I know we haven't finished Summer yet but our Autumn yarns are beginning to arrive. Last week saw the arrival of Forest re-cycled aran from King Cole and West Yorkshire Spinners Croft DK and Wild Shetland aran arrived today.
Croft DK is a sister yarn to Croft Aran which we have stocked since it was launched. The new yarn comes in a lovely array of colours and, like the aran has fabulous stitch definition and handle. Patterns support comes in the form of a book and doesn't disappoint. You can find the yarn and pattern book here.
Croft Wild Shetland is a roving aran inspired by the ever-changing colours of the landscape of the Shetlands. You can find the yarn here.
Sometimes it is hard to visualise a yarn knitted up so when our new Forest Recycled Aran came in, I decided to recreate a scarf that I had made for Richard around six years ago and write up the pattern for sale in the shop and on Ravelry. Naturally, I hadn't written any notes, I just remember making the scarf up as we went along the motorway on a trip to Birmingham to visit our eldest at University (obvs Greg was driving!). Fortunately I had put the scarf on my Ravelry project page and it told me precisely this much:
Needle 3.5 mm
Yarn Bergère de France Idéal
4 skeins = 497.6 meters (544.2 yards), 200 grams
Purchased at La Mercerie in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan,
Purchase date November 29, 2014
The pictures were a bit more helpful as I could enlarge them and see how many cables I had done and how many times. I remembered the pattern fairly well as it has an almost hypnotic repeat on it. Essentially groups of five cables which repeat on a stagger. Richard's (and the new scarf) are based around five repeats but it can be made wider for a shawl or cowl (the pattern has details about how to make enlarge the pattern). After a false start where I didn't put enough space between the cables vertically, the scarf flew along on the needles and is now sitting proudly in the shop window.
The new yarn, Forest, is an aran weight, not DK so I went up a size in needles and the scarf is wider than the original. I wanted to see how far the yarn would go so I just kept on knitting until I had almost finished two balls before adding the top edging. There was enough yarn left to do about half a repeat more but I wanted full repeats. The result is a very long scarf which can be worn just wrapped around a la Dr Who or folded and looped to look more up-to-date.
Making this scarf reminded me of why I love knitting cables. I find them easy to 'read' and I love the way just moving a few stitches around on the needle produces such a stunning effect. As mentioned before, knitting the cables can be slightly hypnotic, maybe because of the rhythmic nature of cable designs. If you've never tried them, it's not a difficult technique and is well worth the effort. We are always happy to do a class or one-to-one in the shop.
The Forest Re-cycled aran is lovely to work with and has reasonable definition for cables. King Cole have used re-cycled mill waste, re-cycled garments and re-cycled plastic bottles to produce a great yarn which is kinder to the environment than many mixed fibre blends. It's not particularly soft in the ball but is soft to work with and when washed and blocked has a good feel to it. I didn't block the scarf harshly, just pinned it to to stop the scarf curling (stocking stitch doesn't like to lie flat!). It took a lot of pins to block the scarf. Naturally as soon as it hit the blocking boards, the cat decided it would be this week's place to sit (but not for long!) and blocking does mean that yarn takes a long time to dry. The scarf could be washed and dried normally and then lightly steamed (ie steam iron above the fabric, not on it) to finish it off.
You can find the yarn here and the 'Five of Cables' pattern here, just click on the highlighted text.
It's so nice to feel as if things are getting back to normal and seeing trade reps is part of that process for us. Yesterday our King Cole rep came by with their August launches. We've been looking for a wool mix aran weight yarn to complement the wool arans we already stock and King Cole has just the thing -- their new recyled aran. King Cole have used spinning waster and recycled sweaters for the wool content and recycled plastic bottles for the synthetic content. The total mix is 35% wool, 20% acrylic, 20% polyamide and 25% viscose. The yarn is named Forest and each of the lovely, slightly tweedy shades are named after British forests. Ten colours gives plenty of choice and there pattern support offers garments and accessories (although any pattern for aran or worsted weight should work provided you check tension!) With 300m/100g ball and a £3.50 price tag the yarn is a great value and sustainable too. It's on our website to pre-order and will be in the shop by the end of next week.
And now for a teaser -- keep an eye out too for the new offering from West Yorkshire Spinners which is due mid-August!
As things get back to some sort of normal, we are becoming more hopeful that our Autumn workshops will be able to go ahead. I'll be adding more information about class sizes and times this week but in the meantime, why not skip over to our classes page and see what we have planned.Workshops
Last week saw a visit from my sister delivering more of her Hand Made Project Bags. Ranging from pretty little bags for small projects to a lovely large padded bag for bigger items they are just right to carry your knitting or crochet around. Go on ... treat yourselves!
Do any of you have any projects that have been on the needles or hook for a long time?
Some projects just feel as though they have been in progress forever I have a jumper, for example, that has only been knitted off and on for a fortnight but it is in garter stitch so seems to have stretched time and space. But I mean, actually in progress forever. Again I am guilty. I have a traditional gansey that bought the yarn for at Wonderwool in 2017. It's a lovely project in Frangipane 5-ply guernsey yarn bought from Propagansey at said show. Originally ganseys were knitted as working jumpers most commonly for the fishermen of the late 19th century fishing fleets and have a fascinating history, My pattern is from a much loved old knitting book on traditional knitting and will be amazing when it is finished. It is knitted in traditional gansey style in one piece in the round up to the armholes. Gussets are added under the arms and it is then split to do the front and back yoke. Sleeves are picked up and knitted from the top down. All of this on 2.75mm needles.
The jumper has taken this long because pretty much every row is different to the previous one so I have to have paper and book in front of me all the time. I have just finished the front yoke which was 178 rows with each row different! It is definitely a labour of love and quite hard on the hands as the yarn is tightly spun and knitted on smaller than usual needles so that the jumper acts as a windbreak should I ever go out on a fishing boat (which isn't likely as I haven't been on a dinghy since a school trip when I was 14). I've done bits and pieces of this gansey and then put it away to do other projects but over lockdown I've picked it up again and plan to try and finish the back yoke before having another rest and doing the sleeves. I think it's beaten my previous longest work in progress which was a shetland cobweb shawl which took two years off and on.
Let us know what projects you have that have waited a long time to be finished -- you can post pictures in our facebook group Yarnmanglers -- we'd love to see them.
The shop has been open again for almost a fortnight and it is wonderful to see everyone again. I know some of our customers are limited by the five mile guidance in Wales but that will end soon so then we can see them again too. Being closed for so long has really made us appreciate what a community a yarn shop is and how we all support one another both in crafty doings and in the rest of our lives. We really miss our drop-in groups (although we are seeing some of you on Zoom on Tuesday evenings) and our workshops and sadly can't see these re-opening until September at the earliest but just being open is a start. Just a quick reminder that our opening hours are reduced over the Summer (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 11am till 3pm and Saturday 11am till 1pm but our online shop is always open if you can't get to see us in person.
It’s always nice to be able to re-open with a yarn launch. We will be celebrating the relaxation of lockdown with some new Welsh yarn from The Naked Spinner in Criccieth.
The yarn is a mixture of 71% wool from Crugan Farm and 29% alpaca from the Naked Spinner. The fibres were prepared and spun by Curlew Weavers from Rhydlewis in Ceredigion so this is a truly Welsh yarn.
The DK yarn comes in two different greys, a mink and a natural white and is £14.00 for approximately 100g. Initially, we only have a small amount of each colour in stock but can easily order more from The Naked Spinner should you need it.
You can find the yarn here on our website.
Mark Drakeford has announced the latest relaxation of the Covid lock-down today which means we can re-open next week.
As we are usually closed on Mondays we will open our doors again on Tuesday 23 June with some guidance in place to keep our customers safe:
Guidance many be modified in line with government advice.
For more details check our here.
Revised Opening Hours:
Initially our hours are:
Tuesday ...................................... 11 am till 3 pm
Wednesday .................................. 11 am till 3 pm
Friday ......................................... 11 am till 3 pm
Saturday ..................................... 11 am till 1 pm
Drop-ins, classes and longer opening hours will resume later in the Autumn
Opening times may be subject to change – please keep an eye on our website and facebook pages.
Do any others find it hard to relate to life after lockdown? It seems that the lockdown has been here for ever and this surreal state of affairs will never end. It is particularly weird if you have relatives and friends in one of the other UK countries where the relaxation of lockdown is taking place at a different pace to Wales. Ruth and I are on a facebook group for local yarn shop owners in the UK and the talk is about re-opening (in England) next week. While we have never closed online, we won't be opening the physical shop for a while yet -- the Welsh Government hasn't given any clues to re-opening dates for retail so we will see how our neighbours manage and learn from them.
In the meantime, let's look forward. Lockdown will end and things will get back to normal so we have planned our Autumn dates for classes, workshops and drop-ins and are looking forward to getting back to helping more people to learn new crafts.
You can find all of our new dates for knitting, spinning and crochet workshops here but do bear in mind that dates may have to change if guidelines change.
Welcome to our blog
Here we will share our experiences of running a local yarn shop in South Wales.