by Sarah A

Goodbye talented friend

July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized by Sarah A

Yesterday I had the very sad task of saying goodbye to one of my friends.  Chris Turner, my photographer and friend died from lung cancer at a far too young age.  Chris was kind, generous and extremely talented.  He will be missed by many, as evidence by the number of people who attended his funeral yesterday.  His funeral was filled with love and happy memories as well as sadness at saying goodbye. I first met Chris through his wife Sharon.

When I moved to the local area, the Wool and W(h)ine group that meets in the local pub on a Tuesday night was one of my first ventures into the village.  Sharon and the other knitters/crocheters made me feel very welcome and it is such a friendly group.  It was Chris who suggested that Sharon set up a local knitting group and I am so grateful that he did.

When I started designing, I knew I had to ask Chris to be my photographer.  Chris ran his photography business, Enjoy Photography, from the village and I loved walking past his studio window.  It always contained beautiful photographs that not only looked stunning, but captured peoples personalities too.  He had an amazing way of getting people to relax in front of the camera, something many people (including me!) struggle to do.  The Enjoy Photography website can be found here and I recommend having a browse of some his amazing photos.

Chris did a photoshoot for me in 2012.  It was meant to be spring, however that did not stop the snow from falling!  I managed to capture this shot of him in action photographing Suzi modelling my Bela Cowl pattern. IMG_1560 What really amazed me on the day was Chris’s eye for a good backdrop for each photo. The photos were all taken in my village along the side of a disused mill and a local reservoir.  My favourite photo from the shoot is this one for my Kali pattern. WessendenWoolies_050 I have walked past this rusty green fence hundreds of times but I never would have considered it for a background to a knitting photo. Yet, it sets off the colours and patterns in Kali perfectly and received a lot of positive attention.

This photo of Crowberry is also one of my favourites.  Crowberry is my best selling pattern and I’m sure this beautiful photo is one of the reasons. WessendenWoolies_014 Chris even managed to fit a final photo shoot for a new sample of Kali that also featured on Knitty.com whilst undergoing chemotherapy.  Sharon, his wife, kindly knitted and modeled the sample for me and Chris took some fantastic photos whilst unwell and for which I am extremely grateful.  You wouldn’t believe this was taken over Christmas, they both did a fantastic job making the photo look summery. _DSC4566 I have lots of fantastic photos to show from Chris as several of the patterns photographed I have not released yet but plan to do so over the next year, including this slouchy hat design that has not got a name yet.  I look forward to sharing them with you soon. WessendenWoolies_041 I am pleased that despite Chris no longer being around, his talent and photos remain and will still be showcased for years to come.  Thank you Chris for the wonderful photos but also for being a wonderful friend.  I will miss the raised eyebrows at the amount of new yarn purchased on field trips with Sharon and the gentle teasing on how small my needles are and what I plan to make (or get Sharon to make) with them.

Rest in peace xxx

 

Chris and Sharon – with kind permission of Enjoy Photography

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by Sarah A

Tour de Fleece 2014

July 5, 2014 in Projects, Spinning by Sarah A

This year I joined in with the Ravelry challenge of Tour de Fleece. This is a three week long spinning challenge that occurs at the same time as the Tour de France. For every day of the tour, you spin yarn and challenge yourself as to how much you can complete. I tried doing the Tour de Fleece last year but only managed a few days. This year, with the Tour de France starting in Yorkshire and having an overflowing box of fleece waiting to be spun, I decided I was going to make it through the whole tour. The Grand Depart of the tour was a fantastic event and it was great to see Yorkshire looking stunning on the tv coverage and just how many people supported the event.  I had a great time watching the tour in Huddersfield, the atmosphere was like a big carnival party all day.

There are so many photos I would like to share with you but rather than making you scroll down them all I have added them as a gallery below. Click on each individual photo if you want to see a larger version.

For most of the Tour I spun a lovely green/blue top from Fyberspates which was 90% merino & 10% nylon. I’m quite slow to spin and have often only 10-15 minutes each day to play but it was great fun to do something daily and see how much progress I could make. I finished this skein on day 19 and ended up with 360 yards of 2-ply fingering weight. I’ve named it Emerald City, partly because the colours are just so pretty but I have also been listening to the complete Wizard of Oz stories by L. Frank Baum on audible. I’m really pleased with it, it is definitely the best thing I have spun so far and I’m enjoying thinking about what I might make with it. The three weeks of the Tour de Fleece were very busy with work and trips at the weekends too. I was away at the Knit and Crochet Guild Annual General Meeting for the first weekend and then MCM Manchester Comic Con for the second. It would have been too difficult to take my wheel with me (I did consider it but common sense got the better of me) so whilst away from home I spun on my spindle. I started this lace weight 2-ply yarn for last years Tour de Fleece but did not get very far. It is a hand carded batt from Felt Studio UK and the colours go from blue to brown to pink as I spin. You can see my progress through the brown part above. It is very pretty and sparkly and I’m looking forward to one day finishing it! I will post photos if I ever do make it to the end – lace weight is very slow going.

by Sarah A

Double Knitting Workshop

May 16, 2014 in workshops by Sarah A

Last night I taught a double knitting workshop for the Huddersfield Knitting and Crochet guild meeting. Thank you to everyone who came, it must have been one of our most attended events! All the ladies were lovely and looked like they were having fun.

For the workshop I wrote a simple charted pattern for a coaster. I was very pleased at how well it came out and just how cute it looked. The samples are knit in one of my favourite yarns – Eden Cottage Yarns Bowland DK, in colours Silver Birch and Oak.

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The concentration was high all evening as you can see from these photos!

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By the end of the workshop everyone looked very proficient with double knitting. We managed to get one photo of the coasters in progress at the end of the workshop.

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As you can see they are looking good! Not bad for 2 hours work.

Just before going to bed that night one of the attendees tweeted her photo of her finished photo. It always makes me really happy to see how people progress during a workshop and I love seeing the finished projects.

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A list with links of my future workshops can be found on my workshop page.

Thank you once again for a lovely evening and to Fiona & Marie for the photos :)

by Sarah A

Cuckoo

May 8, 2014 in Colin the Cuckoo, Cuckoo by Sarah A

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It is that wonderful time of the year when spring is finally showing its true colours. This year I have been snapping photos of the pretty flowers and blossom as it appears around me, I have so looked forward to the warmer weather and longer days!

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My local village of Marsden holds a festival every April to celebrate the coming of spring, or more technically the Marsdener’s of old attempts to keep spring all year round by capturing a cuckoo. The legend goes that

“Many years ago the people of Marsden were aware that when the cuckoo arrived, so did the Spring and sunshine. They tried to keep Spring forever, by building a tower around the Cuckoo. Unfortunately, as the last stones were about to be laid, away flew the cuckoo. If only they’d built the tower one layer higher. As the legend says, it “were nobbut just wun course too low.”

Obviously they were not too bright back then. So every year the village of Marsden in Yorkshire has a day of fun with Morris dancing, brass bands, a big parade with a giant cuckoo and a duck race. It’s a bit zany but fun.

A couple of years ago I was inspired the night before Cuckoo day to knit a cuckoo. I have no idea why, but it felt like a good idea. This is how my cuckoo was born. I named him Colin. It seemed to suit him. At his first festival he got a mention on the local Two Valleys Radio and had a great time being interviewed.

Last year the pattern to make Colin was available to buy as a kit from the National Trust stand at the festival.

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He also had a girlfriend knitted for him by my friend Sue!

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This year the festival was very special for me as it marks a year since I joined the Thieving Magpie morris group.

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I thought it was about time that I released my cuckoo pattern into the world and let it fly from its nest. This is an easy toy to make and quick to do as he is made from chunky yarn.  I used Wendy merino chunky which is lovely and soft. He is knitted flat and then seamed together. He features short-row shaping (instructions are given in the pattern) to give his lovely round belly and the curve of his wings. I think he makes a fun gift or if you have a garden with not many birds, a cute decoration.

The pattern can be purchased here or from my Etsy store (with the star wars day promotion ongoing for the rest of this week! – this pattern is included).

Kits containing everything you need to make a cuckoo, including Wendy merino yarn, pattern, how to knit instructions, stuffing, knitting needles and sewing needle, are also currently available from Crafty Praxis in the Byram Arcade, Huddersfield and will also soon be available through my etsy store.

Happy spring cuckoo making!WessendenWoolies_098

by Sarah A

Starwars Day Sale

May 4, 2014 in Sales by Sarah A

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May the Fourth be with you!

Today is Starwars day (May 4th) and I have been busy updating my Etsy shop with all my patterns.

 

All patterns are now available as direct PDF downloads which is great as you will receive your pattern straight away!

To celebrate I am offering a sale of 20% on my Etsy listings only with the code STARWARSDAYSALE until the 11th May.

The force is strong with this one.

by Sarah A

Handlebar Hands & Cadence Cowl

March 27, 2014 in Cadence Cowl, Handlebar Hands, patterns by Sarah A

Today marks a very special day – 100 days to go until the Tour de France comes to Yorkshire! I’m very excited as the cycle race will pass very close to where I live and I plan to walk to Holme Moss to watch the race come through.

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It seems the perfect timing to introduce my two new crochet patterns – Handlebar Hands and Cadence Cowl. Both of these patterns have a cycling theme and were inspired into being after the release of my Helmet Head pattern in the Bespoke book – a whole book of cycling related designs inspired by the Tour de Yorkshire as it is locally known.

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I love matching sets and found Helmet Head really fun to crochet so I just had to design a matching cowl and mitten set. All three of these designs are suitable for beginner crocheters as they use only a few stitches and have very little shaping involved. I’m just in love with the striping pattern and especially in these bright colours of Rowan Tweed that are all named after local places. Great to brighten up my outfits as spring arrives!

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Cadence cowl is crocheted in the round and it can be made shorter or longer, or wider or thinner as required by adding or subtracting rows  or stitches from the pattern. I like it at this length though as it can be comfortably wrapped around the neck twice as a very warm cowl or to keep it out of the way whilst cycling, or draped long and loose as an infinity scarf.

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The Handlebar Hands can be made as fingerless mitts or full mittens and instructions are included for both. They come in three sizes to fit small, medium or large hands. They are unisex, just like Helmet Head and can be made more ‘manly’ by changing the colours of the yarn. I like the fingerless ones best for cycling with as I can use my fingers to ring the bell on my bike, but having a full mitten is great in cold weather.

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The photos were taken by my dad, Alan Alderson and my sister Lucy kindly modeled for the photos. We had great fun on the photo shoot although it nearly was a disaster. I’ve learnt that you should not ask models to cycle alongside a canal without their glasses on. Disaster was narrowly diverted by catching Lucy before she fell into the water! She has forgiven me (I think).

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Both patterns are available in my Ravelry shop and on this website. For the next 100 days both patterns are available for 50% off their normal price to celebrate le Tour Yorkshire. Use the code LETOURYORKSHIRE to activate this offer when paying!

by Sarah A

Kali on Knitty.com

March 21, 2014 in patterns by Sarah A

 

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This month has been very exciting as I have had a pattern published on Knitty.com. Kali is a sleeveless top that is great for spring, summer and autumn.

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The inspiration for Kali came from wanting to knit something that was bright and colourful that used a simple slip stitch to create a pattern that looks more complicated than it really is. The pattern reminds me of visiting sweet shops with rows of jars that were filled with brightly coloured sweets that I visited when staying with my grandparents or on holiday. I have always had a sweet tooth and the sherbet filled flying saucers were one of my favourites, along with the pink shrimp or yellow bananas, milk bottles or gummy bears.

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The pattern is knitted flat in two pieces. It starts with a corrugated garter stitch rib pattern. The main body of the garment is a slip stitch pattern that is easy to do and the knitting just flies by.

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The armholes and neck are finished off by the same corrugated garter stitch rib. There is a cute contrasting stripe in both the ribbing and at the bottom of the vest that adds just a splash more colour.

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Kali can be worn as a layering vest over t-shirts, long sleeved tops or shirts in spring or autumn, or on its own as a sleeveless top in summer. The pink and grey sample is knitted in Debbie Bliss 4-ply Rialto which is 100% wool and the yellow and red sample is knitted in Rowan Cotton Glace for a more summery top.

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Kali is in the 2014 spring and summer issue of Knitty.com which means the pattern is available for free! Knitty is an online magazine that has great articles as well as interesting patterns. I often use it for their really easy to follow tutorials and I plan to try some of their spinning techniques soon.

I hope you enjoy knitting this cute top!

by Sarah A

Tunisian Crochet

February 21, 2014 in Projects by Sarah A

Tunisian Crochet SamplesTunisian crochet techniques was the theme of the February meeting of the Huddersfield Knit and Crochet guild meeting. We had a short talk on the history of Tunisian crochet before learning how to do different stitches with the help of Fiona Mannifield.

For those who have not seen it before, Tunisian crochet uses a crochet hook that has a very long handle and no hand grip. The stitches were all formed by picking up a row of stitches onto the hook and then casting them off. The different stitches are made by changing the way the stitches are picked up. It creates a very dense fabric that would be warm but use much more yarn than normal crochet.

My Tunisian crochet hook collection

I have 3 hooks in my collection, all of which I inherited. All the samples I made with the smallest hook (it appears to be a size 4mm – there is no marking on any of them to let me know) and Shilasdair organic cotton (100% cotton). For each sample I cast on 10 stitches so I could see the change in gauge with the different stitches. I also had an idea that  I could use these little squares as eco-friendly cleaner pads. I’ve made cotton pads before but I go through them so quickly that having a larger supply will be useful.

This first sample is the simple tunisian stitch. This creates a square stitch with a vertical loop. The stitches are apparently square so we saw examples from the guild collection of cushion covers in simple stitch with a cross stitch pattern embroidered onto it. It was the easiest of stitches and probably my favourite.

Simple Tunisian Stitch

Then we tried the knit stitch. This gives the appearance of knitting but feels much denser.

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The next pattern was the crossed stitch. This was a little more tricky as the hook has to twist round to do the second stitch in each pair but gives a pretty pattern with little crosses between rows.

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We then tried a variation on the crossed stitch – the biased crossed stitch. This alternates rows of crossed stitch with a row of 1 simple stitch, crossed stitch to 1 stitch before end and then 1 simple stitch. This gives a diagonal line across the fabric.

Biased Tunisian Stitch

Finally I was shown the purl stitch which was a little tricky to get the hang of to begin with as the hook goes into the vertical bar back to front but it does create a purl ‘bump’ on the fabric and repeating this gives the look of reverse stocking stitch.

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Feeling ‘hooked’ on Tunisian crochet (pun intended) and now rather confident with my new Tunisian crochet skills I then tackled a couple of stitch patterns in a stitch dictionary I own. The first was a Tunisian stitch double which involved making a simple stitch and then doing a double crochet (single if in US) after each stitch was made. This made a slightly less thick fabric that has almost a woven appearance.

Tunisian stitch double

Finally I tried the plain Tunisian stitch. This was a very easy stitch and felt more like crochet but it gives lots of vertical bars.

Plain Tunisian stitch

I’m now looking at easy patterns on Ravelry that I might give a try. I’ve found this Generic Tunisian Crocheted Computer Sleeve that looks quite cool, but does mean I now need to learn to use multiple colours and manage it in the round. Perhaps a bit more practice is needed.

by Sarah A

First Ravellenics Project

February 15, 2014 in Projects, Ravelry by Sarah A

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Last friday saw the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. I’m a big fan of the winter olympics and always get caught up in the excitement of the events and wish I could be there cheering on Team GB.  This years olympics has many serious human rights issues that deserve just as much attention as the event itself and I have joined in with Ravellenics (a Ravelry event that takes place at the same time as the olympics) in support of those who are affected by these issues. The LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Russia are currently subject to terrifying levels of persecution, discrimination and abuse. It needs to stop. Now.

My first Ravellenics project is Slalom Slipstream socks. This pattern has intrigued me for a while and been sitting in my queue, just waiting for a time where I can knit for myself.

The pattern is Slipstream by Stephanie McIntosh. It features slip stitch cables and mock cables that wind around the ankle and foot in a very pleasing way.

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I cast these on at the start of the opening ceremony and I finished them on friday evening – so just over a week which is probably a record for me. I rarely get so much tv time to just sit and knit and I have enjoyed being able to concentrate on just one project for me.

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I’m so pleased with how they have turned out. I had a couple of issues with the charts (partly because I was not observant enough to notice that the charts are listed in the opposite order to the pattern instructions) and because there are a few mistakes, but overall these are great socks and look fabulous.

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The yarn is Bouncy Extra by Laal Bear in colourway Virginia Stocks. I chose it for its rainbow colours (as support for LGBT issues) and because this pattern just lends itself to multicoloured yarn. The slip stitch cables show off the colours really well. It has been in my stash for a while and I’m pleased I found such a good project for it.

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My ravelry project page can be found here: Slalom Slipstream.

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My next project, cast on already is going to be a super chunky sweater so hopefully I can get it done, I have just over a week to complete it. It’s a good excuse to stay in out of the terrible weather we are having at the moment, watch the olympics and knit!

by Sarah A

Helmet Head in Bespoke

February 7, 2014 in Helmet Head, patterns, Yarn Shop by Sarah A

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This week I received my copy of Bespoke – a beautiful book of knitting and crochet patterns inspired by all things bicycle.

What I am the most excited about though is seeing my first book published pattern – Helmet Head!

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This is a simple slouchy beanie that is crocheted from 3 different colours of DK weight yarn to produce a kaleidoscope of colours. It is easy enough for beginner crocheters to tackle and looks great with a variety of hairstyles.

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This hat was born the problem I always seem to have after I have been cycling – bike helmet hair! I wear a helmet as I have seen so many cyclist lives saved by wearing one when I worked in A&E. They really do prevent broken skulls. The trouble is, once I have taken off my helmet, I then have horrible hair for the rest of the day. This simple beanie fits in my pocket and can be taken out and worn to cover up my helmet head.

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It looks so fab, I have been wearing it out and about – I wore Helmet Head in Dusseldorf before sending it off to be included in Bespoke.

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It also goes really well with Woodrup – the gorgeous cardigan modelled here with my Helmet Head.

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Bespoke features 10 patterns in total and is inspired by the tour de France coming to Yorkshire this year. Woodrup is a colourwork yoke cardigan designed by Ann Kingstone with really cute applied i-cord edgings. Then there is Picycle, a circular lace shawl by Karina Westermann which looks beautifully soft. Malliot jaune is a jumper that is sized to fit children, women and men by Alison Moreton. Hercules is a men’s jumper by Sarah Hatton that has a wonderful cable pattern reminiscent of tyre tracks, a Courier felted messenger bag by Jo Spreckley and Frame Mitts by Rachel Coopley which manage to look snug and pretty at the same time. For those with kids there are the Chop Chop handlebar streamers by Verity Britton (or big kids like me that really want to make these for my bike!). The crochet patterns include Peachy, a bike seat cover by Ruby McGrath, Wickerton, a cute stripy bicycle basket with a pretty flower by Julie Glaze and my Helmet Head.

Bespoke is a really fun collection of patterns and it is hard to know what to make first! So if you love your bike or know someone who does, or just love cute and pretty accessories, it is well worth a look. I’m really excited about the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire and plan to wear a few of these designs when I go to watch the race pass through my area.

I will be releasing matching mittens and cowl for Helmet Head soon so you can have a matching set (I love having matching accessories). Helmet Head is only available in Bespoke which can be purchased from Baa Ram Ewe.