The Wool Monty – Sheffield June 2019

The lovely ladies: Rosie, Mand and Debbie invited me to attend The Wool Monty Show, Sheffield’s first yarn and fibre crafts event. As you can imagine, I was delighted and said, YES, YES YES!!

There were ‘firsts’ for everything here: my First event stand; launching my First book and taking part in Sheffield’s First yarn show. I was super-excited, but at the same time bricking it, because I had never seen a show where the vendor was only selling patterns and not with yarn! The debate here was will I have enough patterns to sell? If I didn’t, I wasn’t sure that my tap dancing and singing was going to cut it, somehow! 😝

About the Event

The organisers were absolutely lovely – they were incredibly helpful and kind. The whole event was organised really well – the layout was carefully thought out, the vendors were well selected, offering amazing variety, as well as something different from other fibre fests.

The show was held at the FlyDSA Sheffield Arena – it’s huge! It’s a perfect venue for this type of event because it offered ample free parking for ticket holders and it was close to other amenities (shops, supermarkets and an IKEA!). It was also perfect for people with mobility issues, offering easy access in and out of the building, as well as lots of space to manoeuvre around the stands.

I particularly loved the little sofas they had dotted around the floor space, great for when you want to take a break, sit down and knit! Just what is needed in an event like this.

Being it’s first ever show, the turn-out was probably as expected. But saying that, people came to spend money, and they did! This bodes well for next year’s event if the organisers decide to do one. I hope they do!

See the gallery below:

I was too busy with my stand to take many photos, but I did take some during the set up hours.

Conclusion

I would highly recommend this event to anyone who is interested in yarn and fibre crafts. It offers a diverse spectrum of people, craft skills and geography – not the same old names of the more established events. There are some hidden gems here and you’d be pleasantly surprised. The Wool Monty is offering something new and something fresh. Plus, the people of Sheffield are warm and chatty – what’s not to love? 😊

I’m looking forward to the Wool Monty Show next time! ❤️

 

New Year, New Craft Skills

I’m hoping to set off the New Year with a new craft skill, Weaving! Among all the textile crafts that I have yet to explore, weaving was somehow never  considered before, that was until August last year. It was then that I had the chance to pre-order a rigid heddle loom from an independent artisan, with a promise that it would be ready to ship in a few weeks.

For various reasons, the seller could not achieve this, but I remained patient… that was until I took part in a Scandinavian Weaving Workshop in Oslo last October. After that, I could not wait to get my hands on this new loom so that I could knock out scarves, cushion covers, bags and all sorts!

While waiting patiently, I was using the frame loom from that I got from the workshop. It’s a cool little gadget, but it only does small projects. I could, if I knew what I was doing, make a number of small squares and stitch them together to make a bigger cloth – but that would require planning and patience, of which are in short supply at the moment!

In the meantime, I’ve been making all sorts of samples on my frame loom. I’ve been mostly using DK merino yarns, which seem to have the right thickness and strength to act as warp thread (lengthwise) and weft thread (widthwise) on the loom. Depending on how hard you beat the work, the fabric’s tension can be loose and airy (light beat), or thick and dense (hard beat). I must have been beating these suckers to death because a number of my samples are thick like carpet!

Does anyone need a mug rug??

Weaving on a frame loom is surprisingly calming and enjoyable. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and you can watch TV while you work (great Netflix bingeing accompaniment!). You can do a small project quite quickly. Within about 20 minutes (I’m not properly timing myself, but I know it’s a short time), I could create a 16cm x 16cm (6.25” x 6.25”) square of fabric. Below are some of my samples where I’ve been playing around with pattern formations and tension.

Well, there’s no point just making squares and not knowing what to do with them, is there? So, why not attach them as feature pockets to my handmade project bags!

Knitting project bags with weaving as a feature pocket.

Welcome To My Creative Palace

It all started when Hubby hinted that maybe I have “too much yarn” and that my knitting business is “taking over the house” (notice that he hinted it rather than tell it directly. He’s not stupid – I’m sure he can imagine how painful a knitting needle in the ribs must be!).

In truth, I really needed a space to work – a place that was separate from home life, a place to go to when I’m in ‘Knitty Mode’ and a place that I can leave behind when I just want to be myself. Balancing home/work life in the same space is problematic.

He had the brainwave of talking me into moving out when an office space had become available nearby. However, this office space needed some imagination…

See the sloping ceilings, the magnolia walls, the brown features and the lack of natural light….? Ugh! What you don’t get a sense of in these pictures is the size of the place. It’s quite small, about 16m2 split into 2 ‘rooms’ as such. Normally, that would be an adequate space for up to 3 people if all the floor space was accessible, but the slope in certain areas cut out that accessibility. The ceiling height in some parts can be dangerous to those over 5ft 10″ (you know how it goes: ha ha BONK!). Despite this, I felt like I could make this work.

I love a challenge and my challenge was to bring light to a dark room, plus make it into a creative palace!

One way to boost the lighting in a gloomy space is to install numerous spotlights with daylight bulbs in. The other way is to paint everything white – that’s what I did, much cheaper. The sloping ceiling was going to be a problem for my yarn cupboards, as they would not fit in.

I searched online and found a very useful metal-framed, plastic 16-cube modular unit. It’s lightweight, sturdy and easy to assemble. Click here: 16-cube unit. It’s a great little storage unit for keeping yarn. It’s surprisingly strong too, not that yarn is heavy, but they do rack up some weight when there is a large amount of it.

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The ceiling height was an issue again, so this meant that I could only set up the modular unit 4-cubes wide by 3-cubes high. With the remaining pieces I managed to build a 3-up standalone unit, but I was 2 connectors short. This wasn’t a problem, I contacted the vendor and asked them for it and they shipped it to me.

After a week of painting the walls, window frames and assembling stuff, the studio is now ready and looks marvellous! Bright and airy, with all the comforts a knitter would need. ☺️

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OPP: Other People’s Patterns – What’s just come off my needles

Jimiknits in Garri (modified)

Typical! I’ve always been late to the newest ‘knitting craze’, be it for double-knitting, for fair-isle, for brioche stitch (which I still have yet to master), for modular knitting… and for the love of Stephen West designs!

In this case, I was late to the Lopi party! More importantly, Icelandic sweaters. Lopi by Istex is the standard yarn used for such projects and my local yarn store: www.gilliangladrag.co.uk has been stocking various Lopi yarns in a beautiful range of colours!

I found this pattern in the Lopi Book No. 34 – called “Garri” by Védís Jónsdóttir.

Garri Sweater and Lopi Yarn

I wanted to turn this sweater into a zip-up cardi and the only way to do that would be to work it in the round then steek it down the middle. Most Icelandic yoke sweaters are worked in the round anyway, but from the bottom-up – a new experience for me. I always choose top-down, if I can help it.

My Colours:

A – 86 Beige (main colour)
A (alt) – 0051 White – to be used as flashes of colour in the colourwork.
B – 9964 Yellow
C – 9972 Ecru

February 10, 2017: Quit stalling and get on wivvit!!

OK…, having studied the pattern extensively, having swatched and then re-swatched a few test pieces, I came to the conclusion that this sweater pattern was not going to work for me. It is a man’s sweater after all and for some reason the hem measurement is unbelievably narrow, I wondered if it would even fit my husband!

I didn’t trust the pattern’s tension either. My gauge was way off! This meant that I would not only have to go up 2 needle sizes, but I’d have to follow size XL to make sense of the numbers. I was not comfortable with following the pattern like this, but I really did like the design. I took the decision to reverse-engineer it by working it from the top down. I was going to modify it by making it into a zip-up cardi anyway, but there was going to be some obvious changes to the Icelandic yoke design.

Gah! I’ll just make it up as I go along!

February 20, 2017: I’m on the right track – yay!

Well, who’d have thought that reversing an Icelandic yoke chart would be so easy? I measured my neck circumference and added about 2” of ease. This gave me approx. 65 sts. A great deal of jiggery-pokery was required to make sure the repeat patterns started and ended at the right place – plus, I had to remember that I’d allowed an extra 5 sts in the centre front as my steeking strip.

Garri in progress - yoke view

Where the pattern showed decreases, I replaced them with increases using KFB. By getting the difficult part of the construction nailed down first, it means that the rest will be so much easier. Somehow, by doing it this way, it all made sense. I can’t see why more Icelandic sweaters are not made this way.

March 1, 2017: Looking OK so far, but…

…my tension had gone into ‘ultra-murderous’ mode! The plain stockinette body is looking a little bit small for my liking. This was fine if I wanted it to be more fitted at the waist, but I’ve got no ‘waist’ to speak of, so accentuating a flat panel was not going to work for me! I was thinking I could expand this area when I come to block it. But if not, then I’d have to cut out the stockinette portion and re-knit it, then graft the bottom bit to the colourwork section…. bleh?! (sigh!) Yes, sometimes it seems like I do like to make my life difficult!

garri with body

March 5, 2017: Gulp!

I can see why many people don’t bother knitting ‘on the hoof’ like this because it can be a minefield of errors and pitfalls! In this case my extremely tight tension had lost me about 1.25 inches in the body circumference. In addition to that, I was a little too generous with the sleeve allowance, which may be the main reason why the body circ was tighter than expected.

I am an inventor if nothing else, so I’m bound to find a solution… and this was it: Thankfully the sleeve allowance was not a major problem, so I would simply do a few rapid decreases to get around that. To make up for the loss in body circ however, I picked up and knitted stitches for the front band ribbing and made them a bit longer than I had planned to. The zip would be attached to that, so I would have made up for the lost circ at the front of the body… phew!

garri yoke with ribbing

March 8, 2017: The home straight

My sleeves (at upper arm) were going to be larger than expected so I ripped back and tackled this by doing a few rapid decreases and used 6.5mm needles instead of 7mm as planned. This seemed to work out well. For the lower sleeve, I mirrored the same zigzag design.

garri blocking

Blocking: After weaving in all the ends, I put it in a lukewarm bath to soak. I added a bit of woolwash and hair conditioner, a protein-rich type that should only be used for treatments and should only be used sparingly…. I may have poured in a little too much because the fibres were blooming all over the place! Got to admit it though, the fabric is REALLY SOFT now! I left it to dry directly on the mannequin so that if it DID shrink, it wouldn’t get any smaller.

March 13, 2017: Let’s cut that sh!t up!!

Cutting the steek wasn’t as scary as it seemed. I didn’t need to reinforce the steek first either, because the yarn bloomed like a crazy thing, there’s no chance in the world of any of those stitches coming loose!

garri steeking

After steeking I hand sewed the flaps to the inside using a tapestry needle and the main colour yarn. The zip was hand sewn to the ribbing – a slow process, but much better and neater than machine-stitching it in place.

Jimiknits in Garri

The Fit

I love it! It fits my frame surprisingly well. I suspect that having dried it directly on the mannequin helped to create the perfect fit. I even expected the yarn to itch me madly, but it doesn’t irritate me at all. The fabric is warm and firm… perhaps a bit too fluffy (due to my over-zealous handling of hair conditioner!), but I’m sure that it will calm down once I’ve worn it a few times.

jimiknits in Garri

Gettin’ Crunked!

OK, not the best title to describe what I’m doing, but this crank knitting lark is getting me excited (yes I know, I need to get out more)!

Well, I’ve had my Addi Express knitting machines for about 6 months now and I’ve discovered a wealth of possibilities for a variety of knitted projects. This means that you don’t have to stick with making hats and scarves all the time! With a combination of hand-knitting and machine cranking, you can create a LOT of different projects.

See below for my simple pattern for an Infinity Scarf or Cowl.

My Addi machines

Handy Tools

I’ve put together a set of essential tools that I use specifically for crank knitting. Tools such as:

  • 6mm circular needles – two of these
  • 5mm, 5.5mm and 4mm crochet hooks
  • Loom hook (or use a dental hook) – ideal for retrieving a dropped stitch from the machine.
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle
  • Stitch holders
  • Scrap yarn – about 25g or more of smooth yarn to use for the casting on and/or off. Can be re-used for many projects. Note: It is not essential to use this method as the stitches are large enough to pick up and knit directly from. But having said that, it cuts out the guessing game when it comes to identifying a live (workable) stitch.
  • Handheld counter – in case your Addi digital counter has gone bananas, like mine has!

handy tools

Yarn Choice

What I have found is that not every yarn in my possession will work with the Addi. This is a big problem for yarn stash that I would SO love to use for a cranked project. For example, I have a pure linen aran weight yarn that I bought in France. Beautiful stuff, but would the bugger play ball and work for me? No! It kept getting caught on the needles, nearly breaking them off. The same thing also happened with a cotton ribbon yarn that I have.

So, given my experience, the yarn types I’ve had to avoid so far are:

  • Linen (of any kind) – it appears that its lack of elasticity makes it impossible to loop around the needles properly.
  • Cotton in Worsted weight or heavier – for the same reason as Linen.
  • Flat (ribbon) yarns – it just gets caught! It’s infuriating!
  • Super Chunky (Super Bulky) yarns – hard to crank. Too fat, I guess.

PATTERN: Crank-it! Infinity Scarf/Cowl – a bit more interesting than a regular scarf.

Made with the Addi Professional (22-pin) only. It is made out of 3 tubes of knitting which are later sewn together side by side. The ends are seamed by knitting the live sts together (or grafting).

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Blue version: Cowl using worsted weight yarn.

Infinity scarf

Materials

For the Infinity Scarf: 180g total of any wool-based DK or Worsted weight yarn (approx. 2 skeins).
Sample shown uses Alpaca Supreme by John Arbon (alpaca/merino/silk) fingering weight, held double with Royd Moor Cashmere 4ply (100% cashmere).

For the Cowl: 115g total of any wool-based DK or Worsted weight yarn (approx. 1-2 skeins).
Sample shown uses Galenas Merino by Three Irish Girls (100% merino) worsted weight.

How to Make

(Don’t forget to check the Handy Tools list in article above)

For the first tube, with scrap yarn, cast on and work 4 rounds on the Addi 22-pin. Break off scrap yarn.

Change to your chosen yarn and crank a tube about 120cm (47″) long*. Cut off yarn.

*Depending on yarn weight, this can be anything between 150-190 rounds for the Infinity Scarf and about 85-100 rounds for the Cowl. Keep a row count record of the first tube, then duplicate this count for the other tubes.

Change to scrap yarn and cast off for about 4 rounds. Remove work from machine.

Repeat for the other 2 tubes. Once all 3 tubes are done, pull the tubes at various angles to kick the stitches into line then lay them flat, allowing a little time (say 20 minutes) for the stitches to relax back into position (press if necessary). Later on, using mattress stitch, sew the sides together along the vertical column of stitches (not including the cast on/off sts).

Mattress stitch in action
Mattress stitch in action

Undo the cast on scrap yarn stitches on all 3 tubes – you should be left with a total of 33 (3 x 11) live sts on front side (whichever side is facing you) and the same number of sts on the back of the piece.

[Transfer the 3 sets of Front sts onto a 6mm needle*, then repeat the same for the Back sts. Make sure both needles are pointing to the right ready for knitting. Similar to working a 3-needle-bind-off, using a spare needle (or the other end of a circular needle) KNIT together the front sts with the back sts. From here you will have 33 single row of sts.]

*This needle size closely matches the Addi tension, for me anyway!

Put these sts on hold for later. For the other end of the piece, undo the cast off scrap yarn, then repeat [ ] once more. Leave sts on needle.

Combine Stitches

There are 2 ways you can combine both ends of live sts:
1) 3-needle bind off: With WS (wrong side) facing and right sides together, knit the 2 rows of sts together and bind off at the same time. Result: This will leave a visible seam line. The seam edges will be set inside the scarf/cowl and not visible on the outside.

or

2) Grafting (Kitchener Stitch): Thread a needle with yarn about 3 times the width of the piece. With RS (right side) facing and wrong sides together, graft the front set of sts together with the back set. Result: This will leave a seamless fabric.

Weave in ends, block if necessary…. and tadaa! Wear with pride!

Please share your projects pictures or tips. I’d love to see them! 🙂

Aye! ’tis a Bonnie Wee Shoorp! (as the Scots might say?!)

We went to Scotland for the Easter break and what a beautiful country it is, with its picturesque countryside and amazing historical architecture in the cities!

Expecting ‘Scottish weather’, the whole family packed enough woollens to make another sheep! But in the end, the weather was so mild we ended up being roasted in our shoes! The Scots too were wondering if we had somehow expected arctic conditions (which we did of course!) that they were not aware of. In any case, while we were busy being boiled alive, we enjoyed the delights of Edinburgh City, St. Andrews, Dundee and St. Monans.

Edinburgh City
Edinburgh City

When on holiday, it is customary for me to seek out local yarn shops or wool mills in the area, so my particular request was to check out Ginger Twist Studio. And what a gem it was!

Situated north-east of Edinburgh’s Royal Terrace Gardens, in the centre of a busy intersection of London Road and Easter Road, this wee little shop… (and I mean wee) stands out brightly between the row of regular shops in the street.

IMG_1878

Inside, is a charming little store packed full with beautiful colour yarn skeins, yarn balls, knitted samples and fun accessories. Suddenly, and expertly camouflaged I must say, did a bounce of wild ginger hair bob straight up and greeted me with a big smile and a “Hello!” – I nearly jumped out of my skin!

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Jessica James, the owner of this cute store was pretty and charming. After I teased her about her name and got that out of my system, we chatted in yarn. Now, ‘Yarn’ is another language according to my Husband and daughter, who looked on quizzically as Jessie and I chatted fluent yarn the whole time. Paul cannot speak yarn yet but he understands a great deal of it, while Madison is not interested in speaking yarn at all!

Jessica

Surprisingly, this tiny shop can not only hold stock, but it also has tea making facilities, a skein winding service and a pattern book library. I half expected there to be a secret panel that opens up to reveal a pool room or something!

Among my purchases, I bought: 1 skein of Ginger’s Hand Dyed Sheepish DK in “Gorblimey” – an electric yellow/green in Bluefaced Leicester; and 1 skein of Masham Mayhem DK in “On The Prowl” – a mix of blue/navy/purple in 50/50 BFL & Masham. Immediately, I knew what these babies were going to be. So this is what I made with them:

Aggregate

Aggregate

Pattern: Aggregate – my project title: “Aggie Lime with a Ginger Twist”. The yarns are so soft and fluffy and the colours are amazing! I really love the result.

Check out Ginger Twist Studio website: www.gingertwiststudio.com

Getting Cranky (in a Happy way)!

Well, I’m not sure that I consider it cheating. Although, some might. I call it “A means to beat down my encroaching yarn stash”, or my “RSI* avoidance plan”!

I’m talking about knitting machines! They can come in various styles, but the one that I was really keen to acquire was the Addi Express (22 pin). I was given one for Christmas recently (OK, I bought it for myself as a Christmas gift, because NOBODY knows what to buy me, and why bother anyway? Especially when I buy what I want, when I want it!!), so with all these bundles of left-overs and odd-ball yarns, I wanted to explore the possibilities with this machine.

Searching YouTube

I found this wonderful lady called Margaret Olander, who makes regular yarn-related video blogs called “Sheepishly Sharing“. She too has an Addi Express as well as the Addi Maxi (larger version) and I’ve learned a lot from her! She shares tips and tricks, pitfalls and remedies, while she explores all the possibilities with these machines.

My Projects So Far…

I’ve been having so much fun with this machine, but my first ambition was to ‘knit’ a pair of socks. As you may be aware, I can already knit socks, no problem, but sometimes it would be great to make a quick pair of socks as a gift, or just for fun. So, here are a few that I’ve done:

Pink/Teal socks

This one uses 2 different colour strands of fingering weight yarn, held together. The funny thing about holding 2 colour strands is that their appearance is not always even. I found myself turning my tension hand a few times so that the pink yarn doesn’t sit in the same place while cranking the machine. In the end, I think the machine decides.
Yarn: Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon by Old Maiden Aunt in “Twu Wuv” (pink) & “Jaded” (teal blue)

Pink/Teal Socks

Daisy socks

Made from an unloved fingering weight yarn on the shelf marked “What Was I Thinking???”. This yarn is quite thin, so I held it triple to get the best out of it. It becomes super-stretchy, but it is a firm yarn, therefore it is not fluffy. When worn, it gives the appearance of an open-gauge sock – a bit draughty-looking maybe. As I am writing this, and having worn it all day, I can’t say that I’ve noticed this.
Yarn: Pure 4ply by Wollmeise in “Daisy”

Daisy Socks

How I Made Socks on the Addi Express

After casting on, I made a long tube of about 36 rows, broke off yarn, inserted some waste yarn and knit for half of the stitches (11), reconnected yarn then resumed for a further 40 rows and bound off. Once off the machine, using 6mm circular needles, I removed the waste yarn and picked up the 22 live stitches and knitted them in the round by forming a heel and decreasing 1 stitch at each end of the 11 stitches (-2 sts) every alternate round until a total of 12 stitches remained (6 back and 6 front). I broke off yarn leaving a 6″ (15cm) tail, threaded a yarn needle and grafted (kitchener stitch) the heel. For the toe, I repeated the same process as the heel. For the cuff, I picked up 22 stitches and worked a 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for about 5 rounds then BO loosely.

Super Insulated Socks

Here, I was trying to achieve a fabric that I would be happy to wear on my feet. In this version, the yarn is held double, but the length of the foot and leg section is twice as long. The ‘tube’ is folded in on itself to create a double layer. For this, you have to be mindful to create a gap for the heel in both layers. It’s pretty simple to work out, but the tricky part is to combine all 44 sts into 22 so that you can work the heel and toe using the method I mentioned above. A more time-consuming (but perhaps more insulating) method is to work the heel and toes for EACH layer, then sew them briefly together so that they don’t slip and slide. I might try that and see how it goes.

My conclusion for these socks is that they became too thick. You’d never be able to get any shoes on. In fact, scrap the idea of shoes altogether!

Yarn: Sock yarn from Tiger Stores (75/25 wool/nylon) – 2 strands, & Excelite by John Arbon Textiles (Exmoor Blueface/nylon) – 1 strand.

Super Insulated Sock

Ideal Fabric for Socks

Sock yarns are the best in my opinion because they usually come in Superwash form and/or have enough nylon content to make them strong, but you need something more. You need extra ‘fluff’ to make it warm and to fill in those holes in the outstretched fabric. So to create a good workable sock, you need 3 strands of fingering weight yarn comprising the following:

Strands 1 & 2 = wool/nylon mix (or acrylic) – for warmth and strength
Strand 3 = fluff! some kind of wooly or rustic yarn (i.e. Blueface Leicester, Jacob, organic Merino etc.)

More coming soon!

As you can see, I am still exploring this. But I’ve got quite a few more projects to show you as well, so I will post them soon! And the great thing about all of this is, I am actually using up all my left-over yarn!! Yay! 🙂

Better get cranking!!

*Repetitive Strain Injury