Here at Ammonite Yarns we have a passion for sharing our skills with others. We have a full and varied programme of classes and workshops all year round including knitting, crochet, hand spinning and needle felting.
But did you know that we will also run tailor-made sessions especially for you? We can offer classes in a range of fibre arts from complete beginner to advanced techniques. Sessions can be for just one person or a group of up to six and from as short as an hour up to a full day class.
If you have a look through our workshops page, you can get an idea of the range of skills we cover, but if there's something particular that you are yearning to do that isn't in the current programme, let us know and we'll do our best to accommodate you.
Prices start from just £12.50 per hour of one to one tuition depending on the skills and tutors involved. Give us a call on 01443 520200 or drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
You may remember me blogging about a stripey jumper I had finished knitting recently and just had to sew up and darn in the ends. Everyone who's been to our Sew Up Saturdays or our drop in groups will have endured my complaints about just how many, many ends there were.
Well, you'll be pleased to hear that it is finished at last so you won't have to listen to me whinge about it any more!
Here's a picture of the finished jumper, and you'll see me wearing it just as soon as the weather warms up a little.
You may remember our poppy dress from Remembrance Day last year. The poppies are destined to become part of the Curtain of Poppies at Wonderwool this April to commemorate each of the 887,858 people from the UK who died serving their country in WWI. The curtain will be made up of poppies attached to lengths of i-cord and we're about to start sewing ours together.
We're not sure exactly how many poppies we have here, but it's a lot! Ruth has just spent a long morning making the i-cord and now it's ready for the poppies. If you are in the shop over the next few weeks you may be encouraged to sew on a poppy or two. We would be very grateful for your help with this task - just come in any time during opening hours and we'll put the kettle on so you can have a cuppa while we sew.
tRuth and I spend Monday at Birmingham NEC at CHSI Stitches which is the major UK trade show for the creative craft industry. We went to the show with a plan but it didn't stop us yearning after some beautiful yarns which we can't fit in just yet -- oh for a bottomless budget!
The purpose of our trip was to finalise our yarn plans for Wonderwool. We were sidetracked slightly by some lovely sock yarns, by Rowan and by general yarnie loveliness but we stuck to the plan and finalised!
We've always championed British yarns and suppliers and want to show how commercial yarn producers can really complement the indie dyers who are so successful at Wonderwool so we've spent a lot of time planning and choosing the yarns we are going to take with us.
Our Wonderwool blanket is made with West Yorkshire Spinners’ vibrant Wensleydale Gems and we can’t wait to launch it at Wonderwool (we will give the opportunity to pre-order and collect at the show (or pre-order for posting after the Wonderwool). Just launched at the Stiches the new range of Signature Sock yarns. Called the Florist Collection, it is made up of pastels and will really complement the more vibrant yarns already available and will sit well with Michelle's Woolly Wumpkins sock yarns. We will have it at Wonderwool but are holding fire on ordering it for the shop immediately but will keep the blog updated about it. The other WYS yarns we have chosen to take with us are The Croft, Blue Faced Leicester Aran and Jacobs DK, together with the all Gems range.
We’ve had lots of support from our Stylecraft rep who has helped us choose yarns to take with us. Lots of crocheters know about Stylecraft through the blogstar posts so we’ll have some of their kits at the show – it is lovely to be able to support home-grown talent in this way. We had sight of the new CALs at Stitches but no photos yet so we can only tease by saying 'watch this space'! Stylecraft is owned by Spectrum Yarns who also produce Yarn Stories which is spun in Slaithwaite at the Spectrum mill so we really wanted to make sure we could showcase it at Wonderwool as part of our British producers and yarn theme. The colour palette is just beautiful and the pattern support classic and stylish. We will be taking the merino DK which may be new to many knitters so we hope to introduce it to loads of new fans.
We will fine-tune with some other yarns added -- local Welsh yarns for example but we came back from Stitches tired but glad to know that it is all coming together. Our next challenge is to work out how we get our stock to Wonderwool -- it might take a juggernaut to get it all there but hopefully only a mini to get what’s left home again!
Today's blog is a cautionary tale about tension. I've been busy knitting up and writing up the patterns for the squares for our Wonderwool blanket, one of which is a simple corner to corner centre square. The first thing I learned is that it is quite easy to turn a square into a parallelogram -- more about this in a later post. The second thing I have learned is that garter stitch tension is quite fiddly, particularly if you have a plaster on your finger!
As you can see from the pictures, my two finished squares are different sizes. The mitred square (green centre) is the correct tension and the corner to corner square (blue centre) is bigger. The difference shows most in the border and edge triangles rather than the centres. This was a bit confusing as I'd used the same needles, same yarn, same stitch but the tension is different. Then I remembered the plaster. I use Hiya Hiya Sharp interchangeable needles which need to be re-named 'very sharp'. I'd been knitting a jumper in the round fairly quickly and had caught the end of my finger with the needle a couple of times so, rather than bleed over my knitting, I put a plaster on my finger. The yarn doesn't slip over a plaster in the same way that it slips over skin so when I swapped back to my blanket square to do the border and triangles, the tension was different. The square is only one stitch awry over 10 cm but on a 20 cm square that becomes two stitches which is visible. This is why tension is important when knitting!
We now have a new rule for tension -- no plasters!
Our Beginner crochet courses are proving so popular that our April one is already full!
We have added dates for the next Friday afternoon course that Gaelle will be teaching which is in September. There is also an option to register interest if you can't make any of the dates already listed and then we will let you know when new dates are released.
Just click on the picture to go to our bookings page.
It's really snowy here so knitting a blanket is just the job for the cold weather. I've just finished the fifth design of the blanket and Ruth is busy re-knitting them to check my pattern-writing skills.
Things I have learned:
My tension changes a lot when I knit garter stitch. I'm pretty good with stocking stitch and patterns but garter stitch is another matter!
Corner to corner squares transform into corner to corner parallelograms.
It's harder to design mosaic stitch than It looks.
WYS Wensleydale Gems is gorgeous.
The cat enjoys lying on the squares just after I have washed and blocked them.
The cat may not live to see the end of the project!
I was quite bamboozled by my corner to corner parallelogram but had a eureka moment and worked it out. A corner to corner square in knitting is quite simple to create and there are a few ways to do it. Cast on one stitch and then increase into it on the next row. Knit a row plain then increase at each end of the next row. Continue doing this until you have a triangle half the planned finished size and then start decreasing on alternate rows until back down to one stitch. Alternatively, slip the first stitch on every row and increase (or decrease) on the last stitch of each row. I mixed the two formulas which was my mistake. I did the shaping at the beginning and end of alternate rows and slipped the first stitch on the plain row. This shortened the slipped edge and hence gave me a parallelogram. Shan't make that mistake again!
The blanket has some simple squares and some which are a little more difficult. We will provide a schematic to show where each square goes but it is up to individual knitters to decide whether they want to follow our layout or make up their own. I really enjoy making blankets this way as the project doesn't become unwieldy and I can practise different techniques or try some that I've never done before. As soon as exact yarn quantities are sorted and the pattern checked I'll put a link for pre-orders before we launch at Wonderwool -- can't wait!
We have one place left on our 'Sandrine' crochet workshop tomorrow so if you would like to come along I'd recommend booking online now (just click on the picture to take you to the booking page). The workshop runs from 10 till 1 and costs £35.00 including yarn and will teach all you need to know to make the very pretty Sandrine shawl.
It is also Sew-Up-Saturday in the shop tomorrow, so if you need help to finish your UFOs then drop in any time after 10.
Sadly, Saturday is a half day, closing at 1 pm, so we can't save you from the rugby but you could always come and find a new project to keep you busy while England vs Wales dominate the small screen!
We've been talking recently about our forthcoming adventure at Wonderwool and the blanket we are designing for the show. We thought you might it interesting to see how it is going and find out more about our inspiration for the blanket.
Our idea germinated from a request from a friend for a blanket kal -- for the uninitiated that's a Blanket Knit Along. I'd made a couple of blankets before -- the afghans that I posted about last week. They were based on the Great American Afghan and the modular design of a blanket based on squares is a good one to create for a KAL. We want to create a blanket that has very easy squares for beginners with more difficult squares if the knitter wants to be challenged. As the blanket is geometric the squares can be mixed and matched so if a square doesn't appeal it can be replaced by another.
We'd been creating interest boards (initially on the pc but I've transferred most of it to Pinterest www.pinterest.co.uk/jennyw1050/wonderwool-blanket/
As you can see from Pinterest, we'd picked up ideas from lots of areas and had initially decided that the blanket was going to be more like the American Afghans I'd already made. This changed when I started on the first square and started playing around with bits of paper to work out how to have a square with triangles around it. By moving the triangles out a bit, it then created a central square (diamond) with a border around it and triangles around that to make the full square. Ruth then did this much more efficiently on Power Point, complete with exact measurements! Once the shape and colours were on powerpoint, we (Ruth with input from me) were able to duplicate the squares, swap colours around and create a full layout. The resulting blanket uses ideas from traditional patchworking to create patterns within patterns. As the blanket evolves, Ruth and I have some challenges ahead -- creating brioche and mosaic patterns being some of the more daunting ideas!
The pictures here show the first square. As you can see the centre changes colour! This is not the magic of computers but a second square! With the first square we worked out stitch counts etc but knitted the WYS Wensledale Gems yarn up on 4 mm needles. This felt quite slack and although it blooms when washed it still didn't feel dense enough and was slightly too large. A change of needles to 3.5 mm (the green centre) created perfection!
All we need now is a name for the blanket!
We held our first spinning workshop here at the shop on Sunday with Gina our spinning tutor. It was great fun. First of all we were able to explore yarn from different breeds of sheep and Gina explained what makes a good garment yarn (as opposed to a good carpet yarn) and showed how to find out how long the staple is on a fleece (you'll have to come to the next workshop to find out!).
We then had a go at drawing the fleece out -- basically this helping the fibres of the yarn lie more evenly so that it is easier to spin them. After that we had a go at spinning with a drop spindle -- there was lot of pinching involved with that. Pinching of fibres that is, not each other. Some succeeded better than others with the drop spindle!
Lunch was very civilised with home-made soup, cheese, ham and home-made bread and then we got onto the knitty-gritty with the spinning wheels. Altogether we had a selection of six wheels to use, some of them single treadle and some double treadle and it was really quite interesting how different each wheel feels to use. We produced 1-ply yarn which then needs to be plied with another 1-ply so we had a go at that too.
We all finished with a small hank of yarn that we had made ourselves, so thank you Gina for a really enjoyable day.
Welcome to our blog
Here we will share our experiences of running a local yarn shop in South Wales.