Zauberball Love

Our display in an old pigeon hole cabinet.
Our display in an old pigeon hole cabinet.
The Ten Stitch Blanket - a favourite.
The Ten Stitch Blanket – a favourite.

I’ve used Zauberballs for some years now – well before I ever envisaged having a yarn store. One of my first forays was an ambitious Ten Stitch Blanket. Not so much as it was ambitious hard – it’s actually an easy and rewarding project. Just that it took ten 100 gram balls of sock yarn.

Anyway, now we have Convent and Chapel Wool Shop, we are now well versed in the wonders of Schoppel Wolle Zauberballs and their allure. Most balls can do a really good project – whether it’s a fine lace shawl, a scarf, beanie or mitts or something way more ambitious if you want more than a ball! The yarn base itself is wonderfully soft and drapes well and the colours change in long waves.

Zig Zag Scarf representing us at the Show
Zig Zag Scarf representing us at the Show
This little fella takes one ball of sock yarn.
This little fella takes one ball of sock yarn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far we’ve used lace, sock weight and Starke 6 in a number of projects including the Kandos Classic Beanie, the Rylstone Ridge Scarf, a Fluidity, our own baby raglan jumper (which is much admired) and of course, the Zig Zag Scarf. We’ve also had reasonable success in Shows with our Zaubers (although I think the judges may have been a little taken aback with Fluidity knitted in Tropical Fish coloured lace!)

I think the judges prefer cream or white for lace shawls.
I think the judges prefer cream or white for lace shawls.

Anyway, as I speak, we both have Zauberball on the needles making more shop samples and with more patterns in mind. So much yarn, so little time…

A collection of our Zauber projects.
A collection of our Zauber projects.

 

Winding Down in Winter

We always have the fire burning in the shop -  knitting and an open fire seems like a great combination.
We always have the fire burning in the shop – knitting and an open fire seems like a great combination.

Winter is well and truly here – and it’s a real Winter. Snow on the escarpments, roads closed due to ice, minus temperatures. Such a change from temperate Sydney weather of the past but so welcome in the country. And maybe some serendipity after opening a wool shop in Summer.

Whilst the garden looks like The Desolation of Smaug, it has also provided a break from gardening which has been substituted with shop work and lots and lots of knitting as the hand knits are snapped up almost before they come off the needles. Open fires, both at home and in the shop, have added to the atmosphere and a slow cooker (KitchenAid) is a welcome addition for meals, having already tackled beef spare ribs, lamb, and pea and ham soup made with a ham hock. I think it will clock up a few more meals before the Winter is out.

It’s also a popular time for guests – we always like Winter getaways – I suppose it’s a great time just to relax in front of a fire and, well, knit… So the Convent is having lots of lovely and welcome guests. It’s a chance to host old friends and make some new ones, which can only be good.

Beanies and mitts on sale for the shop.
Beanies and mitts on sale for the shop.
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Alpaca ribbed beanie and Rib Panel Mitts.

 

 

The shop is going well and keeping us busy, making sure we have lots of hand knit beanies and mitts, our best sellers, well stocked for non-knitters. I’ve finally bitten the bullet and seriously started some non-selling knitting. This one is Eugen Beugler’s Feather and Fan Shawl from ‘A Gathering of Lace’ knitted in 50% silk/50% wool undyed in fingering weight (4 ply) from my stash. I’ve made it once before and loved it so will do it this time and put on display in the shop as a sample for lace knitters to tackle. I may manage another version in 2 ply as well. I’m also hoping this may make it to a few Shows, so it ticks a few of my ‘Knitting Category’ boxes.

In the meantime, life is surprisingly busy. We also have the Kandos Gardens Fair preparing for kick off first weekend in April 2016 – an Autumn event this time – and the Convent will need to look her best.

The latest lace project. I almost forgot how much I enjoy lace shawls.
The latest lace project. I almost forgot how much I enjoy lace shawls.

I Knit Therefore I Am

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Our new baby jumper in Noro.
This one in Zauberball.
This one in Zauberball.

 

 

 

The shop is going well. We’ve been delighted with the reception of both locals and visitors to the area (as well as the general knitting community, which also contains members of both aforementioned groups).

Knitters are genuinely delighted to find a unique yarn shop so remote and unexpected in our little town of Rylstone. And they find yarns that have great PR and almost legendary status but are so hard to find – such as Hedgehog Fibres, Madelinetosh, JaggerSpun and Jamieson & Smith. But we also get lots of non-knitters (as hard as it is to imagine, but they do exist). They love looking around the shop and like to buy something, so the hand knits are a great shop feature. Sometimes it’s hard to balance expectations that we are not a “hand knit shop” – we don’t sell a great range – we don’t try to. We want to encourage people to create their own and buy yarn, but the hand knits do well for us as an additional line.

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Wee Willie Winkie Cap in Opal
Elefantes in Claudia's Handpainted Yarns
Elefantes in Claudia’s Handpainted Yarns

The hand knits are very labour intensive, so where possible we try and also make them shop samples – our patterns and our yarn – to inspire people to knit and give knitters ideas on how to use our beautiful yarn. Some of our knits are just shop samples and not for sale. At present, we are working on various versions of a baby jumper using a few different options – Noro, Zauberball, Hedgehog or Opal. We’ve done the same with a Wee Willie Winkie Cap.

In Zauberball.
In Zauberball.
And, finally, in Noro.
And, finally, in Noro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, additions include the always popular Spiral Beanie in various Noros, a Fishnet scarf – a popular seller both as a hand knit for sale and for knitters to make themselves usually made out of a Kidsilk lace weight yarn such as Debbie Bliss Angel, Rowan Kidsilk or Hedgehog Kidsilk, and hopefully another finished baby jumper. G will have her own additions for the shop this week as well.

There’s always a frenzy of knitting and it’s hard to believe that although we knit so much, there always seems to be a list a mile long of patterns we want to do and yarn we want to use that we don’t seem to get time to … Not the worst problem to have.

Anyway, the shop is open Friday to Monday, making the most of tourists in the area, which means tomorrow is another “work” day (although it seems a little unfair to call being at the shop “work”). More knits will go on display, more knits knitted, yarn sold and new yarn ordered. G and I will think of a zillion things we should be doing, have fun, meet people … and then go home and knit some more.

So far this week - going into the shop tomorrow - 3 spiral beanies and a fishnet lace scarf. Two baby jumpers are currently on the needles.
So far this week – going into the shop tomorrow – 3 spiral beanies and a fishnet lace scarf. Two baby jumpers are currently on the needles.

Selfish Knitting

My yarn selection - Hedgehog Fibres Copper Penny and Pod in Twosted Sock Yarn.
My yarn selection – Hedgehog Fibres Copper Penny and Pod in Twisted Sock Yarn.

And now something for me…

Cementa_15 has been great but it has been one of those epics that has for months been landmarked by “After Cementa…” for putting off activities and commitments. Now it’s over, it’s time to plan “Post Cementa”.

Since opening the Convent & Chapel Wool Shop, I’ve done masses of knitting but it’s all been for the shop. Now I’m about to do something for myself. Yes, it’s with shop yarn and will be worn in the shop, but it’s a pattern I’ve made before and love and with yarn I’ve fallen in love with.

The pattern is called Daybreak by Stephen West and the yarn I’ve chosen is Twist Sock by Hedgehog Fibres in Pod and Copper Penny. As usual, it will be overly generous and I’m endeavouring to make it into more of a cape size than a wrap/shawl.

Pictures will be posted as it progresses. Timing will depend greatly on beanie, mitt and scarf demand at the shop, which has been substantial over the past few weeks. Time we taught everyone to knit for themselves!

Knitted a few years ago but a well-worn favourite and due for an encore!
Knitted a few years ago but a well-worn favourite and due for an encore!

Beanie Binging

The Roll Brim Beanies in Noro are one of our popular sellers with both adults and kids.
The Roll Brim Beanies in Noro are one of our popular sellers with both adults and kids.
Zauberball Starke 6 works well with the spiral beanie adding texture with the knit and purl contrasts.
Zauberball Starke 6 works well with the spiral beanie adding texture with the knit and purl contrasts.

We are finding that the hand knits in our shop are incredibly popular – it’s both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it’s great to sell them and they are good little earners, they are also very labour intensive and sell much faster than we can knit them. Sometimes we’d like to see them sit in the shop for a few weeks and we don’t know whether to laugh or cry when a new item comes up to the counter for purchase an hour or two after we’ve just put it on display.

With a bit of a nip now in the air some days, we’re expecting greater demand for our knits. In choosing what to create, we try to mainly use shop stock and patterns that are either our own or can be easily accessed online, so they double up as project samples for keen knitters. We are also fussy with the quality of yarns we use and try to utilise patterns that offer interest in texture and colour (whilst not being overly time-consuming to knit).

Noro beanies - the colour and textures of Kureyon work particularly well.
Noro beanies – the colour and textures of Kureyon work particularly well.

The last few weeks, now Show knitting is over, has been beanie knitting time. I’ve put together very basic patterns for spiral beanies in 6 and 10 ply – simple but effective with a banding effect being emphasised with different stitches and colour waves in the wool. I’m mainly using Zauberballs and Noro for these and they’ve been incredibly popular.

Blokey beanies in cashmere wool blends and alpaca.
Blokey beanies in cashmere wool blends and alpaca.

I’m also using Cashmere/wool blends for beanies – the texture is so beautifully springy. Basic ribbed beanies are particularly popular with the blokes and look natural and rustic in earthy colours.

Twisted Slouchies with a travelling stitch and knitted in luxury blends.
Twisted Slouchies with a travelling stitch and knitted in luxury blends.

Adding to the collection is more of a Slouchy style with an interesting travelling stitch which looks a bit like a cable effect. I’ve tried this in a few yarns and they are all coming up well.

I’m sure there will be a few more styles in our near future – we’re working on berets and more slouchy versions –  and also using some of the gorgeous local alpaca yarns.

Our Lace Scarves sell well year round and we can practically knit them in our sleep (I wish we actually could!). Once the beanies supplies have been topped up (if they stay in the shop for long enough), it will be mitt time again.

Ever-popular Fishnet Lace Scarves.
Ever-popular Fishnet Lace Scarves.

First Results

First Show results (Gulgong) were a tad mixed but overall pleasing.

G pipped me at the post for the Baby Shawl category but we can’t complain with a first and a second. I also picked up a second for my linen stitch scarf, which was great but a little puzzling when my lace shawl, which I thought was significantly superior, in the same category only scored a Highly Commended. There wasn’t really the right category for the Shawl so maybe it just suffered a little in the Accessory class. Although I thought G’s may have taken a first for the category…

We did think that this Show preferred entries that were a little more conservative but have taken in some learning and should adapt our work next time.

Anyway, between us we came away with four prizes. Just a little disappointed that this Show doesn’t award ribbons. We love our Show ribbons!

Anyway, this weekend is our Big Show, with our local Rylstone Kandos Show, so we’re a bit nervous. We both have new baby shawls which we’ve put some work into, although I’ll confess, I’d make a few changes if doing mine again.

Pictures and results will follow after the Show (unless our heads are hung in shame).

It’s Showtime!

It’s that time of the year when we have our local agricultural shows and the community get to display their produce, animals, cooking and handicraft.

G and I have been doing the hard knitting yards for some time now, to the detriment of shop knitting but it’s now culminating with the local shows, all hot on each other’s heels. This week we dropped off a few items each at Gulgong Show – we should find out the results late tomorrow when we pick up our knitting. The big one for us is next weekend with our local Kandos Rylstone Show, with Mudgee Show (which is the bigger one) the weekend after.

Our major pieces are still on the needles, hoping to make their debut for our local competition. Other Shows will come up, including the Sydney Royal Easter, but next week is the one that means most to us.

Will update the blog and post pictures as results come through (or not!)