Category Archives: Design work

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 :-)

 

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!

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!

Holiday Time

This year the summer holidays have sneaked up on me. I’m so mentally preoccupied with the book that everything else has just faded into the background. I’m reaching the finish line now though and I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you…sorry it’s going to have to be a year away though :-(

Now that the knitting for the book is finished and I’m on to the editing part I can start thinking about new projects. I’ve got a few pieces that I want to reknit and some that I’m picking up an idea thread from. One of these is from a pattern I designed for Blue Moon Fibers Rockin’ Sock Club last summer, Sagrada. This went through a redesign initially – this was the first version -

Sagrada2

I loved the slip stitch garter panels and wide wings of this shawl but it was for a club so it was released with a single skein of yarn. Somehow as I was knitting the shawl felt to me as though it wanted to be bigger. So I’ve started playing around with it and using the design as a starting point for something brand new. I’m having fun with it, especially as I’m getting the chance to use This Is Knit‘s brand new hand dyed yarn Townhouse Yarns. The Grafton 4ply is really soft!

IMG_0912It’s nice to be able to share what I’m working on right now! My knitting list is growing, I’m also going to reknit Penrose Tile in some Dublin Dye Company sock yarn, I’m swatching up my delicious Blue Moon Fibers Targhee Worsted. I think this yarn wants some cables, what do you think? Plus in less than 2 weeks I’m heading off to Unwind in Brighton. I’m really looking forward to this, I get to see Brighton, lots of my knitting pals and teach all in one spot! Almost too much excitement for one weekend….if you’re around I think there are a few spots in my Cable and Short Row classes left still…

Berry Creek

A few months ago a DC yarn store, Looped Yarn Works, approached me to do a design for them. This design was specifically for the Metro Yarn Crawl. Impressively this area boasts an amazing 11 yarn stores, coming from an area where yarn stores are thin on the ground the idea of having enough to do a yarn crawl made me rather envious!

Looped Yarn Works is one of Quince & Co’s flagship stores so they sent me on some lovely Chickadee to do the design in. The resulting pattern that I created was Berry Creek. This pattern was initially exclusive to the store for the duration of the yarn crawl but now I get to release it for everyone else :-) There’s a automatic $1 discount on the pattern until April 21st!

berry creek

I wanted to design a cardigan that was a perfect spring/summer layer. It has been designed with short sleeves, a ribbed lace pattern and smooth a-line side shaping. The ribbed lace flows straight into the ribbed bodice with raglan shoulder shaping and a v-neck. I’ve shown it styled over a longer top (it’s still really cold here in Ireland!) but you could wear it buttoned over a tank for a summer style.

If you like your cardigan with longer sleeves all you’d have to do is start your sleeves separately and then add them instead of casting on your sleeve stitches at the start of the yoke. It wouldn’t be a hard modification to make.

berry creek

So get knitting and let me know on my board what modifications you’re going to make.

Berry Creek

Knitwear Spring 2014

At the end of last summer I began working on a couple of designs for the Spring/Summer issue of Knitwear. This is one of my favorite knitwear titles, they focus on clean lines, interesting constitutions and very wearable contemporary garments. It’s an offshoot of Interweave and has only be around since 2011.
The first design I completed for this issue is the Short Row Vest.

Short Rowo Vest

(c) Interweave

As you can probably see from this vest, I’m still loving short rows. The only limitation to what short rows can do is your imagination :-) This vest starts simply with the back and left front worked in one piece from the bottom up. After that the front left panel is worked from the left side in a series of short row wedges – striping the two colors as you go to create a dramatic effect.

The next design for this issue is the Ruched Yoke Sweater.

Ruched Yoke Sweater

(c) Interweave

This sweater is so nice to wear. The a-line shaping gives it a really nice swing and the deep yoke creates sleeve caps without any additional work. The basic design is fairly simple, but the front pocket detail, ruched yoke circles and standing neck make a great statement piece.

I’m working on a book!

Anyone who knows me personally has heard me talk about my new book for many months. I wanted to do a full length book again, but I was having a very hard time deciding how to publish it! I kept swinging between the merits of self-publishing and going with a publisher.

I have self-published two books before (Scrumptious Knits and Among Stones) but both of these were shorter books which meant less time and money was involved. The new book I want to do will be bigger, a full technique book complete with a big collection of patterns. However the time and money commitment were only one part of the equation. When you put that much into a book you need to spend just as long selling and marketing it. This is what swayed me towards a publisher. Within a few months of publishing a book I want to get stuck into something new. I’m just one person and the sole caretaker for 4 children so realistically it has to be one or the other, I can’t design and market full time. And I can’t stand still long enough to do a substantial book investment justice by myself.

After some work I think I’ve found the perfect publisher for the book, Potter Craft. The quality of the books they produce is fantastic and being a division of Random House there is a considerable marketing team behind them. So last week I took the plunge and the papers were signed! Even though I’ve done this before signing a book contract always fills me with equal parts excitement and fear. It’s the start of an adventure but there’s always some little part of your brain that’s terrified you won’t get everything done in time. I’m going to be on a pretty tight deadline with this, the manuscript (edited!) and photographs are all to be submitted by the 1st of August. So if I seem a little quiet over the next few months perhaps you’ll forgive me :-). However it will be a little after that before you get to see the book – it’s planned for Fall (Autumn) 2015, so be patient.

I’ve been working behind the scenes on this project for several months already, sketching ideas, gathering yarn and knitting some of the samples. I don’t like to be under pressure designing so I started planning early. I want to give a big thank you to all the yarn companies who sent me yarn before I knew how I was going to publish, Cascade Yarns, Malabrigo, Lorna’s Laces, Blue Moon, Fyberspates, Miss Babs, Sweet Georgia, Berroco, Noro, Knitspot, Anzula, Harrivsville Designs, Shibui, Manos, Hedgehog Fibres, O-Wool and Green Mountain Spinnery. Here’s the yarn/sample mountain in all it’s glory, you’ll have to wait to see any more than this though!

yarn pile

Shiny new website!

Come take a look around my shiny new website, it’s been totally updated this week thanks to my oldest son, Caelen. He has been working with me this week for work experience and began by learning the inner workings of wordpress. I’ve been seriously impressed with how hard he’s working, now if I could just figure out how to hang on to him :-)

So what’s new? We updated the theme of the website to begin with which involves a lot of tweaking in order to get it to work correctly. The benefit of this new theme is that it’s now mobile enabled so you can actually read the website without the text folding over on itself. The biggest visual change though is the front page. I’ve now got a one stop shop for you to see all the latest things happening; new patterns, blog posts and tweets. A little less visible is the addition of a ‘contact us’ form. I’m not sure how we managed to omit this before but it’s up now so you have a direct way of contacting me.

To celebrate all this newness, I’m giving you all a 25% discount code to use until Saturday 8th of February. When you checkout on the checkout, click ‘use coupon code’ and add the code ‘NEWWEBSITE’ for your discount. It applies to all my self-published pdfs.

So now that the website is up and running again, I’ve got Caelen working on learning Illustrator maybe I’ll have a design apprentice before I know it!