Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Who needs new year's resolutions?

Today,  unsurprisingly, my social network feeds are full of comment on the New Year.  Some friends hate it and intend to spend the evening on the sofa with their heads under a cushion, some will party. There are posts, full of hope and optimism, others simply wishing good riddance to 2014.  And there are the resolutions...  I have always gone with the flow and accepted invitations if they come but not really initiated anything but when it comes to resolutions I  have always thought these just set me up to fail, but sometimes I would like to rid myself of the tendency to over commit.

Always dreaming of new projects

Lately I have been thinking vaguely about sitting back and taking stock, to try and be more mindful, not keep up my usual frantic pace which is sometimes just displacement activity. So much of what I do is an excuse not to deal with one or two big issues that have been plaguing me for a couple of years. So in 2015 I'm going to shape up!  But this is a crafting blog, primarily a knitting one, so I will concentrate on one big area of displacement activity, my yarn buying habit.

I couldn't risk it's super chunky squooshynes
My stash is out of hand.  Once I would buy yarn for specific projects and although it often went straight into stash at least it was bought with something to make in mind.  Lately yarn has been bought simply because I liked the colour, the texture or like some demented collector 'ooh I don't have any Madeleine Tosh sock yarn, must buy!' (actually I don't...) I just had to have it.

Then this morning I followed a hashtag on Instagram #personalmysterysockclub2015 . The idea is that many of us don't need to join sock clubs we just dive into our stash and find enough sock yarn to knit 12 pairs of socks from right there, bag it up and label it one for each month.  This bit is easy

Socks around the clock

Although I have cheated slightly and included two UFOs

And following around the clock the yarns are :-
1. UFO#1 half completed sock in Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock
2. Sweet Georgia Cashluxe fine
3. (just peeping through) Lopi left overs from these socks (I'm sure there will be enough for a second pair)
4. Opal self striping
5. Fibrespates Vivacious
6. John Arbon Alpaca sock
7. Tiger 100% wool sock (extra cheap this stuff)
8. Manos del Uruguay sock
9. Bergere de France cotton and linen mix
10. NiMu summer sock club 2014
11. More Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock
12. West Yorkshire Spinners 4 ply spice collection

There is still the question of whether I will stick to my resolution but it's all bagged up ready


(In bags that tell the tale of my yarn buying habit!)

sheepish labels

And, of course, I still have some much larger projects on the go to, like the Lead Light cardigan which I'm knitting in Fybrespates Scrumptious

the yoke in colour work and cables

And a baby blanket for the next arrival in the family, due in April (I'm using the pattern Vivid from Tin Can Knits)

the new mum's choice of baby colours

So No More Yarn Buying This Year.  If I make the socks and knit up some of my stash specifically earmarked for sweaters and shawls I may let myself shop in 2016.

I'll keep you posted



The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

My Christmas card to you

My usual pattern of behaviour at Christmas is to be in total denial until the first card hits the mat on 1 December (Christmas? Oh, is it Christmas soon?) then some frantic activity so that 2 days before Christmas I'm feeling smug as it is all done.


Two days left before the present opening, the wine drinking and the turkey eating and I have not wrapped a thing, have three more presents to buy, one to knit and batches and batches of sausage rolls and mince pies to make.

But I have been having a lot of fun and doing a bit of foreign travel

Before that I managed to get the presents that needed posting off, including the hand knit ones

And put up the tree

And just to give me a little extra to do decided to make a gingerbread house with a difference with TLM (I haven't mentioned her for a while so in case you have popped in for the first time she is The Little Model, my granddaughter who likes to try on the things I  knit) - we made a nativity scene

But what about the foreign travel bit? Well a little on the spur of the moment my friend The Famous Writer and I flew to Berlin last Friday for nearly three days in the luxurious Hotel Adlon.  I'll tell more about the fabulous hotel and our wonderful time in a later post, it was so lovely the hotel deserves a post all of it's own. But for the moment, here is the view from our Breakfast table at the hotel

And this the Berliner Dome in the part of the city that was once East Berlin so wonderfully lit (as are many of the buildings) and where we heard Bach's Christmas Oratorio on our first night there.

Finally last night the holidays really began chez chopkinsknits when ten friends from my knitting group came for our Christmas supper in my studio

Happy Christmas Everyone



P.S. that present I have yet to knit? It is likely to be given as a promise on Christmas day, a promise that it will be finished in time for the recipient to keep warm on the station platform as he returns to work in the New Year

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Didn't we have a 'loverly' day, the day we went to...

...Bath and I discovered a new yarn store. I know, I know! This will receive one of two reactions from you. Knitters will ask - Where? then be checking Google maps to see if its in an easy day's drive and either crying 'don't tease me'* or be checking diaries to see when they are next free to drive to Bath. OTOH if you are a non knitter and yet still occasionally wander into this knitter's space you might say 'so what, chopkins? You know so many wool shops, why the excitement?' But you see no matter how many yarn shops we addicts visit there is always the desire to discover the next one.  And this one is a gem.  The bunting over the door spells out its name. 

*It's OK they sell on-line as well

A Yarn Story is situated just outside Bath in a new little clutch of shops occupying an old cider press, called The Shed.  Carmen is the knitterly owner of A Yarn Story and her small-but-perfectly-formed  shop is a treasure trove of yarns you won't find on the high street. She stocks wonderful yarns from independent producers, including my all time favourite Superwash DK by Sweet Georgia, fluff to spin from Porpoise-Fur and several yarns by Malabrigo ...............

The brand new shop is hung with several lovely shawls that demonstrate how fab the yarns are knitted up (the cognoscenti will spot a couple of color affections amongst the cobwebby delights) 

and Carmen positively encourages people who hover on the threshold to come in and squish* the merchandise.

*A technical term

There are plenty of accessories too, including the whole range of Soak Wash products, buttons, stitch markers and of course needles.  To mis-quote William Morris, everything in the shop is both useful and beautiful. You can even pick up your copy of Pompom Quarterly here too. I bought more but these two are particularly photogenic

a skein of Malabrigo and a bundle of Porpoise fur from A Yarn Story

There's enough to see at the Shed for a whole morning with a cook shop, deli counter, cafe and of course a cider shop as well as a little gallery selling beautiful jackets and scarves in hand painted fabric, ceramics and more buttons

But I wasn't just on a visit to The Shed, I was on a Yarn Crawl (too much I hear everyone call, in different tones of voice) and Bath beckoned. At this point I should mention that the yarn crawl was organised by my two friends Porpoise Fur and Champagne & Qiviut  who together are Yarn In The City and who organise the annual Great London Yarn Crawl.

So after an hour or so at The Shed we got back on the bus for central Bath and the Christmas market. Wow it was crowded but we split up into small groups and headed off into the melee, lunching on Bratwurst and gluhwein before exploring the stalls. 

After a call into Country Threads (where I just may have added to my not insignificant patchwork fabric and ribbon collections)

we crossed Pierrepont Place into Old Orchard Street and collapsed in heaps of shopping bags into Wool to be revived with mulled wine and tiny cakes in the shape of Christmas puds.

Despite full shopping bags nearly all of us managed to add to our stashes in between glasses of wine before meandering off to find our coach.  I have written about Wool before, having discovered it three years ago when I had a tiny part in the Bath Literary Festival.  It is still the same lovely welcoming place with lots of interesting yarns, a squishy sofa to sit while looking through their huge supply of knitting pattern books and lots of helpful advice from Laura and her staff

Oh and I forgot to mention the knitting that was actually done on the day, two long journeys meant lots were achieved, now I just need to find time to finish the second mitten!

And finally, as Alli and Rachel said, it wouldn't be a yarn crawl without a goody bag and - look what was inside!

So sweet!  An entire kit to make a beautiful Christmas ornament including a pattern from Renee of East London Knits and Yarn from Linda at Kettle Yarn Co.  The ribbon (can you just see it says 'Hand Knitted' and 'Sew Happy") was a gift from Country Threads.

Bath is not my last adventure before Christmas, I have one more very exciting trip (more about that in a couple of weeks) but now I really must knuckle down and finish my Christmas knitting. I have been told some people's expectations are riding high (I wonder if they will be OK sewing the ends in themselves?)



Beautiful hand-made buttons from the gallery shop in The Shed