Knitmas time

Every year the Irish knitters have a Christmas gift exchange (Knitmas). I always feel I’m too busy and should pull out but I just can’t resist! This year I sent a box of goodies to my recipient that included a little bag made by Sara. She does such beautiful work and she was happy to custom make 2 bags for me – one was going to be sent but I kept the other one :-)
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As you can see the bags are very, very cute. They make a really good knitting bag, they’re small enough for a little project, they fold up flat when not used and the bag sits upright when used which is great to keep your project yarn in.
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This year my amazing elf was Evin O’Keeffe. Rather than repeat her I’ll direct you to a post giving details of my goodies :-) If you’ve been following my twitter feed you’ll see the trail of tweets as I opened each gift! (Much to my excitement I was the receiver of a pair of hand knit socks.) What I would like to show you all though is her first book that she included in her gift. I had been just about to buy the book the night before so her gift beat me to it! She set up a publishing company, Anchor and Bee, earlier this year and Bake, Knit, Sew is the first title to be published.
IMG_3333This book is a lovely blend of knitting, sewing and baking projects as the title would suggest! I’ve picked out each of my favourites below to give you a flavour for the book. As well as the lovely projects the photography is a delight to look at, Evin is a very talented photographer with a very keen eye for food photography. Lemon cakes are one of my favourites, and this Lemon Drizzle Cake looks like a winner. I’m try to see if I can convince one of the boys to bake it for me over the holidays!

IMG_3336Next project up is the knitted Honeycomb teacosy. It’s really cute and a perfect match between style and function. Who wouldn’t want a honeycomb on their teapot.IMG_3340Finally I come to the sewn project. Now as I’ve said before I am not a sewer. I’ve bought a machine but I’ve yet to even thread the bobbin (shame on me). However this cute apron may just get me moving!

IMG_3341Go on and check her book out!

Short Row magic

For anyone who has been following my work you probably know that I really, really love short rows. Many of my designs use short rows, I’ve written multiple tutorials on short rows, taught a Craftsy class on short rows as well as many in-person classes.

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Why do I love them?

I’ve often asked myself this, and I think it’s because they are so versatile. You can take a flat bit of knitting and without changing your stitch count you can create curves, slopes and even three-dimensionality shapes. Short rows are everything that’s good about knitting, you can make your knitting your own custom designed to fit you.

It would appear that my love for short rows doesn’t show any sign of subsiding any time soon. While the basics of short rows are not very complex there is so much to learn beyond the basics. I regularly learn and/or figure out new ways of creating them, new shaping ideas and new designs that can use them.

small back detailIn a few months I’ll be teaching a short row class for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. While I’ve taught this class before I’ve been learning so many new short row methods and uses that I’m creating a very new class. The basics are still there but I’m adding in lots that is new; creating shapes with different short row steps, German short rows, short row shawl curves and sock heels.

If you can’t make it to Edinburgh this spring I’ll have a few short row surprises coming for you as well. You will however have to wait a few months to find out….I wish I was able to spill the beans on these new projects but I’ll just have to be patient :-)

Blog Post Winner

Thank you all for your support and response in my previous post. It really helps to know that you’ve got my back as I got through these teething pains :-)

The winner from the raffle is Sally, I’ve just sent an email to you letting you know!

In addition to this, believe it or not I’ve finished my purple cardigan. I shortened the sleeves and put in 1×1 ribbing for a snugger fit. I undid the I-cord edging around the front and worked I-cord buttonholes. It even got complimented by my mother this morning, so high praise indeed!

I need your help!

Hi Everyone out there, this post is more relevant to non-euro countries but I need some help. Up to this point I’ve priced my patterns in dollars. A large bulk of my customers are in the US or Canada so it made sense to me to do it that way. However as accounting and finances are become more complex it would simplify my life greatly to price my patterns in euro.

Can you honestly tell me, would this stop you buying? Or maybe even make you hesitate? You can still purchase in exactly the same way and paypal would still charge you in your own currency.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’ll even throw in a $12 gift voucher for my patterns for one lucky commenter :-)

EDITED TO ADD: Thank you so much everyone, your support and encouragement means so much and makes all of these growing pains feel worth while :-)

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!