Running a creative business

Running a creative business is almost a misnomer; the act of creating isn’t easily controlled by the logical business side. But yet that what’s I attempt to do on a daily basis. It might explain why I frequently feel conflicted, there is a constant sense of give and take.

When I’m creating my most interesting (to me at least!) work I need to be in my own head space. That means that I can’t have deadlines that give me no freedom, if it isn’t working I need to be able to sit back and think about it. What does work? Is there a different way to look at the problem so that it makes sense? Can I pull out or even re orientate a section so that it changes from just ok to amazing? I need to be able to start a morning feeling that all I need to think about is creation and allow myself the artistic frustration that produces the best work. If you’re under time pressure you will ‘settle’ for good enough rather than reworking. Or if there are so many outside pressures that you just can’t find the right frame of mind. If this happens for several months running it creates such a huge feeling of frustration, like you’re almost getting it right but just not hitting the high notes.

Then you need to flip over to the other side, the business side. The decisions you make are money ones for the most part. How is your time best spent so that you get well paid for your work? What new avenues should you pursue and what old ones should be closed down? It’s very easy to keep walking down the same comfortable paths with blinkers on, denying that anything is changing. It’s sometimes hard to be honest with yourself that you need to change!

Life with 4 boys seems to be getting busier and busier. My work time is being squeezed down very tightly and it would appear that these days I’m the one that suffers most. The business end is being done, the patterns are being posted, newsletters are sent out and future plans are being made. However I’m having such a hard time finding free head space, so much of my mental effort right now is to make sure life runs smoothly, lunches made, children dropped (3 DIFFERENT SCHOOLS!), Suzuki violin class attended, stock pot loaded, dishes washed, kitchen swept, dog walked, and then if I’m lucky 2-3 hours work before…. afternoon bags packed, snacks made, children collected, homework done, dropped to gymnastics/drama/piano then home to cook next dinner, clean more dishes, chase violin/piano practice, homework, bedtime and FINALLY knitting time. It’s both wonderful and terrifying being the mother to so many. With so much to remember it’s not really too surprising that mental space is a rare commodity for me. I think I may be overdoing it these days, constant colds with coughs that I can’t shake :-(

So while life is so good, it is perhaps just a little too hectic these days. My little house of cards would appear to be stacked a little too high I think!

Knitting & Stitch Show, Dublin

K&SLOGO

Every year at the RDS in Dublin the Knitting & Stitching show is held. There are very few big knitting and craft events in Ireland so this is quite a big deal. Looking through this years lineup it seems like there is a huge range of gallery exhibitions there. Black Sheep (The Darker Side of Felt), The Graduate Showcase, Irish Patchwork Society, Cork Textiles Network, National College of Art and design, CIT Crawford and Jo Beattie.

Every year, in addition to the fascinating gallery exhibitions, there is a large range of products on sale, you can see the full list here. A few that caught my eye are This Is Knit (they’re Malabrigo exclusive this year), Craftspun Yarns, Coolree…in fact this is the knitting only exhibitor list!

This year the show is on at the end of the month, 30th October – 2nd November. They’ve given me 3 pairs of tickets to give away for any day except Saturday. Entries are limited to Ireland only as I’ll have to mail the ticket out to you (and you need to be able to travel!).

To enter leave a comment below before the end of Sunday 12th October telling me what the first stand (or exhibition) you want to visit is at the show.

Teaching & Tutorials

I very much enjoy teaching, but I need to be careful not to overdo it. For me, somewhat on the introvert end of the scale, it’s important to get out of my own head. However I try not to schedule more than one event a month. I’m usually thinking about it for a few days before the event (so less sleep), have great fun while I’m doing the class and then crash for a few days afterwards until I get my rhythm back. Plus of course juggling the lives of 4 children when I change my schedule is no small task!

I think it’s fun and exhausting for me as I throw a lot of myself into the class. I don’t just want to teach knitters a step-by-step technique, I’m much more interested in them understanding how it works. For instance when doing grafting, I don’t just want to teach a series of steps to work in basic 2×2 ribbing. Instead I break it down into sections that are reproducing each step of your knitted stitch. That way every knitter in that class can walk out being able to transfer their knowledge to absolutely ANY type of grafted rib. When I teach cable charts I don’t just show how to work the exact cable shown in the chart. I break it down explaining how the chart is constructed so even if the legend is missing the knitter can easily interpolate the chart themselves.

When I teach classes I have discovered that learning can go both ways. During classes I’ve seen new methods of knitting, learned new techniques and I get to see patterns and written instructions from the other side. If I only sat at home writing patterns I’d be writing them as I want patterns to be written, explaining everything the way I understand. So in short teaching classes helps me write better pattern instructions and keeps me expanding my own knitting knowledge.

Over the last year or two there have been more and more knitting tours coming to Ireland. Originally it was just Tourism Ireland and Jean Moss but in the last few months I’ve taught a tour from Belgium, several more from the USA/Canada and there are 4 more upcoming over the next few months including one from Norway. While not everyone is going to do a knitting tour of Ireland I also travel a little for teaching. The next trip I’ll be making is to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March. I love Edinburgh very much, so it is a good spot for a weekend trip! The classes aren’t up for sale yet but you can view all the details here. On Saturday 14th I’ll be teaching Seamless Knits: Beyond the Raglan and on Sunday 15th I’m teaching Short Rows: Beyond the Basics.

If you want to find out what upcoming classes I’m teaching keep a look out on my class page here.

Are you joining the Autumn KAL?

On Sunday evening I launched the pre-sale for my autumn KAL – Capall Dubh. This started out over the summer when my friend Sue was thinking of knitting a new cardigan. I offered to do the designing and she was going to knit a version of it. I’ve got several beautiful piles of Blue Moon Fibers yarn here so it seemed the perfect yarn for the project.

I knew I wanted a simple enough cardigan that it could be used for everyday wear. BUT I wanted to have enough detail that it was fun to knit. The basic shape of the cardigan is simple, top down body with set-in sleeves from the top down. But I was playing around with pattern stitches and loved the Cherry tree one. I began by using it as the first panel across the top of the shoulder and then I liked it so much it got added to the back as well!

You can see in this photo the stitch panel at the shoulder, I also worked ‘welts’ at each side of the stitch pattern so it really stood out as a focal point for the cardigan. They can of course be omitted if you wanted a more subtle effect.

The front is a gentle scooped neckline that is finished afterwards with ribbing and the buttonbands use small delicate buttons.

I knit the version shown above in Silky Victoria. This is a light dk/sportsweight yarn that is knit with larger needles to give it a lighter more open feel. This plays well with the lacy cable stitch at the back panel.

The version that Sue is knitting uses Gaea Sport. This is quite a heavy sport weight yarn and as the yardage is a little less you’ll need slightly more yarn (weight wise). You can see it in progress here in Smoke on the Water colorway:

As everyone is picking yarns, choosing colors and starting to swatch there’s quite a buzz going on the ravelry board! Come on over and join us.

New KAL soon!

Capall dubh sneak peek

Just to tease you all I’m only going to give you glimpse of the cardigan :-0

I’ve just finished this cardigan that was knit with the most wonderful new yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts – Silky Victoria.¬† It’s got delicate cabled lace, top down construction with short row set-in sleeves. Plus there is currently a second version being knit in Gaea – Sport if you prefer your yarn to be of the 100% wool variety!

Watch out for a newsletter update next week, with more photos, a pre-order link and a yarn discount!

 

Titus yarn

Last year I met Verity, the owner of Baa Ram Ewe at TNNA in Columbus. She was bubbly, energetic and very, very Yorkshire! She had just launched a brand new Yorkshire yarn, Titus. This yarn is made from a blend of local fibres (50% Wensleydale, 20% Bluefaced Leicester, 30% UK Alpaca) and it is dyed in colours that reflect the Yorkshire countryside.

Originally she was selling several of my patterns that knit up well in Titus yarn in their original pattern format. However several of the samples have been reknit in Titus and we’re putting special Titus patterns together for Baa Ram Ewe. I’ve got a few of the photos to share from last week when we did the first photoshoot.

First up is Autumn Whispers.

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IMG_5382IMG_5355Next one is Akoya.

IMG_5536IMG_5551IMG_5565Watch out over the coming months for the next few patterns, we may even have a few surprises for you!

My holiday yarn

For the last few weeks I’ve been getting back to work after my holiday and trying to get the house organised for the new school year. Now that the boys are (mostly!) back to school I can actually take a few minutes to enjoy some of the lovely yarn I brought home from Florida with me.

You might like to take a look with me, what would you knit with this yarn?

IMG_3217First yarn is Fiber Optics, I had been stalking them for a few months and there was never yarn in stock but when Laura tweeted that she was buying from them at a show I jumped at the chance to get my hands on some!

There were a few sale yarns that I couldn’t resist, colours I love with sweater quantities of each..

IMG_3221I haven’t knit with Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool before but the colour was wonderful and it seems like such a versatile yarn.

IMG_3223My next purchase was some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport. It was on sale at A Good Yarn for half price so really I’d have been negligent to not take it!

IMG_3224Finally this is some delicious yarn that Susan from A Good Yarn gave to me. It’s been created just for the store and this one is A Good Yarn Fingering. It comes in 100 and 50g skeins which works really well if you want a pop of colour for some contrast in your work. I’m going to be designing with this later on this year, should be fun :-)

Penrose Tile release

Last September I designed a shawl called Penrose Tile for the second issue of Ply magazine (blog post here). This is a spinning magazine so the shawl was knit using hand spun yarn. It was my first time knitting with hand spun and I loved it. They created a variegated yarn with a complementary solid color that I used to create a garter stitch/lace shawl that used the two yarns in a series of garter stitch short row stripes with lace panels.

The shawl was very popular and that issue of the magazine quickly sold out with the result that I’ve had a lot of request for this shawl pattern over the last few months. I’ve been preparing for the re-release by knitting the shawl again in hand dyed yarn. Yvonne from Dublin Dye Company¬† kindly custom dyed two colors for me, Ripple and Mustard (good think it’s not for eating!) that work really nicely together in her new Swing Sock yarn.

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The updated shawl pattern has just been released and there is a bonus coupon for a 15% discount included for Dublin Dye Company. They have just updated their etsy store to include some lovely swing sock color combinations that would be just prefect for Penrose Tile.

We’ve been throwing some color combination ideas around on twitter if you’re looking for some inspiration!

penrose tile 1

Back at the desk

I’ve just come back from holidays and I’m sitting here at my desk trying to remember where I was before I left! I actually love the feeling of returning from holiday, I adore what I do and I miss it when I’m away :-) I feel so lucky every day to be able to say that.

Once I’m settled back in here I’ll give you a few yarnie updates from my holidays, I’ve got a nice little collection.