This morning I am launching my new season's collection of patterns, kits and new colours in my two yarns, Libby Summers Chunky and Libby Summers Fine Aran. I am so excited that I didn't sleep much last night so you might find me dozing off during the day. Part of the reason I am so excited is that I will be getting out and meeting lots of gorgeous knitters, because my most local of all my lovely stockists kindly offered to host the launch, and it was decided that as well as showcasing all that's on offer - including a huge range of knitted samples to look at - we would run some live mini knitting demos to show how to do some of the techniques in the new patterns.
I do hope that you made it to the live demos? But if not, don't worry! I will be releasing the mini demos as tutorials over the next two working weeks on the blog. Follow me on twitter or on facebook to find out when the posts go live. There are eight mini demos in all. During the live demos, these will be condensed into four separate demo sessions, but during some of these more than one technique will be demonstrated.
The first mini demo I am releasing here as a free online tutorial is the 'Knotted Diamond' stitch tutorial from my Sojourn Collection of patterns. This is a very simple but striking technique and looks particularly good on a cushion cover. The photos below lead you through the technique step by step, but you will need to follow the pattern to see how it fits into the context of the design. The cat gatecrashed my photo shoot, but I thought she looked so cute I'd leave her in, so please forgive me for the distraction!
Step 1: K1, then insert RH into next 3 sts to knit them all together, but leave the stitches on the LH needle after wrapping the yarn around the needle and pulling it through.
Step 2: yo. Bring yarn forward.
Step 3: With the yarn forward, k3tog through the same sts, this time removing them from the LH needle.
Step 4: This completes the knotted diamond feature. Follow the pattern to complete the row.
Step 4: Sl 3 purlwise. On the next (WS) row, you will need to slip the three stitches worked twice on the previous row....
Fig 1. When you work the next stitch on the left hand needle, just take the yarn across the back of the 3 slipped stitches, taking care not to pull too tight or leave too loose. The tension should be the same as that of the knitting.
Repeat this next time you get to the knotted diamond stitches.
Um....this photo and the last one are really just so you can see how cute the cat is.
And even this one is a bit gratuitous, because it really is that simple.
But just in case you're not sure, this is what your work will look like when you've nearly finished the wrong side row, unless your cat really has jeopardised things.
Don't study this photo too closely, because I missed out the knit and purl row between the two rows of knotted diamonds because I was distracted by the cat. Just look at the cat. Thanks.
A few years back, I designed a strawberry tea cosy and held a private Strawberry Tea Party in aid of Breast Cancer UK. Last year, I learnt about Prostate Cancer UK's Tea for Victory campaign, which is a similar fundraising idea, with a 1940s theme. I decided to design some tea cosies to help raise money for the event, and have been selling them in kit form for the last year, as well as the patterns, so people can make their own. This year, I thought it was time I got around to holding my own event to raise even more funds, and having found a great central venue in Stamford that was offered to us for free, I decided to make it a public event.
Today, after much preparation, baking, and hard work, not just from me but from my wonderful friends and family, the event finally happened! The event was run like a cafe, and we discovered that running a cafe is harder than it looks! You have to be totally on the ball the whole time, notice who has arrived, and who hasn't been served, make sure you write down the order correctly, then remember to leave them the 'bill' so they can pay! I kept leaving the bill in the kitchen and then dashing back for it only to find it had gone missing and have to write another one! The other thing I kept forgetting was the tea spoon! I even forgot to give one gentleman's a mug for his coffee! He very politely pointed this out when I returned with his bill - that I had left in the kitchen....Thankfully it wasn't all down to me, or chaos would have ensued.
Thanks to all the help we had in marketing the event, we had a steady flow of people all morning. At several points, every seat was taken, and some people couldn't even get in the door. This was a shame, and with the benefit of hindsight, I would have put the 'cake and kits' table at the front of the room, which might have encouraged a few more cake only or kit only sales.
I was particularly touched by the contribution of a member of the public who brought in two orchid plants that she had grown herself, to donate. It was such a lovely idea, and we sold them both.
I am delighted that together the people of Stamford and beyond have raised the grand total of £400 for Prostate Cancer UK! The actual amount in the cash box came to £395, but I thought I would top it up to £400 to make it a round number!
Thanks to everyone who came along and who donated so generously. I would also like to thank my Mum, my Dad, my husband, Liz, Jennie and Claire, the lady who donated the orchids and Emily from 'Cake That', who donated a box of beautiful cupcakes. Thank you to the local media who publicised the event, and to Rachel at Ewe Wool Shop, who told all her customers about it. I hope that everyone who came thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and will be as thrilled as I am to hear just how much we raised for Prostate Cancer UK today.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited an amazing knitting shop in Leicester, and had such a nice day, I thought I would write something about it. All of my yarn shop visits have two important elements - the knitting world experience and the coffee/food world experience. Occasionally, there are not any good eateries near the mini knitting paradises, but more often than not, these can usually be sniffed out somewhere not too far flung, and on this particular day, the eateries and the knittery were a stones throw apart, which made for a near perfect day - well, pretty darn perfect actually.
I am old fashioned. I follow a map, not sat nav. Sometimes this results in tricky inadvertent detours, but not on my journey to Leicester. I found the city easy to navigate. I was coming from the South East, so maybe that helped me, but I found Knit One without any problems, or any traffic jams, and parked up for free on the little road off to the side of Queens' Road.
Queens' Road is a delightful little parade of small independent shops, with some larger chain stores, but not too many to spoil the ambience. I particular like the feel of the cluster of shops around Knit One, at that end of the street. There is a good choice of coffee shops and eateries, and I found it hard to decide which to go and visit. I had arrived with about an hour to spare - just enough time for lunch and a coffee. In the end I was enticed by the Salvador Deli, which had its extensive menu on display outside the shop, making it easy to have a browse through, without any embarrassment if you decide to walk away. There was so much on offer, and it all sounded delicious, that there was no chance of that in any case.
Once inside, I was even more bowled over by the cavern of delights. In the end I plumped for the fresh pasta, which was a snip at only £5.95. There were actually things on this menu for less than £2 - admittedly only bread or snacky things, but still, the last time there was anything on any menu for less than £2 in Stamford, where I live, was in about 1990.
I'm crazy about yarn, Scotland, food, my husband and my three girls, and I live in a perpetual state of organised chaos. Some just call it creativity.