Monday, 12 November 2012

Competition Winners



Our Uncle Angus competition has now closed.  Uncle Angus was hiding in the SMC Tweed Deluxe!  Well done to everyone who managed to spot him.

We have drawn 5 names from a hat and I'm pleased to announce that our winners are Mary Volkering, Kersti Anear-Saemann, Jo Torr, Ruth King and Sarah Bush.

Commiserations to our other entrants, and thank you very much to everyone who took part.  Remember to keep an eye on our Facebook and Ravelry pages to find out about future competitions and offers.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

First Shawl


This Faroese shawl started off as a holiday project earlier this year and took about two and a half months to complete.  It was taken from the book Vintage Modern Knits by Courtney Kelley and Kate Gagnon Osborn.  I chose to knit it in SMC Highland Alpaca Fino shade 7368 Jade.  It only took three and a half balls!

It was my first shawl project and was intricate enough without being too complicated. The stocking stitch body made for a welcome break from the lacework, enabling the pace to pick up towards the end. The shawl is so soft and warm and is definitely one of the most rewarding projects I've completed. Looking forward to the next one!
Post by Linda W in our Edinburgh branch

Friday, 19 October 2012

Competition - Where's Uncle Angus?

**THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED**


Have you seen this (knitted) man?


We've lost Uncle Angus!  Can you help us find him?  Rumour has it he was last seen looking through some of the yarns on our website.  If you do spot him, please send us an email and tell us the name of the yarn.


You can reach us at skim@mcadirect.com.  The competition will close at midnight on Sunday 11th November 2012.  All correct answers will be put into a hat and the first 5 names to be drawn will win a copy of the Regia Christmas Calendar.  Good Luck!

**THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED**

Friday, 12 October 2012

Multitasking

Sirdar Pattern 9619


In between trying to learn all the systems of the "engine room" behind the shop and website, I have been trying to knit one of my favoured complicated patterns in the few spare quiet moments. It takes a certain type of fools-rush-in-where-angels-fear-to-tread attitude to choose a lacy pattern, in variegated yarn, to knit with phones ringing, orders to process and pack and all the other myriad things that make up my actual day job and which have to take precedence!

The pattern is Sirdar Pattern 9619: Lace Sweater in Click Chunky. I am knitting it in shade Wild Cherry 169.

Sirdar Click Chunky shade 169 Wild Cherry


Just yesterday I had to ask the expert to undo 12 rows when I inadvertently swopped the right side and the wrong side...I think I may accept defeat, take the sweater away to knit at home and knit a pair of Regia socks in the quiet moments in the office. But socks don't have to be boring, even when they are just stocking stitch. Just look at this:

Exciting socks by Regia

Yes, that's right...it's a free pattern...Tempted?

Post by our new girl, Max

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Latest Creations

The ladies in our Edinburgh branch have been busily knitting away.  As the colder weather approaches, we thought you might like to see what they've been up to...

Benevito Sweater Brenda's version Moments 004
Brenda knitted this lovely sweater in Gedifra Benevito.  It worked up very quickly on the 12.75mm pins and it's so cosy.  The pattern is taken from the SMC Moments 004 Booklet, which has plenty of quick and easy chunky patterns to tempt you.


 
Sirdar Pattern 9059 Linda's version Sirdar Pattern 9452
Linda W knitted this gorgeous sweater dress in Sirdar Click Chunky.  She used aspects from two different patterns to create the finished garment - the cabled body design is Sirdar Pattern 9059 from the Winter Glamour Booklet, and the cowl neckline is from Sirdar Pattern 9452 in Connemara.  What a clever girl!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Competition Winner

Just a quick update about our word search competition...

Our contest is now closed and we're pleased to announce that the winner of the lovely Wendy Norse yarn and booklet is Sue Nagle. We look forward to seeing what she decides to make with her prize!

Thank you to everyone who took part. Remember to keep an eye out here, and on our Facebook and Ravelry pages for more competitions and offers.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Competition Time!

**THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED**


To celebrate the launch of our new Ravelry Group we have a little competition for you all to enjoy! We have a wonderful prize courtesy of Thomas Ramsden – 10 balls of the beautiful Wendy Norse in a colour of your choice, and a copy of Pattern Booklet 346 to match!

22 of our Freedom and Wendy yarns have been placed in the grid below.  They are hidden horizontally, vertically and diagonally, both forwards and backwards.  Some of them even overlap – we don't like to make things easy for you!  Find all 22 yarns and the leftover letters will spell out  a phrase relating to McAree Brothers


To enter our competition, just send us an email with the hidden phrase to skim@mcadirect.com.  Correct answers will be entered into a prize draw and one lucky winner will be picked from a hat.  Please note, this competition will close at midnight on Saturday, 15th September, 2012.  Make sure you've sent us your answer before then or you won't be included in the draw!  Only one entry per customer will be accepted.

Good luck everyone!

**THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED**

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Story of the Sock Zone

Our new Sock Zone in our Stirling branch

Now that the Olympics are safely underway, we can reveal that the torch relay was nearly disrupted by the arrival of some wonderful new stands for our sock zone.  It was only when Stirling Council put up exact timings for the torch that we realised it was destined to arrive at exactly the same time as our stands!  Luckily the friendly delivery men got up especially early and here they are helping us get the stands in position.

Helpful delivery men and Mr MacDonald

Emma and Maddie spent a great day filling it up and making it look beautiful.   We've got all of the ever-popular Regia range, the vibrant Knitglobal, and also Roam and Roam Fusion, a brand new 4 Ply sock yarn line by Wendy. 


Emma and Maddie

If you have been inspired by our sock display, don't forget that we're running a sock knitting workshop in October with Rowan Consultant Katherine Lymer.  There are still some places left!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Meet the Designer: Debbie Abrahams




 
On Saturday we had a Knit up your own Stash Workshop with designer Debbie Abrahams.  There was such an ecclectic mix of ideas and colour palettes and we spent the day experimenting with exciting techniques such as intarsia and beading.

We learned that those long-forgotten leftovers and odd balls from our stash can be combined to create beautiful accessories or items for the home, and Debbie brought lots of samples from her books to inspire us.
 
We also did a little interview with Debbie to find out a little more about her...

1. How did you learn to knit?
From my Grandmother, my Mother and my Auntie.  It was when I was six years old.  They used to save their oddments in a bag for me to practise with.

2. How did you make knitting your career?  Do you still enjoy it as much now that it's your job?
It started in O-Level and A-Level art class.  When others were drawing, I would knit.  After that I did my knitwear degree and then became a Rowan Consultant in 1995.  I like knitting even more now!

One of Debbie's Mystery Blankets
3. Describe a typical day.
When I'm not doing workshops, I spend about 3 hours in the morning answering emails and processing orders.  My P.A. helps, but I do a lot of the work personally.  After lunch, I do some design work, like working on squares for my Mystery Blanket Club.
4. Where do you find your inspiration?
I collect things.  In college I used to collect Kaffe Fassett magazines and cuttings.  Now I collect greetings cards and ceramics.  I even collect fabric that I know I'll never use, but it's a great source of inspiration for colour palettes.

5. Do you have a favourite yarn?
I love the Rowan Cotton Glace - it comes in such a lovely range of shades, and I also like the Rowan Wool Cotton.  Those would be my two favourites.

6. What is the best thing you've ever knitted?  And the worst?
My favourite thing I have knitted was the first garment I ever completed.  I was 13 and I still remember the excitement and sense of achievement.  It was a denim style jacket with pockets and button detail and it was knitted in Rowan Handknit Cotton shade 254 Flame.
As for the worst, there isn't really one thing, though I am not as keen on lace knitting - especially when it goes wrong!

7. How many projects have you got on the pins right now?
I split my knitting into two groups - leisure and work.  The leisure is knitting for myself or for presents.  They tend to be from patterns rather than design work so that I can just relax and don't have to think too much!  I have about 10 things in my leisure pile.  I've got plenty of things on the go in the work category too though.

8. What's next for you?
I've just joined up with designer Jayne Crowfoot and we've self-published a knitting and crochet book that will be released in Spring of 2013, which is very exciting.

9. What is the best knitting tip you've picked up over the years?
If you are beading and you don't have a needle and thread to add the beads to your yarn, dip the tip of your yarn in nail varnish.  Once it dries, it will be stiff enough to thread through the beads.

10. What would you be if this wasn't your job?
When I was at school I wanted to be a vet so that I could work with animals, but I'm not very good with blood.  I also wanted to be a fashion designer but I hated sewing, so knitwear designer is a good alternative.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Puzzle the Monkey



Hello everyone,

My name is Puzzle the Monkey.  I am called Puzzle because Hannah says I am a bit squint and I always have a puzzled look on my face.

I am the first monkey that she has ever made, and I think she really enjoyed knitting me.  Especially when I got sewn together and I started to come to life.  She called me "So cute" so many times I thought that might be my name!

 I am made from Sirdar Click DK Cobble (129) which although it looks brown is actually lots of lovely colours.   My muzzle, hands, feet, tail and ears are shade Downy (144).  I am lovely to cuddle and if I fall in a puddle can go in the big machine to be washed.  Although not too fast or I might get dizzy!


At the moment I am settling into my new home with Baby Boy.  Hannah says she will post me nice things on my Birthday & Christmas, like bananas and pyjamas.

If you would like to knit a friend like me you can find me in Sarah Keen's book Knitted Wild Animals: A Collection of Adorable Animals to Create from Scratch or on Ravelry.

Puzzle The Monkey (& Hannah too)

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Yarns We Love: Sirdar Baby Crofter DK

Photographed shade: 150 Bonnie


Baby Crofter DK is a gorgeous yarn from the Sirdar Snuggly range.  The yarn knits up to give a Fair Isle effect, even when using the simple patterns! 

I love that this yarn allows a beginner like me to produce such colourful projects.

One of my favourite things about Baby Crofter is the shades that it comes in.  Hamish (156) and Maisie (161) have to be my favourites, although I have recently been working on a poncho in Keltie (151), a nice lilac mix.
156 Hamish
161 Maisie
151 Keltie

I would recommend this yarn to anyone wishing to jazz up a simple pattern, or just add a Scottish twist to their project!

Post by Jayne in our Edinburgh branch.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Spinning in Stirling


As you may have read on our Facebook page (or seen in-store with your very eyes!), last Wednesday we held a free and informal spinning demonstration in our Striling branch.

Cayt and Maddie brought in their wheels and set about spinning some original yarns.  Cayt spun with local sheep fleece, dyed with Kool-Aid and Maddie started work on her very first wheel-spun yarn using our own Clover Roving.


Cayt's Kool Aid-dyed local sheep fleece
Maddie's Clover Roving yarn

The event was a lovely way of highlighting another aspect of wool and yarn-related crafting, and the calm whir of the wheels added an industrious backdrop to our busy department.  It was an excellent opportunity to chat to some of our customers (many of whom are spinners too - exciting stuff!) and to share some knowledge and skills.




Maybe the next logical step in investigating the origins of knitting wool will be to bring in a sheep and have a live shearing demonstration!

... perhaps some of our talented staff or customers have some tips or experiences they'd be willing to share...?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Yarns We Love: Adriafil Azzurra


The problem with working in a yarn shop (if this can really be classed as a problem) is that there are just so many great yarns. How can I possibly single out just one to write about? It's been something of a personal battle. In the end, Adriafil Azzurra emerged triumphant from the short-list and now I intend to justify this choice to you, dear internet, and to the yarns I didn't choose (I'm sorry, Felted Tweed, can we still be friends?).

Firstly, the Azzurra is a fine yarn. Well, obviously it's very fine indeed if it's the subject of this article, har har, but what I mean is that its weight is somewhere between a 3 ply and a light 4 ply. This is an incredibly versatile weight. 3-4 ply can be used for projects ranging from adult garments to shawls to dolls clothes... even toys made on a miniature scale or featuring small shaping and detail.

As anyone who actually knits or crochets light-weight projects will testify, however, 3 ply is usually a domain reserved strictly for the palest of pastels. That's fine, but it's not always what I want. This problem leads me nicely to Azzurra's second major strength:

Azzurra's colour range is superb!  There are bold, bright colours (including the best orange in the shop); there are a nice variety of tonal neutral shades; there are even pastels for those who are into that sort of thing!



Finally, I can't stand to use only one colour on a project and Adriafil Azzurra's shades have the amazing ability to look excellent together in a surprisingly wide vairety of combinations. Orange and blue? It's great! Purple and green? It's great! Red, turquoise and grey? Great! You get the idea... Azzurra is definitely a yarn I love.



Monday, 21 May 2012

A Royal Visitor

Queen visits Stirling wool shop and has a royally good time



In a move that defies the tradition of paparazzi, pomp and ceremony, Her Majesty the Queen's recent visit to the City of Stirling has thus far been a remarkably modest affair. Accompanied by one knitted corgi, she arrived on King Street earlier this week and made a surreptitious entrance into the Stirling branch of McAree Brothers- her residence for the upcoming weeks' preparation for the Jubilee festivities.




Bunting and flowers were commissioned from expert crafts-people, local to the wool department, in celebration of this historic event and many regal wools are on hand in Royal Blue to make her feel quite at home.

During her time in Stirling, Queen Elizabeth II has enjoyed local sites, including the Castle and the Wallace Monument and can usually be spotted relaxing in our large conservatory (the main window), with her corgi nearby and an elegant string of purls around her neck.
Queen pattern from Knitted Icons by Carol Meldrum
Corgi pattern from Best in Show by Sally Muir and Joanna Osbourne

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Spring Competition 2012

We thought you might like to see the entries for our Spring Competition...

Sky Cardigan by Alessandra Parsons

"At the moment I'm making a cardigan based on the sky. I'm knitting one row a day matching the colour to the sky that day. I'm halfway through the sleeves at the moment."

Yarn: Regia 4 Ply plain colours



Little Monsters by Clare Trowbridge

 "I made the attached monsters as gifts for my young cousins with your Anchor Style Creativa Cotton DK yarn. This yarn is brilliant value and comes in a great range of colours for all kinds of projects."

Yarn: Anchor Creativa Cotton DK



Fingerless Mitts by Dagmar Mora

 "On those chilly spring evenings that are only too familiar here in Scotland, I still like to protect and warm my hands with a pair of lightweight fingerless mittens. They are knitted in Regia 4 ply Plain Colours. The thin 4 ply yarn makes them warm, but not excessively so - just right for spring chills!"

Yarn: Regia 4 Ply plain colours

Coat by Heather Garbutt

"This coat is just below knee length, snuggly warm, and goes with everything. Can be dressed up or down."

Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed Aran






 
Pram Blanket by Kay Thomas

"Hope you like my creation. Had the fabulous Knitcol trends from your good selves. 100% Merino Wool. I loved using it :)"

Yarn: Adriafil Knitcol 







Aran Sweater by Liz Dahl

"I have just finished knitting this sweater from the Debbie Bliss book Cotton Denim Aran. I substituted Sirdar Recycled Aran as the tension is compatible. I loved the yarn, it's very soft to work with and true to the shade card, it is also very economical. This is probably the most complicated pattern I have followed but I loved the challenge."

Yarn: Sirdar Simply Recycled Aran

Coin Purse by Mandy Beer

"My entry for the spring project comp is actually a Mothers' Day present - I used a vintage pattern and Patons Fairytale 4 Ply from your Stirling shop."

Yarn: Patons Fairytale 4 Ply


 
Kilt Hose by Nina Vivanco

"I used Patons Merino DK and Patons Pattern 3285 adapted to give more bulk at the top."

Yarn: Patons Merino DK (this yarn is now discontinued. Why not try SMC Extra Soft Merino DK as an alternative?

Pattern: Patons 3285
Socks by Christine Janet

"I've just finished The World's Wildest Wee Welly Socks for a little girl in Skye, for those April showers and muddy May days. The socks were so much fun to knit."

Yarn: Regia 4 Ply Kaffe Fassett Design Line

Crochet Cushion by Tracy Reynolds

"It was crochet with Anchor style Creativa 100% Cotton. May I say this yarn is so lovely to work with and it has inspired me for loads of other projects! I've made this for Mothers Day gift. I didn't use any pattern, only the one in my head!!"

Yarn: Anchor Creativa Cotton DK
                             To vote for any of these beautiful creations,
                             please visit our Facebook page.