Thursday, 27 August 2015

British Wool Show 2015

This is a picture-heavy post so I have added most of my images to the bottom of the page for you to peruse at your leisure. Enjoy!
I was very kindly invited to the British Wool Show this year to see it in its new location at the York Auction Centre. It was a lovely little adventure, especially because I had never been to York before and always wanted to see it. Getting to fondle some wool while there made it an even better stay!

Since I live a four hour train ride away from York, this meant an early start. What with it having been the school holidays and early morning, our first train was full to bursting and we only just managed to squeeze in. Our reserved seats were far out of reach, but after a few stops we could move again. There had been train cancellations which led to three of us having the same seat reservations, so my initial happy face wasn't happy for very long! Somehow my frustration amused my boyfriend, so at least one of us had fun. Luckily, the remainder of the journey was more pleasant.

We booked a stay over the weekend, focusing around the British Wool Show, of course. I did not consider that we wouldn't have much time for sightseeing, but we did manage to squeeze in some exploring for 2 - 3 hours the day before and after the show. I would like to return to York someday to see the sights because it does look like an interesting place with a lot of the historical architecture still in place.

Most of what we saw of said architecture, we actually saw while on the coach provided by the British Wool Show. The Auction Centre is a bit of a way away from the city so the coach was perfect. There was no specific itinerary and due to traffic we did have to wait quite a while to get there and back, but we wee in good company, of course. The coach was decorated with bunting and pompoms on the inside, which was a great start to the event.

The York Auction Centre is were, normally, livestock and horses are auctioned, so the exhibitors at the show were placed in pens. A convenient arrangement, though at first a little odd to behold. I peeked into some of the workshops taking place in a few pens and they did not seem very comfortable, to be honest. However, there were lots of interesting stalls for knitting, spinning, crochet, dyeing, embroidery, felting and more! The show is failry big and worth a visit if you love all things wool. The focus is more on fibre rather than yarn, which was great for me.

That said, I didn't buy much and this surprises me. I set myself a fairly generous budget, but I was also very particular about what to buy. I wanted to avoid yarn because I want to use up my stash. So that left things for spinning, but I didn't want to buy dyed fibre because I tend to go for the same things I have already got. In the end, what I did buy were all things I never had before:

I bought Teesdale locks from Art-Felt Designs by Nanny Lynn that I would like to spin into yarn as a kind of fringe. That should be interesting! There's 100g of undyed Polwarth, a fibre I have been very keen to try because so many spinners are raving about it. Also, it does not felt. I bought it from skybluepink-designs.  Then there's a pack of blue and green silk cocoons from Wheeldale Woolcrafts. Yep, I have probably set myself up for failure by wanting to spin them, but it had to be done. I really want to try it. The final item is the one I bought first of all an had been looking for for years: a big Ravelry name badge. They tend to sell out really quickly or are only available in large quantities, so I was very happy to find them at the show.

Just four little items, but I am extremely happy with them. There was another lot of fibre I was hoping to buy, but for some reason the stall was full of fibre and without a seller. I waited a while but he/she never appeared. Sadly, I had to abandon my wish to buy some Cheviot, another fibre that is new to me.

Just as I was about to leave, the Sheep Show Man started his entertaining and educational show with the help of his dancing sheep (yes, they do dance). Introducing each breed, he explained the best aspects of each before giving a young sheep her first shearing. It was done carefully and yet failry quickly and it was great to see it in person. It was far more interesting than I had expected. Make sure to scroll down for pictures of the show.

It was an exhausting show, in a good way, so that was me done for the day. The next day we were leaving again already, but not after another stroll around town (it's quite small, actually) and the discovery of a wonderful tea shop where I bought a rather unusual olive leaf tea. Tastes just like green tea to me, which I love, and it is one of my absolute favourites now.

And before this post gets any wordier, I shall leave you with my impressions of this long weekend adventure!

Leaving for the first leg of our journey

The York Wool Shop on the right couldn't compete with the nice pie sign next to it.

Dinner at my favourite sushi place

So much choice

Yes, that's a syringe of caramel sauce.

I always like timber framed houses.

York city wall

On the way to the show - with bunting!

Workshops were held in these pens.

A great wheel in action

These ladies made amazing felt creations.

Angora rabbit

Stunning wall art made from wool

The Sheep Show Man

She is a bit nervous about her first shearing.

She's chilllin'.

Ta da! A nekkid sheep.

Exhausted visitors waiting for the coach back to the city.

View from the hotel

York Minster, which was closed to the public at that time of day.


Dean Park next to York Minster

We got lost, but it's a nice place to get lost in.

The Golden Fleece is a haunted pub, but I was just interested in that sheep up there.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

A #knittinghour Sock KAL

 In my last post I hinted at some news for knitters who haven't tried knitting socks before. Now I can reveal:

There will be a sock KAL in September as part of our weekly #knittinghour chat on Twitter!
(Exact dates to be announced.)

#knittinghour takes place every Thursday evening from 7:30 till 8:30 and it is a great way to interact with other knitters, show off your projects and ask for help. Everyone is welcome to join in. We try to keep the chat free of promos as it is not an hour for businesses, but for private individuals to relax.

Recently chatters suggested we have a simple sock knitting KAL that is easy enough for beginners, so I will be writing up the easiest pattern I can come up with and we can all help each other during the chats and discuss how we are getting along.

The KAL will run for 4 weeks beginning 3 September in which you will do the following:

Knit one top-down sock

Week 1 - knit the ribbed cuff and the leg
Week 2 - tackle the heel (heel flap, turning the heel, knitting the gusset)
Week 3 - knit the foot
Week 4 - knit the toe and graft to close

Stitches you will need to know (don't worry, there will be help):

wrap and turn
Kitchener stitch

After these four weeks you should be confident enough to tackle the second one on your own, but you can always ask for help even after the KAL has ended. Of course, if you are quick and can't wait, you can also knit both socks during the KAL. Whatever floats your boat!

I hope some of you who haven't been to #knittinghour yet will find their way there. See you soon!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Hand Dyed By Kate: Sandy Cove Sock Yarn

Feast your eyes on this beauty! 

As you may know, I am collaborating with Kate of Hand Dyed By Kate. She hosts a striped sock yarn club for which I provide matching stitch markers every month. When she recently dyed up this wonderfully summery Sandy Cove sock yarn, of course I had to have it, too. I chose the MCN yarn base because I never had cashmere in any of my yarn before and we can all do with some luscious softness on our feet once in a while, right?
Well, this yarn is beautiful and I am really looking forward to knitting it up. As it is a self-striping yarn, I won't bother with a fancy pattern. I want to see the colours in all their glory! I've already got plans for it, but more about that in another blog post later. All I'll say at this stage is that if you have been afraid to knit socks until now, my next post may interest you.
How do you like to knit with self-striping yarn? Do you like to add texture or just knit in stockinette? I imagine a simple slipped stitch pattern would look great.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Wollmeise Pure - Femme Fatale

Last month I helped out a friend in Germany and to my surprise she sent me a lovely little package with all kinds of good German stuff including this hank of Wollmeise Pure!

She definitely got my kinds of colours there. This is one of the accidental hanks that aren't quite dyed the way they were meant to, so Wollmeise sell them at a slightly lower price. That said, the yarns are still beautifully dyed. This hank was meant to be a Femme Fatale and I am happy with it as it is. As far as I can tell, the original colourway consists of colours that contrast more strongly than they do here, but I prefer colours that blend well anyway and do not contrast too much, so this is perfect for me.

The yarn is 100% superwash, but I haven't yet decided whether to knit a little shawlette or socks with it. Maybe I will just wait a little while till I have a matching yarn to make something larger with. I haven't weighed the hank, but I think it is 150g that run to 525m. Pretty good!

If you have any pattern suggestions, please let me know!

Friday, 7 August 2015

My First Irish Yarn: Cushendale Woolen Mills DK

Recently I was contacted by Vibes & Scribes in Cork, Ireland, who asked if I'd be interested in trying some of their Irish yarns. Don't be confused by the bag in the photo: Vibes & Scribes also have a shop for wool and other craft supplies. Since I don't think I have ever used Irish yarn before I was very keen to give it a go and am very grateful for the two balls skeins of Cushendale Woollen Mills DK. It consists of 100% Irish wool and I really like the Rowan colourway I received. The green is full of colourful speckles that give it a lot of depth.

What I miss is information about needle size and tension which I couldn't find on the ball band or the website. This resulted in a few frustrating attempts at finding the right needles for my pattern and ate up a lot of time.
My first pattern choice for this yarn was the Cupido cowl that has been in my favourites for ages. So I happily cast on the 200 stitches, but soon realised that the yarn wasn't right for it. The yarn is very coarse and the texture of the cowl just did not come through at all. So I stopped after a few rounds and decided to use the Cupido texture only for the edging.

It took a while for me to figure out how to continue. The yarn seems to be best suited for sturdy knits with texture. I hope the yarn will soften after a soak to prevent any itchiness; otherwise I can't imagine it being useful for garments or any accessories worn close to the skin. However, it would work very well for cushions and other home furnishings, I think.
Once I decided on an easy textured stitch pattern (hurrah for improvisation), progress was swift and the cowl is now nearly done. As you can see, you only need knit and purl stitches for the main body. The edging uses knit, purl and slipped stitches, so this would be suitable for beginners to practise knitting in the round. (Mind, there is no pattern as yet since I improvised after the edging.)

I look forward to showing you the final result soon. Stay tuned!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Tour de Fleece 2015: The Results

Well. The title of this post may have built up too much expectation at this stage. Sadly, I did not do well in this year's Tour de Fleece. I had far less time to spin and didn't always feel like it either, so you won't be too surprised to hear that I spun very little.

It was my goal to at least finish a 200g bag of fibre, but I have to admit I failed. I seem to have managed just over 100g - that's not even two full bobbins. Better than nothing, but it is disappointing.

I have quite a bit left and will spin it up when I can, but now that the tour is long over, there is no rush. I do love the fibre and the singles so far. I am sure the finished plied yarn will be lovely to knit with and I will have to find a really nice pattern for it someday.

How did you get on during the Tour de Fleece and did you managed to reach your goals?