Kara Gott Warner is the editor of Creative Knitting magazine. She's also a mom and a lover of anything having to do with two crazy sticks and some fabulous yarn. On this blog, Kara will share tips, tutorials, book reviews, contests and in-depth designer interviews, all dedicated to the craft of knitting.
My husband travels a lot for work. I do not. So, when he came home recently and said he had been asked to speak at Oxford University in England, I looked at him and said, “I’ve never been to Oxford. I’m going with you.” And so begins the tale of how I discovered a fabulous little yarn store in Bath, England.
We had a week in England — a couple of days in London, a few in Oxford and a free day in which we decided to visit Bath, a centuries old town which is nestled in the River Avon valley in the southwest corner of the country. This beautiful city is known for its ancient hot spring baths which were built by the Romans. Little did I know it would also be home to, Wool – Bath’s Finest Knitting Emporium. If it weren’t for their little sign sitting at the top of the lovely little lane they were on, I would never have found it.
Karen, Laurie, Fran
Karen and Fran were working in the shop that day. When I walked in I explained I was from the States and was beside myself that I had actually found an English yarn store (I didn’t find one in Oxford, but since then I’ve found out that there is a wonderful haberdashery there called, Darn It & Stitch.) I asked if they had any yarn that was indigenous to the area. Karen’s eyes lit up and she headed for the shelves. First she showed me a yarn called, Kingsfold Cottage. It is a 100 percent “Ethical Wool” and spun from rescued Cotswold/Dorset sheep. I had to purchase a skein because anyone who is helping save sheep from slaughter deserves my support! She then showed me Wool’s own labeled yarn produced by The Natural Fibre Company using pure Teeswater sheep fiber. The Teeswater sheep originated in Teesdale and are occasionally, but incorrectly, called Teesdale. Once numerous to the region, they are now quite rare, but their beautiful fine, long white fleeces are very attractive and make a beautiful yarn. I bought 2 skeins in Moss Green. Stunning!
Finally, Karen brought down from one of the very top shelves a box about 3″ x 10″ in size. She looked at me and said that only 1000 skeins of this very special yarn have been produced. Each skein was numbered, and no more would ever be made. I was intrigued. She opened the box and showed me the limited edition card. This particular skein was numbered 906. She then unfolded the tissue paper it was wrapped in and handed me the most exquisite sapphire blue lace yarn spun from merino, silk, royal alpaca and silver sparkles that I have ever seen. “Why?” I said. “Why only 1000 skeins? You could sell this yarn forever, it is so beautiful.” “Because”, she said, “it was spun in celebration of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.” “Oh, I MUST have this!” I said. The yarn was produced by Fyberspates (the sapphire color and the silver are said to represent THE ring — you know the one I’m talking about, right?) A shawl pattern was also designed especially for the yarn by Anniken Allis. I don’t think I will be knitting the shawl though; this yarn is just too pretty in the skein.
Who knew that our short little day trip to Bath, England would garner so many wonderful purchases for a knitter! I’m heading to Italy next month and can only imagine what wonderful knitterly things I will find. In the 1400s, wool cloth produced in Florence by the Umiliati monks was the most expensive and most sought-after cloth in Europe, so my guess is I’m going to find something worth purchasing!
Laurie Gonyea is a regular contributor to Creative Knitting magazine and Annie’s. She is also the owner of Feel Good Yarn Company specializing in fair trade & American made yarns. Laurie produces her own line of yarns, LanaMundi Yarns (meaning yarns of the world), sold exclusively by Feel Good Yarn Company. LanaMundi’s first offering is SilverSpun, an American made cotton yarn spun with pure silver. Visit her website at: www.feelgoodyarnco.com
The word “condition” I find to be very useful because it leads me to believe that if I were to continue practicing patience again and again, eventually my conditions would be pretty darned good…maybe even totally blissful and content all the time. Hey, sign me up!
If cultivating this state-of-mind is beneficial, then why is it so hard to develop? Speaking from my own experience, I make it a habit to try every day and if I mess up, I just get back on the horse again. That good old quote:”patience is a virtue” is one that I try to live by and every day my hope is that I’m getting just a little closer to my goal of achieving it.
Let’s take a minute to see how this practice applies to knitting. Here’s my short list of things I’m often confronted with when it comes to my own personal projects:
Working a gauge swatch
Dropping a stitch– that’s enough to put me into a mood
My project looks nothing like the photo
I don’t have enough yarn
This yarn is not as nice as I thought it would be
The yarn in the picture is too expensive!
This yarn is too difficult to work with
I don’t like this stitch pattern
I don’t understand the pattern
Do any of these sound familiar?
Before you cast on that first stitch—remember it’s a great time to cultivate patience. I seriously can’t think of a better way to practice.
Today on a little excursion to check out some local yarn shops, I found an intriguing LYS called Simply Socks Yarn Company, established eight years ago, first as an online-only business, then in August 2011, they restored a 3,500 square-foot 1940s post office in Ft. Wayne, Indiana into a new storefront.
The shop houses more than five tons of sock weight yarn! When I walked in, I was overwhelmed at the exciting selection. I honestly didn’t know where to start, but here’s what finally tickled my fancy. What shall I make?
Two delicious treats: Rowan Fine Art and Skein Sock
I’m the kind of knitter that buys the yarn first and then I let the skein “talk to me.” What about you? Do you usually buy a skein of yarn AFTER you have a pattern in mind? Or, do you let the yarn inspire you, and then find a pattern later? Leave your comment here!
In my last post, I showed you how to work the Quilted Cross Stitch, which is one of the three stitch patterns you can choose from to make the Stitch Sampler Slippers, featured in the Summer 2013 issue of Creative Knitting. If you haven’t grabbed your free downloadable copy, you can get it here for a limited time only. When the Summer issue is gone, so is this pattern!
Click on the video below for my demonstration of the Whelk Stitch, and try this super-easy slip-stitch pattern for yourself! You’ll love how this pattern produces a nice and dense fabric, perfect for a durable pair of slippers, quick-knit washcloths and other home decor necessities.
Once you learn these simple techniques, you’ll quickly be on your way to making lace today! Click below to watch this informative video.
To learn more, I suggest reading Beth’s tutorial “Learn the Basics of Lace & Openwork, featured in Creative Knitting magazine’s Special Interest Issue: Easy, Everyday Openwork & Lace. The article serves as a companion to the video above, which includes step-by-step illustrations and photos of lace knitting techniques. Then, when you feel ready, jump in and make the Lacy Tank & Skirt, designed by Beth, and featured in this video.
Did you find this video helpful? Please share your feedback!
As my special treat to you, we’re giving a way a free copy of the Stitch Sampler Slippers, featured in the Summer issue of Creative Knitting magazine. I’ll be guiding you along with way in a three-part video series, where I’ll demonstrate three different stitch patterns that you can choose from to make these adorable slippers.
Stitch Sampler Slippers, designed by Laurie Gonyea and featured in the Summer 2013 issue of Creative Knitting magazine.
In this informative video, designer and Creative Knitting Newsletter editor Tabetha Hedrick provides some quick tips on ways to use stitch markers as “life lines” in your lace and openwork knitting so you can focus on fun instead frustration!
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Creative Knitting Newsletter, you can read the current edition here, which includes Tabetha’s insightful interview with Jill Wright, designer of “Selene,” which is featured on cover of Easy, Everyday Openwork & Lace.
Creative Knitting Special Interest Issue: Easy Everyday Openwork & Lace.
Close up of lace stitch pattern on Selene.
What’s even more exciting, now you have a chance to win the yarn featured in this project. Hop on over to the Creative Knitting Facebook page to enter here for your chance to win!
1 Grand Prize: Winner’s choice of either:
9 balls of Panda Silk (winner’s color choice) + #3 needles
8 balls of Mini Mochi (winner’s color choice) + #15 needles
2 Runner-Up Prizes:
2 balls of either Panda Silk or Mini Mochi
*Winners will be picked at random by Crystal Palace Yarns and will be notified by email directly from Crystal Palace Yarns.
When I first thought of writing this post, my initial inclination was to save this for another topic, but then I came to the conclusion– “why not write this as a Quick-Knit Tip?” I’m not really going to talk about knitting, but it involves yarn, it’s quick and it is a tip. So here goes…
As I was winding a gorgeous yarn from my stash into a nice pull-skein, (or at least trying to) all of a sudden a knot appeared out of nowhere. What an odd phenomenon that knots and tangles occur out of nowhere! How on earth could some simple little strands become an entangled mess?
As I was trying to make heads or tails of where to begin salvaging this lovely skein, I was fully aware of my impatience and frustration. I then began to sweat mildly while I was trying to fix the crazy tangles. I was ready to end it. You know– cut the yarn and be done with it, but I just didn’t have it in me. How could I possibly cut into this exquisite yarn? So, I decided to take a breath, and attend to this twisted maze.
To my surprise, I started to enjoying the process, and began marveling at how the yarn managed to intertwine upon itself. Just a few minutes later, it was set free and wound up into a tidy pull-skein ready to knit my next project!
A perfect little pull-skein. I can’t wait to knit!
So what a “happy accident” this was. I was able to not only save this yarn from an untimely death, but I also cultivated a little patience in the process. I then found myself letting go and began to notice how beautiful the light streaming into my window was. For the most part, the day was dreary and overcast, but all of a sudden, the sun made an appearance and shed some light and inspiration into my little craft room. I had to quickly seize the moment. Carpe diem!
Behold the beauty of a simple strand of yarn.
Instead of jumping right into knitting, I felt compelled to play with the yarn. I let go like a child at play. Being spontaneous like this doesn’t happen to often in my world, because my brain is constantly looping with “should do’s” every minute of the day, but this moment was so spontaneous and liberating.
Quick-Knit Tip: Don’t feel like knitting? Create some yarn art!
Quick-Knit Tip: Print your photos, frame and display them in your craft space.
Letting go felt so good…even if just for a moment. Give it a try today!
Want to see more tips like this? Contact me at: editor@CreativeKnittingMagazine.com, or leave a comment on this post.