Our plans for Wonderwool are forging ahead and one of the big things that I will be doing for it is designing a knitted blanket/afghan to be available at the show as a kit. Ruth and I obsessed about different yarns and prices and colours for quite a while before finally plumping for Wensleydale Gems from West Yorkshire Spinners. The yarn will arrive for my sample this week and I've chosen colours to match our shop livery. We've also put together other colourways which will be available for those of you that don't like greens and blues! It's amazing when matching colours how shades that look as though they will be amazing together really don't work. A good example of this can be pink and grey which work well together in blocks but in patterning can merge together when fairisled.
I've knitted a couple of afghans before (pictured below) both of which were from book called Great North American Afghans. I took most of the designs from there, then added a few of my own -- a dalek on Lawrence's blue toned one , tumbling blocks, a guitar, Dr Who images and and R2D2 (or it might be C3po) on Tash's. It's fun using different techniques for each block and if you want to be creative yourself it's not to big a project to create one square. As you don't have the entire piece of knitting in your lap the project doesn't get too unwieldy either. Richard also had an afghan to take to university but his isn't blockwork -- it's the fluorescent yellow and purple one pictured (the picture doesn't do justice to the true brightness of it!).
The Wonderwool blanket will be constructed from squares which will each showcase a technique or design. Depending on the size of blanket chosen some of the squares will repeat. The background colour of my version is cream with the blues and greens from our shop colours creating a geometric pattern. I want to create a blanket that knitters can pick and choose the overall pattern, so if a square is too tricky or too fussy for them, it can be swapped for another. I'll provide a guide to the order for sewing up the squares but it will be a guide not a rule!
I'll keep blogging the progress of the blanket. It's a daunting project but I'm really going to enjoy the challenge.
An article from the Guardian came up on my facebook feed today about a photographer who uses models posed in knitwear for his installations. The knitwear is patterned as camouflage for whatever the background is. At the same time knitting was featured on Emmerdale last night and the knitter asked how old she was -- 70? Another shop owner was called a granny because she had picked up the needles. So is it grannyish if women knit but art when men get involved?
So is knitting (and crochet) a craft, an art or a science. There's certainly enough maths involved in creating patterns to make it something of an arcane science, but at the same time some of the creations that I regularly see through my work pushes me towards thinking that it is an art. I suppose it fits in as a craft because most of us are artisan knitters rather than designers -- we are very good at recreating a piece of work that someone else has designed. So what does that make the designer -- artist or artisan?
To most of us it doesn't really matter because we knit or crochet for pleasure but by considering it grannyish as per Emmerdale we belittle both the skill and our grannies. There's also the bone of contention that it shouldn't be deemed derogatory to be called a granny but that's an entirely different blog. There is an immense amount of skill behind any piece of knitted or crocheted fabric and grannies have spent a long time perfecting their skill. By deriding knitting it also devalues the end product as many knitters have realised when they've been asked to knit a garment for less than the cost of the wool. Quoting a price for a garment, which even begins to reflect the amount of time it takes to complete it, leads to disbelief and dismay.
So what do you all think -- art or craft?
If you click on the camouflage picture, it will take you to the original article so you can see some amazing knitting.
Clicking on the octopus jumper picture will take you to our gallery which will show some of the amazing and not at all grannyish work produced by our customers, myself and Ruth.
In the past few years since opening Ammonite Yarns we have collaborated with Cafe 50 in Pontyclun on projects including Twiddle-Muffs, Twiddle Blankets, Trauma Teds and poppies for remembrance and on Monday I dropped in to deliver some donated wool.
Cafe 50 is a a social centre in the village for any person over the age of 50 who would like the opportunity to socialise and meet new people. Before we opened the shop I helped Marg Griffiths set up the Thursday morning knitting and crochet drop-in which we christened The Yarmmongers and we are delighted that it is really thriving. Monday morning also sees a crafting group, Welcome Friends Craft Club, at the Cafe so it has a lot to offer. It's a friendly group so go along and visit -- you can also stay on for a lovely lunch as Cafe 50 offers a lunch service Monday to Friday with a two course lunch including a cup of tea or coffee.
While Ruth and I don't do much hands-on knitting for Cafe 50 anymore we do collect in donated yarn for charity projects from our customers which we then hand on to the Yarnmongers and Welcome Friends. I took several large bags of donated yarn before Christmas and another couple of large bags this week. It's amazing how quickly it all gets made up as there are some seriously dedicated knitters and crocheters there! Sheila Harris from Cafe 50 responded on our facebook page and I thought it would be nice to share her post here:
Just want to say a big Thank You to Norma and Judy for a large donation of wool to the knitters at Cafe 50 Pontyclun. This wool will be put to very good use for local charity projects. I have written personal Thank You cards with much appreciation from all at Welcome Friends and the Yarnmongers. Sincere thanks to Jenny for delivering to us today.👏👏
It's a horrible day outside today, matching the general post Christmas/end of January gloom, so we thought we'd cheer you up with more information about our workshops.
At the weekend we have the first of our two part workshops, this one being about Brioche and next Tuesday Eva will be back for a felting workshop. The following Saturday will be a crochet workshp and Sunday sees our inaugural spinning workshop which we are really looking forward to.
27 January 2018 Brioche
In these two workshops we will begin with basic, straight brioche to learn the technique. In the afternoon we will add cast-ons, increasing and decreasing and patterning in brioche.
You can book just the morning, just the afternoon or both with the lunch as an option.
Tuesday 30 January Needle-felting
Come along and learn to needle-felt with our tutor Eva.
Eva will take you from basics to a small item in this evening session.
All materials provided plus refreshments.
Saturday 3 February Crochet a Heart Cushion
Learn how to make a cute heart mini-cushion for yourself or to give to your Valentine. Aimed at just beyond beginner level as you need to be familiar with basic stitches.
Sunday 4 February Learn to Spin
From Teazel to Twine, our spinning tutor Gina will show you how to prepare and spin fleece using carders, a drop-spindle and a spinning wheel.
Sew up Sat 10 Feb
Our usual Saturday morning opportunity to come along and finish off your unfinished objects with convivial company, cake and tea.
So whether you are a knitter, crocheter, spinner or felter, there is something for everyone so do come along and join us. You can book online, by phone or in the shop. You can click on the pictures to link to the booking page for that workshop.
Have you heard about our Yarnmanglers group over on Facebook? It's open to all our followers and is the perfect place to share your yarny achievements and find support if your latest project is proving challenging. We particularly encourage people who have attended one of our courses to join so they can share their progress with the new skills they have learnt.
Find the group at www.facebook.com/groups/587843661360171/
We're not referring to buns here but to our tasty new workshop about Brioche knitting although we might supply some brioche to eat too!
Brioche is a technique which produces reversible fabric either in one colour or two and if you have been following some of the knitty facebook groups you might have noticed comments about it.
We have organised the day so that it suits beginners and improvers. You can book on to just the morning (beginner techniques) just the afternoon (for the more advanced) or both (if you want to learn it all).
The morning session will teach Brioche Basics and in the afternoon we will look at different ways to cast on and off and patterns in Brioche stitch.
Lunch is included if you book morning and afternoon together or can be booked as an extra if you only want to come along to the basics session and lunch or have lunch and then attend just the advanced session.
Saturday 27.01.18 morning session 10 am till 12 noon is £30.00
Lunch 12 noon till 1 pm is £5.00
Afternoon session 1 pm till 3 pm is £30.00
Or book the full day including lunch for £60.00 and save £5.00
All materials used on the day will be provided.
You can book online, by phone or in person with a deposit of £10.00. Just click on the picture to be redirected to our online bookings page.
2018 is going to see Ammonite Yarns trying out yarn festivals. We are joining forces with Michelle of Woolly Wumpkins and taking a stand at Wonderwool Wales at the end of April.
Our stand will be showcasing (some of) the Best of British yarns. We hope to have an exclusive Ammonite Yarns colourway ready (dyed for us by Woolly Wumpkins) as well as some exclusive designs (possible blanket for example).
For those of you that have not discovered Wonderwool Wales yet, it is a massive yarn show held at the showground at Builth Wells. The show takes up three sheds and has all kind of fibre luxuries there as well as a fair few sheep and alpacas. There is always a stand with the most beautiful angora rabbits too but unfortunately I have to stay away from it as it makes me sneeze!
Our stand will be showcasing (some of) the Best of British yarns. We hope to have an exclusive Ammonite Yarns colourway ready (dyed for us by Woolly Wumpkins) as well as some exclusive designs (possible blanket for example). Ruth, Michelle and I are really excited about it. We hope you will come and find us there.
It's a big commitment and we have loads to do to be ready in time -- we need to work out how we are going to display all of our wares to begin with. We will be in hall 2, stand U11 which is not too far from the seating area for food.
Keep an eye on our blog for more details.
Today is Sew-Up Saturday here at the shop where everyone is welcome to bring along those lurking UFOs (unfinished objects) that just need sewing up. We provide tea, cake and sympathy along with some advice and guidance if you need it. Lots of us put off the sewing-up stage as we find it dull but sewing up with others helps the chore go more quickly.
I recently finished knitting the Bernadette jumper that I started over the summer. It's a lovely textured stripey summer sweater but there are sooooooo many ends to sew in! I've brought it in today to sew up but if I'm honest, when I packed it into my knitting bag this morning, I was dreading the sewing.
But as I drove to the shop I experienced a small positive coincidence that lifted my mood - every single traffic light on my route turned green as I approached it! Ok, there's only 4 of them, and it's a very small thing, but it was still very pleasing. Sometimes sewing up feels like lots of red light with all itty-bitty ends to hide. After my run of green lights I can see each end as the route to finishing rather than a barrier. Now I'm quite looking forward to sorting all the ends out so I can wear my new jumper - although I might wait until the weather warms up a bit!
All of the workshops for the first part of 2018 are now live on our website so take the opportunity and book a course so you can learn a new skill for a new year
Our January classes begin this week with a new Beginner Crochet Course on Friday afternoon and a Beginner Crochet Workshop on Saturday so if you don't know one end of a crochet hook from the other but would like to create then this is the one for you.
Later in the month we our Felting tutor Eva will be holding a 'Find Out About Felting' morning followed by an evening workshop to try it out for yourself.
Ruth and I will be teaching a Brioche workshop at the end of the month. Brioche knitting is really popular at the moment but can be a bit tricky so we are here to help. We have re-jigged our knitting workshops a bit so that you can tailor it more to your abilities. The morning sessions are aimed at knitters who know very little about the technique (brioche in this case). We will then offer lunch and a more advanced session in the afternoon. You can book either or both sessions and choose to have lunch as well.
February will begin with more crochet courses and then a completely new course for us when our new tutor Gina will be teaching spinning. The day will teach all about the fibres used for spinning, carding them in preparation and then how to spin on a spinning wheel. Numbers are limited for this so book early.
February will also see the first of our Kid's Knitting Classes, so keep an eye-out for more posts.
Click on the pictures to go to our bookings page.
It's a bright (well overcast) new year so we are back to our normal opening hours here at Ammonite Yarns.
We open Tuesdays to Fridays 9 am till 5 pm and then on Saturdays 9 am tilll 1 pm. On Tuesdays we run two drop-ins -- one in the morning from 10 am and another in the evening from 6.30 pm till 8.30 pm. The drop-ins are for all abilities and we have knitters and crocheters who come along. Just bring whatever you have on the needles or hook and £1.00 donation towards the refreshments fund and enjoy a relaxing few hours with other knitters and crocheters.
Welcome to our blog
Here we will share our experiences of running a local yarn shop in South Wales.