What a hectic few months since my last post! I can now reveal that I was secretly working on a Shetland cardigan for my best friend Sue. This was for her birthday at the beginning of last month and was the “Shetland Tree and Star Cardigan” by Marci Richardson and is available from www.elegantewe.com I knit it in the recommended Jamieson and Smith’s 2ply jumper weight yarn. What a total joy it was to knit. The pattern was so clear and at every stage of decreasing and increasing, the correct stitch count was shown so that you knew you were on track. I obviously used my “The Knitter’s Companion” notebook to record my progress and keep me on track!
It is knitted in the round from the bottom up and steeked. This doesn’t hold as much fear as it did initially as I practised on the Hairst cardigan for myself first. Sue’s cardigan was so lovely to knit as I was able to choose her favourite colours and there are options to choose for different ribbing, added colourwork around the bottom of the body and sleeves, and different options for the yoke pattern too. I enclose photos of my progress. I would greatly recommend this pattern if you are new to steeking, knitting in the round, working yokes or stranded colourwork as the instructions and advice is so useful! The yarn is wonderful to use as the colours are so subtle and it is “sticky”, this is the term used to describe how the wool forms a gentle bond with the surrounding stitches so that it stays where you want it to!
She was delighted with it and so I can now mention it without spoiling the surprise!
I am very busy preparing for our next show which is “The Wool Monty” in Sheffield on 18th and 19th June. We haven’t done this one before and understand that it is very new. Fellow vendors have explained that they have only had one previously and it was utterly brilliant so we can’t wait! I have received the show guide and it is fabulous, both in the information about other exhibitors, but also in the extras! There are patterns and a puzzle as well as a detailed floor plan so that visitors know where to go to find their favourite vendors.
So far this year we have exhibited at Spring into Wool, in Leeds in April and as usual it was wonderful. I loved catching up with fellow vendors and customers. There is something magical about being in a shared space with others who are very skilled at their craft. We had returning customers, always a treat – even if you must jog our memories about what you purchased from us and when! To be honest when we exhibit at this show we feel as though we are having a weekend away as we stay in a hotel. Granted we are busy during the day with the show, but it is so enjoyable that it feels like an exhausting holiday! I feel very loyal to Nick and his staff who organise this show as they gave me space at quite short notice in 2018 when we launched “The Knitting Companion”. Other show organisers approached us to exhibit at the same time, but Spring into Wool is our priority.
It was so good to meet up after so long and to see what yarns and patterns are available. I always visit Andrew from Wool Tops and treated myself to 2 bags of Corriedale dyed in gorgeous shades. These are destined to be colourwork garments, to be done when the dark nights start to draw in. I also purchased some of the West Yorkshire Spinners new yarn “Events” in the blue shade and am currently knitting myself a lacy cardigan. This was found on Ravelry, always a useful source of inspiration, and I am loving doing it. It is a good TV pattern, one when you can watch the television and relax with your knitting. It is a 12 row pattern though and so I am using my “The Knitter’s Companion” notebook to keep myself on track so that my cables are done on the right row! This is a lovely pattern, see the picture, and something that I really love is that the button band is knit as you go along. A very interesting technique means that the ribbed section is still slightly elastic even though it is knitted with the same size needles as the main pattern part. Basically, on the reverse side, every purl stitch is passed over after putting the wool in the position that it would be if it was actually purled. This means that when the same passed over stitch is knitted on the front side, it is one stitch that spans the two rows. Very clever and something that I will repeat in the future! We are always learning aren’t we?
Our next show, also new to us – “Buxton Wool Gathering” was on the 7th & 8th of May and was held in the beautiful Pavilion building. The weather was glorious and there were lots of things going on in the park where we were situated and there was a really good atmosphere. We had some new products on our stand, some DPN (double pointed needle) cases that were very popular. We also had the last few of our diaries at a vastly reduced price. We talked to customers about their opinions about a few products in the pipeline and were very grateful for their feedback and thoughts. As usual “The Knitter’s Companion” and “The Crocheter’s Companion” were available at show prices and it was lovely to have customers come and seek them out. One lady explained that she had seen all about us and had come specially to buy one!
Another very well organised event that we thoroughly enjoyed as it is the closest to our home and enjoyed sleeping in our own bed after the show. We were so busy at this show that I began to get anxious. We had another show, and all our stock was disappearing! We had to take the last few items with us on the Sunday! I had some Christmas cards that I had put in a box under the table, and Mike told me to get them out. They all have stitchmarkers as embellishments, and so the recipient has a little useful gift as well as receiving a card. These sold like hot cakes with fellow exhibitors buying bundles of them too!
One customer ordered a personalised card and gave instructions about the name, age and colour scheme, style and so we are always happy to meet customer’s needs.
The following weekend 14th & 15th May, we had Wool@J13 which is held on Lower Drayton Farm in Penkridge, another fairly local one for us. This was an interesting experience as we had simply left all our stock boxed up and waiting to be set up and displayed again. I worked hard during the week (when I had free time) on sewing a few more items and continuing with designing products in the pipeline. It is too early to tell you about those, but hopefully, all will be revealed in time.
One of the highlights at Wool@J13 was meeting Jaki Bogg of Hot Butter Yarns. She was exhibiting her beautiful designs and hand dyed yarn and I was delighted to meet her and talk about her designs. I always know when a magazine feature one of her designs it is something special. I treated myself to ordering her “Wednesday Cardigan” kit and she allowed me to take the pattern with me (to drool over). She had examples of it knitted in two colourways and I chose the one with blues, mauves, greens and other contrasting hues. This is knit in a blend of merino and blue faced Leicester DK and is knit on 3.75mm needles! Lovely after knitting with 2ply and I have decided that our long holiday to Scotland this summer will be the ideal time to start this gorgeous project.
I also treated myself to a lovely single ply white and blue skein from Sable yarns who were our neighbours again, also by our side in Buxton! This will be a treat to knit with and I shall do something pretty and lacy with it. My other yarny purchase was from Jo Sew Knit, also one of our neighbours. Her skeins were so beautiful, and I kept gazing at the lilacs and aqua’s. She was so helpful to everyone and such fun that I wanted to support her and at the same time treat myself. This will be something delicious in a lacy shawl, for later in the year.
We were very aware that people are being cautious in spending after Covid and the recent rises in the cost of living, and so we are very grateful to all our customers who purchased from us. The benefits of buying at a show is that you can actually see and examine your purchase, discuss your needs and ensure that your purchase is worthwhile. One customer visited us and made purchases at both shows and it was lovely to have positive feedback about our products.
As time is going on, we are becoming more experienced and have more of an idea of what our customers want. We are also becoming more confident about setting up our stand effectively so that it is more inviting. We are getting quicker at it too. Mike does the technical tasks of putting together our shelving and gridwalls, hanging the curtains and doing the heavy lifting. I then spend ages faffing about and putting lots of thought into where particular things are positioned. I always try to strike a balance, look at colours, styles and sets of things so that that they make sense and look nice. I have to remember the view from the customer’s perspective, so that I can see what impression they have when they come to our stand. An additional range that we added to Wool@J13 was a box of remnants of material. These were predominantly 100% cotton, but there were a few other ones in too. I measured the pieces and listed the type of fabric, manufacturer, and measurements and added a price tag. These proved to be a tremendous hit and customers expressed their delight at finding something for their sewing too. I observed that smaller pieces sold better, so for example, a large 4 metre piece was still in the box at the end of the show. A few people had expressed an interest in it but didn’t want such a large amount. For our next show I will divide it into smaller 50cm and 1m lengths and so it will sell. One customer loves knitting but also sews and so exclaimed that she was delighted to see fabric and bought a few remnants from us.
As usual we asked our customers about what their views were about prospective products that are still in the designing stage, and we were encouraged and motivated by their constructive comments. I will share my news about new products next time. I have been liaising with my printers and have some time to complete my finished designs, but they will be launched at Bakewell Wool Gathering in October, later this year!
I will say good bye at this point, I hope to see you in Sheffield.
If you are unable to visit the yarn shows, please be aware that we have an Etsy shop, “The Knitting Companion”, there is a link on our home page. If you have a specific need we are happy to discuss your requirements with you. TheKnittingCompanion | Etsy UK
I am having some technical difficulties at the moment, for some reason my computer doesn’t want to use photo’s from my phone camera. I have spoken to my expert IT adviser, my nephew Dale, and as soon as I have sorted it out, I will edit this post adding some pictures of my finished lacy cardigan, my kit from Jaki Bogg, and some other photo’s too!