Christmas knitting & Price changes

Is everyone out there as busy knitting for Christmas gifts as I am? I’ve got a secret one going for a Knitmas gift exchange I’m on. It’s fun and nerve wrecking doing a secret knit for someone you only know virtually! Obviously I can’t use one of my own patterns, that would be a dead giveaway so it gives me a chance to look around at some other small pattern items I’ve been looking at through the year. As a designer I don’t often get a chance to knit other designers patterns so it’s quite a treat to get a chance to do it. That’s all I’m going to give away for now…

On an unrelated note, I will need to restructure my business by the end of the year. For the most part this won’t have a significant impact on you as the end user except it will involve a slight price increase. From January 1st my pattern prices will increase from $6 to $6.50. It’s not a huge jump but I just wanted to give you all warning! Also, from a few weeks ago I have changed the checkout on the ravelry shopping cart so that it asks you for your address. I won’t use this in any way but it’s now become a legal requirement within the EU as they are changing the way VAT works. Previously the country I ran my business from determined the VAT (value added tax) rate that I charged. From 1st of January, 2015 new regulations will come into effect which changes this to the country of purchase. This means that I’ve got to know where the patterns are going and charge the correct rate of VAT accordingly.

If you want to stock up on some patterns before the price increase comes into effect watch out for a newsletter discount sale I’ll be running very shortly. Make sure you’re on my newsletter list so you’ll hear about it on time!

Modifying an older cardigan

A few years ago I knit a version of Leitmotif cardigan for myself. I used a heavier yarn and I wanted to lengthen the sleeves a bit. While I love the cardigan I find I’m not getting much use from it. I’ve got a couple of problem, the first is that the front doesn’t have closures.

IMG_3300The front edges are knit in st st and edged with I-cord bind off. In the sample I used hooks and eyes for a clean line but I knit the front of mine longer to cross over. I’m thinking about undoing the I-cord bind off and working I-cord buttonholes along the front edge so that I can add buttons.

The second issue I have is that I knit the sleeves too long and wide. The yarn I used is heavier than the yarn in the pattern and I didn’t add extra decreases to compensate. So my sleeves are too long and wide. This means that every time I wear it the sleeves get in the way!

IMG_3304Fortunately these sleeves were knit from the top down. So what I need to do I think is to rip out the extra 1 1/2″ of length I don’t want and then another couple of inches more so that I can work a few more decrease rounds.

While none of these changes will take more than a few hours I’m really, really slow to get around to doing them. The cardigan has been sitting on the back of the sofa for 2 weeks now and I’m managing very successfully to ignore it every night :-) Please give me a great big shove to got finish the job! Maybe I just need the temperature to drop a few degrees so that I am in serious need of an new cardigan…..

New Blue Moon pattern

Some of you out there may have spotted a new pattern from me this week – Landscape Waves.

You may have figured out by now that I really do love Blue Moon yarns. This particular yarn was fantastic to work with, it’s a brand new yarn they’re stocking called Targhee Worsted. I have not come across this breed of sheep before, but the yarn it produces is wonderful. The yarn is firm and fairly rustic but yet is soft enough to be comfortable next to the skin and it’s spun with a tight twist to make a plump firm yarn that is fantastic for knitting cables. The color I chose was ‘Spawn of Scum’ which is a vibrant green with wonderful rich undertones. In fact I kept these skeins on the corner of my desk for ages before I knit them as the color made me so happy :-)

Now to the cardigan itself. It was knit from the top down starting with the cabled collar. There is raglan shoulder shaping but you may notice that the front is a little different. The front edges are picked up and worked using short rows after the yoke is finished. The remainder of the cardigan is worked as an a-line with big chunky cables running down the sides. The version shown is the shorter version (I ran out of yarn!) but I’ve given the option in the pattern for a longer version that is the same width at the bottom but the increases are more gradual.

The cardigan itself has no fastenings as it can be worn either open or folded across. The shawl pin I’ve shown is from This Is Knit and works really well to fasten the cardigan.

In case you were wondering about the creepy backdrop to the photos, there’s a currently abandoned nursing home close to us that we took the photos outside of. So there was a great array of random debris around!

 

Irish Yarn Club

IrishYarnClub2015Have you seen that the 2015 installment for the Irish Yarn Club is up for sale?

This is the second year that I’m doing this collaboration with This Is Knit. It’s a match made in heaven really; I get to design and knit with delicious yarn from Irish hand dyers and at the same time work with a yarn store that has superb customer service that has supported me right from the start.

This club works in 2 ways, full club or pattern only. If you opt for the full club you will get 3 installments of yarn (every 2 months, starting in February) and a link to a pattern pdf that uses that yarn. For the pattern only club, pretty much as it says on the tin, you get a link to the pattern pdf when the pattern is released, every 2 months with 3 patterns in total.

Last year there were 3 fingering weight yarns from Hedgehog Fibres, Coolree and Dublin Dye Company. This year it’s slightly different, we’ll have 3 different yarn weights; sports weight, fingering and lace from Dublin Dye Company, Townhouse Yarns and Hedgehog Fibres. Every one of the colors used are custom dyed especially for the club so they’re extra special. I’m currently working on some pattern ideas for the yarn, I’m still experimenting as I want to make sure that each pattern complements the yarn perfectly. There will be a variety of projects, last year (you can see the patterns here) there was a hat, shawl and socks.

So come and join us this year! What small project will you be hoping to see in the club?

PS: First clue from the Capall Dubh KAL was released today!

 

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!