Summer holidays

When I left school, I really thought that my life would start following a cycle of a calendar year rather than an academic one. However, what I didn’t account for was becoming a parent and my year being inextricably linked with that of my children for an (as yet) undetermined amount of time! And so, a new year is about to begin. My three children have all had their long summer holiday, during which we have managed to do both too much and yet not quite enough.

What I’m referring to is the working parent’s guilt. Of course I’ve spent time with my children, had a little holiday, gone on the odd day trip, had movie afternoons and surprise ice cream excursions. And so not a lot has happened at work because of the lack of continuity and shortened working hours. And yet there is also that guilty feeling of not quite having spent enough time with my children. The questions arise in my brain about whether I should shut down entirely in school holidays, devote myself entirely to them. But that’s not how business works, that’s not how the world works and so we muddle on through.

We’ve had a lovely holiday to Yorkshire, dropped by Nottingham and Wollaton Hall on the way home and had lunch in Sherwood Forest! There was lots of knitting time on our various journeys and while we relaxed in our wooden lodge on the North Yorkshire moors, so I did a bit of pattern designing for the upcoming knitting retreat in October and I knitted gift socks too.

Speaking of the knitting retreat, Zoe and I have found time (somehow! In between catering for the 6 children that we have between us!) to launch and sell almost all the places at our second knitting retreat which will be in Stratford-Upon-Avon next June. The third retreat (back in Cardiff for October 2019) is in the planning stages and we have some very exciting tutors lined up!

I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of shop updates over the holidays with batts entering my shop for the first time, along with a great big wodge of gorgeous DK yarns, self striping sock yarns and gradients.

There has been other behind-the-scenes work going on, like show applications for next year, pattern designing (I have four patterns that will be coming out in the next couple of months!), stock planning and kit planning – I’ve got at least two and maybe three kit ideas in my head, one of which I plan to release this autumn, so keep your eyes peeled! I’ve been very much like a swan (minus the elegance and beauty) with not much to see but lots of work going on under the surface!

So, it’s back to school week. New uniforms have been acquired, I’ve sold a spare kidney to pay for shoes, transport has (almost) been sorted out (don’t ask, it’s a very long story!) and by the end of the week all three kids will be out for at least six hours a day and my working routine can re-emerge from the summer haze.

But first, gin!

 

Fibre East

This past weekend marked my first excursion to Fibre East, both as an exhibitor and an attendee. The journey was long (and mildly frustrating – going round the M25 and M1 on a Friday afternoon is never much fun!) but I had the company of my younger son and we chatted all the way.

It was so incredibly hot and humid on Friday. It was just the end of the heatwave but luckily I’d had the forethought to buy a couple of fans which we moved around with us while we set up the stall so that we could get a little bit of a breeze at least.

Before and after…

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We had a slight issue in that the weather broke right as we were setting up. It was lucky that we were still there as the rain swiftly found its way across the floor inside the marquee and left a nice stream across the floor of my stall area! The stall was OK though. I sped up and got everything hung up on the gridwall hooks really quickly, and the only things we left on the floor were plastic boxes. And because we’d seen the main direction of the water we were able to avoid the stream when placing the boxes! Also, we were able to make very sure that the fabric I use to cover the stall at night didn’t get near to touching the ground. Imagine if I’d come in and the sheets had soaked up rainwater which had then transferred to my stock?! That would have been challenging!

We met tonnes of lovely people, some of them for the first time, others were familiar faces. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, we weren’t strangers because we’d been talking to each other for ages on Ravelry! It was really lovely to put faces to names.

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I only had a modest haul myself from Fibre East. The bumble bee needle felting kit was bought for Zoe as per her request. The two balls were from the Yarnistry stand and contain yarn and stitch markers, a sort of lucky dip. I’ve not opened them yet because one of them is for Zoe and so I’m waiting until I see her at the weekend. The Hot Socks pearl yarn is to make a pair of socks for a very lovely kind lady. The West Yorkshire Spinners and the Yarnistry stitch markers will be going in a swap parcel to America. Finally, the fluff in the bags at the top left is angora bunny fluff and I’m really looking forward to spinning it. I’ve not spun angora before, but it was recommended to me that I spin it finely and then ply it with silk. It’s going to be gorgeous.

I think you’d agree I was very restrained! If only because almost everything I bought was from neighbouring stalls, which limited my shopping options considerably!

Of course I managed to visit the sheep before we left each day. Now I live in a city I do find myself drawn towards the animals when I get a chance to see them! Rio the rabbit on the next stall was lovely to chat to as well, although my son Ben did think I was mad for saying good morning to him!

Ben and I both enjoyed Fibre East. It was Ben’s first experience of a big yarn show, but I’m sure he’ll be back with me again if another occasion arises where Zoe is unable to come with me. He was invaluable help in that I could take a break outside from time to time, and he kept me caffeinated and hydrated! Also, just having company to work these sorts of festivals is so lovely. I’m very blessed that my best friend can come with me so often, but it’s good to know that my son has proved an able stand in.

Finally, thank you to everyone who came and saw me, bought from my stall, told me that they enjoyed mine and Zoe’s podcasts and who brought me cake (Melissa, it was sooooo gooood!!). It may have been my first trip to Fibre East, but I really hope it’s not my last!

Hot Right Now – their shawls and my yarns!

If you are a member of Ravelry you are probably familiar with the Hot Right Now pattern list. I decided it would be fun to look at some of the patterns in that list and see if I could pair them with some suggested yarns from my shop. For this blog post I am looking at shawl patterns.

Frosting by April Reis looks to be a wonderful pattern for variegated yarns. Its garter stitch construction and reversible cable edging would mean that you could pick any multi colour yarn and enjoy the knit and the look of the colours all progressing. And that tassel has to be great for fiddling with, right?!

Les Amis Shawlette by Nona Davenport is right up my alley for the sort of shawl I enjoy wearing. It calls for just one skein of 4ply/fingering weight yarn (perfect!) and is almost a cowl in that, as far as I can see, it is worked in the round for a certain amount of time and the designer mentions pulling it over your head for ease of wearing. So no shawl ends disappearing off at the first gust of wind!

The designer recommends solids or speckles. How about one of these from my shop?

Artesian by Romi Hill is another gorgeous pattern. This has been out for a few years now but is still popular on Ravelry so you might have come across it before. I think I’d enjoy knitting this from a gradient or a yarn with long colour changes. I love the geometric lace panels too.

Reyna by Noora Laivola would be another good choice to show off some variegated yarn. With the alternating mesh lace and solid panels it is enough of a pattern to keep your interest whilst showing off your multicoloured yarns! I would knit this in a bright yarn I think, but then you might have guessed I’m not much of a one for neutrals!

Finally, Bark Lines from the very talented Joji Locatelli would look good in a whole variety of yarns. My personal preference for this would be a tonal colourway. And probably purple because I gravitate towards purples every time! Do you have a dominating colour in your yarn collection?

So, that was my first collection of patterns and yarns which I hope has inspired you! Next week I will be publishing a post about garments which call for 4ply/fingering weight yarns and doing some yarn matching there too.

All photos are copyright of the designer unless otherwise specified. Please go and buy one or all of these patterns to support terrific indie designers!

Spanglish Socks are coming!

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My new sock pattern will be released this week! Now that I have uploaded all my new yarn colourways into the shop I can focus on something else for a little while. This sock pattern has been tech edited and test knitted, and I’m so very grateful to all my wonderful test knitters! It was lovely to see such a range of yarn colours knitting up my pattern.

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Socks knitted by (from l to r) Lilangelsg2, Cailleach412 and annele76 (Ravelry names)

Spanglish Socks will be released on Friday 25th May and for the first week of release you can buy the pattern with a 50% discount, no code needed at the Ravelry checkout. Going forward the pattern will also be available in my own Etsy shop and on LoveKnitting.com but the initial discount will only be available in Ravelry.

All of the lovely yarn!

If you are on my newsletter list or follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I had a bumper shop update last Friday. Seriously, it was huge! I hadn’t put yarn in the shop for aaaages, and so I had so many new colourways to upload it was a little overwhelming!

Anyway, the shop update went well and the first bundle of packages went out yesterday. This week I’ve been thinking about which of my yarns would work well in popular patterns. I’ll be writing a special blog post about my thoughts very soon.

My next shop update will be full of project bags and (if I have enough time for all the photos and writing!) stitch markers. I have oodles of new bags and marker sets which I made for Wonderwool and Wool@J13, so there will be plenty to tempt everyone in that update!

In knitting news I’m still plugging away on my Angelus Novus Cardigan. I think I’m about half way through the triangle which will form most of the back and part of the front of the cardigan. It’s such an interesting construction, I’m really looking forward to the next part just to see how it works! I’m using my own DK yarn in a whoopsie colourway – it was supposed to be my “Erin” colourway except the purple came out far too dark and so I decided that it needed to live with me forever! Oh darn! I’m really glad that we’re doing this Renee Callahan knitalong in our Knit-Tea Retreat group because I don’t think I would have made myself find time to knit this otherwise, and I’m loving it so far.

In non-knitting news, I’m determined to conquer the garden this year. I have sadly neglected it for the last couple of years due to a combination of bad weather and being very busy elsewhere, but I would love to have a colourful oasis to retreat into when the weather is good enough. So, I’ve decided to go out and work on it, just for half an hour each day to start, to try to regain some sort of order in the chaos. I battled some brambles on Sunday and as a consequence I currently look like a feral cat has attacked my arms. However, it’ll all be worth it in the end!

Episode 37 – Wool@j13 Prep

Something a little different for you in this episode of the podcast. I recorded segments in the time leading up to Wool@j13 so that you could see some of the preparations involved for me as a vendor at a show. I hope you enjoy it!

Patterns mentioned include Rainbow Relay by Jane Murison and Angelus Novus by Renée Callahan, both available on Ravelry.

Zoe recorded her customary vlogs whilst we were on our trip to Wool@j13. She interviewed Jo from Jo Knit Sew and provided her usual hilarious commentary on our weekend! You can find her vlogs at http://www.youtube.com/pinsandneedles.

Episode 36 – Sun, Sea and Black Sand!

Welcome to the latest podcast episode, mainly recorded whilst we were on holiday in Puerto De La Cruz in Tenerife! Shownotes may be a bit brief this time, but better than none I suppose! Please get in touch if I’ve forgotten to note something down which interested you.

You can find me on most social media sites as @owlaboutyarn and you can reach me by leaving comments or emailing hello@owlaboutyarn.com. I have a Ravelry group and I’d love it if you would join! I also have a newsletter – please sign up here. Find my shop on Etsy at http://owlaboutyarn.etsy.com.

Zoe can be found on Instagram and Ravelry as @Pinsandneedlesuk. Her patterns are available on Ravelry in her designer shop, Zoe Carter Designs. If you don’t already, go and watch her podcasts on Youtube.

Shows I will be at as an exhibitor:

Wonderwool Wales, 28/29 April

Wool@j13, 12/13 May

Leeds Wool Festival, June 2nd

Yarningham, 14/15 July

I was working on socks in a design of my own imagining, a Leftie by Martina Behm (available on Ravelry) and a shawl project again from my own imagination. I sewed a tunic top from a pattern given to me by Lesley of Duckpool Lane. I also made Erin some shorts but completely forgot to show you those, my brain is the size of a pea!

Music is Flamencología by Gnawledge, I found it at freemusicarchive.org