Sunday, 26 April 2015

A little more about Us

We got together on Friday to discuss this week’s blog and realised whilst chatting about our upcoming bag patterns that we have not really told you much about ourselves and why we knit and crochet.

So we thought you might like to find out a little more about us, here goes:

Helen is formally Mrs Helen Ardley and she started knitting when she was 12 years old after getting a set of red plastic knitting needles and a French knitting dolly and a lovely ball of 100% 'squeaky' acrylic yarn, after that there was no stooping her, she progressed from knitting Sindy doll clothes and scarves to a hat for herself. She even taught her dad to knit (a scarf for football).

Helen went on to study textile design at Huddersfield University, taking her knitting and crafting skills to the next level. After graduating with honours she went on to work in Newcastle for a knitwear company as an assistant designer, choosing yarn and designing new fabric panels for use in jumper patterns, she stayed there for six years.
These are a few of my designs from my first ever job up in Newcastle
  This jumper took me nearly a week to knit the panel but well worth it.

Her next job was a designer for a company that supplied knitted and crochet garments to the high street and catalogues. She stayed there for 7 years then her dream job came up !

Patons was the next company that Helen joined and was Head Designer for 6 years, were she learnt the skills to write patterns organise photo shoots and knit and crochet almost anything! This was an amazing career move which meant her travelling all over the world for photo shoots providing Helen with a job she loved and the opportunity to see some fabulous places. 

 The team on location in the hills of Cape Town.
 I never really got use to the fact that it was my designs that we were taking pictures of..and me who had to choose the models and locations, having the final say! Very important work, but it was so much fun.
 A beautiful house in South Africa that we went to for the day for our photo shoot.
 Me (sat down) and my assistant in our dressing room!...and below putting the finishing touches to the model.

It was during her time at Patons that she met and formed firm friendships with Martin Storey who worked for Jaeger at the time and also Kim Hargreaves. Helen still keeps in touch with them both and recalls the job with fondness and has many happy memories from her time there...
Me (nearly 8mths pregnant)  Kim and Martin.

Helen decided that it was time to start a family in 2004 and chose to be a stay at home mum as balancing work and home with a small baby was too much. But luck has always been with Helen and she was soon approached by Hamlyn books to write 2 crochet books. Cute crochet for tiny tots and Crocheted accessories there is also a how to knit book the last 2 are still available to purchase on Amazon.

From here Helen has gone on to design for many magazines and you are all probably familiar with something she has designed.  She has also designed for Rowan yarns and her patterns are available from their site. Just go to and use the pattern search by designer.

Who knows what the future holds but for now designing and blogging are what Helen is up to this space.

I am Mrs Sarah Daly and I was first taught how to knit by Mrs Curtis who was a parent helper at my infant school and I made a jumper for my teddy. I did not knit much at first but I do remember knitting my first garment which was a lemon tank top and I made it in a Wendy yarn, lemon wasn't my colour but the yarn was the right price. It had more holes than it should have but my mums excellent sewing up skills seemed to make them vanish, I wore that top with pride!

In high school my maths teacher Mrs. Heeson formed a knitting club and my enthusiasm for the craft was fired up, such beautiful yarns were becoming available in the early eighties, and I loved them. Jaeger being one of my luxury buys. The fact that my best friend Julie also knitted..and still does...helped.

I went on to work and did nothing creative, I went to a bank and then had a career break of eight years being a full time mum. My creativity came in useful for making children's clothes and I even did craft fairs selling my makes. I love creating, not just with wool but fabrics and clay too in fact anything crafty will do.

We raised lots of money for school with this Royal Wedding- a real team effort!
I went back to work and progressed to being a School Business Manager. After 14 years at the same school I left to follow a more creative path working as a freelance design consultant for Rowan Yarns based in John Lewis Trafford, my creativity was at last used to the fullest and I loved my time with them, meeting some fabulous people and making some great friends. It was so good to work with like minded people sharing my crafting knowledge and I learned so much from everyone too. 
Sarah gets way to giddy when she sees Yarn!
I was lucky enough to have a pattern published in the Rowan Jubilee on-line look book at  I was one of the lucky winners in a competition for Design Consultants it is a lovely book with free patterns based around the Golden Jubilee. Take a pattern is for a kindle cover.  

I eventually returned to office work which is where I am today. I also run a community Knitting Group at my local library which I enjoy hugely and of course writing this blog with Helen allows my creativity to have a channel. 

Well that's it from me this space for where I go next.

As we said in our very first post back in February 'We met at a local knitting group and have both been design consultants working for Rowan Yarns in the same store. We became good friends as our common ground is a passion for yarn and an ultimate goal to own and run the 'Perfect Wool Shop' where no enquiry would be too small and tea and a chat would always be waiting..... back in the real world we would like to share our knowledge, expertise and the odd pattern on this blog with you.'

We would both like to thank you for following our blog and we hope you enjoy our posts we have some great things coming up which we are working on so as we have said watch this space and take a look at our face book page too Hank,Skein & two Odd Balls.

Until next week its cheerio from us both and keep knitting/hooking!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

So Much to Share!

Well Helen has headed off to Yorkshire again this week and will be visiting Bridlington along her travels, I do envy her having that lovely fresh sea air to breathe in. I am sure she will have pictures to share next week.

I am well and truly over my chest infection now, I must say it was a really bad one but lots of other people seem to have had the same, so if you are one of them I hope you have recovered like me or are on the road to recovery at least.

Switzerland was beautiful and did not fail to please with its scenery and very friendly natives whom I believe always make a difference. I did not ski and I did not find any wool shops but as I said I had packed enough projects to keep me going for the week. The progress of which is documented below. I failed to finish the socks which did upset me but as I had to spend a couple of days in bed poorly I thought I did very well. I must say though the beauty of a cold climate is that you get to wear all your woollies!!
Woollies are truly needed here!

Using up some Kid Silk Haze Stripe to do a shawl

Honey Cowl completed 

Before I went away Helen and I were discussing a project to produce patterns for patchwork knitting and crochet. I opted for the knitting task, we met up and swapped double knitting cotton yarns from both our stashes Helen went for bold and bright and I took pastels with the odd bright in the mix.  I took a photo of my cottons and took it away with me so that I could get some ideas down on paper. I find the blank page quite frightening at first but once I started doodling lots of ideas came to mind and before I knew it...looking out at the mountain view I knew what I was going to make! A bag! You will have to wait to see the finished project, we will reveal out designs soon, watch this space!!

You can't fail to get creative with this view!

My bundle of cotton stash

A peek at my progress!

This week I have been hooking away making roses for St Georges Day on the 23rd April I got the super simple pattern from Simply crochet magazine and you can get it on line at I was producing 3 in my lunch break so they really are quick and look so lovely. I have just got to sew in the ends and put backs on them and then get gifting! So Happy St Georges Day on Thursday!!
St Georges Day Roses

 I was so excited when I visited the Kim Hargreaves site this week only to find that her new book Echoes is now on sale, you can buy it direct on her site or pop into John Lewis to pick up a copy where you will also find expert help from your Rowan rep when choosing your yarn. (check with your local store for the days they work) I know Lisa will be at the Trafford centre on a Thursday and Saturday. I ordered mine direct from Kim’s website and when it arrived I waited until I had done my jobs then popped the kettle on and made a nice coffee to enjoy whilst browsing this lovely book. I can’t wait to start one of the projects...but I must finish what’s on my needles first!! (Honest!!)

Jobs done... coffee made...

I love the light evenings as it feels like you have more time to craft, I also seem to think more creatively in the spring and summer months for some strange reason, often finding myself up in the loft with all my crafting ‘stuff’ just dreaming of all the things I want to make, if only I could make more time... wouldn’t that be perfect? I do feel very lucky to have such a large space to retreat to just to craft!
Storage in the loft

A place for sitting & knitting

A place to sew in the sun

Equipment and fabric stash

I will close here and get some knitting done; I can’t wait to share the projects we have been working on and also the patterns for you to have a go at doing yourselves. Until next time, have a lovely week and if you find the secret to making more time please don’t forget to share it with us.

Sarah & Helen x

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Easter Bonnets!

We hope you have all enjoyed the Easter weekend, what beautiful weather we had in Manchester. I spent one of the days at our Easter 'eggstravaganza' at our local park. I was running the craft stall making rabbit baskets and dangley sheep. It was very busy and I think all the kids, mine included, had a brilliant afternoon. 
The Sunday was spent with family enjoying food, wine and the sunshine back over in my home town in West Yorkshire. My sisters house is surrounded by sheep and all the lambs came out to play whilst we were there.

Lovely little lambs!

I am sharing with you my daughter's Easter hat because she did an amazing job. A fried egg, fantastic! It gained first prize at school... that's my girl!! 

Smashing Hat!

Sarah has come home from her trip to Switzerland and is not very well so we will share her amazing photos and hear all about it when she is better.

So what's been happening this last week? I have been busy working on a summer collection for Knit Today Magazine which will be in the magazine in a few months time. The yarn is bright and chunky with really fun colours, I have enjoyed working with this collection of designs.

Fun and Bright!

I also started a baby blanket using my stash of baby yarns, Wendy Peter Pan DK and Patons Fairytale DK. They are beautiful soft yarns with lovely shades ranging from soft pastels to vivid brights.
My blankets are going to be on sale at my local craft fayre but I am going to share the simple basic pattern so that you can have a go yourselves.

This blanket is made with DK yarn on a 4mm crochet hook and the size of the blanket will be 64cm by 74cm

To make the blanket make 129ch.

Row 1: 1tr into 4th ch from hook, 1 tr into each of next 5ch,* miss 2 ch, 1 tr into each of next 6ch, 2ch, 1 tr into each of next 6ch, rep from * to last 8sts, miss 2ch, 1 tr into each of next 6ch, 1 tr into same place as last tr, turn
Row 2: 3ch (counts as first tr), *1 tr into each of next 6tr, miss 2tr, 1tr into each of next 6tr, 2ch, rep from * to end omitting last 2ch sts,  1 tr into base of last tr, turn
This last row forms the pattern. Continue in pattern changing colour as you go along until blanket measures 74cm. Fasten off.

Baby Blanket

I have also been  making some linen purses. They need to be lined and buttons added but I am really pleased with them.

Part constructed purses!

When they are finished they will also be for sale on my etsy shop.

Well that's my week finished , lets hope Sarah's pictures will appear 

soon, I cant wait to see her skiing!

Thanks Helen! I am feeling a little better today so thought I would throw a quick hello in. I had a great time in Switzerland and even had a few pieces of Toblerone before being knocked sideways by this chest infection. I am glad to say I also got a little knitting and crochet in too...but I will share that with you next week.

I am so glad our blog is a joint venture and thanks to Helen I have been able to recover this week without worrying about it!

The View from our balcony in Switzerland

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Ireland colour workshop

Well, we are pleased to tell you that my computer has been fixed and we can now give you the news from my trip to Ireland...I was doing a workshop at The Glen Gallery Crafts in Cullybackey, County Antrim. It was for knitting and crocheting with lots of colours and textures. This was a new workshop that I had to put together, so it took a bit of time to work out the squares of textures and lace in both knit and crochet.

 I started by playing around with lots of different ideas and colours then eventually I found the ones that I liked and wrote the patterns.

It was a great trip to the Glen Gallery shop, where Frances and Marylin were there to welcome everyone. They were so lovely and made it a great few days. It is surrounded by fields and it is in the most beautiful setting...there were sheep and rabbits around the grounds  everyday!

I did a workshop on both Friday and Saturday, where I had a group of lovely ladies...I remembered a few faces from my workshops last year on cables!

The workshop started at 10am and we started by choosing lots of colours, trying to encourage the ladies to step out of their comfort zone and choose something a bit different, but I had lots of colours for them to play with. There were also lots of colours in the Glen Gallery for them to get inspiration from.

Just a few of the ladies that attended the workshop, hopefully all enjoying themselves! It would be so great to be invited back! 

The workshop was focused on knitting and crocheting the lovely colourful squares, then putting them together to make a cowl, bag, blanket, or whatever they fancied! 

Look how simple this is when all of the squares have been put together!

These are a few I started and I am going to put them together to create a big cosy cowl.

So...Sarah and I had an idea !

We are putting together a set of crochet and knitted squares and designing our own bags. We will create 2 designs, one crochet and one knitted, made up from our stash of cottons and will share the patterns with you for you to have a go..

I hope you have enjoyed a look into the Glen Gallery and how a workshop works from start to finish 

If anybody would like to know more about workshops we offer then please get in touch.

We hope you are all enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend!!