Thursday, January 24, 2008

England Part III and more

Google map of Yarn Stores in UK. UK Knitting Stores map by littlelixie - this map was last updated 01/20.2008.

This interactive map allows you to search for LYS in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. It is very cool.
One place I have been is Shilasdair on the Isle of Skye. In December, now extended through January), Shilasdair was doing a residency at Stash in London demonstrating dying etc. If you have seen any of the British knitting magazines, Stash ads mention the Shilasdair residency.
In 2002, I visited Shilasdair while spending a few days on Skye. I bought several skeins of their Aran weight in one of the Braes colors - a green. I knit the Aran Pocket Shawl from Folk Shawls.

The same 'mapster' has created a map of NY knitting stores.
So many yarn stores, so little time (and money),

Sunday, January 20, 2008

England Part II

I still have more to write about yarn shopping in England.
I liked this blog posting from Big Pink Cookie about the London yarn shopping experience which inspired me before I left on my trip to try to find these shops in London (it turned out I didn't have time).

Last spring, Dalis Davidson of Dancing Leaf Farm spent several months in Cambridge England. When I came back from my trip, I had a conversation with her about British wool (during the Countryside Artisans Tour). She described much of the British wool as not high quality, when compared to American wools. I think many people would find this surprising (I'm not an expert in sheep raising, fleeces, etc.). There is a British Wool Marketing Board which oversees the quality of the product. I noticed when seeking information, including reading British knitting magazines, that most of the wool producers are in the north of England, though there are a fair number of alpaca farms throughout the country (while I like alpaca, and even buy locally produced alpaca yarns, I tend prefer sheep wool, or alpaca from South America).

I am fascinated with the idea of rare breeds and yarns made from their fleece. I have noticed these yarns tend to seem scratchy, but perhaps soften up. Flying fibers, who have a booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, sell organic rare breed wool from England.

Before I went to England, I got Beth Brown Reinsel's book
Knitting Ganseys
Knitting Ganseys

I found an online source for 5-ply guernsey yarn Frangipani.
Unfortunately her very reasonable prices just went up as of Jan. 2008 because of increased costs.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Yarn shopping in England, Part I

I went to England in November for 9 days. I spent most of the time in Oxford, which doesn't have a LYS, though apparently there is a place that sells yarn (but I didn't find it). The closest LYS was in a nearby town, but I had no car most of the time.
It seems that there are LYS's along the southern coast in a few seaside towns, several in London (which is HUGE), and a cluster in the north of the country where knitting is a long tradition, and sheep are a way of life.
One recommendation I got was to go to Liberty in London, which specializes in Rowan yarns. With the very weak dollar, I found that the Rowan yarns were the same price, or even a little more expensive there. I wanted to go to Stash Yarns in London, as it was mentioned in several blogs as a favorite. But the trip into London from Oxford via bus (the affordable option, though not cheap) took 2 and a half hours each way the day we went (normally 1.5 hours), and because my son had already experienced rush hour on the Tube, I promised we wouldn't be on the tube after 4 PM. Soooo, I didn't get there. Like many US LYS's, yarn shops in England tend to be in out of the way places, that aren't easy to get to.
I am adding some links below.

Stash Yarns London
Stitch n'Bitch UK
London Yarn Shops

There is an awesome UK Google map of yarn stores. To have to track it down and will add it later.
I did find some good magazines in England in the Borders in Oxford.
Simply Knitting
The British magazines come in a plastic bag and always include cute give-aways. I got stitch markers, 2008 diaries, patterns for a Shaun the Sheep mobile, etc.
The Simply Knitting Issue 35- December, 2007, has a wonderful Seaweed Scarf .
To get a better idea of what it looks like - click on the picture to make it bigger. Also, for some reason, the blogs I found with knitters working on it showed it in colors different from the color called for - which is Rowan Scottish Tweed 4-ply in Apple (00015).
It calls for 6 balls which I ordered from Webs
I also got a cute book Knitted Icons.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Should I go to Stitches West?

I’ll be in Monterey for a conference Thurs.-Sun Feb. 21-24, and was thinking about playing hooky to go to Stitches. I was happy to see the map with list of vendors in a Ravelry Forum, because if you look at the website for Stitches West, there are only four yarn vendors listed! It might seem ridiculous that I could actually believe that there’d be only four, but I heard from friends who went to Stitches East this year that there were many fewer vendors than last year. Apparently, on Sat. and Sun. there were problems in Baltimore. Sat. roads were closed for a marathon and Sunday because of a football game, I heard parking cost $39!!!! I talked to a local small business who exhibited this year, and said that business was down on Sat. and Sun., and she probably won’t do it again next year. Though having Stitches East in Baltimore is great for us in the DC area, apparently, it was better when it was in King of Prussia PA. After hearing the negative reviews of Stitches East 2007, I wasn’t sure about going to Stitches West.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Two postings in one day!

I just bought a new laptop this week (MacBook) and now have wireless. Soooo, I can lie on my bed or on the couch and work on my blog and Ravelry. What I really need to do is work on taking pictures of projects, organizing projects, and organizing my stash. BUT all of these tasks take time away from knitting. I am watching the Dem's debat in NH and it is actually pretty interesting....

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sheep grazing near standing stones

Avebury England is not far from Stonehenge, with an estimated 100 stones. I was there near sunset in Nov. 2007 (sunset at this time of year in England is around 4:15 PM). I shot several pictures of sheep grazing around the standing stones. They are (probably) oblivious to the historical nature of these stones. You get an idea of the size of them from the sheep.

I have just set up a Flickr account and a link:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year's Knitting resolutions 2008

My resolutions are simple (let's see if I can stick to them).
I will rotate between knitting something for myself, knitting something for a friend or finish an unfinished project, and knitting for charity (my favorite is Afghans for Afghans). I will try to do one project, then move onto another, so I am rotating between the three.
I must add :
I will take pictures of what I knit or at least I will keep a log of sorts.
I will keep track of how much yarn I buy and what I spend.
I will shrink my stash.

I usually have a project in mind when I buy yarn, but later forget. After big yarn buying jags like MD Sheep & Wool, or Countryside Artisans tours, I try to write down what project I have in mind for the yarn. It's easy to forget.