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Monday, December 12, 2005

The Knit Tin, etc, etc, etc

I've a lot to show and tell since I last posted so I think I'd better do it chronologically otherwise I'll be all over the place. The Button Wrap is about half finished but was stalled because this came through the post some of which has to be knitted for Xmas pressies. Some has indeed been knitted and some has indeed been frogged and is now in the process of being reknitted!

Laughing Hens came up trumps in that they were the only place I could find the shades I wanted in both Noro Iro and Silk Garden of which I bought 500g and 700g respectively. A week later I still await a call from John Lewis to let me know whether they have these shades in stock or not!

Please also note the yummy bar of creme brulee chocolate which came in the post from Katie and the home made Xmas pudd from Jess. Thanks, maties!! I'm definitely feeling spoilt without even having a Secret Pal which reminds me I do want to sign up for the Secret Pal thing this time and, by the way, when is the deadline for that?!! Jess's home made Xmas pudd looks and smells lovely and it has those wonderful finishing touches such as having pretty fabric placed on the top which is even secured with a proper seal. No elastic bands or string for Jess who does things proper!! (sic)

I did finish the 'Simply Knitting" traditional Swedish Yuletide Gnome or jultomten which literally translates to "Christmas Man" according to this reference. I've now revised my idea of having a family of them though and decided that he will be a lonesome gnome for this year but I may try to remedy the situation for next Xmas.

The bit I enjoyed the most, funnily enough, was making his hat zig zaggy with the hair spray!

Now comes the bit I've been dying to tell you about. I always save the best till last. Do you do that? Even when I'm having a meal, I tend to save a little bit of what I enjoy most till last. This is a habit I think from when I was a child and I saved the bits I enjoyed most to take away what I perceived as the not so nice taste of other bits which found their way onto my plate. I wasn't forced to eat these bits but was told it was best to eat them as they were good for me. Funnily enough, I now enjoy those things!

Anyway, I digress! The thing I now want to tell you about is my day at The Knit Tin from the points of view of both the goody goodness of The Knit Tin itself and also the excellence of the Intarsia and Beaded Bag Workshop with that goddess of intarsia herself, Debbie Abrahams!

My DH, who I think is the best in the world (but then I'm biased) said he would take me by car the night before so that it wouldn't be too much of a rush to get to Olney for the workshop on the Saturday. So, we ended up staying at the Swan Revived in Newport Pagnell on Friday night. The only quibble I have with that place is that they didn't have the danish pastry that I ordered the night before to go with my fresh fruit and yoghurt for breakfast. Nor did they explain they didn't have it but just sent the tray without it! When it was questioned, I was offered a croissant instead which I gratefully accepted, only to be told five minutes later that there weren't any croissants either. I ended up having toast and all the while DH unconcernedly tucked into his bacon, eggs, sausage, etc, etc, saying that he didn't want it to get cold!!

The Knit Tin and the workshop though couldn't be faulted. First of all, feast your eyes on these photos and tell me is this or is this not yarn heaven?! Here's a photo from outside which was taken after the workshop but before I entered into serious stash enhancement mode. Doesn't it look all seasonal with the beautiful Xmas tree twinkling in the twilight?

Now come round to the front of the shop and why not come inside!

Come on, it's wonderful, I promise!

Just look at those Alchemy Yarns in jars on the right. They're so wonderful and precious they need to be contained like little pots of gold! Would you like to look closer?

Hmm, I seem to have taken a self-portrait photo at the same time!

The thing that struck me about The Knit Tin when I first walked in was the lovely clean newness of it all but, at the same time, the riot of colour and quality of the yarns, etc, that were displayed. I really liked the characteristic little touches of the yarns and other things displayed in jars or tins which reminded me somehow of the wonder I used to experience as a child when entering one of those sweet shops piled high with confectionery in jars, some familiar; some exotic; but all colourful and magical. Of course, one grows up and this feeling somehow gets lost among the general cynicism that seems to go with being an adult but I can honestly say that I experienced a little bit of that again except this time I was drinking in the beauty and splendour of yarn and not sweets.

Here's a stand of Rowan yarns (apologies for spoiling the immaculateness of the display by leaving my camera case on the table) . . . . .

. . . . . and if you look to the left and walk through to the adjoining room, you'll pass some scarf samples and sundries (click to enlarge) . . . . .

. . . . . before being introduced to such delights as Colinette, Noro, Artesano Alpaca, Jaeger, Debbie Bliss, Regia and Opal Sock Yarns, etc.

But enough of that for now! If you wish to browse through more photos taken on the day, please go to the Knit Tin Set on my Flickr Gallery here because it's now time to go upstairs for the workshop.

As soon as we entered the classroom our eyes feasted on another riot of colour as Debbie had covered the tables with some of her gorgeous afghans and lots of handmade buttons were also on display. The buttons are made by Debbie's mother from natural clay following which they are glazed and then fired in a kiln. I think they're beautiful and couldn't resist buying some. Just look at them! Could you resist? The ones on the right are Xmas themed buttons.

I resisted the Xmas ones but bought four sets from the box pictured below.

Then there were the individual buttons on display from which we were allowed to choose one free of charge to place on our beaded intarsia bags.

Moving on from the buttons, also on the table, for each of us, was a chart of the intarsia pattern and a bag containing all the yarn and beads for the bag that we were to make.

The first thing we did, though, was to use some coloured pencils to colour in our charts. Sounds a bit infantile, I know, but it did help to instantly see which colour one should be using instead of trying to decipher the code which would have been more time consuming. It also helped break the ice in that it was quite amusing as there was only one set of pencils to share so there was a lot of banter and calls such as "Who's hanging on to the turquoise?" and "Has anyone got light pink?" and "Does anyone need dark green?", etc.

With this exercise complete, it wasn't long before we set to work.

Debbie was always ready to help if anyone got stuck and explained everything very clearly. Here she is patiently explaining to us what to do next.

It is true to say that productivity (or, in my case, lack of), was definitely in inverse proportion to amount of chatting, skiving, etc. I did, however, finish knitting my bag the following day at home though it still needs sewing up. Just to prove it, here's a photo showing the front of the bag with one of Debbie's handmade buttons in place to give an idea of how it will look when it's all sewn up.

And here's one showing the back of the bag.

Now, this is, in no sense of the word, a large bag. In fact, it's small enough that, if I went out carrying it, very soon some little men with white coats would come along and look at me understandingly before carting me away. I've decided, therefore, that I won't make the strap but, instead, I'll line it and use it as a pouch for my intarsia bobbins. Very appropriate, I'd say!

We had to really concentrate on what we were doing to make sure that we were using the right colour for the right amount of stitches and, also, that we got the right colour beads (there were four colours of beads) in the right places.

It was a very useful workshop because we learnt how to lock the yarn in when introducing a new colour so that no holes showed at all even before the ends were woven in. We also learnt all about "bobbin discipline". No, it's not all about shaking your finger admonishingly at your bobbins if they misbehave! It's just about regularly sorting them out to make sure they don't get into too much of a tangle.

Debbie also demonstrated the best way of weaving the ends in securely and mattress stitch. She was extremely patient, very good humoured and a joy to be around.

Refreshments were abundant and of the same quality as the shop wares! Elevenses, I think, came from the nearby coffee shop (but in proper mugs as opposed to disposable cups) because there were lots of drinks to choose from including such exotica as hot white chocolate. I had a mocha coffee and a really tasty cookie type biscuit. Lunch was also enjoyed by all as you can probably guess by the photos below.

It included freshly made sandwiches with various fillings and three or four different types of fresh salad followed by dessert of which I had one or two of the hors d'ouvre type tarte aux fruits. The lady in the middle, Bertha, was attending the course as an 87th birthday treat and we all had a slice of birthday cake with our drink in the afternoon!

After the workshop was over it was time to continue the retail therapy that I'd started on arrival in the morning and added to at lunchtime. Julie mentioned that the shop had been extremely busy and, whilst I was browsing, I noticed a man asking about knitting needles and yarn for his daughter as a Xmas pressie. It's good to know that there's so much interest in knitting. Long may it continue.

Well, this has been a mammoth post so I'll leave it till next time to show and tell what I bought but I'm sure that you're now in no doubt at all that I *heart* The Knit Tin!!


  • At 3:59 am, Blogger eastern white said…

    wow, this is by far the most interesting post i have ever read in a knitting blog. i am so all over envious of your experience at the knit tin. i want to be there!!! yes, the next time i am in england.

    thank you for sharing. sounds like a great fun class.

  • At 8:27 am, Anonymous Annarella said…

    Your workshop experience sounds lovely and terribly enjoyable - thanx for sharing :)

    And the KnitTin shop seems like a little bit of heaven, I love the pics.

  • At 10:18 am, Blogger Daisy said…

    Oh wow, what a wonderful shop! It all looks SO fab - the yarns, the displays, the workshop, the food... Wish i could have been there! Looking forward to seeing what you bought too! Probably a good thing for my budget I don't live anywhere near!

    The Secret Pal 7 signup is at:
    and the closing date is 4th January!

  • At 10:33 am, Blogger Tracy said…

    Go on name your gnome, mine are already getting their invitation cards out for him to come on over, but they don't know what to call him!
    Sounds like a really good workshop and some of those buttons look like sweets. I would be very hard pressed to choose between them.

  • At 11:29 am, Blogger Mary-Lou said…

    I know what you mean about saving the best bit till last - spotted the new post while flipping through Bloglines quickly, but had a meeting to go to, so decided to leave yours till later to savour, so to speak - definitely worthwhile. Sounds like a wonderful day out! And what a wonderful-looking shop (thinks 'now how can I trick John into going to Olney ...?!')

  • At 11:41 am, Blogger AmyP said…

    That gnome is so cute! And I am so jealous that you have that yarn shop!

  • At 12:05 pm, Anonymous Emma said…

    What a fantastic day ! It is so nice to spend time doing stuff we love,with like minded people in such wonderful surroundings.
    Fab !

    Sorry I've yet to answer your questions. I'm a bit behind with things. O.K.,a lot behind. ;-]

  • At 1:11 pm, Anonymous Mary said…

    It sounds like a wonderful day. Lots of yarn and button temptations there!

  • At 7:26 pm, Blogger Marie said…

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time. The gnome is so cute!

  • At 9:04 am, Blogger Woolly Wormhead said…

    The workshop sounds great... and all that yarn! Love your gnome santa, too, he's so cute ;)

  • At 2:04 pm, Anonymous jess said…

    A really well written post! Was living it with you. Thnks!

    And as for the Gnome... tee hee! He loosk so Xmassy!

  • At 1:50 pm, Blogger Knitsmith said…

    Hi Hazel, your day at Knitin sounds wonderful and what a sumptous array of yarn, I can feel my resolve not to enhance the stash weakening at a rate of knots, I must fit in a visit next year. However I feel the Clapotis does deserve a glass of the Mouton Cadet, I'm sure it will appreciate it and glow all the more a lovely blend of colours and a gorgeous yarn. Jan

  • At 11:46 pm, Blogger Fred said…

    I feel a visit coming on with great rapidity!


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