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 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 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 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

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


I was so excited this morning when I sat down to my breakfast, having tuned into the Chris Evans Breakfast Show, and to my delight he was talking WOOL!!! YES!!!! WOOL!!!! If you missed it you can catch up on i-Player.

It was so good to hear wool being chatted about over breakfast! I even texted in and got a mention, I explained that Yarndale was to knitters and crafters what Car Fest is to Chris. I also added that knitting attracts all ages with my knitting group having an age range of 14 years to 92 years!

Just a few photos from my Yarndale Weekend

Fabulous Yarn Bombing 

someone had been a busy bee!

I think that people find it difficult to understand why wool gets us so excited and how we can be so obsessed by yarn. People were confessing about their stashes this morning and just how much yarn they had in cupboards with one lady saying she even had stash under the bath!!

Although I am a gatherer of yarn I do not have quite as much stash as some and all my yarn has a project in mind for it!!! Honestly!

I love sharing that passion for yarn at the knitting group and love the excitement on the ladies faces when they have done those first few rows of knitting or crochet. Last week whilst teaching two ladies how to knit one of my more senior knitters told us how she began knitting many years ago and only made balaclavas and socks initially, and they were only knitted in Khaki, as they were for the troops, how amazing is that!!

Real communities are built around knitting and Helen and I both love the people, the sense of community and the creativeness which are formed in the stitches, rows and fabric formed by wool. 

Take a look here and maybe take part in Woolly hat day on Friday 14th October 2016.

Happy wool week everyone!! ENJOY!!

Next time...........................My shawl society progress, Christmas knitting and more.............speak soon  

Sarah & Helen x

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Where has The Summer gone?

What have we been doing?

Well Summer has indeed slipped through our fingers,just like the yarn when you are making a favourite project that you don't want to end! 

Of course we have both been knitting and crocheting, that goes without saying. 

Helen's children have been on school holidays and she has been kept very busy keeping them busy! She has also been designing for the magazines she works for and doing some special projects which will be heading our blogs way too........the first one is below. Unlike some mums Helen loves the school holidays and I am sure she will be feeling quite sad when her children head off to school next week.

I am pleased to say that my Talisman shawl truly protected me whilst I went through the process of being made redundant from my job. I am happy to say that I soon found something else and am now getting into the swing of my new role and enjoying working in Central Manchester. I even get to crochet / knit / read on the bus!!
I have had my Uncle from Australia staying with me for a month, he has now headed off to France and he too will soon be heading off home to sunny OZ!!

Helen and I have managed a few cups of tea over the summer and plenty of chatter. I am heading to Yarndale in September, sadly without Helen but I will be with my very oldest friend Julie.......and our other woollie friends!!

Anyway time to hand you over to Helen whilst she shares her fabulous baby blanket pattern........speak soon x

Helens Baby Blanket Pattern 

My lovely friend Louisa had a beautiful baby boy Dexter, he is just amazing so I thought that I would make a special blanket for him using up all my odds and ends of Rowan wool cotton. I love this yarn as its so very soft and washes fantastically and for a baby blanket that's perfect.
My blanket uses just one square, a simple and easy design.

abbreviations: ch - chain, st - stitch, tr - treble, sl - slip, beg - beginning, dc - double crochet, 

make 6ch, sl st into first ch to form a ring

round 1: 3ch (counts as first tr), work 15tr into ring, sl st into 3rd of 3ch at beg of round

round 2: 3ch (counts as 1tr), 2tr into same st as last sl st, 2ch, miss 1tr, 1tr into next tr, 2ch, miss 1tr, *3tr into next tr, 2ch, miss 1tr, 1tr into next tr, 2ch, miss 1tr, rep from * twice more, sl st into 3rd of 3ch at beg of round

round 3: 3ch, 5tr into next tr, * 1 tr into next tr, (2ch, 1tr into next tr) twice, 5tr into next tr, rep from * twice more, (1tr into next tr, 2ch) twice, sl st into 3rd of 3ch at beg of round

change colour

round 4: 3ch, 1tr into each of next 2tr, 5tr into next tr, *1tr into each of next 3tr, 2ch, 1tr into next tr, 2ch, 1tr into each of next 3tr, 5tr into next tr, rep from * twice more, 1tr into each of

next 3 tr, 2ch, 1tr into next tr, 2ch, sl st into 3rd of 3ch at beg of round

next round: 1ch, 1 dc into each st to end, working 3dc into each corner st, sl st into first dc

fasten off

I made lots of squares in random colours and played about with placement.

I worked a row of double crochet to join the squares then worked around the edges with rows of double crochet to finish off.

I loved making this blanket so I decided to find all my odds and ends of Rowan felted tweed, another of my favourite yarns and start to make more squares.

So watch this space because I am on a mission to use up my massive stash of yarns that I can't hide from my husband any more.

Its been a mad few months for both Sarah and myself but I think we are now settling down again, I just need to get my son through his 11+ exam and then I can throw myself back into my knitting and crochet and hopefully having more creative days with Sarah as I miss our Fridays !!

Happy Knitting xxx

Tatton flower show

This year I went to Tatton flower show with my dad and my daugther Lauren. Lauren was involved with her school's gardening club and they had to put together a themed garden, they did The Yellow Brick Road. I just want to share the day with you and all the amazing flowers and vegetables we saw. It is an fantastic day out if ever you get the chance to go.

 This is my daughters schools garden, it was so lovely and she really enjoyed being involved. 

 I just love these sheep

 I couldn't believe what I was seeing, large crochet flowers.

This is only a fraction of the pictures that I took, I just love the colours and shapes that were around me. It is a truly wonderful day out.