What with the shop and the impending Shows, it seems like the knitting needles are never out of G and my hands.
It’s great that people like to buy the hand knits, but they all take time to knit and at present we are focussing on our Show entries. To make best use of our efforts, we are endeavouring to use shop yarn and our own patterns (or at least patterns that are easily accessible to others), so the finished entries can then become shop displays or the basis for our classes – it’s called “leveraging”!
So far I’ve managed a shawl in a very vibrant Zauberball Lace – different from my usual classic and subdued style and have just cast on the beginnings of a sampler lace shawl using Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Shetland Lace. I’m hoping this can be used in a future lace workshop for customers. But I’ll be knitting into the wee hours each night to have a fighting chance of getting this into the Rylstone/Kandos Show in late February.
I’m hoping to have a few items finished by the time Show season kicks off, with a few more entries completed shortly after for the later Shows. We’re also encouraging our customers to enter so others can see the possibilities with knitting and that the craft has evolved considerably from people’s previous expectations.
In the meantime, there’s still some shop knitting happening. The past week it was focussing on Noro and Zauberball Spiral Beanies – one of our best sellers.
After 30 years of corporate life, I’ve seen so much change in the last few years. Moving to a small rural town (into a Convent!) was so much more than I have ever dreamt of. It’s been great just having time to build and enjoy the garden (especially the veggies), spending time with the dogs, indulging my knitting passion and getting to know and join the local community… but I guess I always knew that I’d look for a little more. Work has always been a big part of my life and I enjoy a little pressure on me, just not the stress. I found it hard to imagine working for someone else but my next steps again are serendipitous.
Knitting has always been an important part of my life so it seems fitting that it’s driving my next steps (or rather, leaps). I’m opening a yarn store in Rylstone in the heritage Bridge View Inn. The shop will cater to the discerning knitter with luxury imported and local yarns. My main knitting love is lace and my intention is to have a special focus on lace yarns.
The building is perfect – a lovely old place that has been well restored. I have two rooms, both with working fireplaces, as well as a front verandah and back landing. My neighbours include the lovely Na Lan with 29 Nine 99, a popular meeting place with magical Yum Cha. I also have the Museum next door and a community garden where knitters can enjoy sitting in the fresh air.
I’m hoping it will be yet another reason for people to come to this amazing area, as I know knitters enjoy a trip for yarn. My good friend G, who also bravely took the step of changing to a rural lifestyle from Sydney, will be joining me and we should be a formidable partnership.
This time last year I could hardly catch my breath, finishing up work, putting Wahroonga on the market, tradies fixing the Convent, the garden open for the local Garden Fair and the relocation in full swing. Same time this year is still busy – the Kandos Museum is opening after a long hiatus, the Convent is open to the public for the Centenary weekend and I’ve leased the shop with business planning in full swing. But so much more fun…
I’ll focus on the shop opening (which I think will be early November) after the long weekend and there are sure to be many more posts keeping you up to date with developments.
For much of the last year I’ve mainly been focussing on smaller items for my market stall – beanies, mitts and scarves – which has meant the lace knitting has been neglected.
I get so many comments on the lace shawls I just put out for display that I thought I’d see how a few more elaborate shawls would fare at the markets. To be honest, I also just wanted to knit some lace and use some of the wonderful yarns I have in the stash for a change.
Lace seems challenging to the uninitiated, but other than just remembering a few stitch combinations, it’s not difficult. The main problem is fixing up if you make a major error! Whilst the fine cobweb lace looks so impressive, lace can also be knitted in any other ply for the wary.
Anyway, so far I’ve managed two Adamas shawls (which were my first major attempt at following a lace shawl pattern). One is in an unashamedly bold Zauberball and another in a lovely blend of silk and merino with a fine silver filament from one of our local spinners and dyers. A Multnomah in Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn is also complete and a garter and lace shawl is nearing completion. I might add that not everyone is lucky enough to have a Chapel floor for blocking their knits!
I’ll also put a few shawls together with easily accessible patterns and yarn I have available for anyone who is tempted to turn their hand to something a little more challenging.
I’m hoping the shawls are a hit at the larger Markets later this year. At least they will be a talking point for visitors.
Today was my fourth market stall at Rylstone Artisan Markets and I’m starting to feel like a regular. Given I started my knitting stall in early Summer, it’s given me time to get a feel prior to Winter approaching and I’m confident that I’ll hit my stride in the next few months. Each month I more than stock up on sold items, whilst always adding one new range. This month I’ve added Linen Stitch Scarves for which in the next month or two I’ll also put the pattern and kit together. I’m also stocking up on Winter items, with the plan to incorporate locally grown and spun Alpaca.
A bit of self promotion is on the cards, given the success at local Shows, with me displaying the ribbons at my stall. I know many of my purchases are gifts, so it provides a talking point for the giver. It’s also a great conversation-starter with other knitters.
I’m meeting heaps of locals – knitters, crafters, farmers and chatterers, which is great given I’m still so new to the area. I also hope it provides a point of interest and an attraction to visitors to the area.
The kits are also proving to be popular – both with knitters and as gifts, which is highly rewarding as I hope to inspire and encourage others to create something special with lovely yarns and textures.
After this market, I’ll be moving more into Winter stock – mitts, beanies and scarves. I noticed the change this time as people were more interested in the mitts and beanies than the feather-weight lace scarves. It’s also time to tackle a few more challenging knits which may at one point also go into some of the Shows. Whilst I knit the occasional garment, my preference remains epic lace shawls (in lace weight yarns) and pragmatic but textured blankets. These can provide quite a contrast which is reflected in two very different recent yarn orders – the reliable and cost-effective Bendigo Woollen Mills, and the seductive, luxurious and indulgent Sundara Yarn (silk lace, of course).
Participating in the local markets with a knitting stall has had somewhat of an effect on my “regular” knitting. In fact, renovations, establishing the garden and relocating permanently whilst working may have also contributed a little over the last year as well.
Anyway, I’m back – forced by the impending Rylstone Kandos Show in February where I have a reputation to maintain, particularly now I am also knitting at the markets.
The markets and my normal knitting provide a good contrast. For the markets, I focus on creating my own patterns which rely on interesting but simple stitches and beautiful and unique yarns or combinations to provide a good result. My main aim is for people to buy the kits with the patterns based on my samples, but finished items are also for sale. A good example is the Drop Stitch Scarf which is a simple stitch pattern combined with striking Noro yarn.
On the other hand, my normal knitting tends to be a little more epic in nature. I favour laceweight shawls or big blankets – no short term projects here.
For the Show I am using Fluidity (or here) as a base. I’m familiar with this pattern, which started life as an 8 ply/DK equivalent but this time I’m using a barely 2ply lace weight silk/merino combination undyed, to give it a natural/antique finish. It’s square but knitted in the round. At some point I will cast off and finish off with a Shetland lace border. I’m also incorporating tiny seed pearl beads into the pattern, so I have high hopes. So far I have a rather modest 1,200 stitches on the needles and anticipate many more before I am done.
Lace (particularly bunched up on circular needles) always looks a bit like steel wool. For now it’s heads down and needles clicking as I head towards the Show.