May 17, 2013

Spinning Sunday: new and improved

There is a new shiny in the shop. A single-treadle Ashford Joy that came back with me from the Creative Fibre Festival.

I had such an incredible time at Festival - and most notable was the few snatched moments taken to spend at the Ashford stand. Some companies are just that, a company with a corporate face. Ashford is so very far from that. Richard, Elizabeth, Libby and Kate were all present and even now, as I think about it, they filled their space with personality, excitement, passion and, of course, stock to play with. I am officially a massive fangirl of their philosophy, energy and quality of product. It was incredible the effect that one person being wholly joyful in teaching others about products that was absorbing. I went home and dreamed of drum carders and spinning and weaving. 

More than simply dream, i've been spinning. This last week has been tough. Recovering from what I term 'Market Hangover', my energy has been low, i've been a bit grumpy and impatient. Knitting wasn't cutting it for relaxation. Five days of markets within ten sapped every last ounce of excitement.

And then, on Thursday, I thought 'I'm going to spend the last 45 minutes that the shop is open to spin.'

After 15 minutes, my mood changed. As I added twist to the fibre, all the metaphorical twist and stress was pulled out. Feeding new yarn on to the bobbin removed the tension metre by metre. The simple rhythm that I created between the treadle and draft induced a meditative state. One that, day to day, I struggle to achieve. I'm not good at relaxing. I need to always be doing, making, producing. Doing nothing makes me anxious. Spinning, somehow, is the perfect antidote. 

Don't take this to mean that i'm any good as a spinner. I have very little technical knowledge. How do new spinners learn more? There is always YouTube, of course. But it's not the same as seeing a technique demonstrated in person, and sharing problems with other spinners in order to learn together. 

Which is why we are taking a new approach to Spinning Sunday. Last year we were a bit slack at organising it, and found that once a month wasn't quite regular enough for people to remember to come along.

So, what is the plan? We are going to have Spinning Sunday twice a month. First hooray! One of those two sessions will be a paid, technical wheel spinning session run by the fantastic Sue Schreuder. Sue is a semi-new spinner, but over the past 18 months has excelled and gained a crazy huge amount of know-how. These sessions will have limited numbers and cost a tiny wee $10 a pop. More info will follow soon.

If you are interested in learning to spin, I can highly recommend signing up for Frances' Drop Spindling For Beginners class at Handmade over Queen's Birthday weekend.


We will bring along the Ashford Joy to the Knit Lounge at Handmade if anyone fancies having a play. You're also more than welcome to come and try it in the shop. In the next few weeks we'll add an Ashford double-treadle Traveller to our demo models, as well as a drum carder (I, for one, am SUPER excited about the drum carder). If there is anything at all in the Ashford range you would like us to get in, please let us know. We have a retail price list and some product pamphlets in the shop for you to peruse. 

Funny that spinning has led to possibly my longest post here, ever. I'm just so excited about it, and want to share the love. Join me!

xx Tash

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March 20, 2013

Man Made: are you man enough?

 For a long time my knitting ambition was to destroy stereotypes around the craft. To demonstrate that it wasn't simply for old people. That knitting is a pursuit for everyone, that the patterns are no longer awful and the yarn no longer scratchy. Knitting is a meditative pursuit that brings many great joy.

In line with this ambition, I want to prove that knitting isn't the exclusive domain of women. It's not. I know a bunch of men who knit. No, they aren't all gay. I've heard stories of husbands who took up knitting to deal with the stress of PhD study; men who spun yarn for their wives to knit up into jerseys. Men were the original master knitters - as with artists, carpenters and weavers, knitting used to be an industry populated by professional men and governed by a guild system. 

So. The challenge is on - is it possible to destroy another stereotype? Are men 'man enough' to knit? 

To be honest, i'm extremely skeptical. They say 'build it and they will come' - but will they? Is the average New Zealand man ready to pick up sticks and string and make fabric? Ready to accept that knitting is a craft for everyone? 

Man Made is a series of 6 sessions, covering all the basics (and then some) of knitting. Taught by Mike Dickison - a man knitter, ukulele player and bird expert. There will be craft beer. And finger food. And the tools you need will be supplied.

Prove me wrong. As much as I want to be optimistic and think we can get this series fully subscribed, I doubt it. I don't think men are up to it. I don't believe the average man has the balls to help prove that gender associations with knitting are a load of rubbish.

Here's the details anyway:

Wednesday evenings 7pm - 9pm

Holland Road Yarn Company, 281 Jackson St, Petone

May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and June 5

Tools, beer and finger food will be provided.

$40 for 4 sessions ($10 for extra sessions)

And to make it easy for you, it's possible to book online. No scary day time shop trip necessary.

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February 07, 2013

Crochet Blanket Addicts (anonymous)


The badge says it all! Join our brand shiny new club!

Crochet Blanket Addicts (Anonymous) is a monthly meet up for those addicted to, struggling with, or desirous of creating a crochet blanket. An oftentimes tedious, yet rewarding task, this is an occupation that needs regular support. 

Our resident crochet teacher Sofia will be present for technical, and the group is free to attend. We'll provide tea, coffee and sugary treats to keep your crochet-rate up. 

The dates:

Saturday 23 February, 11am - 1pm

Saturday 23 March, 11am - 1pm

Saturday 13 April, 11am - 1pm

Saturday 18 May, 11am - pm

More dates to be confirmed soon.

To secure your spot, you can book in online (I find it's a great way to commit yourself to going. Like booking myself into 6am hot yoga class in advance, it removes the element of choice!), or just turn up on the day.

We'll set up a thread on the Holland Road Yarn Co group forum for cheerleading and moral support, with the odd giveaway and prize for effort, diligence and completed projects. Hooray!

If you can't yet crochet, we recommend you book in for our Beginner Crochet classes, and join the club after you're happily hooking. 

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February 05, 2013

Crochet Workshops: all lined up!

 It's a real pleasure to have Sofia back to teach crochet! Here's our class line up for the first half of this year:


Saturday 23 February 2013

1pm - 3.30pm

$30 - includes tea, coffee and treats

Learn the skills to make all the cute (and scary!) Amigurumi creatures you've seen online. You will need to know how to crochet at a beginner level for this class. 

All you need to bring to the class is:
  • a 3 or 3.5mm crochet hook
  • and DK / 8ply yarn in two colours
Book for Amigurumi online or in store.

Beginner Crochet

Saturday 6 and 13 April 

1pm - 3.30pm

Learn the basics of crochet during the first session, moving onto tips for working in rounds and reading patterns – you’ll be hooking in no time.

All you need to bring to the class is:
  • a 4 or 4.5mm crochet hook
  • and DK / 8ply yarn in a light colour.
Book for Beginner Crochet online or in store.

Next Steps Crochet

Saturday 18 May 

1pm - 3.30pm

For those that know how to hold their hook and yarn but would like to move beyond simply edging their knitting. Covering reading patterns and charts, invisible decreases, foundation single crochet and joining squares.

 Book for Next Steps Crochet online or in store.

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October 23, 2012

Next Steps Crochet: guest post by Sofia

Thanks to Sofia i've caught the crochet bug well and good - as have lots of our eager crochet learners. Whether you've learned the basics with us, or would like to add to your skills, the Next Steps class is the way to go. And it's this Saturday! 

Sign up online, call us or drop by the shop to book your spot.

Take it away, Sofia!

There have been several very successful 'absolute beginners' crochet classes held at HRYC now and I've loved how enthused almost every one of the newbie crocheters have got about the craft. One recent comment was 'if I'd learnt to crochet before knitting I can see I might not have learnt to knit'.  I doubt that's really true though.  I can now knit too, I've not knitted a lot, but I can do it and I intend to do more of it in future even though crochet is my first love.  Trouble with crochet is, you have to learn much of the more advanced stuff by yourself, there's not many crochet classes beyond the beginner level but there are loads of techniques that can move crochet beyond the granny square and several techniques that I wish I'd been able to learn from someone in person.   So I'm sharing my new found knowledge in a 'next steps' class suitable for those that can already crochet a little.

One of the 'must know' techniques we'll cover is a more advanced method of chaining called the foundation single crochet, it's much stretchier and so it's ideal for clothing, plus it gets rid of that frustrating 'first row' experience.  Reading charts is another technique many people have mentioned they'd like to learn. There are some gorgeous patterns which make a whole lot more sense when charted thats for sure!  Best tip I can give you is this; read your chart anti-clockwise or from right to left as that's how we create our 'fabric'.  We'll also cover a few different methods for joining squares and something called an invisible decrease so hopefully there's a little bit of something interesting in there for a few of you.

I must admit, I'm really looking forward to it, I'm hopeful I might pick up a tip or two from those that come along as well!

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