Local Yarn Shop Profile: The Constant Knitter

Today, we’re visiting a local yarn shop in Dublin, The Constant Knitter, and meeting its proprietor Rosemary. So, pour a cup of tea and get comfortable as we learn about the woolly wonderfulness of The Constant Knitter in a post on my main blog, EvinOK.net.
The Constant Knitter
88 Francis Street, Dublin 8
353 1 515 2879  /  087 996 7197

The Wind Up – What is a Hank, Skein, Ball or Cake of Yarn?

Yarn comes in many colors, thicknesses, shapes, and yardages. Most commonly, when you purchase yarn it will either be in the form of a skein, cone or hank. So, what do those mean? I’ve written a detailed post to explain it as best as I can over on my main blog, EvinOK.net. See you over there, I’ll put on the kettle for you.

Potion Hues

Winding yarn from hank to cake in a pub

 

Quantum Circus

Last year, I was looking for a fabulous birthday present for an awesome (understatement) friend. She spins, she knits, she crochets, she does physics and maths that boggle my mind. This gift had to be reallllllly thoughtful. I decided to coordinate with a dyer (MandaCrafts) on Etsy to have a custom color way created through space-dyeing soybean-based fibre. The result was Quantum Circus, a one-of-a-kind color way designed by me (I’m rather proud of that since I don’t spin so it was a leap of faith). The process was a delight and very exciting to be able to create something unique and out of my imagination. I sent Amanda ideas and she gave me feedback based on how soybean fibres would take certain colors. Back and forth a couple times and after I sent a color palette of sorts, it was ready to become a reality. And best of all MandaCrafts is based in the UK so she shipped directly to my friend, saving me a trip to the post office while carrying around my big old pregnancy belly. The gift was well received and an instant favorite. Here’s a photo of it with a color palette.

Quantum Circus©

A Visit to the Hedgehog Fibres Studio

It’s not secret I love knitting with Cork-based hand-dyer Hedgehog Fibres and sometimes I just like looking at their colorways or petting a skein of their wool – or writing about it. So, when I had the chance recently to visit their new studio space, I was thrilled.

With the official opening in late November or December 2011 (can’t remember exactly as it was just after LB arrived on the scene and sleep depravation made the weeks run together), Hedgehog Fibres has increased its small batch production to include new colorways in addition to its always popular sock, lace, and fibre clubs. I was in the sock club last summer and it was so worth it and such fun. Like a woolly care package every month! Well, that’s exactly what it is. The space also allows the opportunity for visitors, on the spot purchases, and studio events and classes (like Carol Feller teaching short rows there earlier this month).

The studio visit was delightful and very relaxed.  I was shown the upcoming sock club selection (and sworn to secrecy) and got to peek at the fibre bats being sent over to Fibre Space in Alexandria, Virginia (again, sworn to secrecy). But it was the shelves filled with vibrant and intricate colors that had me entranced. Here are some photos:

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Check out Aroma (with the green) and Petal. LOVE these colors!
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Lace weight beauties:
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And the sock yarn of my dreams (Lagoon, Hunter, Spell, Pollen, Sour Cherry, Merlot,…)!
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Of the sock yarn color ways on display that day, my two favorites are Merlot (a deep berry pink) and Pollen (a summer yellow). Here’s a close-up of the Pollen:
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Upstairs from the dyeing studio space, inventory displays, drying racks, shipments ready to go, and tables for workshops or work, is the office space. A corner sofa takes center stage with small touches all around it and the wall of crisp white desks.

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And LB couldn’t resist snuggling up with the inanimate studio mascot, a big stuffed animal hedgehog.

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All-in-all, it was a great day.

Hedgehog Fibres Studio
Unit 612, Harbour Point Business Park
Little Island, Co. Cork
Republic of Ireland
+353 (0)86 213 3085
http://www.hedgehogfibres.com
FourSquare (location on map which I marked myself)

Blackcurrant Shawl KAL and a visit to Fibre Space

I recently had the joy of visiting Fibre Space in Alexandria, Virginia, and I must shout from the thatched (not really, I live in the city) rooftops of Ireland that Fibre Space is what a yarn shop should be!

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It has its traditions (like personal customer service and careful stocking of small dyeing companies) and its modern sensibilities (like the Ravelry computer set-up, ball-winding operations, and casual seating area). Here are some photos of the glorious place.

Please note: I did not adjust these photos aside from exposure balance. The shop’s daytime lighting was ideal to photograph and showed the true colors of their inventory. No yellowy indoor tint!

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I even spotted a familiar book. Carol Feller‘s Contemporary Irish Knits. Don’t own a copy? Oh, you should. Especially if you have a fondness for cables, Aran-style knitting, or Irish yarn companies. The book is also available from: www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com.

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So, I returned home in love with Fibre Space and with a Fennel green Berroco Vintage DK to make something for L. I love the extraordinary tone-on-tone dance this yarn is doing.

Berroco Vintage DK purchased at Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA

But before I start on that L project, I will be casting on to join in Fibre Space KAL fun to make my very own Blackcurrant Shawl. Even though I’m living miles away from Alexandria all the way in Ireland, a KAL sounds like fun. Pattern purchased, yarn in cakes, and needles at the ready. And it looks like a couple friends from my local SnB group are joining in with me! Here are the yarns I am using: Madeline Tosh Sock in Lettuce paired with Hedgehog Fibres Ondine (sock club exclusive). Don’t they look lovely together. Can’t wait to get started!

Sock Yarn for Blackcurrant Shawl KAL Project

UPDATE: After knitting a swatch, I realized two sock weight yarns would not give the Blackcurrant the drape I desire so I am knitting the pattern in one sock weight and one lace weight, both Hedgehog Fibres.

Blackcurrant Shawl Swatch

Swatch for Blackcurrant Shawl

Here is a closer look at the yarns themselves pre-swatch:

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Hedgehog Fibres Graphite Silk/Merino Lace

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Anyone else doing the same KAL? What yarns are you using?

Yarn Shopping at Knit + Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, MD

I recently had a little mini shopping spree at a yarn shop in Bethesda, Maryland. The yarn selection felt rather exotic compared to what the yarn shops in Cork City carry and boy do they have a wide selection of notions, buttons (not like Cork Button Factory though), and accessories (markers, holders,…). After my purchase, they offered to wind the yarn into cakes. Not the best wound cakes I’ve ever had but they held up to transit back to Ireland so that’s what counts and it’s easier for me to re-wind from a cake than hank anyway. Here are photos of the shop and the yarns my Dad treated me to. Yes, Dad came along!

Knit + Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, MD

Knit + Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, MD

Knit + Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, MD

Knit + Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, MD

And here are close-ups of my new pretty yarns! The two sock weights are Madeline Tosh Sock Yarn in Lettuce and in Robin’s Egg and the Worsted is Blue Sky Alpacas Multi Cotton in Spearmint.

MadelineTosh Tosh Sock in Lettuce

MadelineTosh Tosh Sock in Robin's Egg

Blue Sky Alpacas Multi Cotton in Spearmint from Knit + Stitch = Bliss in Bethesda, MD

I will be casting on with the Lettuce paired with Hedgehog Fibres Ondine for a Fibre Space KAL of Blackcurrant Shawl. Here is how they look together. Can’t wait to get started!

Sock Yarn for Blackcurrant Shawl KAL Project

Have you been yarn shopping lately? What goodies did you bring home?

Anyone else doing the same KAL? What yarns are you using?

Vibes & Scribes restarts its Knitting and Crochet Group in Bridge Street location

Vibes & Scribes Knitting and Crochet Group is starting up again on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. in their new craft & fabric store on Bridge Street. The same store location also hosts a group on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. Seasoned pros and total beginners welcome. Please note that these groups do not meet year-round so it is best to ring the store to confirm it is taking place before you go: 021-450-5370.

Previous posts on this blog related to Vibes & Scribes (those in bold are updated regularly when information changes because they receive so many visitors):

Contemporary Irish Knits by Carol Feller

Address Book

The Pink Auction, Creative Textile Fundraiser for Action Breast Cancer

Where I’ve Bought Yarn Lately

Knitting in the City

Dyeing Wool with Kool-Aid

Vibes & Scribes Expanded Yarn Options

Where to Buy Yarn in Cork City

Vibes & Scribes Hosting Knitting Night

My First Pattern Book

New Yarn from Vibes & Scribes (Cork City)

Where to go and what to get

Dalkey Cowl and Fingerless Mittens in Dublin Dye Company Raspberry Merino Sock

Putting Together the Perfect Care Package for a Crafty Friend

This month, I’ve been working on a care packages for a few knitter friends. So, what do you give an accomplished knitter who also happens to be an intelligent women and thoughtful friend?

When considering a gift for a knitter, cook, or crafty person, should it fuel her creativity with supplies or pamper her with something made especially for her? I opt for a bit of both. My formula is to give one part handmade, two parts supplies, and one part something else entirely.

Creating a care package is something done from the heart with care and consideration. You choose items to include as if you were in a field of flowers hand selecting daisies for the kitchen table. The items do not all need to coordinate on their own because the fact that they cater to the recipient’s likes makes them go together. Here is the story of one of the care packages and what went into it…

For Suzi, a knitter, crocheter, theoretical physicist, and kid at-heart, it was important to embrace whimsy and color, but also warmth and practicality since she lives someplace with a biting winter chill. This is a combined graduation/new job/moving gift so it had to be big and the knitting group helped make it happen. I even tracked down a cute congratulations card and we all signed it!

• One skein of silk merino lace weight in Spell Light from Hedgehog Fibres, which we passed around one night at the pub and we each hugged the skein so when it got to Suzi, she’d get our hugs too.
• One skein of sock yarn in Jezebel from Hedgehog Fibres
• Red merino cable knit hat and gloves set from Lands’ End
• A Wham Bam Thank You Lamb neckwarmer I knitted for her
• One cake of Noro Kureyon in 161 C
• One ball of rainbow-colored cotton yarn
• Hand-sewn drawstring project bag I made from yellow and purple flowered ladies handkerchiefs
• Phaidon Wallpaper Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland
• Barry’s Tea for a taste of home
• Assorted candies
• Bath & Body Works Anti-Bacterial Moisturizing Hand Lotion in Midnight Pomegranate

Care Package for Suzi

For your knitter friend, you could give a combination of supplies to encourage and inspire. I’ve received three amazing care packages from knitter friends that included yummy yarn, practical tools, and non-knitting treats (such as gourmet chocolate, candy corn, tinned pumpkin puree, book, and wall calendar). Some of my favorites are:

The Knit KitTSA compliant foldable scissors, crochet hook, stitch markers, stitch counter, tape measure, thread cutter, point protectors, and darning needle, $19.99 from Amazon.com

GoKnit Pouchlightweight rip-stop pouch with yarn guider loop and loop to attach to your seatbelt or beltloop so you can knit anywhere, from KnowKnits.com

Interchangeable CaseZip Pouch, or one of the other amazing handmade knitting & crochet organizers – keeping fibre lovers organized, from Madbird on Etsy.

The Knitter’s Bible Stitch Library by Claire Crompton or your favorite knit/stitch dictionary or reference guide

A Knitting Magazine or pattern

Woolly treats in amazing colors and decadent textures, a coveted gift for any knitter or crocheter

Hedgehog Fibres
Little Island, Co. Cork, Ireland
Website: http://www.hedgehogfibres.com/
Blog: http://www.fly-along.blogspot.ie/
Shop: http://shop.hedgehogfibres.com/

Sea Three yarn

Gaia’s Colours yarn

Punta hand-painted cotton yarn

The choice is ultimately yours. One way to decide what to make your friend or what supplies to give is to evaluate whether she already has a vast stockpile of supplies. Ravelry also makes it easier because you can sneak a peek at a friend’s Queue to see what she wants to make then either make it for her, buy her the perfect wool for the project, or gift her the pattern to make it herself. Of course, peek at her Wish List to see what patterns she desires otherwise you may be gifting patterns she already has. Be weary of this as your only resource though as some Ravelers don’t keep their Queue priorities in order so look for trends in her yarn stash, Queue and Projects. You may just see she has Queued or Favorited a dozen cowls or scarves and that’s a shove in the right direction for something you could make her.

The Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin

Autumn seems fairly magical already with ember-hued leaves falling around us and giving us a golden path on which to walk. Slipping into a warm sweater to ward off the chill or donning that favorite handknit hat just adds to the magic. But when there is an entire workshop extravaganza focused on knitting and stitching, it transcends magic and it downright dreamy!

Continue reading

Where I’ve Bought Yarn Lately

Here is a list of places where I’ve bought yarn in the past year with links to my original blog posts about the experience and purchase. Also, I have a post listing stores to purchase knitting supplies in Cork City. In each notations below, I try to include what I bought and a link to a photo of it on Flickr. It’s just one of the many little things I do to make your reading experience all the more enjoyable.

ONLINE YARN STORES

Hedgehog Fibres, Online, but based in Cork City (Ireland). Was given a hank of silk/merino in Opalite and one of pure silk in Swamp. Earthy colors, addictive textures, knowledgeable hand-dying.