Thursday 29 May 2014

Vote in the British Knitting Awards

Let's Knit! magazine is organising the British Knitting Awards 2014 and voting is now open! There are a multitude of categories, all of which celebrate Britain's burgeoning knitting industry, whether it be the big brands or the smaller, artisan companies yapping at their ankles. The categories are:
  1. Best baby yarn brand
  2. Best independent yarn brand
  3. Best value yarn brand
  4. Best luxury yarn brand
  5. Best sock yarn brand
  6. Best overall yarn brand
  7. Best Local Independent Yarn Store
  8. Best chain store/multiple
  9. Best pattern house
  10. Best online shop
  11. Best knitting blog
  12. Best website
  13. Best knitting needle range
  14. Best accessories range
  15. Best ready-to-use knit kits
  16. Best British Yarn
  17. Best Yarn Shop Day Experience
  18. Best knitting show/event
  19. Best knitting designer
  20. Best Book (2014).
I've already voted, recommending some of the designers and companies I've blogged about here. All people who vote have the chance to win, and I quote, "a wonderful knitting stash worth over £200". Let's Knit! magazine also has a campaign to support local yarn stores. It's great to see the knitting press championing UK knitting designers, makers and sellers.

In 2013, Debbie Bliss won best book and came runner up in the best luxury yarn and best baby yarn categories. Black Sheep Wools won best independent store and best knitting blog. Who will win this year? Vote and see!

Thursday 22 May 2014

Support Pretty Nostalgic Magazine

My blog champions British wool, the small, independent shops that sell it and all the designers, spinners, dyers and crafters who run small UK businesses keeping the knitting flame well and truly burning. I believe it's important to shop local and let your hard earned cash filter into your local community, not into the coffers of a multi-national megolith, which then gives some to fat cat overpaid shareholders on the back of a sweatshop in a developing country. A fair wage for a fair product is key.

Picture courtesy of Pretty Nostalgic.
That's the mindset too of the gorgeously-designed and produced printed magazine Pretty Nostalgic. It launched in May 2012 and publishes six issues a year. The magazine believes in the principles of creative and sustainable living inspired by the past; happy days from vintage ways; heart-felt living and hand to hand giving; spend wisely; waste less; appreciate more; buy British; and support local businesses. Each magazine, all of which don't have advertising, is a coffee-table style extravaganza of features you wouldn't find in other magazines. They are great to keep and dip into.

As you'd expect, craft and knitting play a great part in the vintage trend and the magazine, whether it's using modern wool and updated patterns to knit vintage-style patterns such as those written by A Stitch In Time doyenne Susan Crawford, or patching and customising pre-loved fashion to make something new.

For that reason I'd urge crafters to to consider subscribing to the magazine and help keep it afloat. Pretty Nostalgic's editor and founder, Nicole Burnett, recently revealed on Facebook that some key funding fell through and the magazine 's future was in doubt. She is determined to keep Pretty Nostaglic going and build up the business, bypassing the big supply chains who take a large percentage of the cover price in return for stocking it.

Happily the magazine's fans quickly showed their support by buying back issues and new subscriptions and issue 13 will be published soon. Yet to sustain the magazine's long-term future more knitting, craft and vintage fans who believe in the magazine's ethos need to put their money where their mouth is. Each issue is £8 - the price of a throwaway paperback book - including postage and packing. It sounds expensive but considering the reader doesn't have to flick through incessant adverts telling her she needs to spend more money on extortionate fashion and beauty it's worth it for the price. Every page has been lovingly produced. I do hope this independent magazine has a bright future ahead of it.

Knitted Mandalas For Yarndale

Yarndale, the knitting festival taking place in Skipton, North Yorkshire, on 28th and 29th September this year, is asking crafters to donate mandalas they've created. These will be on display as a colourful welcome to all visitors.

A mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist circular symbol of the universe. According to BBC Religion, "the mandala represents an imaginary palace that is contemplated during meditation. Each object in the palace has significance, representing an aspect of wisdom or reminding the meditator of a guiding principle. The mandala's purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones and to assist with healing."

Photo courtesy of
Crotcheters will be more familiar with mandalas as pretty circles crocheted in the round.

I've recently tried to learn crochet and picked up some basics hooking up Toft Alpaca's chick at Easter. The free pattern for this is here. Soon I'm going on a Berylune craft afternoon to learn how to crochet the granny square. As yet, sadly, mandalas are beyond my crochet abilities.

That's why I was thrilled to see The Knit blog (love its tagline: "for creatives with balls") explain how to knit mandalas. The blog includes a free pattern for basic short row knitted circles, plus has advice on leafy/scalloped edging.

I'll be using up some odds and ends of wool to make a couple of mandalas for Yarndale. See my earlier blog post on what to do in Skipton after filling your bags with goodies from the festival of creativity.

Over the last few days, however, I haven't felt like knitting at all. Sadly the pain and exhaustion that comes part and parcel with my physical disability overtook me and I didn't have the will to even pick up a basic knitting project. I find knitting to be very therapeutic for pain - the whole getting into the 'flow' of stitches means my mind is distracted, if only temporarily, from pain. Plus it's so satisfying to see what I've created, making beautiful things for myself or for gifts: something good coming out of a painful state.

Today I'm feeling on the up and am (thank goodness!) looking forward to getting back on the needles tomorrow. Perhaps the healing power of the mandala will work its magic on me. I've also a baby blanket to finish and then I may get started on a jumper for a Christmas gift. It's only May I know - but these things take time. The jumper is a recent pattern from Knitting magazine and I'll share more soon, safe in the knowledge that the intended recipient doesn't read this blog!

Sunday 11 May 2014

Pom Pom Quarterly's 2nd Anniversary Issue

A new issue of the British indie magazine Pom Pom Quarterly plopping through my letterbox is always a treat. Although at £9.50 it's more pricey than mainstream knitting magazines, and it doesn't come with the ubiquitous cover gift, the high standard of art and design render it a keepsake, rather than throwaway publication.

Issue 9 contains a delightful summer mixture of bright and pastel knits, accompanying features, and tips on perfecting intarsia. There are eight knitting patterns and, at a deviation from the norm, a sewing pattern to make a boxy top. Near the back of the issue is a two page spread on the yarns featured in the magazine, all from small businesses. They all, thankfully, can be bought online.

The Seaside Sundae blanket in pastel ice cream shades looks like a winner for using up spare DK if buying the named yarn stretches the budget. The fruity theme continues with Sarah Garry's Ananas Comosus, a strappy top with a mercerised shine and a whacking great pineapple on the front. The article with intarsia pointers will certainly come in use for this pattern.

The other patterns include Baya, a patterned shawl; bobbly ice cream coloured-top Creamsicle; oversized layering tee Sceles; Sombre, a lightweight, cover up top; and the Emery shawl's  textured play on geometrics. All the designs are beautiful to look at and knitters will have their own favourites depending on their project of choice. For me the blanket gets top billing, with Creamsicle a close runner up. I find that wraps and shawls are lovely to look at but difficult to wear, hence them as yet not having darkened my project stash.

Susan Crawford's article about Flora Klickmann is fascinating reading. Klickmann, born in the 19th century, became a prolific author and journalist, including publishing instructional books on knitting and crochet for girls. Crawford's design Flora, a short-sleeved cardigan inspired by her subject, completes the issue's patterns.

Once again this is another delightful issue from Pom Pom Quarterly, perfectly suiting the season. My only qualm is the inclusion of a sewing pattern. Whilst some knitters may also chalk up sewing as one of their other hobbies, I don't. Another knitting pattern instead would have been preferable.

Readers can buy print or digital issues from the Pom Pom Quarterly website. Sadly most of the back issues are only available in digital format. Please, Pom Pom Quarterly, print some more so fans can stock up on physical back copies. The design of the magazine is akin to that of a deluxe coffee table book and needs to be appreciated in the 'real' world rather than flicked across a digital screen.

Right, I'm off now to try out the delicious-sounding recipe for Raspberry Eton Mess Parfait that's tucked in the magazine after the patterns. Just have to make sure I keep the raspberry juice away from my yarn!

Thursday 8 May 2014

Free Copy Of Knit Today Magazine

I've been away on holiday for a week and came back to a full email inbox. One email of note offered me a free copy of the new look Knit Today magazine.

Image courtesy of Knit Today
I've occasionally bought Knit Today when there's been a free cover gift I wanted but have never subscribed. In my mind there hasn't been anything that has differentiated it from the plethora of other monthly knitting magazines on the newsstand aimed at beginners.

Therefore I rang up straight away to claim my free copy and I'm looking forward to seeing the magazine's redesign. The sales assistant on the phone said that I'd receive my copy in four to six weeks. No doubt by the time it plops through my letterbox I will have forgotten that I rang up for a copy and it will be a lovely surprise.

The first new look issue, number 99, goes on general sale today. It comes with a book of party patterns and a fun-looking sheep tape measure on a key ring. It's great to see that the British knitting magazine industry is thriving! I'll review the magazine's new look on the blog when I receive it.

To claim a free copy of the magazine call 0843 504 3073 and quote KTEM14AFR. Apparently calls from a BT landline cost 5p a minute.

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