Well, the first thing many people say about Wonderwool is how cold it it! It lived up to it's reputation once again and temperatures stayed well under double figures but a little cold weather is nothing to the hardy fibrenistas visiting Builth Wells and they queued to get in both days.
Packing to go to the show and setting up at Wonderwool started on Thursday evening and was just about finished on Friday evening when we had to leave the showground for our hotel -- happily it was much quicker dismantling on Sunday! As you can see, we were collaborating with Woolly Wumpkins and the two parts of the stand really complemented each other and we were able to help each other out so customers weren't kept waiting. There were a few teething problems with our online stock & card payment system but they were soon overcome. I found it amazing how the stand went from chaotic pile of boxes to a proper pop-up shop so quickly. Greg, Tash and Marilyn sorted out our box display so we just had to fill it ready to sell.
We loved our two days at the show, Ruth's Mom, Marilyn, together with our crochet teacher Gaelle, did sterling work as at times the stand was packed with customers. The show was amazing and Ruth and Marilyn are now trapped in our teaching room with the aftermath of the show busily counting our remaining stock (we promise it will be ready for the crochet class tomorrow Gaelle!).
Now we are back and have had time to breathe, we've realised that we will have been open for three years next week. We've celebrated our birthday with different events each year and so we've decided that this year we will extend our Wonderwool show offers. Some of the yarns we took to Wonderwool are new to the shop -- like Yarn Stories and WYS Gems so it's well worth coming along to see them.
Wonderwool is almost upon us so I thought I would share a sneaky peak of the shawl Ruth has designed to show how the commercially produced yarn that we stock can complement the hand-dyed loveliness of yarns produced by Indie dyers like Woolly Wumpkins. Ruth has already blogged a few glimpses of the shawl enjoying Caribbean sunshine on the beach in Grenada and here the picture is of the shawl blocking on the table in the shop -- sadly not enjoying Caribbean sunshine (or indeed sunshine of any kind!).
Using West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply and Woolly Wumpkins merino/nylon sock yarn, Ruth has designed a striking geometric styled shawl inspired by the patterns used on the Wonderwool Blanket. The pattern will be launched at Wonderwool and available afterwards at Ammonite Yarns, our online shop and on Ravelry.
It's crept up on us very quickly but Wonderwool is next weekend!
The blanket is finished (you'll be able to see it in the shop window over the next few days) and I've almost finished writing up the pattern. The blanket takes 12 hanks of West Yorkshire Spinners Wensleydale Yarn. We used four each of Wensleydale Gems in Jadeite and Amazonite together with four hanks of Wensleydale Fleece in Ecru for our green, blue and cream version. The blanket matches our shop livery really well but we will have lots of other colourways to choose from at the show if green and blue just aren't your style. Our version costs £90 and until the end of May 2018 the price includes the pattern booklet. (If knitted in three colours of Gems then the price is £102). The yarn and pattern will be added to our website after Wonderwool (if you would like to pre-order and collect from the show then contact us on 01443 520200 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
We've really enjoyed the process of designing and creating the blanket and exploring different techniques and methods of construction -- we hope you do too.
It's another gloomy grey day here in South Wales and spring seems as far off as ever so I'm bringing some colour into it by working on my Wonderwool shawl. It is designed to make the most of those single skeins of gorgeous hand-dyed yarn by pairing with a solid commercial yarn. Using the two yarns really makes the hand dyed colours pop and as a bonus you get a good sized shawl at the end. We've taken the basic motif from our Wonderwool blanket as the starting point then built up a geometric pattern in the two yarns.
For the sample shawl, I've paired the colourful "Kaleidoscopic Rainbow" from Woolly Wumpkins with West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply in Liquorice. The black WYS yarns forms the perfect backdrop for the amazing colours in the Woolly Wumpkins yarn and makes the geometric pattern stand out. I don't normally enjoy working with black yarn but last week I was lucky enough to have a week in the Caribbean and somehow the tropical light made it much more pleasurable.
I've planned the geometric shapes of the shawl carefully and if my maths skills are up to scratch, there should be the perfect amount of yarn to finish it. But I did decide to weigh what was left this morning just to put my mind at ease.
We are definitely on the countdown for Wonderwool now (17 days till set-up day!) and just waiting for yarns to arrive. The Wonderwool blanket is almost finished and Ruth is working on her shawl design too.
The 'raison d'etre' of our stand is British yarn and we're trying to get some locally produced yarn in there too. We are collaborating with Woolly Wumpkins so our stand will be have lots of lovely hand-dyed yarns and 'shop' yarns complementing each other. We are taking a brand that we don't stock in the shop yet which is Yarn Stories. It is produced by Spectrum Yarns in Yorkshire and spun on site at their mill in Slaithwaite. Ruth and I visited the mill last year as it is also the home of Stylecraft. We will have Yarn Stories DK merino on the stand (and can take orders for any of their other thicknesses) which is a lovely soft 100% wool yarn. Ruth and I will both be wearing jumpers knitted in the yarn and will have other examples of the yarn made up for customers to caress. We'll also have yarns available from Stylecraft to support the Cosmic CAL again with examples made up.
I've already blogged about the Wonderwool blanket which is made from Wensleydale Gems from West Yorkshire Spinners and we are also taking Blue Faced Leicester aran, the Croft aran, Jacobs DK and Signature Sock yarn. The shawl Ruth has designed uses Signature together with Woolly Wumpkins and shows how you can mix 'trade' and indie-dyed yarns very successfully.
There's lots more work to do before we are ready to go but we really can't wait now -- don't forget Stand U11 in Hall 3 at Wonderwool Wales in Builth Wells on 28 & 29th April.
There's lots of things that I do when I'm knitting that I just take for granted and it needs new eyes to spot a conundrum. One of these moments happened at our drop-in last week when I was making one of the squares for my blanket. It's an outside-in design -- so cast on the borders on a circular needle and then decrease at each corner and work to the centre. I was happily knitting away and chatting, as you do at a drop-in, when Martyn (a relatively new, but not novice, knitter) commented that I was knitting a square in a circle. Yes I was! I hadn't noticed myself as I'd taken it for granted and hadn't actually seen the piece I was making as round, just as knitted in the round (a fine distinction in my brain). Looking at it from a new perspective though, I had cast on and joined to knit in the round, therefore had a circle on my needles. Usually that would then produce a tube of knitting, not a flat square -- definite knitting voodoo going on here! I blithely said at the beginning that you decrease at each corner -- there are no corners on a round piece of work so how ...? Well, there are corners on a circle if you place four markers at equal spacing and decrease at those markers -- the work begins to look like a square and then corners appear. This technique doesn't look nearly as magical if done on dpns as the needles are straight so the work looks square almost from the start. You can also start from the centre and increase at the corners -- the purple and yellow blanket in the pictures is an example of this. If you interested in the geometry of knitting, the designer Norah Gaughan has some clever patterns to try.
Of course, making a circle into a square isn't only found in knitting -- what about crochet granny squares -- not quite as magical as knitting in the round but it is still a very clever technique where carefully placed increases transform the circle. It's another technique that we learn and take for granted without realising how clever it is.
What this also shows is that sometimes we knit/crochet for the result, not for the process and don't notice what we are doing. I'm on a deadline to finish the blanket ready for Wonderwool so I was definitely knitting for the result. Taking more notice of the process is much more rewarding and you learn so much more. I see a course based on mindfulness in knitting forming!
We have more crochet workshops in the pipeline for you so here are the latest ones coming up.
On 2 June, Gaelle will be showing how to make a lovely unisex crochet cowl from West Yorkshire Spinners Croft yarn. Just in time for Father's Day, this cowl would be a lovely present (or said Father could come along and make the cowl himself!). Suitable for crocheters with some experience.
On 23 June, the workshop is all about re-cycling. Using old t-shirts, Gaelle will show how to re-purpose them into a yarn bowl.
Our crochet workshops and classes book up quickly so if you would like to come along, click on the pictures to go straight to our booking page.
Only four more squares to knit and block and then we're ready to join and add an edging to the blanket. Blocking is not my favourite job but having watched me struggle with a tape measure and pins for a little while Ruth presented me with blocking templates -- three squares of cardboard cut to the size of the the three squares within a square. This ingenious solution mean that I can pin the squares to size quickly and effectively and then make sure that the centre patterns are also correct. It just goes to show that high-tech isn't always the answer -- I think i'd still be sitting measuring and pinning without my low-tech aides!
The yarn pack and pattern will be added to our website the week before Wonderwool so that you can still buy it even if you are not going to the show or you can pre-order it and pick up from our stand (U11 in Hall 2). The yarn pack will be available in a variety of colours or you can choose your own and we will give details in the pattern for different layouts of the squares and whether colour quantities change if you choose one of them.
Welcome to our blog
Here we will share our experiences of running a local yarn shop in South Wales.