And finally, because my toddler photo-bombed my scarf.....
Squeaking in under the wire for another June launch, introducing my latest design, Flimsy. So named because the combination of lace weight yarn and large needles (5mm) produces a delicate and drapey fabric perfect for a summer scarf, and the dropped stitch motif just adds to the ephemeral appearance of this pretty accessory. The pattern uses only written instructions which are easy to memorise, and the small quantity of yarn required (less than 50g) means that, worked on a circular needle, it's the perfect project for on-the-go knitting.
And finally, because my toddler photo-bombed my scarf.....
My older son, who just turned 6, loves the socks I knit for him. Since he has rejected my hand-knitted sweaters from the time he was old enough to take them off in disgust, I would far rather knit him something I know he will wear, and those somethings seem to be restricted to hats and socks. It's not cold enough to need a woolly hat here for a lot of the year but you can get a lot more wearing-mileage out of socks.
I made him a pair last month and within a couple of weeks he was already asking for yet another pair, but since I've been actively trying to reduce my stash I had reached the point where, to make him a pair of socks, I would have to break into an adult-sock-quantity of yarn and then have the odd left over and be stuck with it. It takes around 35-40g to make him a pair of socks and I didn't have anything in sock weight in about that quantity in my partial balls stash.
Not wanting to deny him the socks, but equally not wanting to generate the 60g leftovers, I offered him his pick out of the bag where I keep small balls of stash remnants. Anything between 5g and about 25g goes into that bag. I suggested he pick out two or three colours and I would make him some striped socks. He was excited about that so I sent him off to rummage, expecting him to come back with maybe three colours. He returned, with eight different choices! As it was, I managed to get six of them incorporated into these eye-searing creations!
It's my Working Day socks pattern, with colours changed every 2 rounds to give the stripe pattern.
He gets another pair of the Mum-made socks he loves; I got 6 partial balls of stash yarn used up. Win-win!!
It's my Design-a-versary!!!
Yes, I know that probably isn't really a word, but I can't believe it's been a whole year this week since I released my first knitting pattern into the world and fell down the design rabbit hole as I did so!
My first pattern was Yarnshine, a triangular shawlette, which I designed when I woke up one weekend morning with a picture of it in my head. Usually in that situation I would have logged on to Ravelry and searched the pattern database for something that fit the description but this time somehow I just knew that I didn't want to find it, I wanted to design it. This from someone who had never designed a pattern in my life, and didn't have the first clue where to start.
As it turned out, Yarnshine wasn't my first release. That honour went to Speedy Snail baby sunhat, a free one-size baby hat pattern I worked up while I was getting Yarnshine ready as a paid pattern.
I know I keep saying it but I really never intended to get involved with designing patterns. I was always happy to browse the multitude of beautiful designs available, and also pretty much always followed them exactly as written. I never adapted a pattern or used different aspects of different patterns. The only slight amendments I might make would be to change the length of a sleeve or the leg of a sock to ensure a better fit, and I was in awe of (and also somewhat bemused by) those knitters who would use a pattern merely as a vague guide and end up with a finished object that credited rather than resembled the pattern picture.
Having tried it, though, it was as if some sort of creative flood-gate opened in my head. I mainly knit socks and shawlettes or shawls so it's not too surprising that those are the items I have most of my design ideas for. I would be struck with ideas for stitch patterns, or would see something in the world around me and want to knit it!
The idea for my sister's Christmas present last year became one of my most popular designs yet - Fossilised Ferns mitts and the matching keyhole scarf. I had a skein of my favourite Wollmeise yarn in a colour I loved but just can't wear myself. Golden Pear is a lovely warm gold colour, shot through with flecks of red. With my skin tone and colouring, warm colours make me look dreadful, but my sister is more olive skinned than I and looks great in warmer colours. It took me five attempts to get the fern pattern right. I just couldn't work out how to get the pattern I saw in my head to form in fabric but, much frogging and muttering later, the mitts were born, and the scarf soon followed.
At that point I was enjoying the creative side of pattern design, the mental challenge of learning size grading, charting, pattern layouts, but I was finding the business side of things harder to handle. I hadn't caught on to the seasonal nature of pattern demand and was disappointed when the patterns I wrote and loved were selling few if any copies. I started reading more of the designer forums on Ravelry to try to get some pointers.
It was there that I found out about the indie designer gift-along, or GAL. In its second year then, this event is about independent pattern designers coming together to support one another through a huge holiday gift make-along, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I made sure I had some more patterns out in time for the November start date, and also released Crosspatch mitts while the GAL was running.
In the New Year I started planning my designs more, looking ahead to what I wanted to have ready for Spring and Summer, and for what could wait until the year started to cool down again. I've also started working on my own pattern template, making the writing stage quicker and easier and my style more consistent.
The other thing I've been dabbling in since the Spring is submitting pattern for consideration to third-party publishers. I've had two designs accepted so far, one of which should be published at the end of the summer and the other in the autumn. It's been a different way of working, and not one which really fits with my own personal style of working, but it's been a good experience and one I haven't completely written off yet. I definitely prefer the flexibility that self-publishing has given me up to now.
So what are my plans for my second year in knitting pattern design? Well, I hope to release a couple of women's sweater patterns, maybe one or two more kiddies' items as well, more of the shawls and socks that I love, and there may be another Fossilised Ferns patterns in the pipeline too. I also plan to try more different techniques. I've noticed I design a lot of patterns where the detail is made up of textured stitch patterns, so expect more stranded colourwork and colour blocking from me during the 2015-16 design year.
Did you know Saturday June 13th 2015 was World Wide Knit In Public day? Did you take part in any events?
WWKiP day was started in 2005 and takes place in June every year with events large and small being held all over the world. It is intended for knitters to come together to share in their love of sticks and string, and to show the world that knitting is a sociable activity and not just something that little old ladies in rocking chairs do.
A group I belong to through Ravelry has regular get-togethers, and we decided to hold one for WWKiP day. Originally we had hoped to have a picnic but unfortunately the weather had other ideas so it was a pub lunch instead. Knitting in public is something I do pretty regularly, as anyone who has read some of my previous blog posts will know, but for some people knitting isn't something they feel comfortable doing in public by themselves.
Let's be honest, knitting does still have something of an image problem. Ask Joe Public about knitting and you'll often get a reply along the lines of "Er, yeah, my Gran used to do that". Modern knitting has come a long way from the days of scratchy wools, squeaky acrylics, baby pastel shades and any size of needle as long as it's straight. The internet has opened up the world of knitting like never before, with interchangeable needles from the USA, brightly-coloured hand-dyed yarn from Germany and PDF patterns by Irish, Canadian and Australian designers all sitting around the same lunch table in Cambridge, England. And you can't get much more international that that!
This truly is a World Wide event. The official website has details of public knitting events taking place in Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Denmark, Canada, Brazil, Kuwait, Indonesia, South Africa, and Venezuela among others! Events are all organised by the knitters themselves. Some are to work on large charity projects with knitters contributing to donations; others, like the one I was involved in, are purely social.
Two dozen and counting....
Two dozen. Twenty-four. That's how many patterns I now have in my catalogue. 800 miles from Lerwick was released this weekend. This beautiful laceweight stole is a modern take on Shetland traditional lace. It combines elements of the practical hap shawl with the intricate wedding ring shawl to make an up-to-date very wearable stole. The centre lace panel (true lace, with patterning on both right-side and wrong-side rows) is started from a provisional cast-on. Once it is completed, stitches are picked up from the sides and from the provisional cast-on and the classic Old Shale border is worked in the round. Once that is completed, stitches are cast on to form the knitted-on lace edging which is attached to the live stitches around the entire work. The whole shawl is made from one continuous length of yarn (around 1500 yards) with the only "seam" being the graft of 9 stitches at the end of the lace edging on to its beginning stitches. Yes, it is possible to make a 70" by 26" stole with no monster-of-a-cast-off-row!
I don't know where the wormhole is in my house, but I know there must be one because it's the only logical explanation for where all my scissors and tape measures have vanished to. At the beginning of this year I collected all my tape measures together and between the traditional plain tape ones and the retractable ones in plastic cases I had eight in total. I know I have three pairs of the gold stork embroidery scissors, plus another three pairs of small scissors with plastic handles in various colours somewhere as well.
Last week I wanted to measure the shawl I was knitting, and I couldn't find a single tape measure. Actually that's not quite true. I could find one - my husband's metal DIY tape measure. My haberdashery-type ones have all gone walkabout. I can't find the yellow-cased one, the frog-cased one, the snail-shaped one, the one with the multi-coloured tassel on the free end of the tape, nor the one I had in a bag of bits and bobs from my grandmother with calorie counts on the back of it!
I know I have two small children so things can get put in strange places but I've tried under the sofas, down the back of the TV, in the fridge, under the kitchen counters. You know, all the usual places. My younger son does have something of a fascination with retractable tape measures. In fact I kept him occupied for some time on a bus journey once just pulling the tape out and pushing the button so it shot back in again. However, a thorough turnover of his bedroom revealed nothing, not one single tape.
I don't think it's Hungry Sofa Syndrome. The sofa I tend to sit on to knit is a sofa bed with a metal frame. If you open it up, anything that has slipped between the cushions ends up falling to the floor underneath and is easily retrieved.
I really don't know where my tape measures have all gone, but wherever it is they've clearly got a group rate ticket, and taken all my embroidery scissors (bar one pair!) with them.
I have decided this calls for drastic measures (no pun intended!).
Using the last of an Amazon gift card I was given for Christmas I have bought several pairs of scissors and tape measures. Surely I have sacrificed enough knitting notions to the deity that governs them by now?! Please can I keep these ones?!
Aint nobody got time for that!
I seem to have been reading a lot of online discussion lately about people being either upset or amused or insulted by non-knitters commenting that they'd "never have time to do something like that" when the subject of knitting comes up. The implication seems to be that the knitter is somehow lazy in their day-to-day life, neglecting work or chores in order to have the time to knit. The non-knitter seems (to the knitter, at least) to be making themselves out to be so involved in more worthy activities that there just aren't enough hours in the day for them to sit around knitting.
I've never actually met that attitude in person towards my own knitting. I have had comments meant in the sense of "I admire your time management skills, that you can fit in everything that you do and have time left over to allow you to knit", but always in a positive sense.
It occurs to me that the issue is not one of time but of motivation. After all, we all have the same 24 hours in a day and it is up to each individual to choose how to use them. Something that you want to do, that you choose to do and are motivated to do, you will make time for. Whether that's knitting, chatting on the phone with a friend, watching a TV show you enjoy, going for a run, baking a cake with your children.... Even negative activities can have time found for them if there's enough incentive to do them (or sufficient punishment for not doing so). For example, there are few people who would choose to spend their time doing their tax return, getting a dental check-up, having a medical screening test, cleaning their toilet, but sometimes needs must!
Once you have the motivation, and for me the enjoyment of the knitting itself and the ultimate accomplishment of the finished object even more are very motivating, it's amazing how much time there is available. Time that others might waste can be put to use knitting. And just to prove that knitting doesn't have to be done on a sofa at home, here is photographic proof that finding time to knit isn't all that difficult.
1. On the train
Here I was actually on my way to a knitting weekend with friends. However, if you commute by train, as long as you can get a seat you can get a few stitches in. Usually I drive to work, but sometimes I'll let the train take the strain and then you can guarantee I'll be knitting there and back.
2. In the car
Disclaimer here: Unless you're completely at a standstill, engine off, in stationary traffic, I'm going to add "when you're a passenger" to this one! We took a family trip recently which should have been a 5-hour drive (long enough in itself) which heavy traffic made a 7-hour drive. My husband is an incredibly fidgety passenger and would far rather drive, which means I get all those lovely long hours to knit, and knit, and knit.
3. While waiting for something, or someone
In this photo, I was waiting for my husband and older son to come down from the top of a monument in the Lake District! I had the toddler in a baby carrier, and since neither carriers nor toddlers were allowed to climb the monument, he and I sat and enjoyed the view while the others climbed up and back down.
There are plenty of places you wait - the doctor or dentist's waiting room, at the school gate, at the kids' after-school or weekend activities, for flights, for delayed buses and trains, for a film or play to start, in the playground....
4. And then there's the planned knitting time. Whether that be during your lunch break at work, or just that lovely time at the end of a busy day at work, or at college, or at home doing housework or errands or chores, chasing after children or pets, when all your tasks are done and you get to sit down and watch television while you knit!
When do you find the time to knit?
I love to knit, to design patterns and to talk about knitting!