Happy Starwars Day sale!

May the fourth be with you! I love the fun and corny puns and memes this day has and since I am a big geek who loves to share my fandoms with you through knitting and crochet, I am offering 25% off all patterns, books, kits and notions in my Ravelry and online shop today only as a flash lightsaber sale. Use the code MAY4TH2017 on checkout to get the discount. 

Happy lightsabering,

Sarah x

 

 

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Chinese Waitress Cast-on Tutorial

One of the two cast-ons used in part 1 of the Neck & Neck! MKAL is the Chinese Waitress Cast-on. This is a lovely technique that produces a reversible edge that looks almost like a 2 stitch i-cord. 

In the video below I show how to do this cast on and it has been added to my tutorial webpage.

This is how the finished cast-on looks from the front:

Front view (right side) of Chinese Waitress Cast-on

Front view (right side) of Chinese Waitress Cast-on

And the back:

Back view (wrong side) of Chinese Waitress Cast-on

Back view (wrong side) of Chinese Waitress Cast-on

Happy knitting,

Sarah x

How I was nearly good at the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching show

Last weekend I ended up on a surprise road trip to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show. 

My yarn show survival kit

My yarn show survival kit

I packed my yarn show survival kit and we headed off.  Now I have to confess I was an annoying customer.  I am one of those people who spend the majority of the day just looking and planning.  I did not go with any type of list of things I wanted and I had not looked at the list of exhibitors as I did not know I was going until the last minute.  No plan meant everything was going to be an impulse buy... and I was trying to be good...

Obviously I failed at the being good part. An hour before the show shut (yes it was last minute) I suddenly decided I wanted to buy everything I had seen and had to rush around to get it before everyone packed up.  (Note to vendors: Please don't pack up 15 mins before the show shuts, it may be quietening down but those last minute customers can spend a lot - and to be honest, I think it is a bit rude when the show is still open.  I know shows are tiring, I have worked at a lot of shows and do empathise, but it just does not look good.)

Jamieson's wall of colour

Jamieson's wall of colour

Despite being called the Knitting and Stitching show there is not a lot of yarn around.  The show is geared far more to sewers than knitters but there is lots to see and get inspiration from.  I love the Jamieson's wall of Shetland colour that is present, it has given me inspiration for a hat for my sister (she is complaining that I don't knit enough for her). 

In the end I treated myself to some gorgeous rainbow yarn from The Knitting Goddess.  I think with everything that is going on (see this post) I need a bit of bright cheery rainbows right now. I also bought a book I have been after for a while by Liz Lovick on Shetland Lace.  Everything else was sewing related. There were lots of cute fat quarters around and in the end I went for ones with polar bears in hats, owls, rockets, bunnies and fairy toadstools.  I also got a pattern for some pyjama trousers as I have been wanting to make myself more lounge pants and some jersey fabric that has a girl hugging a sloth. This came from a stall selling cute fabric and children's patterns but why should kids get all the cute stuff?  My new year's resolution is to definitely get the sewing machine out and start using this mountain of fabric I am collecting. 

The best bit of the show was the giant Game of Thrones White Walker that was embroidered by the Embroiderer's Guild.  It was commissioned for promoting the show and it was just amazing.  The detail was just fantastic, I was in awe.  Even the background walkers had beaded eyes which made them rather scary.

All of the shields from the different families in the show were also embroidered around the edges and it was fun to spot the different clans. 

Just a couple more pics...

Happy knitting,

Sarah x

Why complexity can be good in chaos

When going through time of stress and difficulty, the temptation is often to scale back crafting to something simple, something that does not require any thought or brain power to complete; a stocking stitch sock or crochet granny squares for instance. It allows the crafter to worry about other things whilst still occupying their hands and to keep on crafting.  

The last three months for me have been very difficult with lots of stresses coming from all different directions, but the main two have been dealing with a company who messed me around and my dad being very ill.

Knitting my Fenay

Knitting my Fenay

Throughout this time I have been knitting a complex lace project and instead of finding it an added stress, I think it has helped. The pattern is Fenay by my good friend Ann Kingstone, a lace bolero with Ziggurat shoulders and seamless set-in sleeves, all worked in the lace pattern.

Back in early September, before all the stresses got going, I started to knit myself the bolero, but to make it more(!) complicated than the original pattern, I was going to lengthen the bolero so that it would reach my hips, as I want to make it more of a cardigan, and also add some waist shaping which would involve writing my own charts to keep the lace patterning going throughout.

So how has this helped with stress? Surely making things more complicated would add to the stress rather than help. Except it didn't. I found that when I am knitting my Fenay I cannot think of anything else. I have to be in the right frame of mind to pick it up and make some progress, but I have found that this is the same whether I am working on this project or any other more simple one.

Fenay lace pattern

Fenay lace pattern

The lace pattern and shaping is such that it completely distracts me. My overactive brain has to settle down and just count stitches... k2, yo, k3, skp, k2tog, k3, yo, k3.... it cannot multitask and think of anything else whilst doing this. After a few minutes I am calmer, less stressed, almost meditative. It does not get rid of the situations that are causing the stress, but I believe it is helping me manage and cope with the worries and the uncertainties.

There is now a lot of research about the therapeutic benefits of knitting for many health problems, including depression, anxiety and pain. Stitchlinks is a great website that collates all the research and has tips on how to knit for health. I would certainly recommend it, and I often do to my patients.

Writing my waist shaping charts on Stitchmastery

Writing my waist shaping charts on Stitchmastery

So back to my Fenay; I am now working on the waist shaping and making steady progress.  The yarn is Isager alpaca 1, a laceweight 100% alpaca yarn that will make this cardigan very light but warm. I was hoping to have it finished by the end of the month but I have a fair bit to go yet. Knitting also teaches patience!

Next up will be a crochet blanket. I purchased the yarn a couple of days ago from Woolyknits, 8 shades of their blue faced Leicester DK. It was an impulse buy and a bit of much needed retail therapy!

My yarn binge for a crochet blanket

My yarn binge for a crochet blanket

Sarah x

Yarndale Round Up!

Can you believe it has been over a week since Yarndale already? I had the most fantastic time and I hope you did too. This year seemed even busier than the last and Skipton auction mart was just full of woolly wonder! 

Thank you to everyone who visited my stall and said hello. It was lovely to meet so many people and discuss designs, yarn and all things woolly with you. Yarndale really is one of the friendliest yarn festivals.  Where ever I went people were smiling and having lots of fun.

The very full Yeti

The very full Yeti

We set off on the Friday with a very full car of books, tables and mannequins (there were a few strange looks from other car drivers for the rather indecent torsos). It is amazing what you can fit in a Yeti.

The Yarndale sheep sign

The Yarndale sheep sign

The drive to Yarndale is always a pleasant one for us as we pass through some beautiful Yorkshire scenery. The best bit though is approaching Skipton and catching the first Yarndale sheep sign - there were squeals of excitement!

The sheep pen before.....

The sheep pen before.....

Then came the hard work of transforming our sheep pen into a beautiful display. We had just got going with pinning the drapes around the pen in the above photo.

.....and after!

.....and after!

A few hours, lots of sweat, a few swear words as we pricked our fingers on pins and occasionally tripped over boxes and the stall was set up and ready for the crowds arriving Saturday morning.  For the eagle-eyed amongst you, yes I did put the hands on the wrong way round on White Lady.  Yes I am a doctor. No, I don't operate on people anymore and obviously that is a good thing! Thank you to the customer who pointed it out early on Saturday so not too many people noticed!

Alpacas!

Alpacas!

One of the things I love about Yarndale is the animals. This year there were some beautiful alpacas and sheep around the auction mart, and we were lucky enough to be placed opposite the angora bunnies. I popped over several times to say hello to their fluffiness.

The Yarndale little woolly sheep

The Yarndale little woolly sheep

The other thing I love, and what I think makes Yarndale so special is the community crafting that goes on around the festival. This year was little woolly sheep! There were hundreds of them, made by generous crafters all around the world (32 countries!).  Each little sheep was identified by its owner and then auctioned off to raise money for Martin House Childrens Hospice, a very important charity that does amazing work for very sick kids. The auction raised over £3000 for the hospice which is just amazing. Well done to all the lovely crafters and people who bought them. There is the most amazing variety of sheep and their little woolly jackets. There were so many really imaginative ones it is hard to choose a favourite, but I think the little dragon-sheep (in red bottom right) and the Yorkshire White Rose sheep (in blue with white flower top right) are high contenders. I did not get chance to buy one but I am glad they all went to good homes.

Overall, a really fantastic fibre festival and an overwhelming success for the organisers, and all the volunteers who work so hard to keep everyone happy. I hope to be back next year with my next book!