In Search of Creativity

(c) Nadia Seaver

(c) Nadia Seaver

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with creativity. When all is going well and ideas are flowing it is the most wonderful feeling in the the world. You come up with an idea, work it through to the end and if you’re lucky it’ll turn out even better than you imagine. It’s a feels great, you don’t need anyone to tell you it’s turned out well; you just ‘know’.

Inspiration

Obviously this isn’t always the way it works. It’s an illusive thing and the more you search for it the harder it is to pin down. Frequently in interviews I’m asked where I’ve found my inspiration. I find this a really hard question to answer because the truth is that it’s different every time. Sometimes I might pick up a yarn and stitch pattern book and start experimenting. This is great if you’ve got a particular yarn you need to design for as you can see what kind of stitch patterns work best for the yarn.  For me often inspiration comes from clothes. I might have seen a detail on a sweater in a shop but hated the rest of the sweater or I’ve got a mental image of something I want to wear and as I can’t find it anywhere so I’ll knit it instead.

Mental Blocks

The times creativity get difficult are when the ideas just won’t flow. You sit down to swatch and every single swatch turns out wrong. Or maybe you’ve got a lot of ‘busy work; answering emails, sending out bills, writing blog posts and updating social media. These make it impossible. In my head to create I’ve got to feel like I have all the time in the world. Creativity is slow but the rest of the world moves quickly. So then the question is, how do you slow down enough to create?

New Ravi sample in progress.

New Ravi sample in progress.

Finding Head Space

To create I need to feel that no one is waiting for me and there are no deadlines. Swatching is slow and I’ve got to allow myself to make mistakes and learn. I think that’s often why I do my initial idea blitzing on weekend mornings. If I’m up before everyone or if they all go out for a few hours my head thinks of it as free time. I don’t need to do the busy work, so my mind is relaxed and it feels like the day is open ended just for me to explore. I think that’s also why working in time blocks helps. If you’ve got a creative morning or two blocked off you don’t feel like you should be doing something else so it allows you space.

Getting Over the Block

The times I find most difficult to deal with are when you just have a creative slump. It doesn’t matter what you touch, design or finish the end result just feels ok to you rather than magical. It usually means for me that I’ve taken on too much work and I”m tired and burnt out. I use that as an indication that I need to say ‘no’ for a while until I find my balance again.

For any creatives out there, what do you find kicks starts your creativity again when you’re overworked and feeling a little burnt out?

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Gift Knits for Men

It’s that time of year where we accomplish major knitting feats as Christmas creeps ever closer. I don’t know about you but knitting for male relatives is always a problem for me, mostly when it comes to inspiration. So to help you all out, here are some of Carol’s beautiful knitting patterns for men that would make excellent gift knits.

Hats

Mason's Hat pattern by Carol Feller in Studio Donegal Soft tweed.

Mason’s Hat from Interweave Knits

Mason’s Hat  is one of Carol’s latest patterns and you can find it in the holiday issue of Interweave Knits. I think it’s hard to find hat patterns for men and this is available in a wide number of sizes up to a 24″ brim. The pattern is also reversible and stretchy which is fantastic in a gift knit. You can pair this up with the scarf for a matching set if you have the time. If you managed to get these off the needles in a jiffy and your looking for other hat patterns, you can also check out Clypea, Stave hat, Tempano and the Coriander hat.

Socks

Claro Sock knitting pattern by Carol Feller in Susquehanna Knitting Company Susquehanna Sock

Claro Socks

Socks are another great gift and these Claro socks are worked from the cuff down and I think they allow the yarn to really shine. You could chose a plain yarn like the ones above or really go to town with a beautiful self striping yarn like the Zaurroball  pair below. I also like patterns that allow you to learn something new along the way and the short row heel and toe construction here really piqued my interest! If your looking for a cabled sock pattern Casadh has beautiful cables that organically twist in and out of each other to hug your feet!

 

Calro in Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball®

Calro in Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball®

Sweaters

Knockmore sweater in Black Water Abbey 2 Ply Worsted

Knockmore sweater in Black Water Abbey 2 Ply Worsted

I know there are some of you out there who could definitely knit a sweater between now and December 25th and then there are knitters like myself that end up gifting wips on the needles and happily continue to knit away during the xmas break. Knockmore is a beautiful bottom up sweater with saddle shoulders where the sleeves are worked separately and joined to the body at the yoke.  The jumper pictured above is loved so much that it is worn almost every cold winter’s day. If you are looking for something with a little more cables then Straboy could be for you while Terry’s pullover lies nicely between the two.

For the little ones

Lianthite knitting pattern by Carol Feller in Berroco Vintage™ Chunky

Lianthite Jr in Berroco Vintage™ Chunky

I won’t forget the younger men this season and  Liathite Jnr is a favourite around here. This zippered hoodie is worked with chunky yarn and just flies off the needles. The sizing runs from 12 months to 10 years old and is kept interesting with those beautiful cable panels on the front.  If your looking for something for the newest little ones among us, then the Iceling set is a perfect quick knit in aran weight yarn.

Carol has put together this Men’s Collection bundle and is generously offering  25% off both the patterns in the bundle and any of her print books found here. Just use the code MENSKNITS and make sure you grab it before the 10th of December.

What’s your favourite men’s gift? Do you have a favourite pattern from Carol that isn’t mentioned above? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Luwan KAL, Clue 1 overview

So, clue 1 (the yoke) of the Luwan KAL is now complete. There has been just wonderful support for all knitters and almost everyone finished clue 1 within the 2 weeks! You really can’t underestimate the power of working together.

So what was clue 1 about?

It started off at the shoulders working short rows in garter stitch (using German Short Rows) for each side of the front. From there it moved on to increases for the neck and then increases for the armholes. Once the front was finished you picked up stitches along the top of the shoulders and did the same for the back.
The biggest problem knitters encountered was maintaining the Dot Stitch pattern, especially when increases were being worked. With this stitch pattern it’s a little trickier than it looks as the patterning is happening on the wrong side rows so it’s really easy to get tripped up! This is where the KAL was the biggest help, you can face ripping out your work and redoing it more easily when you’ve got a cheering gallery :-)

So here’s a little view of the work that different knitters have been doing on the ravelry boards with a few quotes from the clue 1 discussions:

Clue 1: kikukat

Luwan Clue 1: kikukat

Luwan Clue 1: knitterings

Luwan Clue 1: knitterings

Luwan Clue 1: janeeknits

Luwan Clue 1: janeeknits

Luwan Clue 1: Golden2knit

Luwan Clue 1: Golden2knit

SnoozinB:

Settling in this Saturday morning with my coffee and my pattern. We woke up to the first frost of the season–perfect for starting this sweater! I’m going to study it well and make my plans before casting on.

This really is an enjoyable knit, isn’t it?

Thank you for this and for the link! Always learning from you.

I learn soooo much knitting Carol’s patterns! In particular, the short rows used to slope the shoulders are really interesting.

Knitsnpurls:

I woke up to a dark and gloomy rainy day, perfect for knitting! The first thing I did was put the kettle on for tea, the second was to check for Clue 1. Now it’s all printed off and ready to go. I think it’s going to be a good day. :o)

DebbyKnits2:

I’m really enjoying knitting this pattern. It’s been awhile since I’ve knitted a sweater, and this is my first ‘top down’ sweater! My thanks to everyone who has posted pictures and asked questions. It makes this entire process a lot easier :)


HazelS:

I love the encouragement.

txtaurus:

So even though I was quiet this week, I was reading this thread when I could….thank you all for the tips and questions. I just love seeing everyone’s color choices! Carol, littlefellers all kals might need to be from blue moon fibers so we can work through all their colors ;)

Konaknits

Thank you; I was able to go to bed feeling better after reading your post!

filidhruadh:

Thanks to all of you! I’ve got to the joining point, and will pick up again at the weekend when I go home. I’m LOVING this pattern, and learning loads already, as always! Thanks Carol Littlefellers for a great KAL!

So now that clue 1 is finished it’s on to clue 2! Discussions are already well underway and there are some new techniques to learn, like working German Short Rows in the round.
Are you enjoying your Luwan KAL? (Remember you can jump in at any time as well!)
For anyone who’s working away on Luwan you can share your images on social media using the tag #LuwanKAL. This makes it easy to find them!

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New pattern: Bespin

Last year I got some yarn. But it wasn’t just any yarn, it was a really, really huge single skein of Empire yarn from Jill Makes Stuff.

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My winder wasn’t big enough to hold it all so it was broken down into several smaller cakes.

Every autumn Jill releases several batches of this yarn. Each year I look at it longingly and resist. But last year I eventually went ahead and got myself one of the mighty skeins! The yarn has got a nice high twist and feels very firm when you knit it. As the yarn has such a dense feel to it I wanted to use a more open stitch pattern to lighten it up a little. After some experimenting this is what I settled on, a broken rib pattern with yarnover rows that was dense enough to be warm but still open enough to make the sweater a little lighter.

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If you’re thinking about yarn substitution, Kerry Woollen Mills Aran yarn has a similar weight although Empire is a softer yarn.

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Bespin is knit from the bottom up; it starts with both the front and back hem knit separately (you can see that the back hem is a little longer). These increases in the pattern are shown in both charted and written format so it makes the start easier. Once the hem is finished it’s joined in the round and worked straight to the armhole opening. In the sample shown I’ve got just over 1″ / 2.5 cm of positive ease however I think this is a sweater that would work really well with a generous amount of positive ease, going for 3-4″ / 7.5-10 cm bigger than you bust size should make a great oversized winter sweater.

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Once the body is finished the sleeves are knit in the round also. As they are in stockinette stitch they just fly off the needles!

Finally the body and sleeves are joined in the round. This is a tricky maneuver for the first few rounds as you’re squeezing small sleeves into a bigger yoke circumference. I usually use a much bigger circular needle than necessary and pull a ‘loop’ similar to magic loop out at the middle of the sleeve. I find that this gives enough extra movement to really ease the difficulty of joining the sleeves to the body.

The yoke of this sweater uses raglan shoulder shaping; you can see that the pattern stitch is ‘eaten away’ as you begin working the decreases. By now you will know the pattern stitch very well so it’s easy to see how to maintain the pattern, and for any extra stitches you’ve got you can just work them as knit or purl. The raglan shaping goes through a few different sections (with different decrease rates) so that the yoke is deep enough and each part of the neck fits just right. Each of these sections is detailed with a full stitch count chart for the entire yoke given so you can easily track your work and stitch counts.

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Finally the neck is bound off at the front with decreases worked to shape it. For a deeper neck it’s possible to start the decreases sooner. I opted to use bound-off stitches and decreases at the front rather than short rows as I found it easier to maintain the pattern stitch. If you want to experiment though you could try doing it with short rows also!

I hope you have fun knitting Bespin; do you have any Empire (or another heavy aran) yarn waiting for the perfect project?

Stepping up your Cables

If you can knit basic cables there’s nothing to stop you from stepping your cables up to the next level. The basic cable building blocks are either cables that cross knit with knit stitches and cables that cross knit with purl stitches. You can find tutorials for all of these here.

With those basics you can knit any type of cable now! There are however a few things that can trip you up with new cables. The first thing to watch out for is how many stitches cross over in each direction. Shown here are 2 cables that use 6 stitches. However the cables are not identical.

This cable shows 3 knit stitches crossing over 3 knit stitches.

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This cable shows 2 knit stitches crossing over 4 knit stitches.

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By learning how to read cable charts you can make yourself a fluent cable chart reader. If you are able to get all of your information from the chart it means that you can really speed up your cable knitting as you don’t have to keep referring back to the written directions.

By mastering cable charts you can really start to understand them. Complex cable patterns are almost always going to be shown in chart format as it much more visually accessible and a more compact way of giving information. For simple or intermediate patterns you can also have written directions but as they get more complex written directions can become very unmanageable. As a designer it’s much more difficult to check written directions for accuracy.

So how do you read charts?

  1. Look at the stitches under the cable.4
  • Are they knit or purl?
  • How many stitches are there?

2. Look at the cable stitches.23

  • How many stitches that are shown for each side of the cable?
  • Are they knit or purl?
  • Which way does the cable cross?

3. Look at the stitches after the cable.actual-4

  • Are they knit or purl? Did any change from knit to purl or the other way around?
  • Did any decrease?

If you can answer these questions then you can knit any cable without a key for the chart! All of the information you need is directly there on the chart, if a stitch changes from knit to purl it has to happen in the chart (or else it’s a mistake!). If there are less stitches after the cable it means that a stitch was decreased behind the cable. This is why I love charts – what you see is what you get, there is no hiding, the stitches have to make sense!

TIps

Sometimes knitters have difficulty reading charts due to the symbols used or the size of the chart. Make it as easy as possible for yourself; highlight the symbols to make it easier, blow the chart up to a larger size. If necessary you can even redraw the chart!

Track your chart by using Knit Companion electronically or use a magnetic board if you’re doing it on paper. Mark off each row as you work so you can’t lose your place.

Do you want to try out your new found cable skills? I’ve put a cable bundle together on ravlery with 25% off for until the end of the day (Irish time) on the 20th by using the code CABLES for any pattern in the bundle. Have fun with your cables!

Any other tips?  Just add them here!

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If I had one Question…………

Last week I opened a thread on Ravelry and asked on social media if you had any questions that you would like to ask Carol. Today’s blog post has the answers that you seek; from design questions to how she likes to unwind to her favourite pattern. Read on and enjoy:

If Carol had to go to a desert island and take only one pattern of hers to make which one would it be!?

I’m very bad at redoing things, in fact I almost never re-knit patterns that I’ve done. If I had to pick a favourite pattern, it would probably be Ravi BUT if I was actually on a desert island I’d think just keep knitting new stuff and designing even if it was just for me!

Ravi

Ravi in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock

How has your travels/being an expat in the past influenced your knitting?

I’ve spent most of my life in Ireland and only lived for a few years in Florida. However I think having an American husband in Ireland gives me a slightly outsider view.

Growing up in Ireland I never really appreciated all things Irish. In fact at 16-18 all I wanted to do was leave! Originally I wanted to go to Australia. I met my husband at 19 and we got married and went to Florida a few years later. There’s nothing like living outside your country to help you appreciate its uniqueness. It began to dawn on me how special it actually is to be Irish with such a strong culture and traditions. When our first-born was 16 months we moved back to Ireland and it felt really good to be back here. I don’t think I’d have ever appreciated it I hadn’t left for a few years.

In terms of influencing my knitting – I don’t really know? I think it probably makes me more open to multiple influences, drawing inspiration from everywhere. Also the global internet community does that also as much as travel.

How did Carol make the transition from designer on the side to full-time notable designer extraordinaire?

Accidentally! I’m not good at standing still; I don’t like managing businesses just growing them. This means that my head is already planning the next project before I’m even finished the one I’m working on.

When I started I was so obsessed with just designing that I didn’t really worry about how I was viewed. I can only impact what I produce; creating the best knitting and patterns I’m capable of at that time. Whether people like my work and patterns or hate them is something I have no control over. I focus on what I can control; the patterns and giving the best customer support I’m able to. I want to open possibilities up for people. We spend so much time knocking ourselves down that I want to focus on building and believing and having fun! Designer and knitters can often be their own worst critics, often shutting themselves down before they even start – just stop! Focus on what you do well and figure out what you need to do to improve. There’s enough people in the world who’ll knock you so don’t do it to yourself as well!

Which yarn is your favourite to work with and why?  

I don’t have a favourite yarn but I do like most natural fibres.

I like wool and merino, with a preference for non-superwash. In summer I love linen for it’s drape quality. My favourite yarn weight would be sports weight as it’s light enough for shawls and accessories but still knits up quickly enough for a good weight garment.

Killybegs

Killybegs in Studio Donegal Aran Tweed

What pattern are you most proud of?

When I can solve a design problem, a pattern makes me happy. The first time I had to work over and over on a yoke and eventually got it just right was Killybegs. So this will probably sit in my memory as a special one. The way the decreases work into the cabled yoke for this still makes me happy :-)

What is your favourite part of your job?

Variety! I’d never be happy doing a job where it was the same thing every day. I love that I can jump from spreadsheet work, to blog post writing to sketching and knitting. And as an added bonus I get to travel and teach! I find teaching very hard work and exhausting but the feedback and understanding I get from classes that can be built into my patterns is fantastic.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I never really decided, it happened by accident. After the birth of my fourth son I had sold a business and was going to be a full-time mother. I get bored (even with the insanity of a baby) easily and wanted to try something new so I started knitting again thanks to This Is Knit in Dublin. I couldn’t stop knitting obsessively and that very quickly lead to designing. It made me so happy to design and write patterns that it wasn’t a choice at that point, I was just miserable when I wasn’t knitting.

In fact, it even made me step away from a PhD that I was thinking of starting! I was back in college doing tutorials with civil engineering students and had plans to do a PhD in a combination of engineering and architecture. After a few months teaching I resented every night I had to prepare practice questions for the students instead of knitting. This meant that I went in to my supervisor to tell him that I wasn’t going to pursue it as I was going to do knitting instead. His expression at that moment was priceless!!

Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

Everything! Usually it’s something I want to wear that I can’t find. I’ll get a picture of a knit I want and then I’ll create it. Other times I get a new yarn and experimenting with stitch dictionaries and you’ll start to see how it works best. Every yarn has different strong and weak points but you don’t discover them until you kit with it.

Autumn is my favourite time of year in shops; I’ll just wander getting a feel for current colour trends, shapes, and what kind styles are popular this year. While I knit all kinds of items, cardigans and sweaters are always my favourite.

Trousseau

Trousseau Shawl in Sundara Yarn

If you could work in any other occupation what would it be and why? 

I occasionally get an engineering pang when I pass a building site. I liked being out on site. However the thought of retraining and not knitting holds no appeal!

What’s your favourite ice-cream?

I’m not a huge ice-cream fan and can only eat it in small amounts. I do however still dream about a homemade ice-cream that we found in Sarasota, Florida when I was pregnant. It was a dark chocolate peanut butter mix from an Italian store that was just amazing!

What music do you like to listen too?

I don’t listen to a lot of music, except in the car, as I can’t work with music on. That’s not popular when you’re in a bigger office! I tend to be fairly old school and like some of the classics, Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens always make me happy with a bit of Violent Femmes, Florence and The Machine and Taj Mahal on the side. (Perhaps a little of the White Stripes for good measure).

How does she unwind? 

Knitting and a glass of wine – ideally under a warm blanket in front of the fire with my puppy curled up next to me. Perfection!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Carol a little better. If you want to join in the conversation you can find Carol on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. At the moment the biggest conversations are on Ravelry in the Luwan KAL group and the Wrap Up Winter KAL thread. You can of course leave questions or your thoughts on today’s blog post in the comments below.

 

 

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From Ideas to Submissions

When I started designing the idea of self-publishing seemed very intimidating. Not only did I have to come up the design idea and knit it, I also then had to write the pattern, figure out how to get the pattern checked, put it into an acceptable format for people to download and then promote it. It seems very daunting, as all I knew how to do starting out was how to knit and think up ideas! Each of the other skills was slowly learned. Pattern writing, photography, working with an editor and testers are all learned skills. They don’t come instantly and there are many learning curves to climb all at the same time!

The very first pattern I had accepted was Doddy, for Knitty Winter 2007 (I’ve just realised that will be 10 years December next year!!). I was so proud of my first acceptance, just bursting with pride. That didn’t last too long however once I started working with the tech editor. She was very kind and patient but she effectively completely rewrote my pattern. I did not have a clue how to write a pattern! That was a very swift, sharp reality shock for me. This was a job I had to learn.

After that I thought I’d try my hand at self-publishing. The first pattern that I got tested was also a hard lesson. I had testers for every size and I discovered how careful you had to be with pattern directions. When you’ve got a dozen people all busy spotting your mistakes (especially when they’re basic and fairly silly mistakes) it’s hard to not take it personally. But it taught me to take my time and check the pattern several times in different ways so that the end product was as clean as possible and to swallow my pride and accept mistakes. This is always hard but really, really important if you want to keep improving.

At this point I really wanted the experience of publishing in magazines. This involves a different workflow but I think the lessons that you learn from working with a professional magazine are invaluable and really help to perfect pattern writing skills and spot mistakes.

Submission Calls

When working with magazines you start by signing up to their mailing lists or watching out for submission calls on ravelry’s designer board. These submission calls take a lot of different formats; some are just inspiration photos and sketches with minimal words, others do the reverse with descriptive paragraphs, and sometimes there are both. I love reading through submission calls even if I don’t have the time to submit, they can be very inspirational and spark off ideas.

Swatching

The next stage is to put the submission together. This is the stage that I have a hard time getting to at the moment as it takes several days. I start by thinking over the call; what kind of ideas would work? What yarns do I have that would suit? What stitch patterns could fit into it? Next I will start swatching – occasionally an idea works from the start but this is rare!! Usually there are several days of knitting and ripping until something works. It equal parts frustrating and exhilarating; and sometimes it just doesn’t come together and has to be abandoned.

Last year I pulled the idea for Nouri together for Pom-Pom magazine. I was so excited as it was one of those times that the swatch just worked from the start! You can see that when you swatch for a design you try to put all the details in the swatch, how the side pattern works and how the neckline shaping will be done. It can make for funny shaped swatches but nothing beats knitting the details.

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Sketching

For the submission, once I’ve got a swatch that works the next stage is sketching. I use a croquis outline that I draw my garment onto. I’m not a fantastic artist so this means that it looks enough like a human body to convey the idea. I’ll then put notes and details of the garment on the sketch to show how it’s going to be knit.

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I’ve recently got an Ipad Pro with an apple pencil and I find that this is very helpful for this stage. It means that I can sketch directly in an electronic format and add colour easily if I want to.

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Putting it all Together

The final step is text description. I’ll put a pdf together, which has the sketch, photo of the swatch and a description of the yarn, gauge, swatch and construction details. At this stage you should pay close attention to the details for the submission you’re making. Do they also want a schematic? Do they want suggested sizing? Do they want a single page submission? Attention to detail is important at every stage of the design process but if it’s your first impression when you’re doing a submission. It doesn’t have to be complicated just answer any questions that need answering.

Now for a full submission you go back and do this a couple of more times. Most submissions I make are 2-4 suggested items. As my time is getting tighter these days it’s more often 2 now! The beauty of putting this much work into submissions is that now you’ve got a full design idea ready to go. If the magazine rejects the idea you have the option of either submitting it to another magazine or creating a self-published pattern. Other times I find that I’m not completely in love with an idea but there’s a detail that I want to keep and I end up building a new design around that. As I design more and more I find that I like to take the same starting point for a design but then just bounce off in a new direction.

If you’re new to designing have you tried submitting to magazines? Don’t let the idea of rejection daunt you – just think of it as another great idea that you can go and use yourself – their loss!!

Are you thinking about designing? Let me know your own experiences!

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The one about Craftsy

With the release of the Ridgeback Craftsy Kit, I thought I could take you on a journey on all things Craftsy. Have you used it? If not or if your looking to find out what’s on offer, this post is for you.

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Kits
Like the Ridgeback set above, I think the one thing that Craftsy is most well known for is craft kits. It’s perfect if you want to recreate the pattern exactly. The yarn is always tailored to the pattern and you always get enough to finish your project.  All you have to do is pick your favourite colour. Carol has three other craft kits available Penrose Tile (shawl), Traveller’s End (cardigan) and the Mendel Sweater.  All of which are on sale at the moment so it’s the perfect time to pick one up for a gift or try your hand at something new.

Penrose Tile Hand knit shawl design by Carol Feller

Penrose Tile Shawl

Patterns

Craftsy also has some special patterns for example this Ross Cowl from Carol is available for free. It’s a perfect introduction to colourwork if you want to try your hand at it. So if you don’t want to buy a kit you can just grab a pattern. Although some patterns are just available initially as a kit.

short-row-techniques

Classes

Craftsy is also a great place for online classes and tutorials. These are always fantastic value because they are a one on one session with your favourite designer, that you get to keep forever. Carol has four classes available Essential Short Row Techniques, Celtic Cables and Sweater Surgery. These are perfect to add to your knitter’s tool belt that you can reference whenever you need them. I find a lot of knitters don’t have the time for full classes or can’t get to the venue. These are the answer, plus you can re-watch a technique as many times as you need to. The handy 30 second repeat feature and bookmark/note tool makes it even more useful, you can always find the spot you’re looking for. Carol even has a free Craftsy class if you want to dip your toe in the water. It gives you an idea of how the longer classes are put together and also you get to see Carol’s teaching techniques. You can see what Ssmith94015 thought here:

Great class, learned some new techniques for short rows and how to use them. Helped explain some instructions that I came across in a few patterns and now I know what they were trying to say. Have inspired me to create projects using the short row approach.

But wait there’s more

Craftsy isn’t just for knitters, which is why I love it. I really think that crafters express their creativity over a few mediums and there is everything from cooking, sewing, crochet, art and even gardening.  It’s just one of these places that I go to for a specific reason and I’ve lost half an hour to beautiful quilt supplies.

I hope I have inspired you to check it out, pick up a craft kit or try a class on something new. If there a class you are thinking of taking then let us know in the comments.
Also I am collecting some questions for Carol, so if there is something that you have been itching to ask a knitwear designer or just something you have always wondered then drop it in the comments or over on the Stolen Stitches group on Ravlery.

Thanks for Reading,

Nadia

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Behind the Scenes with the Yarn Club

For the last 3 years I’ve been running the Irish Yarn Club with This Is Knit. I had always wanted to do a club and one that featured Irish hand dyers seemed perfect! A lot of my design work tends to be garments so a club with very focused, smaller pieces seemed like a fun project to work on.
When we are putting the clubs together I try to keep a mix at every level; with yarn type, colours dyed and project types. This keeps it interesting for me designing and makes it more likely for knitters to have a project they can fall in love with.
In last year’s club we decided on 3 different yarn weights; lace weight (Hedgehog Fibres ‘Merino Lace‘), fingering weight (Townhouse Yarns ‘Spire Singles‘) and worsted (Donegal Wool Spinning Company dyed by Dublin Dye Company).

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Each of these yarn had very different properties that would create very different dye effects. To start with Yvonne from Dublin Dye Company did some experimenting with the Donegal yarn. Hand dyers primarily use superwash yarn, which behaves very well with hand dyeing. When a colour is applied it stays pretty much where it is put which allows them to create semi-solid colours and even speckles. However the Donegal yarn was a woollen spun (very hairy!) yarn and obviously not superwash. This means that when dye is applied it immediately gets sucked up into the fibre and spreads quickly. Due to this a semi-solid to solid colour was the best option. The colour that Yvonne created was a wonderful rich green. The base yarn starts off as a darker colour, closer to a beige brown, and when it was dyed even a small amount created a rich, deep colour. In fact the amount of dye needed was closer to what she would generally use to create a pastel shade on a white yarn base!
As this yarn was a worsted weight with less than 200m I wanted a smaller project. I ended up settling on a cabled hat (Sheephaven) with a folded brim that used the complete skein and created a cosy hat that really showed off the colour. I did get caught with yarn amount though – the medium size used the single skein exactly but several knitters were running a little short. Even a slight difference in either the yardage of the skein or in knitting tension is enough to push it over the edge of a single skein.


The next yarn was the lace yarn with Hedgehog Fibres. Working with Beata I knew that she was creating some fantastic speckled yarn at the moment so that seemed like a great dyeing technique to have in the club. I used pinterest to throw out a few colour ideas to her and let her do her magic :-)
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When designing with the laceweight yarn there was a huge amount of yardage, 1200 m! This really opens up the possibilities for different project types. I started experimenting with stitch patterns that enhanced speckled yarn and eventually settled on a drop stitch pattern that showed off the colours and also broke it up a bit.

1 Not everyone likes doing garment type projects so Kompeito had both the option of a sleeveless vest or just a side-to-side shawl.


The final yarn for last years club was a fingering weight gradient yarn dyed by Townhouse Yarns. I was particularly excited about this yarn as I was also starting on my Knitting With Rainbows book! I put a pinterst board together with some colour ideas.
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As you can see we were talking about a big range of colours in the gradient. Because of this I decided to use a slip stitch pattern in the project. Slip stitches are a great way of combining different colours together and work best when there is an obvious difference between each colour. This project comes with 5 little skeins (20g each) of each colour. Before you start knitting you divide each of them in 2 again so you have enough yarn for each of your arm warmers. Proby’s Armwarmers were knit nice and long to take full advantage of the range of colours, I wanted to make sure that as much yarn as possible was used! This project actually ended up in Knitting With Rainbows as it fit right in :-)
So there you have a brief overview of the yarn colour and design process. It’s all about variety and creating the best match of yarn, colour and project.

What kind of projects and yarn will you be hoping for in the 2017 club?

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Cosy up with Cables

When winter starts to draw in around here, we start to look to heavier weight yarns and cables. On Tuesday, Carol posted some cable tutorials along with a blog post on working with cables. I thought it might be nice to talk about three patterns that show off cables quite differently.

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Cables in Accessories
It’s hard sometimes to comprehend knitting a garment with a new technique in it. In times like these I find myself picking up accessory patterns as they are often small, quick, knits that can lead to instant gratification and a feeling of triumph. For the Wrap up Winter KAL, I will be knitting the Stannum gauntlets. These have a dramatic, mirrored cable that runs along the top of the mitt and then on the palms they have beautiful diagonal cables that are more simple and mirrored. If you want to tackle these along with me, you can hop over to the KAL board and there is also an discount offer on the Wrap Up Winter bundle until November 10th.
Hand knit mitts Stannum by Carol Feller in Townhouse yarns grafton 4 ply

Stannum in Townhouse Yarns Grafton 4 ply.

For something that lies between garments and mitts you can try Mason’s Scarf. This pattern from the latest issue of Interweave Knits has beautiful reversible cables that weave in and out of a rib pattern. Men’s accessory patterns are hard to find and I just love the timeless look of this pattern. (Plus reversible is always a bonus in a scarf!)

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Mason’s Scarf from Interweave Knits Holiday Issue

Cables in Garments
 
If you want to jump all in, one of my favourite garment patterns is Ardara from Contemporary Irish Knits. These cables are showcased on a background of reverse stocking stitch and worked vertically to draw the eye down the length of the garment. I just want to cuddle up in this until spring appears. If your new to the blog, you can read all about Carol’s Contemporary Irish Knits launch in the archives here.
ardara knitting pattern by carol feller in studio donegal aran tweed

Ardara from Contemporary Irish Knits in Studio Donegal Aran Tweed

Now that I’ve put the idea of winter and cables in your head, you may want to try a cable garment this is tailored to your fit?  To get some support and back up while you work, you can take a look at Carol’s Craftsy class on Celtic Cables where you can make the below Portulaca cardigan. There is a discount code for 50% off until October 31st when you use this link here.
Portulaca from Celtic Cables Craftsy Class by carol feller in studio donegal soft

Portulaca from Celtic Cables Craftsy Class

I’ve held you up for long enough now, do you have a favourite Carol cable pattern? Are you going to be joining in the KAL? Then leave a comment on the blog and let us know what you will be doing, we would love to hear from you.

As always you can find Carol on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and you can follow the blog using the subscribe button or Bloglovin’.

Until next week, wrap yourself in cables,
Nadia

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