The Home of Rowan Yarns – A Visit to the Mill

Hey everyone! I have finally returned to my blog after a few turbulent months. It’s good to be back.
I’d like to tell you about the time Snowfox packed her bags and travelled all the way to picturesque Holmfirth, to visit the home of Rowan Yarns and meet 12 fellow Rowan Ambassadors and the makers and shakers of the brand.

I don’t even know where to start – it was all amazing. I travelled from London to Nottingham, where Sarah from Nottingham Knitter picked me up so we could travel the rest of the way together. We arrived at our hotel in Holmfirth, the Old Bridge Inn, just in time to join the other Ambassadors for dinner. Lots of happy faces greeting us, it was so exciting to finally meet everybody after having communicated online for over a year.

Rowan_Ambassadors

From the Rowan Yarns facebook page

From front  left to right:
Ute from Heute strick ich
Anja from IamSnowfox
Maria Niedermayer 
Violeta from A Knitting Bakery
Linda from Knitted Pink
Cindi from PurlOne
Kristen from Knitionary
Dayana from Dayana Knits
Esther from Knitting with Rowan
Anne from Life Lackadaisical 
Konrad from Knittingkonrad
Claire from Knit And Purl Garden
Sarah from Nottingham Knitter

After a delicious and satisfying dinner, we all unpacked our knitting (of course) and wound down from a long day of travelling before heading up to our separate rooms.

Holmfirth_from_Old_Bridge_Inn

Room with a view

The next morning we got whisked off to The Mill to finally meet the Rowan Yarns team.
The Green Lane Mill has been the home of Rowan Yarns since 1979. It’s a beautiful old building, lots of exposed brick walls and wooden beams that ooze character and work as a beautiful backdrop for the offices and show room.

Rowan_Mill_Entrance

At last – The Rowan Mill

We were introduced to brand manager Kate Buller and the Rowan Team, including designers – Imagine getting to meet all the people who’s designs you’ve admired and recreated over the years – I was pretty star-struck. The creativity and expertise in that room was unbelievable.

Rowan_Designers

Martin Storey, Marie Wallin, Lisa Richardson, Sarah Hatton, Gemma Atkinson, Kate Buller

Every single Rowan Magazine in existance was carefully laid out for us to look at – the early issues are hard to come by and are popular collectors items, I almost didn’t dare picking up some of the rarer magazines as I’m so clumsy and tend to break things. I couldn’t resist picking up the first ever Rowan Magazine though – and my very own first issue, Magazine 48.
IamSnowfox_Rowan_Magazines

But what would a visit to the mothership of beautiful knitted garments be without garments – there were of course several models from the A/W collection on display. Lots of oohing and aahing, and of course thorough discussion of the new season going on!

Marie_Wallin_Scaven

Scaven‘ by Marie Wallin

We even got to try things on!

Lisa_Richardson_Ulrika

Ulrika by Lisa Richardson

We spent time discussing current and future projects, amongst others the first ever Rowan Knit-A-Long, a beautiful  Mystery Afghan designed by Martin Storey and Knitted with Rowan’s Pure Wool Worsted. The pattern is free and can be downloaded from the Rowan Yarns Website here, all you need to do is sign up as a site member (which is also free).

Martin_Storey_Mystery_Afghan

Martin Storey presenting his very own Mystery Afghan

We spent a day learning about the design process at Rowan Yarns – from brief to swatching to finished garment, and even had a chance of working on our own designs with help and advice from the pros. After two full days at The Mill filled with so much creative input, some fresh air was exactly what I needed, so some of us went for a beautiful walk in the Peak District, with lots of sheep to keep us company of course.

IamSnowfox_Nottingham_Knitter_Peak_District

With Nottingham Knitter Sarah

And last – but certainly not least! – there was CAKE.

Rowan_Ambassadors_CakeI hope you enjoyed taking this little tour with me. In my next post I’ll tell you all about the new season yarns and my favourite A/W 2014/15 designs. See you then!

DIY Recycled Cardboard Jewellery Display Tutorial

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display

I don’t know about you, but it’s already March and some of my NYE resolutions haven’t really taken off. Like reducing my yarn stash. Or fitting back into my old jeans. Or decluttering.
Decluttering! It’s amazing how much stuff we collect over the years. I’ve been feeling quite heavy (not literally.. ok maybe a little bit) with things in the last few months.
I was originally planning to get rid of at least one possession every day of the year. That makes 365 things in a year. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But as things go, I commute between two countries, I have two households, I have a lot of stuff, but not necessarily all in one place. So the decluttering doesn’t always happen when and where I’d like it to happen.
I’m  spending 2 consecutive weeks in the same house this month, so last week saw me frantically rooting through my wardrobes, drawers, boxes, tins – you name it, I’ve probably got something stored in it.

I don’t like throwing perfectly good clothes (jewellery, household items) away, I’d rather swap or resell them, or give them to charity. Time for a trip to the flea market! 

Previous trips to markets and car boot sales have taught me that chaos is not good. Jumble is not good. Nobody will be interested in your things if your stall is one big mess. So this year, I’m being super organised. I’m taking tables to display all the little items, clothes racks for all the stuff I don’t wear anymore.. but what to do with the jewellery?
I could buy a jewellery display. But wait, the whole idea was to get rid of things, not buy more things! So I came up with a quick and simple solution: A cardboard display that can be discarded (you can of course keep it and reuse it later).
I had all the materials at home so it cost me literally nothing apart from a little time. So here’s my tutorial for a super easy, cost effective and environment friendly portable jewellery display.

You will need:

Strong cardboard (an old box does the job)
Scissors
A very sharp knife
Large darning needle
Surface you can cut on

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_materials

Start by deciding what items you want to display, and how big you’d like your display to be. Cut your cardboard to the desired size using the scissors (I used the knife, but scissors are a bit neater. The knife will leave your edges slighty rough). Next, decide what you want to hang where. Earrings take up the least space, short necklaces can be displayed beneath each other, long ones lined up next to each other.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_earrings

To hang your earrings, simply punch a hole for each earring through the cardboard with your darning needle. Make sure to leave some space between the holes so your dangly earrings don’t get tangled.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_earrings_tutorial

For shorter necklaces, use your knife to diagonally make one cut into each side of your cardboard like shown in the photo below.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_short_tutorial

For really long or bulky necklaces, cut out an upside down ‘U’.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_long_tutorial_diy

Punch the ‘U’ from the back of the cardboard so it stands out a little bit. Use the ‘U’ like a hook to hang up your necklace. This method also works well for bracelets.

Cardboard_Jewellery_Display_necklace_long_tutorial

Before you hang up all your things, you could also use pens, markers or paint to draw on your cardboard. Once you’re satisfied with how your display looks, decide how you want to hang it. I used metal scarf hangers as their grip is quite firm and they will hold a lot of weight. I can simply hang them onto the ends of the clothes racks and people will be able to see all the pretty things without having to dig through a box of tangled chains. You could of course also just lean them against something, or tie some string through two holes at the top and hang them on a wall. Or use a skirt hanger and hang inside your wardrobe for neat jewellery storage.

Cardboard jewelry display

Moontree Pillow – And the winner is..

IamSnowfox_MoonTree_Pillow

The competition for the giveaway is now closed. I have had so many wonderful entries that I found it hard to choose just one, so instead we will have…… 3 winners!

Their names have been announced on the IamSnowfox facebook page, so why not head over there and check  if you’re one of them? 

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you so much everyone for participating. I have loved all your entries, winner or not. I’m looking forward to seeing a forest of knitted trees, so please don’t be shy and share some pictures.

xxx

Moontree Pillow Pattern by IamSnowfox

Welcome back dear readers in 2014! 

It has been quiet on my blog as I’ve been so busy the past few weeks. I moved house just before Christmas, so the last weeks were spent painting, unpacking boxes and decorating. I took a little timeout between Christmas and New Year to go to Austria and recharge my batteries (and eat lots of grandma’s Christmas cookies).
My knitting needles and designs lay neglected in my suitcase as I was too busy snowboarding, walking the dog and sleeping.
Austria was covered in snow, and during one of my evening walks while looking at the bare trees glistening with frost under a full moon, the idea for the Moontree Pillow was born. 

IamSnowfox_MoonTree_Pillow

This pillow gives the illusion of colourwork,  the tree motif is embroidered on after the knitting is finished, giving the tree a slightly raised and more defined texture than if it was knit into the the fabric. It also means you’ll only knit with one colour at a time, making it a great colourwork project for a beginner knitter.
The pattern is available for download in my Ravelry Store

I have used new Rowan Yarns Pure Wool Worsted for my pillow, it’s a wonderfully soft, superwash yarn that comes in a whopping 50 shades.
The colours are beautiful and vibrant and the colour palette is well chosen, making this new yarn an instant stash staple.
My pillow was knit using colours Moonstone and Ivory, but it would look gorgeous in any colour combination.

IamSnowfox_MoonTree_PillowI will be giving away the pattern to one lucky reader for free! Simply comment on this post and tell me what your favourite thing about winter is! Competition runs until February 2nd and the winner will be announced on the IamSnowfox facebook page  and Twitter.

Good Luck!

Anthropologie Inspired Gift Tag Tutorial

I recently saw Anthropologie’s cute Pop Dot Monogram Decorations, and immediately decided that yarn letters would be perfect as gift tags for my Christmas presents this year. Almost all of my presents are handmade, so of course the tags would have to be handmade too. I have lots of odd bits of wool and glittery things lying around, and these letters are perfect to use those last scraps up.

Anthropologie Gift Tags FinishedThese letter tags are quick to make, the materials cost next to nothing and they look cute both as gift tags and as decorations on your Christmas tree! I made a whole set of MERRY CHRISTMAS letters which I’m giving away as a gift this year. And of course you could change the theme to go with any occasion, birthdays, holidays.. you name it!

Here’s what you need:

Anthropologie Gift Tags Utensils1. Glue Stick (I like Pritt)
2. Hot Glue Gun (keep out of reach of children!)
3. Decorations (I used card making supplies, but anything goes. Sequins, beads, etc)
4. Scrap Yarn
5. Pencil
6. Cardboard
7. Scissors

First, decide how big you want your letters to be. You can either draw them freely, or print templates and glue them to your cardboard. I made my letters about 7cms tall. Cut all letters out neatly trying not to bend the cardboard too much.
Anthropologie Gift Tags RawChoose your yarn colours. Start by glueing the end of your strand of yarn to the cardboard with the hot glue gun and let it dry. Wrap a thin layer of yarn around the whole letter. If you have trouble keeping the yarn in place, use a little bit of hot glue to fix single strands. Don’t worry about the glue peeking through, you can hide the glue under the next layer of yarn. I used hot glue for sharp angles and to stop the yarn from sliding off the edges of my letters. Tiny amounts of glue will do so don’t go overboard. You can even out any wonky lines in your letter by simply wrapping more or less yarn around the cardboard.Anthropologie Gift Tags HalfwayLetters with holes (A’s, D’s, etc) can be tricky to wrap if they are too small. It helps winding your wool into a tiny ball that will fit through the holes, or cut a long piece of string, thread it through a sewer’s needle and use that to wrap your letter. 
Anthropologie Gift Tags PureWhen you have finished wrapping your letters, pick up your glue gun and your decorations and get creative! 

Merry Christmas!
Anthropologie Gift Tags Present

Pussycat Bow – Free Pattern

IamSnowfox-Pussycat-BowThis is my newest pattern, a Pussycat Bow which uses 1 ball of Rowan Yarn’s newest addition to their ever-popluar Kidsilk range, Kidsilk Amore. Now, this may just be me, but when I hear ‘Amore’, I put on a fake Italian accent in my head and instantly go for an (imaginary) stroll along the canals of Venice. Boats, Gondolieri in their little neck-ties and the general air of romance and grandeur inspired this oversized bow-tie. Ah, Amore…Pussycat-Bow-fullThe pattern is part of the Rowan Ambassadors Amore Online Collection and can be downloaded here. It’s free for Row@n members, simply sign up for their online community if you’re not a member yet (signing up is also free)!
You can also download the whole Ambassadors Collection here, every project uses no more than 1 ball of Kidsilk Amore or Kidsilk Amore Shimmer.
 Kidsilk Amore is a multi strand construction yarn, turning the delicate mohair and silk fibres into a chunkier yarn, which is very light yet warm.
It makes for either a super fluffy fabric if knitted on larger needles, or an intensely coloured dense structure if knitted on smaller needles. Both look and feel great.

Taking pictures of the Pussycat Bow turned out to be difficult, a week before the deadline for handing in my pattern it was pouring.. and it just wouldn’t stop. I postponed, and postponed, and postponed, until the very last day and it was STILL raining. So I took the plunge (literally), grabbed an umbrella and hoped for just a few rain-free minutes, a gap in the clouds.. and it paid off!
So here’s my favourite behind the scenes shot, complete with umbrella and double rainbow.
IamSnowfox-Pussycat-Bow-rainbow

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions concerning the pattern, and feel free to share your pictures over on Ravelry!

Wool Week – Day 4: Knitting is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll

As I am writing this, Wool Week 2013 draws to a close. It’s been a wonderful week full of  inspiration, shared creativity and  fun.
I tried to go to as many events and workshops as time would allow. On schedule for thursday was the Rowan Yarns workshop at John Lewis Oxford Street. The classes were all booked out, so I decided to just drop into one of their open sessions, which also allowed me to check out the progress of the wool window.
People have been hard at work all week, and by now you can view the finished room in the side streets off Oxford Street. Just as a reminder, we started out with this on monday…

Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas

By Thursday, things were looking rather different. A majority of the originally white interior is now covered in colourful stitches.. they don’t even stop at the afternoon tea.


Those who still think knitting is for old ladies only, think again. Knitting is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Knitting is the new  Rock 'n' Roll

After saying Hi to the busy people in the window, I headed up the First Floor for the Rowan workshop. Upon arriving I noticed models of the snoods they were teaching to people – 3 different variations, all knit in wonderfully soft and chunky Big Wool. I borrowed a pair of needles, and one of the design consultants who work at John Lewis attempted to teach me to knit English Style (I’m normally a continental knitter). I started working on this cabled cowl and will definitely be making a few of these as Christmas presents.
 Cabled Cowl


Stuart Hillard from the Great British Sewing Bee having fun knitting a purple scarf.

Stuart Hillard Knitting

After a good two hours during which I more or less successfully attempted fair isle knitting with one colour in each hand, it was time for another class. This one was fully booked, and even reality TV star Oliver Proudlock joined the group to learn how to knit. Since the pop-up store was getting really crowded, I packed what I had made into my already too-full bag and headed over to Liberty’s, where the Awards ceremony for the winner of Wool Week 2013 Hand Knit & Crochet Award was taking place.
The Awards are a collaboration between Rowan Yarns, The Campaign for Wool, Liberty’s and The Royal College of Arts. To learn more about the awards, head over to the Campaign for Wool’s website. I got a chance to talk to the winners and Rowan brand manager Kate Buller and designer Marie Wallin, who are both very passionate about the competition, and who knows – they might even be recruiting some of those fresh talents to work with on future collections. Marie Wallin (wearing her own design Anatolia from Rowan Mag 54) then presented the awards and prizes to the winners and told the audience a little more about the designs and the creative minds behind them.


I am a bit sad that Wool Week 2013 is now nearly over, but am sure that Wool Week 2014 is already being planned as we speak, and will have many more inspiring exhibitions and events in store for all of us. I’m signing off now to work on my knitting :)

Wool Week ‘Knit Nation’ – Day 1

This year’s wool week has finally arrived! I kicked off the week by joining Toft Alpaca Shop for some live Yarn Bombing in a window display at John Lewis in Oxford Street. The idea is to start out with a completely white space, and gradually cover it in colourful stitches during the week. Lots of different artists are joining the fun, and there will be stints of live knitting and crocheting every day. 
John Lewis is also hosting FREE knitting workshops every day, for more information and class schedules check the Campaign for Wool’s website
We spent the afternoon covering the sofa in what will be a fitted throw by the end of the week, and were joined by Dan from Sheperd’s delight. Check out his pictures of Daisy Lowe opening Wool Week on tumblr.

After finishing the crochet session in the window I joined WOOL AND THE GANG for a free knitting class in the women’s fashion department. They had been doing some live knitting in the window earlier and were now busy teaching knitting chunky hats and scarves to anyone who dropped in.

I had so much fun and can’t wait to be back on thursday to check out the progress of the wooly window and join Rowan Yarns for free workshops during the day. Follow me on facebook for some live updates!

Knitting and Stitching Show 2013

I-Love-knitting-1912

British Wool Week has started and living just on the outskirts of London, I am lucky enough to be able to attend some of the events taking place in different locations in the city every day.

The Knitting and Stitching Show is the biggest show for any yarn and fibre related craft in the UK, attending is mandatory for anybody passionate about crafts. It was only my second time at the show, but I had an absolute blast. I went on saturday, which was probably the busiest day of all. By noon Alexandra Palace was packed with people, and it was so crowded it was actually starting to become difficult to see any of the stalls and talk to people.

Having been a Rowan Ambassador for several months now, my highlight of the day was meeting some of the Rowan Yarns Staff and being introduced to some of their designers. Many key pieces and yarns from their A/W collections were on display at the Coats Crafts Stall which was one of the largest stalls in the exhibition.

rowan-wool-rack-1932

You can see some of their beautiful yarns on display, as well as the most recent publications including my favourite, Pioneer by Martin Storey and Kim Hargreaves’ Storm which has only been released last week. My favourite yarns this season include Rowan’s Alpaca Colour, Thick’n’Thin and the new Fine Art colours. Sadly there were no samples of the highly anticipated Fine Art Aran, but hopefully the Knitting and Stitching Show at Harrogate in November will have some samples.

mannekin-display-1934

Caris and Annis from Kim Hargreaves’ Storm. Caris is definitely one of my favourite designs this season, it looks modern and classy at the same time and is knit with Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Fine Lace.

Rowan mannekin-display-1933

Just look at the beautiful styling of the mannequins.. It was all about the knitwear, but I somehow can’t help wanting one of those amazing skirts which are hand-sewn by the in-house design team.

Rowan peacock jumper 1938Another of one of my favourite pieces this season – Almanac from Martin Storey’s Pioneer. I would probably make it in more peacock-y colours however. Navy with green and gold accents perhaps instead of pink and red tones.

make-it-mannekin-1939

Some samples from Jem Weston’s book Cute Little Knits – Isn’t ther Lovebird Cushion adorable? And I don’t need to tell you how much I love Fantastic Fox!

rachel-martin-anja-1930

I had the great pleasure of meeting Designers Martin Storey and Rachel Coopey, who were both signing copies of their newest books Pioneer and A Knitted Sock Society.

Another of my favourite British Yarn retailers, Toft were well worth a visit. Their stall was buzzing with customers, it must have been a very successful event for them.
toft-end-of-an-era-1929They are  famous for their signature bulbous Button Bag. The bags are sold as kits to make at home, but if you can’t knit you can also hire a knitter to make one for you! These beautiful bags are sadly being discontinued, so if you have been wanting to make one, now is your last chance!

toft-monkey-1928

Their newest pattern book, Edward’s Menagerie, which features many cute crocheted animals, was available at the Knitting and Stitching Show as a Limited Printed Edition. It was sadly sold out by the time I got to visit their stall, but you can get a digital copy here.

knit-1-taxi-1949

On the way out I managed to get some pictures of KNIT 1, a black cab which has been yarnbombed and covered entirely in knitted objects!

I had a wonderful time and have already marked the dates of The Knitting and Stitching Show 2014 in my calendar (and who knows, I may even go to the Harrogate one in November, that’s how much fun it was!).
Next up will be Wool Week and Knit Nation. I am participating in a live yarn bombing of a window display in John Lewis Oxford Street.. stay tuned for  footage of our progress and other fun events and workshops!

Manly Honeycomb Mittens Knitting Pattern

Manly Honeycomb Mittens Pattern

Mr Fox has been complaining about cold hands all winter last year, and who am I to not take mercy? I thought long and hard about what kind of mittens to make for him, since he tends to be rather picky and doesn’t necessarily go for colour combinations I would choose. I toyed with the idea of making just plain old solid-coloured mittens, as they tend to be quick and easy, and wouldn’t make me grumble if he lost them, but then my knitting pride took over and I wanted them to be at least a little bit fancy. The instructions will make a pair of adult men’s size mittens. I will include alterations for a women’s sized pair at the end of the pattern as well. Check out my Ravelry project page!

I settled on a knitted honeycomb mitten pattern and Rowan Yarns Creative Focus Worsted, a mix of 75% Wool and 25% Alpaca in shades Natural and New Fern. I already had single balls of each colour in my stash and thought they looked rather nice together. The mittens are lovely and soft, and the pattern makes them wonderfully thick and squishy. Wearing these, Mr Fox’s paws will be toasty all winter! And after knitting a pair I had enough yarn left over to make another pair for myself.

Pattern:Manly Honeycomb Mitts inside

You will need:
1 skein of worsted weight colour A (Main colour)
1 skein of worsted weight colour B (Contrasting colour)
1 set of 3,5mm dpns (I use sets of 5)
1 set of 4mm dpns (I use sets of 5)
Safety pin or stitch holder
Tapestry needle to weave in ends
Stitch Marker (optional)

Cast on 40 sts with colour A on 3,5mm needles, distribute evenly across needles and join. Place stitch marker (optional).

Cuff:
*K2, P2, rep from * until end. Repeat this row 24 more times for a total of 25 rows (or adjust to whichever length you prefer).
Change to 4mm needles.*Inc, P4, rep from * until end (48sts).
Purl one row.

Honeycomb Pattern:
Part 1:
Row 1: *K4 with colour B, Sl 2 purlwise of colour A, rep from * to end of row.
Repeat this row 4 more times for a total of 5 rows.
Tip: Make sure colour A is at the back when starting each row. For neat colour changes, carry up colour A in the back (Great tutorial here).
Row 6: Purl
Row 7: Purl
Now alternate pattern as follows:
Part 2:
Row 8: *K1 with colour B, Sl 2 purlwise of colour A, K3 with colour B. Rep from * to end of row.
Repeat this row 4 more times for a  total of 5 rows.
Row 13: Purl
Row 14: Purl

Thumb*:
For a man’s pair of mittens, repeat pattern 2,5 times (5 rows of honeycombs, or 3 reps of Part 1, only 2 reps of Part 2).
When you are about to purl the last two rows, insert thumb as follows: P2, put 7 sts on stitch holder. Cast on 7 stitches, purl to end of row. Purl one row.
*When you have finished your mitten, knit thumb with colour A by picking up the 7 stitches from holder plus additional stitches for a total of 14 sts. Knit all rows until thumb is long enough. Finish by K2tog around.

Knit the pattern 6,5 times (13 rows of honeycombs, or 7 reps of Part 1, 6 reps of Part 2), or adjust until the mittens are long enough.

Finish the tip with Colour A:Manly Honeycomb Mittens Closeup

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: *K2tog, K4, rep from * to end of row (40sts)
Row 3-4: Knit
Row 5: *K2tog, K3, rep from * to end of row (32 sts)
Row 6-7: Knit
Row 8: *K2tog, K2, rep from * to end of row (24sts)
Row 9-10: Knit
Row 11: *K2tog, rep to end

Thread yarn through remaining stitches and pull tight, weave in ends. Tah dah!

For the Ladies:

How to adjust the size of the mittens:
If you’re knitting for an average woman’s sized hands, insert the thumb after 2 pattern repeats (4 rows of honeycombs), or after 1,5 pattern repeats (3 rows of honeycombs) for small hands. I find 48sts a good width for both men’s and women’s mittens, but you can adjust this if you’d like them wider or more snug. The pattern is worked over multiples of 6 sts, so simply add or deduct multiples of 6 sts from the total of stitches to make them wider or smaller. For my hands a total of 5,5 reps of the pattern is long enough (11 rows of honeycombs), simply adjust by adding more or less pattern repeats.