Teaching my 5 year old nephew to knit…he loves it. “Can we knit Aunty Jane” is all he’s said all afternoon! He can’t wait to finish his baby rabbit :-)

Teaching my 5 year old nephew to knit…he loves it. “Can we knit Aunty Jane” is all he’s said all afternoon! He can’t wait to finish his baby rabbit :-)

Happy Easter! Hope it is filled with chocolate, joy & fabulous yarn to knit or crochet with!

Happy Easter! Hope it is filled with chocolate, joy & fabulous yarn to knit or crochet with!

Easter Bunnies!

Easter is a time of families and new beginnings – maybe it’s time for you and you loved ones to learn a new skill together! There are many enthusiastic people that pop into my shop wanting to learn to knit and the easiest thing to start with is a scarf.

But I was thinking ‘what’s an easy simple pattern to do over a weekend that creates a fun item?’….and after lots and lots of swatching and playing around with different ideas…..these baby rabbits were born!

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They are great to add to the top of your hard boiled egg:

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or, when felted, they can be added to a chocolate egg to make the gift of giving even more personal:

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Or you can stuff them and make them into a small cuddly toy. They can be your lucky rabbit too!

If you have little ones in your family that want to learn to knit, this project is perfect for the Easter weekend. You can start the rabbits together, casting on the stitches, then they are free to knit up until they reach the ears, and then you can work together on the next bit. You can finish them off with a very cute pom pom tail! It’s such fun adding its tail! 

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Not only are they perfect for children, they are also great fun for adults. They are brilliant for beginners as by the end of the long Easter weekend you will have a finished item and have had lots of fun making it too!

And, for experienced knitters, why not make some bunnies as gifts? I am going to knit some up for my nieces and nephews to make their chocolate eggs more fun! And if I don’t felt them, then they can be used for eggs at breakfast too! One of my nephews has been wanting to learn to knit for a while so I’m going to teach him this weekend with a baby rabbit in his favourite colour.

I recommend Mirasol Api to make your rabbits.

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It is a slub yarn, which means it goes thick and thin so great for hiding uneven stitches. I like the way the rabbits are uneven, it makes them quirky. Api is also great for felting too – just pop your bunny into the washing machine and it shrinks as the yarn felts together. 

And to share the Easter joy, the Mirasol Api is 20% off at Purl&Jane and my pattern will be £2.95 instead of £3.95 for the Easter Holidays only.

It’s a grey day in #Skipton this morning. The perfect weather for being inside colourful Purl &Jane! This morning the relaxing workshop is Professional Finishing :-)

It’s a grey day in #Skipton this morning. The perfect weather for being inside colourful Purl &Jane! This morning the relaxing workshop is Professional Finishing :-)

Tags: skipton

I want some wool…

People who don’t knit think wool is wool.

‘Can I use this one?’ they say.
With knitting, the answer is never no to that question, because you can knit with whatever you want, the only thing is the outcome. So for a beginner it can seem very overwhelming.

For those that don’t knit, I compare it to shoes or food…people don’t go into a shoe shop and say: ‘Can I have some shoes?’
‘What sort of shoes?’
‘I just want shoes!’
‘What size are your feet?’
‘Normal size, I have normal size feet’.

And it’s the same with wool or rather yarn. The choice is endless!

So what’s wool? And what’s yarn? Here’s a very basic answer:

Wool is made from different breeds of sheep. So wool is merino, Jacob, Blue Face Leicester…etc.

This is a Jacob from Skipton Sheep Day last year:

They make this Jacob Wool:

Yarn is the name for all balls and hanks of fibres that you can knit or crochet with.

Yarn is wool or cotton or cashmere or silk or alpaca.

This yarn is made from cotton:

And this yarn is made from alpaca and peruvian highland wool:

This yarn is made from cashmere:

And this is how I design…with the yarn.
Different natural fibres hold stitches in different ways. They drape differently. Some stitches can be lost in certain fibres and come alive in others. I play with the yarn to see how it works, how it holds the stitches.

Over the years and working with many different yarn manufacturers I’ve got to know how each fibre works…however – and this is one of the things I love about knitting – I am always learning something new…or finding a new stitch that enhances a certain fibre. This is what makes it exciting!

I’ve not counted how many designs I’ve done, the last count was 70 books, each with between eight to 30 designs in. But that count was about two or three years ago….and every day I keep adding more exciting designs to the list!

My knitting journey – the real world

When I first left college I got a job as a Junior Designer working for a company that produced knitwear manufactured in China – it was such a shock for me! They produced designs on paper….I don’t remember ever seeing any yarn or shade cards…I spent all day drawing designs, drawing cables, drawing embellishments, the factory then interpreted this onto samples which we then adjusted.

I did not stay there long, a few months, the turning point came for me when the head designer came back from China and told me how the workers were treated in the factory. 

So I went back to what I loved, the yarn.

And I worked for a major department store in the Haberdashery department. This was amazing. I got to see how knitters approached a pattern, and through this I realised a lot of instructions were overcomplicated or unnecessary.

I treat the yarn as knitting not cloth. Cloth needs darts and shaping. I believe that knitting doesn’t – it just needs the right stitch in the right place. Which is a lot trickier then it sounds.

Here, chatting to knitters, was where I started to hone my pattern writing skills. I approach each pattern as a beginner. I look at it with fresh eyes, as if this is the first pattern I have seen. I’m not counting how many I’ve actually written, so tricky to know how many I have started, but this week it’s been quiet on the pattern writing front, (which can happen when running a shop, admin happens more then knitting) and so I’ve started about five patterns, I’m working with my pattern checker on five more and designing another eight (…or eighteen or eighty, each design sparks another design, then another in my head!)… all of which will be out later in the year so watch this space!

My knitting journey – the first steps

I studied fashion at Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication (in London) specialising in knitwear. My final catwalk collection used denim yarn and fabric and was a mix of hand knit, machine knits and recycling denim trousers into dresses. It was inspired by old vintage patterns and the make do and mend era, though I don’t think I recognised this at the time. I just followed my heart, which is a love for vintage knitting patterns. I remember when I was first given a 1940s knitting book. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I still get excited by vintage patterns. 

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I didn’t know why I was so excited by knitting. Seeing that hank or ball of yarn and the possibilities of what it could become. My head sometimes can explode with all the thoughts as my hands can not knit as fast as I think!

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It wasn’t until a few years ago, after I moved from London to Yorkshire, and my mum decided to look at our family history, that we found out a whole branch of my family worked in the Yorkshire Woollen Mills for as far back as records allowed us to research.

My Grandfather was a wool buyer in Bradford, working for my Great Grandfather, a mill owner, who started as an apprentice at Salt Mills in Saltaire. So it seems my love for knitting and natural fibres is in my blood!

It’s Sunday so that means another relaxing & calming workshop at Purl &Jane! This morning it’s how to crochet a Granny Square.

It’s Sunday so that means another relaxing & calming workshop at Purl &Jane! This morning it’s how to crochet a Granny Square.

It’s #Yarnaholics tonite. This is Ann’s #crochet ripple! These are the shades she is using to create this amazing blanket!

It’s #Yarnaholics tonite. This is Ann’s #crochet ripple! These are the shades she is using to create this amazing blanket!

I’ve selected some new fabulous yarn in the shop! This is a gorgeous 100% cotton 4 ply called Natura Just Cotton.

I’ve selected some new fabulous yarn in the shop! This is a gorgeous 100% cotton 4 ply called Natura Just Cotton.