Category Archives: Children

Kindness and Honesty

Well this morning was going to be the next post in my seamless tutorial series but I just have to speak up. As a business owner, woman, mother and human being I’m waking up every morning almost afraid to turn on my phone or computer to see what’s happened overnight in the US. It feels a little like the entire world has been turned upside down right now and has ceased to make any sense.
In theory, sitting cosily here in the south of Ireland, I shouldn’t be impacted by this. BUT you know the world is a very, very small place AND all other 5 members of my family hold duel citizenship with the US. But apart for that, you can’t just stand by while the world crumbles around your ears. I am not political but this is no longer about politics, this is just about being human and wanting a better world.
I felt so proud to be a knitter on Saturday watching all those woman and Pussyhats marching. We will not stand by. We have strength. We will not say that this is ok. Its time for people to make noise and be heard. I have spent the last 19 years trying to drive home basic good behaviours in my children and I expect that at the very least from world leaders. I can’t ignore bad behaviour as a human being in this world any less than I can ignore it in my children.

Love, Kindness & Respect
This is the basis of everything. If you respect and show kindness to other human beings, animals and the world we live in, the rest follows. We all have different backgrounds, viewpoints and perspectives but we need to listen. We need to be tolerant. If you start with kindness and respect the rest will follow.

Often people think that equality means that everything, for everyone, should be exactly the same. One favourite parenting theories I heard years ago that stuck is “equality does not mean that you give the same to every child you give every child what they need”. This might mean that your 3 year old needs to go to bed at 8 o’clock and your 10 year old goes to bed an hour later. You are giving each of them what then need, it is fair but it is not the same.
For me as a woman equality for me means that I get to pick how I live my life and respected for that choice whatever that may be. The same goes for the rest of the world. I opted to have children but that was my choice. It is not better or worse than the decision not to have children but it was the choice I made.
Having small children was quite frankly the hardest work I have ever done. I thought I had severe depression but in fact it was just chronic sleep deprivation (having a fourth child who doesn’t do longer than 2 hours of sleep for 18 months from illness will do that to you). You don’t get to hand them back or take much of a break. And the whole time you’re trying to figure out if you’re doing it right. The idea that mothering work isn’t valued because you aren’t handed a pay check at the end of the day is insane. Having mothers and caregivers who instil the values we want to see in our future society in our children is invaluable.

Honesty & Truth
Sometimes it’s hard to be honest. It isn’t always easy to tell the truth but it’s important. You cannot make informed decisions on half-truths and lies. Just because a fact is inconvenient or hard to deal with doesn’t change that it is a fact. If you don’t like a fact you don’t get to censor it, you deal with it, debate it, figure out a solution to it and compromise if you need to. You don’t get to delete it.

After that brief interlude it’ll be back to business with the next tutorial later this week. I love what I do and my business but sometimes the personal just won’t take a backseat!

A day in my design life

I’m frequently asked how I get everything done and the answer is that I don’t!
There are so many things that drop off my to-do list due to lack of hours in the day, or if I’m honest lack of desire. Some things I’m getting better at getting help with; I now have a cleaner every few weeks so we don’t get swallowed up in mountains of dog hair and the wonderful Nadia has started helping me out with some social media promotions and general organisation.

Every day is short and I want to make sure I get what’s most important and what I enjoy done every day. I love answering knitters’ questions, whether it’s on my boards, in a KAL or in my Craftsy classes. This means that a good chunk of my time is spent just chatting online. This does mean that it can be a bit more difficult to find time for bigger jobs like writing blog post, patterns and newsletters. I won’t even mention my inability to do longer term planning!

One thing that almost never drops off my daily to-do list is knitting. That might seem obvious but running a knitting business actually makes it very difficult to find knitting time. While knitting is still obviously a big part of my job it easily gets side-lined for computer based work. However if I’ve reached the evening without having picked up my needles I start to get a bit twitchy. After all these years I still find knitting relaxing and comforting.

When I grab my knitting and sit on my sofa spot (we’ve all got our special spot…mine has a stack of cushions, a standing lamp, table and of course Lizzie) its instant relaxation. When the boys were younger I knit more on the go, I had bigger stretches of time in the car waiting for people. Now with 3 different schools I only get a few minutes knitting time between each collection.

So how does my design and knitting day look?
My youngest is already 10 and we’re on our last 2 years of primary school. This ends earlier so it keeps my workday short. In the morning after drop offs and dog walking I have computer time. This is what allows me to relax with my knitting later on. I plan as much as I can on paper; first from the swatch I measure my gauge and put it into my spread sheet. From there I calculate the stitches and rows I need for each section of the pattern that I’m working on for every size. Next I write a bare bones pattern to work from including all charts I’ll need. This means that as I’m knitting I can effectively test the pattern out as I go, rewriting as I work so that the knitting flows more smoothly.
Obviously there are only so many hours in the day and knitting is a relatively slow process. Over the last few years I’ve started working with a few sample knitters here in Ireland that are just worth their weight in gold. They are all fantastic knitters and always watch out for anything that doesn’t work in the knitting. This means that even for the samples I’m not knitting it’s as close as I can get :-)

As a designer I follow a process with each design. In case you were curious this is the basic process that I try to follow:
Step 1: Swatch
Step 2: Put numbers in spreadsheet
Step 3: Write the basic pattern
Step 4: Draw up any chart necessary
Step 5: Knit
Step 6: Rewrite pattern as necessary
Step 7: Block and re-measure finished piece
Step 8: Draw up schematic
Step 9: Print pattern and do full number check
Step 10: Final pattern revision
Step 11: Send pattern to tech editor
Step 12: Photo shoot
Step 13: Complex patterns sent to test knitters
Step 14: Give pattern to husband to do layout
Step 15: For book or collection repeat from step 1!
Step 16: For stand alone pattern enter onto ravelry
Step 17: Create page on website
Step 18: Blog, instagram, tweet, facebook, newsletter to the world

There are probably more steps then you had imagined but they’re all needed to get a pattern professionally ready. Obviously this becomes much more complex if you’re working on a book as there is also a lot of non-pattern writing, illustrations and photos.

So here are a few of the computer tools I use when I work:


In terms of software I use, for drawing schematics I use adobe Illustrator. It took a little while to figure it out but now I’m able to use enough of the basics to do what I need to do. I know it’s got a lot more functionality that I use but it does the job I need.

For charts I usually use Stitch Mastery. If the charts use standard symbols then this program works really well. If I’m doing something a bit more complex I’ll do the chart in Illustrator. My son put a set of symbols together for me so I’m not drawing everything from scratch. It takes a bit longer but the charts it produces are beautifully crisp and sharp.

I’ve been talking about my knitting and designing for quite a while but if you want to do some relaxing pre-holiday knitting of your own come join our Wrap Up Winter KAL. Have fun knitting and finish some wonderful winter accessories for friends and family! Until the 1st of November I’m offering 20% off all the patterns in this bundle with the code WRAPUP2016. Come get some KAL encouragement on the board here and when you’re finished post your FO here to be in with a chance of winning a prize on the 31st of December.

Which accessory is your favourite? Come tell me in the comments!



Iced Iced Baby

Hello everyone, I’m Nadia and you will see a little bit of me here on Carol’s blog in the future. Some of you may know me from putting very nice yarn in your hands in This Is Knit or from gushing about gardening and crafts on Ravelry as Bunnyt. I’m more than a little excited to be here and this week I have an autumnal inspired post for you.  

I was having a look through the Stolen Stitches patterns on Ravelry and I really wasn’t surprised that Iced has the highest number of projects of Carol’s on Ravelry. This time of year with the cold air seeping in, this is exactly the type of garment that I would choose to knit, just like the 1,749 of you that also reached for it!


Iced in Garnstudio Drops Ice

So I asked myself, why is this cardigan popular?

Is it the relaxed ease of knitting a garment on chunky needles for a satisfying quick knit? Or the ease of a top down knit with raglan increases? Or the flattering waist shaping that gives a bulky garment a touch of feminine class? I fear, I may never know what all of you were thinking! But it was appealing and approachable enough to become some knitters first or second try at a knitted garment – I bet Carol is so pleased! Just have a look at this Iced by HHorncastle on Ravelry. It was her first raglan and I happen to know she’s over the moon with it and it matches her car too. Double win! 

HHorncastle's Iced

HHorncastle’s Iced

Iced is also a good introduction to short rows and top down knitting.

Never knitted a short row? Well we have you covered!

The tutorial section explains how to do these garter stitch short rows and you can access it whenever you are ready to approach them!

Wait, you say you have tried short rows but you want to take it to the next level? Then the Craftsy class on Essential Short Row Techniques is the place to be. The best thing about these classes is you can take them at your leisure and referencing back to them is easy and you have access forever. If you want to check it out, you can see the free short row class here.

I hear you, it’s a popular pattern but I only knit for the smaller humans among us. The Iced pattern was so popular, there is even a teeny tiny sized Iceling, this time in Aran weight for the smaller bodies. A perfect quick knit for those little arrivals this time of year and topped off with a toasty little hat, I mean just look at these happy faces:

carols iceling

TheaPurls' Iceling

TheaPurls’ Iceling

Tricoternana's Iceling

Tricoternana’s Iceling

I hope I’ve inspired you to pick up your knitting in the way that Autumn has inspired me to knit all the things! Wondering what’s going on here in the land of Stolen Stitches? The Luwan KAL has just been released for pre-sale and you can check that out over on Ravelry. There is also a dedicated group for the KAL and now is the perfect time to pop in and make some introductions.

The Knitting with Rainbows is just finishing up on October 10th, so those of you with wips on the needles, I foresee a busy weekend ahead! You can check the current FO’s out here. If you just want to hangout and have a chat with us, you can do that over in the Ravelry group or drop a comment on the blog. We really do love chatting to all of you, in fact stop what your doing right now and head on over there and drop in and say hi!

See you next week!

Psst – Are you hosting a KAL with one of Carol’s patterns? She would love to see them, so try and tag all your wips, FO’s, Instagram posts with #stolenstitches so we can all see too and you never know what might happen!



Help me pick!

Somehow my 200th pattern just sneaked up on me – I guess that’s what happens when life gets busy!
I’ve got 2 patterns finished and ready for layout but I just can’t decide which to do first.

If you can help me decide which comes first I’ll publish on Christmas Eve and give the first 200 copies away for free (with code).

I’ve put the vote up on ravelry here, go tell me which you want to see as my 200th pattern.

They’re both children’s pattern, one is a pink Anzula girl’s tunic and the second is a red Dragonfly boys sweater. Actually the sweater would perfect as a unisex one as well. The sweater photos need to be redone, I attempted to do them myself as hubbie the photographer is away. But the lack of light and difficulty photographing red didn’t make for the best photo shoot!

First up Pink Anzula:




Here’s the next one, Dragonfly Fibers Sweater:



Work & puppy love

Anyone who has been following my instagram feed is probably fairly aware by now that I’ve got a new puppy. Because when your youngest is 9 and definitely no longer a baby you need a little crazy in the house :-)
She’s only been with us a few weeks but the joy Lizzie has brought to our house is immeasurable. Every child lights up when they see her and if she comes to collect them from school it might as well be Santa! Even the old man in the house is enjoying his new companion.
kenny& puppy

I’ve now got a constant companion; she sits at my feet when I cook or knit….
sits under my elbow when I’m on the couch in the evening or licks my ear….

She’s even been helping out with homework…

As you can probably guess I’m pretty smitten, a big thank you to DAWG who does such an amazing job fostering dogs and puppies and making sure the world knows how special they all are. And also to West Cork Animals where our first dog came from. Please if you are looking for a new dog go to your local dog rescue, there are so many wonderful little animals that need your love and care.


Rakuda winners

Just a quick post to say congratulations to Birgit, Catherine and Touran on winning copies of Rakuda. Can’t want to see how it turns out for you :-)

I’ll have a few quite weeks on the blog here – this week my husband is traveling and my older boys have school exams. Tensions are high in the house!

Wednesday night we’ll be doing a parent swap, with my husband arriving home at 10 and my plane to Columbus for TNNA will be leaving before 8 in the morning. So please everyone keep your fingers crossed for me that everything runs smoothly.

Cooking for families

I feel like this post should start with …. and now for something completely different :-)

I can’t believe how much of my life is spent cooking. I don’t dislike cooking but its a pretty functional activity for me. A few years ago my oldest son became vegetarian, not a big deal in itself but when added to a family of 6, one dairy intolerant (or used to be!), fussy eaters with 4 different meal times it adds to the complexity.

I’ve tried slow cookers, sometimes good but it still doesn’t always solve my multiple diet issues. I often do simple pasta/rice with each part added separately with parts taken out for everyone. (Tomato sauce and quorn, tomato sauce and meat and plain meat). I know that a common suggestion is to cook in big batches and then freeze but to be honest I’m not crazy about this. Often reheated food just doesn’t taste as good and I’ve got a tendency to forget that I’ve got food in the freezer!

When I look for new receipts I have a few criteria:

Most importantly it can’t have too many steps. If something takes 2 hours hands on preparation then it’s a non-runner.

If the ingredients are similar to what we already eat it means that it’ll be more easily accepted.

I want it to punch above it’s weight. It should be easy to prepare, without too many ingredients and taste amazing.

Flicking through an older Sunday Times magazine this weekend I came across a simple carrot and lentil soup. It ticked the first 2 boxes so I thought I’d give it a shot.

(c) BBC Good Food

The result was amazing. Very, very simple to prepare. I had everything in my cupboard and everyone except my soup hater loved it. The version I found in the magazine is similar to the one linked above but it had larger portions, it used 1kg of carrots.

Now for some reason I though it was a good idea to hand grate 1kg of carrots. Lets just say that my arm is still feeling it…. I think the food processor will be coming out next time.

Do you have any recipes that you love and are easy to prepare? Please share I’d love to add a few more!

Aruba Winner!

It’s a day late but I want to congratulate doenjoy on Ravely for winning our Aruba KAL prize.  There were so many beautiful shawls knit I wish I could send a prize out to everyone. I’m planning on sending out a set of my favorite stitch markers that I get fairly frequently!

We’ve had a busy day today, my second son made his confirmation and we went out for dinner after to celebrate.  Outside of holidays this really never happens due to a combination of a large family (cost prohibitive!) and a busy schedule.  This does mean that when it does happen it’s extra fun and special for everyone.  He’s now out having a good time bowling with friends :-)

Coming home Joe picked up a pressie for me, a cute shopping bag.

…that even has a snap in pocket for stitch marker!

How cute is this?

In preparation for the confirmation yesterday I went to get my hair trimmed and decided to get a fringe cut.  I think I like it but it feels very strange still.  I’m curious how well it’ll work once my hair is curly again!

Happy Birthday!

Today my oldest son, Caelen, is 15.  I’m kind of in shock that we got here so quickly….how can 15 years pass so fast???

Despite our initial clueless foray into parenting he has turned into an amazing young man that I’m very, very proud to call my son.  This is despite having two parents who had never held a baby, changed a nappy or even babysat in their lives.  It was a steep learning curve, but he put up with our experimenting and eventually we figured out what we were doing.

Have a great day…and I promise I’ll bake a cake tonight :-)

Edinburgh trip

A couple of weeks ago (time goes much too quickly!) we brought the boys to Edinburgh for a couple of days during their mid-term break.

We were looking around at somewhere close we could go to for 3-4 days and ended up landing on Edinburgh by accident.  On twitter I mentioned that my third son who is a little Harry Potter crazy wanted to know if he’d get to go to Hogworths when he turned 11.  Someone suggested booking a ticket on the Jacobite Train for him.  I hadn’t heard of this before so I went to look it up and discovered that this was the actual train used in Harry Potter, including a lot of the scenery that it passes through.  Well we got all excited about this and then after the fact realised that it only ran from May to October!  So it wasn’t much use to us in February.  By now we had our hearts set on Edinburgh so we booked the apartment and tickets.

Even though it was cold it was a great spot for a short break with kids.  We got to see the Castle and oddly the dog cemetery.

Some of the boys climbed Arthur’s Seat with their dad.

I think the view on the way up was worth the climb.

Dynamic Earth was visited.

And there were many visits to the museum.

We visited Mary King’s Close on the final day.  I found it absolutely fascinating that the buildings on top of the ground using existing buildings underneath as their foundations!  From the royal mile down to the river the ground slopes, so when the wanted to build here they knocked the top level but left the lower slope to form half of the foundations.  So this effectively means that this building is  build on layers of Edinburgh history.  The fact that you can actually walk down there and see the per-existing narrow street and lower level was astonishing.