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Winter Solstice: New in Store

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.

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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

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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.

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December at Granary Knits

This month’s new listings feature lots of new stitch markers, a brand new stitch marker set, and some fabulous earrings.

First of all, thank you to all my customers who have bought the Dreaming of the Sea and Sun Moon and Stars marker sets; it’s wonderful to see that themed sets of stitch markers have struck a chord with people in many countries. Today’s new stitch marker set is called Deep in the Forest. I love trees, the stillness in a forest when you can almost hear the earth breathe, the rustle of small creatures in the undergrowth, the earthy smell of woodland after rain. I have tried to capture this feeling in Deep in the Forest, a set of six stitch markers featuring gemstones and glass beads in shades of green, and charms that represent the elements of a forest that I love.

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Gorgeous greens from the Fancy Jasper, Aventurine and glass beads, earthy tones from the Smoky Quartz and the Jasper again. This set is available as both knitting and crochet markers.

There are lots of new single markers, too, some with a 5 for the price of 4 option. Continuing the forest theme, there is a large solid acorn marker and an owl marker. And a stylised tree etched onto a round charm with a reverse stating Save our Planet, a sentiment I’m sure we can all subscribe to!

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Linked to last month’s sea themed stitch markers comes a large decorative dolphin, a beautiful charm, ideal for those who like a larger stitch marker (or perhaps a project bag charm!)

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Another large stitch marker added to store today is the beautiful spiral goddess, a real beauty.

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The final two markers added this week are a pretty combination of charms and gemstones. The Lotus Flower is a popular and familiar symbol and I love searching out new forms of this icon. This double-sided charm has an opening so that a bead can be inserted into its heart. I have used blue banded agate in this marker, with lots more lovely gemstones to choose from if they prove popular!

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The Hamsa Hand, or Hand of Fatima, is another favourite symbol, and I have found a charm which again has a hole in the centre just right for a small gemstone bead. This one feature Lapis Lazuli, one of my favourite gemstones, glinting with specks of golden pyrite. The beads in both the Lotus and the Hamsa are free to move, and turning them is a great way to meditate whilst you are knitting or crocheting.

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New items of jewellery are always fun to design and make, especially those pieces involving knitting or crocheting with wire. And adding gemstones is just so satisfying! The Moonstone Flower earrings were no exception. The pale grey Moonstone I have been using has an exceptional glow in its depths as well as a beautiful sheen. These were crocheted using 99.9% pure silver wire and each earring has fifteen glowing milky grey chips in its five petals.

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The last item for today features a gemstone new to me: Kambaba Jasper, also known as Crocodile Jasper. It comes from Madagascar, and has a very distinctive colour and patterning, not unlike the skin of a crocodile, in fact. As with all Jaspers, it is a spotty stone, although the spots here are rather larger than, say, in Dalmatian Jasper. The main colour is a moss green, with the spots and streaks in black or very dark green. These chips are square cut, giving the earrings a contemporary look.

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I hope you have found something to delight and inspire you in this week’s new listings. Keep checking back for new items, or follow me on Etsy to get all the latest updates.

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New in Store Today

Over the past month I have been busy developing lots of ideas for new jewellery and stitch markers. I released the first couple of new stitch marker sets a few weeks ago – Dreaming of The Sea and Sun Moon and Stars – and they have been very well received.

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Last month, I released the next themed set, Deep Blue Ocean, and I think it is gorgeous! It features dark blue and brown Tiger’s Eye, an intriguing stone with the same luminous striping as the more common brown/gold Tiger’s Eye; Amazonite, a fabulous turquoise blue gemstone; Mother of Pearl; and Blue Banded Agate, the colour of the Mediterranean. But that’s not all. Fish swim, Dolphins sport, and Whales flip their intricate tails as they breach and dive.

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Cat and Moon is a new single stitch marker that has already proved popular. A shiny crescent moon hangs in the sky, and sitting on its edge is a cute little cat, tail curled around the curve of the moon. This is a pretty marker for either knitting or crochet, and comes with a special offer – buy five of this marker for the price of four.

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The third new item is a Knitting Queen single marker. This is similar to the Knitting Diva marker already in the shop, and joins Yarn Ball, Yarn and Needles, and Knitting Diva as the specifically knitting-related charms that I offer. It also has a five for four offer.

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The final new item released in November is a sweet piece of jewellery, a necklace featuring a curved bar suspended on a chain. The bar features a beaded rainbow. It is offered in both Silver Plated and Sterling Silver versions, and joins several other rainbow influenced pieces in store.

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There will be more updates soon. To stay up to date, either follow this website, or follow me on Etsy.

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Gemstone of the Month: Citrine

Citrine is the birthstone for the month of November. It is a quartz, and its chemical composition is silicon dioxide coloured with iron. It is not as flashy a gemstone as lapis lazuli, or malachite, or emerald, but it does have a quiet beauty all of its own.

It ranges in colour from light yellow to golden brown, and is only found in a transparent form. Natural citrine is rare, and most commercially available stones are actually heat-treated amethyst or smoky quartz; heat-treated stones nearly always have a reddish tinge to them, enabling the discerning to detect that the stones are not true citrines. Natural citrine is found mainly in Brazil, Madagascar and the United States, with minor deposits in Argentina, Myanmar, Namibia, Russia, Scotland and Spain.

Citrine makes lovely delicate unusual jewellery. See the Granary Knits store for these and other designs.

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Knitted onto silver wire, citrine chips make an attractive and unusual accessory
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Gemstone of the Month: Tourmaline

Tourmaline is the birthstone of October. The name is derived from Sinhalese, Turamali (meaning stone of many colours); it was mined in Sri Lanka for centuries, but first imported into Europe by the Dutch in the early 18th century.

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Tourmaline is actually a group of gemstones, rather than a specific single stone (like lapis lazuli or peridot), and depending upon its colour its name can vary, from Achroite (colourless) to Verdelite (green). The chemical composition distinguishes the different forms of tourmaline; so Dravite is named after deposits found near the river Drave in Austria/Carinthia and contains magnesium; Elbaite is named after the island of Elba in Italy and contains lithium; and Tsilaisite is a local Madagascan name and contains manganese.

Tourmaline is found in a huge range of colours and is usually sold in mixed strings or bags, so that the jewellery made from it has a vibrant look and feel. The stones polish well, and the colouring is rich in each stone. Earrings made from tourmaline are unusual and intriguing!

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Simple but effective Tourmaline earrings, available in store
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Tourmaline earrings knitted using silver wire, available in store
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Granary Knits Goes Global

After a few months of finding my feet on Etsy, I am now ready to open up to customers worldwide! The new items in the jewellery section are already available internationally, but I have now decided to make the knitting and crochet stitch markers available also. As of 4th September 2016, all items in store can be shipped anywhere.

Knitting and crochet stitch markers in both charms and semi-precious stones
Knitting and crochet stitch markers in both charms and semi-precious stones
Sets of stitch markers
Sets of stitch markers
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Gemstone of the Month: Lapis Lazuli

The beautiful, rich blue Lapis Lazuli is the birthstone for the month of September.

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Of all the gemstones I have worked with over the years, I think Lapis Lazuli is my favourite. All gemstones have a certain something about them – the variations in colour, the surprise of interesting inclusions, the mystery of their origins – but lapis has something else, a sort of inner glow. The name is derived from Arabic, meaning blue stone, but there are lots of naturally blue stones and what is sold as lapis is not always lapis. Lapis is an azure blue (coloured by sulphur) rather than the deeper blue of Sodalite or the mid-powder blue of Azurite; it is lighter in colour than Dumortierite (which veers off towards violet-blue), and it is opaque, not transparent to semi-transparent like Lazulite. The best examples have an even colour distribution and some (but not too much!) well distributed inclusions of pyrite – looking like golden speckles within the stone.

Lapis beads in various shapes and sizes
Lapis beads in various shapes and sizes

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It has been mined for over 6,000 years in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan; in Russia it is found near Lake Baikal; in Chile it is mined north of Santiago. It has been used for jewellery since prehistoric times; in the Middle Ages in Europe it was used, ground up, to produce the pigment Ultramarine, an essential colour in mediaeval religious art; palaces and churches have lapis panels and columns, and are decorated with vases and urns sculpted from lapis. Today we still make rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets out of it.

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Lapis Lazuli knitted earrings
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Lapis lazuli chips form a simple but effective earring

 

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Lapis Lazuli knitting stitch markers