Tuesday, 26 January 2016

I've been indulging in a little upcycling, using a double duvet set from Oxfam. It would've been more impressive, of course, if I'd searched our cupboards and drawers for a threadbare sheet of our own to re-purpose, but searching the airing cupboard requires the stepladder and a casual attitude towards the idea of spiders scampering across your hands. Besides, Oxfam was just across the road.
Anyway, this is the result:
I'm not sure I'll use it a lot, but I wanted to try out the technique. And it's kind of rustic, which I like.
As a fabric knitting virgin I was thinking that 10mm needles and old strips of material had to result in a quick knit, right? Well, not really, because cutting up the material into strips takes forever.

Do you want to have a go? Brief instructions below - I winged it, so adjust as you choose...

Starting at one end, cut strips about an inch wide almost to the other end of the fabric, right the way along that side, until you have something that would look like a giant grass skirt if it was green and you held it round your waist.
Now start at the other end and cut down the middle of all those strips, again stopping just short of the far end of the piece of material. When you've finishing all your cutting, you should have a continuous length of fabric yarn. There'll be double width sections at the ends of the strips but don't worry about those - when it comes to knitting them you can either fold them down to minimise the effect of them or you can, like me, just regard them as part of the finished product's charm.
With 10mm needles cast on 25 stitches loosely and knit a garter stitch rectangle that would be bag size if you folded it in two, then knit just the middle seven stitches for a few rows to make a strip for the buttonhole to go in. Make your buttonhole, work another two or three rows and cast off loosely.
Fold your bag in half and sew up the side edges. I used a double thickness of double knitting wool and an over stitch with the wrong sides together - very rough and ready, but it works fine for this.
I added a shoulder strap by casting on 4 stitches from each side and then, when they were sufficiently long to make a decent strap, I casted off both sets of live stitches together. I thought it might be difficult to do a three needle cast off with this size of stitch so I just rearranged the eight stitches from the two needles alternately on one needle and cast them off in turn.
Add a toggle and c'est complet!

A few pointers if you're thinking of having a go...
There'll be a lot of shedding from the frayed edges of your cut material - just be aware. I did a lot of sweeping up.
Cast on and off loosely. In fact, knit loosely too.
If you choose a duvet cover or a sheet with a striped or checked pattern, you'll find it much easier to cut your strips.
I think I used approximately  450g yarn altogether.
You need to choose thin material - don't go for good quality upholstery fabric or the like - you'll regret it.

So, good luck. I'd love to see/hear how you got on.

Friday, 22 January 2016

So, I've finally finished these socks, in lovely Sausalito, that I've been knitting for over a year. Finishing them off didn't actually take too long, despite the fact that I took a good thirteen months over the first half of the first sock; I think sometimes I build them up into being such a big job on such tiny needles with such fine wool that I end up over-faced. Anyway, I finally got a grip and, though every pair of socks I've ever knitted has been scrappy, scrappy, scrappy, they're no worse than my usual standard! I really enjoyed using the tiny circular needle in the end and can see me using that for all my sock knitting in future.

And just to make sure I don't get over-faced next time too, I immediately casted on new stitches for another pair, this time using lovely Debbie Bliss Rialto sock yarn, which I'm trying out on your behalf before I decide whether to stock it in the shop. One of those tough jobs that someone's got to do. Gorgeous colours, huh?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Think I might be in need of a break...

This is what I did last night: typed up a poster listing the Christmas and New Year opening hours of all four shops in the Old Bank; stuck a post-it note to it indicating what needed doing to finish it off; stuck it in my going home bag; laminated it at home WITH THE POST-IT NOTE STILL ATTACHED. Don't tell me that isn't the sign of someone who should be closely supervised for their own safety.

Anyway, in case you have a knittery need or emergency (bread sauce on your sock yarn - that kind of thing...) over the holiday period, we'll be open 10-4.30 on the 29th and 30th Dec, and then 10-3.30 on the 31st. Open normal hours from the 2nd Jan which is, in any case, our regular monthly Saturday.

Hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year and that we'll see you, flaunting many lovely new knitteds, after the break.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Getting things in some sort of order...

I love baskets, but I gave up on putting my many WIPs into baskets because they take up too much space. And then I started piling old carriers, filled with more and more woolly projects, on top of the whole shebang and it really wasn't pretty. Well, to be honest, it was unsightly. Unsightly, I tell you.

So, we took home the coat stand that we used to have in the shop and we filled its hooks with a variety of bags, each containing a separate WIP. Sorted. And not visually offensive. I think I love a solution to a messy storage problem more than almost anything.

And these are what I have in progress just at the moment. Of course, these are just the ones at home; there are several more at work. Maybe I should get another coat stand for those.

The red at the side is a cushion cover I'm making in mohair boucle. I'm finding it a bit tricky to knit with on this scale, but very forgiving of mistakes and a lovely colour. On top of it lies part of an attempted vintage bootee - I'd like to decipher the rest of the very old and brief (cursory even) pattern sometime before I retire. (I'm guessing I now have to pick up stitches all around and work up towards the toe end, but nothing in the pattern suggests that's the case. Confused of Halifax needs help.) Then comes the cream 4 ply One Row Lace Scarf - nice, little, free pattern on ravelry; the socks in Sausalito that I've been knitting for more than twelve months and which I'd like to wear on Christmas Day; a pair of 4ply wristwarmers which were going to be a shop sample but I took too long finishing them so now - oh dear! - I'll have to keep them myself; a chunky green cowl in Cygnet Seriously Chunky and one of many squares for a charity blanket.

So, seven items at home and probably the same number at the shop. Seems reasonable to me. Certainly explains why I struggle to get on the same wavelength as those customers who can't plan another project before they've finished the last one...


Monday, 2 November 2015


This is part umpteen of my occasional, slightly self-indulgent, look-at-these-prices series:

We're concentrating on an internet giant with the initials WW today, as Big D's seems to have fallen out of favour with many. Here goes:

Debbie Bliss Paloma: WW £6.29/TBF £5.95

Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply: WW £4.99/TBF £4.50

Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran: WW £4.99/TBF £4.50

Patons 100% Cotton 4 ply: WW £4.99/TBF £4.50

Patons 100% Cotton DK: WW £4.99/TBF £4.50

There are a couple of other yarns where the difference is negligible, and there's one yarn where this particular big boy site is maybe 25pence a ball cheaper. But overall, it's worth looking into your local wool shop - whether that's Three Bags Full or a different little shop - or shopping with the smaller sites, not just for good prices but also for fab, friendly, speedy service.

Okay, I won't mention pricing - or rather, people's perceptions about pricing - again for...oh, at least a day or so.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The Piece Hall - what we don't know

Mini rant...

Every day customers ask whether Three Bags Full will be returning to The Piece Hall when the refurbishment is complete. The truthful answer is that we don't know, but the signs are that TPTB don't want us back. Mainly I'm assuming this from the fact that there has been virtually no communication from the people in charge of the refurb, or from the council, regarding the position of former tenants. No updates on the particular units we'd had allotted to us. In fact, no sign that those unofficial allocations will be honoured. They weren't confirmed in writing, but we were all asked what square footage we'd like and where we'd like our shops to be situated. There was no special tour arranged for former tenants; in contrast, I think all the recent tours were arranged during times when you'd expect little specialist shops like ours to be open and therefore the shop owners  - well, Mike and I certainly - were unable to attend. The obligation - which is in writing - for former tenants to be offered a unit in the refurbished Piece Hall, appears not to have been shared with the people who are arranging the new lets. Indeed, while we all spent many hours in meetings about this, and while the offer of a unit in the revamped building was very important at the time to all of us, it's now clear that it wasn't actually important to anyone on the other side of the table. How could the council not tell those letting the units that we have a prior claim? Did those hours of meetings count for so little?

It's now mid-October and the building should be ready for occupation by next summer. We don't know whether it's on track. We don't know how many retail units will be available. We don't know whether they'll be ground floor or first floor. We don't know how the trustees will square the need to make money from the building with the needs of retail customers (the disastrous Food and Drink Festival of a few years ago springs to mind regarding conflicting needs). We don't know what the terms and conditions for tenancy will be, nor the projected length of tenancy, nor the possible service charge, nor...well, anything else really. Because those in charge aren't communicating with us. Emails to relevant people go unanswered. To his credit, Cllr Tim Swift does answer emails but in July he said we'd all be contacted by the team 'in the near future'. Well, we're almost in the run up to Christmas and there's been no word. No communication; no courtesy; no interest.

Our tenancy at The Old Bank finishes at the end of May next year, so I need to be making some decisions. I don't know what any of the other former PH shop owners want - I suspect several have done better outside the Piece Hall than in, and that they're glad to be free of council control - but the refurb team should at least show a little thought for those of us who were willing to believe the council was acting in good faith two years ago and who would like to possibly take up the option of a return.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Here's another one

Again, really simple! I made this because there weren't initially (or ever?) any small projects for the gorgeous Debbie Bliss Paloma yarn and local people were baulking at the idea of paying £130 to knit themselves a cardigan (Can't think why...!) So here's my own small project Paloma idea. The red one I made was more attractive, but I can't find it right now to photograph it.

Three Button Cowl

A really simple but appealing cowl that can be worn long and loose or wound twice round the neck for extra warmth.

Four hanks Debbie Bliss Paloma
One pair of 7.5mm needles
3 large buttons

Cast on 26 stitches
Row 1 k3 *p2, k2* rpt to last 3 stitches, p2, k1
Row 2 k3 *p2, k2* to last 3 sts, p2 k1
Row 3 k1, *p2, k2* to last st, k1
Row 4 k1, *p2, k2* to last st, k1
These four rows form pattern. Rpt pattern rows until cowl measures approx. 45”
Change to k2, p2 rib: and work the following two rows, three times:
Row 1, k2, *p2, k2* to end
Row 2 k1, p1, k2,* p2, k2* to last 2 sts, p1, k1
Buttonhole row 1: k2, p2, cast off 2, p1, k2, p2, cast off 2, p1, k2, p2, cast off 2, p1, k2
Buttonhole row 2: k1, p1, k2, cast on 2, k2, p2, k2, cast on 2, k2, p2, k2, cast on 2, k2, p1, k1
Next row: work stitches as presented, but work into back of cast on stitches.
Work one more row, then cast off, sew in end and sew on buttons to match buttonhole placings.
A little reminder also, that if you like the pattern and think it's worth a small donation to The Knock On Effect, my late niece's fundraising project for those affected by cancer, then please go to: http://theknockoneffect.bigcartel.com/
where you can scroll down to the donate button. But just if you'd like; there's no obligation.