Mother’s Day

Mothering Sunday, or Mother’s Day, is just a month away, at least for the UK; 26th March is the date this year (in the USA it is 14th May). As well as our fabulous selection of jewellery suitable for any occasion, Granary Knits is delighted to offer two new ideas in stitch markers for you to give to your Mum, with love.

The first is a single stitch marker, available as either a knitting marker or a crochet marker/progress keeper. It is a flat heart charm with the word Mother etched on both sides. I think this is a pretty stitch marker, especially for crafters who like to use a marker but not something too big or flamboyant. A quiet heartfelt statement.

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The second new item in store is a set of six stitch markers designed for a daughter to share with her mother. It features glitz, colour, and lots of hearts! The central charm is a split heart, with the word Mother inscribed on one half and the word Daughter on the other; this forms two markers. Flanking this is a flattish double sided heart featuring Mother and a clear rhinestone on each side, and another of the same style featuring Daughter and a clear rhinestone. Finally, two lovely silver foil-lined heart beads in a choice of three colours – a rich red, a medium blue, and a glowing gold. You can have two of the same colour, or choose a combination of any two of the three colours on offer. With each order of this set, you will also receive an extra one of my pretty cloth storage bags so that you can give one half of the set to your Mother in a bag and keep the other half for yourself! The set is available as either six knitting or six crochet markers. If you would like a mixed set (three crochet and three knitting, for instance), please message me for a price quotation.

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Mother’s Day Mother/Daughter knitting markers
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Heart bead colour choice
Little cotton storage/gift bags, made from quilting fabric
Little cotton storage/gift bags, made from quilting fabric

Gemstone of the Month: Amethyst

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February’s birthstone is Amethyst, a beautiful richly coloured transparent to semi-transparent gemstone, ranging in hue from pale lilac to deep purple grape. It is the most highly valued stone in the quartz group, the most important deposits being found in Brazil. Silicon dioxide is its basic composition, coloured by traces of manganese, titanium and iron. Its name means not drunken in Greek, and was worn as an amulet against drunkenness.

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Amethyst and silver knitted earrings showing the range of shades
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Cape Lilac Amethyst knitted onto silver wire

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I use amethyst in a number of pieces of jewellery; plain individual colours as shown in the photographs above, as well as mixed with other gemstones and glass beads to give a rich texture and colour to unique earrings and bracelets. To see my full range of Amethyst jewellery and stitch markers, please go to the Granary Knits Etsy shop.

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Knitting Rainbows

Rainbows are created by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.

A sundog masquerading as an upside down rainbow
A sundog masquerading as an upside down rainbow

That’s the official scientific explanation for one of the beauties of nature. No matter how many times I see a rainbow, I have to stop and look at each one.

Recently, I have started knitting rainbows, as well as observing them:

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As well as knitted rainbows, I am also partial to just threading them onto wire and hanging them from my earlobes:

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creating pendants with rainbow beads:

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or just drooling over the beads au naturel!

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A rainbow of beads
A rainbow of beads

What Are Stitch Markers?

The vast majority of knitters and crocheters go through life never having used a stitch marker. Even if they do need a marker for a project – to indicate a placeholder in a pattern repeat for instance, or to show where a round begins when knitting something in the round or crocheting in a spiral – they are quite likely to grab the nearest scrap of spare yarn, knot it into a little ring and slide it onto their needle or loop it through a crochet stitch.  It doesn’t matter that it is cumbersome to use, won’t slip easily from one needle to the next, or gets inexplicably knitted into the fabric! It is only needed the once and can be discarded at the end of the project.

Old cheap earrings dismantled and about to be turned into stitch markers
Old cheap earrings dismantled and about to be turned into stitch markers

If, however, you are like me,  and you love knitting complicated lace patterns, or intricate Fair Isle designs, then you find you need a constant supply of markers, and the little yarn rings are no longer adequate, indeed they are shown up as the irritating awkward things that they are, actually impacting your creativity and slowing your productivity.image

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Bracelet charms, old earrings and pendants – all get used to create unique markers

I took up lace knitting about eight years ago and immediately found that I had to buy some markers, as the pattern repeats were difficult to follow and the yarn loop markers were inadequate. I bought a set of five markers from my local yarn store, which had imported them from a women’s collective in India. They were fabulous, colourful paper beads made from recycled material, and they worked very well, but there was one small problem; the large ring that slips onto the knitting needle was a jump ring, and with use began to open slightly. It only took a very small gap to occur and my yarn kept getting caught in the ring, and I had to keep stopping and disentangling the yarn before I could continue knitting. I bought a second set, this time online, and since they were specially modelled polymer clay, they were quite expensive – but they were in the shape of chickens so well worth it! I experienced the same problem – the gap in the jump ring eased slightly open and the yarn snagged. So the price didn’t matter, the construction was the issue.

My husband, whose hobby is electronics, came up with a solution; solder the jump ring shut. He did this for the first set I had bought, and when I saw how effective the result was, I asked him to teach me soldering so that I could make some more markers.

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Knitting the Nightsongs shawl using dozens of markers to keep track of the leaf pattern

I riffled through my jewellery box and came up with a couple of pairs of fancy, cheap earrings, the kind you buy to wear on holiday and then push to the back of a drawer when you get home. They were easy to take apart, and each pair yielded six or eight charms or beads. Once attached to 8mm jump rings – and soldered of course – these provided me with a tidy number of stitch markers.

Since then, I have made hundreds of stitch markers, from old bracelet charms and earrings, to new charms and beads found in the stash of shiny things left over from my early attempts at jewellery-making. Most I kept for myself, but some I gave to knitting friends and they encouraged me to try to sell them.
imageSince opening the Etsy store in February 2016 I have supplied stitch markers to USA, Canada, Hong Kong, France, Spain, Denmark, and lots to the UK.

Not content with making markers from charms alone, I now design and make themed sets of markers, around ideas such as Deep in the Forest and Dreaming of the Sea – two of my most popular designs. My customers appreciate looking at and handling beautiful things and these marker sets are beautiful! I have lots of ideas for more themes this year.

Dreaming of the Sea
Dreaming of the Sea

If you have never used stitch markers before, then take a look at my article on How to use Stitch Markers to see just how easy they are to use and what the benefits are in using them.

Gemstone of the Month: Garnet

Garnet is the birthstone of January, and what a glorious colour it is. Rich burgundy red, with a deep shine; garnets are like little nuggets of warmth.

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Garnet is actually a group of stones with a similar crystalline structure – rounded crystals – and colour, a reddish brown. The name derives from the Latin for grain, granum, because of the rounded crystal structure and because of the similarity to pomegranate kernels. The basic chemical composition is aluminium silicate, and the gemstones within the group – pyrope, almandite, and spessartite – each has a different chemical addition which gives it its different colour. So pyrope is magnesium aluminium silicate and is red with a brown tint; this is the type most commonly sold as garnet. Almandite is iron aluminium silicate and is red with a violet tint; and spessartite is manganese aluminium silicate and ranges in colour from orange to red-brown.

You can see all the garnet items in the Granary Knits shop here.

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garnet stitch markers

How to Use Knitting Stitch Markers

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You may think that an article explaining how to use something as simple as a stitch marker is superfluous to requirements but I have been asked how and why I use them, even by experienced knitters, and I have found that a short demonstration is usually enough to convert someone to using (or at the very least trying) these extremely useful knitting tools.

This short video shows me knitting a fair isle tam in the round. The pattern has eight repeats, and so I am using eight markers, seven are the same design marker; the eighth is larger and is used to indicate the end of the round. The pattern I am knitting is the lovely Winter Forest Tam available free on Ravelry.

The finished tam looks like this, knitted in Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal, a lovely soft nubbly yarn perfect for fair isle projects:

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I hope that, having seen the video you, will try using stitch markers. I’m sure you will find they help you in knitting both simple and complex patterns.

Visit the Granary Knits Etsy store to see the huge range of stitch markers available.

 

Winter Solstice: New in Store

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There are only a few days to go till Christmas, and tomorrow is the Winter Solstice. So whether you celebrate Saturnalia, the Solstice, or Christmas itself, there is always time for knitting and crochet! This week, we are adding to our range of pagan imagery with a stitch marker set and some fabulous earrings.

The gorgeous Mother Earth set of knitting or crochet stitch markers combine charms, glass beads and some wonderful earthy gemstones. A spiral goddess reaches up to a beautiful Dragon’s Vein Agate bead; a tender mother elephant and her child sweetly entwine their trunks, dangling from earthy, rich, gold and brown Tiger’s Eye gemstone chips; a Tibetan silver ladybird is combined with glittery red seed beads; a silvery dove carries a leaf in its beak as it flies below a lovely mixture of sky-blue glass beads, iridescent and silver-lined; a mushroom waves its textured cap under a canopy of glorious green banded malachite chips.

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The spiral Goddess also appears in an amazing pair of earrings. The goddess bridges the gap between the Earth – a lovely cushion of orange/brown Carnelian – and the Sky – a stunning Dragon’s Vein Agate faceted bead in cyan blue with light veining in brown. The Goddess herself is beautifully detailed, with spirals and swirls etched all over.

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These earrings are stunning, very long (with a 80mm drop!), and they dangle and sparkle as you move. If you like the goddess earrings but would prefer different gemstones – perhaps Garnet or Lapis Lazuli, or glorious green Chrysocolla – then email me on sue@granaryknits.co.uk or message me on Etsy and I shall be delighted to discuss your requirements with you.

Symbolic Stitch Markers

I love using stitch markers in my knitting and crochet projects. I find them both practical (I rarely if ever make a mistake in pattern repeats when using them) as well as beautiful (I like the effect of their movement and glitter as I work). My favourite stitch markers have some sort of meaning for me; perhaps I made them from an old pair of earrings belonging to my mother; perhaps they were given to me by a friend; perhaps they have an intrinsic symbolism, such as Buddhist and Pagan iconography. You can see all of my Buddhist stitch markers in the Granary Knits Etsy store and I am starting to introduce Pagan symbols as well, so keep an eye on the shop for new additions.

I have been making a lot of new stitch markers recently. Some are themed and relate to the natural world that inspires me, such as Dreaming of the Sea and Deep in the Forest.

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Dreaming of the Sea
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Deep in the Forest . . . something stirs!

Continue reading “Symbolic Stitch Markers”

Gemstone of The Month: Turquoise

Turquoise is one of those colours that just about everyone loves, and the gemstone Turquoise does not disappoint in the rich variety of its shades of light bluey-green. It is the birthstone of December, bringing colour and light to the dark months of the year.

The chemical composition is aluminium silicate which also contains copper, although the turquoise found in North America actually contains iron rather than aluminium; the latter tends to have dark veining.

Two types of Turquoise are commonly available: African and Chinese, although the stone is mined in many places around the world. African Turquoise tends to be a darker blue/green than Chinese, with darker threading throughout. Both types take polish well and gleam and glitter in jewellery.

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Turquoise has featured in jewellery for thousands of years; it was used by the ancient Egyptians and Aztecs in jewellery and as a decorative stone; King Tutankhamen’s burial mask and tomb was inlaid with turquoise as the stone was a symbol of regeneration; the Mesoamericans created turquoise mosaics; the Chinese carved turquoise into ornaments; it was used by Native Americans in works of art and jewellery; the Tibetans believe in its healing properties and have valued turquoise jewellery for centuries.

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African Turquoise knitted into a delicate bracelet

You can see all the turquoise items in the Granary Knits shop here.