Tag Archives: yarn

Bristol Wool Fair

The very first Bristol Wool Fair was last weekend on the Clifton Downs. Finally, a wool fair on my doorstep! It’s so much more agreeable to just wander up late afternoon, no big deal, just checkin out some wool. The Bristol Wool Fair (BWF?) is much more open air than any other I’ve to so far. The weather was perfect too, so it was kind of like a big picnic, plus wool, plus farm animals.


Above are some show sheep being sheared in a demonstration. I have never seen such chilled out sheep before. I was convinced they were models until I got up close. All previous sheep I have encountered have been fussy little cranks that want attention the moment you stop giving them any. Clearly that guy is some kind of sheep whisperer.

There were also alpacas! Amiably milling about going “wehhhh!” now and then. Bless their spongy heads.


The surrounding marqees were full of stalls demonstrating just about everything you can do with animal fibre; knit and crocheted garmets, yarn, spinning, weaving, felting, hats, rugs, needlepoint, tapestries, I’ve definitely forgotten at least 3 more.It was a well balanced spread. In a horrifying shock twist I didn’t buy anything, but I did think very hard about walking past these pretty yarn bowls.


There was also this century old sock-making machine being demonstrated.


Turn the crank, a sock comes out below! According to the original manual, which was nearby on the stall, even those febrile lady knitters can do it. Incidentally Kate Davies has recently written a comprehensive post about the history of socks, and I’m inclined to guess this particular machine came in when no-one was very excited about mass production anymore, hence the manual’s tone of “cute little hobby to keep the lady-brains occupied”.

wool2There were some crochet flower workshops, the results of which all got painstakingly stuck to this giant sheep! I believe said sheep is now in the window of Paper Village, blinding the eyes of anyone walking past.

Before I left there was a sheepdog demonstration. With ducks instead of sheep! Probably the highlight of the fair if I’m honest! Believe me, I tried to get a good picture I really did, but this dog was mental, like literally every border collie ever.wool1


I think this was a pretty good start for a wool fair, so here’s hoping it comes back next year bigger, better and with more cute animals.



Filed under Ramblings

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 – Day 3: Photography

Photography day! When I was wandering about the house for Day 1, I couldn’t help but notice that my box of swatches was getting pretty full.


Maybe…I could make a picture with them??


Yes! A flower! A Sun obscured by a cloud! A giant bee!

I like to think that somewhere today, Neil Buchanan felt an inexplicable wave of disappointment for a split second.



All of my posts for this week are collected here.

You can see what everyone else is posting here.



Filed under KniCroBloWeek2014

Ravelry Roundup: Uses of Variated Sock Yarn

Well I haven’t done one of these for a while, it’s about time. I’ve been poking around Ravelry as you do and now I’m going to reveal my finds.

Like many of my round-ups, this one has been driven by the question “what the hell do I do with this spare yarn??”. Specifically crazy sock yarn. Crazy sock yarn is a very marketable product. You only need one skein to make something useful with it, therefore dyers can go absolutely nuts without fear of not selling it. There are two main types of crazy sock yarn:

Skein-dyed: Here the dyers have wound the yarn into a skein about a yard long, and dyed directly on to it. It looks terribly pretty in a skein as a result, and knits into a fabric with very short streaks of constantly changing colour. Like this example from the Yarnyard


Self-striping: Yarn with much longer colour runs, giving you stripes as you knit, with none of the effort. So much fun! Recently I bought a great example from Easyknits.


So what can you do with this stuff that’s interesting? I have found several examples. They are roughly arranged in ascending order of complexity/mentalness. Let’s begin.

Slip-stitch patterns

With short colour runs, the occasional slipped stitch produces a very small break in the colour. A single slipped stitch may not be noticeable, but a repeated pattern produces a magic-eye effect quite nicely!

Confetti socks by Mimi Hill

Pair with a solid

Sometimes, when you have particularly crazy sock yarn, it needs a sensible straight man to play off. You can have a 50/50 split of crazy and sensible, like these socks here:

Ugly Duckling Socks by Karin Aida

Or you can really punch up a basic colourwork pattern with no extra effort. Nice!

knitschygirl’s Paper Dolls jumper

Use on biased lace patterns

By biased lace patterns, I mean ones where the pairs of yarnovers and decreases that form lace are distinctly far apart, causing the fabric to pull in different directions. Works particularly well with self-striping, like in this version of Cookie A’s well-known sock pattern, Monkey.

gretchenknits’ Monkey socks

Show off odd construction

Getting a little crazier here…if you have a pattern with an unusual twist in the knitting, nothing will show it up like crazy sock yarn. Look at Skew. Q.E.D.

Skew by Lana Holden

Planned Pooling
Ok this is like, ninja-level knitting. Do you have the patience to measure colour runs? Do you like maths? Are you possibly operating on a higher plane of conciousness? Then line up your crazy sock yarn and see what happens.

mamapantsx3’s Stack of Zombies project

That’s right, this was done with just a regular commercial hank of sock yarn. And magic.


Filed under Ravelry Roundup

FO: Snowdrift Jumper


So can you tell I’m pleased with this one? It is a jumper that has sprung into my head and sprung out again in a relatively short time, and it totally works! Fair Isle everywhere, just like in my dreams!


My ideas for a faux-seam even worked out ok too, hiding the jog in the colourwork/shaping and neatly bordering the yoke pattern. I think it looks sort of like I’m wearing a strappy vest over a regular jumper from a distance (a cami-jumper?)

Also, I will continue to bleat on about how great Excelana yarn is until you are all using it for colourwork projects because it is great – it is so, so smooth and warm and stretchy once it’s been blocked out. There was a point in this project where the unblocked sleeves were making me a bit nervous because when I tried them on they were cutting off the circulation somewhat. They had a lot of long floats and very little stretch but after a good wash and a ruthless blocking they were ok. It is good when sleeves do not cling onto your arms like chinese fingertraps.

Now I seem to recall I had some other knitting lying around somewhere. I’m off to look down the back of the sofa…


Filed under Finished Objects, Projects

All Fair Isle, all the time

So here’s a quick little update on how the super-cosy-winter-jumper is going. (I still don’t have a proper name for it yet.)


I have knitted one torso and one sleeve! They’re sitting on separate cables at the moment, waiting for the day when I finish the other sleeve and the whole lot can be worked in one go. That little swatch at the top may just give you an idea of where I’m going with this…


Filed under Projects, WIPs

Circular yoke experiments

It’s almost too hot for knitting at the moment. Outside anyway. I’ve never been so grateful to be living in a garden flat. This is because I’m so English if I’m exposed to temperatures over 32°C I burst into flames and wither away with a dying shriek of “This is absolutely bloody ridiculous it issssss!”

My patented summer survival plan is two-fold.
1. Knit only lightweight projects (e.g. laceweight blouses)
2. A mixture of 4 parts gin, 2 parts sugar syrup, 1 part lemon juice, poured over ice and topped up with club soda.

Before the temperatures took off though, I had a good time whipping up an experimental top-down, in-the-round t-shirt in that awesome Yarnyard yarn I have kicking about.


This is just the main stockinette ‘body’ with no proper hems so the bottom edge is rolling like crazy right now. It wants to be a belly top but my stomach hasn’t seen the light of day since 2005. Let’s not start now.


What really makes this top an experiment for me is the armpit shaping. Once I knit the yoke, bound off the tops of the armholes and separated front and back, I knit in these little short-row triangle wedges at each armpit edge. These raise up the conical shape of the yoke and make it sit directly on the ball of your shoulders (if you get the calcs right).

I was trying to ape a vintage jumper pattern I knitted a while ago, which uses similar shaping to give you a circular yoked jumper and set-in sleeves at the same time. It lets you get super-fitted results if you’re so inclined.

Vintage schematic

It’s hard to find modern patterns that do this but Anne Kingstone is a designer that favours the technique in such garments as April and Mallorn. It seems like the main problem with knitting circular yokes is you have to be very sure they’re the right circumference for your own individual shoulders. If it’s too loose/the armhole is too deep the yoke slips down and you get rumpling by the armpit like so:


And then of course the opposite problem gives you all sorts of stress and stretching in the fabric at the sleeve cap bind off point. Luckily I think this turned out ok!

Now I’ve used up all that lovely bright green, I still have a whole ball of dark green to add for contrast. The only niggle I have at this point is I want the contrast bands to be pretty thick, which probably means ripping back both top and bottom until it looks right. Ripping is always just a tiny bit depressing!

Anyway. Stay cool guys, stay cool.


Filed under Projects, WIPs

Beshley’s Wool Shop

A new wool shop has opened up in Bristol! It’s only a few blocks away from me too, so obviously I went in for a nosy at the earliest possible opportunity.wool1

This is Beshley’s Wool Shop: A shop that aims to stock nothing but yarn from the British Isles. Now that’s a mission statement I can get behind! So what do we have inside?



wool10Erika Knight, Excelana and Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland Heritage? Awesome! This place is going be saving me a whole lot of postage in the future, I can tell! Not pictured here: Woolyknits, Artesano yarns, Kate Davies’ patterns sprinkled throughout the shop, loads of Blacker yarn, me trying to stay calm.

The pure Blue-Faced Leicester yarn below feels incredible. I believe those knitted owls are also up for sale along with the cute little pin cushions at the bottom.


There’s also this neat selection of vintage needles, patterns, notions and buttons. Bonus sheep artwork!



(seriously those prints are brilliant and worth a closer look if you pop in)


And Beshley herself! She told me a little of her plans for the shop – more of all the current brands (including all the colours of the Jamieson & Smith rainbow), Susan Crawford patterns (A Stitch in Time anyone?) and just packing as much British yarn into the shop as possible.

It’s pretty cool to see a brand new business start up on your doorstep. With all those local products, found objects and cool graphics everywhere, Beshley’s Wool Shop fits right into Bristol already. I’m looking forward to seeing what new things come into the shop…and subsequently buying those things!

Details for out-of-towners below:

The main site – http://www.beshleyswoolshop.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/BeshleysWoolShop

Twitter – @BeshleyWoolShop


Filed under Ramblings

Wonderwool 2013

Last weekend I went to Wonderwool Wales for the first time. This is a gigantic show in Buith Wells Showground demonstrating the many things you can do with wool – but most importantly there was lots of yarn for the buying. Then knitting.

I struggle a bit to take photos at craft shows. There’s no way to get a good ‘wide’ shot unless you have the power of flight. Otherwise it’s just people and the outsides of stalls, with only hints of the fancy goods and displays in each one. Luckily a show as large as Wonderwool makes your picture taking options much easier, by having adorable fluffy animals present.


Angora rabbits are so fluffy I can barely stand it. It’s just a pom-pom with a rabbit’s head! Aaaah! And then that pom-pom gets turned into yarn:


Also present were a smattering of British sheep breeds



My favourites were the Pembroke Poll Dorsets for looking completely bemused all the time, and Shetland sheep, for having awesome wool. Tragically there were no live alpacas present, but alpacas would probably not put up with being on display all day. They have more of a “wait 5 minutes and then try to eat your clothes” kind of temperament in my (limited) experience.

Another particularly interesting sight was this antique foot-powered loom, which was demonstrated throughout the day.


But enough fooling around. This show featured yarn in large quantities so let’s showcase that:

This is from the Five Moons stall. Imagine this picture times 4. Nice stuff!ww10

John Arbon’s Fibre Harvest stall featured all of the Knit By Numbers merino range which makes for an incredible display.


Can’t forget Easyknits whilst we’re on the subject of colourful yarns…


On the other side of the spectrum I very much liked the yarn on the Garthenor Organic stall and the classy men’s jumpers on display.



I bought some good things at this show, unsurprisingly! Some new needles, some extra Excelana to finish off my fair isle cardigan and…some Fyberspates Scrumptious Sock for a garment. Fyberspates is so hard to resist, it really is.


Also! Easyknits Superbiffle Sock yarn (Superwash Blue-Faced-Leicester). The colour of this yarn is giving me life, I love it.ww1

All in all, a successful day out, don’t you think?


Filed under Ramblings

Small achievements

Is it, dare I say it, Spring in England at last? The sun has shone on over 3 occasions this last week and people outside are wearing shorts in 12°C weather. It might just be!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll take this opportunity to develop a massive hacking cold and spend all your free time in bed, pretending you’re dying of consumption. After all, being whiny and belligerent is the only respite you really get from full sinuses. It’s so unfaaaaaaaaaiiirrrrrrrr.

This week my main knitting achievement has been winding some skeins of yarn into cakes of yarn.


Yarn Yard Bonny in some delicious spring greens. How seasonal and pretty these yarns are! I have made myself promise to get my gloves finished before I start knitting with this stuff. It’s a hard promise. I want to get my spring-knitting on the go!


Filed under Ramblings

I know it’s a little early but…

Christmas! Christmas, Christmas, Christmas! I usually remain stoically indifferent to the whole thing until December 1st, but something has filled me with the festive spirit a little earlier this year. By ‘something’, I mean the ultimate Christmas movie of all time, Die Hard. One day I’m scowling at November Christmas decorations, the next I’m singing “Let it snow” over the washing up (there’s no snow, but the weather outside is frightful). Such is the power of film.

Instead of blogging last week I went and gave the British Yarn Guide a good thorough update. It’s getting pretty long now, especially the Yorkshire section! There was a point where I could let people know my Christmas wish-list just by linking to that page, but no, it’s become unwieldy. Also my yarn stash is reaching indecent proportions. Yours, or the stash of someone you know, might not be though. Let me help you with that. Presenting…


The “Oh my God! You shouldn’t have!” yarns:

Fyberspates, the ever-expanding luxury brand (any range will do!); Posh Yarn, because buying Posh Yarn for a knitter displays exquisite taste and effort, and Knitwitches, because good lord, those fibres.

The “Wool Connaisseur” yarns

Single breed and source sheep yarns m’dears? Cornish Organic perhaps? No? Garthenor Organic Pure Wool? Or Natural Born Dyers?

The “Knit it? I’m just going to sit here and pet it.” yarns

Knit by Numbers Merino, Old Maiden Aunt, and Orkney Angora all have yarns best collected into a pile so you can snuggle your face into them.

The “We don’t need eyes where we’re knitting” yarns

Otherwise known as the colourful yarns! Easyknits and Krafty Koala both hit the most vibrant shades out of the park everytime. On the flipside, there’s the most delightful painterly yarns available at Juno Fibre Arts .

The “Sock maniac” yarns

The Yarnyard does great dyed-to-order yarn, so you’d better get over there sharp if you want Christmas yarn (for serious, Ravelry users can see what happened when I gave a vague order for a bunch of complementary natural greens!). There’s also Skein Queen – don’t tell me 100% superwash BFL sock yarn doesn’t sound good – and last but not least, the marvellous self-striping yarn of LaalBear.

Yippee-ki-ay you knitters!

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Filed under Ramblings