Saturday, 30 May 2015

Pattern of the Weeeeeeeeeeek - 3792

Something a little different today. Although I'm sure I say that every week. But this week, it's all about babies and it's in honour of the brand new colours in the Flash DK and they are looooooooovely. Introducing Spangles and Minstrel:

Aren't they beautiful? And I'm thrilled that they're a little brighter than the others. However the colour that really struck me when the yarn first came in was the Oasis. A beautiful combinsation of soothing sea blues and playful orange-y pinks (think fruit salad sweets - lovely) and I had to cast it on straight away.

Isn't that adorable??? Let's have a look at the actual thing because this is Pattern of the Week afterall, not just admire my beautiful colourways...

King Cole 3792. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. It's like the first, and probably the last, time I ever knitted the pattern in the colourway suggested. I was disappointed that the size I chose didn't allowed the colours to mix on the fronts and the sleeves in the way it does on the pattern picture:

It's just a size thing. I'll survive. As an aside I also adore the little suit on the other side. I can imagine Prince George wearing something like that when he was a proper littlely can't you?

I'm trying to work out what I can tell you as a top tip today and I'm struggling. It's a really easy pattern. There's a ripple type pattern to it but it's not lacey - just basic increases and decreases. There's no shaping to mess that up at the edge or anything and once you've done the initial set up rows by reading every single row like we all do, it's very much 'set up' in a way that would be heard to mess up. Have a closer look:

That line there, right in the middle, is the beginning (or end) of a new repeat. It's where the decreases happen. They pull the bias of the material doooooooown. Now at the two third points of the picture, you'll see that the bias of the material goes up - it's the opposite and you'll not be surprised to hear that that means that's where the increases are. And then the bias moves downwards again, with decreases and so on and so on forever and ever. Like I said before, once you've set up the initial pattern, a full repeat of the stocking stitch rows and the garter stitch rows, those lines of increase and decrease are set up. You can use stitch markers if you want, one popped in between each of the decrease lines should be sufficient, but I would urge you to give it a go by eye. It's very empowering to be able to 'read' your knitting - not just what's a knit and what's a purl, but also where the decreases are, what sort of effect the different decreases have (kfb and m1 are veeeeeeeeeery different), where your decreases lean, why the bias is happening like it is. Little cardigans like this are not only easy and cute and quick to make, they're a fantastic learning curve when you allow yourself to get lost if needs be.


The pattern suggests using Pricewise DK as a contrast and actually I think that's pretty spot on. It seems to be the same base as the Flash DK. You know how not all acrylic DKs are the same? Well, these are. Boom.

As a tip, all of these colourways (apart from the new Spangles and the old Summer Fruit) are based on White rather than cream, so if you're after a contrast and don't know which one to go for - plump for white and you'll be right. (Poet).
Thanks for listening Knitters of Nottingham. I'm hoping Chris might feel up to taking some actual bloody photos of me this week so normal service will resume, but actually, it's nice to have a little baby thing sometimes isn't it? Ahhhhhh.

Love Eleanor. xxxxx

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Entertaining Kiddo

There's only so much you can do.Four year old brains work much quicker than ours. Getting bored easily is what four year olds are good at. We started with a jigsaw. Four of them actually.

We moved on to the Kitty Cafe. Which is great fun but of course that only last for an hour.

We spent a few hours making Sculpey things which is surprisingly fun until boredom sets in and you end up with a big block of beige, shiny red and sunshine yellow (even I don't want a hook in those colours...).

Pond dipping was a great success helped by the spiderman suit and Christmas pudding hat. Of course.

We caught twelve tadpoles, some wormy things, a snail or two and a few rotten old cans which we chucked into the bin.

Boredom and the quest to annul it reached crisis point on Sunday much to Chris's disdain....

When I came upon a bloody brill idea - WEAVING! Seb's a little too young to knit, although he's started sitting on my knee and helping me (in through the front door, round the back, out the window and off jumps jack... or something like that) but it's forgotten as soon as he jumps up to the next thing. Weaving seems to have stuck a little though.

I set him up by chopping up an old burger box, something like this:
(Borrowed from here).

I chopped the 3D bits off so that left me with just the flat square bit from the top. I washed and dried it good and proper. Then I made ten 1cm long slits on the two sides and wound yarn around and around the square, nestled it into the slits. Then I tried my best to tie the two ends in knots tightly so that it wouldn't come loose (I've got better at that but the first one, that I have a photo of, was a bit loosey goosey).

I used a big old plastic needle and some funky yarn that Seb himself chose to start the weaving for a couple of rows (warps?! wefts!? I'm specifically thinking of Carla when I say.... sorry! I know nothing!). And then it was time to sit him on my knee to weave under and over and under and over. The beginning of the row was always a bit iffy, working out whether he went under or over at the end of the last row but once he'd worked that out he was off! And it kept him out of trouble for a good hour and he's asking to do it again and again. I think I've struck 'shut the child up' gold! BOOM!

Feel free to give it a  go over the half term holidays and if you've got older kids perhaps make bigger versions with thick cardboard? And maybe they can weave under under over over and then under over under over. Or something. I'm sure there's a name for that... sorry Carla...

And that's it. Now I get to crochet for the rest of the day because I've had an idea and now I can make money out of my ideas! Imagine!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Eleanor's Pattern of the Weeeeeeeeeek - 3846

You'll have to forgive a slightly rushed post this week, but on seeing the photos you'll probably be pleased I rushed it haha. I want to talk about pattern 3846 and how amazing it is and how much I loooooooooove it but Chris was a mardy bugger in the middle of the week and wouldn't stay around to take good photos with me so I'm stuck with very odd ones. Luckily, my customers are much more reasonable people (sometimes, haha) and allowed me to photograph them in it so you also get good photos of the pattern by people who love it. It does make a difference when you have somebody enjoying being behind the camera I think. Anyway, they helped with the video too:

Ahhhhh lovely Gen and Steph. We've had a ball today and there's a vlog to come - watch out.

Let's start with a lovely photo. Here's Steph modelling my version:

 I made the middle size (36-38") in the Meadow colourway of the Shine DK and Steph's now started her own in the brand new Regency colourway.

The pattern says it's an easy one row lace pattern and it is. The stitch pattern itself is incredibly easy, just yarn overs and purl two togethers. However, I struggled a little with the fronts because it's that dreaded 'at the same time' (I say that in a strange voice, if you ever listened to classic beatboxing you'll know it but I can't remember his name... anyway...). I always like to include a top tip and I will even though I'm rushing...

So, the key is to use tallies and to use different symbols. So you might use a straight normal line for the tally and then an 's' shape for increases and then maybe a dot at the top for decreases. So, if you have to increase every 4th row and decrease every 12th it'll look something like this:

I worked out this system a loooooong time ago and it does actually work but of course, as with any way of keeping up with knitting and crochet rows, you actually have to write down every time you do a row and if you forget you're in a pickle. So do it.

This is how it looks on me: 

Beautiful photo, thanks Chris. 

And this is how it looks on Gen who is much smaller

If you ignore the hoodie underneath it actually looks pretty good on a woman this size doesn't it? Like a kimono style type thing. If you're this size/making it to fit like a kimono I'd leave the three buttons off the bottom and if you're not but planning on wearing it closed like me then I'd suggest actually sewing it shut which is what I'll probably do when all of my customers have stopped trying it on. Haha.

And that's your lot! Good pattern, good yarn. Brill.

Love Eleanor.

P.s. this'll have to do instead of a yoga pose. This is how good the photos were. The bastard. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Stop! It's Sculpey Time

If you're on the Facebook page or the Twitter feed then you're probably sick of this already, but I'm not so suck it up! Haha.

So, I had an inspiration about two months ago that I was going to make soft touch Sculpey hooks. It came out of nowhere and took me over in a way that I haven't felt in a while (that's a lie - it's exactly how I felt about the Ada Lacy Shells Top...). So, I did what I always do when I have a crafty problem that I can't fix in the shop, I rang the Bead Shop and the phone just so happened to be answered by the lovely Steph from NettyNot and she was as excited about my project as I am by all of yours. She offered for me to come to hers over the weekend and show me what to do with her own personal stash of Sculpey. We had such fun eating biscuits on a Sunday afternoon and messing around with Sculpey.

She showed me how to do canes:

And the Skinner blend:

And at the end of the afternoon I trundled off home with a few hooks and some stitch markers to bake. 

These hooks will be part of a giveaway. Soon. But I put them somewhere safe when I was tidying for the party and.... well... you guessed it...

It was so lovely to have that afternoon because I've tried Sculpey before and not really got anywhere. I didn't enjoy it but her hints and tips were absolutely invaluable. Mostly centered around a pasta machine which you may have seen around the shop over the last couple of months. It mostly lives at Chris's house now I've got a good stock of hooks and stitch markers.

I went the very next day to to the actual Bead Shop and picked up a rainbows worth of Sculpey and spent the next few days making and making and making.

and then I ran out of crochet hooks and had to stop. It was killing me. So I got it into my head that I could make yarn bowls! And it was great!!

The problem was, I had in my head how I would make this and the Sculpey started off like this:
Of course, I wanted a rainbow bowl. Who wouldn't? But it didn't work so I smooshed it up again. And I ended up with this:

And then obviously, that went wrong, so I ended up with the purple bowl above. Now, that's a perfectly good bowl but it's not big enough in any way for a yarn bowl. In fact, it's now an egg bowl in Chris's kitchen. I realised that I needed to make it much bigger which means a whole new approach. I came up with this:

After a lovely day spent in Chris's garden listening to podcasts. I loved it!

Lovely day. And the bowl works! It's the right size and shape. It's wonky around the edges but I know how to fix that in future (I think). The spikes! OH THE SPIKES! But it turns out they fall off. Nothing I can do, I've tried three different glues and each time they fall off. Haha. Not all of them, different ones each time but they fall off. Which means that I don't feel right about selling it (obvs) or even giving it away. So I'm retreating to rethink my yarn bowliness. I also suspect that this may be a Christmas time kind of a product, yeah?

Anyway, it was at this time that I realised that with my offcuts I should definitely be making stitch markers. I'm dead pleased with them and they've been selling like hot cakes. I've certainly had to restock a couple of times already. They mainly look like pretty coloured beads:

But on Monday I stuck a toe into making 'things' starting with a nice little sparkly poo.

Some wine bottles.

Some fruit.

 A little pig or two.

 A fish!

And finally, a Versace or two!

Which led me to make the first of my hook colourways - Versace:

Which are a beautiful combination of black, brown, ginger and white (with a little sparkle because... it's Versace...). I was so thrilled with those and the fact that I'd made notes so I can repeat it (!!!! HOW ORGANISED IS THAT!!?!?!!?) that I did another one - Rainbow Smoosh!

And I'm thrilled with this too (and so are the customers in the shop apparently haha).

Now, they are kind of made to order, there are some in stock in a few different sizes but if you need something that's not in stock then it may take a couple of days to get that made up for you. It's a case of bear with, not like usual with the webshop when what you buy is generally sent out same or next day.

And that's my Sculpey journey. I'm still at the beginning of it, I can see myself getting better and I've got so many ideas (and so little time). I'm also massively back into finishing. stuff. up. at the minute and it turns out you can't Sculpey and knit at the same time. I'm gonna be writing about this little burst of finishititis soon because I feel it coming to an end... I have a big idea for this summer. SO MUCH TO DO SO LITTLE TIME!

I'm gone, love,
Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Eleanor's Pattern of the Weeeeeeeeeeeek - 3899

This is a good pattern. This is so good I've made it twice. And I don't do that. I get bored. But there's so much to this that I just had to do it. Let me tell you. I'm talking about pattern 3899. And it is beautiful.

The first time I made it I actually followed the pattern and came up with this.

I've got glorious memories of making this pattern and wearing this jumper so it's not so surprising that I made it again really but it is genuinely an unusual thing.

So, the setup with this thing is different to usual. You start by making a few fancy granny squares:

And then you make the body of the piece with holes ready for these squares to go into:

 I think every size has four squares across and the 'columns' are just less wide. In fact, I'm sure of this because the orange version that I made was the second smallest size. Once again, my strange crochet tension comes to the forefront. I'm glad I went smaller rather than my natural size which would have been the second largest and the one that I made the first time I made the jumper. The jumper has held out but it is too big - it really doesn't matter for the jumper because I wear it coming off the shoulder and it's slouchy and lovely. But the orange one doesn't - although you wouldn't be able to tell that from the photos. Brilliant model.

  Now, the thing that I want to talk about today is the 'rib' at the bottom. You can't make a 'rib' with crochet. Fact. You can make something that looks like a rib in a few different ways. Most people naturally go for trebles in the front and back post like I did on my Bouncy Hat:

It certainly looks, at least from a distance, like a rib. But it doesn't act like one. It doesn't pull in and create a seal which is what a rib actually is.

Now. In knitting, you know how stocking stitch curls in no matter what you do? If you haven't already, you literally have to read this Techknitter post because it is the most informative thing you'll ever read on knitting. Quick. Read. I'll be waiting when you come back. So. Stocking stitch curls and ribbing doesn't and now we know why. But why does ribbing pull in? IT'S BECAUSE STOCKING STITCH CURLS! Who knew?!?!?!

Way back when, I didn't know the different between knits and purls and I had to work out a way of knowing whether I was supposed to be knitting or purling in a rib without going back and counting or I would have gone mad and I worked out that I should knit when I saw stitches that look like the front of stocking stitch and purl when I saw the back of it. I worked out all by myself that ribbing is just columns of stocking stitch. One set facing the front, one set facing the back and so on and so forth. If we know that, and we know that stocking stitch curls then it makes sense that each section of stocking stitch in a rib will be pulling itself inwards trying to curl but it can't because it's attached to another bit of stocking stitch trying to curl the other way and that's attached to another bit trying to curl and so on and so forth forever more. They pull each other in by fighting against themselves to curl 'their' way rather than their neighbours.

Now. Sorry crocheters, for infiltrating your crochet post with knitting, but I know that there are a lot of you that do both so hopefully it was helpful. In crochet, the stitches are much more balanced in terms of yarn consumption for the 'front' and 'back' of the stitches. Knits and purls are one and the same - one is the backwards version of the other - and the front of stitch, the knit, takes more yarn than the back of the stitch, the purl, and this is what makes stocking stitch curl. In crochet we don't have that. If we're doing doubles, half trebles, trebles or whatever - we're doing just that, there is no 'front' of the stitch and 'back' of the stitch to do depending on which side you're knitting on which means that the crochet material is much more balanced and therefore doesn't curl. On a related note, if you find that your crochet curls, it's most likely going to be to do with the chain and once you've passed that point, after say five rows, it should settle down and not curl any longer. It tends also to happen in double crochet more and I think that's because the material is more dense, the yarn has less chance to move and settle itself down but that's just my opinion.

So back to the pattern. All you can do in crochet is make something that looks like a rib and at the bottom of this pattern, the welt, there is just that. It's not the same as the Bouncy Hat, that hat looks much more ribbed but you tend to find that that kind of rib - front post treble and back post treble - ends up kind of bulky which you might like but this is a delicate little number. It doesn't need a big old bulky welt, just something that looks right without adding any weight and they have done just that. Lovely.

Can you see? At the bottom there? So it's made by chaining a few, and working back and forth into the back leg of the stitch each time. Once you've got a strip like that that fits around your hips or waist or wherever you fancy you then start working into the long side of strip and from then on upwards and onwards. Working into the back leg of the stitch like that makes a concertina like effect in the strip and then working into the side of that when you do the main body makes that concertina vertical which makes us, at a glance, believe that there is a rib! But because it's only a half a stitch concertina, you're only pushing half a stitch outwards by going into the back leg, rather than pushing a full stitch out like you to with back or front post treble it's an awful lot less bulky. Which is perfect for this pattern.

I guess that's today's top tip. Less of a top tip and more of a rant about knits and purls and crochets and daintyness but I think that'll suffice.

Now, in terms of making the pattern. A few people have made it bish bash bosh without changing anything but me and Toni both found that it came bigger than it should. So I am totally recommending a a gauge swatch. Especially now that I've made it both in the Masham DK, a wool, and the Patons Washed Cotton DK, a cotton, and each time it came up bigger. Luckily, I was aware with the second one and made it much smaller before I even started and got disappointed and I'm thrilled with the final fit.

Also, note that I made the second one much shorter For some reason, and I blame Tess Munster, I've become obsessed about crop tops. Not necessarily to wear so that my belly shows (maybe one day, probably on holiday) but perhaps with high waisted skirts more like how I'm wearing it here.

All I did as make one row of the granny squares and then basically start the pattern from half way up the front. It was dead easy to work out and I suggest you do the same, especially if you're fat and you feel like you shouldn't wear crop tops because you totally should. Everybody should have the chance to look at your beautiful bum unencumbered by layers and layers of clothing. Summer. Is. Coming.

Right, once last linky to the pattern. It really is a good one. Get yer hooks out. King Cole 3899.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxx

P.s. Here's the yoga pose. It's the half pigeon or maybe just pigeon or something but it didn't work because my legs don't slide right on Chris's driveway and I ended up with scrapes. Haha that's life. .

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Vlogs, Yarns, Books, Hooks, Bowls, Stitch Markers, TV and More Yarn

So, I've done a personally updatey one and I really should do a shop updatey one.

I'm going to start with the vlogs. I've mentioned them a few times on here but since I've started doing them there has been so much stuff to do that just doing those has been enough, never mind, never mind, never mind. I'm here now. So what is a vlog? Sounds a bit techy or hipster or ridiculous doesn't it?! Which is why when I first started I was determined not to call it that but I've plumped upon it, thanks I think to Sarah Brown, and now it's stuck. I've been doing this for about two months now so it's a good thing that I've got a name. Haha.

What is actually is, is nothing hipster or scary, it's just me having a chat. Like on here. But on a video. One of the things that I love about my friends reading this is that they can hear me speak apparently. I don't know much about grammar (I missed an early lesson in school and everything else was based on that so I just switched off...), my typing's fast but not great and I don't often get chance to reread what I've said so it's lovely that people can be positive about this little blog. The vlog is just the same thing but with me speaking so you don't have to worry about my typos and spelling mistakes. You do have to worry about the ummms and ahhhs though, and forgetting words.... and swearing.... be warned, I do try but they slip through...

I talk about similar stuff to what I do here but because it's a quick and easy process to film (when I'm not interrupted) I also get more interviews with customers in there - Toni, Rachel, Chris and Vezza amongst others. I talk about yarn a lot - Washed Cotton, Authentic Cotton, Cottonsoft for starters. I do some helpful little ones - about Ravelry, Facebook and blocking amongst others. I've talked about events - the bastard council man, Yarndale (before it was sold out...) and Yarn Shop Day (before it happened). I also have little ranty ones occasionally... In April I did one every day (apart from one day that I never caught up on... sorry!) so there are lots for you to discover and I've been told that they're good for listening to whilst you're doing your knitting or crochet and I know most people can't read and knit/crochet so it's a good alternative to the blog if you want to live 24/7 in Knit Nottingham world. :)

This is our whole youtube page.

This is the Vlog A Day April Page.

This is the Weekly Weblogs page.

And these are the yarn introductions ones.

I'll try and be organised and make sure that they're in the right spot for you but you can also subscribe to our Youtube page or you can just remember to to check this page about once weekly and I'll promise to get that up to date (it went by the wayside during Vlog A Day April because of the sheer amount of customers and videos and stuff I had to do.... I'll sort it).

I really enjoy doing this vlogs. Certainly, they take a lot less time to make than the blogs - assuming I don't get interrupted - but I do have to do them early on because they take alllll day to upload so swings and roundabouts. I'm glad that I've got back on to doing the blogs though because I don't want to lose this. I love our little community here.

Right, onwards and upwards.

It is a symptom of just how busy I've been that it's only now that Verity's yarn leftover from the Love Your Local Yarn Shop Day is on the internet. They are stunning.

Agreed? And now every single one of them is available on the internet. Also available in the shop obviously but available to every single one of my beautiful customers no matter where you are in the world. You could have your own little piece of Nottingham knitting history. Lovely. Click here. 

In other news, King Cole have discontinued a few bits and bobs which means we'll be having a sale soon. I have to get a few things organised to get that into production but the first things that I can announce are on sale are these two beautiful books. The Catwalk Collection:

And the Elegance Collection by Jenny Watson: 

Both gorgeous books with 12 knitted designs for adult women. Over the next few days I'll be sharing a little of what's inside the books on the vlog, on the facebook and probably here so keep an eye out. They each used to be £8 and they're down to £3 which I can't believe because it's only 70p more than you'd pay for a single pattern! Boom! 

The reason I can get these organised so quickly is because the cupboard at the back of the shop's left side finally collapsed upon itself with the weight of our hundreds of patterns so I've had to have a swap around and it's now the perfect place for our King Cole Fashion Aran and Grousemoor Aran and the patterns and books and Dolly Mix are over on the right hand side.

It looks a lot fresher, I can tell you that for free.

I need to mention the hooks which I talked about on this vlog, because I've been asked about them a lot. I am thinking about how best to get these onto the internet seeing as I'm not yet organised enough to make actual colourways although now my 220 hooks have arrived I might make a change on that... Suffice to say, they will go on, somehow, but I know not how and therefore when. Bear with.

They are good aren't they!? Ahhhhhh.

And in a little bit of sad news, in that blog I mentioned a yarn bowl (quite a lot) that I wanted to do a giveaway on but it's since proved itself not to be as good as I thought it was. The bowl is gorgeous and it works but the spikes which I adore just won't stay on! They look like they're going to and lots of them do but a few of them just aren't gonna. So I'm not giving it away, I'm going to retreat, regroup and smash out some brill bowls for you to feast your eyes on asap. Maybe with hooks to match!?!??!

And stitch markers?!?!!?!?

Don't they look goooooooood?!?! They're now ready to buy on the internet - 40p each or 6 for £2. You can get ones for crochet or for knitting or a mix of both. Totes up to you. Knit Nottingham Stitch Markers - hand made with love for you.

In the future I hope to make some that 'show' something. I've got thoughts about frogs for some reason and I hope to make ones that are repeatable rather than just the offcuts from hooks and bowls so I'll make sure to keep you updated on here because there's always time for stitch marker love isn't there? I may also do a blog about how to use them in knitting and in crochet because I know that I had no idea really and learned without using them and now I rarely do use them but I'm never one to pass up an opportunity to make some more money for the shop - more money means more yarn! 

Talking about more money for the shop - I'm off doing some marketing tomorrow on the Channel 8 Debate over at Notts TV. I have to be awake and out of the house by 8am tomorrow morning and you know that'll be a real difficulty for me so you'd better bloody watch from tomorrow evening at 7.30. I'm really hoping there might be a question on human rights but I also know that I'm not allowed to get too political so we'll see whether I can reign myself in. It also means that tonight's going to be spent with a nice glass of wine, the Guardian and some knitting. And it means that I have to work out a simplish project to make whilst filming that won't go too badly wrong but I'm in the middle of a spate of finish-it-itis or at least stash-it-down-itis and nothing I want to cast on is simple. Hmmmmm. Decisions, decisions.

And finalllllllllllllly, have you seen that we've got two new colours from Cygnet? Just nice simple colours. A pinkish blush colour in the Cygnet Aran and a Navy in the Cygnet Seriously Chunky which goes beautifully with the Endive in the Seriously Chunky Mixes. Two lovely colours. Well done Cygnet.

And you're up to date. I've got a bloody brill pattern of the week already written for Saturday. I think you'll love it. See you then,

Love Eleanor. xxxxx