Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween here we come

I’ve just come back from the most wonderful weekend in Glasgow.  I was teaching at the Glasgow School of Yarn, an event organised by The Yarn Cake.  The photo above is the view from my bedroom at the Heritage Hotel, this hotel was the perfect mixture between hotel and b&b.  A little bigger than the standard b&b but with more character than your typical hotel.

Waiting for me in the hotel room was a wonderful goodie bag from The Yarn Cake, sweets (kindly eaten by my boys), whiskey (much loved by DH!) and a project bag and coffee cup that got put to immediate use by me.  The t-shirt will take a little longer to get some use, what with the drop in temperature here (and me being always cold!).

Once I had settled into the hotel room I walked to The Yarn Cake, and had some coffee and cake.  It seemed somehow fitting given the name!  The cosy front section of the shop had tables, benches and chairs and you got to look at the colourful wall of drops yarn.  I suspect that there is much impulse buying after someone has fallen for the colours!

My first day of teaching was in the shop itself but on Saturday I got to do a book signing and class in the Mackintosh church.  In their gift shop they had a paper kit to make the couple you see above.  My oldest ds is very obsessed currently with origami and paper folding so I tried to get one for him but they were unfortunately all out :(

The book signing took place on the alter of the church, any Irish Catholics out there will probably understand what a strange sensation it was to be sitting up on an alter for a few hours talking knitting!!  The knitters didn’t seem to mind though and you can see Killybegs being tried on and admired below.

At the end of the day Antje hosted an after party in her flat for tutors and volunteers and she had a great selection of local beers to choose from….

So after a lovely few days with Scottish knitters it back to reality for me, paying taxes and searching for a new car.

Halloween Pattern Discount!

To help you all get your Christmas knitting done early this year I’ve just put up a Halloween discount.  From now until the end of October use the code ‘SPOOKY2011′ when you order and all individual patterns will get a 20% discount.  No limit to the number of times you use it.  My e-booklets will not be included in this discount.

Contemporary Irish Knits – get your signed copy.

I’ve just put an option on the page for Contemporary Irish Knits to buy the book directly from me.  I’ll sign your copy with your name (or someone elses if you note it in the comments).  Just pick the correct destination and the shipping is included in the cost.

Take a look at our KAL that’s currently running until the 1st of December.  There will be some great prizes so just join right in!

Woolly Wormhead Bambeanie’s Blog Tour

I’ve very happy to be the next stop on Woolly Wormhead’s Bambeanie‘s blog tour.  Woolly Wormhead is probably synonymous in most peoples mind’s with hat design; and rightly so!   Her design style is so distinctive that you can usually spot when a design is her’s before you even look at the name.

I met Woolly several years ago when she just happened to be passing my house in west Cork.  Her mum was planning on buying a plot of land further west so they kindly dropped in.  Since then her mother has moved to Ireland and we’ve had the pleasure of having Woolly and her family over for dinner during the summer when they were in the area again.  It is so rare to get a chance to talk in person with fellow designers that we tend to get a bit carried away, I think we bored everyone (but ourselves) to tears talking about designing and publishing.

While we were talking I began asking her about her exclusive design of hats.  She described her love of the sculptural/3D quality of hats which means that designing them never loses interest for her.  When she picks up yarn she sees hats!

The book that she had just released is ‘Bambeanies’; available both as an ebook for £10 and a print book for $23 both options can be found here.  This book has 82 pages and 20 hat designs for kids.  Woolly is always good though about providing a wide range of sizing on her patterns.  This is very unusual in hat design where frequently 2 sizes would be the norm.  Looking through the book I can see that most designs have at lease 4 sizes (a single one, Rocketeer, has 3) but Tricable has 6 and Loops has 5!  Being able to grade a wide range of sizes is important to Woolly, she has been know to abandon a project if it’s not gradable.  For the knitter this means that you get to have a perfect fitting hat, and even though this book looks like it just has designs for kids, many of the sizes go up to adult sizes (do check though, some would be small adult head)!  The designs are not just standard bottom up construction, there are several that are knit from side to side, and one (Bimple) is knit from the top down.  Changing the direction that a hat is knit in can really help you look a hats in a whole new way.

I’ve just finished a blog tour for my own book Contemporary Irish Knits and I knew from personal experience how many interviews you end up writing.  So I decided to give Woolly a break and instead of an interview on my leg of the tour I’ll talk through my own experience of knitting one of her hats.  Now as a fellow designer I rarely get much time to knit designs by others but quick baby knits and unusual construction techniques drew me in!

I needed a quick baby knit for a new baby in Dublin and decided to give the pattern Moochie a go.  It was for a little girl and I had some bright pink Cascade Eco + sitting in my stash that would be perfect!

Woolly loves to turn design on it’s side, and that’s how this hat starts.  You begin working what looks like a straight strip…but it’s not!  Increases on one side and decreases on the other end creates a biased fabric so you end up with a parallelogram.  So when you’ve finished the length of knitting you undo your provisional cast on and graft the start and finish together.  As the ends are sloping you are grafting on a diagonal which gives you a tube you see below with the rows of eyelets twisting around the tube.

Once I had this tube, while it was pretty it still didn’t look like a hat!  So next step, once you’ve got your tube grafted is to seam the top together……starting to look like a hat!

Some of the designs (such as Tipper) finish here with a cute little square hat.  This design goes a step further…next you go and add some little I-cord ears to the sides, how cute is that!

Then finally, you tie the I-cord together and ta-da…a HAT!

So anyone out there who want some cute, fun and unusual takes on your humble hat go give this book a go (might even be able to squeeze my head into the largest size of Nupkin!)

The book is available directly from  Woolly Wormhead here and the next stop on her blog tour is on the 26th of October with Babylonglegs.

Trunk shows and blog tours!

On Saturday I got to get my Contemporary Irish Knit trunk show out on my home ground at Cork.  There is a knitting and craft shop here called Vibes and Scribes that has a great selection of wool, books, and general crafty goodness.  It is packed to the rafters with goodies so there was much shifting of stock to fit me in for the morning!  I had a steady stream of knitters calling by and we got to chat about tension/gauge squares, cables and reading charts.  With a few hints on magic loop and tightening up your cable stitches thrown in along the way!  I am very grateful to the very talented Evin O’Keeffe who took all the photos in today’s post.  I’ve got a link down further if you’d like to see more of her photos.  It was extra impressive as she was busy leaning over the table photographing while 7 months pregnant!

You can see my full set up here, complete with my trusty I-pad that is invaluable when doing trunk shows, knitters can’s miss the photos!

This was Evin’s favorite of the Ardara tunic.  If anyone want to see all the photos Evin took when she came to visit you can view them here.  You can see some from fiber Feis as well as an added bonus….and pretend that it’s still summer!

Knitters are making great progress with The Ultimate Contemporary Irish Knits KAL.  There are already some beautiful finished pieces starting to appear.  This is running until the first of December so join right in.  We are pulling together some great prizes for this so don’t miss out!

Later on today the final stop on my blog tour will be up – Ilga Leja.  If you’ve missed any of the tour stops you can view them all below.  Thank you everyone who has taken part, I appreciate your support and kindness so much.  And a big thank you to all the readers as well, I hope you found the tour interesting and discovered some new facts along the way!

Tour details:
15/9/2011 Stephen West
17/9/2011 Hoxton Handmade
21/9/2011 Shannon Okey
23/9/2011 Rosemary Hill
25/9/2011 Ann Kingstone
27/9/2011 Marly Bird
29/9/2011 JC Briar
1/10/2011 Woolly Wormhead
3/10/2011 Anne Hanson
7/10/2011 Stephannie Tallent
11/10/2011 Alice Yu
13/10/2011 Michelle Miller
15/10/2011 Deirdre Thornton
17/10/2011 Ilga Leja

Speaking of blog tours, tomorrow it’ll be my turn for a stop in the blog tour of one of my favorite designer’s Woolly Wormhead.  I’ll be taking a look at her newest book ‘Bambeanies‘ which is full of cuteness for little ones!

I’m getting so excited about heading to Glasgow this week, can’t wait to meet all you lovely knitters!

Wragby Cardigan

(c) Knitscene

This was the first pattern I’ve done for Knitscene so I was very excited about it!  It’s a simple but very wearable cardigan.  Knit from the top down with raglan shoulder shaping all of the detail is worked afterwards in the collar.  The garter stitch collar is picked up once the body is finished and it is shaped as you work to form a curved front edge.
The sample sizes given in the magazine included the front collar bands, I’ve also given back widths on the ravelry page here to help with choosing sizes.

The sample is the size 38″ which has a back width of 16.75″ and it fits me well (I’m around a size 34-35″ bust).

This was my first time using this yarn (Plymouth Yarn worsted Merino Superwash) and it was really wonderful to use.  Soft, no pilling with fantastic stitch definition.  Will jump at the chance to use it again.

I knitted the magazine sample with 3/4 length sleeves but there is an option for full length sleeves written in the pattern as well.

For anyone following my blog tour for Contemporary Irish Knits it has stopped today at Fickle Knitter here, happy reading!

Survey results

I want to give a big thank you to all of you who answered my survey, and as promised I’m going to put the results up.

It looks like almost everyone has a preference for PDF patterns:

It looks like pdf wins by a mile with hardcopy books/pdf combination coming up a very distant second.

The next question I asked was how many patterns you liked in a collection:

Again, there was a very clear winner, with 6 being the ideal pattern number knitters liked.

Next there was the type of pattern, in the comments knitters had a preference for all one type of pattern in a collection with women’s garments being miles ahead:

Shawls and accessories came up behind this.  In the comments many knitters said they were slow to buy collections of children’s and men’s patterns as they was no guarantee they would be like and both sections can be very fussy to knit for!

Now for the idea of subscriptions, it seems like knitters were nervous about the commitment and wanted to make sure they got value for money.

And my final survey question was for anyone who would buy a subscription, what would be your ideal length.  6 months just won out, but 3 months was close behind:

So basically what I’ve taken from this survey is; just keep working the way I’ve been going.  I think as a designer the benefit to collections and bigger work rather than operating from pattern to pattern is that you have a more cohesive voice to your work and it is a little easier to organize.

Cork date and October already!

This last month has just passed in a blur, I’m kind of in shock that we’re already in October!  We’re trying to get ready for another potentially cold winter here so I can hear the plumber banging away behind me upgrading our heating system.  We’ll now actually have thermostats and controls, how fancy are we!!

For anyone in the Cork area I’d really love if you could come along to Vibes & Scribes on Saturday 15th of October.  I’m going to be in the wool section of their shop (on Lavitt’s Quay) from 10.30 until 1 just hanging out.  I’ll have the samples from my book with me so if you want to try them on, ask about construction or modification I’m happy to chat!  If charts or cables make you a little nervous I’d be happy to talk through how they work with you.  So if you’re around come on in!

I’m finding the results of the survey really interesting, if you haven’t taken it yet I’d really appreciate if you could take a few minutes to fill it in.  You can find it here.  Once I get around 20 more responses I’ll post the results up here on the blog for everyone to see.  There were a few surprises!

We’re over halfway through the CIK book tour now.  Yesterday Ann Hanson posted a great review here with lots of photos from the book, and a chance to win the book if you comment before Thursday.  If you’ve missed a stop on the tour you can see the full list again below.  (You can even hear me chatting about the book with Marly Bird on her podcast!)

Tour details:
15/9/2011 Stephen West
17/9/2011 Hoxton Handmade
21/9/2011 Shannon Okey
23/9/2011 Rosemary Hill
25/9/2011 Ann Kingstone
27/9/2011 Marly Bird
29/9/2011 JC Briar
1/10/2011 Woolly Wormhead
3/10/2011 Anne Hanson
7/10/2011 Stephannie Tallent
11/10/2011 Alice Yu
13/10/2011 Michelle Miller
15/10/2011 Deirdre Thornton
17/10/2011 Ilga Leja