Thursday, 28 May 2009

Anarchy in the UK - God Save the Queen!

Everything's got out of hand here at Skein Queen hq lately. There's been a revolution, partly linked with Britain's Got Talent fever, and we're all knitting Union Jack handwarmers as designed by the talented alabamawhirly.

Alabamawhirly writes "These gloves were originally hand knitted by me from my own pattern whilst listening all the while to my old Fidelity record player. These Union Jack gloves are a homage to The Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten and God Save the Queen (the record)."

You can buy the pattern for these Anarchy handwarmers here. Believe me when I tell you how much thought and how many hours have gone into creating this detailed pattern and chart.

They can be knitted in commercial red, white and blue yarn, but if you decide you'd prefer the hand-dyed option, you can now buy three mini skeins in my shop to create them yourself. They come in shades of Rebel Red, Naked Anarchy and Bolshy Blue. Believe me when I tell you how many hours they took to wind into mini skeins!

Alternatively, you can buy the actual, handknitted mitts here. They'd make a great and unique gift.

And here's my effort at testing the pattern for Whirly (unblocked - how rebellious!)

Now, shall we return to some semblance of civility wearing our rose-tinted spectacles? Thanks so, so much to everyone who joined the Summer Squee! Clubs. For those of you who joined The Queen's Reading Room, I'm announcing the novel of the month a few weeks in advance in case you decide you'd like to read along. The first novel will be The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin. This novel is widely available through the reputable Internet book sites and stores.

This was the Summer Pudding colourway from the April installment of the Plushness Pudding Club - semi-solid and multi-coloured versions.

And this was the Esme Squalor colourway from the April installment of the Unfortunate Club.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Squee! Clubs sign-up time

The new theme of the Plushness club will be The Queen's Reading Room and will be based on my favourite books so the colourways will be inspired by a different novel each month. I'll aim to release the name of the next novel a couple of weeks ahead in case you would like to read along, though it's by no means a pre-requisite for being a member of the Plushness club.

My taste is mostly contemporary fiction but encompasses 19th and 20thC fiction, American fiction and I esp. love books set in non-Western countries. So it could be anything from The Time Traveler's Wife to Pride and Prejudice or Empress Orchid to Life of Pi.

This time no semi-solid option, because fiction is too colourful for restraint (unless the narrative strongly suggests semi-solid colours.) I can imagine these skeins being randomly dyed rather than greatly variegating. Will include inspiration sheet.

More information here.

The Unfortunate Club will continue in its current form using the Encore base, but there will be four installments over four months, which will bring us to the end of the 13 Lemony Snicket books. (I can hear sobbing already!)

More information here.

Any available places following consultation with existing members will be released via the shop tomorrow, and I'm afraid there's not many. Once you see them in the shop, if you could email me using the address given, I'll let you know the availability - places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis and then send you a PayPal invoice rather than receiving payment through the shop which, believe me, is more complicated than you would want to know due to postage.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Shop update - 21st May


More limited that usual supplies of each, but here you go:

Golden Teal in Plushness

Hidcote Blue in Plushness

Linen Roses in Plushness

Faded Roses in Plushness

Strawberry Sorbet in Plushness

Strawberry Shortcake in Plushness

Caramel Creme in Plushness

Charcoal in Opulent

Tiger's Eye in Blissful

Strawberry Mojito in Blissful

Olive Snook in Squash

Summer Bunting in Squash

Faded Roses in Squash

Blue Teal in Little Desire

Maid Marian in Little Desire

Keep an eye out in my Etsy shop too.

Two more to be added:
Mustard Seed in Blissful

Figwort III in Blissful

(Ravelry just made no. 1 trending topic on Twitter - that's huge - world domination of knitters, mwah ha ha ha ha!)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Next shop update

The plan is to have a shop update tomorrow evening. However, that means photographing all of the yarn, resizing the photos, adding them to the blog and shop with descriptions after I get back from the office tomorrow. It could be a late one!!

Thanks so much to all the outcasts for a lovely evening - I chatted so much that I actually went backwards on my project by the time I made mistakes and frogged back. Still, sometimes the chat is what counts!

All the Squee! club yarn for May is dyed up for the final installment of the Spring club. I've been in contact with existing members to see if they'd like to renew and am planning to open up any spaces that become free for the Summer club from next Wednesday.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Socktopus Trunk Show - a heavenly haven

Twas a whirlwind of a weekend. On Saturday morning, I had my second spinning lesson and learnt lots of interesting techniques including spinning a thick and thin slubby yarn, spinning from silk caps, adding silk noils and throwsters to fibre, spinning a boucle yarn and (this made me laugh) - how to spin a fun fur - fascinating technique but not sure I'll be trying that one too often.

On Saturday night, we went round to my friend Sandra's house to celebrate her birthday and I have never laughed so much in years - my ribs were hurting. All related to Skein King's antics which I probably shouldn't go into here as it may well embarrass the poor chap.

Soon enough, it was Sunday. I picked up alabamawhirly and we headed down the M4 in Biblical rain (pinched that phrase from bundle) and turned up on the doorstep of Socktopus in Chelsea laden with yarn where we were greeted by Alice, who was so welcoming and almost turned her shop upside-down to create as much space for us as possible.

See the back three shelves on the left - SQ yarn - and on the table..

and on the windowsill...

The limited supply of fibre, named after alcoholic beverages and cocktails, was popular and all went (no names here!)

Plushness and Squash

Elegance and Opulent

Charliesumx fondling some yarn with alabamawhirly encouraging her all the way!

Some lovely Socktopods - and check out Alice's Central Park hoodie - knitted in shades of orange Dream in Color Smooshy (I think). My photos aren't great - check out Alice's blog for some better ones. A huge thank you to everyone who came - it was so nice to knit and chat and even see some of the yarn all caked up and started on there and then - and to Alice for being such a great hostess.

It was almost torture (in a pleasant way) sitting amongst all the yarn all day. I knew I was going to make a small purchase, but it took me all day to decide. I settled on some Malabrigo sock in a rich, dark chestnut brown - so unlike me and I'm usually colour all the way - but I'd seen the lady in the photo knitting some beautiful Shurt'agal socks in a green/black version and that inspired me to opt for that.

This was me preparing the inventory for Socktopus. And thanks so much to alabamawhirly and kiknits for coming over on Friday to help with the skeining and labelling. I hope it was fun and I wasn't too much of a task-master!

I brought back about half. I'm visiting the outcast knitting group in Reading this Wednesday and bringing some along since it's been about two years since I brought them anything yarnie to look at, and then there will still be enough for a shop update on Thursday of this week.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Honey and her incredible hugging kitties

Thanks for all your interest in our new arrivals. Honey is a brilliant mum and they are thriving and getting bigger by the day. We have a home for the all black one, and a possible home for the black, white and ginger one and are keeping the little tabby. I'm trying not to get too emotionally attached to them all!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Skein Queen does fibre and Cloud Nine socks pattern

I haven't got a huge amount of fibre to bring along to Socktopus on Sunday (I have got lots of yarn), but I thought I'd show you some of what I have got - any name suggestions are welcome. The top one sort of reminds me of my Apple Cider colourway. What do you think? They're all superwash BFL tops and lovely to spin, especially for beginners.

Here's a sample of the Irish Queen I spun up. A little bit overspun but should give you an idea of the intensity of colours.

Ever wanted a pair of socks to make you feel as if you are floating on Cloud Nine when you are wearing them?

Maybe these are just the job - another free pattern - this time to support Plushness, as it is a thicker-than-normal yarn for socks.

Cloud Nine seemed appropriate, given that Plushness knits up into a dense, cosy, warm fabric and also the pattern works on a repeat of nine stitches. The lacy pattern contributes to the light, airy feel of the socks without them being too thick on the body. They are a cuff-down design and I used Nevermore Tree colourway.

You can find the pdf file under the Free patterns tab on the right-hand side of the blog.

And in between the stream of visitors for the kittens and Loftplan man coming, I managed to get another photo - again of the little tabby. Not great, but sure there'll be more in the coming days.

Anyone know when's the best time to find out the gender of the kittens? Someone said in the first few days but Honey's not keen to let them part from her for even a minute.

Three little mittens

Honey had her kittens last night - three of them. They're very dark in colour - one black, one very dark tortoiseshell with a bit of ginger and white on her leg and one tabby. If you look very carefully, you can see the tabby one in the bottom right-hand corner. The kids are thrilled and I think we'll be keeping one of them and have possible homes for the other two. Didn't she do well!

Sorry about the rubbish photo but she was getting a bit anxious and protective when I was taking the photos and I didn't want to upset her too much. There'll be plenty time in the next few weeks to take more photos as I'm sure they're going to be little rapscallions!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Getting ready for Socktopus

One week to go until the Trunk Show at Socktopus in London - so I've been dyeing up lots and lots of yarn for it. If you're in the London on Sunday 17th May, this is a small sample of what you may find:

Squash, Elegance, Opulent, Blissful, Little Desire and Finesse with the rest of the week taken up with dyeing up some Plushness, Decadent and Kimono. I've also got to finish knitting the second sock for the pattern I'm putting together for Plushness socks - I'm particularly proud of these ones - soon to be revealed. Speaking of patterns, you can now find the Ten O'Clock Scarf and the Zig and Zag Pram Blanket as pdfs on the right-hand side bar. Yay, people, we're in the 21st century! More patterns to follow.

Alabamawhirly and Kiknits are coming over on Friday to help me label it all up and if we've time, we may even make a start on washing a fleece that Whirly acquired from a recent trip to the Lake District.

As you may already know, I'm a dedicated yarn base tart and just couldn’t resist adding a new one to the SQ repertoire. It’s called Exquisite and I think the name captures the silky softness of this 80% merino 10% nylon 10% cashmere yarn. I thought long and hard about introducing this yarn as the composition is q. similar to Elegance (without the bamboo), but when the box landed on my doorstep a week or two ago, I knew I couldn’t not introduce it to the SQ range. So look out for it in a forthcoming update.

SQ-dyed BFL in Irish Queen

Yesterday I went to the first in a course of spinning lessons. When I finally found the venue (long story), we learnt how to wash a fleece (handy), how to use the drum carder, how to use hard carders properly, how to Andean ply and how to spin. I brought along the BFL above which I'd dyed the day before as I was so pleased with the intensity of colour. I've started to spin it without carding it and it's an absolutely dream to spin. I may even dye some more up and bring them along to Socktopus.

Albert, husband of Linda who runs the course, is a wealth of information on everything textiles. He told us the story of the Newbury coat. In 1811, Sir John Throckmorton bet that he could sit down to dinner one evening wearing a coat made from the wool of sheep shorn at 5am the same morning. The workers sheared the sheep, washed, roved, spun, dyed, wove and cut the cloth and by 8pm, the coat was ready to wear, just 11 hours after the sheep arrived in the mill-yard. Albert took part in a recreation of this feat in 1991 and they beat the record by one hour. He told us of the challenge to get so many spinners spinning to exactly 4 twists per inch! I believe Johnny Morris of Animal Magic fame wore the coat at the end of the day. I love listening to this kind of story.

One other bit of yarn news - the lovely people over at Inside Crochet sent me a preview of an article on Skein Queen as the featured indy yarn dyer. As it's my first interview, I did blush profusely when I read it - don't know why as it was a very flattering write-up, it's my former shyness coming through. Anyway, it's out on 25th May if you want to see what's so embarrassing.

And a bit of household news - we're expecting - Honey pictured rather fuzzily in the front - is expecting kittens. Paddy - pictured rather guiltily in the back - is not the father (unless the vet was somewhat incompetent many years ago.)

Finally, it's been a gloriously sunny weekend - not quite so nice last Bank Holiday Monday, but here are some photos of our walk in the New Forest.

I don't know about you, but I couldn't help but think of adders lurking under all that leaf mulch. I don't think anyone else was thinking about them, but I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to snakes having had a bit of a close encounter with one when I was younger and walked with a very heavy tread!