Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Summer...? Really...?

Happy British Summertime!

Helen has headed off to a warmer climate for a while and I am still in Blighty battling with changing outfits up to three times a day to suit the ever changing temperature, I am even making a cotton blanket from all my odd balls just to keep warm!

It is during these poor summer months that I am glad that I do lots of crafts because not only do I get to go up into the loft away from the bad weather and the hubub of family life but I am creating something unique and lovely, no-one will be able to pick up a cotton blanket like mine online because it is my design. I love choosing the fabric for projects and laying the pattern carefully out so that it looks good, the chances of someone choosing the same fabric and pattern are very slim.

My Latest sewing project

Although I enjoy the solitude of my loft I also love the joy I feel when I arrive at knitting group and all the ladies are sat with their personal projects chattering and sharing tips and ideas around the table. There are not many places where you can go and someone pulls out a mermaid tail which they are trying to complete for a gift then a giraffe appears out of another project bag and nobody blinks an eye..........I also love that no matter what your age, skill or type of yarn you use nobody judges you we are all there to help each other.

I have recently made this project bag for a lady at our knit group, I just love some of the fabulous fabric designs which are available, I get so giddy when purchasing them and feel so sad to hand them over to someone when deep down I would love to keep them for myself! We all know that even if you have the finest fabrics and yarn it is the finishing off which is all important, we all have a large stash of buttons but we still need to go out to buy more because what we have just isn't quite right for the project we have completed. Well, last week as I was leaving my local Charity shop I glanced back at the lady behind the counter and asked 'Do you ever get button boxes donated?' She replied ' not really but strangely one came in yesterday!'............well it would have been rude to decline it, wouldn't it?? so I agreed a price for the treasure and hot footed it home.

Today I opened the button box (in actual fact it was a tin which had held a champagne bottle in a previous life) I tipped it out and...........
I was amazed by the variety and range of buttons and other items in the tin, it was like getting a brief glimpse of the owners life there were pin badges telling me that they were a member of both the Christian church and amnesty international there was a French Franc, a polish coin and a Euro coin! Obviously a considerate person who was well travelled.....I then got to thinking what would people think if they went through my button box (es). I think they would firstly comment on the volume of buttons which I own and then may start to wonder if I were an obsessive button collector.........which may be ever so slightly true!! 

If you follow us on facebook / Instagram then you will know that I have just completed a project using Debbie Bliss Lhasa yarn, it was beautiful to knit with and the finished garment is lovely and fits beautifully, I would highly recommend it and the book has lots of nice one and two hank projects in it, well worth a look and some lovely ideas for gifts!
Fabulous book and lovely finished garment
 Oh and finally whilst we are on books worth taking a look at, have you seen the new Rowan magazine? My mum is a member and after browsing through it a few times there are some lovely garments worth making up and lots of Kid Classic being used.....my favourite! So grab a copy make yourself a lovely warm drink and browse...... enjoy speak soon.
Sarah and Helen.......probably in a bar now after a day at the beach!!

PS did I mention the fabric for the Dress and the wool and book are from Blacksheep craft barn there is a lovely new Rowan rep there too now!

Monday, 12 June 2017

A Little Bit of a catch up!!

I cannot believe that we are in June already!! The year just seems to be slipping by and it isn't until I have sat down to look through photos that I realise just how much has gone on and just how little I have shared on the blog.........very naughty!!

So I will briefly touch on the good bits!! Lets start with EYF.........
EYF with my best friend Julie 

Cardigan resulting from EYF Leaf by Tincan knits knitted in Ginger studios yarn
Edinburgh Yarn festival was all we had expected and more, it did not disappoint with fabulous yarns and people. The city was so welcoming and our Premier Inn was superbly located. We will definitely be booking for next year. Although this is only a small venue the secret was in the quality rather than quantity. 

Myself and best friend of many years have both hit our half century in the last 10 months I must point out that I am the elder of the two as if I don't.....she surely will! We were fortunate enough to travel to Spain prior to and during Easter, staying in the beautiful town of San Lucar de Barrameda which is close to Jerez and Cadiz. All about an hours drive from Seville

Socks Sherry and Oysters - Perfect
It was fascinating to see the celebrations for Easter and the sense of community, not just in the small towns but also in the big city of Seville. The craftsmanship and dedication to these celebrations was breathtaking.

Easter Sunday celebration in San Lucar
The floats for the parade are stunning and this happens all over Spain during the Easter period. I feel so privileged to have witnessed it all. My husband and I attended the Mass on Easter Sunday and it is amazing how without knowing the language you know where the church service is up to.......

And now we are home there are new projects to excite us the Fairyhill shawl came first but I must admit that progress is slow, I think I am just savouring working with this beautiful yarn.

Shawl Society 2 new project Fairy Hill Shawl using Countess Ablaze Yarn
I visited the Countess's new shop on yarn shop day and was not disappointed!!

 The shop front was spectacular with a rainbow of colours inviting you in to even more colour. The shop was busy but as it was on three floors for the day you did not feel hemmed in. The yarn as usual was vibrant colours on beautiful yarn. I could live/work here!! 

The shop is of course in the upcoming Northern Quarter of Manchester and within walking distance of many other wonderful shops like Abakhan and Fred Aldous. I feel my fingers beginning to reach for my purse as I type....

I cannot write this blog today without mentioning the tragic events on the 22nd May 2017 in the city centre. I am proud to be a Salfordian and to also come under the banner of Mancunian. This fine City has shown how strong and full of love it is and we are even stronger now than before. The beloved bee which is all over the city means even more now than before. I have not had a bee tattoo because 1. I am not brave enough and 2. I donate blood.....you cannot donate for 6 months after a tattoo so I am going to leave it for the time being........maybe a Henna tattoo!! I am working on a pattern for crocheted bees so will pop it on the blog when it is done.......

A symbol of a great City 
I have just come back from a few days in the wonderful Lake District and returned on World Wide Knit in Public Day..... Myself and a few fellow knitting group ladies had decided to meet in our local park to knit. and although the weather was against us it was still a lovely day 
The abandoned Mining museum in Buile Hill Park
Salford provided shelter for our group to meet.

We started Small! 

Thank you Lovely Ladies for knitting in public in the COLD Damp Manchester weather

The park which we met in is lovely and I have spent many happy years playing, walking, running and picnicking in the grounds so was delighted to knit here too!! 
Where next year??? Who knows......the ladies fancy somewhere warmer!!

I think that is us caught up for now.....next time I will share my fabulous trip to the Manchester Three Rivers Gin Tour (It is fabulous)  http://www.manchesterthreerivers.com/

Finally just a few shots of the moon in the sky above the chalet in the Lake District!! Come on hand dyers this would be a beautiful yarn colour!!

Until next time......stay safe and well xxxx

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Yoga Socks and Well Being !!

If you know me then you know that I hate knitting socks and I hate knitting in the round so you have to be extra special to get me to do this.
 Elizabeth, one of my best buddies is a yoga instructor back over in West Yorkshire. She runs 'Lemon Tree yoga' and teaches and sells beautiful yoga essentials. 

Last year she challenged me to knit yoga socks, I love a challenge! 
Well, I wrote a pattern and started knitting (on two needles) and they were great but when Sarah saw them she said 'they have a seam in them!' she loves knitting socks (mad!) she also convinced me to knit in the round. Aghhhh!!, my worst nightmare, a long story, but it took over a year to knit a pair of socks with a lady who kept pulling back her knitting, I would knit, she would go wrong and pull back, so I tend to avoid them, until now that is.....

A basket full of colour

The first yoga sock almost finished.
Sarah believes that socks represent life and in just the same way you go around and around in circles until you come to turn the heel which is a tricky moment but you soon get over it and are soon back to going calmly in circles again until the binding off the toe when you finish off and ....relax, then do the same again....

The joy of yoga socks?? no heel or toe so they are perfect for me!
So if you have just come out of a downward facing dog to read this blog and think I need some of those socks take a look firstly at http://www.lemontreeyoga.co.uk to see all about Elizabeth and Lemon Tree Yoga and the pop to her Etsy shop  https://www.etsy.com/shop/LemonTreeYoga to find the fabulous, if I do say so myself, socks!

She also runs yoga retreats at The Orange Tree, North Yorkshire.
Me and my sister had a chance to go on a weekend away and it was amazing. No mobiles, computers, no reception !
We came away relaxed and with new friends. 

This is were you do the yoga and relaxation classes but if the weather is good......

I even had chance to get my knitting out for an hour and have time to myself, heaven.
Definitely worth a visit if you need time out from your hectic life, I will be going back.

We were at The Northen  Vegan festival in Manchester. Elizabeth was running a few yoga sessions.....

 and I was helping out on her stall and also selling my socks!

It was a great day!

Talking of great days, Sarah is heading to Countess Ablaze on Saturday 6th May for 
Yarn Shop Day she is looking forward to visiting Manchesters' very own Yarn Emporium
https://www.countessablaze.com we hope you will all be supporting your yarn shops, I am sure
Sarah will Share the details of her day with you soon.....Oh and she still has Edinburgh
to share too!!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Fairisle knitting

So we meant what we said !!!
We are going to keep up the blogging this year.

I have been really busy with designing for magazines recently and I want to share with you a few ideas that have gone into The Knitter magazine.

My design challenge was to produce place mats and coasters, the first ideas I sent in were my sketches, yarn ideas and knitted swatches.

My original notes and test swatches

I sent my friend the picture below to say 'look what I have to do' and she said 'that won't take long to colour in !!', I wish, I had to knit it a few times for the place mats.

My design grid

Completed Place mat

Completed Coasters

But designers never rest............................
The next big knit for me was a patchwork throw, I went through the same design submission process as I had done for the previous project and then onto the making up of my design. It had approx 64 squares knitted and sewn together. My daughter played about with the placement of the squares and kept me in check as to what I was knitting and what colourways I still had to make, it is good to have the additional input from her. It did take a while to make but I think the end result looked good, I can't wait to get it back. 
I am sure my hubby will say ' not another knitted thing to clutter the house.'

Blanket in progress

Sewing up

Blanket almost completed

I always feel happy to see the end product with the colours and design working together, as it is sometimes difficult when designing with the yarn restrictions sent to you by the magazines, as they are not always what you would normally work with yourself.
The best feeling is when the magazine arrives and you see your item in all its glory and you think....that's my design! Even better is when readers write in showing their version of the design using different colourways because then you feel you have done your job....inspiring other people to knit and enjoy yarn and colour.

 Remember to keep an eye out for my designs in magazines and maybe take a look through back issues to find something too 'Helen Ardley' you will be surprised how many  there are!
Also when purchasing patterns either in the wool shops or online just remember how much time, patience and love goes into these designs.

Until next time, keep well, keep safe and keep knitting/ crocheting....... 
Helen & Sarah x

Monday, 16 January 2017

2017!!! Already???

Last year really does seem to have slipped through our fingers! 

It was a year of change for me (Sarah) I changed jobs in August and now work in Manchester City Centre, which has meant quite a different routine with using Public Transport being one of the main differences for me. I enjoy, when I can get a seat, knitting and reading on the bus and have found that I have completed quite a few more projects and books this year due to this. However the days are long and this has meant both my attendance at the gym and attention to this blog have both suffered greatly! This is something which both Helen and I intend to rectify in 2017.

2017 is, I think, going to be an exciting year hopefully one of change for us both.....Anyway let's tell you what we have been up to between our last blog in October (yes, really.....October). 

I celebrated a significant birthday and was shocked when my family had organised a surprise party for me!! I can honestly say that I am not often speechless but I was that night!!

And I was so chuffed with my fabulous cake which I think you will agree is very apt! As if this wasn't enough my knitting group also had cakes and a lovely gift of vouchers for Countess Ablaze for me to treat myself to some beautiful yarn.... I was truly humbled and overwhelmed by the whole thing.

Both Helen and myself have been busy since October with Helen designing lots for the magazines and me completing, well almost, the Shawl Society knits two of which are below.

Asana Shawl
 The beautiful Asana Shawl http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/asana-shawl which I made was knitted using Grey Skies in Manchester from Countess Ablaze was one of my favourites to knit.......with lots of beading too.
Sonder Shawl
The final shawl 'Sonder' I knitted in Three days (yes three days) I met up with the 'Wednesday Woolies' at Black sheep Yarns and chose this fabulous yarn Rico Fashion Alpaca at just £5.99 per ball and set to knitting when I got home.... Helen Stewarts patterns are a joy to follow and I cannot recommend them highly enough. She has a mystery KAL coming up in January too! I am sure I will be taking part!!

Now on the last posting I showed my Yarndale purchases and I have also knit up the fox scarf from this great book.......

I have the fox blocking in my loft at the moment but will share some pictures next time..... I used a great app on my phone to keep count of the rows on this project as it was my Bus knitting for November the link to this app is https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.knirirr.beecount&hl=en_GB on google store but they also do this for apple devices too. You can have mutiple projects on the app which I am sure suits us all.

Oh I almost forgot to tell you about my gifts from my son and sister for my birthday, they got me some beautiful scissors for my dressmaking and other fabric projects!! I was so pleased and love my Merchant & Mills fabulous shears and wide bow scissors!!

Just some of my fabulous Fiftieth Gifts.....so lucky!!

Any way with all these fabulous books and yarns and fabrics and tools there is one thing for me to sort out in my life and that is my time management and prioritizing.... today was the start by publishing this blog I have achieved one of my goals for this week. I also helped Helen sort some of her mammoth stash out this morning. This is due to me reading a book over the Christmas holidays by a lady called Sarah Knight and I cannot recommend it enough it has made me step back and assess lots of issues and will hopefully help me towards resolving some too.......

Worth a read........
So back to the New Year, Helen and I intend to keep the blog updated and let you all know what we have been up to and what we have been knitting and designing, we will also have a few free patterns for you to have a go at too...... 

In the meantime take care and we will speak to you soon Helen and Sarah x