Friday, 27 November 2015

Bugger It.

**Written a few days ago but not published until today because I didn't have time to read it through, and I still haven't so... in the spirit of things, bugger it.**

I'm doing a blog. The shop's a mess. I have a to do list as long as my arm. A pattern to finish for the Christmas Boxes and some more admin to do with that. And I haven't checked my e-mails (sorry everybody, I will do). All I want to do is knit Chris's Christmas Jumper but I can't justify that but I can justify a blog! That's work right?!?!?! I did a vlog about this the other day but I was hungover/drunk and wasn't using my words in any meaningful way (btw, that hangover lasted for three days. Three days! I'm getting old...). Lots of people have been interested though and more generally people are interested in how I make up patterns (or how anybody does else I guess) so I'm gonna take you through the thought process. I've done this before for something else but I think I rushed it so I'm going to write a loooooooooot. Enjoy. :)

So, Chris is a good'un. I made him his first pair of socks when we'd been going out for a couple of months and I once caught him hand washing them despite me telling them that they were machine washable. He's had a few pairs since because he's proved knit worthy and they're always the first pairs that he goes for. That's the first part of the process - is somebody knit worthy? Lots of us go mad over Christmas thinking that we should knit and crochet for everybody but in reality, not everybody appreciates it. Lots of people prefer shop bought thinking that it's better quality or that the amount you spend is indicative of how good a gift it is (they've never tried buying hand dyed yarn obvs...). These people are often easily spotted but sometimes even good ones can surprise you. Test people out with a small, insignificant hand made gift - a pair of socks, a hat, some gloves and see if they wear them. If the socks end up with holes in or you bump into somebody in the street and they're wearing your hat, or if you catch them hand washing your gloves, boom, you've got a winner and they deserve all the knitting in the universe. If no appreciation is shown then there's plenty of other knitting and crochet, you have seen the night on 600, 000 patterns on rav haven't you? Or the over 1000 patterns in our range? There is enough there to keep you going for a lifetime. Ignore the haterz.

But Chris is knit worthy.

He also like a jumper, wears them all year round but more in winter obvs. I choose his clothes mainly (we once had an argument about him not wanting to buy clothes so he dragged himself into town with a stinking cold and bought some trousers at John Lewis that turned out to be dress trousers with a ribbon down the leg and showed up to the shop with an apology (in mismatched shoes). He took them back because I didn't approve, ha) and I like him in blue. I choose the wool in this shop and I like Panache DK. My first thought was this pattern:

The jumper like, he's knit worthy not 90...

But something was wrong with the neck. I've never seen him in a v-neck and for some reason, given his bulk, I just can't see him in it. So I looked for this pattern:

Which I could put cables in. And then I realised that I hate knitting cables. I can, I can do anything, and I like the way they look but I just never finish anything in cables. Stupid, stupid idea. But colourwork on the other hand, boom, colourwork I can do.

But that meant that I couldn't do just the read any more, I had to do more than that by definition... This was my first option:

Russett - Oatmeal - Pasture - Biscuit - Chestnut

But I liked it too much to give it to Chris. Ha. Also, and this is my next top tip, I've never seen him wear these colours. His natural colourway is black, blue, grey and maybe a little beige (if I like it...). These are mainly waaaaaaarm tones and his are mainly cool tones, so I went with this:

 Stonewash - Biscuit - Dusk - Pewter - Oatmeal

Much better, and they're just like colours in a jumper I made him buy about a year ago and he wears all the time. Perfect.

However, King Cole only do colourwork on the flat. This is fine. Some people like colourwork flat. But it's wrong. In my humble opinion. Which is the right opinion. Obviously. And if I'm going to do colourwork in the round I may as well do a top down raglan. Boom. But King Cole also don't do those (apart from my lovely pattern 9026) but the pattern from above - 3660 - was a raglan. So this is where the real thoughts began.

I looked at the sizing first, trying to work out with the help of a customer, roughly what size he needed. Once I'd worked that out I looked at the amount of stitches that were cast off for the neck band. And then I looked at the amount of stitches you finish the front, back and sleeves with and added them up. There were less stitches from the front, back and sleeves than there were for the neck band so I plumped for somewhere in the middle and made sure it was divisible by four (because that means that if you start with a k2 you'll always end with a p2 and in the round that's quite important).

Once I'd got my cast on I was sorted, cast it on did a couple of inches in the deep blue in the round, boooooom. When I'd finished the rib, based on what he seems to enjoy from what he wears, I did a round in just plain knit and put some stitch markers in where the sleeves and back and front should be split. I did this by remembering roughly what the pattern required but because I'd fudged it a bit I had to add some stitches in here and there, so where the pattern need 35 or whatever I ended up with 37.

When I started the fairisle it was a bit more difficult. I'm a big fan of making fairisle up as you go along, you often need to increase or decrease a bit so that the patterns work but if you keep them small, like I like them to be, you're never increasing or decreasing very much. However, by this time I was drunk. All I could think of was a checkerboard pattern so that's what I did. But, assuming I used the numbers above i.e. 37 per front and an equally odd number for the sleeve (I genuinely can't remember) the checkerboard pattern just didn't work. As in, there wasn't enough stitches on each section to complete a full repeat of the checkerboard. So I did a little increasing and decreasing - I don't remember which way I did it but I would have increased the fronts and decreased the sleeves each by one so that the checkerboard worked but I hadn't changed the number of stitches. Does that make sense?

And that's about as far as I got that night. I did try and start a new set of colours but the ones I chose were too close to eachother for my drunk eyes.

In between each set of two colours I did a round of plain knitting. No reason other than it sets me up nicely for the next set of colours and felt like the right thing to do. So if I used Navy and Grey first, and then I knew I was going to get rid of N and work with G and Beige next then after the N and G are finished I'll break of the N and do a round in G before introducing the B.

These are rules that I make up to make it look more 'put together'. You can do anything in knitting as long as it looks like you thought about it. So for increases you can do yarn overs if you want, which make little holes as well as extra stitches, provided they're all in a position that looks like you put them there rather than you dropped a stitch. Or you can fuck all of that and put anything where you want to put anything, that's a thing too, it's just that I'm talking about making things that look like they come from a pattern but don't - it's all to do with the rules.

Talking about rules, I had a problem with the increases. Let me show you:

So, you tend, in top down raglans to leave a stitch at either side of the marker and then increase at either side of that. Something like, knit to one stitch before the marker, make one, k1, slip marker, k1, m1, knit on. And my natural inclination in fairisle is to have one main colour running all the way through, in which case the two stitches at either side of the marker could be in one colour and I could increase in any colour I want. But this wasn't the case in this pattern, in this pattern the yarn changes all the time. Hmmm. So I made myself a rule. It just so happened, when I set up for the checkerboard I'd made sure tat the checks finished exactly at the end of each section, which meant that where one section ended - say the front - on a navy, the next section started on a grey. So that there were different colours before and after each point of increase. I decided, as usual, to allow these colours to stay and do the increases just before and after in whichever colour made the checks before or after work. That looked really neat until I broke off the navy and it didn't work anymore. Blurgh.

So I made a rule, my rule was, once a colour has been set up as the stitch before or after a point of increase, it stays until that colour is no longer part of the pattern when it gets broken off and replaced with the new colour that I'm introducing. God I hope this makes sense. Haha. After saying I was going to explain it very well. Let me try a different way too.

So I did N and G first. I finished the front section with two N sts, and therefore started the first sleeve with G stitches. When I did my first increases, I knitted to the last st before the marker and made an increase in N, knitted one in N, slipped marler, knitted one in G, increased in G and carried on with my life. On the next round I needed to swap the colours over for a checkerboard but I didn't need to increase. So, I knitted to the last three sts before the marker, there were three N stitches, I now knitted two sts in G, one st in N (because the st before the marker doesn't change until I break the yarn off), slipped marker, k1G, k2N and off with my life. On the next round, an increase, I knitted to the last st before marker which means I've just knitted two in G, increased in N, k1N, slip marker, k1G, increased in G and carried on with my life. Then I carried on like this until 6 rows (three checks) had been worked and then I broke off the N and did a round in G. I then introduced the Beige, and all of the stitches (either before or after the markers depending on when they appeared) that were N were not B and all of the stitches that were G were still G. Everything else stayed the same, increases where they should be and a checkerboard pattern.

It's not as complicated as it seems, you can use your eyeballs to see whether and increase needs to be in one colour and not another and it's to do with the main body of the work not the stitch before or after the marker. Less simple when the colours look the same and you're drunk.... but whatevs.

Now one of the main reasons that people love a top down raglan is that you can try it on as you go. Not when you're doing it in secret (kind of, when I was drunk I let slip that it was a jumper but not what kind of jumper and I assume he's not reading this... Haha). So I can't try it on him. I can compare it to his jumpers but they're not with me all of the time so I'm going to have to sneak tonight when I'm at his house and check the length of the raglan. I'm pretty comvinced, having compare it to many other jumpers on the internet that the width of the sleeves and arms are about right but he may need a little extra on the length, although he is a short arse. You'd be surprised at how many customers have suggested blindfolding him and trying it on! What kind of monsters are you?!

Now I'm at the point where I should be setting aside the sleeves and I have to decide what to do with the bottom bit but I haven't got there yet and because I haven't skimped on words we're now at ten to six and I've done nothing else all day so I need to skidaddle!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Knit Nottingham's Super Secret Christmas Boxes

I reckon I'm preaching to the converted here. I reckon you must have heard about our Christmas boxes that are not coming in boxes? Yeah?! No!? Well, even if you have I have more to tell you here. I can let a little more go in these blogs (as opposed to the vlog) because I can think about what I'm saying. When I'm doing the vlog I'm all like 'don't say anything, don't say anything' but here I have time to weigh stuff up, so I'll let a little more go. Wooohoo!

So, first thing's first, there are four options: knit or crochet, basic or festive. Find the knit ones here and the crochet ones here. I suppose there are actually eight options because each of those four options can be sent to the UK or abroad (I've averaged out the price of postage for the International orders to £6 per box to make my life easier).

What are they?

BOXES! Well, actually they're not boxes. I've written two patterns, one crochet and one knitted, for the same thing. Kind of. They're the same object but each design is different, playing to the strengths of knitting or crocheting respectively. The patterns are for homeware. It's something that everybody has in their house in some form. In order to make the object, you definitely need a 'thing'. This 'thing' is available around the internet, or possible in real life although I've no idea where you'd go, but I've designed the project for a specific size of the 'thing' which means that we're getting those made especially for you. There are actually two parts to the thing (well, eight parts if truth be told). You need all of these parts to make the thing. The pattern is useless without the thing.

That brings us to why there is a basic box and a festive box. Normally, I'd just do a festive box - this has the pattern, the 'thing', the yarn and a load of little bits and bobs that are nice little gifts to yourself but I'm aware that not everything has the funds for the festive box (£25 or £31 for international orders) so I've made it as fair as possible to everybody by offering the basic box which is essentials only - the pattern and the 'thing'. There's honestly no point in having the pattern without having the 'thing'. The basic box is £13 or £19 with the international postage. If you can, I would really recommend the festive box. The idea is to have something really pleasing to open - a full project with lots of luxurious bits to make you feel like Christmas has started (I really hope you get some time off your duties, jobs, kids, caring, to take some time out for yourself over winter and I hope the boxes will be part of it - I LOVE CHRISTMAS!).

I can't tell you what the thing is, as I said above, but I will give you another clue that you won't have had anywhere else, I did the photoshoot yesterday:

   And all the way through I kept thinking..... Dave Gorman.

There's a clue for you. Haha.

So the boxes will be sent out on the 14th (earlier hopefully for the international orders so guarantee they'll get there in time, but that's dependent on the 'things' being made in time). This should mean that you can open them on Christmas Day. And that means that even if you get your parcels and open them and love them earlier than that, you've got to keep your mouths shut. Everybody needs to have the chance to enjoy the surprise!

The thing to remember about these boxes is that it's all about the pattern. Lots of people buy indie dyer boxes all the time, maybe even monthly, but they're about the yarn and then you go and create. These ones take longer to put together because of the pattern, and this is a proper project, not a little thing that you can knock up to use up a bit of wool, which means that they can't happen very often which is why people are getting excited about it. INCLUDING ME! EEEEE!

Which leads to the final thing to talk about is difficulty level. It's hard to explain without telling you what it is. The crochet one is definitely easier than the knitted one - I'd say the crochet one is beginner/intermediate (but with enough interest to keep experienced crocheters going). The knitted one is definitely intermediate. It involves knitting in the round, either on circulars or double points but after that the stitches are simple, it's just a case of sticks and string and I'm hoping to do a sheet of handy hints for you so you won't feel alone.

And I think that's it! I ended up having a good old chin wag with a customer so I don't have as long to write this as I would have liked, therefore there may be another blog if I think about stuff that I haven't talked about.

Love Eleanor. xxxxx

P.s. I FORGOT TO TALK ABOUT THE COLOURWAYS! It's so hard to name colourways when you're a creative invalid like I am, so I just named them after all my favourite things about Christmas including PIGS IN BLANKETS! Which is the pinky colourway in the crochet version. You are going to LOVE it and not enough people have ordered this. Not enough by far.

P.p.s. I ought to link to them again didn't I? Bad business woman. Here are the knitted boxes (not boxes) and here are the crocheted boxes (not boxes).

P.p.p.s. There aren't enough photos in this blog are there? That's the nature of the thing. Have this instead:

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Personal Updatey One

I feel a little guilty that the shop's been all sell sell sell since I restarted actually posting things. I know we're a shop and we need money but we're also a community right? So I thought I'd so a personal updatey one. There's kind of been a lot and a little going on around here. I've been really busy trying to catch myself up ready for the Christmas rush and I've been working on a very secret thing which I should be able to talk about next week (crossed fingers...):

I'm really very excited about this! It's something a little different than we did last year for the Christmas bags.

Chris is also working on a little something but I very much doubt that that will be ready to talk about next week. Which brings me back to what Toni and I were up to last weekend....

There's a little break away group from our knitting group called, excitingly, sewing group. More or less, everybody regular is invited, but because it's in people's houses we make sure people aren't murderers first. It doesn't happen very often but it's usually on a Sunday and happens maybe two or three times a year. Because I'm most often teaching on a Sunday I don't often get to go, so a few months ago, probably in August when Toni moved in, we arranged for this one day - November the 1st - to be sewing club at Chris's house! Now, I don't live at Chris's house, so I did feel a bit guilty but bugger it. It's a nice house and I spend enough time there and Toni's paying rent. Haha.

So, for some reason I planned to make fudge and toffee for the party, both of which needed butter in my recipe. So I told Chris that he needed to pick it up in time for me to make it all on Friday night ready for the party on Sunday. On Sunday, the plan was to clean/tidy the house in a nice relaxed manner and maybe get a quick bike ride in.

Things went wrong mainly when Chris forgot to get the butter. Which meant that I had to make the toffee and fudge on Sunday morning.... not a great idea. But whatevs. Then Toni ended up planning to go home to see her ma and the boyf so she wouldn't be there to help on Sunday. Then I had a lovely lesson on the Saturday evening:

That's Alexis, Jean, Gill (of the bags fame) and Steph fairiseling away and yes, they are sipping wine. Well Alexis an Jean aren't but the rest of us made up for it. Going off on a tangent, this was my first evening class, really enjoyed it, may need to tweek the lessons to fit them into two hours, may need to make the classes two and a half hours, deffo need to wait until we have a bigger shop because trying to get/keep the shop in a reasonable state that people could actually sit and knit in the evenings whilst having a busy Saturday was not what I needed.... Keep an eye out for more of these though, they will happen.

But, it's Knit Nottingham, the night ended slightly drunkenly and a little (and I mean only a little) messily.


Which meant that on the Sunday I ended up sleeping too late. Woke up at ten, everybody was coming at one. Ugh. So, I got going with the toffee and the fudge whilst simultaneously cleaning the kitchen and sorting out little bits and bobs relating to the kitchen within the house. Because Chris's kitchen is too small we often end up letting things cool on racks in the dining room so there are dining room racks and kitchen racks and they needed moving. That sort of thing. Whilst I was doing this, Chris was supposed to be sorting the downstairs of the house and then we were both going to hit up the rooms upstairs that people might be in i.e. bathroom. But instead of tidying or cleaning. Chris spent an hour - AN HOUR - sorting out balls of wool that had got into a tangle. These are not balls of wool I need in my life - they're left overs of acrylic that I can't bring myself to throw out so they're just hanging around waiting to be used in something ridiculous like a toy or or sausage or.... a Jeremy Corbyn Christ tree topper. That kind of thing. He spent an hour carefully unknotting every single ball and reballing it. ONLY TO CHUCK IT BACK IN THE SAME PILE! Jeeeeeeeeeeez.

At that point, when I'd just realised how terribly Chris had done, happily, Toni came home. I was like 'yesssss! Shit's gonna get done now' only she needed to buy ingredients to make the pie that she planned to make that evening for us all for dinner, and I'm not one to stand in the way of pie for dinner. And she also needed to tidy her room lest people wanted to come and see it. So, we made a plan, she sorted her room whilst Chris had a shower. Then she sent Chris off with a shopping list whilst she tidied the downstairs. She did this in about ten minutes. Chris came home and she did the bathroom. Chris hoovered whilst she helped sort out the food. I cleaned the fridge (because people were going to look in the fridge!?!?!?!?! But it deffo needed doing) and got to the bottom of the big recycling pile (we have a system but stuff's been falling out of it for a while and onto the pile of bags and.... ugh.... that needs sorting too). Anyway, we got shit done. And then it was like seven minutes to when people were arriving and I had just enough time to wash and get my onesie on.

And! After all that stress it was just lovely. Really relaxed and no need for quite as much tidying. Only there were like 14 of us so if I hadn't have tidied we may not have fitted in. Ha.

The food was amazing! Steph from Nettynot made these BEAUTIFUL biscuits. They were a bit gingery:

 By the time they got to our house, they were very very impressive - fairisley type affairs. But I didn't get a photo of that I'm afraid. Silly me.

Toni was working on her Christmas jumper which needed a steek. She used the machine stitching method:

And then used the 'safety in numbers' technique for the cutting (I'm a big fan of the 'shot of whisky' technique...):


We were all sat around watching and filming. Ha. Fascinating. I'm sure I'll have an update of the final thing when she gets it done.

Everybody was making amazing cushions, I should have got photos but I didn't, it did inspire me to start cushions though. I had in my head that I'd crochet the front, get a plain cotton to back that and then the other side of the cushion would be in a thick patterned cotton or a lovely thick woolly tartan (because everybody else was making tartan cushions apparently), so I started the crochet fronts. On Monday when I woke up, I had breakfast and then had to make the decision whether to stay in bed and knit or get out of the house and, surprisingly, I chose to leave the house. I do try and go into Beeston and shop in the indies even though I hate it. This week I loved it because I saw not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but SIX of my customers! Haha. I nipped to get five cushion pads and then went into the little sewing shop there and picked up half a metre each of five different colours of corduroy. Not cotton, or printed cotton or indeed thick lovely tartan. But cord. It's what took my fancy anyway and the colours seemed to work with the purple. I also picked up some buttons.

When I got home, Toni's machine was still up in the dining room and I had whisky, which is most important for sewing, so I got going!

I cut out one square, 19" by 19". Roughly square anyway.... I'll never be a proper sewer. I bought 18" square pads and was planning on a 1" seam allowance which I thought would would do nicely once the stuffing starts to compact. The other side was a square plus a bit... Happily, the edges were already sorted for me. I've no idea what to call it but you can see it on this photo:

Which also shows my beautiful buttonhole. I can hear all sewers taking a sharp intake of breath right about now. Haha. And do I care?!?! Nah. I hate hemming things, hate it. So the selvedge malarkey here stayed. It's never going to fray and I don't have to do hems. I call that winning!

The buttonholes need explaining though I think. I wasn't planning to do buttonholes. I was planning to sew the crochet squares to the larger square by hand once the covers were all together. And then I was going to crochet some buttons loops and attach those to the crochet and then the buttons to the actual covers. But once I'd made all five of the cushions I realised that I didn't want the crochet at all! Which meant I didn't have anywhere to attach the crochet button loops to. So I tried making button loops out of the cord material but it was just too stiff. I thought I might be able to 'kill' it with steam but apparently that wasn't going to work so I sucked it up and did a buttonhole. I practiced first, I promise I did. I don't think I've ever done a buttonhole before, just had my grandma explain it to me many many years ago. So I tried it. And it wasn't pretty but it was functional and the buttons did go through it and stayed there. I ummed and ahhed a bit, but the whisky helped, I was going to do buttonholes. All of my sewing so far had been in this orange-y red which I bought to put the zip in my onesie because it's the only one I could find in the top layer of my sewing stash. But at the end of the third buttonhole on the purple-y coloured cushion it had run out. So the rest of the buttonholes are done in a teal colour which I borrowed (stole, haha) off Toni. That colour works much better. I thought it would drive me mad that the buttonholes were this horrendous and that they were in different colours, but it doesn't. I don't even think about it. Am I a slattern? Do I care?

So, where I am I? I've slept since I wrote that last lot. Trying to work out what threads I need to tie up....

Ahhhhhh, the finished products:
They look pretty cool don't they? Even if I say so myself. I was very pleased. And so is Gucci who's taken to sitting on one like it's a throne but only when half of the cushion is supported by my head:

Cats ey? Who'd have em?

Good cushions.

Now, pie. Toni made said pie on Monday. On Sunday after the party we were too full of cheese and biscuits: 


The pie was equally delicious:

It was a vegetable pie because Chris is now a vegetable eater so meat pie is out. It feels weird to have a vegetable pie with a meat side, not a meaty pie with a vegetable side. We'll get used to it. Delicious. Well done Toni!

Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday were both worky work work days - where you get shit done. Blogs, vlogs, internet updating, customers, tidying, orders, payments. Boom. Dead good. And then it was allllllll relax on Thursday evening when me and Marsh Marsh went to see the fireworks:

My phone was too crap to get a photo of the fireworks (or I'm too crap a photographer more like) but I like this photo. Just before this we'd been discussing how awful this all is. There was mud and noise and lights and people. Things going upside down and round and round, rides where people didn't even have seatbelts! And then we looked behind us and there was a massive bonfire and we both agreed that it we were medieval this would be like the end of time - fire and brimstone - it's all over. That's when we knew we had to head up the hill to get into our spot to see the fireworks. We were deffo in the best place.

And I think that's all my threads brought together but there's a photo that I haven't managed to get in so I'm just shoving it in here:

This is my beloved spice rack. Toni bought it for us when she moved in to say thank you for something or other and I'm glad that she did because I knew what I wanted and the size of it but I wasn't about to pay the prices that you find anyway (like £50!!!!) so I was waiting for one to appear in the charity shops or for Chris to magically become a carpenter. I did upload this to facebook and everybody laughed that it was in colour order. It's totes not! It's just herbs together and then my spices are separated in a way that made sense to me at the time but I can't work out why now. I keep buying a pot or two every time I go to the supermarket and eventually it'll be like my parents house. But I mainly go to places like Medina in Hyson Green to get refills because you get massive bags for £1.50 instead of a little pot and I'm pretty sure they're more delicious anyway. It's a lovely scene though isn't it, very proud of that photo.

And that's it! I've got a tiny bit of internetting to do and then I'm crocheting for the rest of the day, going to try and get an advent calender finished and then I'll have something else to blog about! Boom!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxx

Friday, 6 November 2015

Bertie and Poppet's Hand Made Project Bags

Tomorrow I promise you a non salesy blog but you'll have to forgive me for this! I just can't help myself. They've been in the shop for just over a week and I'm so pleased with how they've been going. It's a real shame that the scaffholding is *still* up because they're in the window and they looked so sweet before it all got covered up by ugly builders bits.

Anyway, let's not talk about that anymore, it's caused enough stress this week....

So, at the fifth birthday party in early September, the lovely Gill brought me one of her handmade bags as a gift. It has a beautiful cat print on the front and the lining had cat paws all over it! It was PERFECT! Ever since, I've used it to house the balls that I bought from Yarndale to knit my Fox Paws Shawly/Scarfy thing and it's been hanging up in Chris's bedroom for the rare couple of hours I get free to knit another pattern repeat (I dare not put this thing down during a pattern repeat, apart from to top up my cup of tea/find some chocolate. Stressful is not the word...).

[Hang on, in finding a link to the birthday and Yarndale blogs, I've found a picture of the outside of the bag!

And here's the inside:


How cute is that?!]

The thing that I loved about this bag, aside from the cats and that it was a gift (I bloody love getting gifts. You know when people ask about whether you prefer giving or receiving, I'm all about the receiving. ha), was how well made it was. Obviously, you can see that it's fully lined but she's put a little bit of padding betwixt the outside material and the inside one which gives the bags a real plush sort of a feeling - like they're quality. I mean, you look at the stitching and you can see that:
(I assure you that her stitching is better than my photography... ). Can you see how straight it is?! I chose this bit of the inside because it shows where she began and ended the row of stitching, how neat is that!? And if there's one thing that I learned about knitting, and my grandma (a fabulous seamstress) told me about sewing, it's that, the neater you are in your crafting the better wearing the final thing will be. I can attest to this, because if you've ever seen the inside of my handbag.... well, let's just say that my project bag has been in there for days at a time and made it out alive...

Gill made some adjustments to the bag before giving me the ones I have in the shop. The wadding inside stops a little earlier now which means that the drawstring can get tighter. This works better if you're using the bag for socks like Gill intended because even the little sock needles now won't be able to escape. I will warn you though, if you have a tit of a cat like Gucci who has a real preference for yarn that costs more than £10 for 100g, they will still be able to get into it and chew a hole in your wool. They are not cat proof.

I've said that the bags are hand wash only. I don't think many people wash project bags do they anyway? Unless something goes majorly wrong I suppose. Maybe I should? Maybe everybody's washing their projects bags all over the place? Anyway, I've said hand wash anyway, because these aren't you're average, quickly knocked up bags, you'll want to treasure these (perfect timing for the knitter/crocheter in your life for Christmas). I suspect they'd take a gentle, if not normal, wash in the machine but I'm not being held responsible. You're probably all much better at washing than I am anyway...

Then there's the sizing - roughly 9.5" by 11". Gill is a big sock knitter so she's made them perfect for 100g of sock yarn, a pattern, your needles and maybe an altoids tin's worth of notions. Like I say, I've had my Fox Paws project in there since I got it really and that's 250g of yarn plus the project itself and there's plenty of wool. I'm thinking, if you're a garment knitter, there's enough space for a piece of the project i.e. a back and the yarn you're working with now, so we're talking an on the go bag. WHICH REMINDS ME! The drawstring ribbons are the perfect length to hang over your wrists so that you can have your wool feeding through as you stand and knit/crochet in a queue! HOW PERFECT IS THAT!?

And I suppose the final thing to talk about are the colourways! Gill has done so well here! The outside of each of the bags are beautiful prints - Superwoman, sugar skulls, cute woodland creatures and because each bag is fully lined, she's chosen a perfectly suited (often plain but not always) lining material. They're all cottons or cotton blends so the colours are delightful! AND the ribbons match! Or sometimes they don't match but they clash in a delicious way. I love these so much, can you tell! EHEHEHEHEHEHEHE!

How gorge is that little collection? A little bit kitsch and a little bit cute and a little bit fancy. Love it!

So, if you want to buy them just click here. Please be aware that the shop has to take precedence over the internet in terms of sales. Because we don't have a fancy till system, and these are one offs, it might be the case that somebody in the shop is buying the exact same bag as you at the moment that you're on the internet. If that happens, the person in the shop gets the bag and I'll come back and offer an alternative. It turns out that sometimes Gill has more of the fabric, so in that case I'd contact her and she'd knock one up. But of course, as crafters we know, it's not just a case of knocking one up, it's time consuming being that brilliant. At the moment we're talking about a week or so to get one made but she works and does other crafts too and it's coming to Christmas so it's possible it might take longer. Anyway, I'll let you know and we can discuss the options. But basically, if you want it, get it. Once it's gone it's gone. I'll do my best to keep the internet up to date for you though - wish me luck on that in November and December.... haha.

And that's it I think! You can find Gill and her other endevours by clicking here and here. She really has a talent for anything colourful and beautiful, and the worst thing is that she's just a lovely person too. Sickening. Ugh.

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxx

P.s. I wanted to show another photo but couldn't work out where to put it.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

King Cole Panache DK!

I AM ON FIRE! It is Tuesday, though I'm posting this on Thursday (hopefully) and this is my third blog of today. I was going to go home at a reasonable time but there's so much that I have to do that this feels like a reasonable thing to do, stay late and blog. Woohoo! Might just be caffeinated up to the eyeballs, might just be in the middle of a podcast that I don't want to leave, might just be waiting for a vlog to upload - who knows?!?!!?

Annnnnnnyway - King Cole Panache DK! This really is new! We are up to date! This came in at the end of last week, I got the final patterns on the internet on Saturday and then I had Sunday off (wahey!) and Monday off like normal and then this is the first day that this could possibly have made it onto the blog! Boom!

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnyway.... This is the most amazing yarn! I am SO thrilled that it's finally in stock! King Cole give me a booklet at the beginning of the year with all of the new colours and yarns for the next few months and this is the final one that I have been waiting for. LOVE it! I have been telling King Cole for a long time (literally, since the first time that I spoke to my rep like six years ago) that they need a 50/50 wool/acrylic plain coloured yarn. So many of you love the Riot DK but again and again I'm asked whether there's a plain yarn that goes with it, I usually end up with the Diploma Gold which is nice but this new Panache DK is perfect! It's a similar texture - being a single spun yarn (lots of those about...) - although it's much more woolly feeling and that's what the 50/50 does instead of 30/70. Lovely.

Gosh, we've got very far without a photo. Let's put that right.

How gorgeous is that?! You can see three of the things that I want to impress on you in this photo - the shine, the haze and the colour.

Let's begin with the shine. Actually, I can't talk about the shine without the haze. The shine is obvious, we all know what shine is. But haze? That's something a bit different. It's the wooly-ness about it. The furry bits around the outside. When I first felt this I thought of angora, you know, fluffy bunny wool! I must admit, it's not as soft as that, but the haze does give it the look and it is as soft as it needs to be to wear (and, at £3.75 for 100g (yes that's one hundred grams) it's softer than it bloody should be - what a bargain). I suspect that the haze will mean that the shine gets lost after a while. But the shine could also be to do with the colour. To quote Sarah Brown, "every colour has a mystery colour". YES IT DOES SARAH! This is what I suppose is called a heathered yarn i.e. it's a plain colour but within that there are subtle variations which add up to something a whole lot more interesting than your standard yarn. So, the navy colour, dusk it's called, is a beautiful deep navy base with understated fibre running through in the most delicious deep magenta pink (don't get too excited though, that full packet sold out within 24 hours so I'm waiting until it's back in). The pink that I'm working with, is a delightfully delicate blush pink with hints of sky blue that adds a greyish tone - making it much less sickly than it could be. Can you tell I love it?!

I cannot wait to do something for myself in this, but like I was talking about yesterday, I have many many projects to finish and the Constantine in the King Cole Venice to cast on and finish before I can justify starting something for myself in the Panache. I will have to coco with this beaut that I'm knitting as we speak:

King Cole 4266. I started this one because I love it but I'm not convinced I would make it for myself - it's a little too classy for me. Haha. I also thought that the three different stitch patterns gave me the interest that I might need to actually finish a DK garment for a shop sample. haha. I get bored you see... Also note, I'm using the same colour to knit it as on the pattern. Why??! All those beautiful colours! Well, I can tell you why, I either want to knit the rest of them for myself - the snotty green, the red, the navy, the teal, the charcoal and maybe even the sky blue or I really dislike them - the beige, the darker beige, the grey and the brown. Please buy these colours that I don't like and show me that I'm wrong. haha.

I've just had a thought - I CANNOT WAIT TO CROCHET THIS! I've nothing else to say on that matter (apart from that all of the patterns are knitting patterns which are beautiful and interesting but they're not crochet. Hmmm. Cogs whirring....).

I think that this is the one that I'll make:

King Cole 4271. I like the jumper. Although I deffo need cardigans. Shall I make the cardigan? I'm almost certain that I'm doing to do blocks of colour but I can't work out whether I want to do a block that includes the stocking stitch, the lace and the garter stitch or one colour for the stocking stitch and lace and one colour for the garter stitch. I know this will come to me as I'm working away at other stuff so I just have to have the willpower not to cast it on this very minute. Gah! It's killing me! It's killing me that I'm sat here typing within a metre of this beautiful stuff on the shelf.

Now, let's talk colours a little, although, as usual, I've been through the colours on the vlog which has already been uploaded (this one features Jazz and she is very good with words so you need to watch it) and you could pop over to the internet shop to see all of the beautiful colours or you could pop into the shop. But please, stop, take a moment, grab a cup of tea, because I have something to show you....


Are you ready?


I think that really shows off the mystery colours. This is Sue's fairisle cowl from Saturdays evening lesson (went very well thanks but I think I'll wait to do the next one until we're in a bigger shop). Sue wasn't happy with doing the English style knitting so she's created her own way of doing it and she is smashing it! Anyway, the colours. Phwoar! The background colour is the heather, she started off by contrasting it with the pasture and then moving onto the Biscuit (or perhaps the Oatmeal but I think she may have both in her mix). I was pleased that lots of us chose Panache to work with on Saturday, seeing as it's a brand new wool and that can be a little scary. Steph is also smashing it out:

She's used a similar combo but there's charcoal, dusky pink and seaspray in there too. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to show you this in colourwork. The minute I saw it I knew that that was it's destiny, for me anyway, there will be a full fairisle something in it for me me me me me.

So, can you tell I love this?! It is RIGHT up my street. The colours! The textures! The fibres! The patterns! Once more for the google rankings - brand new and delicious - King Cole Panache DK (and find the patterns by clicking here.

That's it, tomorrow, something slightly different if I get round to it! And maybe even something the next day! BOOM!

Love Eleanor. xxxxxx

P.s. I didn't tell you but this has 312m per ball. That's a hell of a lot. DK's are averaging around 280m nowadays (down from 300m when I was learning, things change, sigh) so 312 is a treat! Makes this yarn veeeeeeeeery affordable. Very good. Well done King Cole.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

King Cole Italian Collection

This really is a stunner AND this blog post isn't massively out of date! We got this in at the beginning of last week. Or maybe the end of the week before. And since it hit the shop it's been by far our best seller (until, maybe, the Panache appeared).

And of course, Toni was there to supervise.

This yarn also has it own vlog post (again, they're easier to do and then be uploading whilst I'm dealing with stuff... sorry)... Anyway, let's not dwell on how terrible I am, let's talk about this yarn!

It has caused a bit of confusion. Is it one yarn? Is it three yarns? Why does one say mohair when I'm constantly going on about being allergic to alpaca? Hmmmmmm. Let's talk.

So - this is the Italian Collection:

Florence - Venice - Verona 

(Excuse the strange formatting - Blogger is really smashing it today!).

So. There are three yarns within the collection, two of which - the Florence and the Venice - have alpaca in it and the other one - the Verona - has no alpaca but some mohair instead. All of the yarns are interchangeable - all 50g balls, all 90m, all 6mm needles or hook, all single spun and all £4 - but they're also all different.

King Cole have provided a lovely box to display them in:

Which is absolutely gorgeous, and a lovely way to displaying the yarn but doesn't allow for a lot of differentiation. And there is a difference between these yarns - otherwise what's the point of having a 'collection'? Shall we begin??

 This is probably the first one that catches your eye. The colours are just so there. This is the row of yarn nearest to us in the photo above. It's mainly a solid colour - magenta, grey, black, teal and purple - with flashes of something else running through it:

How stunning is that? You can also start to see that there is an uneven element to the yarn, a little thick and and little thin, not as much as the Verona mind, but enough to be interesting. 

Patterns by King Cole are here and there are some stunners that I'll talk about later, but I do also want to talk about this:

Which is the Constantine Cape from Knitty by Natalie Selles. It is both gorgeous and the only thing I could think about when I first saw this yarn. When Gen came in because she'd seen the new yarn on the Facebook page, she was umming and ahhing between a few different patterns and when I mentioned that this was what I was doing, a kal was born. But I promised her not to start any time soon, not just because I'd smash it (sorry Gen) but also because I have a million things to finish (I need to write myself a list of all the stuff that has to be finished by the time I start this. It's a lot). So she's started:

How gorge is that?

It's got a bit further now. This is the first thing she's made that's a really strange construction so I know there's been some faffing around with picking up stitches etc but I think she's on the right track now? Hopefully anyway.

This is the next one that has alpaca in it. And it's the one that I plan to make my Constantine in. Hmmm. Glutton for punishment? Again, it's a single spun yarn but this time it's a little less felted together which should make it lighter feeling (potentially warmer as it can catch air in the spaces) and possibly will need a little more care in the looking after. You can see that a little here:

A beautifully furry yarn, a lovely soft touch and the colours are all combined throughout the ball, no splodges. It does wax and wane throughout to create a subtle striping effect that you can see in action in the beautiful patterns that King Cole have provided. For example:

Can you see? Very subtle indeed and I love it.

Incidentally, this pattern, King Cole 4305, is the one thing that makes me regret choosing to knit the Constantine Cape again. Hmmmm. Decisions, decisions. How beautiful is that jacket? Can't you just imagine me in that! I might even make it more flouncy at the bottom! Like a pea coat! HEAVEN!

I'm not going through the colourways in these blogs because you can see them on the internet or on the vlog about it, but I do want to say that the Marble colourway is officially my favourite and should be called Tartan.

And last but not least:

King Cole Verona:

This is the only one with mohair in it. I don't want you to get me wrong here, I know lots of us have an image one what mohair is and mostly we don't like it (either to wear.... itchy... or to knit... what happens when you go wrong?!!!??!?) but this is nothing like that! There is only a smidge of mohair here, 10% to be precise, but I don't think it's because there is so little that this just feels like heaven, I think it's just beautifully spun and finished. Genuinely, this is the softest of the three yarns. Softer than alpaca! Yes! IT IS POSSIBLE! Is it because I'm allergic to alpaca that I'm not all swoony like 'ooooooooh, alpaca, I love you, let me rub you all over my face, let me knit you now now now now now'? Have you even seen a cat on cat nip? That's what people get like with alpaca, but I'm pretty sure it's just a learned behaviour. For shops like mine, i.e. not boutique-y at all, alpaca is the kind of yarn that they can afford to get in but feels like a luxury for the consumer. When actually, it's just another fibre. A nice one, generally soft, holds a colour well and drapes like a demon. But it's just another fibre, no better or worse than wool or cotton or acrylic as long as you think about how you're using it and what it's good for.

Anyway, on with this yarn. Now, the way that this is dyed is really interesting. Look closely:

Can you see how it goes thick and thin? This is the most varied of the yarns in terms of thickness. On the thickest bits, can you see how there's some creamy bits? Not sure it shows up great in this photo but it's the best one I've got and it's dark now so not point even trying.. Even if you can't see that there are creamy bits, hopefully you'll see that I think it's dyed! Most yarn that we stock, apart from hand dyed ones obvs, will be dyed in the fibre and then spun. But this one looks like it's spun and then dyed. And in my head that's a more difficult process but it also means that you get the most beautiful colour-play in the yarn and I, for one, cannot wait to see how this knits up. I'm just so sad that I have to finish everything else first! (Apart from the fact that one of the projects I'm doing is finally getting to an interesting bit and one of the projects is in another brand new yarn and I am in love). Hmmmm. Can I justify another new project?? Well, I did finish a project yesterday:

Yes, I've been sewing. Uh oh! Don't worry, I think I'm over sewing for like a year. Does it count as a finished project even though I conceived and completed the idea within five or so hours? After I said I wasn't starting anything else? I had to buy everything from scratch so I wasn't using stash? Apart from the thread which is mostly the reason I ended up with this button hole:

In that colour anyway. The state of it is due to how shit I am at sewing, and in particular, finishing my sewing (hello French seam!). I do think it's important though, to show that I'm not great at everything. A lot of people seem to be a bit in awe of my knitting and crochet, when in actual fact, I'm alright - quite good really - but it's not magic, I'm not magic. I just found knitting and crochet at a good time for me to practice. I never discovered sewing, so I'm stuck doing exactly what I did when I was 14 apart from knowing like three more things because of Great British Sewing Bee (OMG - ARE YOU WATCHING THE POTTERY ONE?!?!!? Don't tell me about it! We're watching it tonight as a household - EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE).

Hmm. Back to the yarn, hey? So Verona. I feel like the Verona patterns are the nicest ones:

4300 - Boom. Those cables though. 

4301 - BoOm - that neckline though! The potential for layering!

But, like I said before, all of the yarns are interchangeable and therefore you can interchange the yarns on the patterns - you can find them all here. I'll be really interested in how these patterns work out in the different yarns and I know that as more gets knitting and I'm able to share more pictures of projects that more people will fall in love. I suspect it also might take a good smooshing to really fall in love. So feel free to pop in, even if you're not ready to buy, for a quick squish so that your fingers and their memory of how soft and delicious this yarn is can be working their magic on your brain and eventually a project will just pop out of thin air and then you'll come back and buy. Ahhhhhhhh. Perfect. I love those slow burning projects.

And I think that's it! Two blogs in two days! I really am spoiling you! The best thing?! I have a blog half written for tomorrow too! BOOOOOOOM! I feel like I'm back on it. But I don't wanna speak too soon. I do have to make up for my slow blogging months though. I'm glad you're still here and reading!

Love Eleanor. xxxx

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

King Cole Big Value Super Chunky Tints

Hi Blogettes,

Apologies! HUGE apologies! The blog has suffered in the maelstrom that has been my life since I got back off my week away (and that's not much different to how it was before to be fair...). It's exactly two weeks since I last wrote a blog post but fear not! I have four (maybe five) blogs to write today. This is my one and only job. Kind of. Once I've got this one done, I'm going to check e-mails and sort orders and then I'm back writing, writing, writing. They're all salesy kind of blogs but I'll try and keep it light so it's not all like 'gimme your money' but naturally, gimme your money. Haha.

It's been a funny kind of two weeks - it's payday and it's October so everybody's up and knitting but we've had the scaffholding up for a week and two days now (helpfully put up during a lesson - bang, crash, wallop and builders singing badly to radio muzak. Ugh). So, I've had lots of regulars coming in and not many people off the street which has been a sweet kind of catchup for me. Often, nowadays, I'm too busy with customers and other stuff to take time to chat. I kind of miss the first few years where I spent a lot of time knitting and hanging around and having fun. But there was always a nagging feeling that I should be doing *something* even if I didn't know what it was. Now I have less time to knit and chill and there's a nagging feeling that I should be doing *something* and I know exactly what it is - recalibrating internet stuff, writing blogs, filming vlogs, making orders, writing patterns, tidying, accounting. Ahhhhh. A million things that don't even get done when they're written on a to do list. IMAGINE THAT! There's a relaxed sweetness to knowing that I can pay my rent though, which was nowhere to be seen when we first opened. Ha. Swings and roundabouts.

No idea where that little tangent came from. Shall we talk about wool?

And I love it. LOVE IT!

When I first opened the shop I was all about 4ply, even 2-ply. I still am to an extent but I also have noooooo time now. And sometimes it's just good to finish a project isn't it? And one that looks this good:

Boom. (Toni is thrilled about that angle...). This is the pattern number 4286 and I love it. I didn't realise whilst knitting and making up and even admiring it on Toni that there is a secret owl. Well done Jazz for pointing it out!

How cute is that?

I've already done a vlog about this - it's here. It's much easier to smash out a vlog and then have it uploading whilst I'm doing other stuff (sorry, blog readers, but do subscribe to us on Youtube because it does seem to be the way I'm going right now...). I did that when I first got the yarn so excitement was high but I hadn't yet had time to actually play with the yarn. And none of you lot had either. So it was me talking about the wool and the colours and hoping for the best. Now I've had time to actually work with it I can confirm how much I love it. Oooooh, I can also share a top tip for super chunky! It is possible to thread this onto a sewing up needle - you just have to squash the end so it's like a flat point - but I don't even bother with that. Usually, the gauge of the piece is such that you can use your fingers to push and pull the yarn through to sew it together with your fingers! Certainly means that You can get a little sewing up done in the most unexpected of places - in a queue, on a bus, waiting for the nephew to finish on the loo... All sorts of places and then it gets done! Woo!

Anyway, the colours are superb. I was a bit put off by the browny one - Cappuccino, but I've now seen it worked up along with the Autumn Leaves in a chunky striped garter stitch blanket and I like that too! Talking of blankets, new crocheter, Rachel has used it to make the most perfect blanket: 
That's the Thistle colourway, just under ten balls for a single bed size blanket in the Granny Stripe pattern with a lovely, subtle shell edging. Heaven. I just love how she's presented it too. Ahhhh.

I've got a few new customers recently that are smashing out the crochet.  Really exciting to meet people who have a natural talent so that you have no idea where they'll end up. Rachel is definitely one of them. :)

So you can see, the stripe it pretty subtle. And I think that's what makes it work. Super chunky has a tendency to look brash and chunky-crayon-y, do you know what I mean? So combining it with these lovely subtle colourways just calms it down a little to make a useable and relateable yarn. I know it's become one of my favourites because if somebody comes into super chunky it's not necessarily the first thing I go for - this means it's a staple, something that's here for the long run - it also means I don't have to sell it, which is great because I hate selling - I like chatting and imagining and daydreaming until a new project just pops out of the ether. Ahhhh.

Now, you can find all of the colourways by clicking here - King Cole Big Value Super Chunky Tints.

And you can find the appropriate patterns that King Cole have provided by clicking here.

And if you want to hear me chatting more about it, and going through the colourways one by one - click here.

And I think that's it! There's probably more to say about it but basically, it's beautiful, it's soft, it's kind of stripey, it works for knitting and crochet, it's very popular. That's all you need to know aint it?

Love Eleanor. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx