Sunday, 19 June 2016

Northern Yarn

In the last few years the provenance of yarn has become so much more important to the knitting community. Where our yarn has been sourced, processed and dyed is as much a part of some people's yarn shopping as it is for their food shopping. I'm so proud to say that my friend Kate has just launched Northern Yarn which promotes no air miles, no plastic, just good honest wool from the Lancashire region.

I met Kate in 2010 when she moved into my Brother's old flat which was across the road from where I lived at the time in South Woodford. She was pregnant and I knew the move had been stressful so I went over to say hello and welcome her to the area. I also let her know that we had a local mum's knitting group and advised her to join in order to meet people. Before long we had Kate knitting away. She became a yarn lover and good friend to us all.

Fast forward to a few years later when Kate and her family decided to move back to their homeland of Lancashire. We were of course sad to see her go, but it marked a new chapter in Kate's life and this chapter had sheep roaming outside her window instead of the A406 road works buzzing in the background. These sheep that she saw daily inspired her to find local yarns to knit with. Surely there would be tons of local yarn with all this fluff walking about? But she found it hard to get her hards on what she was looking for and so started out on a mission to create a place where people could buy local wool and support farmers from Lancashire.

My favourites from her collection have to be the Teeswater wool which comes in mouthwatering colours. Kate knows the shepherds Freda & Darrell which shows just how local this wool is to her! Also the Lancashire Farm Wool in it's undyed creaminess is just gorgeous.

Take a look and if you're in the Lancashire area it's worth while tracking Kate down at the various markets she sets up stall at.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Knit-Monogamy is Overrated

Up until this year I was pretty much a monogamous knitter. I would only have one project on the go at a time and thought that it was the best way to get projects finished and do them right. I noticed that so many of my fellow knitters did not share my monogamy yet seemed to be churning out more projects than I could manage. I always put this down to them having more time or being faster knitters than me, but earlier this year I decided to give polygamous knitting a go and it was a revelation. Having multiple projects on the go at a time meant that when I got bored or stuck on one thing I'd simply move onto another until I had the interest or strength to go back to the first project.

At the time of my experiment I had cast on the Rock Hopper Shawl from Penguin by Anna Maltz, the Hap Blanket by Ysolda Teague for a wedding present to a friend, a blanket of squares from sock yarn remnants I’d been hoarding for about ten years, and I joined a one skein scarf KAL to complete my adultery.  It was liberating to skip between projects and keep the momentum going on each of them. Every day i would be able to choose which to take on my commute and then later at home I could flit between projects on the couch.

Although I began all of these at the start of the year I still haven't finished all of them. The scarf KAL and Hap Blanket were finished in good time. I need to take some better photos of the blanket but you can see that I tried to match the border to the colours on the wedding invite.

Both the Rock Hopper shawl and the blanket squares are still ongoing projects. I messed up the Rock Hopper and am frankly a little scared of trying to fix it or fudge it, hence why there is no photo of its half-finished state. The blanket is going to be ongoing for the next 20 years I'm estimating. Unless it turns into a baby blanket.

The best thing that being a polygamous knitter has taught me is that it's ok to have UFOs in your knitting pile. It's chilled me out a bit and taken the deadline stress out of finishing one thing before you can cast on the next. I don't think I'll ever go back now. I'm off to cast on something new!

PS: If you're on Instagram you can find me at purlprincess81.

Friday, 3 June 2016

East London Yarn Triangle

Have you heard about the East London Yarn Triangle yet? 

Knit in Public day is coming up on Saturday 18th June and to celebrate it Fabrications, Wild and Woolly and Knit With Attitude have teamed up to bring you an East London yarn crawl, which just happens to be triangular. 

The idea is this; you assemble a group, preferably giving it a name like the Knitting Ninjas or Woolly Wanderers. Then show up together at any of the shops, grab a map which details walking and bus routes as well as some key Hackney knitting spots. Then knit as you travel between shops taking knitting in public selfies of you and your team on the way. Upload at least 3 snaps to Instagram with the hashtag #eastlondonyarntriangle and you get 10% off everything in any of the shops! What a perfect way of both spending and celebrating Knit in Public day.

When I was Knit With Attitude the other day they packaged up my purchases in one of their printed tote bags. When I got it home I realised I now had the full set of tote bags for the East London Yarn triangle - weird huh! Perhaps it's a sign that I need to assemble a team and get yarn crawling. Who's with me?

PS: Velma says "Hi".

Monday, 30 May 2016

Knitting Magazine's - July 2016 Men's issue

I've been writing as Purl About Town since 2008 and have seen the magazine change over time. This year we got a new Editor Christine Boggis and it's been great to see how she's put her own stamp on the magazine. The month it's the Men's issue which I think its a particularly good one.

It's refreshing to see a man on the cover for a change. I wonder if it makes it stand out on the shelves more? 

Inside there are some great articles on male designers including Easyknits and Steven West, both of whom I'm a big fan of.

My favourite feature this month is that several of the male knitting patterns are show on both men and women. 

I think this works really well as we all like to climb into a boyfriend, dad, or male friend's big cosy jumper from time to time. I'm sure there are lots of jumpers that have migrated from one part of the wardrobe to another over time.  I think the designs they have chosen work equally well on both sexes and I just thought the idea was really fresh for the magazine.

Why not check out this month's Knitting Magazine and let me know what you think?

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Red or Blue - who will win?

Today I took a trip to Knit with Attitude in Stoke Newington with the sole purpose of buying some terribly unseasonal aran weight yarn for a new project I am keen to cast on. I'd done my research on suitable yarn options available in the store, I'd figured out my yardage and how many balls I'd need for my project. At this point I was a smug so-and-so.

The shop was lovely as ever; bight and airy with a lovely selection of yarn, books and tools. I grabbed the yarn I really wanted, but all of my planning didn't prepare me for the fact that they did not have the quantity I needed to complete my project. So, less smug, I went to my second choice and was informed that only two of the available colours had the number of balls I required in stock. Thankfully both colours would work fabulously. And so began the deliberating between the red and the blue.
"Blue really suits you" I said
"But red is super festive and you'll be wearing this in winter" was my reply.
"You have blue knits, remember that blue period you had? Go for Red it's different" but this was batted down with "You know you will definitely wear the blue, don't knit something in a colour you won't wear." 
But I was feeling bold and I decided that red was definitely the way to go.

Continuing in my smug vein I wanted to be sure that this yarn was going to work out with my gauge, so I bought one ball sat down in the shop and proceeded to start a gauge swatch. I was suddenly aware of the people working in the shop rummaging through yarn, pulling packs off of the stock room shelves and generally looking for something. As I measured my swatch and decided that yes, this yarn was just right for my project, they informed me that there was a mistake in their system there in fact was not enough of the red. Only the blue had enough balls for my project. So that sneaky blue won! Now I have sixteen balls of blue for my project and one random ball of red. So I guess that will be a baby hat then?

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Colouring in

It was my birthday last week and I was given this colouring book from Mason Dixon Knitting by a family member. It's filled with knitting and yarn based line drawings ready for you to give them some creative flair. My favourite images are those with individual stitches to colour. You could do anything from a variegated yarn to a Fair Isle pattern!

I love the idea of meditative colouring. It has a property similar to knitting where your mind is allowed to wander as you work. It's been scientifically proven now that it's good for you and your brain to spend this sort of quiet time, with your hands busy allowing your head to process things. My problem is giving myself that time. I always convince myself that there's something else more important to be doing and so meditative moments get pushed back, overlooked and replaced by other things. I'm hoping that I can take this colouring book and actually spend some time with it.

If you're interested in checking out some colouring books which combine your yarn love with pencils and paper then there's also Franklin Habit's I Dream of Yarn, which looks really cute! 

Now, I'm off to to sneak some of Flo's colouring pencils away from her!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Broken needles

I knit on the London underground to and from work every day during the week. I like to take something easy and portable so that it can quickly be stuffed in and out of my bag while I battle with the other commuters. I've taken to working on a blanket project which I've named The Leftovers as I'm using up sock yarn remnants to create squares. These will eventually be sewn together, probably in about 10 years time, as I'm going to need a lot of them to make a substantial enough blanket.

Last week I took this particular square out of my project bag on the Central line and discovered that one of my needles had snapped. I'm not sure how they got broken. Did I sit on them? Did I shove something in my bag with too much force? Whatever it was I could not knit for the rest of my commute and therefore was not a happy traveller.

It was a Lantern Moon set of rosewood sox sticks that I bought back in maybe 2007-2008? So I guess it was their time, even though in my mind I expected them to last forever.

Fair-well faithful needles. May your journey to the needle graveyard in the sky be smooth and without snags.