Sunday, 27 April 2008

Sock Clubs launched and Wonderwool Wales

Firstly and most importantly, thank you to everyone for your kind words here, by email and in person, about my sister-in-law. She has the date for her operation in two weeks and a few more test results to get. I'm not very patient at the waiting game...

What it has brought home is to get on and do things - don't just think/talk about doing something - get on and do it! Life's too short to shilly shally. Hence, this week, after much persuasion, I launched two SQ Sock Clubs.

One is the Plushness club which offers one skein of Plushness lambswool/angora/cashmere, beautifully wrapped, to arrive by the last day of each month for three months plus extra goodies. The theme of this summer club is The British Season and colourways will be inspired by social and sporting events representing the quintessential British summer.

The other is the Endure club which offers one skein of Endure merino/nylon sock yarn, beautifully wrapped, to arrive by the last day of each month for three months. The theme of this summer club is the popular tv series, Pushing Daisies. I'm a huge fan of Emerson Cod, the Piemaker's sidekick who secretly loves to knit for relaxation. The colourways will be inspired by the colourful characters.

The closing date for these clubs was originally 7th May, but they proved more popular than I could ever have expected and sold out in around 24 hours. All being well, I'll do another autumn club starting in August.

Thank you to everyone who joined - I'll refrain from referring to you as Squeenies - and to the person whose idea is was (you know who you are) - and I plan to have a lot of fun with these clubs.

Now, should I start a Ravelry group? Yes, no? Will I be rattling around in there on my ownsome - Mrs Nigel No-mates?

Yesterday, me and the Skein Princess took ourselves off to mid-Wales for Wonderwool.

It was a veritable feast of yarn, roving, felting, weaving, spinning and everything else to do with wool. Like many, I made a beeline for Posh Yarn where I managed to acquire three skeins:

Posh Emily - lambswool, angora, cashmere

Posh Laura - merino/cashmere

And Posh Eva - silk/cashmere

I'd spoken to Dee on Ravelry before, and she was just as lovely in real life. She completely understood why I was purchasing from her and about the joy of yarn acquisition and husbands' reactions to stash enhancement, but I think Tony was a tad suspicious that we had the one supplier in common! Nothing to worry about, I would've thought! I'm just small fry and bow at the throne of Posh!

Then I discovered the joys of First4yarn and Skein Princess chose this Cascade yarn:

I'm trying to prise it off her by offering her swaps with some acrylic yarn she admired, but she's a clever one - she's having none of it!

After a purchase of a needle felting tool and some beads and chatting with several stall holders, including a lady from the Knitting guild who'd been at the same hyberbolic crochet reef workshop that I'd attended, I felt the need to return to First4yarn to buy some lovely Malabrigo in Lettuce colourway:

Got back completely shattered after a 6 and a half hour round trip.

So apart from Sock Clubs, Wonderwool, skating, swimming, cinema, Legoland, Paulton's Park, knit night and a Pampered Chef party, I've actually got a bit of knitting finished:

It is indeed the Love Me or Leaf Me Carpet Bag by The TygerLily of Etsy. This pattern is genius and I loved every minute of it and even though I wasn't sure I needed such an item in my life, I took it to knit night and to Wonderwool this week, and it was fantastic for carrying yarn and much admired.

And finally, the Skein Prince has been click clacking again. This time, in case you didn't recognise them, we have Richard Hammond and The Stig from popular tv programme, Top Gear!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Damn, blast and bollocking balls

My sister-in-law has just been diagnosed with kidney cancer. She is 36 and has two young boys - my nephews. These are the facts. The emotions are a different matter.

Update: Thanks so, so much for all your kind comments and positive vibes. Things are looking a little rosier this evening than they were this morning. She went for her scan and the cancer is contained within the kidney and hasn't spread to her other organs. She's still to have the bone/blood scan, but this first step is in the right direction. The doctors say she's had the cancer for two or three years without knowing - it's very slow growing.

A rollercoaster of emotion this week - they thought it was TB, then a rare tropical disease. Poor girl - I can't even imagine what she's been through. Oh, and I forgot to say she has a lovely husband too - the men always get left out.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Etsy Treasuries

I've been lucky enough to have featured in a few Treasuries (collections of 12 Etsy items collated on a theme) in my time, and it's not often I check them, but before I went to bed tonight, I found that Vintage Fairisle had been picked for a Red and Blue Treasury - I wish I knew how to get a mini Etsy photo of it to show you on here forever more (I'm sure whirly knows how to do it), but unfortunately, it will be lost in a day or two. From the comments, it looks like it featured on the front page (but I'm not sure.)

OK, this is weird - about to shut down when discovered Golden Plum in another Treasury! Two in one day! This one is called What I like today and features plum and green. Again, it will vaporise in a day or two.

I'll just go to bed on a Treasury high! Simple things please simple minds!

Jeremy Knitson or Knitchard Hammond?

Ten-years-old he may be, but Skein Prince is definitely getting through more knitting than me. This week he tried his hand at illusion knitting, using this pattern called Hedwig Illusion by the lovely Marian at Freshisle Fibers. It's a washcloth!Looks like it's brown and stripey.
But tilt it a bit, and a Hedwig owl appears. All done with knits and purls in the right places.

And do you know what he's learnt today - how to crochet. He's helping with some hyperbolic coral as I'm floundering (excuse the pun) with getting much of that done in time.

He can't wait to get his Ravelry invite now and is 2000th in the queue. He's been trying to think up his Rav name and wants it to reflect his love of cars and knitting. First he came up with Knit Rider, but someone already had it. Then Jeremy Knitson - he's a massive Top Gear fan - and he can't decide between that and Knitchard Hammond.

By the way, just out of interest, and I am asked this twenty times a day, "Which do you prefer - a Lamborghini Gallardo or a Porsche 911?" I have no opinion whatsoever... but ask me "Which do you prefer - cashmere or silk?" And I could elaborate on that for hours!

Here's what I've been knitting this week:It's the Love Me or Leaf Me Carpet Bag by The Tyger Lily at Etsy. I met Karen through the Etsyknitters team and she sent me this pattern to try out. It's a fantastic pattern and I'm thoroughly enjoying it - and it's my first go at using a cable needle. Can't wait to see it finished.

Obviously I NEEDED some gorgeous fabric to line it with and found some beautiful Japanese fabric from sweetflavor - another Etsy seller. Then I had to find some handles and discovered a lovely online shop for bagmaking based in the UK called u-handbag.

I squeezed in an extra dyeing day, so there will be a shop update next week - here's a little taster:
Some Opulent, Mulberry, Entice, Kimono and Lavish.

Just had to show you one of the custom orders I finished this week:
It's the Chocolate Lime collection in Plushness

And finally, I have the best customers (friends) in the world. Imagine my astonishment when I received this little lot in the post - how kind and generous - I was truly flabbergasted, but it completely made my day and I thank the somewhat shy (!) person for such a wonderful gift.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Snow scenes and shop preview

We wore t-shirts on Friday in glorious Spring sunshine, but coats,hats and gloves on Sunday. We don't get much snow in these here parts, so the children made the most of it:

Our front garden

Mr Snowman

Old oak tree

And when he's not playing in the snow, young Skein Prince is getting through more knitting than me! He created this Stuffie by Ysolda over the weekend and did the embroidery and sewing up by himself. He's now in the queue for Ravelry and can't wait to get his own page - he's already thought up his name.

I thought I'd do things back-to-front this week, and give you a little sneak preview of what will be available later in the week:
Fragrant Stocks in Lavish - 6 skeins

Maverick's Choice in Plushness

Chocolate Blackberry in Plushness

Vintage Fairisle in Mulberry

Faded Flowers in Mulberry

I am lucky enough to have lots of custom orders this week so there may not be a huge amount dyed up for next week's shop update - just thought I'd give you the heads up, just in case anyone was thinking of buying loads! Ha!

And finally some flowers to say I'm thinking about two people who are not in the best of health at the moment and I wish them speedy recovery xxx

Friday, 4 April 2008

Bling Socks on front cover of magazine

Last weekend, me and Skein Princess took ourselves up to London to the Stitches and Craft show at Olympia (NOT Earl's Court, as I thought - long walk for a six-year-old!)

Here's us on the train (was at a Posh dinner dance the night before, hence the haggard look):

She loved it from the moment the ticket guy said she didn't need to pay because she was too beautiful! She was in her element with ribbons, buttons, huge wine glasses filled with glitter.

We made our way to the Hipknits stand where the first thing I spotted was the Bling Socks knitted in SQ Lavish in Fragrant Stocks colourway - all beaded and beautiful. I inadvertently blurted out "That's my yarn!" in an overexcited, loud voice at which Lou came over and started chatting away and was so friendly saying that loads of people were stroking it etc. Then she started telling customers that here was the person who'd dyed the yarn - they all started to scamper away as fast as their feet could take them!

At the end of last year, I'd found Diane of Yarnstardesigns on Etsy and asked if we could use her pattern for Yarn Forward magazine, so really the hard work was all hers. I sent her the yarn and she knitted them up and sent them back to Kerrie for the photo shoot.

There were more of the spring issue designs hanging up round the stand, and they looked really beautiful - I want to knit at least two of the tops. And I met Kerrie for the first time - had chatted loads on email - and Jo, their new advertising intern, who runs her own yarn shop - Yarnbox.

Unfortunately, I can't show you any photos of the socks yet because not everyone has received their copies of the magazine as they were just posted out this week, but I can direct you to the spring preview here.

I couldn't resist a little purchase while I was there:

These are a lovely squidgy merino

And here's Skein Princess taking a break with all our purchases:

We had such a nice day and everyone we met was so friendly and went out of their way to help us - especially the ticket desk man at the Dr Who exhibition at Earl's Court who phoned to find out where we had to go and then drew us a map. London was in a friendly mood that day!

Here are some gratuitous yarn pictures, some from this week's shop update:

Wild Blush 2 ply cashmere - custom order

Lemon Thyme 2 ply merino - Entice (sold)

Honeycreeper sportweight merino in Divine (sold)

Maharajah sportweight merino in Divine

Summer Bunting Collection in Lavish cashmere/silk - one variagated, four to match

Now that Smitten (aka Honey) has had the last of her jabs, we can't get her to go outside. She sits at the back door and won't go out. Couldn't keep her in when she wasn't supposed to go out! Typical!