Aoibhe Ni’s Pax for Beginners at The Sheep Shop

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A pile of beautiful samples.

I love Tunisan crochet, so as you can imagine the beautiful PAX shawl has been on my list of things to make for a very long time. I was overjoyed to hear the PAX’s designer Aoibhe Ni was coming to The Sheep Shop to teach a class on how to make it.

Aoibhe, being the wonderful talented lady she is, has invented a whole new kind of Tunisian crochet – Tunisian Lace Crochet. When she came for the class she brought samples from her Legendary Shawls collection. All unceremoniously dumped in a big pile in the middle of the table, they needed no hype to make us ooooo and ahhhhh in wonder.

As you can imagine I was entranced by all the beautiful patterns. It took Aoibhe quite a while to get us concentrating on actually crocheting rather than pawing at gloriously lacy shawls.

Aoibhe’s new take on Tunisian crochet was, to begin with, quite bewildering. She said her inspiration was seeing those beautiful knitted shawls and wanting to recreate their style in crochet. I can totally relate to that as I love the look of knitted and have only recently taught myself to knit for just that reason.

After much patient tutoring and many confused looks I’m pleased to say everyone in the class eventually had the eureka moment when it finally clicked what we were supposed to be doing. Once I realised the basic structure and stitches it all suddenly seemed so simple and logical. Of course! Why didn’t I think of it that way before?

My samples are in DK and of course scrappy, but I managed to practice all the skills needed to create my own PAX.

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Wonderful Sheep Shop owner Sarah and Aoibhe

Much fun was certainly had by all and everyone agreed that should Aoibhe ever return to Cambridge we would all very much like her to teach another class at The Sheep Shop. I know she does teach an advanced class but I think I would love her to teach a class on the new collection of garments she is releasing soon. I can’t wait for the Classical Elements collection to come out, as I really want to apply this new version of Tunisan crochet to clothes!

A little birdie told me that Aoibhe would be at Fibre East teaching several classes in July 2014. I would heartily recommend them if you plan to get started on any of her wonderful patterns as the classes are no end of help. I quite like the look of the Beyond the Basics class myself!

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A band of merry crocheters!

We are now holding a bit of a CAL over in The Sheep Shop ravelry group. Please feel free to join join us if you would like to make a PAX too. Aoibhe also has her own ravelry group in which there are lots of CALs, discussions and sneak peaks of new patterns. I of course ignored all of my many ongoing WIPS and cast on straight away. So far I’m pretty pleased but have yet to attempt the lace part!

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A simple beginning

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Beginner Socks at The Sheep Shop

Last weekend I took part in the Beginner Sock class at The Sheep Shop with Louise Tilbrook. I’ve had a crack at socks before, and by that I mean I started a two at a time top down magic loop method. It’s crazy, I always jump right in and whether I’m capable or not and try the most interesting looking thing. You can see my first, and as yet unfinished, attempt here.

I wanted to really get a handle on proper socks. With all the lovely 4 ply yarn I have, I have never made a pair of knitted socks. I also wanted to get to grips with double pointed needles. I was aware of the theory, but have never been brave enough to try. I picked up some needles and some rather uninteresting but hard wearing yarn the week before. I wanted yarn that I could undo and redo many times as I was sure I was going to do that in class. I mentioned the yarn in this post, it is the first yarn I talk about.

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The class was wonderful. Just the right number of people. I managed to drop my needles about every 5 mins for the whole 3 hours. At various points I ended up with less needles in the project than I should have had. It was like a yarny game of kerplunk.

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Through all that I still managed to produce a smaller than toddler sock, but the main thing is that it included all the techniques needed to make a full size sock. We decided my miss formed sock was more of a cat/dog sock than a toddler sock. I was going to try and get Cleo to model it for you, but I don’t fancy my chances.

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Of course I came straight home and cast on some proper adult size socks. I’ve managed to get past the heel turn so I think that in it’s self confirms that the class is a success. It looks like Louise is doing another class in April, so if you are interested I would highly recommend it. I’ve also just noticed she is doing a toe up class in May, I shall have to sign up for that!

Finished Object – Short and Sweet

It’s taken me a while to write this post. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m already excited and making other projects or because this one went a little wrong.

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Ta dah! The Short and Sweet cardigan. I made the length and sleeves a little longer than the pattern called for. As you can see it’s being modelled on a mannequin at The Sheep Shop rather than on me.  That’s the hint on what went wrong. It’s too small!

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I had the sneaking suspicion as I was making it that it wasn’t going to be quite big enough to sit right. I was hoping that because it is a cardigan that is designed to be small, that was just how it was going to appear until I was finished. No such luck! I checked my gauge when I was done (yes, yes I know I’m supposed to do that at the beginning) and that was fine. I can only assume I picked a size too small. Also the size I made was designed not to close at the front, leaving a gap, which I wasn’t keen on. Never mind! Some lovely person who is smaller than me will receive it in the future, I’m sure.

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All the details of the yarn used etc is in my WIP post if you are interested. I really enjoyed using the Bamboo Cotton mix. It has excellent drape and I think the cream colour suits the project very well. I’m already planning another go at this one. The next size up is designed to close at the front, a quirk of the pattern repeat, which I much prefer. I always like a cardigan to be big enough to wrap around me. I’ve chosen some brilliant 100% llama yarn from my recent Sheep Shop haul. It is a wonderful variegated grey and black colour, is soft and snugly and seems to have wonderful drape. This means the cardigan will be more of a Autumn/Spring wear, which suits me fine as it will probably be Autumn before I start!

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Finally, a funny thing I noticed as I tried it on the dummy. The pattern from this angle kind of looks like little skulls. Really angry alien skulls, but skulls none the less. Is it just me or can you see it too?

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I may have bought ‘some’ yarn…

‘I may have bought ‘some’ yarn…’ was the text message I guiltily sent to my husband yesterday afternoon. My husband knows me well enough to know that if I have taken the time to text him that I have bought some yarn (usually an every day occurrence in our house) then ‘some’ means ‘lots’.

I was at The Sheep Shop again yesterday for their Friday knitting club. Last week I did really well and resisted buying anything. But this week the pull was just too strong! Below is a picture of the full treasure haul. It was the hottest day of the year yesterday, so I must apologise for the washed out nature of the yarn shots! The bright sun made it a nightmare to try and get good pictures of the true colour of things.

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I bought 100g of Opal sock yarn in a crazy circus like colourway. It is a reasonably cheap and robust sock yarn and certainly not the sort of colours I would actually wear. I chose this one as I’m attending the Socks for Beginners class next Saturday and since the class will be taught using double pointed needles, which I have never used before, I wanted some yarn I really didn’t mind messing up when I undo and redo 20 times. I’m really excited about this class. I’m already dreaming of socks of many colours in beautiful (and expensive I’m sure) sock yarns.

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The Sheep Shop has just had a delivery of wonderful Sparkleduck yarn. It is not a yarn I have come across before, but I’m so very glad that I have now. I loved pretty much all the colourways on the shelf and the base yarns were all wonderful too. The sock weight base called Pulsar practically glowed with its silk content and beautiful deep colours (this might be the expensive socks I just mentioned dreaming about!). This time I picked up two skeins. I bought a Galaxy base which is 75% super wash merino, 20%nylon, 5% stellina. I always love the yarns with a little stellina in them. A little sparkle and none of the scratchiness, hurrah! I bought the Neptune colourway which is a wonderful deep blue with hints of sea green (the photos really don’t do it justice!). With the tiny sparkles in it, it will be like a deep sea adventure knitting with it. I’m thinking of making Stephen West‘s Herbivore with it. Sarah at The Sheep Shop had a sample of this shawl knitted up in the shop and it was really beautiful, yet simple at the same time.

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I also bought a skein of the Solo base which is 100% superwash merino single ply. I’ve not used single ply very much so I’m not sure how difficult or easy it will be to work with. I chose the ‘Here be Dragons’ colourway as I really love the way the colours blend. They could be iridescent scales on a dragon’s wings, but the colours also remind me of a steampunk bazaar! I think it’s likely I might try and knit Dragonfly Wings with this as I think it will suit this special little skein very well. I might also be brave and try to add beads as suggested in the pattern.

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Finally I was looking for some more DK to make a second Short and Sweet. I was going to go for another cotton based yarn, but then I noticed a lovely DK in varying grays. The yarn brand is called Araucania and I have picked the Puelo base which is 100% llama. I’ve never made anything with llama yarn before, so that will be quite the experience. It seems to have quite a lovely drape to it and I’m thinking that this warmer yarn will turn the new cardigan into more of an autumn/spring item. I’m hoping the different shades of gray will spread OK across the garment and not pool too much.

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So there you have it! Friday’s haul. Now I promise not to buy any more yarn for at least 24 hours…

Jolly Journey

Being new to Haverhill and the surrounding area I wanted to make sure I branch out and meet some new people. I also wanted to have a taste of exploring a little on my own, which is not something I really did that much when I was back in Basildon. What better way to get out and about than a yarny adventure!

Having investigated local yarn shops I found The Sheep Shop in Cambridge. The website told me that they also do classes and knitting groups. Jackpot! I decided to take myself along to the Friday morning knitting group. They have a Ravelry group so I introduced myself there first. I was given lots of lovely directions and a warm hello.

The bus trip in from Haverhill to Cambridge was reasonable. It takes about 50 mins on a double-decker, which was surprisingly nimble through the various villages. I got off the bus with a little less time than I had hoped and ended up walking double time to the shop. It took about 15 mins from the bus station. To start off with I was getting a little worried that I couldn’t find the shop, I knew it was on a residential street from the website, but I just wasn’t seeing it. Just as I was pulling out my phone to work out where I had gone wrong, I looked up and there it was!

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The ladies of the group were very friendly and expecting me as they had seen my post on Ravelry. It was really lovely to meet the ladies of the group and talk about all the projects they were working on and planning. I was told all about Fiber-East and how wonderful it is. It was brilliant to find a group of such warm and talented ladies all together.

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The shop itself is beautiful, cozy and warm. I really liked all the various samples of patterns and designs made up and displayed around the shop. I got a lot of inspiration from one visit and I imagine I will end up parting with a lot of money in this shop! I plan to try and make it to the Friday morning groups as much as possible. It was wonderful to discuss projects, charity work, craft shows and general knitter natter in such a beautiful little shop.

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After the group I wandered back into the center of Cambridge along the river. It was a beautiful day and very scenic. I looked for a cafe that was recommended by the ladies for lunch, Michaelhouse Cafe on Trinity Street. I was certainly not disappointed by the food. Locally sourced produce with yummy homemade recipes. I’d certainly recommend a visit for breakfast or lunch if you are in Cambridge.

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I spent some more time wandering around the town sight seeing and visiting quite the biggest Waterstone’s I’ve ever encountered. I get the feeling that it will take months for me to really get a feel for the city and all it has to offer. The bus station is thankfully (as I was half an hour early for my bus) is situated right next to Christ’s Pieces park. I lounged there for a while before I boarded my bus. I can’t wait to see if I can make it back next week!

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