The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

Guest Blog: The Yarn Cafe July 11, 2011

Filed under: Custom Orders,Knit Nation — thebotheredowl @ 7:50 pm
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Alex and I are somewhat preoccupied with getting stock finished for a certain yarn event coming up this weekend  *cough*Knit Nation *cough*

Alex has, so far, made almost 80 bags, including the very special limited edition ones for our collaboration, and I know that she’s got more on the go as well.

I’m working a little more slowly than last year (anyone remember 100 items in a week? Glory days, I tell you, glory days!) but I’ve got needle rolls springing forth from my machine in a wide variety of fabrics to please the eye.

Anyway, as we’re both somewhat snowed under, we’ve invited Tracie and Simon from The Yarn Cafe to be guests on the blog.

 The Yarn Cafe is a brand new online yarn shop and Tracie and Simon have managed to find some gorgeous items with which to tempt us all – including some incredibly drool worthy Skein Queen colourways.

Skein Queen, By the Seaside

I do apologise in advance for my slightly lumpy interviewing style. I did once fail a course on print journalism at university so I’m in good company at least! Without further ado, I present The Yarn Cafe Team.

Please to introduce yourselves:

We are Tracie and Simon from Coventry in the UK.

How did you get into crafting?

Tracie: I first learnt to knit when I was 8 and was taught by my mum and had two grandmas that were prolific knitters. As I child I enjoyed sewing, drawing and the spirograph was my favourite toy. As time went on, I followed my more scientific side and only returned properly to knitting in January 2010 .

Simon: As a fisherman, I know all about knots and am able to cast on ,but I learnt to knit in September 2010 (when the promise of a free spinning lesson spurred me on). I have a knitting machine and have made numerous cowls on that and even some sparkly black fingerless mitts.

What are you working on at the moment?

Tracie: I have a number of projects on the go – a lace tablecloth, socks, a couple of cardigans and would like to learn to crochet.

Simon: I am currently knitting a cable jumper for myself (in between knitting some miniature bobble hats).

What else are you into?

Tracie: I am inspired by music, nature and impressonist art but also love films, computers, web design and gadgets.

Simon: I love music (especially Metallica) and have a drum kit and a few guitars. I also love gadgets, fishing and my VW campervan.

Tell us more about the shop

Tracie: There are not too many yarn shops in the Coventry area and as buyers, we found it hard to get hold of good quality yarns (as did our local knitting group). We have decided to set up an online web shop that stocks the usual items such as needles and notions, but also have some exclusive lines made for us by designers. At present we stock Fyberpsates, The Bothered Owl, Atomic Knitting, Skein Queen, Rooster Yarns, Lang, King Cole, Knit Pro, Frangipani and Blacker Yarns with more to follow.

Blacker Designs yarn

So there you have it folks. And if you’d like to see a photo of one of the sock pouches we’ve made for The Yarn Cafe, how can we deny you?

Coffee and Doughnuts – YUM!

I made up 10 bags, all in fabrics you will only be able to get from The Yarn Cafe. A couple of them are sold out already but I can confirm I’ve got more of those fabrics and once the Knit Nation slog is out of the way I’ll be cracking on with some more bits and pieces of loveliness for Tracie and Simon.

We wish Tracie and Simon all the best with their new venture!

And now, it’s back to the Knit Nation grindstone for us.

Three days to go!

Sarah 🙂


Knit Nation – The Final Day August 2, 2010

Filed under: Knit Nation — thebotheredowl @ 6:11 am

Saturday started with a very alarm call and Alex and Scott dropped around to Sarah’s to pick up a few items that Sarah had gone home to make on Friday, one was a custom order and the other was a bag for one of the lovely ladies at the Knitting and Crochet Guild. After getting these from Sarah, we promptly sent her back to bed and went to get ourselves into South Kensington and breakfast. We went to Starbucks as Scott wanted a bucket of coffee and met Eirwen and Richard from Knitwitches Yarns in there and had a quick chat to them while scoffing down some breakfast.

Got to the stall and did some more tweaking of the displays, before Alex ran off to buy some of Wollmeise yarn and other bits before the market opened. Trying to remember what happened now is difficult as the day just flew buy but met lots of lovely people who all commented on the beautiful fabrics and said what a great use for Lego, I have so much in my attic/storage cupboard etc. (We will happy accept donations of Lego) was wonderful.

The marketplace where we were had a wonderful atmosphere across the 3 days. It was lovely to meet people who we had only ever talked to online and also to talk to the stallholders who were all very friendly and very chatty.

On the Saturday p/hop for MSF ran their raffle to which we had donated a prize, but unfortunately we didn’t win any prizes :-(. P/hop is charity knitting project that raises funds for the emergency medical aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders. All of the people on their stall were lovely and it is a very worthwhile cause, full details of what they do are available by clicking here.

Pack up was actually slightly sad because the room looked so very bare by the time it had finished and we were also sad because a lot of thought and effort had gone into our stall. Sarah went slightly earlier as once we had packed up we realised that we weren’t all going to fit into a black cab. When the cab arrived, the shelving unit didn’t fit in, whereas when taking it to the market we had a big van style cab. So Scott decided to take the shelving unit and catch the train home. The shelving unit wasn’t heavy but it was a bit awkward. The trip though was made far easier by a number of people stopping Scott on his way to South Kensington station and asking him why he wasn’t going to the Ravelry party, this made him smile that people recognised him from the marketplace.

Alex on the Saturday took a few photos and here they are to share, we will be putting all the photos we took onto our facebook page in the next few days so please feel free to go and tag yourself or anyone you know in the photos.

Brownberry Yarns and Crafty Koala

Old Maiden Aunt's Stall

Our wall of hand made items for fibreholics

Wall of Wollmeise Yarn

Scott's one act of rebellion was to wear his Leyton Orient shirt

Sets of stitch markers on our lovely vinyl record cake stand

Crafty Koala and Brownberry Yarns

Brownberry Yarns

The Little Knitting Company

Knitnacks and Tilly Flop Designs


Knit Nation Preview – Our Raffle July 28, 2010

Filed under: Knit Nation — thebotheredowl @ 1:14 am
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We have mentioned on our twitter and facebook pages that we will be holding a raffle at Knit Nation and the raffle is also mentioned in the latest edition of Yarn Forward.

All you have to do to enter is spend £10 at our stall. For every £10 that you spend, we will give you a ticket to fill in with your contact details and then all you have to do is drop the completed ticket into the box to enter a raffle for some lovely hand made fabric treats for knitters. The winner will be drawn at 5pm on Saturday 31 July 2010, an hour before the Knit Nation marketplace closes. The winner will be announced on this blog and will also be contacted directly to arrange for delivery of the prize.

The prize is a project pouch, a zippered purse and a sock needle envelope which has been made from some Michael Miller fabric called ‘knitting pirates’. The reason we decided to turn this into a raffle prize is because it is out of print and we thought that it would be very popular and this would be a good way to be fair to everybody.

Since a picture is meant to be worth a thousand words, here are some photos of the completed prize.

The Raffle Prize

Sock Needle Envelope

Zippered Purse

Fully Reversible Project Pouch

Fully Reversible Project Pouch


Puuuuuuush! July 19, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat,Knit Nation — thebotheredowl @ 10:37 am
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I kind of feel like we’re in the third stages of a very protracted labour! We’ve been working towards Knit Nation for so long now and it’s next week and I’ve got 70 bits and pieces that I absolutely HAVE to get finished before then… It’s like we’ve been pushing for 36 hours now and the head’s stuck! I just want it OVER so we can metaphorically lie back and hopefully bask in the glow.

This week I have to finish: 23 foldout envelopes, 21 wide width envelopes, 15 tall yarn pouches and 11 needle rolls. If I get that done, I have 15 bucket bags to make and a bunch of zippered project purses to stitch. And a custom hat order to finish as well.

6 months ago the thought of having 70 items to make and only 9 days left to finish them would have sent me running screaming for the hills. Today, I’m looking at those heaps of fabric and taking a deep breath ready for that final push. I can totally do this!



Juggling July 8, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat — thebotheredowl @ 11:17 am
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This has been written about before (and in a more cherent fashion) by others, but I want to address it because sometimes it feels like the elephant in the room. Or, you know, the owl in the room. Whatever.

I have two of these:

You’ve probably noticed, by now. They are fairly obtrusive around here, often sporting jaunty hats or bibs and being very patient with my many foibles.

I also have massive piles of these:

and these:and of course a massive basket like this:

All of it fighting for my attention, all of it needing me Right Now.

The parenting thing is a hard gig. I love it. I gave up teaching to be a Mum and I hope I’m getting to be okay at it. I try really hard to be involved with my kids, to listen to them and give them what they need – not always what they want, which is a different thing.  They’re turning out to be interesting little human beings and they are lots of fun to be around. Challenging, because they love to push my buttons and they are both at ‘difficult’ ages – although I think that all ages have their challenges.

The sewing thing is new for me. Not the actual sewing part, that I’ve been doing since I was a little kid and my Mum made me a patchwork quilt. I’ve been hooked on sewing ever since.

The thing that’s new for me is that it’s time when I re-direct some of my focus away from the kids and onto something else. Going off to markets with them, going over to Alex’s house without them. Small things but for me, really challenging because I.Am.Always.With.My.Kids. When Orlaith started preschool it took me months to adjust to that separation. It felt like part of my body was missing. I still feel weird about it and don’t get me started on the fact that she’s starting at primary school in January. (No, really, don’t. We’ll be here all day discussing the merits of formal education vs homeschooling. You don’t want to go there.)

Sewing for me is kind of about reclaiming an identity for myself that is separate from that of the children. What my Mum calls ‘individuation’.  Something I do that is not just about them.

But at the same time, I have two tiny people who want my attention. All The Time. They need stimulation, supervision, conversation and basic bits and pieces like feeding and taking to the loo. I don’t have the freedom of just walking into a studio, shutting the door behind me and getting to it, because sometimes if I so much as get off the sofa at the wrong time, this is what happens:

Less so these days as Esme gets older but even poor old Orlaith has those rough days when all she wants is to snuggle up on the sofa or in her bed with me and read books and snuggle.

All of which ends up in a hideous spiral of guilt.

Do I take the time to sit at the machine or do I play another game of trains or read another story? At the moment I don’t have a lot of  choice, as we crank up the preparations for Knit Nation to Full Scale Panic Mode. It’s the machine most of the time.

(The blog has been all but abandoned Do I take an hour to write a post about sewing or do I use that hour to make a bunch of stuff?)

And up until this week, I am ashamed to admit that quite often Mr Television has been getting a bit of a work out. Not that it actually guarrantees a quite moment but it gives the illusion of one.

But as of this week I am roud to say I’ve found a new solution: the craft aisle at the Local Giant Supermarket Chain of Doom. It yielded treasure beyond measure, in the form of paper plates, plasticine and trays of water colour paints.

What a revelation! Normally when we do painting it’s a major operation involving a hose and a bathtub and full supervision so that the paint doesn’t end up on the carpet or the walls. But with the tiny paint boxs, they are quite happy to sit each day, dipping their paint brushes in the water, dabbing gently at the little disks of paint and making lovely swirly shapes on the paper or the paper plates. And sometimes on themselves:The plasticine has been a massive success too. Hours of contemplative squishing and smushing.Not making anything in particular, you understand. Just enjoying trailing it about, smashing it a bit, festooning things with it. Then at the end, happily rolling every piece into one ginormous ball.

So, thank you, Giant Supermarket of Doom, you have relieved a little of my crafty parent guilt and made it slightly easier for me to carry on with my insane sewing death-march.

With all that said, the entire time I was writing this post, this is what’s been happening:

And you know what? I love it!

And now, back to the juggling…



I love my job June 14, 2010

Filed under: General Crafty Chat,Knit Nation — thebotheredowl @ 4:00 pm
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Seriously. What other job can you think of where I’d get to spend all day surrounded by fabric, chatting and mucking about with one of my best friends,  playing with my kids and making stuff that will hopefully make people very happy? All the while listening to trashy 80s and 90s hard rock, punk, ska, indie…

Yes, we have a lot of work to do but holy cats, are we ever having fun!

And at some point you may actually get a proper blog entry from one of us. One of these days when we manage to cross the slopes of Mount Knit Nation and safely abseil down the other side. Of course, if you don’t hear from us in the next few months, send a husky, we’re probably buried under a fabr-avalanche in my back room, being slowly mummified.

Now, I must return to my sewing. Sewing and Billy Idol. Sigh.



Sneaky Peek Part 2: They Came With Cameras June 8, 2010

Filed under: Knit Nation — thebotheredowl @ 10:54 pm
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I did promise I would try to get some photos of the pieces we took into IKnit and despite massive technofailogicality (hee hee, neologism!) here they are. Click on each photo for an explanation of what each one is.

We delivered 10 of each of these designs to IKnit, along with 10 of each size of yarn pouch, tall and small, in a huge variety of fabrics. There are a few matching items mixed in there but on the whole we tried to give a fairly wide range.

And I’ve just listed one new fold out envelope on Folksy as a trial. Check it out and see what you think. Once I get my computer woes sorted out I’ll try and pop a few more bits and pieces up there, but at the moment it’s a wee mite tricky to get at all the photos I’ve taken, since one computer is dead and the other has a non-functional SD card slot. Bloody technology!

And now, to bed.