Category Archives: Books

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!

Interview with S Twist

Back in 2010 (although it was released in 2011) I wrote the book, Contemporary Irish Knits, that looked at the Irish mills that spun yarn commercially for hand knitters in Ireland as well as the Irish hand-dyers that were operating here at that time. However no market stands still and the yarn industry in Ireland continues to change and develop. Over the coming months I wanted to do a few interviews with people in the Irish yarn industry to find out what’s going on right now.

A few weeks ago I asked Diarmuid from S Twist Wool if he’s answer some questions on the Irish sheep, spinning and yarn industry. I met Diarmuid at This Is Knit when he was doing a spinning demonstration and his knowledge of the Irish yarn industry from farmer up to the mill is very in-depth. As a spinner he’s got a very unique perspective on the industry that he’s shared with you all here.

Sheep have been with us humans for over 10,000 years. One of the earliest animals to be domesticated, they can now be found on terrains ranging from rocky, Irish mountainsides to Sudanese deserts. Valued for their meat, milk and wool, they have enabled civilisations to develop and cultures to flourish.

According to the ITWO, worldwide sheep population in 2014 totalled aprox. 1.157 billion sheep and clean wool production was around 1,163 million kg. For a long time, most wool went to the clothing industry. These would have been the finer fibres which would have fetched higher prices. However, a few years ago, the scales tipped and now most wool goes to the interior textiles industry, which would use more durable wools. Irish wool for the most part is collected up by the wool merchants and exported for further processing. While exact figures are not available, most of this wool would be Blackface mountain wool. This would mean that the wool would be used for more durable items and would go at a lower market price.

At the same time, Ireland had a sheep population of around 3.6 million spread over 35,000 flocks. The average flock size was 104 sheep, with 69% of flocks having less than this and 42% having less than 50 sheep. Less than 2% of flocks (661) belonged to the largest grouping, over 500 sheep. The following map shows the population density by county.

Know Your Neighbours

In case you’re wondering, that white bit at the top does not mean that they don’t like sheep.

From these figures we can see that, in general, the Irish flocks will be of a small size and only a very few farmers would dedicate themselves purely with sheep.

This year, farmers were being paid from 0.60 -1.30 per kilo. Shearing costs can be between 2 and 3 Euro per sheep, or even higher depending on flock size, and we would be looking at about 2 – 3 kilo per fleece. Add onto this, costs of transport and any additional labour involved. This means that in most cases, farmers barely break even on selling fleece.

Of course, shearing is just the first step in the process.

Sometimes more steps than this, sometimes less, and not necessarily in this order

Sometimes more steps than this, sometimes less, and not necessarily in this order

These are by far not the only steps, and they may not always be done in this order, but this would be generally how the process goes in large scale industries.

Shearing

The sheep are brought together and the shearer (or team of shearers) remove the fleece, preferably in one piece. If you ever get the chance to see shearing up close, you really should. Here’s a short clip from showing a tutor from the British Wool Board giving a class to the Irish Sheep Shearers Association in Camolin, Wicklow.

Skirting

As the sheep is shorn, the underbelly of the sheep becomes the outline of the fleece. This part of the fleece is usually the dirtiest part, with encrusted dirt, twigs and other VM (Vegetable material). It is usually the part with most kemp, long coarse hairs, if present.

Sorting

Wool from different parts of the sheep has particular characteristics. For example, wool at the shoulders will be finer than the rest. A skilled sorter will be able to divide a fleece up to 14 different grades.

Washing / Scouring

Sheep’s wool contains dirt and grease. The grease is secreted by the sheep to waterproof its fleece. It is called lanolin and is used in skin-care products. Getting the dirt out of the fleece is relatively easy. Getting the grease out, scouring, requires a large amount of hot water and chemicals to break down the grease. Anywhere from 15 to 35 litres is used to scour one kilo of wool. The sludge from the dirt and the grease from the lanolin can be recovered from the effluent, although only up to about 40% of the lanolin. From an Irish perspective, scouring is probably the most troublesome step of all and we will touch upon this later.

Carbonising

After the wool has been scoured, it is immersed in a Sulfuric acidic solution. This is to help dry ouy the vegetable matter. After the wool has been dried, the wool is baked at 95 – 120 degrees. This carbonises the the VM. The wool is the passed through heavy presses and all the carbnised matter crushed to a powder and shaken out from the wool.

Blending

In order to achieve the uniformity that is needed to help the following processes run smoothly, wool of the same characteristics from different batches are blended together.

Bleaching

To get a uniform, final colour, the wools need to have the same tone as a starting point. The wool is put in a bleach solution, ph balanced, rinsed then dried.

Dyeing

Great care is taken to ensure that batches are as uniform and repeatable as possible.

Carding

A small amount of lubricating oil is added to the wool and passed through a machine comprised of rotating drumes covered in fine, metal teeth. This serves to seperate, open up and align the fibres.

Spinning

The fibres are drawn out and spun. 2 or more of these threads may then be spun together to form plied yarns.

Packaging

After washing and drying to remove the oil added in the last step, the yarn is made into balls, skeins or wound onto cones and is ready to move on to the yarn user.

Currently what does the production process for Irish yarn look like?

At the moment, to the best of my knowledge, those who produce yarns with Irish wool can be loosely put into three categories. On one end of the scale, you have the handspinner who will scour and card by hand and produce small amounts, usually in conjunction with other related business activities such as classes or farm products.

At the other end of the scale, you have the larger scale industrial mills who will spin small amounts of Irish wool and import the rest from New Zealand, Australia or the UK. In the middle you have companies, like S Twist Wool, who work with Irish wool only. One of the things that we all have in common is the fact that we are all hobbled by the lack of scouring facilities in Ireland. When wool is sent abroad to be scoured, it will get mixed together with wool of other origins and when it comes back, it can no longer be sold as Irish wool. This is the case with one mill, who make the effort and care to use Irish wools, but simply cannot label it as Irish. Most Irish mills have the facility to scour small amounts for their own use.

S Twist Wool gets around this by doing its own scouring on-site in Tipperary using an alternative method called suint fermentation. This method uses no energy, no chemicals and a fraction of the water that other methods use. However, I need the wool to be sent abroad to be spun for me.

Is it possible, and how much would it cost approximately to operate that part of the production in Ireland? Would it be a stand-alone industry or something that was part of an existing mill?

By looking at recent trends, both here and abroad, I think that the future of Irish wool will resemble the development of the slow food industry. When a customer walks into a shop, they will have a choice of yarns from different parts of the country with different fleece options available. Of course, while I am focusing on yarn, there are also other products being developed in Ireland from wool. It is being used for a variety of products from Baavet  duvets with wool filling to insulation products for buildings.

The one factor which is essential to having a domestic wool industry that can stand on its own feet is a scouring facility. This is not a novel idea and many people have worked on it over the years. The main challenges are finding a plant of the right size that would serve the demands of the Irish market and the economics of having to compete with massive plants. There is not enough wool on the Island to warrant a large scale plant, but having smaller facilities would make it difficult to compete on an even footing. It will be interesting to see what solutions we will come up with to deal with this problem over the next years.

I know that the bureaucratic barriers in place for small scale scouring are considerable, which is understandable considering the effluent that is produced.

This, the future involves a lot of this

This, the future involves a lot of this

How do Irish farmers view and approach wool production currently?

There is an amazing amount of enthusiasm and willingness on the farmers side to have more done with their wool. I think the main reason for this is that for so long there has been a feeling that the wool is a byproduct of taking care of the sheep and not a product in its own right.

Surprisingly, there can be a massive difference between fleece quality and handling from one year to another in the same flock and this can be due to how the fleece are handled after shearing.

Farming is, of course, a business and while there is little to no financial recompense for better handling of fleece, it is difficult to place the blame on farmers for not treating wool with more respect. As the market changes and farmers can be offered a fair price, this will also change.

What types of wool is currently available and are they suitable for knitting uses?

This is a very interesting question. We have a large range of different fleeces available in this country. This year alone I have worked with Blackface, Galway, Shetland, Welsh and Jacob. I will have a small amount of Blue Faced Leicester which should be available in February.

My best selling yarns, by a long shot, are made from blackface mountain wool. For the Irish knitting market, this would be seen as unsuitable. However, they are popular in foreign markets. Looking at trends in other countries, as people get more interested in local yarns, we should see a move away from the softer, ‘luxury’ fibres and instead of Irish wool, people will be able to experience Irish BFL, Galway, Jacob, Shetland etc.

What needs to happen for farmers to prioritise wool production?

It’s difficult to know where to start with this, it’s an involved question. The short answer would be to make it worth their while.

The long answer involves building up an industry basically from scratch and changing people’s awareness of wool. In a concrete sense, the biggest barrier to developing the Irish wool market is a lack of scouring facilities here. Having these would open many possibilities of increasing the value of fleece instead of it being sent abroad for the lowest price going. This would provide the knock on effects needed to build up the wool industry again.

A big thank you to Diarmuid for sharing his knowledge with us!

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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.

stolenstitches-3

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!)

masons-scarf

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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Knitting With Rainbows – KAL

Shanakiel 4
Well everyone Knitting With Rainbows is now out in the world. You can get it either in print (with a download code) or digitally. The first few projects are starting to appear on ravlery so why don’t you join in the fun and potentially win some prizes?

This KAL (knitalong) will start on Friday and run until Monday the 10th of October. The general thread about the KAL is here. I will run it through my group on ravlery, as you progress you can post progress photos and chat in the WIP (work in progress) thread here every Friday until it’s over I’ll pick a random photo from the progress photos that week who’ll receive a code to download a pattern! When the KAL is complete on the 10th of October I’ll pick a winner from the finished photos here – so make sure you get your photos up!

To keep track of it all please tag your projects on Ravelry, and hashtag across social media, with #knittingwithrainbows

Have fun!

Back to school

For everyone with children we’re in the back to school mode here. I had children starting school last week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and on Saturday my oldest went up to college in Dublin. Add to that an envelope packing marathon to get all the Knitting With Rainbows pre-sale orders out last week and it seems strangely calm this morning.

The 2 dogs are snoring on the sofa near me, birds are tweeting outside and there is no one in the house but me. It feels very strange after a summer filled with people. Normally in August I’m counting down the days until I get peace again. But this year feels different. Instead of quiet the house actually feels empty. Perhaps this is because the boys aren’t very young any more so instead of constant demands for my attention they go about their own business a lot of the time. I’m also increasingly aware of how fast time goes – within 8 years my youngest will be finished school so I have to be careful not to wish that time away.

So now that my house is quiet again – what will I get up to?
You may have noticed that Knitting With Rainbows is now available digitally as well as in print (which comes with a download code).

KWR COVER

I’m so happy that this book has been well received. It was a very different book from my usual self-published ones. Instead of just patterns this book has a lot of information on gradient yarn, stitch patterns and suggestions for how to use gradient yarns to full advantage. The print book turned out amazing, the colours are bright and vivid and it’s a pleasure to flick though!
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If you want to see any of the samples in person, get a book signed or chat about yarn options come along from 3 to 5 this Saturday 10th September at This Is Knit.

Over the next few weeks I’ve got a few more big projects that I’m working on that I can’t reveal yet. Keep checking back though as I’ll let you know about them as soon as I can :-)

Knitting With Rainbows presale!

Some of you may have spotted the pre-sale of my newest book, Knitting With Rainbows.
KWR COVER
This is a project that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Several years ago I got a gradient kit from Fiber Optics…
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It looks just beautiful in the little plastic display box but I felt very intimidated. The skeins were so small, and I wasn’t sure how best to use the yarn so that it looks as beautiful in the finished knit as it did in the box. So it sat there for quite a while. However somewhere in the back of my head the idea for a book on gradients was germinating; a book that would explore the gradient types available (there are a lot!), figure out how ways that use them well and offered pattern choices and future suggestions for making the most of gradient yarns (both individual single skeins as well as mini-skein sets).
That was how this book was born. It’s grown in size from what I though it would be but it’s turned out just as I hoped. My son’s girlfriend, Eimear O’Callaghan, has created some very beautiful gradient graphics to illustrate the book, my husband has done an amazing job laying out the book and my son had done a lovely editing job with my rough videos from the photo shoot :-)

The book will be released on the 1st of September but you can now pre-order your print (with complementary digital download code from ravelry) copy before then. All books will be shipped from the 1st of September and you’ll receive your digital download code on the same day. As a pre-sale bonus use code PRERAINBOW to get free shipping before 1st of September :-)

To keep you excited I’m releasing the pattern details of a new pattern on ravelry every day until the launch.

Here are the first 3 patterns that are up:

Shanakiel
Shanakiel

Proby’s
Probys armwarmers
Half Moon Street
Half Moon Street

Working on those gradients

So last weekend we had a wonderful photo shoot for the gradient book – I think it’s going to be called ‘Knitting with Rainbows’. Very fittingly we found some fantastic graffiti downtown in Cork that makes the perfect backdrop for the book. We also found this spot behind the disused Beamish & Crawford brewery. It was across the river so we couldn’t reach it, but so beautiful!
IMG_5921I’ve been working like a crazy person for the last few weeks putting tutorials together and reviewing pattern edits. In my head up to this point I keep saying ‘it’s just going to be a small book‘, just a few patterns and tutorials. Well apparently I can’t do anything small! I’ve got 11 patterns, additional stitch patterns and tutorials and at the very minimum I think this book will be around 80 pages long. It would explain why feeling somewhat overwhelmed, a little bit panicked and exhaused. I haven’t acknowledged what a substantial project I was taking on. It is however going to be an information packed and very pretty book. My son’s girlfriend is a very talented illustrator and next week she is getting started on book illustrations and I can’t wait to see them. I’ll share some with you as she works along.

Just to give you a flavour of the book, 2 patterns have already been produced and are out in the world. The first is Probys Armwarmers which was the last pattern from the Irish Yarn Club 2016. (All patterns are also on ravlery now from that club). This pattern is a great example of how a slip stitch pattern can be used to blend a gradient kit that has big jumps between the colours.

The first version was in Townhouse Yarns:

I’ve also had a sample made using a second yarn to give an idea of what another set of colours would look like.
The second version uses Fyberspates yarn:
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The second pattern that you’ve seen before is Stave Hat. I’ve previously published the child’s sweater version of this chart and the hat has been used in my Textured Colourwork classes. This hat uses textured colourwork (purls worked into a stranded pattern) to blend the colours together. It works really well for either a gradient set that has big colour jumps or for a collection of colours you have put together yourself that you want to blend smoothly.
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(Yes, that really is a giant cockerel mural behind her….)
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So if we keep working at this pace I think the book will be ready to go by the autumn. I hope you’re all getting as excited about this as I am – it’s getting real now :-)

The Book of Haps

There’s a very exciting launch today –  Kate Davies, The Book of Haps! Just in case that wasn’t exciting enough I’m also on the cover :-)

Over the next few days Kate will be revealing the other designs in the book. I haven’t seen them yet so I’m eagerly awaiting them as well! To preorder your copy go to Kate’s website here. And keep an eye out on ravelry for each day’s reveal!

Copyright Tom Barr

Last year Kate Davies asked me to be part of this very special project where she wanted to explore the concept of a Hap as an everyday piece of clothing. Each of us used this as a starting point to design a shawl that we would like to use for everyday wear.

As I started thinking about the concept I began to realise that my surrounds needed to be my inspiration. There is nothing I enjoy more on a daily basis than walking my dogs in the Irish countryside. Kate has put my essay on the topic up on her blog here.

IMG_1444 This is how the colours and shapes of the shawl came together. The cream and green curves across the top of the shawl echo the hills and crazy green countryside during an Irish summer. As I was designing the road outside our house was littered with Monbretia flowers. They grow wild everywhere here along with blackberries. So the orange welts and bobble edging finish the full shawl concept out.

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Fortunately for me one of the most amazing dyers in the world works within 30 minutes of my house, so using yarn from Hedgehog Fibres helped keep the full shawl concept local! I used her Sock Yarn; Silence for the light colour, Swamp for the green and Copper Penny for the bright orange pops. Copper Penny has got some green running through it as well so it blends particularly nicely with the Swamp.

I’m so very honoured to be part of this project, keep watching out for the upcoming shawls and fantastic designers!

Making Lists

So it would appear I’ve got a lot going on. Between family commitments, travel (both me and my husband), teaching, book, magazine and yarn company projects I’m stretched pretty thin.

However, I do appear to be just about holding it together. Certain things (such as regular housework!) aren’t always getting done but I’m staying on top of everything.

The only reason I’m actually still sane is lists and reminders. Every day I write and rewrite lists. I break projects into short lists and cross them off as I go. At the end of the day all unfinished business gets scooped up and rewritten into the next day’s list. That’s the theory at least. Some weeks my head is much more in the game and I go charging through lists, other weeks the list looks the same at the end as it did at the start.

Combining that with calendar/reminder apps means that I don’t forget stuff. If I get a text from school that someone is finished early – pop it into the calendar with a reminder far enough in advance that I can deal with it. Putting all these little things in as automatic reminders has saved me so much mental space. It’s such a relief to not have the worry of forgetting about something hanging over me!

My lists extend into projects as well – my Gradient book list is getting shorter by the minute… just take a look at my growing pile of finished samples. Just a few more left to go and we’re ready for photography :-)

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My biggest job now is expanding on the book text and getting the remainder of the illustrations done. My ‘Painting with Rainbows’ class from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival class has formed the backbone of the book structure. The divisions I’ve used for different types of gradients in the class will form each section of the book with pattern examples of each type. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a really useful, pretty little book!

In other work, I’ve got 2 new published patterns to share with you!

© Nicole Mlakar

The first is from Pom-Pom magazine, issue 17. I was so proud to be part of this magazine, and very flattered to have my pattern, Nouri, on the front cover. It’s a simple but effective design; the great linen yarn is just perfect to get the drape and heaviness that it needed. Knit in the round from the bottom up there is a large lace detail up one side. At the armholes you divide for the front and back, each side is knit separately and short rows shape the sleeves and shoulders before they’re rejoined. The yarn used is Quince & Co, Kertrel – watch out for a giveaway here for some yarn to make your own Nouri sweater very shortly!

The second pattern I’ve had published recently is Parcel.

© Crissy Jarvis

This is a pattern that was first published in the Twist Collective in Winter 2010 using Classic Elite Magnolia yarn.
They have reknit it in Black Trillium Fibre studio Sublime for a completely different look that gives it a great update. This yarn really makes the delicate twisting cables in this sweater pop, plus that scooped neckline is so flattering to wear. To get some inspiration on different yarns and shapes in this sweater take a look at some of the projects that knitters have added to ravelry.

Just in case you think that’s not enough check back here on Thursday for some very exciting news I’ve got to share with you :-)