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Monday, 26 September 2016

And ... relax!

Phew!  What an amazingly yarny, friendly, chatty, busy Yarndale weekend it's been.  Thank you so much to everyone who came to say hello to me, I loved talking to each and every one of you, admiring your socks big and small and basically spending a whole weekend indulging my sock obsession!

Today has been a day of alternately resting and trying to catch up with washing and housework. I've still got the unpacking from the weekend to do and the Yarndale socks that arrived over the weekend and weren't photographed beforehand will all be logged and the photos uploaded onto Pinterest some time during the week.  I've had a chance today to have a quick look around at Yarndale photos and blog posts which has been lovely as I didn't get a lot of opportunity to look around myself (although I have managed to come home with a fair bit of yarn!).  I'll be writing up my own experience to add to the collective Blogland reviews later this week too.

Right now, though, I'm going to put my feet up and do a bit of knitting.  It doesn't happen often, but I think I'm all talked out!  Catch you later! J

Friday, 23 September 2016

Yarndale countdown

Happy Friday to you!  First of all, let me say thank you very much for all the lovely comments that you've left on my last post (and also in the Facebook groups) about the British Knitting Awards.  I appreciate each and every one of them and the time you took to leave them.  Thank you!

I usually try to answer all the comments on the blog but must apologise that I haven't been able to this time because even as you read this, I'll be speeding up the motorway towards Skipton!  In case you didn't know - and if you didn't, where have you been? - this weekend is YARNDALE WEEKEND!  Boy, am I excited that it's here at last!  My car's loaded up and I'm on my way!

It's been a week of manic preparation and a rather large surprise last weekend as big daughter, who had been planning to commute to university, landed herself accommodation and announced that she would be moving into her new room in two days' time.  There's nothing like having time to prepare - and this was nothing like it!  

 There was frantic shopping, rooting in cupboards, delving into boxes of kitchen stuff that we'd saved from Dad's house specially for this occasion and general rushing about as we gathered up our girl and her belongings and deposited her in her student digs.  Perhaps it was better this way, as there was no time to work up to being worried or sad about her leaving - and of course we've waved her off at an airport to travel 6,000 miles away from us so a half hour drive up the road doesn't seem quite so bad.  Anyway, there she is.  An Official Student.  So far, we've managed to keep small daughter from moving into her bedroom (why is a big sister's bedroom always so much more exciting than your own?) but it's tough going!  Big daughter has announced that she will be coming home on a regular basis to make sure that no small lodgers have taken over - whether this will happen or not remains to be seen, but it's nice to think that we might still see quite a bit of her.

Thank you for all the good wishes for her when I shared this picture on Instagram last weekend - I hope that everyone who's been waving their student sons and daughters off over the last couple of weeks (and next couple of weeks) is managing to get used to a house that's quieter, tidier ... and emptier.  It's funny; you might not see your teenager from one hour to the next as they hole up in their bedrooms but suddenly the house feels different when you know that they're away.  I guess it's something that we'll get used to. 

I've got a few things to share with you to keep myself up to date ... firstly, I must show you the sock that I made from the new Stylecraft yarn.  I was able to give you a sneak peek but nothing more until the official launch.  That day has arrived now, and you may well have seen the yarn in the various colourways now - there are six altogether - and very nice it is too.  If you're a fan of Opal yarn, this one feels very similar and is definitely worth considering for your socks - and shawls too as the yarn is intended for making both.  In fact, it's called Head Over Heels so you should definitely get the message!  Here's the sock that I made - only one sock so far so I will have to get on and make the other one as hopping is exhausting.  This colourway is called Kilimanjaro and is one of three striped colours; the others are gradient yarns which I won't be choosing to make socks from.  I have decided to embrace my stripe OCD and don't plan to use gradient yarn for socks in the future if I can possibly help it! J

Stylecraft Head Over Heels - Kilimanjaro

Luckily, the yarn that Blacker Yarns sent me to try out wasn't a gradient yarn but is a very lovely limited edition mix of British fibres blended together in celebration of Blacker Yarns' 11th birthday.  It's called Cornish Tin 2 and each shade is named after a tin mine - you can read more about the yarn and the fibre blend here.  They very kindly sent me a mini skein and a small ball of yarn to try out - 25g in total - and I decided quite quickly that I didn't just want to knit a square swatch, I wanted to do something with it.

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin 2

I decided to see if I could make a pair of wristwarmers from the amount of yarn that I had - and I could!  It probably helps that I don't have huge hands, but I split the yarn into two balls, then split those two balls again so that I had four balls of yarn (two in each colour) for each wristwarmer to work with.  I cast on 40 stitches on a 3mm needle, knitted until I used up all of the first two balls (one grey, one blue) and then reversed the pattern to use up all of the second two balls.  There's really not much to them at all!

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin 2
You can see here that my pattern is really quite simple, but I like the way that the colours work together.  They feel very traditional and I felt that I had to use a Fair Isle-style pattern to get the best out of them.  

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin 2

It also gave me another chance to practice my two-handed colourwork which I discovered how to do earlier this year at the Arne and Carlos workshop that I attended.  If only I had known how to do this years ago when I used to knit Kaffe Fassett sample jumpers for my local yarn store - it would have been so much quicker!

So having been sent the yarn to review - what did I think?  I liked it very much.  It's definitely on my 'to-buy' list at Yarndale because I'd love to see how it works as socks.  It's softer and less hairy than the Hebridean Mohair that I used for big daughter's Peru socks but even that softened nicely with washing and wear, so I think this yarn would definitely get nicer with age.  There's no nylon in it so it but the fibres that have been chosen (including mohair) should work in the same way so the socks should be sturdy enough to withstand walking the dog every day.  There's only one way to find out - and I plan to do just that!  I'd even go so far as to say that I'd use the yarn for a cardigan or a jumper (this from someone who used to run a mile from wool jumpers when she was little!); what stops me is that I know that I don't have the time (or the patience) for such big projects these days but I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures that will be around on social media of other people's projects.  A word of warning though - this yarn is a limited edition and when it's gone, it's gone, so if you want some then you'll need to buy it quickly!

My final finished off knitting project is my Yarndale sheep.  Oh dear.  She does look rather sad (and not particularly sheep-like, I don't think either!), but I'm hoping that she'll cheer up when she meets the rest of the flock at Yarndale!

Have I mentioned that it's Yarndale this weekend?  Yippee!  You'll find me in the knit n natter lounge surrounded by socks!  These are all the pairs that I'll be bringing with me for the Yarndale Sock Line - if you've ever wondered what 97 pairs of socks looks like altogether, then wonder no more because you're looking at it!  

Yarndale Sock Line

I'll be writing more about this year's Sock Line after Yarndale but in the meantime, I've photographed them all and they're all up on the Pinterest board now so do go and have a look - they look wonderful!  You'll notice that we have 101 pairs on the Pinterest board and there will be 101 pairs hanging up on the Sock Line - this is because four pairs have already been gifted so I'll be hanging up photographs of them so that they are still included.  I can't believe that we have over 100 pairs already and I know that Lucy has more pairs waiting for me in Skipton and I also know that more pairs will be being hand-delivered over the weekend.  Isn't that amazing?  Thank you so much to everyone who's got involved this year - what a lot of knitted love we'll be able to give away!  It's not too late to add your suggestions for where you think they should go - have a look at last year's list if you need some inspiration!

I had intended this to be a short and sweet post, but I think we both know by now that short and sweet isn't really my style!  Have a wonderful weekend, whatever you are doing.  If you're coming up to Yarndale, do come and say hello - if you've got socks to show off, I'd love to see them, and if you've got questions about your socks or getting started, then ask away - it'll be lovely to see you!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

British Knitting Award results ...

It seems like a such long time ago now since June when I was delighted to tell you that I'd been nominated in this year's Let's Knit British Knitting Awards.  These are the largest and most high profile awards in the knitting industry, so just receiving the nominations felt like Christmas had arrived! 

The voting for the awards took place across the summer and the results have now been revealed ...

I'm over the moon to tell you that Super Socks has won 3rd place in Favourite Book (2016)!

It was up against some tough competition so I can't tell you how it feels to see my book up there with the winners - I'm still taking it in, to be honest.  There's going to be an awards ceremony in October which I'm going to attend and I'll be taking lots of photos as usual so you can see what it's like.  My congratulations go out to everyone who was nominated, whether they won or not and especially to the "independents" who are shaking up the yarn industry - I'm so looking forward to meeting everyone at the awards.

Sarah Neal, editor of Let's Knit, says "As well as rewarding familiar and established names, The British Knitting Awards also seeks to recognise small companies and lesser-known names who have made a impact on the knitting scene in their own unique way.  So alongside accolades for such industry giants as Debbie Bliss, Rowan, Deramores and Stylecraft, it’s also great to see awards for independent stars like yarn producer West Yorkshire Spinners, self-published author Christine Perry and crochet blogger Lucy from Attic24.  In addition to awards for chain and online stores, The British Knitting Awards also celebrates small bricks-and-mortar stores in every corner of the UK with its seven regional awards, plus an extra reward for Best Yarn Shop Day experience, scooped this year by Aberdeen-based store Wool For Ewe".  

Proud?  I could burst right now!

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me, I am truly grateful.  I never imagined my little book of sock tutorials would be recognised in this way and I hope that it will help to make sock knitting even more accessible for those who want to improve their wellbeing (and their sock drawers) with pointy sticks and yarn.  Bring on the sock revolution! J