As part of my handmade mission for 2012, one of the goals I set myself was to learn how to crochet. I’ve always dabbled with a bit of knitting, but never really understood the concept of making items with just one hook? Where do the stitches go? How do all these loops make a hat or a scarf? It was time for a class.
The Sheep Shop is my favourite place to buy yarn in Cambridge. When I discovered they also ran classes, my craft buddy (formerly study buddy) Jess and I signed up for beginners crochet.
The Sheep Shop is run by Sarah, who happily answered some questions about her journey with yarn….
When did The Sheep Shop open?
November 23rd 2011 (I hadn’t realised – it’s 6 months!)
Can you tell me a bit about the beginnings of the shop & why you started this venture?
I felt Cambridge didn’t have much choice for nice yarns, and no comfy environment to revel in choosing them. The idea kept popping into my head that I could open a yarn shop myself. I used to work for the county council waste team so it was a big step, but eventually I listened to that idea, and am very glad I did as it’s a joy every day to meet the most lovely people (all knitters are lovely!) and be surrounded by all this incredible colour and texture.
What kind of response have you had to the shop & the classes?
It’s been rapturous. It makes life worth living when people go round stroking everything like they’re cats in a field of catnip – and some have purred. They’ve been very generous with their comments. A lot of praise belongs to my wonderful mother – she’s the one who designed the shop and all the decorative and display touches. The classes are still settling in. We’ve found some awesome teachers, but trying to match what people want to learn with when they want to learn it is a bit of a learning curve, some have ended up very oversubscribed with others empty.
What is the best item you would recommend in the shop? Favourite yarn etc?
Argh, I love everything! Circular needles are the bees knees – they are more comfortable to use, easier to carry around, and knitting in the round means you can cut down on seaming, purling and if you’re doing Fair Isle you always have the pattern side facing you. And interchangeable ones mean you don’t have to have millions of sets of needles of every size and every length. So the Knit Pro needles are A Good Thing. I’m a sucker for soft and silky yarns which feel heavenly between the fingers. My favourite yarns are Mirasol Miski (baby llama), Malabrigo Merino Worsted (supersoft wool), Louisa Harding Grace (silk/wool blend – was up until 2am knitting it because I didn’t want to put it down!) and the Hjertegarn bamboo/cotton mixes – these are cheap as chips but feel silky and gorgeous.
Which do you prefer, Crochet or Knitting?
Well, I’m a bit of a one-trick pony. I’ve only done a tiny bit of crochet, but keep coming across marvellous patterns on Ravelry and then have a “damn, it’s crochet” moment. So I guess I’d better learn!
Such pretty yarns! For the class we chose some bright colours to crochet with and got to work on understanding the basic stitches and differences between UK/US terms (which I found highly confusing!).
Our teacher Michelle, was self taught and she was kind enough to share with us her many projects which provided inspiration. How lovely is this lace scarf?
At the end of the class we attempted a Granny Square, but I know I am going to need more practice. That’s why I’ve signed up for another course! (I also used really dark purple yarn which made it super hard to see the stitches.)
Many thanks to Michelle for a great class and to Sarah for the lovely hospitality and advice on yarn and books. I’m really looking forward to my next class and feel lucky to have this tranquil corner of yarn in my neighbourhood.
Have you been learning to knit or crochet? I’d love to hear your experiences and see your projects – please leave a comment!