Tag Archives: Blogstars

Stylecraft Blogstars Meetup, aka Not Too Shabby A Weekend

It’s much easier to write blog posts when things are going wrong, or when nothing much has happened. Comic anecdotes come more readily when you’ve mistakenly put your husband out for collection with the recycling, or when you’ve spent an insomniac half-night pondering a mysterious chicken-shaped splodge on the bedroom ceiling.

stylecraft mill Slaithwaite Spectrum Yarns Yorkshire

Here’s a clue about where this blog post is going.

Unfortunately,* things have gone catastrophically well this weekend… which was immensely fun to experience, but isn’t very funny to describe. I have lovely yarn/knitting/crochet-related things to show and tell you about, but it’s not going to be very funny. Aware of this problem and feeling desperate, I resorted to going for an extra-long run today, because my biggest idiocy generally happens knee-deep in mud and four miles from home, but even that went uncharacteristically well. I give up!

Warning: this blog post may contain scenery.

Anyway, to the point.

On Friday, I zoomed up to West Yorkshire at the wheel of the Blunderbus (replacement for the Stinkwagon) to join in with the second meet-up of the Stylecraft Blogstars at and around the Stylecraft mill in Slaithwaite.

Stylecraft mill spectrum slaithwaite yarn

The Stylecraft mill is the one behind the chimney in the distance on the right.

Shall we do the introductions first? It’s a cliché to say so (and I write that as someone who likes to take clichés out the back and beat them mercilessly) but these folk really don’t need a whole load of introduction. Let’s introduce them anyway.

stylecraft blogstars

From the left: Jane Crowfoot, me, Sarah at Annaboo’s House, Heather at The Patchwork Heart, Julia at Hand Knitted Things, Lucy at Attic24, Helen at The Woolly Adventures Of A Knitting Kitty, Emma Varnam, Sandra at Cherry Heart, Lucia at Lucia’s Fig Tree, and Kathryn at Crafternoon Treats. (Sadly, Sue Pinner wasn’t there this time.)

Living on the opposite side of the planet was NOT considered an adequate excuse for non-attendance. It’s tough being a Blogstar: you have to do stuff way past midnight.

And joining us via Skype at heaven-knows-what time of the night or day, was Angela at Get Knotted Yarn Craft (pictured on the laptop above), and Zelna at Zooty Owl. Phew, what a line-up!

yarn stories

So we met, and we shared ideas, news, over-enthusiasm, wine, a hotel, gossip, yarn, workshops, food, and a trip out to the Knitting And Crochet Guild historical archive. (More on the Knitting And Crochet Guild in a separate post, because it was fascinating.)

Naturally, we insisted on a hotel with its own helipad. One has standards, y’know.

This was a gathering where nobody batted an eyelid if you pulled out your knitting during dinner or crocheted throughout a meeting, or if you talked about yarn for an hour without even pausing for breath, or if you were observed arriving at the hotel with luggage comprising only one toothbrush and 85 knits/hooks-in-progress. Obviously, we knitted/hooked throughout pre-dinner drinks:-

Someone kindly took a photo before the yarn came out at dinner:-

These are my kinda people, and they’re probably yours, too.

It would be fair to say that we were treated rather well.

stylecraft

What? For ME? Oh I couldn’t possibly! … Actually, maybe I could, if you really insisted…

We began with an update on what’s coming soon from Stylecraft. I’m sorry, but this really is a if-I-tell-you,-I’ll-have-to-kill-you situation, until the new batches of yarns are officially released. More news to come very, very, soon.

stylecraft blogstars

Saturday was a day filled with marvellous things at the mill, including a workshop on Tunisian crochet:-

Busy. Concentrating.

It’s quite fun, once you get the hang of the strange knit-cum-crochet rhythm:-

At least they gave me exactly the right mug for my green tea:-

We admired each other’s work. Look at ThePatchworkHeart’s blankets!

And Lucia’s Fig Tree’s blanket!

(Maybe I should have brought my chair.)

It was all wonderful, inspiring, invigorating, and exciting, and I’m probably not alone in having come away with a whole hairy heap of ideas.

View from the window.

My only gripe was that it was all over far, far too soon.

Still, there was still a little time before sunset to run around the town getting shots of the magnificent viaduct that cuts across the town:-

And see?

And see?

And as the sun threatened with some sincerity (I REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME!) to sink below the horizon, I grabbed a last few images of the countryside around Slaithwaite:-

All in all, a pretty good weekend.

 

*OK, I’m not really ungrateful.

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‘Head Over Heels’ Sock Yarn Review

See these?

head over heels stylecraft sock yarn review

These are happy feet.

If it weren’t for the fact that they’re pointing skywards, then they’d probably be dancing. Badly. So be glad that they’re safely away from the ground.

The reason for their joy is no doubt obvious. It involves some splendidly colourful new sock yarn. You may have heard already, but a few months ago, Stylecraft launched a range of 4-ply sock yarn called Head Over Heels. It’s 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon, and it comes in six different marvellously mountain-monikered colourways (Eiger, Everest, Fuji, Kilimanjaro, Matterhorn, and Olympus, in case you were wondering). In the photo above, the completed sock is Eiger (my personal favourite), and the sock-in-progress is Fuji.

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I was fortunate to be sent samples of both these shades earlier this year, but I held off posting about it because I wanted to thoroughly road-test the stuff before writing about it. The outcome? I like it. And so do my feet. I enjoyed the slow, leisurely shifts in colour.

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I knitted these socks (four of them, two in each colourway) everywhere, walking to collect the twinnage from school, and on trains and buses, and in the village pub. Socks-in-progress using yarn that does its own colour-changing thing make perfect out-and-about projects, because they’re much more discreet and portable than – say – an afghan. I still looked like an oddball knitting as I wandered the village, but at least I was a semi-discreet oddball.

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I brought the fourth-and-final sock to knit on the bus journey to collect my new car today (bye bye Stinkwagon!) This turned out to be a good thing, because the bus driver must have missed the bit of the training where they tell them to confine their driving mostly to the road, and instead he seemed to have just a little difficulty distinguishing between road and kerb/pavement/verge. The other project I’d brought with me was some complicated fair isle, which proved near-impossible on the top deck of a wildly-swaying double-decker bus. Top tip, people: don’t attempt complex knitting upstairs on a bus, especially when the driver is a bit reckless.

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A basic sock is just fine, however. In fact, the sock was such a good distraction during the more unnerving parts of the journey that I accidentally overshot with the foot section and have thus created a sock that would be absolutely perfect for a rather elegant giant who is possessed of extremely long but slender feet. Know anyone who’s like that? Me neither. Time to rip back a few rounds, I guess.

knitting on the tube

And I will knit them on a train, and I will knit them in the rain, and I will knit them on a bus, and I will knit without much fuss, and I will channel Dr Suess, and hope my knitting ain’t too loose.

That’s not the fault of the yarn, of course, so let’s get back to the review.

So as you can see, the stuff knits up nicely, and I didn’t come across a single knot. Yay! This is a personal thing, but I wish, wish, wish, that more lusciously variegated yarns would be made WITHOUT PINK! Why, why, why, does everything have to include blimmin’ pink?! Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. And yeah, I’m probably in the minority.

running and knitting in public

And I will knit whilst on a run, and I will knit out in the sun…

It’s reasonably soft, and being superwash, it’s pretty tolerant of your washing machine’s general grudge against all fabrics. As you can see from the images below, the length of the repeat varies between colourways, so you can find the yarn that best suits your project, whether you’re knitting socks or crocheting a shawl.

stylecraft head over heels sock yarn review

Images in this collage courtesy of Stylecraft.

  • Head Over Heels is available from major shops and online sellers, and comes in 100g balls. In the UK, it’s typically priced around £6.50-£7.00, so cheaper than many sock yarns.
  • Needle recommendation: 2.25mm-3.25mm.
  • 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon.
  • 100g = 400m.
  • Gauge: 28 stitches / 36 rows.
  • No, it’s not hand-dyed by eunuchs under the light of a full moon, BUT it’s way more affordable than eunuch-yarn could ever hope to be. And it’s soft.

So what are you waiting for?

log fire wine knitting hygge

 

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All Aboard The Stylecraft Blog Tour Bus For A Giveaway And A Free Pattern!

Have you been following this year’s Stylecraft Blog Tour? Yesterday, designer/author Sue Pinner showed us her marvellous Spinning Top crochet blanket pattern.

Six new shades have been added to the aran and the chunky Stylecraft Special acrylic ranges, and the fine fibrous folk at Stylecraft have mixed these up with some of the existing shades to make a couple of different ten-ball colour packs that they’ll be selling for a while. Over the summer, they kindly gave a few of us yarniacs a pack to try out. (Did I mention that this yarn-blogging thing is SOOOO TOUGH?!) This year’s blog tour gives a dozen of us the chance to show off what we’ve been making with our yarn.

I chose the ‘Parchment’ pack in chunky weight. Look!Stylecraft Special Chunky blog tour
Anyway, welcome to Day Eight of the blog tour. At an unfeasibly early hour this morning, I was woken by a rumbling sound, which turned out to be the colourful Stylecraft blog-tour-bus squeezing its way down our driveway, and parking beside the Stinkwagon. Hurrah! Heaven knows what the neighbours thought, although they’ve witnessed crazier (especially that time when I yarn-bombed our house).

stylecraft blog tour blogstars

The blog-tour-bus! In the courtyard at our house!

So clad only in my third-best pyjamas, I rushed outside to greet the bus.

I’d been thinking long and hard about what to make with this yarn, as it ideally had to incorporate all ten shades. Also, I was in the mood for a spot of crochet. So I designed this scarf, ably modelled by my headless friend, here:-

free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogstars

Would you like the FREE pattern? OK, I’ll pop it at the end of this post.

The finished scarf turned out well, but along the way, my goodness there was a lot of growling, and ripping out, and setting a poor example of emotional self-regulation in front of the children.

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Then, the night before I finished it, I was across the road in the village pub with a group of friends, celebrating the birthday of one of us. (Hmm, that was the sentence that grammar forgot, wasn’t it?) Three of us were knitters/crocheters, so a certain amount of yarnery was going on around our bit of the table. But the poor birthday girl – an avid and skilled knitter – didn’t have any yarn with her! Horrors! Yes of course we offered to sprint home and fetch some for her. But do you know what she did (and I swear she did this voluntarily)? She picked up my scarf-in-progress, which was at the time looking very hairy due to the number of ends I’d procrastinated about weaving in, and she wove in all the ends! All of them!

So I pulled out a sock-in-progress from my handbag and knitted a bit of that instead. (What?? You think that I ever leave the house with only one WIP?) Technology and lighting were against me on the photo front, but here she is:-
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J, I owe you big-time. And I hope you enjoyed your birthday.

So at last the thing was nearly done, and the next day whilst slightly hungover I worked a simple scalloped edge around it. What do you think?
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But now, I have a… difficulty. I want to show you a picture of the thing laid out, so that you can see how the flared end tucks through the slit near the other end to make a loop. But laid out flat, it presents a photographic problem. There’s no other way of saying this: it looks undeniably phallic. So, um, let’s mess things up a bit.

free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogstars

ANYWAY, would you like the chance to win a big squooshy pack of all ten shades of Stylecraft Special Chunky that I used to make this thing? You would? Well that’s a coincidence, because the kind folk on the Stylecraft tour bus happen to have a pristine new pack of yarn all ready to post out to one lucky winner. The competition is open worldwide, but you’ll have to hurry, because it’s only open from 1000hrs to 2359hrs TODAY, UK time, so put down your knitting/hooking for a moment and hurry, hurry, hurry!

Click here to enter!

And so, as the day draws to a close, the tour bus will rumble colourfully on to its next destination: Sarah at Annaboo’s House. It’s clocking up a lot of miles, that bus. Fortunately it’s very environmentally-friendly, existing as it does only in my imagination.

Just in case you’ve missed any, the full list of participants in the blog tour is: Emma Varnam, Jane Crowfoot, Keep Calm And Crochet On, Sue Pinner, Annaboo’s House, Hand Knitted Things, Cherry Heart, The Patchwork Heart, Crafternoon TreatsStylecraft’s own blogLe Monde de Sucrette, and of course this very blog.  

free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogstars

So would you like the FREE PATTERN to make this beast? Yeah? OK, then. Here it is. I’ll put a photo-tutorial for some of the stitches up within the next few days, too.

I’ve also listed the pattern on Ravelry, here.

The Candy-Pop Scarf

Please note: pattern instructions use US terms. (Fellow Brits, I’m sorry: it’s the only area in which I’m not loyal to our land. I’ll post a UK version shortly.)

Dimensions of finished work: 99cm (39”) in length, by 18cm (7”) for most of its length, narrowing slightly before flaring out at one end.

Hook: 6mm.

Gauge: 16 sc sts to 10cm/4”.

Yarn: Stylecraft Special Chunky ‘Parchment’ pack, comprising one 100g (3.5oz) ball of each of the following shades: Parchment (1218), Pomegranate (1083), Sage (1725), Pale Rose (1080), Saffron (1081), Spice (1711), Empire (1829), Gold (1709), Pistachio (1822), and Storm Blue (1722). Now given that this is a whole kilogram (35oz) of yarn and the final scarf only weighs 225g (8oz), you can most certainly reduce the number of shades if you wish to, especially as some of them only make a brief appearance in the pattern.

Ends: Lots of colour changes potentially mean lots of ends to be woven in. Unless this is your idea of a rollicking good time, there are a couple of ways to minimise the weaving. First, when you’re working in colour A, and then have only one row of colour B before returning to colour A, you don’t need to cut colour A because the edge of your work will be concealed. So in the pattern, I’ve encouraged you to travel up the side of your work using a sneaky slip stitch to resume working in colour A. Don’t tell anyone I said that, though. Second, where possible, you can crochet around your yarn ends once you’ve started a new colour. It’s not always possible to do this, e.g. if your new colour is being used to work a chain, but it’s possible most of the time.

Abbreviations:-

St(s) = stitch(es).

Ch = chain.

Ss = slip stitch.

Sc = single crochet.

½dc = half double crochet.

Dc = double crochet.

Tc = treble crochet.

YO = yarn-over.

Sc2tog = decrease by single crocheting 2 stitches together.

Yarn colours are given in capitals. Continue in current colour until instructed to change.

Right, let’s get started.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

SAGE. Ch 120 stitches fairly loosely.

  • -1. Ch1. Sc all stitches. Turn.
  • -2. Bobble garland edging. [Ch6. Work 5dc into the 3rd ch from hook, omitting the last YO-and-pull-through for each of these 5 stitches, ending with 6 loops on the hook. YO and pull through all 6 loops. Make a tight ss around the base of the bobble. Ch3. Sc into the 4th st along] repeated to end of row, although final ch3 after the last bobble is worked into the 3rd st along, because you’ve reached the end of the row. (30 bobbles.)
  • 1. You are now going to turn your work and make further rows on the other side of the starting chain. So proceed to the other side of the starting chain by working a sneaky ss at the end of the row. Ss into first ch. Ch1. Sc all sts across the row. Turn. Cut yarn. (120)
  • 2. PISTACHIO. Ch1. [Sc, sc2tog, sc] repeated to end. Turn. (90)
  • 3. Ch1. Sc all sts. Turn. Do not cut yarn.
  • 4. SAFFRON. Ch1. Sc in every st. Cut yarn.
  • 5. PISTACHIO. Switch to other end of row to resume working in Pistachio, working a ss in the end st. Work as row 2 until 2 sts remain. Sc these last 2 sts. Turn. (68)
  • 6. As row 4.
  • 7. STORM BLUE. As row 3.
  • 8. As row 2. (51)
  • 9-10. Both as row 3.
  • 11. As row 2 until 3 sts remain. Sc, sc2tog. (38)
  • 12. [Ch5. Ss into next-but-one st of previous row] repeated to end. The end of the final chain loop will have to be worked into the next st, not the next-but-one st. Turn. (19 loops)
  • 13. Ch3. [Ch1. Sc into the chain loop from previous row] repeated to end of row. Turn. (38)
  • 14. As row 2 until 2 sts remain. Sc in each of the last 2 sts. Turn. (29)
  • 15-16. As row 3.
  • 17. As row 2 (after the initial ch1) until 5 sts remain. 5sc. (23)
  • 18-20. As row 3.
  • 21. As row 4.
  • 22. GOLD. 1sc, [1 bobble, 1sc] repeated to end, pushing the bobbles through to the front and back of the work alternately. Cut yarn. (To create each bobble, work 5 dc into the same stitch, omitting the last YO-and-pull-through of each dc. You will then have 6 loops on your hook. Finally, YO and pull through all 6 loops. Push the bobble through to the correct side of the work. The sc into the next st anchors the bobble.) (11 bobbles, 6 on one side and 5 on the other)
  • 23. STORM BLUE. Working from the side where you left the Storm Blue yarn, ss into edge of previous row so that you can use this yarn for the present row. Ch1, sc into first stitch. [Ignoring the next st from previous row, work a dc into the same-colour st from the row-before-last that’s directly below this bobble on the reverse side of that bobble. Then work a sc into the next st from previous row, i.e. the st after the one you ignored] repeated to end. Turn. (11 vertical bars, 6 on one side and 5 on the other)
  • 24-25. As row 3.
  • 26. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 27. PARCHMENT. As row 4.
  • 28. PALE ROSE. As row 12. Cut yarn. Turn. (11 loops)
  • 29. PARCHMENT. As row 13, but finishing with a ch1 after the last sc. Turn. (23)
  • 30-34. As row 3. (23)
  • 35. As row 3, but on the 4th and the 4th-from-end st, increase by working 2 sts where usually you’d work one. (25)
  • 36. As row 4.
  • 37. PALE ROSE. [Ch5. Ss into next-but-one st of previous row] repeated to end. Turn. (12 loops)
  • 38. Ch4. (4th ch = the first st of current row.) [Sc into the chain loop from previous row, ch1] repeated to end of row. Turn. (25)
  • 39-41. As row 3.
  • 42. POMEGRANATE. Bobble row! As row 22. (12 bobbles, 6 on each side)
  • 43. PALE ROSE. As row 23. (12 vertical bars, 6 on each side)
  • 44-47. As row 3.
  • 48. POMEGRANATE. Ch2. ½dc all sts. Cut yarn.
  • 49-51. PALE ROSE. Resume with yarn from row 47 using a sneaky end-of-row ss, as before. Then work as row 3.
  • 52. [ss, sc, ½dc, dc, tc, dc, ½dc, sc] repeated 3 times, then ss. Cut yarn. Turn.
  • 53. POMEGRANATE. Ch4, [tc, dc, ½dc, sc, ss, sc, ½dc, dc] repeated 3 times, then tc. Turn.
  • 54. As row 53. Cut yarn.
  • 55. PARCHMENT. As row 52, but do not cut yarn. Turn.
  • 56-58. As row 3.
  • 59. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 60. SAGE. As row 3.
  • 61. Ch3. Dc into 1st st. [Ch1, dc] repeated to end. Turn.
  • 62-65. As row 3.
  • 66. As row 61.
  • 67. As row 4.
  • 68-70. PISTACHIO. As row 3.
  • 71. As row 61.
  • 72. As row 4.
  • 73. SAGE. As row 4.
  • 74. POMEGRANATE. As row 4.
  • 75-76. PISTACHIO. As row 3.
  • 77. As row 4.
  • 78. SAGE. As row 3.
  • 79. SAGE. As row 4.
  • 80-86. PARCHMENT. As row 3.
  • 87. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 88. SPICE. As row 3.
  • 89. As row 4.
  • 90. PISTACHIO. Ch3. 2dc into 1st st. [Miss 2sts then work 3dc into the next st] 7 times, 2dc into the last st. Cut yarn. Turn. (25)
  • 91. SPICE. Ch3. [3dc into next gap between clusters from previous row] 8 times. 1dc into last st. Turn. (25)
  • 92. Ch3. 2dc into 1st gap between clusters. [3dc into next gap] 7 times. 2dc into last st. Cut yarn. Turn. (25)
  • 93. POMEGRANATE. As row 91. (25)
  • 94-96. As row 3.
  • 97. SAFFRON. Bobble row! As row 22. (12 bobbles, 6 on each side)
  • 98. POMEGRANATE. As row 23. (12 vertical bars, 6 on each side)
  • 99. As row 4.
  • 100-104. SPICE. As row 3.
  • 105. As row 4.
  • 106-112. PARCHMENT. As row 3.
  • 113. As row 4.

the twisted yarn free crochet scarf pattern stylecraft blogtour

  • 114. SAGE. Ch1. Work sc into 1st 11 sts of row only. Turn. (11)
  • 115-116. Ch1. Sc into all 11 sts. Turn. (11)
  • 117. EMPIRE. Ch1. Sc into all 11 sts. Cut yarn. (11)
  • 118-120. Resuming with SAGE, as row 3. (11)
  • 121. EMPIRE. Bobble row! As row 22. (5 bobbles, 3 on one side and 2 on the other)
  • 122. SAGE. As row 23. (5 vertical bars, 3 on one side and 2 on the other)
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Just finished row 122.

  • 123-125. As row 3. (11)
  • 126. As row 4. (11)
  • 127-130. PALE ROSE. As row 3. (11)
  • 131. As row 4. (11)
  • Now go back to row 113, and from the opposite end of the row, work the same 11-st pattern you did for rows 114-131. When you’ve finished this, there should be a 3st-wide gap in the middle of rows 114-131.
  • 132. PARCHMENT. Ch1. Sc the 1st 11 sts. Ch3 across the gap, then sc into the 11sts on the other side. (25)
  • 133. As row 3. (25)
  • 134. Ch1. Sc2tog across 1st 2 sts. Sc until 2 sts remain. Sc2tog. Turn. (23)
  • 135. As row 3. (23)
  • 136. As row 134. (21)
  • 137. As row 134. (19)
  • 138. As row 134. (17)
  • 139. As row 134. Cut yarn. (15)
  • 140. STORM BLUE. As row 134. (13)
  • 141. Ch1. Sc2tog twice. Sc until 4 sts remain. Sc2tog twice. (9)
  • 142. GOLD. Bobble row! As row 22. (4 bobbles, 2 on each side)
  • 143. STORM BLUE. As row 23. (4 vertical bars, 2 on each side)
  • 144. As row 141. (5) Cut yarn and pull through.
  • Weave in ends before working scalloped edging.
  • Edging. SAGE. Begin at end of row -1 (i.e. the bobble edging row). Work around the edge of the piece, finishing at the opposite end of row -1. Cut yarn. Then work all the way around the inside edge of the gap in the middle of rows 114-131. Cut yarn. Here’s how to work the scallops:-
  • Scallops: Sc into end st of row. [Work 5 ½dcs into a row-end st about 2 rows further along. Then sc into a row-end st roughly 2 rows further along] repeated all the way around. The spacing of the scallops is a bit of a judgement call. And when you’re working the inside of a curve, stretch each scallop out over slightly more rows. When you’re working the outside of a curve, work each scallop over slightly fewer rows.

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Giveaway? Giveaway!

Shall we have a giveaway? Wa-hey, let’s have a giveaway! Start sharpening those typing fingers in order to enter, because details are coming later in this post.

This is the third and final part of my triptych* of posts about the exciting Yorkshire/Stylecraft/Blogstars shenanigans. (Previous parts: the mill tour, and the first evening.) But it’s very hard to produce an even mildly amusing post when absolutely nothing about the experience was catastrophically disastrous or weird. The closest I came to problems was when they interviewed each of us on camera (yikes! …with a side order of yikes!!) and I stupidly sprinted down and then up several flights of stairs at the mill immediately beforehand (mills are tall), thus ensuring that 103% of my attention (I have a lot of attention) was on trying to look as though I wasn’t hyperventilating, leaving a mere -3% of my attention for the questions that were being asked. Please forgive the number of sub-clauses in that sentence. And don’t expect to see me anchoring the six o’clock news any day soon after that bumbling on-screen performance.

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Anyway. Yes. Right. T’was was the morning after the night before, and those of us from the previous day plus a few more assembled again at the mill, although the weather was no longer as shiny as in this picture:-

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In addition to the nine of us I showed in my last post, I should tell you about the other three Blogstars who seem to think that things like living-on-the-opposite-side-of-the-planet-whilst-just-this-very-second-having-given-birth constitute an adequate excuse for non-attendance. 😉 Allow me to introduce Angela of Get Knotted Yarn Craft, as well as Emma Varnam, and Jane Crowfoot. They were there in spirit, at least. Here again are the rest of us (excluding me, because, well, camera).

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Fine fibrous folk, L-R: Julia (Hand Knitted Things), Lucy (Attic24), Kathryn (Crafernoon Treats), Sarah (Annaboo’s House), Sandra (Cherry Heart), Juliet (Stylecraft via Blue Bear), Sue Pinner, Heather (The Patchwork Heart), Helen (The Knitting Exploits Of Josie Kitten).

So, those of us there in person got to attend the most delightfully colourful meeting ever (and I say that as someone who’s attended a lot of meetings in the past two decades). Imagine a meeting where you walk into the room and there are bowls of yarn laid out for you to squidge and squoosh, and you’re positively encouraged to knit/hook throughout. Oh well, if you insist:-

Needles: lovely Karbonz. Yarn: Batik.

Needles: lovely Karbonz. Yarn: Batik.

Annabelle and Juliet told us all about forthcoming developments in yarnery** in general and at Stylecraft in particular. (Sock yarn! I want to tell you about the sock yarn!)

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Annabelle (sales director at Spectrum Yarns), Juliet (Blue Bear, working with Spectrum and Knit Pro, amongst other brands).

See those shelves full of yarn in the background? That’s Yarn Stories, the gorgeous 100% merino and merino-alpaca blend range that I’ve written about before. It’s made here at the mill. Shall we take a closer look?

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Anyway, back to the meeting. Concentrate, Twisted, concentrate. Colour trends are identified a year or more in advance. Want to know what we’ll all be knitting soon? Well autumn/winter 16/17 in yarn is all about the “World Marauder”. Here’s a mood board:-

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See those luscious, rich colours? Get your needles and hooks ready to maraud, folks.

And coming soon after, a cluster of colours and loose, unstructured shapes termed “The Humble Labourer”:-

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I lurves these soft, natural shades.

There are professionals whose sole reason for crawling out from under the duvet of a Monday morning is to go and forecast the colours, shapes, and styles that folk will be buying 18 months or more down the line. Their expertise can be bought by companies designing clothes, homewares, and in this case yarn. I guess these forecasts become self-fulfilling prophecies, but they’re still interesting.

So how does this translate into the bundles of fluff that’ll be available in your local yarn shop? Well, in keeping with World Marauder, Stylecraft has just this moment launched Batik, a DK-weight range of 16 intense shades of 80% acrylic, 20% wool, recommended needle/hook size 4mm. They wanted to develop a yarn that was suitable for crochet as well as knitting, so Batik has quite a high degree of twist, meaning it hooks up rather nicely. Look!

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They gave us a ball of each shade. Mine seem to be settling in quite happily at home:-

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I’m thinking a fairisle scarf, after which I’ll write a proper review. The list price is £2.15 for 50g, in case you’re wondering. Available now.

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And coming next month is A RANGE OF SOCK YARN! Hurrah! 75% wool, 25% polyamide, named ‘Head Over Heels’ as it’s good for shawls as well as socks. I won’t lie – I’m properly excited. Stylecraft make high-quality acrylics but it’s good to see them also going in a more woolly direction, especially with yarn produced in this ol’ Yorkshire mill.

We adjourned to the very top of the building for lunch.

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The day was greyer than its predecessor:-

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View through a rain-spattered window.

And then far, far too soon, it was all over, although the blow was softened somewhat by the generosity of the goody-bag they gave us, with many treats including the whole Batik range and an interchangeable set of my very favourite needles (Knitpro Karbonz). Here’s some – but by no means all – of it:-

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And at the end of all this fun, after the goodbyes? Well before beginning the long drive south towards home, I met up with my friend who lives but a few miles from Slaithwaite. We sat in a wine bar by the river, sipping green tea, knitting, and talking feminism and politics. It was very good to see her. She’s dyed her hair bright red and it looks AWESOME.

So, do you want to know about this little giveaway?

Well, one of the treats in the goody bag was a fat bundle of vouchers for money off Stylecraft yarn, intended for you, dear readers. So let’s get on with giving out the first four. (There’ll be more to come, later.) Each voucher is worth £5 off any Stylecraft product(s) AT BRICKS-AND-MORTAR SHOPS ONLY, NOT ONLINE, and two lucky people will win two each (i.e. £10-worth each). Now – and this is where you need to pay attention – these vouchers are only spendable in the UK and I’m aware that more than half of you live elsewhere and I really don’t want to leave you out, so two lucky readers from outside the UK will each win two Stylecraft bags like the one in the photo above (perfect for projects or for shopping) and one pink Stylecraft keyring.

With me so far? Good.

To enter, leave a comment at the end of this post, stating whether you’re entering the UK competition or the non-UK competition. For an additional entry, ‘like’ the ‘Yarn’s Facebook page and leave a comment (UK or non-UK, AND some way of contacting you if you win, eg Ravelry name) on the Facebook post about this competition.

The competition is open from… ready, steady…. wait for it… NOW, until noon GMT on Sunday 14th August. After this, two UK winners (£10 in vouchers each) and two non-UK winners (two bags and a keyring each) will be randomly selected, and prizes despatched. Good luck, and may the gauge consistency be with you.

 

I know, the panels of a triptych should be attached by hinges. This one is a little more… unhinged.

** I shall not rest until I make the word ‘yarnery’ happen. My friend works on new words at the Oxford English Dictionary – on my to-do list is asking her whether she’s accepting bribes…

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Blogstars

Last weekend I was in West Yorkshire at the invitation of Stylecraft. The occasion was the inaugural meeting of their ‘Blogstars‘ programme, in which a dozen of us yarny bloggers/designers get the chance to work closely with Stylecraft and hear whispers about new yarns that are on their way. (Clue: there are some very interesting and unexpected developments afoot.)

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They kindly asked me to take part. ‘Would you like to come up to the picturesque valleys of West Yorkshire, tour our old woollen mill, stay in a luxurious hotel with fabulous food/wine, talk yarn with fellow designer-bloggers, and attend a meeting that’s all about yarn and at which you’re allowed, nay encouraged to knit throughout, at the end of which we’ll give you a giant sack of Stylecraft and KnitPro freebies?’

“Hmm,” I said, frowning. “I’ll need to take some time to think about that.”

Approximately one fortieth of a nanosecond later, I squealed “YES PLEASE!”

So I set off in the grimy ol’ Stinkwagon, its ancient axels grumbling under the weight of enough knits-in-progress to keep me going if I accidentally got stranded in Yorkshire for three months… even though I was heading for a woollen mill which could reasonably be expected to supply some knitting materials if Armageddon happened and we had a lock-in. The journey was slow. I suspect that knitters and crocheters are the only people who like traffic jams (proper ones where you have to completely stop and you may as well turn off your engine for the next half hour), but sadly there were no traffic jams, so I didn’t get to knit en route.

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Four hours later, I was in Slaithwaite. The first treat was the mill tour that I described in my last post, and then there was a muchly fun evening with some of my fellow Blogstars and a couple of Stylecraft folk at the hotel. When I came down to the bar and saw one of the group knitting, I knew that I’d found my people. See these folk? They’re all thoroughly lovely (except me):-

Left to right: Heather from The Patchwork Heart blog, Helen from The Knitting Exploits Of Josie Kitten, Sarah from Annaboo's House, me, Annabelle (Stylecraft), and - knitting! - Juliet (Blue Bear / Stylecraft).

Left to right: Heather from The Patchwork Heart, Helen from The Knitting Exploits Of Josie Kitten, Sarah from Annaboo’s House, me, Annabelle (Stylecraft), and – knitting! – Juliet (Blue Bear / Stylecraft)

The views from the hotel weren’t too shabby. I took this shot from the hotel’s helipad: fortunately I managed not to get squished by any incoming helicopters.

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The views were charming, especially as the day faded…

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…to near-darkness:-

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Anyway, back to the yarn. The main event was scheduled for the following day, back at the Stylecraft mill in Slaithwaite. This was where we got to meet up not just with folk from the previous night, but also with the rest of the Blogstars (excluding a couple of people who couldn’t make it this time). Here we are:-

Here we are. Image courtesy of Sophie at Stylecraft (a fellow RUNNER-AND-KNITTER! I LIKE this woman. :-) ) Left to right, back row: Sandra (Cherry Heart), Julia Marsh (Hand Knitted Things), Helen (The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten), Sarah (Annaboo's House). Front row, left to right: Kathryn (Crafternoon Treats), Heather (The Patchwork Heart), me, Lucy (Attic 24), Sue (Shropshire Scrappers).

Image courtesy of Sophie at Stylecraft (a fellow RUNNER-AND-KNITTER! I LIKE this woman. 🙂 ) Back row, left to right: Sandra (Cherry Heart), Julia (Hand Knitted Things), Helen (The Knitting Exploits of Josie Kitten), Sarah (Annaboo’s House). Front row, left to right: Kathryn (Crafternoon Treats), Heather (The Patchwork Heart), me, Lucy (Attic 24), Sue (Shropshire Scrappers).

I’d met Lucy (Attic 24) before when we co-judged the Stylecraft yarn competition at the mill last year, but I’d never met the other bloggers, so it was fabulous to chat to fellow people who like to do stuff with yarn and then talk about it online. There was frustratingly little time, though, so I hardly got to speak to some of them at all.

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Another shot of the view from the hotel.

So we got down to the heady business of yarn. There really are some very exciting developments coming soon from this ‘ere mill, so I’ll devote a whole post to telling you about them next time. Trust me, you’ll like them. 🙂

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Filed under Blogging