Kidsilk, That’s Amore

At the start of October, Rowan launched two brand new yarns: Kidsilk Amore and Kidsilk Amore Shimmer. These are yet another new twist on the existing Kidsilk range, this time in a chunky weight which is ideal for toasty and warm winter accessories. As part of the launch, the Rowan Ambassadors group was given a challenge from Rowan – to create a design for each yarn which used only one ball. This may not seem like a huge challenge on the face of it, but if I tell you that the yarns are only 42 m and 37 m per ball, respectively, you may be able to imagine that it was quite tricky!

I’ve never designed anything completely from scratch before, so I was a bit nervous, but decided I really wanted to try and had nothing to lose if I did. The Ambassador group is full of talented and imaginative knitters/designers so I was not surprised to find that between us we all came up with some very different ideas for designs, many of which I felt made mine look quite run-of-the-mill. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found that my patterns had been drawn in the runner-up group!

Amazingly, all the winning and runner-up designs will become free Rowan downloads and I cannot wait for them to be finalised and uploaded. Of course I will be sure to update when that happens! Until it does, here are some photos of the finished items. I should note that I had to rip out and re-knit these a few times whilst working on the designs, to ensure that I didn’t run out of yarn before each item was finished. Unfortunately this has made the yarn look a little fuzzier than it would otherwise, when I finally got to have the items photographed.

Mirage

Mirage

Photos by Andrew Woodhouse Photography

A cute little hat with a braided openwork texture pattern and a wide ribbed band. Pictured in Kidsilk Amore Shimmer, shade Chestnut 514.

 

Check That Cowl

Check That Cowl  Check That Cowl

Photos by Andrew Woodhouse Photography

A snuggly cowl, using a large checkerboard texture to help show off the striking colours in this shade. Pictured in Kidsilk Amore, shade Twilight 505.

 

I found the yarns to be lovely to work with and the colours look so much more wonderful in person than they do when photographed. Here’s a quick overview of the shades.

Kidsilk Amore

Twilight 505Chiaroscuro 506Avocado 507Flaming 508

Kidsilk Amore Shimmer

Mulled Wine 513Chestnut 514Flaming 515Chiaroscuro 516

The photos of Shimmer really don’t do it justice, unfortunately. It has a lovely thread of sparkle running through it which will look fabulous in winter sunshine.

You can read more about both yarns on Rowan’s website: Kidsilk Amore and Kidsilk Amore Shimmer.

 

Watch this space for details of my designs and the other winning and runner-up designs by my fellow Ambassadors, they are a fabulous set!

Life In Colour

Yesterday was my last day working at the company I’ve been with for just over 10 years, as I’ve taken the nerve-wracking but exciting decision to continue my career elsewhere. It was quite an emotional day and I’ve been really touched by the outpouring of kind words and well-wishes from my colleagues.

When presented with a huge card and a mystery parcel by my boss, I was overwhelmed to find this inside:
Alpaca Colour Yarn

Clearly with some assistance from my boyfriend (who works at the same company) my colleagues had got together to buy me a stash of Rowan Alpaca Colour yarn. In the Alpaca Colour design collection there is a wonderful striped scarf that I completely fell in love with but couldn’t justify the cost of making right now, and my colleagues have bought me the full set of yarn required to make it!

Harewood Scarf

When I start my new job next week, I will initially be based in the local office one day a week and at an alternative office 4 days per week, which is about a 2 hour drive away. This means that sadly I will be staying in a hotel 4 nights a week for several weeks until the initial training period is finished, but at least now I have this lovely project to keep me very good company during that time!

 

If you haven’t seen this gorgeous yarn from Rowan yet, I recommend you check it out. Brand new for Autumn Winter 2013, it is DK weight, made with 100% baby alpaca and comes in 10 luscious shades. The photos don’t do the colour justice and you can’t imagine how soft it is without getting your hands on some in person.

Jasper 134Iron 135Emerald 136Agate 137
Ruby 138Garnet 139Blue John 140Amethyst 141
Graphite 142Topaz 143

 

The design collection is quite contemporary and casual. These a just a few of my personal highlights, aside from the aforementioned scarf.

Calke
Calke looks wonderfully snug and I love the honeycomb pattern detail

Moreton
Moreton really caught my eye with the shoulder detail. I can’t work out whether I would actually wear it or not, but I still love it!

Coombe
Coombe is another invitingly warm winter knit, and who could resist cables as lovely as these?

Longshaw
Longshaw is a truly luxurious wrap. That eye-catching texture made in such a rich shade makes it irresistible for this autumn/winter.

Ashridge
Ashridge is a classic v-neck cardigan with the versatility to be dressed casually or towards the smarter end of your wardrobe. The simple lines will allow whichever shade of yarn you choose to really shine through.

Bolberry
Bolberry is my absolute favourite (my scarf aside, that is!) The asymmetrical detailing that you can see running from hip to hem on the front transforms what is otherwise quite a simple jumper into something much more intriguing. Yet another great texture is featured here too, and that wonderful shade of Agate steals the show, yet again.

Make sure to check out the whole collection on Rowan’s website and visit your local stockist to see just how gorgeous this yarn is in person.

Meeting the lovely Libby Summers

A few months ago, local designer Libby Summers wrote in to the blog to suggest a store for the LYS Spotlight and we’ve been chatting by email ever since. On Tuesday this week Libby was visiting Nottingham to run some errands and it was also my weekly knitting group in the evening, so I suggested that she come along to the group and say hello.

It was lovely to finally meet Libby in person and she was kind enough to bring samples of her yarns, knitting kits and some completed garments for us to see. After a very busy day at work my brain clearly wasn’t firing on all cylinders and I completely forgot to take any photos during the evening. Oops! But if you visit her website, you will be able to see some of the lovely things she has on offer.

I can particularly recommend:

  • Libby Summers Chunky yarn – The shades all have a beautiful sheen to them which the photos simply don’t do justice to, very very pretty! Find a local stockist if you can and go check it out in person.
  • Lima pattern collection – The texture in this pattern collection is delightful, the blanket in particular looks so snug!
  • Mini Cakes Collection knitting kit – This knitting kit is so beautifully presented that it would make the perfect gift for any knitter. As well as lovely yarn, it contains a booklet with 5 patterns in it and all the accoutrements you would need to make them (buttons, belt buckle, etc). Although there isn’t enough yarn in the box to make all 5 patterns, you can make at least 2 of them with the kit alone and you can always top up your yarn if you wanted to make them all!

Chunky YarnMini Cupcake CollectionLima Blanket

Knits Just In!

The Big Knit Raffle for Guide Dogs – Enter an online raffle to win a hand knit blanket, all funds to go the Guide Dogs charity

Meow Foundation Yarn Collection – Yarn colourways inspired by cats and proceeds from which will help fund The Meow Foundation who help stray and abandoned cats. What’s not to like?!

Humongous Knitting Needles – Wow, for those really imposing projects you can buy size 50 needles!

In defence of seams: 5 reasons to knit sweaters in pieces – Some interesting arguments in favour of not knitting in the round. I’m still not sure that I’m convinced… what do you think?

How to buy yarn: 5 tips – Some excellent tips if you need to buy yarn other than the one recommended by the pattern you want to use. I especially love this article because it emphasises the inestimable importance of a good local yarn store!

“Charmed Knits Knitting Projects” Reviewed By and For Fans of Harry Potter – If, like me, you are a huge Harry Potter fan as well as a knitting addict, then I’m sure you left most of the movies gushing over the knitwear. Check out this book for some Potter-style projects you can make for yourself and your loved ones.

Knits Just In

Milling about in Holmfirth

Last Saturday Rowan Yarns had a garment sale in which they were selling off all the garments they’ve had made in their yarns and designs for promotional purposes during the last season. The prices are usually an absolute bargain at these sales and would cost you significantly less than the yarn would have cost to make the same items yourself. Since I’ve been working with Rowan on the Ambassador program, I’ve really wanted a chance to visit their HQ at the Mill in Holmfirth (West Yorkshire) and this seemed like a great opportunity. I asked around my knitting friends and got a very positive response, so we ended up with 2 cars of people road tripping “oop North” last Saturday morning.

The drive up was blissfully easy, with the M1 being very kind to us indeed. I didn’t have to yell at a single middle lane hogger – amazing! The views got prettier and prettier as we made our way up into West Yorkshire and, with some expert modifications to Mr Google’s suggestions from Jem, we arrived at the Mill in one piece and in good time.

There's trouble at t'mill!

The garment sale opened at 8.30am which is pretty early for a Saturday morning if you are driving 90 minutes to get there from Nottingham. We decided to aim for a more civilised arrival around 10.30am, which meant I could set off at 8.30am to collect the friends who were coming in my car. We arrived at almost exactly the same time as our friends in the other car, but to a sad discovery: the garment sale had already sold out and closed up before we even arrived!

I have the saddest of sad faces

We heard later from local sources and people In The Know that there had been customers queueing from 7am and that they sold out within an hour or less. Not to be defeated, we had plenty of other plans for the day other than just the garment sale, so we drove back down into town to see what we could see. After parking up, we walked through Victoria Park where we found a surprising sight.

Some confused-looking sheep

It had been Yorkshire Day on the previous Wednesday but, clearly not satisfied with only a day, Holmfirth was having en entire Yorkshire Week. As well as these sheep, there was an adorable rabbit and a guinea pig with longer fur than I’ve ever known one to have. Cute!

A very nice man who was looking after this slightly strange menagerie told us excitedly about all the other things going on in town, including a Yorkshire Pudding eating contest (we were initially well up for this, but never quite got round to finding it) a real ale trail with stamps to collect, and more.

On closer inspection we found that the sheep had been recently shorn and therefore were of no interest to knitters at the moment. I think they knew we were in search of yarn as they seemed pretty nervous! This could also be because they were in a tiny pen and surrounded by chattering women, but I like to think they their instincts could detect the yarn crazed desires of their audience…

No fleece, no use!

We were all definitely in need of some elevenses after our long drive and luckily Rebecka has a friend who lives in Holmfirth and she knows someone who runs a tea shop, so off we went in search of sustenance and Rebecka’s friend, Stef. After some confusing directions (Rebecka is generally not allowed to be in charge of navigation!), we eventually found Emma’s Tea Parlour.

Emma's Tea Parlour

This was a wonderful place with friendly staff, delicious treats and a relaxed atmosphere. I wanted a cream tea because I love scones, but I don’t drink tea. This can sometimes cause consternation with staff in uppity establishments, but the lovely chap who served us was quite happy to swap mine out for a soft drink, which we dubbed a Cream Diet Coke. It doesn’t quite have the same ring as a Cream Tea, but it was just as tasty!

My brand new invention, the Cream Diet Coke

Happy ladies!

We had a lovely long natter and Rebecka’s friend Stef eventually joined us for a cup of tea and a catch-up as well. She was very sweet and it is always lovely to finally get to know a friend-of-a-friend that you’ve heard about but never had the chance to meet. Stocked up on caffeinated beverages and baked goods, we went off to do the only thing we could possibly want to do next – look at yarn!

By this time the weather had started to clear up. There had been showers on and off when we arrived and that sort of dramatic English weather you get where you look to the right and it’s a gorgeous sunny day, but look to the right and there are big black clouds. A lot like this!

The weather was rather confused at this point

Our first stop was Up Country who are the closest Rowan stockist to the Mill, as well as other brands including Debbie Bliss and Noro. There was plenty to coo over, although the layout was a bit confusing with one room looking like a stock room so I wasn’t actually sure if I should be in there! The staff were lovely, helpful and welcoming though, which can often make all the difference. I was suckered into buying some Amy Butler Belle Organic Aran which was on sale as it’s been discontinued. I totally forgot to take a photo though, silly me! It’s a dusky, dark orange with fine yellow threads in it, and I think it will make a lovely long sleeved shrug, eventually.

All that walking around and buying yarn we were starving (well, I was, anyway!) so we went in search of lunch. We wanted a pub so those not driving could have a glass of wine or a pint of local ale and preferably some outdoor seating so we could take advantage of the sun that had finally made a solid break through the clouds. Unfortunately we struggled to find a pub with both, so in the end we settled for a nice looking pub with indoor seating and a good menu, called Carniceria. I was very excited by the burgers on the menu because I love a good burger but I don’t like cheese, so I often struggle to find interesting burgers that don’t have cheese on them. Their menu had a burger topped with parma ham and a fried egg – delicious! And it really was, the burger was huge and I couldn’t finish my chips as I was totally stuffed. Good times!

After a very long lunch and yet more excitable chatter (I think we may have intimidated the barman a little bit…) our parking was just due to expire, so we made our way back to the cars for 3pm and planned our next step.

As you might expect in a town that has at least one large mill, there is a lot of water running through Holmfirth. Even less surprisingly, one of the two rivers is the River Holme.

River HolmeRiver Holme

Jem recommended we visit the Holmfirth Fabric Mill Shop next. I don’t sew but many of my knitting friends do, so this was a popular suggestion with the group. We thought that we’d cursed yet another retail opportunity for our day because we arrived just after 3pm to find that they had closed at 3pm! Just as we were about to give up and leave, we saw the owner near the back gate and he very kindly re-opened for us, how nice is that? And what a treat it was! I don’t sew but I was dearly tempted to start when I saw the delights inside. Thankfully I managed to remind myself that I don’t have enough time for my knitting as it is, so I really shouldn’t add any more crafts to my life right now!

Holmfirth Fabric Mill ShopShelves and shelves of fabric!

Still, here is just a small selection of the wonders of the Mill Shop:

Gorgeous patterns and coloursGorgeous patterns and coloursDolly mixture!

I loved these VW campers!VIKINGS! Cute vikings!!These were some of my very favourites, science prints!It's only the Very Hungry Caterpillar! It was my favourite book when I was very little.

And for those of us who didn’t sew, there was even some yarn.

Lovely lovely yarn

The shop was in a gorgeous old mill building and was guarded by a very regal pair of deer

Holmfirth Fabric Mill ShopGuard Deer

Quite a few fabric was purchases were made (although not by me) after some great advice and assistance from the owner. If you need fabric and can get to Holmfirth easily, I highly recommend you drop by. The chap who runs the place is brilliant and the selection is fabulous!

Now we were all shopped out, but it was too nice a day to head home yet, so we drove back into town and returned to Victoria Park where we now found there were kids being given donkey rides. Top marks, Holmfirth! We ate ice creams and enjoyed the sunshine, whilst Eleanor knitted the fair isle cowl that she’d bought yarn for earlier in the day and was inventing the pattern for in her head as she went along. She’s a genius! See the photos (and her account of the day) here if you don’t believe me…

Look at the beautiful sunshine

As the day wore to a close, the lovely Yorkshire man from earlier tried to get the sheep back into the farmer’s van. It was a terribly undignified experience for the sheep and the men, but we found it quite hilarious. Especially when the last sheep stubbornly planted its rear end on the floor and refused to move, so he had to drag it like a truculent child. Clearly our cackles of amusement reached the other end of the park, as the chap later thanked us for our help in that great team effort. We laughed some more!

So there you have it, a gorgeous day with lovely friends, retail therapy and many laughs. What could be better?

Happy Sarah is Happy

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