Learning  to knit

My mum, Jean who teaches the spinning workshops with me has been knitting she was a child and has designed with both commercial and handspun yarn. She was keen to attend Sarah Hatton’s Pattern making workshop at Black Sheep wools and so I  happily went along. Black Sheep workshops are always a treat – they’re quality through and through and you get lunch and cake included. Seriously – what is not to like.

My background is in embroidery, I learnt to spin initially to create my own textured yarns for large canvas embroidery.  Add to matters that I have problems with my fingers and knitting has not been top of my to do list.  I can knit and purl, turn out an easy project but it takes me a long, long time. As my Nan says, I knit like a child.

I’ve loved creating my latest hand dyed yarns, the colours and the lovley soft merino that I want to knit myself and I want to knit like a woman!

Ruby Port and two skeins of Jessamy 4 ply merino Superwash 

I started the Knit Me scarf by Louise Zass Bangham, an easy knit in this yarn, the Green Zinnia and I’m loving it but it was growing so slowly.

So someone suggested to me to try continental knitting where you use the left hand rather than the right hand to wrap your yarn around the needle. I so wish I’d discovered this years ago. I’m sure it would have made all the difference to me.

For the knit stitch, insert the needle as you would for English knitting but take the wool in the left hand, wrap it around the needle and then take the needle to the right hand side of the yarn and hook the yarn through.  It’s a similar action to crochet and I find it so much easier.  Now the purl stitch isn’t necessarily the easiest but with a bit of practise I’m sure it’ll come right. At the moment though I’m dropping stitches and making mistakes like nobody’s business. 

My word- my photos are so large! I really must work it all out!

If you want to take a look at some Continental Knitting videos, You Tube is great and this one in particular has been a great help to me

You tube Continental Knitting

If you have a go, let me know how you get on.


New Niddy Noddies

I posted some time back about Jim who is the genius behind the Niddy Noddies that I stock, I won’t go into lots of details but that again only to say that his attention to detail is perhaps even more now than before.  Nothing, nothing I tell you goes unchecked.

He stopped making for a little while as he was redoing his kitchen and rightly so domestic matters came first but now he is back on top form and I collected nine new designs just yesterday.

There is so much thought behind how these are made.  Here’s just a little insight into what Jim thinks about before setting to work.

1) The distribution of weight.  So the handles are thick – that’s where the weight is so that when you move your arm back and forth it won’t ache as quickly.  If you look at other Niddy Noddies, they are top and bottom heavy.  That will impact on your arm

2) The middle is thick enough so your nails won’t dig into your palm.

3). The top is tapered so the wool can slide off but also slanted for a smooth slide.

4) The is a little bit of decoration or interest on each one but never where your hand will go and no grooves so dust or grime won’t get in there and on your wool.

5) The top and bottom of the Niddy Noddy can be removed but will fit back snuggly but not overly tight.  The wood is smoothed into a clockwise direction so it slides easily.

6) They’re very light so that if you’re winding laceweight your arm won’t get tired as quickly.

They are wonderful, I have one of Jims Niddy Noddies and I also have a leading manufacturers which I take and let my students compare the weight of, there’s no comparison, Jims win every time.

So my Niddy Noddies might be a little bit more expensive than others but your certainly get what you pay for. I hope you love yours as much as I do


Indie Dye Day

I spent Saturday with Sheena and Phil playing with dyes and yarn – a perfect day in my book. Sometimes dyeing win a stranger can be a little intimidating so I have lots of cheaper mini skeins of yarn just for experimenting on.

Not that Sheena and Phil were holding back and it was fascinating for me to watch them work. They very much wanted to create their own shades and so I was able to shad with them my favourite blog that explains how to recreate your smaller dye shades on larger quantities of yarn

It’s a wonderful comprehensive blog post that will help anyone starting off. We know we should keep notes of all our dye shades but look at this thing! It’s fabulous.

It helps to have an assistants itch an A level in chemistry as Phil has if you’re going to be working professionally but beautiful yarn and fibre can be created by experimenting with colour. A little bit of knowledge of the colour wheel helps but often gut feeling towards colours are a great start. Sheena said she learnt a lot about herself in terms of the colours she thought she would love when actually her favourites were more neutral shades

Colour mixing

Dyed Bluefaced Leicester skeins

Dyed Bluefaced Leicester fibre using immersion dyeing

So there are more Indie Dye Days planned for next year, there’s more information and gift vouchers (!) available on Crafts Courses if you’d like to join me. You know I don’t need an excuse to spend the day playing with colour and eating cake!