Friday, 22 January 2016

Our blog is moving!

Our blog is moving to our new website!

This blog will continue to be available for you to read, but all new posts will be on our new website here.

Read the next post in out Yarn of the Month series now!  Find it here.

See you there!! :)

Friday, 8 January 2016

Yarn Focus: CoopKnits Socks Yeah!

It's the New Year, so we thought we'd give our blog a little revamp! 

Every month we're going to focus on one yarn and give you lots of inspiration and ideas for what to make with it.  This month (as you might have guessed from the title), we're focusing on our newest yarn, CoopKnits Socks Yeah!

Top row: #101/Obsidian, #102/Ammolite, #103/Axinite, #104/Sphene. 
Middle row: #105/Danburite, #106/Kunzite.
Bottom row: #107/Beryl, #108/Chryso, #109/ Iolite, #110/Malachite. 

This fab new sock yarn with a gorgeous palette of 10 colours is designed by Rachel Coopey of the aforementioned CoopKnits. 

If anyone knows what makes a good pair of socks, it's Rachel, so naturally her first yarn should be a sock yarn :D 

If like us, you're a fan of Rachel's sock patterns, you'll know just how much attention to detail she puts into her designs and this yarn is no different.  Having seen her carefully pick out a range of colours before narrowing them down to the perfect palette of ten shades, we can certainly back that up! 

There are cool and warm shades to suit anyone and so many colour combinations to play with!
Socks Yeah! balances out the most important properties of a sock yarn perfectly, with Superwash Merino for softness and easy washing and Nylon for strength. 

But it's not just for socks!  It makes beautiful accessories and garments too.  Rachel has even tried it out with crochet, making these pretty motifs to decorate her studio! 

Socks Yeah! looks great crocheted too :)
We had a play around with some different stitches to see how they'd knit up, lace cables, twisted sts and colour work and a bit of crochet too. 

This yarn is such an all rounder, after making a range of swatches using different techniques I can confidently say that it would work just as well in the delicate pretty stitches of a lacy shawl as it would in a cosy pair of socks or that favourite sweater you'll wear to death. 

I wet blocked all the swatches, rolling them in a towel to get rid of the excess water and then pinning them out to dry (I stretched out the lace swatch, but none of the others). 

For the lace sample, I used #104/Sphene and 3mm needles to give a slightly more open fabric, but I used 2.5mm for all the others.  The lace fabric drapes really nicely on these slightly larger needles, but you could use a larger size still if you wanted.  Even only going up a couple of needle sizes given the fabric a lovely drape when blocked. 

I'm particularly pleased with the way the yarn works in stranded colour work (using shades #105/Danburite and #102/Ammolite), I find keeping an even tension in fair isle patterns can be tricky on little pieces and small needles, but the stitches stick to each other nicely and really keep the fabric neat. 

The slip stitch cabled swatch (shown in #102/Ammolite) has really nice stitch definition in both the cables and the columns of twisted sts between them. 
I love the way the colours in the range work together too, the fact that each shade is slightly heathered makes the transitions between the shades a little softer as you can see in this little crocheted square; worked on a 2.5mm hook in shades (from the centre out) #106/Kunzite, #105/Danburite, #102 Ammolite and #107/Beryl. 
For those who want to know, here are all the technical details:

Socks Yeah! is hardwearing and can be machine washed at 30 degrees. 
Content: 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon
Length per skein: 212m/231yds per 50g
Recommended needle size: 2.25mm - 2.75mm (US 1 - 2)
Tension: 36 sts and 50 rows to 10cm (4") using 2.25mm needles

What would you make with Socks Yeah?

Friday, 9 October 2015

Knit Play Colour!

We love to see unique new books from indie designers here at Fyberspates so we were really excited to be included on the blog tour for Louise Zass-Bangham of Inspiration Knits interesting new book; Knit Play Colour.

The idea behind Louise's new book is not just to give knitters a strict set of instructions to follow, but to encourage them to be a bit more adventurous and make the projects their own.  With a collection of ten patterns for cowls, shawls and even a cosy blanket, this book could help to give you a little nudge out of your comfort zone and try something a little different. 

This colourful cowl uses four shades of Cumulus (Moonlight, Bottle Green, Magenta and Turquoise) and traditional undulating Old Shale lace. 

There are lots of ideas included for how to make the patterns work with different types and weights of yarn as well as adding beads, working extra pattern repeats and advice on choosing colour combinations that will really make your projects shine.  The book is really clearly laid out and many of the versions of each pattern are photographed together showing just how much of a difference your yarn choices can make.  It's a really nice idea which reminded me of my habit of browsing Ravelry projects when I'm choosing a pattern to help me decide on yarns.  You could have so much fun making different versions of the designs to suit different people, perfect for knitting gifts for the festive season and beyond! 

Most of the projects can be knitted with just a couple of skeins so they'd be perfect to make as a guilt free new project or for using that odd variegated skein in your stash you've been waiting for just the right pattern to use with. 

I had a really hard time picking out my favourite design and yarn combination from all the different variations in the book, but in the end I chose this lovely version of the Affinity shawl, knitted using Cumulus and Scrumptious 4ply both in Water.  While the other versions of this pattern use bright semi-solid and variegated yarns for a bold fun look, the self-coloured stripes of this version teamed with a few beads give the shawl really sophisticated vibe, making it the perfect finishing touch to an outfit. 

I've been thinking about some of the other possibilities for colour combinations like this one.  If you want to go for a bold bright look, how about using the Magenta shade in both yarns, or Jen's Green in Scrumptious 4ply and Bottle Green in Cumulus?  If you prefer deeper shades, how about Scrumptious in Cherry and Cumulus in Ruby Red or Teal Scrumptious with Cumulus in Moonlight?  Or you could even combine a paler shade of Scrumptious like our new Glisten shade with Cumulus in Silver or a couple of paler shades like Oyster and Camel for a pretty, delicate effect.

Louise has kindly offered us a digital copy of Knit Play Colour to give away! 

To have a chance to win, leave a comment telling us your favourite design from the book and which Fyberspates yarns you would knit it in before midnight UK time  on Friday 16th October 2015.  You can see all the designs in the book on Ravelry here.  Good luck!  :)

Louise is also hosting a knitalong for the book in her Raverly group, check it out here

The next stop on the blog tour is Sweet Georgia Yarns on Monday. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Super Socks!

Having sold sock yarn for the past 10 years, intact it was the first every type of yarn I sold. I have encountered many many people who do not have the confidence to knit socks, countless times I’ve explained to people, “just have a go, its not really that hard”, I would go into the joys of knitting socks to my customers, and then struggled to suggest a resource which I felt comfortable with suggesting, which wouldn’t end up with my customers being absolutely frustrated and emailing me with questions, however…I  I think I’ve found one!

Today I’m reviewing Super Socks by Winwick Mum. This is a self published book which is aimed at the very beginner sock knitter, if you’ve never knitted socks and are afraid to try, or just always wanted to have a go, but haven’t had the chance yet, you are a Yarn store owner and you want to suggest something to your customers to help them, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU! I wish I had this to recommend 10 years ago, I could have comfortably introduced 1000’s more people into sock knitting by now.

So what is it about this book thats going to help us learn to make socks?

This book is well presented in a relaxed and chatty style, and makes for really easy reading. The photos are lovely and clear which for me is the most important thing, I do love a good picture tutorial!

The book doesn’t assume you have a lot of knowledge about sock knitting, which was refreshing, it covers all the kinds of questions that my customers would ask, and things they would worry about. So for example, cast-ons for a stretchy opening, how to make sure your socks match when using patterned yarn, swatching in the round with great pictures in detail to make sure your tension is correct, and what I really like is the tutorials that walk you through using different types of needles, dpn’s, magic loop and small circulars, even though I knit socks mindlessly, I learnt quite a few things, and I will be keeping this book to refer back to. Whilst there is a cross over with some of the tutorials already posted on the blog, its great to have a resource you can tuck into your knitting back and have with you at all times, I much prefer to have the information at my finger tips.

I really feel like with this book your first sock knitting experience would be very enjoyable and productive, with all your questions answered. On that theme is that WM also has a Sockalong to accompany and help guide people through their knitting sock process, her facebook group is Here where you can ask questions and get help if you need any, Ravelry group is here, and even a flikr group with a gallery of finished socks.

Where can you buy the book? From here on Amazon and you can even download it onto your Kindle!

Winwick Mum Lives in Winwick, a small village in Cheshire, her blog is where she writes about what makes her happy: her family, knitting, gardening, home-making, enjoying the outdoors.

She is also doing an awesome Sockline for Yarndale.. take a look at the post here and here :) 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Super clever fixings! Shawl Pins and Leather closures.

I love buttons and closures, and I always think that the quality and look of them can make or break a freshly knitted Garment. We spend hours and hours knitting/crocheting  something special, its the least we can do to use a delicious fixing to compliment the work thats gone into it. Not only that to add a gorgeous shawl pin to a shawl makes the most PERFECT present. In my show days I could not get enough shawl pins to sell, especially metal ones, beautifully crafted shawl pins are hard to come by, so when we had the chance to distribute JUL Designs, I jumped at the chance.

This is some of the shawl pins we will be distributing, aren't they just divine?

But what I really wanted to tell you about was the leather fixings and just how clever they are...
These fixings are great, you can use them to change the way your knitwear is styled by removing them and putting them back on again, you can change the style by using different fixings or colours, or simply move them onto new knitwear, they are fabulous!

Here's how to use them:

1. This is what the button looks like Back and Front:

You unscrew the back to take it apart like this:

Push the large piece through the knitwear like so: (showing the front)

The back looks like this:

Pop the smaller leather piece on:

And screw in the fixing to close it:

This can be undone and moved at any time.

JUL DESIGNS has all sorts of wonderful versions of these these are just a few:

If you are interested in retailing these or are a designer and would like to use these in your designs, please drop me an email.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Carol Feller Mithral Knitalong!

We are really excited this year to be part of Carol Fellers yearly knit along. She is using Cumulus for this stunning sweater, and its super economical, it only takes from 6 - 8 balls! Lottie and I are still deciding which colours to knit ours in, I expect mine will be in water which is my fav colour in Cumulus.

The knit along is now available to sign up to, and starts on the 1st of October, meaning you have time to take a look at the pattern info, figure out how much yarn you need, and on Carols page is a list of official stockists taking part in the Kal. Most shops are offering a discount on Cumulus for this Kal.

You can sign up with one of the official stockists, OR you can sign up with Carol, which ever works for you.

We will post more throughout the month and our progress on our won Mithral sweaters, if you want to read all about it, take a look here for all the details. Or feel free to email us at FyberspatesATbtinternetDOTcom

Happy knitting

Monday, 13 July 2015

Building the studio

This year Rachel Coopey and I decided to add on a little extra to our TNNA visit. We decided to go to Squam. It has always been a dream of mine since I read about it on the Soulemama blog.
It was everything I dreamed it would be, it was a creative and spiritual haven, we both found it really inspiring. I took two classes, two very different classes, one was called Turn the page, which was very special for me, I was quite nervous about it really, but I didn't need to be, our teacher Colleen was a treasure, and I relished the chance to do something very different.

The other class I took was Tools with Terri, this was a super duper class which basically gave me the chance to try out and learn how to use tools, tools which I had always wanted to use, but needed a little confidence to try. Terri's house is amazing, her workshop is amazing, I left completely inspired.

Last Thursday I bit the bullet and bought a mitre saw and some sanders, set it all up, and made a little project to get me started.. ridiculously simple, but it was enough to satisfy the craving, get used to the machinery, and get going...

You might at this point think what the hell does this have to do with knitting? Well its sort of does lol!

So, in my new house I work at the kitchen table, as you can imagine, there is yarn everywhere, infact as I look now, there is yarn, notes, a chunky hat, a sweater, some swatches, its a mess and I'll have to eat dinner on the sofa again.. so I need a new space to work, especially since soon Lottieknits will be working with me pretty much full time, which is super exciting and so we need a nice space to work in, plus if we have visitors we need to have somewhere they can come for meetings, and lets be honest, I just need to keep my kitchen tidy!

SO above the garage was a room, all painted grey and black, we painted it white and all the woodwork a beach blue, and its gorgeous. To match this theme I wanted beach wood looking furniture, and having a budget of zero, I thought I had better have a go at making some. We need shelves/cubby holes to put things in, so I looked on pinterest and found something super simple to construct.. and then I made these:

They are pretty basic, BUT they are perfect for putting patterns and books in for now. Next project is to make some storage for under the gridwalling, but these need doors and hinges so need a bit more planning... but I can feel the call of the saws... ;)