Friday, 30 January 2009

Plump Plushness

Plump Plushness which has gone on sale in the shop today. That's all for today and tomorrow.

Merry Men

Pink Lady Apple


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Next shop updates and a free pattern

I bring you news that I'm planning to trial a new system of shop updates by uploading a few items at a time over the next week (from 30th Jan.) at random times during the day and night. There's likely to be a little bit tomorrow or Saturday, and then more at the beginning of next week. Shall I post back on here when all the updating is complete?

It's not an ideal system, but I'm hoping I'll have a greater supply of hand-dyed to bring you from the summer onwards when my circumstances change and I can increase the numbers of days I can be in the workshop dyeing with the possibility of a helper! More skeins of the same colourway (though not so many as to detract from the unique feel of each skein), more colourways, more chance to project-plan...

This Plump Plushness will be included in the updates - it's as if the Plushness has over-indulged at Christmas-time and is bulging out of its yarn band! I know the feeling! The Pink Lady Apple makes an appearance in Issue 2 of The Knitter which is more than a little bit exciting...

Also, just a reminder for those of you in the S.E. of England, that I'll be bringing lots of hand-dyed yarn to the Unravel show at Farnham Maltings on 21st February. It's already looking like a bit of a SQ meet-up and it will be great to meet so many of you.

This looks interesting - UK DIY exhibition opens at the Turnpike Gallery (which I think is in Wigan?) on 14th February and includes a film on the Handmade Nation movement which "explores a burgeoning art community based on creativity, determination and networking." Their blog is interesting in itself - latest entry is on yarnbombing which has made it into the national newspapers recently.

The Zig and Zag Sock Yarn pram blanket is finished, bar sewing in all the ends, which won't be quite as bad as it looks, as I worked half of them into the knitting but it's Off the Needles which I have mixed feelings about. I designed it to be a blanket I wouldn't get bored with, and it worked!

The pattern was fairly simple and I've detailed it below. I'm sure it could be written more elegantly, but it's what worked for me. You could use a more limited palette and switch between fewer colours or knit more pattern rows in the same colour for wider chevrons. It could be easily adapted to become a scarf.

Zig and Zig Sock Yarn pram blanket (now available as a pdf - here)

Needles: 4.5mm US size 7 circular needle
Yarns: I used a selection of sock weight yarn including Skein Queen, Posh Yarn, Koigu, Socks That Rock, Hipknits and Sunshine Yarns in merino, cashmere/silk, handspun cashmere and BFL

I only used a very small amount of each, enough for four rows, though you will need a larger quantity of the colour which forms the border and is knitted in garter stitch.

Choose your border colour and wind off a good handful of it into a separate ball. This will be used for your left-hand border.

Cast on 127 stitches
K 6 rows (garter stitch) in border colour.

Continue in same colour for next four rows:

Pattern row 1: K5 *KFB, K4, sl1 knitwise K2 tog psso, K4, KFB* repeat nine times to last 5 stitches;K5
Pattern row 2: K5, P117, K5
Pattern row 3: As row 1
Pattern row 4: As row 2

(Note: this is new, improved pattern for row 1 - if you need the original, it's at the end of this post.)

Knit first 5 stitches in border colour, change colour, incorporating one end of the new colour into the first four or five stitches of the work whilst maintaining pattern. Knit the last 5 stitches using the small ball of border colour.

After knitting the four rows of pattern, switch to another colour if desired, remembering to knit the first and last five stitches in border colour.

Knit to desired length. I used 42 repeats of the 4-row pattern.

Make last 4-row pattern in border colour.
Knit 6 rows.
Cast off.

Sew in ends.

KFB - Knit a stitch, leaving stitch on left needle; knit into the back loop of this stitch
Sl 1 - Slip a stitch knitwise
PSSO - pass slipped stitch over
M1 - make one by picking up loop between stitches and knitting into the back of it

(Original pattern row 1: K5 *KFB, K4, sl1 knitwise K2 tog psso, K4, KFB* to last 16 stitches; KFB, K4, sl1 knitwise K2 tog psso, K3, M1, K5)

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Art of Time Frittering and Other Bletherings

How to Time Fritter: Ravelry, Facebook, looking at Knitting Stitch Dictionaries, blogging, chatting on email, looking at potential spinning wheels.

How to Time Fritter on Ravelry: Check forums, check SQueenery forum, answer PMs, see if anyone's uploaded any new projects to drool over, check other 41 groups I belong to, check if any more hearts on projects (very sad but it means so much!!), check activity of SQ members in case I'm missing out on anything exciting and then do it all again x 50 each day. Is it just me?

What I Should Be Doing: Putting washes on, feeding next door neighbours' rabbits, cooking roast dinner, sorting out workshop, coming up with pattern designs for Unravel, putting in orders for yarn, putting in orders for business cards, writing cheques for Brownies, housework.

Well, at least I've weaned myself off Plurk!

And I can't stop knitting this - I'm loving every minute - but I think the recipient may well have spotted it on Flickr.

The lovely Yvette who is going to be my spinning guru has disappeared off to India for a well-earned holiday. In the meantime, I'm in the process of acquiring a new spinning wheel. Due to requests for hand-dyed fibre, I always said I need to learn how to spin first so that I get a feel for how the fibre will spin up and how best to dye it. It was my one and only New Year's Resolution and I can't wait to get started with encouragement from the Queen of Spinning and Crochet, Rockpool Candy too. Twas lovely to catch up with her this week and be in total awe of her gorgeous batts and handspun.

Oh and the international parcels for the second installment of the Winter Clubs were posted out this week. UK ones going out next week. It was at this stage that I was going to show you some photos of the December installment but looks like I was in such a rush to get them out, that I didn't take any. If anyone's got any spare...

We spent last weekend in Bristol in this hotel. The plans to go to Get Knitted were somewhat scuppered by the fact that there was water pouring through our bedroom ceiling at home at 6am on Saturday so we had to sort that out before we went. The hotel was very nice if a bit Faulty Towerish in decor and residents and of course, didn't look like this in the storms and gales, but we had a massive family room and it was just nice to have a change of scene (and a full English breakfast!)

Friday, 16 January 2009

Unravel at Farnham Maltings

Today, me and alabamawhirly went down to Farnham Maltings to meet the Creative Communities Co-ordinator (great job title) to talk about the Unravel show on February 21st. We had a drink and a chat, whirly talked through all her creative ideas, I showed my yarn, we saw the spaces we could choose from and the outcome is that I'm taking a stall and whirly and the outcasts are putting on this exhibition which I can't say too much about yet and maybe helping out with knitting demonstrations around my stall. (Can you tell I'm a little excited about it - I didn't even stop for a breath there.) There'll be some of your favourite exhibitors going and a few new ones you may not have heard of, lots of spinning and a knitting surgery. Maybe see some of you there.




I had a massive delivery this week (oo er missus!) and I've restocked some of the Cashmere Soft colours which had sold out.

It's been a hectic week, and I'd like to thank everyone in the Skein Queenery group on Ravelry for giving me their opinions on the Dye to Order idea. More on that another time.

And a teeny tiny bit of progress on the Zig and Zag pram blanket.

You remember Nick, our friend and the builder who converted the garage into the SQuirkshop? He'd been asking me to knit him a hat for ages and after one false start (knitting one that turned out too small), this is my second attempt using a pattern by Stephanie Nicole. I added an extra inch onto the recommended size and switched to bigger needles after 12 rows.

I haven't cornered him with the camera yet so I'm afraid you've got my mug to look at modelling it and I look truly mad in this photo as I attempted to photograph myself in the mirror.

I dyed up some new BFL Aran in the colour of Nick's choice - oatmeal - and incorporated a band of Malabrigo in Lettuce which I got from First4yarns at Wonderwool.

We're off to Bristol over the weekend for a night in a hotel as part of Skein King's birthday present. So why did I choose Bristol? Apart from having lived there in a former life as a trainee accountant (ha!), well... Get Knitted's there, isn't it. Ulterior motive? Moi?

Oh, and I nearly forgot to say, Blush got a very nice review in Yarn Forward this month. Made me.... blush.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Tis all gone...

... except the yellow. Nobody likes the yellow. Aww.... Is there a more emotive colour in the spectrum? You either love it or hate it and if you hate it, there's a good chance you love purple instead - opposite on the colour wheel you see. (Update: the Banana Cream Pie has now gone to a good home).

I'm thinking about ways to make the shopping experience more pleasant and the common opinion (in the Skein Queenery group in Ravelry) seems to be that random updates supported by a general email and a blog preview at the start of the week when I'm updating is the way to go to avoid a frustrating frenzy. It's also a wake-up call that I need to dye up more skeins in the same colourway instead of getting into the workshop and just letting the creative spirit take over leaving all sense at the door! I'm also thinking of resuming custom orders perhaps once a month or every second month - but, hold your horses - I'll need to evaluate this very carefully as to how to fit it into the dyeing schedule, how to monitor stock and dyes, and come up with a few more guidelines than I had previously.

It is lovely to think that so many people want to buy and knit with my yarn. I am very lucky - and thank you for your ongoing support - I just want to keep the buying process as fair and as stressless as possible for anyone who wants to sample the royal yarnyness.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

You're all too keen!

For the moment, I think I'll have to reluctantly stop the update.

The update is so feverish tonight that there are literally seconds between each transaction and the shopping cart can't keep up which means that the same yarn can be bought by more than one person and I'm not happy that people are being left disappointed in thinking that they've bought yarn when someone's got to it first and it's happened on more than one occasion tonight.

I think the best and fairest way I can do it is to load the remaining yarn into the shop in batches over the next 24 to 48 hours.

I'm not sure what the long-term solution to this problem is - I may have to switch to random updates. Any suggestions more than welcome but I'm sorry I won't be able to reserve any yarn.

1,000 apologies.

Shop update preview

Let me introduce a new yarn type to the Skein Queen stable. This is Desire - a squidgy superwash DK merino - a generous 425m per 100g skein. We're talking jumper quantities of Skein Queen yarn. Or just one skein would make a hat, scarf or mittens. Pictured here in the Merry Men colourway.

And a note on Costumier in Wisp - I have 4 skeins in total - 3 not reskeined and one reskeined but they are from the same batch and I used the same pretty colours.

It's part of tonight's update. Hope to see you in the shop around 8pm GMT.

Blue Damson in Desire - 1 skein

Indigo Denim in Desire - 4 skeins

Merry Men in Desire - 5 skeins

Kettle Pond in Plump Plushness - 1 skein

Blue Seaspray in Plushness - 2 skeins

Pentlands in Blush - 2 skeins

Frosted Grass in Blush - 1 skein

Bronzed Dewberry in Bamboozle - 2 skeins

Mermaid in Blush - 1 skein

Folklore in Bamboozle - 1 skein

Zapateado in Blissful - 1 skein

Australia in Blissful - 1 skein

Moonshine in Blissful - 1 skein

English Pewter in Opulent - 4 skeins

Melba in Opulent - 2 skeins
Banana Cream Pie - Wisp - 2 skeins
Ruby Ruby - Wisp - 4 skeins

Old Roses - Wisp - 2 skeins

Costumier - Wisp - 4 skeins
Spring Flowers - Blissful - 1 skein

PS You may have to bear with me - it'll take me a while to load this little lot up into the shop. Also you may notice a few changes to the shop - we're working with Pace to implement a few ideas and they're gradually coming to fruition. You can now search by the main colour in the skein and the number of skeins in each yarn type can be seen.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Next shop update

Tuesday 13th January 8pm GMT.

Preview of hand-dyed skeins here tomorrow afternoon.

SQ x

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Extended sale on cashmere

You may be interested to know that I've decided to extend the 15% discount on Cashmere Soft from Lotus Yarns (China) right the way to the end of January. Did you see it featured in the first ever issue of The Knitter? A gorgeous, glossy UK-based magazine for experienced knitters. They selected it for one of their top three yarns :)

Birthday weekend - when knitting is dangerous

We have two birthdays this weekend - it's Skein King's tomorrow (I can hardly believe it's a whole year since we celebrated his 40th at Center Parcs) and Skein Princess's on Monday.

Oh ho! Look what I found. This is her seven years ago. I knitted this sheep suit and I'm sure it had something to do with the severe eczema that plagued her for two years because it was shortly after this, if not the next day, that it developed. Cute, but so not worth it, poor thing! I was under strict instructions NEVER to knit anything similar for my sister if she ever had a baby.

Those early days went by so fast and in a blur. I do remember that it was shortly after Will Young won Pop Idol and did a cover version of Evergreen which I used to sing to her:

Cos your the one good reason
You're the only girl that I need
Cos your more beautiful than I have ever seen

Och, I'm going all sentimental!

Anyhoo, I expect you'll be wanting the yarn info. I have lots and lots of squidgy hand-dyed yarn ready for the shop. However, due to ongoing birthday celebrations, I think the shop update will be Tuesday. I'll narrow it down to a specific time nearer the time by posting back on here whenever I'm stuffed with birthday cake and can't wrap one more present...

Saturday, 3 January 2009

First shop update of the year

I hope you all had a relaxing festive season and are ready and raring to meet whatever 2009 has in store for us all. We had a lovely Christmas in the SQ household - really relaxing with plenty of time to spend building jigsaws, eating way too much, going to the Panto and watching Christmas telly.

And Hogmanay was spent at our friends in the New Forest where they held a big party. Guests ranged from age 3 to 83 and most of the children were thrilled that they were allowed to stay up til midnight. The guests in their twenties indulged in Havana cigars and Veuve Clicquot champagne while us older ones sipped on the Cava and tried to remember what it was like to be that young and foolish enough to let off a rocket whilst still holding onto it! (I was never that foolish!)

As for knitting, I had a pretty frustrating couple of weeks. This is normally my biggest Christmas luxury - getting proper knitting time, but this year was one-stitch-forward-two-stitches-back. I did finish the Boy Gloves which are a perfect fit and don't come too far up his wrist because he doesn't like them catching in his watch strap:

They came ice-skating with us this morning and were perfect for keeping his hands warm.

I knitted a sleeve of the Debbie Bliss bolero on my new Knit Picks metal interchangeable needles and then realised I'd done the whole thing on 3.5mm instead of 4mm. It took about three evenings of knitting. Big sigh.

So I decided it was time for a new project. My sister's second baby is due in April, and she expressed a wish for a baby blanket, so I decided to make up my own pattern for this pram blanket.
It was inspired by Missoni-style knits and also I'm a closet Kaffe Fassett fan from the first time round and I know I won't get bored because of all the colour changes. I have started and restarted this several times, but I think this is the pattern I'm going to go with. I'm using a mixture of sock weight yarns in Skein Queen, Koigu, STR, Posh and Hipknits and it was my sister who gave me the cute Cath Kidston knitting project bag used to store it all.

And now, enough with the blether, and on with the sale. Everything in the shop will be reduced by 15% including this small amount of hand-dyed which I hope to load up by 5pm GMT when the sale starts.

Bronzed Dewberry in Elegance - 1 skein

Rajasthan in Elegance - 1 skein

Three Kings in Elegance - 1 skein

Chocolate Cherries in Plushness - 1 skein

Hyacinth in Plump Plushness - 1 skein

Figgy Pudding in Encore - 2 skeins

Mossy Oak in Blush - 1 skein

Midori in Wisp - 1 skein

Old Roses in Wisp - 1 skein

Faded Bunting - 2 skeins
(colour not as strong as intended - extra price reduction)

There's a couple of extra skeins I've not photographed on here - some Mellow and a guest yarn - to go on too and all the pre-dyed cashmere and bamboo is on offer too.