Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Shop update - 1st July

Tomorrow - Wednesday 1st July - 8.30pm BST.

This update started off as a bit of a summer knitting lace-fest given the heatwave we're having in these here parts, as you can see towards the end of the preview, but lots of 4 ply sockweight yarns crept in too.

There will also be some Naked (undyed) Squash to support alabamawhirly's Snooks Daisy Gloves - more on those to come.

Summer Bunting in Exquisite - 1 skein

Charlotte Charles in Exquisite - 1 skein

Fairytale Daydream in Exquisite - 1 skein

Coney Island Mermaid in Exquisite - 1 skein

Sugar Plum Tree in Exquisite - 2 skeins

Goodie Gumdrops in Exquisite - 1 skein

Lady Button Eyes in Exquisite - 1 skein

Summer Pudding in Plushness - 4 skeins
see this post for how it knits up
Your chance to bag yourself some Pudding Club yarn

Key Lime Pie (semi-solid) in Plushness - 2 skeins

Key Lime Pie (variegated) in Plushness - 4 skeins

Madame Lulu in Encore - 1 skein

Charlotte Charles in Squash - 1 skein

Olive Snook in Squash - 4 skeins

Summer Bunting in Squash - 3 skeins

French Rose in Opulent - 1 skein

Bittersweet Chocolate in Opulent - 1 skein

Forget-me-not in Sumptuous - 1 skein

Raspberry Elderflower in Sumptuous - 1 skein

Silver Lavender in Wisp - 3 skeins

Cape Cod Cranberries in Wisp - 3 skeins

Devonshire Tea in Finesse - 1 skein

Miss Cicely Alexander in Finesse - 4 skeins

Magenta Dolly in Finesse - 1 skein

And introducing a limited edition Guest yarn - I won't be getting any more of this in - it's a laceweight merino - almost 800 yards (798) and it's not as soft as some of the other yarns in the SQ range, but certainly a good quality standard laceweight yarn.

Pomegranate Sangria in Guest - 4 skeins

Sky Blue Topaz in Guest - 1 skein

Peppermint Cream in Guest - 1 skein

Celadon in Guest - 1 skein

Sweet Peas in Guest - 1 skein

And the long-awaited return of Glister 2 ply silk

Cloudy Skies in Glister - 2 skeins

Gothic Melodrama - 2 skeins

Pigeon Plumage in Glister - 2 skeins

Costumier in Glister - 2 skeins

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

It's a pithy post

First summer installment of the Queen's Reading Room club, the Unfortunate club and the Petal club have all gone out now, so expect them to land on your doorsteps over the next few days.

This was the final installment of the Pudding Club - Key Lime Pie

And the Installment the Ninth of the Unfortunate Club - Madame Lulu

I spun up some of my Skein Queen batts which I was selling in the last update - pretty, I think.

And am knitting all my spinning samples into a Zig and Zag handspun blanket (for free pattern see sidebar).
Finished one Cloud Nine sock in Summer Pudding Plushness from the Spring Pudding Club - one more left to knit (for free pattern see the sidebar).

And made a start on my Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang. Here's the corrugated ribbing - I'm learning continental knitting to make it go faster and instead of taking 30 minutes to do a round using English-style, it takes a mere 20 minutes.

Just as well, because I'm going to have to start it all over again - spot the mistake - gah!

So to cheer myself up, some Secretary shoes arrived - cheap and cheerful, but very comfortable.

And some Scarlett O'Hara shoes for my 4th July party outfit - again cheap and cheerful, but I'm going to need something to help my oversize Scarlett outfit which Skein King says looks like an oversized spare duvet set!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Last spinning lesson

Saturday was the last of my spinning course lessons sadly. I learnt so much from Linda and Albert - advocates of starting with the fleece and preparing it using traditional techniques, then dyeing it (they use natural dyes), hand carding the fibre and finally spinning it. Linda is a seasoned knitter and crocheter and Albert is a weaving and braiding guru. And I'll also miss the lovely spinners I met there - hopefully I'll keep in touch with some of them.

Yvette being the bravest of us and having a go at using the lethal-looking combs.

Albert holding a distaff of flax (or a young maiden's locks?)

Linda spinning flax from the distaff

You'd think it would be possible to learn how to spin from books, or from YouTube, or from asking questions in forums and it is. But it's only when you meet people who have so much experience and so willingly pass on their intricate knowledge and tips, that you appreciate how much there is to the craft and how much there's still to learn.

On to kitty news. We think our little tabby may be a girl so she's been renamed Mabel - although Skein Prince still calls her Squiggles. She may be the cat with two names. Never did Honey, her mother, any harm to be called Honey and Smitten.

They're getting more playful by the day. It's not a good idea to have bare feet or legs unless you want to be in a lot of pain with little claws being tried out. The all black one is the advanced one, the black and white one is the monkeyist and the tabby one is... pretty lazy but very gorgeous.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Featured designer - Jenna Swanson

It's been a while since my first featured knitter article but this time I bring you an up-and-coming designer from Texas. Jenna's Tadpole socks caught my eye on Ravelry a few months back - I thought they'd be a perfect design for Skein Queen Squash, Exquisite or Encore - so she kindly said that I could print out the pattern and hand it out at forthcoming shows. Alternatively, you can download it for free on Ravelry or directly from her design blog listed below.

Tadpole socks by Jenna Swanson

What’s your favourite way of working with fibre? Knitting, crochet, spinning…?

I am definitely a capital K Knitter. I started out crocheting, but it just didn’t ‘click’. Once I got the needles in my hands, it was like a lightbulb went off. I think my hands were meant to knit. That said, I’d love to learn to spin properly. I have a starter spindle and was able to rent a wheel once. I enjoyed the process a lot, but could definitely benefit from classes and practice.

How many years have you been knitting and when did you start?

I started knitting in January of 2005. The previous December, I sat watching my mother-in-law knit socks. I was entranced with the spiral and it really didn’t look that hard. She taught me the basics, how to cast on, knit, and purl, but by the time I got back home, I’d forgotten. So I got a book from the library and checked out a few websites. After I realized I was knitting through the back loops, my knitting and I were inseparable.

How did you come up with the design for Tadpole socks? What was the inspiration and how did you go about it?

I had a vision in my head of something ‘swirly’, but I didn’t want to mess with cables or a heavy lace pattern. The design evolved from there. I kept the back of the leg in stockinette purely because I wanted to knit them up quickly, as it was Christmastime and I still had most of a sweater and another pair of socks to knit. :-) I prefer a chart, but I know many people hate them, so I offered both. For some reason, top down socks go more quickly for me than toe-up, so I tend to gravitate towards those constructions.

What’s your favourite sock yarn base?

I love a base with a good twist. If I know I’m going to be knitting a heavy-use sock or socks for my husband, I tend to pick something that has a bit of nylon in it. If I want something pretty, that I know will be hand-washed, and worn gently, the sky is the limit.

There seems to be a trend to semi-solid colourways - are you a semi-solid or a colours-as-they-come kind of a gal?

I think that for design purposes, it is definitely easier to use a semi-solid colorway. But the knitter in me loves all sorts of colour combinations.

Which colours do you prefer? Deep and rich or pale and pastel? Any specific colour?

I gravitate towards the feeling I get when I look at a particular colour, if that makes any sense. So colours seem happy, some calming, others exciting. Some just say, “Take me home right now, don’t worry about what you might make with me!” I think of knitting as an adventure, so the yarn has to be able to take me on a journey. Taking a look at my yarn pile, it seems that I pick greens, purples, pinks, and blues if I’m knitting for myself.

What are your aspirations as a designer? Have you any plans for future projects that you could let us in on?

My ultimate goal is to try to provide knitters with nice, error-free, intermediate difficulty patterns. When I was a new sock knitter it seemed like there was a gap between plain socks and heavily patterned socks. At the time I wasn’t sure that I wanted to dive right in to a complicated lace or cable pattern, so I filled my time knitting other things and building up my knitterly skills. So, I’m hoping that my patterns can bridge the gap.

I do have a new sock design I’m working on. Think swirly.

Do you have a blog?

I do, but as a warning, I don’t update it much. It's gidgettm.wordpress.com

I’ve also started a blog for my designs. It can be found at blackswandesigns.wordpress.com

Anything else you’d like to tell us about?

When I’m not knitting, I’m usually running after my one-year-old, spending time with my husband, or cooking/baking. Come July, I’ll be embarking on a cross-country move. So, if you have helpful hints for travelling with a toddler, please pass them on!