Thursday, 12 July 2012

Circular needles
Circular needles are a pair of knitting needles with a piece of nylon or other smooth cord connecting them.
With a circular kitting needle you can can knit hats or snoods without the need for a stitched seam at the end.
Depending on the way the button bands and collars are knitted on a cardigan or jacket can also make a circular needle more appropriate.
They are available in different lengths depending on job.

40cm, 60cm, 80cm and 100cm

These are available in many different sizes of needles to cover the spectrum of different yarns.

Large number of stitches make it useful to use 1 circular needle as opposed to 4 standard knitting needles. e.g knitting a skirt or a yoke of jumper.

Although I have been knitting 30+ years it is only in the last decade have
I been more willing to use a circular needle and have found it is easier
in some situations.
The yolk of this silk sweater was knitted by the model  with a curricular needle 

One of the only drawbacks of using a circular needle is if you attempt to
use the wrong length. So as with all sewing and knitting projects, check and double check your measurements.

Remember, wool and yarns are available in our fabulous summer sale. Pop into one of our branches for some inspiration and get knitting.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I can be such a knitwitt at times

I have realized that one important part of our work at Fabric8 has been neglected on this blog. Knitting!. I don't knit, it's a sad fact. I did have a go at making a Tom Baker Doctor Who Scarf, but my girlfriend had to rescue it. I was lamenting this fact to the Manager of the Colchester branch, Tina. She kindly offered to share some of her knowledge and insights into the world of knitting with me. I am going to start  crocheting next week though. So I shall now hand you over to the most knowledgeable, Tina.

What yarn to use.

Many patterns specify a particular yarn. This is to increase that company's sales. However as long as you use the correct weight of yarn the project will turn out as required. Different yarns have different qualities that may determine what the finished look is going to be. 

Acrylic. This is cheap alternative. I personally would only use a basic acrylic for either young children's clothes as it is not advisable to give them someting with a high wool content due to the fibre lose that might
cause choking or for toys. The drawback of acrylic is once it is washed it is unlikely to retain its former state.

Wool/Acrylic mix. The addition of a little bit of wool prevents the stretching often seen in pure acrylic options. The last time I used this was on a new aran jumper for me.

High content wool mixes and pure wools. Debbie Bliss and other companies (mainly upper end of the knitting market) select these type of yarns). If looked after these can be worn as new (or nearly new) for over a decade. One such garment I knitting for my then fiance (now husband) is as new after 18 years. The high wool content allows the garment to retain its original shape after careful washing.

Silk/ Bamboo yarns Silk has this wonderful sheen that is unmistakable. it is lovely to work
with. Examples of Silk yarns currently availavle is called Grace by Designer yarns (it is the Louisa Harding branding) If you don't  like silk then try  Bamboo yarn such as Sirdar's Baby Bamboo or Debbie Bliss Prima ranges. A note of caution, if you are allergic to wool check the band on the Bamboo ranges
for wool content. There is one available without the addition of wool but only available to order.

Cotton/ Mercerized cotton for cool summer garments. Mercerized cotton have a slight sheen to them and a slight elasticity which will help hold the garment's shape. Currently working with this yarn on a cardigan. Yarn is by Rico called essentials cotton DK. this particular yarn is going a long way so more economically
than at first glance (£2.95/ 50g ball)

Chenille this gives a garment a velvety luxurious look to it. It is more difficult to achieve a steady tension so would only recommend for those knitters with a bit of experience.

So there you have it, a basic crash course in Wool, or Yarns. Later this week we will show you one or two useful tools to make knitting easier. With the weather being very bad and the feeling of winter months not being far  away it may be time to take up a hobby you can do whilst chatting or watching TV. The warm fuzzy socks or stylish tops and hats being  a fringe benefit to the joy of creating something while relaxing. 

Friday, 6 July 2012

Colouring Your World.

Sometimes we have a new customer in the shop who is a little unsure of themselves. This is fine, we all had to start somewhere after all. Sometimes they don't realize that we  sell the whole width of the fabric, and not just cut them out a square the size they want. Other times  they may not realize fabrics come in different widths. And other times they may not understand that cotton and wool can relate to fabrics, as well as thread and knitting supplies. We always take great care to explain how things work and to reassure therm that many people don't know of such things when they  start out.  Without fail these people pick everything up very quickly and before long are even teaching me the odd new trick.

  One thing I try to explain is that it's OK to ask if they have something in a different colour (or in the case of a patterned fabric, a different colourway). Often a fabric will come in many shades and we will try to stock them all, but sometimes we can order some different ones in as well.  These are often in a simuler vein, however sometimes the colourways are markedly different and change the whole feel of the pattern. Seeing as it's raining, and hence nice weather for ducks I'll use the Cock-A-Leekie fabric as an example.

Cock-A-Leekie in Olive. This give the authentic farmhouse feel to a kitchen or indeed living room. The warm muted tonnes make it easy to blend in with traditional wood furniture. 

Cock-A-Leekie in Jewel is another traditionally styled colourway . Slightly bolder than the olive but you could still see it in a traditional farmhouse styled home.  I think already though you can see a difference in  how each bird look with the different colours. I think of this as a slightly more modern styled fabric to the olive.

 Cock-A-Leekie in Kiwi now the same pattern is starting to look very  different. Limited to   Black and lighter shades of yellow/green the fabric  has a modern but not harsh edge to it, recognizable as the same pattern as the olive but suitable for totally different surroundings.

Cock-A-Leekie in Duckegg with shades of cold light blues and greys has a distinct urban feel. It reminds me of a modern but lush mansion I was fortunate to spend time in whilst visiting Whitby. A more modern take on a traditonal look, these colours work wonderfully with wide open spaces.

Cock-A-Leekie in Denim an almost photo negative version of the duckegg. Again very modern, more suited to an urban apartment than a farmhouse styled home. Slightly warmer looking than the duckegg but still a very clean look.

Cock-A-Leekie in Cinnamon is the final colourway of this fabric. The addition of hit and spice reds are highlighted next to the more traditionally coloured  ducks. I find this pattern a fascinating  example of how just changing the colours a little, or a lot can totally change how you'd use a fabric. I'ts not just in furniture fabrics, check out the different colourways in craft and fashion fabrics. next time you see a fabric you like, but unsure of the colour don't be afraid to ask, The staff are always there to help and inspire you. And don't be afraid to pick up a colour you normally don't wear, take it to the mirror and drape it over yourself. As these examples show, even a few shades difference can totally alter how a textile looks in it's surroundings.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

I'm Sale-ing Away...

Ok sorry for the bad pun but the Eric Cartman version of that song has been going through my mind all day.

It's that time of the year again, where both the Felixstowe and Colchester branches of Fabric8 are holding a sale.  I've blogged before about the philosophy  of the sale. This time I wanb to talk about some of the best ways to take advantage of them. With savings of 25 and 30% you now have the opportunity to use some textiles that may have been out of your price range before.  The sale covers not just fashion fabrics and craft fabrics but also the furnishing fabrics. So this is the perfect time to pop into the shop and think of curtains, seat covers, blinds or anything that requires a lot of fabric.

In the past I've picked up over 100 meters of fabric in the sale to have just in case a suitable project came along. I know I'm lucky with the amount of space I have to store fabrics, however even if you haven't got much space the thinner fabrics can still be worth getting hold of.

Translucent lylic vine leaf organza. The leaves are embroidered onto a shimmering see though fabric. I've used this fabric in wedding dresses as an over skirt over the silk. If you're carefull you can trim the backing fabric off, leaving you with the vine leaves which you can then sew onto the garment, so they seam to spread from the overskirt to the bodice. Now only £6.60 per meter.

More leaves on Organza. Gold leaves in flock over a shimmering gold organza. Light and floaty this has many uses. From laying over costumes to using as net curtains or bed curtains. We have gold, red and burgundy in the sale. I used the black to match some curtains.

We also have a black organza with gems. This fabric can be expensive but in the sale is only  £3.08 per meter. Perfect to have on hand for Halloween,  These are just a few of the fabrics we have on sale. Pop in and  check out the silks, cottons and all the other textiles, even if you have no particular project in mind  you may be struck by some inspiration.