New Year at Sherwood Yarn

What does 2023 mean for you? Is it the promise of peace? Learning a new skill or hobby? Keeping fit (I did couch to 5K a couple of years ago and I am still running, so that one was a definite win!!!) Or will it be something more life changing? A change of job or an exciting new career? Relocating yourself (and your loved ones) to some far-flung destination? 

 

Here at Sherwood Yarn it is more simple, in 2023 I aim to write on my blog (it’s been a while, please don’t judge me), to complete more of my WIPs (that means works in progress… if you are new to knitting there are lots of acronyms to learn… don’t worry we are here to help!), to write up more of my designs ( and meet more of my lovely customers in person and not just virtually… )

 

Last year I was fortunate enough to exhibit at Sherwood Forest, the spiritual home of Sherwood Yarn and more recently at the Winter Craft Fair in the medieval splendour of Southwell Minster. It was fantastic to meet so many fellow knitters and share your passion for our wonderful craft. Our new shawl patterns and kits, Brackenhurst, Maythorne and Burgage were a huge success, knit in Will, Papplewick and Limestone… We will be sharing these Shetland inspired shawls on our website soon… 

 

One thing that became apparent, not everyone knits (this may be stating the obvious…. but please stay with me…) however most of our visitors admired the colours, squished the squishiest of yarn and swirled our swirliest (is that even a word?) of shawls. 

 

I was lucky that my mother was an excellent knitter (who had learnt her skills from a much-loved Aunt) and passed on her knitting skills to me…. A crocheter she was not, and I had to learn this skill from a dusty old library book when I was about ten years old (unfortunately this was way before YouTube, where you can learn just about anything). I’m sure we all have our stories of how we learnt to knit… please share in the comments section – I’d love to know!

 

This got me thinking, why not design a range that starts with the very basic skills to create beautiful accessories, allowing a beginner to hone these skills and then move forward onto the next stage… gaining confidence in each step as they progress… whilst in the process using beautiful hand-dyed yarn! 

 

Here is where the design process begins…. Which yarn? ……. Colour? …… Stitch?  STOP it’s supposed to be for a beginner ……. Start again……

 


Greyfriars Tutorial

Greyfriars is a gorgeous triangular shaped shawl that features a V-shaped stitch to give a beautiful texture. The first part of the stitch on Row 4 (wyif sl3 sts) involves bringing your yarn to the front of the work and slipping three stitches from the left hand needle onto the right hand needle. The yarn is then taken to the back of the work and the following stitch is knitted. You will end up with the yarn in front of the 3 slipped stitches.

In Row 6 (Lst) you will lift up the loop from row 4 by bringing the right hand needle under the loop and knitting it with the next stitch on the left hand needle, slipping both stitches off the needle. This forms a nifty V-shape with the yarn from row 4.

I have included a video tutorial of these instructions. Enjoy!

 

Greyfriars Kits and pattern only options are available - if you don't see your favourite Sherwood Yarn colourway then please message us and we will dye it up for you!

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It's Jam Season!

It has been a while since I posted a blog on my website, well I intend to rectify this and you will be hearing a lot more from me via this channel!

 

The weather in Nottinghamshire has been glorious over the last few weeks and has led to a wonderful glut of soft fruit in our garden. We were very fortunate to inherit a beautiful Raspberry and Gooseberry patch from the previous owner of our home. For me this means one thing, JAM! The recipe that I use is an old family recipe and can be adapted to the fruit that you wish use. I thought that I would share it here for you all to enjoy!

 

Sherwood Gooseberry Jam

You will need an equal quantity of soft fruit and granulated sugar, I picked 700g of ripe gooseberries so I used 700g of sugar. Gooseberries have a woody 'tail' (I'm not sure what the proper name for this is) this needs to be removed before you start, a sharp pair of scissors should do the trick! You will also need to place a couple of small plates in the freezer (to test the setting point) and sterilize your jam jars (I used a 0.75 litre jar for 700g of fruit). I sterilize by placing clean jars upside down in the oven and set it to 100 degrees Celsius. 

Place your fruit and sugar in a thick bottomed pan, together with the juice and zest of a lemon, and put it on a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the gooseberries start to burst and the sugar dissolves, the sugar should stop feeling grainy when you stir. Increase the heat to a gentle 'rolling' boil, keep stirring to stop the sugar burning (this will be between 5 and 10 minutes). Make sure that the jam does not splash onto your skin as the sugar will give a nasty burn. Remove the jam from the heat and test the setting point by placing a teaspoon of jam on one of the cold plates. Allow this to cool for about a minute and then push it with your finger, the jam should make gentle creases when you do this. If it doesn't put the jam back on the heat for a few more minutes and repeat the test. If some froth forms on the top of the jam remove this with a clean spoon, then ladel the jam into your sterile jars. Seal the jars and allow to cool. Store in a cool place.

 

I love to eat my Jam with homemade crusty bread! What is your favourite way to serve it?

 

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Nottingham Goose Fair and sherwood yarn

The Goose Fair has been a prominent part of Nottingham’s calendar since at least the 13th Century. Taking place from a ‘quarter day’ celebrating the harvest gathering, the Michaelmas Feast provided an ideal opportunity to stock up on provisions prior to winter setting in. In the 16th Century the term ‘Goose Fair’ is officially recorded, geese hatched in Lincolnshire were taken to Nottingham. It is said up to 20,000 geese were driven up ‘Goose Gate’ into Nottingham Market Square. As Nottingham Lace production gathered momentum stalls appeared draped in this gorgeous material. By the end of the 18th Century the fair was taking on a more theatrical personality. It’s latest incarnation is as one of Europe’s premier travelling fairs with a multitude of rides and stalls to cater for all ages and levels of daredevilry. Even before you disembark from the tram you catch a glimpse of the more stomach churning rides across the city. Your senses are bombarded from the noises and pyscadellic light shows of competing rides, to the smell of the exotic and local culinary delights. Added to this are the hundreds of thousands of visitors that throng the improvised throughways of the 10 acre site. Being October it is best to be wrapped up in something warm and woolly. My shawl ‘Much ado about nothing’ in Sherwood yarn’s laceweight, colourway Marian and hat design ‘Fletcher’ in Limestone and Lichen proved to be an excellent combination. We covered as much of the site as possible and tried out a great number of delightful rides and stalls, despite this I could find no trace of the Lace…….……. 

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A journey through Nottingham's knitted lace...

Nottingham has a long and proud history of lace production and knitting. In Calverton around 1589 the Reverend William Lee invented the first frame knitting machine. On Saturday we were delighted to have the opportunity to visit the prestigious Nottingham company, GH Hurt & Son, which carries on this rich tradition of fine knitted lace production to the present day. 

GH Hurt & Son were established in 1912 and firmly remain a family run business. Housed in a seed mill built in 1781 you cannot mistake the sense of history that permeates throughout the building. Heavy oak beamed ceilings and a winding steep staircase are a fine setting for the rare frame knitting machines which jostle for space amongst the beautiful fine lace shawls in a myriad of fabulous hues and colours. The modern machinery is housed in a building next door and it busies itself producing metres of fabulously patterned fine lace in its own mesmeric rhythm. The workers are justifiably proud of their product and there is a palpable sense of pride in every stage of production. They were without exception happy to explain their role from the machine stage through to hand finishing techniques and answer any questions regarding the production of this exquisite product. Working with designers such as Paul Smith, Dior and Burberry and with the newest members of the royal family being snapped leaving the maternity ward swaddled in GH Hurt & Son baby shawls, the future looks great for the next hundred year or two. We were also fortunate enough to have a chat with one of the directors (fourth generation of the family to run the business), Gillian Taylor whose excitement and enthusiasm for Nottingham fine lace and the Notts region in general is infectious. I couldn’t resist showing Gillian my own contribution to Nottingham lace in the form of my Wollaton shawl, in its own way, homage to the fine history of lace in this region. She was very complimentary about the product and gave her time generously, showing genuine interest in the fledgling sherwood yarn. The visit met and indeed exceeded all expectations and it served to illustrate the place of Nottingham in the production of fine knitted lace and more importantly where it’s future lies.         

 

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My new shawl design Wollaton.

With the onset of Autumn it is definitely time to think about those cosy accessories that complement your seasonal wardrobe. There is nothing as versatile as a shawl or wrap to provide that warmth and a ‘pop’ of colour when taking a stroll through crisp leaves or the pavements of the city. My new design, Wollaton, definitely fits the bill! 

My design inspiration for Wollaton is its namesake, an Elizabethan country house and parkland located in the city of Nottingham. The 16th century house was designed by the notable architect of the time, Robert Smythson for the Willoughby family. More recently Wollaton has been the fictional home of Bruce Wayne in the Hollywood production of Batman’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. My design pays homage to the ‘bat wing’ shape, with five spines radiating centrally and culminating in shapely points.

The Falkland fine merino laceweight is beautifully soft, giving wonderful drape and the colourway used is Lyncolne Grene.

The download for Wollaton can be found on Ravelry.

 

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From farm to fo!

The Summer break offers a wonderful opportunity to get away and spend time with my family. A favourite area of ours is on the South Coast, in Dorset. In particular a 1200 acre working farm that has unspoilt rolling chalk downs running to the sea. My favourite shawls Much ado about nothing and Wollaton proved to be an indispensible addition to my limited camping wardrobe!

The children (and us) love the working aspect of the farm, which is made even better as 9000+ sheep roam the gorgeous hills. We have visited Julian’s farm for many years (pre kids ~ whenever that was ha ha) The sheepdogs are something else, so focused and dedicated, working in partnership with the farm hands on quad bikes, a real pleasure to see in their natural environment.

In discussions with Julian about farming, sheep, wool and the process of getting to a finished article, it provided an opportunity to introduce him to skeins of handdyed sherwoodyarn. I am not sure that he used the term ‘squishy’ or ‘colourway’ but he was delighted to see the result of his labours turned into a beautifully spun and coloured skein ready for a project. At that point I just had to introduce him to Much ado about nothing and Wollaton. He was most interested in the getting from skein to F.O. and called over others to view the labours of a team effort by farmer through to dyer-designer-knitter. I think a worsted weight in a larger size would perhaps suit the 6ft+ farmer J

Much to my delight it was a real privilege to be invited to view the sheep shearing in the woolshed on the following morning. A team of three shearers were to relieve the sheep of their heavy winter fleece. Once again passion, dedication and devotion to the task in hand were on display by all, and no small measure of skill. Neil, Nick and Trev sheared well over 900 sheep that day ably supported by Kayleigh, Emily and Julian, a real team effort.

 

Our Summer breaks are always refreshing but the insights gained on the farm this year have given me a deeper respect for the product that I love working with and I return to Sherwood with further inspiration for colourways and designs which I will love to share with you over the coming weeks and months. Rachael x           

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Gorgeous projects in sherwood yarn

As a dyer and knitter I am always interested to see what becomes of my yarn, here are just a few projects that I thought I would share with you.

 

DGard has knit a beautiful Southwell Cardi, designed exclusively in Sherwood yarn by Olive Knits. The yarn is British Bluefaced Leicester Sock and the colourway is the sumptuous Sandstone – you look fabulous!

 

Ruth chose the jewel-like colour combo of Lionheart and Blackberry for her stylish twin-set (twinset bicolore). The alpaca and merino 4 ply blend give a fantastic sheen and drape to her beautifully knitted vest. Ruth I now can’t wait to see your cardigan :)

When Julie Blagojevich of Crochet Works designed Rowena, a sophisticated crochet shawl, a plethora of beautiful projects followed. The yarn is Falkland fine merino laceweight and I am sure that you will agree they all look absolutely fantastic. From left to right: Alivaz used sandstone, Alma made hers in Marian, beautiful detail of Cindi's in Lionheart, Kristinlynn rocks her Rowena also in Lionheart, jench chose skylark, Leasa's looks lovely in Wild orchid and finally sskcraftshop in scrumptious blackberry :)

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Rowena by Julie Blagojevich

The talented Julie Blagojevich of Crochet Works has completed and published her gorgeous design, Rowena. Rowena is a beautiful asymmetric shawl that is crocheted in my super-soft Falkland Fine Merino laceweight yarn. The colour that Julie chose to use for her design is Greendale. You can read the fascinating inspiration for this yarn here

 

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Southwell Cardigan: Olive Knits

I am pleased to announce the fabulous, Southwell cardigan, designed and knit by Marie of Olive Knits. The yarn that she chose for her design is my Bluefaced Leicester Sock in beautiful Marian, I am sure that you will agree it looks absolutely stunning! You can purchase Marie's pattern from her Ravelry page.

Right now I need to go and cast on!

Which colour will you choose for your Southwell?

 

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