My trip to Cologne

This year I made the trip to Cologne for the H+H Cologne trade show. This is a huge handcraft and hobby show that is probably the largest in the world. There is a wide variety of stands; haberdashery, buttons, fabric, but the biggest number of stands were yarn. There were 4 different halls on multiple levels so it was really, really easy to lose your orientation!

The weekend for me was so much fun for me; both personally and from a business perspective. Trips to trade shows are a lovely way of making connections as well as getting a feel for what’s happening in the wider knitting world. Conversations can be slower and the atmosphere is less frantic than a retail show.

Here is a little photo review of the weekend I spent at the show. Much of the weekend was spent on the Chester Wool stand with my Nua yarn where I had a little display, although I did get a wander around the show also. You might notice the 3 versions of Ravi Junior that look just wonderful in different shades of Nua yarn!

I spent much of my free time over the weekend with Woolly Wormhead who makes a great travel companion! We were both pretty excited to arrive in Cologne for the first time.

We were amazed at the size of the cathedral……

 

At the show there was a crocheted teepee:

A knitted cheese counter:

And new to me yarn from Cowgirlblues:And of course it wouldn’t have been a weekend away without a glass of wine to finish things off!

Cologne I do hope I see you again next year.

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The Secret Power of being an Introvert

Ever since I can remember I’ve been aware that I’m quiet. As a teenager my friend’s mother said that Carol is quiet but not shy – if she’s got something to say she’ll go ahead and say it. This phrase really stuck with me, it acknowledged who I was without it sounding like a negative. Anyone who lives in western culture is aware that being an extrovert is seen as a good thing. Reserved, soft spoken and quieter qualities are usually treated as something that need to be corrected. I’ve always had an issue with this. I don’t think your personality type should ever put unnecessary boundaries around you but it’s important to accept that certain activities will just come easier for some people.

Last weekend I was traveling to Cologne for the big H+H trade show and I started reading “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. It was recommended by several people to me but it took me a few years to get around to actually buying the book! I haven’t finished it yet but it confirmed a lot of beliefs I already had.

The job as a designer I choose to do involves for 90% of the time creative work alone. I spend intense hours thinking, planning, writing and knitting. As an introvert (with definite extroverted tendencies on the side!!) I love this time. I can dig into my brain and find an inner peace that allows me to create and articulate what’s going on in my head. Obviously my job doesn’t just involve working at home; I also teach classes and attend many shows both retail and trade. I also enjoy these parts of the job but find them much harder work. As a child, I took many drama and public speaking classes and I learned how speak in public and create a persona (or side of myself) that feels very comfortable standing up and speaking in public.

For designers that are more extroverted I suspect that the balance of the jobs they choose to do is reversed; with more time spent teaching and doing shows than at home with alone work. Neither of these choices are wrong but knowing who you are, your own natural abilities and tendencies is very helpful. It’s always important to stretch your comfort zones but denying your basic makeup is really just fooling yourself! It gets pretty tiring to play at being an extrovert for too long :-) I’m pretty happy with where I’m at, I’ve no desire to be other than I am so please extroverts of the world don’t feel like you need to change and ‘fix’ me!

Have you found your inner peace with your personality type?

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The Magic Of The Garter Stitch Tab

To me, the garter stitch tab is a little bit of knitting magic. This little triangle is a handy technique to have in your knitter technique toolbox for top-down shawls and today I’m going to show you why I love it so much.

No Holes Here

When you start a top down shawl you usually start at the very centre and work increases out from that centre point. If like me you like to learn from mistakes then pick up some spare yarn, cast on 3 stitches and try to work increases either side of those edge stitches and centre stitch. You will quickly notice a gap or what seems like a hole forms from where you began working the increases. This is where the garter tab works it’s magic.

 

In a shawl pattern, you want the shawl to flow and expand in the centre so that the shawl doesn’t pull or have any gaps or holes that enlarge on blocking. The garter tab inserts a piece of fabric to allow the shawl to sit flat and drape. In a pattern, you usually see the tab written as:

 

CO 3 sts. Knit 6 rows. Do not turn on final row, rotate corner 90 degrees, pick up 3 sts along purl bumps, rotate corner 90 degrees & pick up 3 cast on sts.

 

Carol has a lovely tutorial video of this tab in action over here but I wanted to show you some patterns that use this tab to its full advantage.

 

Inspiration

 

If you want to try a pattern or two that use this technique these are a few of my favourites:

Rose Song is a quick knit lace shawl that is perfect for a last minute gift. Using bulk yarn on 8mm needles you can try out the garter tab and have a shawl in a weekend. The bulky yarn makes this a perfect choice for your first attempt at a tab as it’s easy to see the loops that need picking up when you rotate 90 degrees.

Penrose Tile

If you would like something a little more challenging then let me suggest Penrose Tile. This has a garter tab starting point using alternating skeins of yarn for the stripes which slips seamlessly into the background of the shawl upon completion leaving you with a sense of knitterly accomplishment.

Feamainn Shawl knitting pattern by Carol Feller

Feamainn Shawl

For something a little lighter this summer season, Feamainn uses laceweight yarn on 3.5 mm needles to produce a shawl with a striking lace centre panel where the garter tab is again almost invisible and allows the lace panel to sit flat at the top.

You can also inspire me by leaving a pattern idea in the comments below. What’s your favourite knitter technique that you keep in your toolbox? Is there a technique that you are having trouble with? Let me know I’d love to help.

Tribeca Tunic

Copyright Harper Point Photography

This is Tribeca Tunic my latest published pattern for knit.wear Spring/Summer 2017. Sometimes designs go through a few changes before they reach their final end form. I often find that I fall in love with a stitch pattern but it takes a few sketches and swatches before it finally settles on what it’s going to become.
When I began swatching this stitch pattern originally I tried it out on a much heavier yarn. One benefit of testing on thicker yarn is that you can get a nice big swatch very quickly!

 
Swatch

When the idea went ahead it had changed to a much finer, light sport weight yarn, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport.

You can see how dramatically different the stitch pattern looks in the lighter yarn. It was however ideal for the final sweater, the lighter yarn gave great drape to the tunic which meant that even though it is oversize it flows very naturally on the body.

This top is knit in the round from the bottom up. It’s oversized so you rely on the drape of the fabric to create flow and shape. At the armhole the front and back of the sweater are separated and worked separately. At the shoulder short rows are used to create a slope and then they are joined with a 3-needle bind-off.  You can see the shoulders are drop shoulders and create a relaxed garment shape.

When the body is finished stitches are picked up around the neck and a deep cowl neck is worked. If you want an open neck instead just finish off here with a narrow edging.

The sleeves are picked up from around the armholes and worked down in the round. I’ve opted to leave them as 3/4 length but it would again be an easy change to make them longer, just try it on as you go and add any decreases necessary!

At the moment I find myself drawn to looser, more flowing tops with lots of drape. Do you have a favourite garment shape that you like to wear?

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A Nua Kind Of Inspiration

I know so many of you are excited about Nua and have ordered it in garment quantities, so I’m here today to share my thoughts or in other words be that knitty enabler on your shoulder and recommend some patterns. I hope this inspires you to not just pet with your new yarn but to cast on and play too!

Ravi in Nua colourway Rolling Bales

Shawls

It’s funny how shawl patterns can stay in your mind, it’s almost like they are waiting for just the right type of yarn to run through your fingers. When I touched Nua for the first time, my mind went straight to these two shawls. Maenad , with is long shallow construction is easy to wear and interesting but relaxing to knit. I was thinking of combining Bare Necessities and Capall together as a bi-colour option to make that lace border really pop.

Penrose Tile

Now I know some of you have itchy lace knitting fingers and if you wanted a little more lace in your shawl construction then Penrose Tile is perfect. You can choose to knit this in one or two colours but I’m dreaming of a dramatic red Angry Monkey shawl. With short rows and lace worked in a modular construction, this shawl takes you on a beautiful construction journey from start to finish.

Garments

I have to admit when Carol let me play (cough) I mean knit with Nua, my mind instantly went to Akoya and I wanted to knit it in Bare Necessities. The beautifully fitted construction with cable and lace panels along with the sleeve detail! Oh my, I was hooked. So much so, I’m currently working on a tension square. 

Akoya

Now I realise that some of you might like the lace but want a little more length in their cardigan so I suggest having a look at Santa Rosa Plum. My vision of the Santa Rosa cardigan in Nua is a blue gradient where you start with the beautiful soft tones of Kitten Fluff before working in Unexpected Macaw and ending in the deep tones of August Storms. You can tell I thought about this for a while, can’t you? Just have a look at those colours together below:

Nua yarn in colourways Kitten Fluff, Unexpected Mccaw and August Storms.

I know there are some of you who prefer working in the round to really enjoy a new yarn and to you, I say, pop on over and have a look at Dusty Road. I think this would be a fantastic Spring sweater in the rolling bales colourway. The deep warm yellow would show off the delicate lace sleeves perfectly.

And don’t forget the little ones

Finally, to those generous souls among us, who prefer to try out a new yarn on sweaters for the little humans, I suggest Ravi Junior.  in the mosquito coast colourway. The simplicity of the Ravi cardigan is perfect to show off the blend of fibres in Nua and is also perfect as a gift knit. Baby knits are a good way to try out new construction methods without the pressure of finishing an adult sized sweater.

Ravi Junior

Carol also has some Nua up for grabs in a lovely competition and a discount code for Nua Collection Volume 1 in her latest blog post here and to top it off there is a nice project bag up for grabs too! You can also pick up all of the above mentioned Nua colourways over here. Have I inspired you? Why not tell me what garment you’re dreaming of in the lovely Nua yarn?

Win some Nua!

I want to have a little giveaway for anyone who has bought Nua Collection Volume 1 (digital or print) or any of the individual patterns; Dangle, Boherboy, Ravi Nua or Finglas. If you have already bought any of these I’ll enter you into a giveaway for 2 skeins of Nua yarn (in your choice of colour) and a project bag.

If you don’t have the Nua Collection Volume 1 yet then go ahead and use code Nua20 for either print or digital to get 20% off the price. This will be valid until the end of March. All knitters who have purchased before the end of March will be entered into the draw for the yarn and bag. I’ll pick the winner on the 4th of April when I come back from Germany.

2 Skeins of yarn are just perfect for either a pair of Finglas mitts or a single colour Boherboy. We’ve had a sudden cold snap of weather here in Ireland. Yesterday it looked like spring with primroses and magnolia trees blooming then today it’s dropped down to freezing with threats of snow! I think the weather might just push me to knit my own version of Finglas mitts although my colour of choice will be Frog on the Wall I think.

What colour will you pick?

EYF Through the Eyes of an Exhibitor


As some of you may know, last weekend I was at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in the Corn Exchange. I thought that it might be a interesting if you got to see the festival through the eyes of an exhibitor.
When I’m working at events I always forget to take many photos so several of the photos in this post of courtesy of my friend who always remembers the photos; Evin – thank you!

Pre EYF

Before I started I hadn’t fully anticipated the amount of preparation that would be needed to do a show in a different country. To start with there is just the logistical problem of getting all of the stock to Edinburgh. It ended up getting there through a variety of methods; some was shipped directly to the venue, Rachel Coopey (Coop Knits) really saved me and let me ship more yarn and several boxes of books to her! Finally all of the items I needed for the display came in my luggage and was hauled around planes and buses by me and my friend Sue. There were all sorts of items I only thought of at the last minute that made a huge difference; money aprons were probably the top of that list! Small things that are also tricky abroad – how do you get enough change to run a cash shop? When I get sterling cash from and Irish bank I only get notes, which isn’t very useful when you need coins!

I spent a bit of time thinking about how to display nicely but still pack it into a suitcase. A stack of Ikea foldable boxes did the job well stacked into a little pile on the table. I almost forgot a few white sheets to cover the table but they were thrown in at the last minute. My youngest trimmed an old broom handle down to use to hang the yarn. It turned out really well (and he even carved ‘NUA YARN’ into one end of it!).

I got a new credit card reader so I could take card payments in person as well as extra roaming credit from my Irish phone network.
Several weeks before the show all the orders for special show items were ordered; print copies of the Nua Collection Volume 1, print copies of patterns for kits, printing up of cloth project bags and a special order of project bags from Sara.
It was a whole lot of work but it meant I had everything I wanted to display on the day.
In fact the only item we had to go and buy on the day was some dressmaker pins as the double sided tape wasn’t working well!

Arrival

My friend Sue was with me at the show helping me out. To be honest it would have been completely impossible (as well as miserable) to do it alone. The fact that she’s a show pro was a huge bonus (her husband’s company Mountain Man do many beer festivals!), she’s probably more comfortable working in crowds than I am!
I wanted 2 things for the display; visible from a distance and light enough to pack. EYF is a very crowded festival and I wanted enough signs to hang at the top of the stand so we could be found as far away as possible. The lightweight pvc banner with the open yarn hanging from the bottom did a great job of this!

Finished set up at @edinyarnfest. Come visit us tomorrow!

A post shared by Carol Feller (@feller.carol) on


On the other side of the stand I featured my books and the samples from my newest book, Knitting With Rainbows. Having a huge gradient shawl on display did however mean that I got many, many questions about a kit….I think Half Moon Street might be completely awesome in a Nua kit….what do you think??

The Show


The show was so overwhelmingly wonderful. So many customers, friends, fellow designers and vendors that I wanted to talk to. Friday felt just too short; I had knitters come show me their beautiful versions of my patterns, thank me for my Craftsy Short Row class and fondle the new yarn. Friday was packed solid with people from 9 until 5.30. For several hours Sue and me couldn’t actually even get under the table to get extra yarn out! Mica is a complete and utter superstar, helping me to sort wifi issues and get my credit card payments working. Saturday was a little quieter but I was still reeling from Friday! As Nua is so new it was invaluable to hear everyone’s feedback and watch peoples reaction as they grabbed the yarn. The general response was ‘oh it’s SO soft’ :-) This made me so very happy to hear!
Knowing how to display the combination of yarn and books was tricky for a first show. As the yarn is just starting out there was a smaller number of samples on the stand so this meant that it caused a bit of confusion with one side of the stand having gradient samples from the book. I think on my next show once there are more Nua samples it will be easier to show the Nua with patterns and have my other books in a display on it’s own.

Friday night as we were sorting out the stand for the morning we got tossed out but fortunately we had ceilidh so we could walk around the corner and get some food and drink. Being able to unwind after a day on your feet is really lovely. It did mean that I didn’t really have any dancing energy left, but Nadia did manage to drag me out for one dance!

I got to spend a bit of time with Woolly Wormhead, Jen (it was the first time we met IRL!), Lisa and Jen from This Is Knit and across the table was Justyna Lorkowska and her husband Martin.

So many wonderful people there that night, I wanted so much more time (and energy). I didn’t even make it to 11, we needed to get ourselves to be so that we were able to stand for the next day.
What did you get up to on Friday night? Any Edinburgh adventures?


Packing up

After the show is over, it feels like a mad race to get packed up as fast as possible. Fortunately there were lots of us there so it went extremely quickly. All of the display and some loose yarn got packed in my suitcase and the remaining yarn was boxed up to go back with Rachel (and I should have it back here to go up in the shop early next week!). I would have loved to somehow jam it all into suitcases but there wasn’t any way I could have hauled them back to the airport with me!
The beer and burger that night were just perfect. A final night of relaxation after weeks of preparation and 3 frantic days of work.

Reflection

It was so worth doing this show; I’d do it again in a heartbeat :-) Thank you so much Jo and Mica for your kindness, organisation and utter professionalism.
Watching knitters pick up, feel and love on Nua was just fantastic. One of the most special things that happened was knitters returning to the stand. Most did a quick swing around the whole show, marking stands they wanted to come back to. On Saturday morning we had several knitters return before the rush to get sweater quantities of Nua. Know that your yarn was the standout for them is just fantastic!

I’ve got small amount of Nua in the shop right now (the rest will go up early next week when the box arrives) and I’ve added the Japanese Knot project bags that came home with me. Next week I’ll also add kits for Boherboy and Finglas.

Coming to EYF with me

I’m coming in to the last few days preparing for Edinburgh Yarn Festival. My bags are ‘nearly’ packed and I don’t think I can squeeze much more in! I’ve got banners, yarn, bags, plastic stands and a table cloth to hide it all under!
I’ve just put my physical shop here on hold. Once I come back it will be opened again on Monday 13th of March. At that time I’ll also add up any bags and kits that come home from Edinburgh with me.

If you’re coming to the festival here’s a little preview of will be coming with me.

First up there will be lots and lots of Nua yarn….

I’ll also have a big stack of Nua Collection Volume 1 with me.

Both Finglas and Boherboy have been printed so I’ll have kits at the show that will have a special organic cotton drawstring project bag, yarn and a printed pattern. Every printed pattern will come with a download code so you get both the print and digital version of the pattern together. (This is the same for all my self-published books).

Just in case you only want the lovely organic cotton project bag I’ll have extra for sale separately as well!

I’ll have all the samples from Knitting With Rainbows at the show for you to play with as well as a big stack of the books!

I’ve got a huge love for well made project bags. A few months ago I asked Sara (Sweensie Crafts) if she could do some special bags for the show and she did an amazing job! These are Japanese Knot bags. They have one handle longer than the other so they can fold over each other and held in place. This means that they are ideal to hang around your wrist to knit while you move and without any velcro or zips there is nothing to snag your yarn. As an extra special bonus the outside of the bags is made from a felted wool blend so they are sturdy and soft. Most of the bags are small size but there are a few medium ones if you’re fast enough to get them!

If you’re coming to the festival please drop by to say hello! I’m looking forward to meeting you all. Let me know if you want a book signed or would like to chat about yarn :-)

See you all soon!

How the Nua Colours Happened

I spent a lot of last year thinking about colours, colour combinations and colour names. I’ve never moved beyond picking up colours from the shelf before so this was heady stuff! When I think about colours I usually find myself putting them into two catagories; the solid basic colours that work with everything and the brighter contrast colours that give a pop of colour.

Here are more neutral and muted Nua shades:

Here are our 4 pops of colour in Nua:

When I was designing the Nua colours I thought about how I’d be using them in designs; often what you want is primary a neutral background shade and then a few brights that complement the neutral and really contrast nicely with it. So it’s all about the interaction between the colours.

What helped a lot with designing the colours is starting with a darker yarn base.

Bare Necessities

Bare Necessities


Nua’s Bare Necessities is the natural, undyed colour. You can see that it is definitely not a neutral, white base! What this means is that when all of the colours are dyed over this base they influence the final colour of the yarn. I was actually really happy about this. I like subtle, heathered colours so having this dark undertone felt like my kind of colour.

Hatter's Teal Party

Hatter’s Teal Party


Now take a close look at the yarn. You can see lighter, almost white flecks through it. This is the linen showing through. Linen is a plant fibre rather than animal fibre and it has an influence on how they yarn absorbs the dye. The final dyed yarn really show this, and the linen addition naturally creates a heathered yarn.

Now for the names! I’ve got quite a few questions on where they came from. The yarn naming process is a family affair that happened when we were on holidays last summer. We wanted yarn names that were easy to remember and just a little bit fun! My husband, Joe, loves naming things so he just kept throwing names at me until I’d say, ‘yes! That’s the one.’ So Rolling Bales was from an earlier summer memory with all of the kids hopping across bales and rolling them from side to side. My youngest named the red, his choice was ‘Angry Demon Monkey’ but it got shortened to ‘Angry Monkey’ (he wasn’t impressed!). The light grey reminded me of beautiful grey kittens – so ‘Kitten Fluff’. ‘August Storms’ has got a great mixture of grey, dark blue with a hint of purple that perfectly represent angry rolling thunderstorm clouds on a hot summer day. ‘Mosquito Coast’ is a lovely deep olive green that hits of army green, deep lush foliage and so the name came about by free association. The last few are fairly directly word associations with the colours. Capall is Irish for horse (brown); Frog On The Wall, well frog!; Bare Necessities is the bare undyed colour; and finally Hatter’s Teal Party just because it was fun!

So did any of the yarn names make you giggle?

Welcome to Nua!

CollectionCover

Well it’s almost here….Wednesday 1st of March I’m releasing my Nua yarn on the website and Nua Collection Volume 1.

This new yarn has been a while coming, the design process for a yarn is fairly long with lots of shipping back and forth of samples until the colours are exactly right! I’ll tell you a little more about the colour choices in the next few days but right now I want to introduce the new collection to you. It was very important to me to have patterns ready at the same time as the yarn. I don’t think a yarn can be fully appreciated until you see it knitted up. You can see what the colours look like properly and how the yarn behaves with different stitch types. In the collection I wanted to show a variety of project types so you can see how versatile the yarn is. I’m also working on a cabled cardigan and Nua is behaving very nicely with cables as well :-)

Ravi Nua

Ravi Nua in Rolling Bales

The first project I tried in the new yarn was Ravi. This is one of my favourite patterns and fortunately it uses the same weight yarn :-) When I reknit patterns I find it hard not to tweak them and this time was no different so the updated pattern has become Ravi Nua. I changed the short row type to German as this is fantastic for Garter Stitch. In addition I added a few inches of length. This had the knock on effect of making the cardigan hips need some increases which also meant the short row hem had to be adjusted a little. I love the finished end product and I love what a lovely soft halo Nua develops when it’s used with garter stitch!
IMG_8628
After Ravi I wanted to try out the yarn on a smaller project so Finglas was the next pattern. I’ve developed quite a love of biased knitting, just by adding increases and decreases you completely change the direction of the knitting. This means that with these mitts working a biased panel on the front and back creates a sloped edge on the top and the bottom. My youngest son wants to keep these so badly, he even insisted on modelling them :-)
IMG_8496

Next up is a cosy wrap, Dangle. This is an extra long wrap that can easily double up as an oversized scarf. The chevron garter stitch pattern really shows off the interplay of the different colours together. Drop stitch rows of Angry Money (red!) are peppered throughout the wrap to add pops of colour.

IMG_8854

Finally we have Boherboy, a textured cowl that comes in 2 versions; a single colour version that has just knit/purl stitches and a 3 colour version that alternates colours with the knit and purl.

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Boherboy

Boherboy

The soft, bouncy nature of the yarn makes it really perfect for stranded colourwork. I think my next collection is going to have a bit of colourwork going on!

What pattern and colour do you think you’ll try out first?

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