll get around to labelling the folders properly now... I think I won the bargain there - she's not so sure...

P.s. Really, honestly, finally:

The same customer swapped me those magnificent buttons (see it's some sort of knight holding some sort of grizzly, chopped off head!!!) for some crummy old plastic buttons. Again, she thinks she got the best of those bargains. Some people ey!? :)

See you soon folks!



P.P.P.S The shop will still be open when I'm away - never fear!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Pattern suggestions required, please

Hi, Guzzisue here, as you know I've been taking part in the Tour de Fleece on the Ravelry site and part pf my personal challenge was to spin this:

tour de fleece 2011

so using two of my wheels ( so they don't get jealous) I spun two bobbins of singles:

tour de fleece

which are now in the process of being plied into what is a 4-ply ish yarn:


So the big question is....what do I make with the resulting yarn? hoping for 400 ish yards of gentle stripeing knitting fluff that I can take to France with me as an easy holiday knit.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions and in the meantime I will be packing my drop spindle on our Moto Guzzi for a quick jaunt around the countryside.


Monday, 18 July 2011

Lace Wars and New Year Blanket Challenge

I know its been a while since I updated you on my blanket challenge but I have been putting the longer hours and strong coffee to good use, to catch up on the blanket squares. At the same time I took the opportunity to get to grips with some lace stitches, something I have always struggled with. It took a lot of sweat, tears and some swearing to get these done and helped me realise that me and lace are never going to get along, so I have declared a lace embargo in my house (of which I am the sole occupant, so what I say goes!).

Time to move on, so with a smile and a sigh of relief, I am off to work on some lovely cabled and textured sqaures. Summer is going to be busy both at the Shop and at my other job, so I will report back in the autumn on how things are progressing.

I will leave you for now to peruse the photos of some lovely little lace squares, hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Most Exciting Workshop

I'm going to talk a little about the Summer Dress Workshop that we've got going on on the 17th July and the 28th August. There's not too much info on the booking site because there's just too much to talk about, so I'll talk more here.

The basic idea is something that I've been playing with for over four years. I found a pattern on ravelry (it's sadly disappeared since) that I absolutely had to make. It was a summer top with a knitted bust and a flared, sewn skirt. The best bit about it was that the lady who designed it had big boobs so I knew that the shaping would be good for me. I'd got some cotton yarn in the sale at Yarn in Beeston and some beautiful material that matched (an accidental purchase...), no idea what to do with them but I had spare time on my hands. I made it in about a week - which was good for me at the time - and I quite liked it. Most importantly I learned how to short row shape and how to add darts into my knitting - which has been a killer for later projects. But it sort of looks like a 'over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder'. I don't really know how else to explain that but it does...

I wore it a fair bit, still do to be fair and it definitely looks better with a cardi. At least it's cool for the summer.

Isn't it a bit of a pain when you feel a bit 'meh' about what you've made? As I grew in confidence I started farting about with patterns a bit, introducing shaping, choosing shapes and colours better and ripping when I realised it wasn't working and I tried again. I knew by then that dresses suited me more and I also enjoy wearing them more. Tops like the original are best with trousers and I just don't wear them. So I made dresses and lots of them, this is my favourite (ignore the deathly legs...):

And I got compliments - wow, I thought, this is just what I want to be doing in my knitting!

There's only a few basic building blocks to knitting (and crochet for that matter - crocheters welcome on the class!) once you've got past knitting and purling. Basically, increase, decrease, bias and short rows are all you need to create garments that fit and flatter. Messing about with patterns, not being stuck down to the word by word ethos is the sort of spirit I try to encourage in my workshops. Knitting and crochet should work for you not the other way round!

We've had a few workshops directly aimed towards fit and flattering and they've been well attended and well enjoyed but they are quite theoretical and I know that a lot of knitters learn with their hands, or at least their eyes which is where this workshop comes in. The skills we'll be learning together are:

1). How to choose a shape to flatter your shape.
2). How to choose measure yourself accurately.
3). How to choose colours and yarns to your advantage.
4). Techniques to shape the garment, how to work out the maths and how to place them.
5). How to read and understand your gauge swatch and how to alter it if it doesn't work as you need.
6). A tiny, tiny, eensey, little bit of sewing (I don't know much but I do know how to make this dress!).

And we won't just be talking about this - we'll be doing it!

You'll have the chance to make your very own summer dress (or top, or jumper or whatever you fancy really). Don't feel burdened by what I've done - though you're welcome to borrow ideas - if you don't fancy showing off your arms, how about making a long sleeved top? Need something to wear for church? Try a roll neck. Small bust? Add a frill around the top. Really - there's no pattern, it's all up to you!

We'll provide £10 worth of yarn of your choice (obviously from our shop) and you'll make a big gauage swatch incorporating stitches that you want to work with and shaping that you need to fit. We'll get to know the swatches by measuring and re-measuring, trying different needles, smocking after-the-fact with a crochet hook perhaps? Whatever strikes your fancy. But all overseen by me, who loves to mess about and get things wrong so that we can get things right!

By the end of the first lesson you'll have a plan (aka a pattern but much looser written) for your knitted bodice and in the second lesson we'll start cutting and stitching the skirt together. How exciting!?

The price is £45 for both lessons (and you do need to come to both). You'll be provided with £10 yarn like we said, some elastic for the waist band, and a veritable booklet of information for later including information on all the previous bullet points and, as always, tea, coffee and biscuits on the day.

You'll have to provide the material for the skirt - we'll discuss what you need on the first lesson (or bring some along and match your yarn) and some cotton thread to match. You'll also need to bring whatever you need for (very basic) hand sewing i.e. pins, tailors chalk, scissors.

The class is suitable for those that can cast on, cast off, knit, purl, increase and decrease (and the equivalent in crochet). Barely any sewing skills required, we'll be sewing straight lines by hand (unless you wan to use a machine). Don't worry if you're not confident in any of this - it's what the class is for.

The class starts at 10.30am each day it's on and finishes at 3pm and there's only four spaces so get booking!

How exciting ey!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Tour de Fleece.......Guzzisue style

Hi, just a quick update, as you may have seen Eleanor is busy spinning up a storm with her spindles as part of the Tour de Fleece challenge on Ravelry.

Both Pete and myself are also taking part so I thought would share some of the first weeks progress photos with you.

Tour de fleece day one

Falkland dyed tops being spun on a Kromski Symphony

tour de fleece 2011

tour de fleece 2011

Merino/nylon mix spun by Pete on an Ashford Kiwi

tour de fleece day 2, teeswater

Teeswater X Galway fleece purchased from a farm at East Bridgford last year.

tour de fleece 2011

being spun on a Kromski Sonata

tour de fleece day six

tour de fleece 2011

Merino/tencel/sparkle also on the symphony

Tour de Fleece 2011

Merino/silk on one of the original prototypes of the shop spindles.

All in all a good weeks spinning, mind you we do stop for coffee sometime :-)

tour de fleece 2011

Guzzisue x

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

... which must mean that winter's nearly here and the hideous ghastly summer is nearly over. This weekend I'm taking my woolies out of the cupboard to wash, block, sew on buttons, fix a broken cast on and generally smooch. How can anybody enjoy this weather when it means that wool is too hot to wear?!

Maybe I'm a little over-excited because the reps are starting to come around with the winter collections. Ooh. Ahh. Pretty colours. And some very, very, very, very, very exciting British wool. Mmmmm. Can. Not. Wait!

Anyway, despite the fact that I long for winter, miserable, grey, drizzly weather like this makes me feel pretty miserable, grey and drizzly. Imagine my shock and surpise when Oscar from next door told me there was a parcel awaiting when I got in this morning. Felt a bit like Christmas. So I ripped open the packaging, felt a little confused and under-awed when I saw it was a cat food box:

But I soldiered on regardless and look:

I know, I know, still not exciting enough for you? Alright, I'll come clean... They're only bloody tiny spindle charms aren't they!?

Direct from our favourite spindle maker, Mr Steve Sheppard of Angler's Gifts.

The little pairs are around one inch long and we're going to get some earring hooks on there once we can talk to our friends at The Bead Shop. But maybe the dark ones will be mine...  :)

The larger ones are around one and half inches long/wide so they're perfect for necklaces or potentially brooches. Again, I'll talk to the Bead Shop.

No idea how much they'll cost yet but what a present for somebody that likes wool, spinning and jewellery! We'll keep you updated.

After that I was feeling postively positive so I took more photos of some new artisan items. These ones are from a lovely lady called Kelly. Her boyfriend is a knitter and she's a jewellery maker and she wanted to combine their passions. There's something about being a crafter which makes you want to share what you do isn't there? Anyway, look here:

Stitch Markers!!!

Surely all knitters and crochets love stitch markers?! And especially for the crocheters, she's developed these:

Can you see they're little hooks at the top? Works beautifully for crochet but never fear knitters, these can be used to mark rows, or the right side of the fabric, or just forget about the little hooks and use the large loop underneath as a normal stitch marker. Multi-purpose!

These are my favourite though:


How cute!?

All these stitch markers come in sets of four which cost £3.00. Buy two sets and you pay £5! Bargain, ey? We thought they'd be perfect for one of those Ravelry  swaps.

Anyway, check out her Folksy shop for more jewellery related items and I don't mind if you drool a little.


In other news, the spinning is coming along nicely.


I've now got 12 little skeins, a bit more than in that photo and about 1000 yards, I need 1880 roughly so we'll see how I go. It's happening anyway, which is more than I could have hope for...

Also, I had a carrot from my garden for lunch! I took a picture but blimey, putting photos in this blog post has been hard work so maybe I'll save that for another day. It's taken that bloody long that the sun has come out and I'm reminded that we have to get through the rest of July and the whole of August until winter really is around the corner... wishful thinking ey?



Saturday, 2 July 2011

Tour De Fleece

As you'll know by now, I'm not the spinner in this set up. That title belongs firmly to the lovely GuzziSue. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate it, if you've been into the shop you'll have seen how I hanker after the handspun gorgeousness that we sell and to be fair my personal stash has a fairly high ratio of handspun to commercial (buying it faster than I can knit... I know you know how I feel...).

I do spin, occasionally. In fact, I actually started spinning before young Pete did - I was his inspiration believe it or not... The problem I have is that I'm not very good at spinning but I am at knitting so I stick to what I know. It sort of works out well for the shop because when Pete and Sue are chatting I'm reminded what it must feel like to a beginner knitter when I'm going on and on and using ridiculous terms. But that doesn't mean I don't want to get better and here's my impetus:

Tour De Fleece.

There's tonnes more info on there but I'll tell you what I know - while the Tour De France is running, spinners set themselves a challenge to complete on the days when the bikers are racing. The challenge can literally be anything - learn to spin, spin a jumper's worth, work down the fibre stash - anything!

I've decided to splash out on some fancier fibre (inspired by the lovely fluff I keep seeing Sue and Pete working with) and spin myself a laceweight single (more on that for the non-spinners in a minute). Part of the challenge for me is to spin every day, I'm aiming for around an hour a day but if I'm to spin all the fibre I've bought then I reckon I'll need to do a fair bit more some days.

So - the fibre is this, a merino/silk blend in the aquarius colourway - 400 whole grams of it! Somehow my computer screen showed those colours plus a couple of reds, the reds didn't materialise and I'm not that fussed. I really should have known given the name.... Anyway, here are some photos:

Lovely isn't it?! About the size of a football... scared!? Never!

Here's the inspiration (sorry about the fuzziness of the photo, I'm gonna say that's the yarn - definitely not my camera skills...):

It's a sample for a commission Pete did a couple of weeks ago. It's a hand-dyed, laceweight, single in blue-faced leicester. A laceweight, for the uninitiated, simply means very, very thin - around about a 2-ply in old money which is, funnily enough half of a 4-ply. Here's another photo for scale:

Yowser! But I love it!!! I've also been inspired by one of the ladies at Knit Club, Laura, (who has the most fabulous tattoo on her leg but I won't give any details in case there are any axe murderers out there just waiting to put a tattoo to a name....). She knitted the Featherweight Cardi in her own handspun in a divine forest green colour. Absolutely gorgeous!

A single means that the yarn is simply fibre spun up. Not plied with anything. So if you untwist it you get straight back to fibre again - like the Riot DK in the shop. Sue says it'll make the fabric bias somewhat when I'm knitting it, I say 'bugger it!'. :)

So that's the idea. This is the practice - a little underspun:

This is the spindle:

This is the kit:

And you'll notice there's nothing on that spindle yet, so I'm off. Wish me luck!!

Eleanor. :)