I thought it would be nice to begin my latest post with a good splash of colour 🙂
I thought it would be nice to begin my latest post with a good splash of colour 🙂
I’m in desperate need of some time alone with my needles 😦
It’s probably no surprise that my life over the last week has looked mostly like this
With very little of this.
Luckily, that’s all about to change, as tomorrow I’m off to Bangor in Wales for a few days and it will be fibre fun all the way. I’m actually going over to spend a few days learning about Saori weaving at Rosie Green’s studio SAORImor, so be prepared to be bored to death on my return. In addition to the weaving I’m planning on filling some of my free time with some much needed knitting time and listening to some audio books 🙂
In the meantime, I wanted to say a very big thank you to everyone for their kind thoughts, best wishes, cards, flowers, wine, chocolates and other assorted goodies. I now need to go on a diet and begin a strenuous exercise regime to shed the pounds.
There are times in our lives when we’ve probably all had to have one of those uncomfortable talks. You know the ones – money, religion, parenting, politics, family, etc, etc, etc.
This for me, is one of those times……
Having received new price lists now from several of my suppliers it’s become apparent that a change is under way, one that knowing the way these things go, is rather unlikely to be reversed.
Many of the yarn brands we’ve come to know and love here in Ireland, are actually UK based companies. Most, of these sell their wares in Sterling to their UK based shops whilst the likes of me in Ireland, purchases in Euros. It makes it easier all round in terms of banking, recommended retail pricing and in the main, produces a ‘fairer’ system for the shops and end consumer alike.
However, it’s probably not escaped your notice that the Euro has been performing extremely badly against the pound and as a result of the Pounds increasing strength, the UK based yarn companies have pretty much all increased their prices.
Increases of between 6 – 10% from what I’ve seen so far, seem to be the rate most of the yarn companies have rolled out. Which translates to quite a jump in the price of some of our yarns. For example a ball of Sirdar Snuggly Double Knit will be increasing in price from €3.90 to €4.20 a ball (sorry).
I’m going to have to ponder on what these increases will mean to us continuing to stock some ranges. There are some yarns that I personally, just don’t think represent value for money at the new increased price and I shall begin to phase these out. Others, some of which are favourites of yours and mine, will either stay or I’ll try and find alternatives, more reasonably priced alternatives.
Many of the more popular yarns are manufactured for several different companies and perhaps a little investigating is what’s needed now? Not wanting to be too cynical, my fear is that once increased, the yarn companies will be slow to implement any reductions in price if the Euro regains some strength.
I could have just implemented the price increases across the board and hoped no one noticed, but I’d prefer to be upfront and tell you all what’s happened and why.
Hopefully, we won’t all be too much poorer, as the price increases will I imagine, be rolled out on many of the things we buy 😦
Knitting and crochet were for many years seen as seasonal hobbies, often traded in for gardening during the warmer months. Fortunately, for us yarn shop owners, this isn’t so much the case any more and there are lots of us out there who see the summer months as a great excuse to sit down with friends on the beech, or by ourselves taking in those Vitamin D producing sun rays with our latest projects.
Copious photographs in previous posts and on Instagram will go to prove that I will knit just about anywhere, having been known to pull my needles out at music festivals, steam rallies, Ardmore Beach and on tour buses to name but a few. Regardless of the time of year I’ll knit.
As my ever suffering hubby and children will confirm, Love me, love my knitting.
I would have to confess though, that when selecting a yarn to knit with, cotton wouldn’t usually be my first choice as I tend to find it tough going on my hands, particularly if it’s mercerised.
Mercerisation (if you’re interested?) is where the yarn is given a Sodium Hydroxide bath that is neutralized in acid. The process increase the strength of the yarn and is what gives mercerised cotton it’s familiar lustre too. It’s also said to make the yarn adsorb dye better, which is how such bright colours come to be achieved by the spinning mills and as a ‘by the way’, it results in a yarn that is mildew resistant too.
If I was to opt for cotton and i occasionally do, I’m much more likely to reach for a ‘raw’ cotton (un-mercerized), something very like Classique Cotton from Stylecraft Yarns, which is super soft and comes in a range of beautiful colours and costs €5.95 per ball. Each 100g contains 184 metres/201 yards of 100% cotton and knits as a true double knit on 4mm needles, with a tension of 22 stitches to 28 rows over a 10cm/4″ square.
I’ve chosen 15 colours from the range to begin with including (from left to right)
Plum, Poppy, Hot Pink, Shell Pink and Shrimp.
Seville, Sunflower, Leaf, Soft Lime and Azure.
Greek Blue, Lavender, Wisteria, White and Ivory.
Classique Cotton has been a Stylecraft Yarn staple for some time now, so as you might expect there are a good range of patterns available in knitting and crochet, for adults, children, accessories and home wares.
Some of my favourites include.
Pattern 9133 is a t-shirt style knit with decorative eyelet stripes in sizes 32/34″ to 40/42″.
If you enter Classique Cotton into the yarn search bar on Ravelry, you’ll notice the yarn has been used for over 470 projects including everything from dishcloths and bunting to jumpers and blankets.
I imagine by now, there’s every chance you’re wondering what the photograph at the top of the post is all about? It’s actually the widely anticipated three new shades released by Stylecraft in the Special DK range. The new shades are (from left to right).
Storm Blue, Parma Violet and Sage.
I can’t believe it’s been 2 and a bit weeks already since the last Lilly Pond Blanket Clue was released. I know I’ve been busy, but I’d struggle to tell you doing what 😕
This Tuesday did indeed see the release of the Stylecraft/Jane Crowfoot CAL clue 4 and judging by the Facebook Group Page, there were lots of people eager to get started. Looking again this morning loads, loads of them have already completed all 4 blocks too 💩
Block 4 as you can see, is called Bobbles and Pin Wheels and the design is meant to represent the ripples of the water with little pink lilies at the waters edge.
The chart above shows the colours needed if you’re making the block using Stylecraft Life on the left and the alternative shades for the Special DK on the right.
Not being particularly fluent in crochet, I’ve struggled with this clue the most so far. I think for me crochet is easiest when I have to make a square (going round and round), rather than working a piece that goes back and forth. I’ve managed this much so far and now have had to allow my brain time to heal I’ll be sure to get the rest finished when I’m back from my travels (I’m off to London later today).
Before I go and pack my suitcase, because I’m one of those last minute people (bet you couldn’t have worked that out?) I guess I should really show you my attempts at blocks 2 and 3……
The Tiny Lilly Block from clue 2 wasn’t really that bad after I’d got the hang of it. it’s not the best piece of crochet in the world, but it’ll pass. It is however over 4 centimetres bigger than the reccomended 12cm square size.
As alluded to by Jane, the blocks are likely to get harder as they go on and I definitely found the third block – Lilly Bud, a little more intense. Truth be told, at one stage I’d have rather eaten it than continue.
The eagle eyed amongst you, will notice that my 3rd block is again larger than the specified 12cm. Happily though it’s the same size give or take the odd millimetre to my clue 2 block 🙂 So I’m hoping everything will work out OK.
😱 😱 😱
The next clue, for block 5, is due to be released Tuesday the 2nd of June.
I wish I could tell you it’s because I’ve spent my time creating things of beauty or exploring the countryside, but it’s simply as a result of trying to catch up.
In short I’ve been busy, busy with the every day stuff we all have to get done.
I have managed to squeeze a little knitting and crochet in by way of keeping sane, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve actually achieved that much. The photograph at the top of the post is a close up of the latest shawl I’ve made for the shop using Kimera from Adriafil.
Temptation is a terrible thing sometimes and the happy, summery colours of the Kimera yarn are exactly what persuaded me to take a closer look at this mercerised Egyptian cotton. I really wanted all 8 shades for the shop, but only had room enough for 6 😦
Each 50g ball costs €4.45 and contains 135 metres/149 yards, the recommended needle size is a 3.5/4mm. I find it a little thinner than a true double knit, but it’s not as fine as a 4ply either. Looking through some of the projects made using Adriafil Kimera on Ravelry, most people have opted for sport weight patterns.
The shawl is just my usual half granny square, but I do l♥ve them and I find they’re great to just throw over whatever I’m wearing. I made this one using a 5.5mm hook and three and a half balls of yarn. Tempted as I was, to crochet another row of trebles because I had enough yarn left to do so, I decided that for me and my ever shrinking 5.3″ frame the shawl is plenty big enough.
Looking at the uneven point it’s easy to spot that I didn’t get round to blocking the shawl before popping it on the mannequin, but being cotton I’m sure it’ll settle nicely before too long.
I’m completely smitten with the colourway and can’t wait to get the chance to wear it over something more summery (unlike today, which as you can tell from the photo, is a little overcast, with rain threatening to fall).
Still on a crochet theme, the 3rd clue for The Lilly Pond Crochet Along was released on the Tuesday the 5th.
This time it’s the Lilly Bud Block and on first look it doesn’t look too complicated, but truthfully, I could end up eating my own words.
The chart above shows the colours needed if you’re making the block using Stylecraft Life on the left and the alternative shades for the Special DK.
The next clue, for block 4, is due to be released Tuesday the 19th of May.
It’s all things socks here in the shop at the moment and why not? The sock I’d been knitting in one of the previous posts is now finished and I’m itching to cast on it’s companion so I can move on to my next ♥ pair ♥
I’m going to have a go at knitting a pair using the Cotton Premium from Opal. Unlike most standard sock yarns, the fibre in Cotton Premium is a blend of 38% wool, 32% polyamide & 30% cotton making it more ideal for the warmer months. A standard 4ply yarn, still with 410m on the ball but the addition of cotton also makes the colours more muted, almost pastel in tone.
My only dilemma now, is which colour to go for?
Along with the Cotton Premium I also bought another new range of sock yarn for the shop. Gallery is another Opal yarn and the colour combinations this time, could be described as anything but muted.
So it stands to reason that a delivery of new sock yarn must mean I might possibly have to have a bit of a clear out I guess?
Any of the discontinued balls of 4ply sock yarn in the basket are €5 each to clear. Most of them are fairly Autumnal shades, but I’m thinking Christmas presents (yes I did say it, sorry).
Don’t forget that although it says ‘sock’ on the label the yarns are all standard 4plys and will work to most 4ply patterns. Who doesn’t need a Hitchhiker or two?
This morning saw the release of the second clue for Stylecraft Yarns Lilly Pond Blanket Crochet Along. I’m not sure how those of you taking part are fairing? My tension as I’ve mentioned previously is off and by quite a bit 😳
The block this time is called Tiny Lilly and doesn’t look too difficult (phew). Having glanced over the pattern quickly though, I have spotted the words sew/sewn 😒 Since when did I sign up for a sew along?
I jest 😉 😉 😉
Having said that this is serious business apparently, if you’ve joined the Lilly Pond Facebook Page you’ll have no doubt seen just how ‘seriously’ some people are taking it 😱 It’s not a race to see who can complete the blocks first and it most certainly shouldn’t be a competition about whose block is better (only my opinion). Sadly, I’ve noticed several posts from members saying the forum just wasn’t for them and they’ve left because of it. I’d like to think this will make people think twice before posting anything unbecoming, but I doubt it. What I do think they should note is that other companies and individuals could be put off of hosting their own CAL/KAL because of it.
Enough chatter, back to the CAL
For the Tiny Lilly blocks you’ll need the shades in the chart above. Stylecraft Life DK on the left and Stylecraft Special DK substitutions on the right. Note the Plum and the Fondant shades are only used for the sewing this time.
The next block Lilly Bud will be released on May 5th.
There seems to be so much going on at the moment that I feel like I’ll fall behind if I don’t begin sharing some of it with you and there’s too much to put in a Facebook post, so please excuse the disjointed nature of this post. It’s probably a truer indication of how my mind works – on a good day that is 😁
(The balloon flower was gifted to me by one of my young students, Miriam, yesterday morning and it set the tone for a lovely day.
The sun was shining and I finally managed to get round to photographing these lovely blankets that Jackie Dunn whipped up for the Chernobyl Children’s Trust. Aren’t they just fab?
As are the scarf and 7 hats that she also made 💕
Some of you might have already noticed that I’ve finished my 3rd pair of socks this week. I had literally been dragging my heels over knitting them because they’re not really my colours and was planning on using them as boot socks. However, I’m prepared to swallow my words and admit to rather liking them.
Just so you know, I’ve knitted them in Heart & Sole sock yarn from Sirdar in shade 107 (Hip Hop) with 2.5mm needles and they’re really comfy 🙂
I’m on a total sock knitting binge and am actually making two separate pairs at the moment, one is a 6ply pair just to see what they’ll be like (I’ll be sure to let you know). The second pair are flying up, so much so that I’d reached the gusset part earlier today, but we were off to see Fast & Furious 7 and I needed knitting 😕 So I decided to risk it and try to work my decreases in the dark movie theatre, what’s the worse that could happen?
I’m dead chuffed with my cinema knitting. Not only did I manage to work my k2tog decreases neatly and without dropping a stitch.
You might recall I’d bought a couple of shades of Merry Go Round Double Knit from Stylecraft Yarns, in order to see what it was like and gauge customer interest. The one on the left is appropriately named Rainbow and the one on the left is called Peacock.
The reaction has been great, with the inital stock selling out in the Rainbow almost immediately. I myself, think it’s rather lovely for baby and children knits and the 100g ball seems to be never ending with a whopping 321yds/294m. So I’ve decided to add a few more shades to the range, top left it’s Starburst, top right is Candy Crush, bottom left is Blue Denim and lastly on the bottom right it’s Strawberry.
There are some lovely little patterns for the Merry Go Round yarn, but as it’s a standard double knit weight it will work as a great substitute with most dk patterns. I’m rather smitten with these crochet soft toys from pattern 9161, but I’m not convince my crochet skills are sufficient.
Talking of crochet….
I finally managed to get one of the blocks made for the Stylecraft Lilly Pond CAL, but I still have to sew in the ends (so many ends) and make a further three of these too. The next clue, for the second block is due to be released on Tuesday 21st April, so I’ll be way behind, but it’s meant to be fun isn’t it?
The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that my piece measures approximately 53cm, a whole 8.5cm’s longer than the recommended length of 44.5cm
It’s also a centimetre taller, but after talking to friends that are taking part and reading through the posts on the Facebook Group Page, it seems like most people are coming in around this size too. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping everything comes together without too much extra work 🙂