Wool@J13 

What can I say.  As you all know this was my first (and potentially my last) yarn show on my own. I did all my prep, was as organised as I could be, and had wonderful support.  But it doesn’t stop you being a tiny bit terrified.  You can never tell how you will be received, either by the public who come or fellow (and more established) stall holders.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried.  For a first outing Wool@J13 was a huge success – lots of people came (and the ones who promised on Facebook that they would really did materialise into actual human beings – yes, I’m taking about you, Manda), the sun shone for most of the time, and everyone was lovely. I was fortunate to be stood next to Sonic Knits, and two nicer people than Fiona and Gina could not be found.  The ever supportive Sue Stratford was there too, along with the ladies from Kindred Creations who kept and eye on us newbies and kept us going with hugs and much appreciated advice.  Sue won the prize for best stall in show, and I was so proud! I just wish I had got a picture to show you how amazing it was! 


I had my wing woman with me, my bestie, who stopped me from flapping and generally was a calming influence and provider of teas.  She also ensured that we sat up for Eurovision and a cheeky glass of Buck Fizz on Saturday night…


I got to finally meet Jo and and Jodie, who were wonderfully daft and really brightened my already sunny day.  And my yarn friends came out in force too.  Ingrid was full of energy all weekend, and made us all feel like we were old friends.  

The thing that really set this show apart for me was the festival feel of it – beer stall and street food, park and animals for the children and non yarn lovers, plus live music, including that provided by a man in a kilt.  I mean, what’s not to like…

So I already have ideas about how to make it better for next year, and I hope to squeeze in a few more shows before the end of the year.  But Wool@J13 will forever hold a special place in my heart.  It has made me brave. 

Dopamine Wrap

The second shawl in the current season of Shawl Club is the Dopamine Wrap.  I fancied doing something very different in shape, and I liked the idea of working with hexagons and piecing them together into something pretty.  The idea of working a dopamine molecule in as a motif was something that I really liked.  If I am honest, I like the plain version of the shawl so much, that I want to make it again without the motif, as the pattern of the shawl once blocked is so pretty it really doesn’t need much embellishment and the hexagons are very quick to make.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

Sundae Shawl

So I can finally show you the first shawl of Shawl Club Season 2 -the Sundae Shawl.

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As you know, I am pretty rubbish at coming up with names for my shawls.  This one is called the Sundae Shawl because it looks like one of those wafers that you stick in your ice cream when you are having a treat.  And it also looks great in ice-cream colours. The yarn I used here is by Fleabubs.

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It works really well with bamboo / merino mixes, although any yarn would work well with it.  Plus it is one of those patterns where it will keep on growing if you have the yarn and follow the pattern of the rows, but the examples shown are post blocking and used just 400m of yarn.

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It looks pretty great in grads too.  This one is by Hooking Marvelous and it reminds me of a sunrise or sunset.

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My next shawl will be revealed fairly soon as I did a special one-off pattern for one of the collaboration yarn boxes produced by Unbelievawool, Truly Hooked and Dye Candy.  It uses three different skeins of yarn and is a bit of a departure for me but I am quite pleased with how it has come out!

No turning back…

So, it is really, really happening.  I will have my very first stall at Wool@J13 in May!  It is booked, and I am in the throes of organising my stock.  I will, of course, be bringing my patterns, but I am putting together a sort of pick and mix feel to me stall: pick a pattern, pick a yarn, pick some extras and have them all beautifully wrapped for you, so you have a treat for when you get to open it all again later at home.  Having helped out Sam and Sue on their stands, it seems that a lot of people like to see what is in their kit boxes before they buy them.  So I decided the easiest thing would be to let people build their own kits, and make them as special as possible.

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I have commissioned some yarns from Unbelievawool and Dye Candy, all on a psychological theme, and the testers look pretty special (the ones shown above are from Dye Candy).  I am hoping to ask some of other dyers to contribute as well, but I don’t want to get too carried away for my first show.  But I hope to be able to support some of my other favourite dyers too.

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I have some hand made stitch markers already from Tinkaboo Crafts, and I have found some amazing fabric for project bags which also keeps with the psychological theme.  All brains and neurons! I know they won’t appeal to everyone but I think the fabric looks pretty amazing.  A friend is helping me by making them this time, but I plan to make some myself in future if I can find time (time is my enemy at the moment).

So my extras will be hooks, stitch markers (I hope to get some very special ones made to go with the ones I already have), and WIP bags.  I am trying to source some shawl pins too, and keep toying with the idea of a small amount of things which feature my logo.  What do you think?  Do people like the idea of my little frazzled brain as a badge or a pin?  Let me know!

It’s showtime…

At the moment, its all about show prep.  The first show is actually the spring fair at my daughter’s school, where I am going to do a handicrafts stall. I am busy making lots of things that I think people will like, including shawls, socks, and baby things, as well as small things that I hope the children will want to buy like toys and so on.  The lady who organises the local craft group in my village has been a brilliant help and also has a small production line going of pretty sewn items and crocheted owl things.  Between us we are starting to accumulate a fair bit of stock. Pricing is going to be based on what I think the children will be able to afford as a suggested minimum donation, and I am hoping that the grown ups will be prepared to buy the more pricy items.  They aren’t pricy at all when you factor in the cost of the yarn and the time, but I know how it is and so I am just hoping that people will dig deep if something is pretty enough and is a one off. It will be interesting to see how it goes.

I have also got very excited about preparing for my first proper yarn show on my own.  I think I might have found a good one if they are prepared to let me in.  I just hope my patterns are considered good enough by the organisers.  I have some really beautiful kits planned and some of my favourite dyers have agreed to supply the yarn for them so I am just waiting for the word and then it will be all systems go.  I really enjoy the product design aspect of all this, especially the packing and presentation of it all.  I am itching to get started!

Since I last blogged I have also had a little treat trip to London to spend a voucher I was given for Loop.  Loop in London is a beautiful shop with super expensive yarns and extras.  It was such a treat to be able to splash out even though I am still on my yarn ban. I couldn’t resist this…

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New Year’s Intentions

Ok, so I don’t really have the resolve for resolutions, but I do have lots of honest intentions.

  1.  Once the January Sales are done, no more yarn buying for the rest of the year.
  2. Reduce the stash by at least 50%.

Yes, that is right, I am going on complete stash lockdown at the end of this month and the plan is to see if I can truly stashbust.  I have a plan to knit lots of socks, both for me and for presents, and I have recently discovered the joy of knitting hats with Aran wool (so fast, and I can get two hats out of a single skein which is a bonus).  Exhibit A – the hat I knitted in a few hours one evening, using Dye Candy yarn and a pattern from the Toft Quarterly Magazine.

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I also need to help to raise funds for my daughter’s school, so lots of making is required there.  That will give me the chance to clear out all my acrylic yarn too, so that will be satisfying to see that go down.

3.  Blog more frequently and more regularly.

This year work has got in the way. I have been too tired to think in the evening, let alone type.  This is going to change.  My working pattern has to change in pretty fundamental ways because how I am working right now is not sustainable.  And I feel that I keep losing momentum every time work pulls me away from this part of what I do.  To achieve this I have to start taking better care of myself.  That one is easier said than done, but tonight I am going with an early bath, blog and then some knitting to motivate myself a bit.  If I can get two or three blogs out during the week, with a longer one at the weekend I think that might be good.  Perhaps introduce some features.  One of my friends has voted for ‘Squish of the Week’ – a random delve into my stash to show off different yarn types and dyers.

4.  Write more patterns.

Ok, so Shawl Club is going into Season 2 in March, but I feel the need to do a wider range of patterns than just shawls.  A mixture of quick makes and more extended projects.  I might even venture into one or two knitting patterns if I am feeling very brave, but that might be a step too far for me.

5. Do a yarn show.

Ok, so this one terrifies me.  Sue talked me into this one.  At the moment I don’t know which show, and it will probably only be one day, and I need to do my sums properly re how to make it work for me.  I love the idea of it, I am just worried that it might be a bit too soon for me, and there would be a huge amount of work required to get my stall elements ready in time. So I am not sure if I can pull this one off, but I am certainly going to look seriously at it.  I just need to sit here and feel a bit sick at the thought of it for a while.

6. Do a book.

Now, I write for a living, so the idea of writing a book doesn’t daunt me, but I haven’t self- produced the whole thing before, so that would be the challenge.  I have two book concepts in my head – one requires more work than the other – but I think I could get the book thing to work with a bit of peer support and some planned leave from work.

So there you go – six of the best.  Let’s see how many I can tick off.  Can I do it?  Should I do it?  Hmm. Let’s see…

A nice distraction

It has been chaos here at Knackered Psycho HQ whilst some (much need) home renovations are going on.  The kitchen is the main focus.  Some would say it is just a very expensive excuse for replacing my microwave following the now infamous ‘blue dye’ incident, when my friend and I (in a desperate attempt to exhaust some blue dye we had used on some yarn) heated the bowl of yarn until it exploded.  Top tip kids – leave blue dye to the professionals!

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Anyway, my yarn room has become a dumping ground for the contents of my kitchen (along with every other room in the house), and I have taken solace in learning how to brioche knit.  When I was at Wonderwool, I met the lady behind Coop Knits, and she was wearing an amazing brioche wrap that she had made with yarn scraps.  The texture of brioche knitting is so tactile and colourful and I was desperate to give it a go.

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After starting and ripping back five failed attempts I finally got my head around it and now I am totally addicted.  I am making a Stephen West briochexplosion wrap using blue yarn dyed for me (I learned my lesson) by Rox of Lollipop Guild Yarns, and various yarns by Hutch of Dye Candy.  The effect is exactly what I was hoping for and so far (touch wood) I haven’t screwed it up too badly.  I can’t wait to get it finished.

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My next post will be a reveal of a new crochet pattern – something I probably would never have tried to make without prompting, but I am so pleased with it.  Watch this space!