Category Archives: teaching

Stepping up your Cables

If you can knit basic cables there’s nothing to stop you from stepping your cables up to the next level. The basic cable building blocks are either cables that cross knit with knit stitches and cables that cross knit with purl stitches. You can find tutorials for all of these here.

With those basics you can knit any type of cable now! There are however a few things that can trip you up with new cables. The first thing to watch out for is how many stitches cross over in each direction. Shown here are 2 cables that use 6 stitches. However the cables are not identical.

This cable shows 3 knit stitches crossing over 3 knit stitches.

3-3-rpc-chart

This cable shows 2 knit stitches crossing over 4 knit stitches.

2-rpc-chart

By learning how to read cable charts you can make yourself a fluent cable chart reader. If you are able to get all of your information from the chart it means that you can really speed up your cable knitting as you don’t have to keep referring back to the written directions.

By mastering cable charts you can really start to understand them. Complex cable patterns are almost always going to be shown in chart format as it much more visually accessible and a more compact way of giving information. For simple or intermediate patterns you can also have written directions but as they get more complex written directions can become very unmanageable. As a designer it’s much more difficult to check written directions for accuracy.

So how do you read charts?

  1. Look at the stitches under the cable.4
  • Are they knit or purl?
  • How many stitches are there?

2. Look at the cable stitches.23

  • How many stitches that are shown for each side of the cable?
  • Are they knit or purl?
  • Which way does the cable cross?

3. Look at the stitches after the cable.actual-4

  • Are they knit or purl? Did any change from knit to purl or the other way around?
  • Did any decrease?

If you can answer these questions then you can knit any cable without a key for the chart! All of the information you need is directly there on the chart, if a stitch changes from knit to purl it has to happen in the chart (or else it’s a mistake!). If there are less stitches after the cable it means that a stitch was decreased behind the cable. This is why I love charts – what you see is what you get, there is no hiding, the stitches have to make sense!

TIps

Sometimes knitters have difficulty reading charts due to the symbols used or the size of the chart. Make it as easy as possible for yourself; highlight the symbols to make it easier, blow the chart up to a larger size. If necessary you can even redraw the chart!

Track your chart by using Knit Companion electronically or use a magnetic board if you’re doing it on paper. Mark off each row as you work so you can’t lose your place.

Do you want to try out your new found cable skills? I’ve put a cable bundle together on ravlery with 25% off for until the end of the day (Irish time) on the 20th by using the code CABLES for any pattern in the bundle. Have fun with your cables!

Any other tips?  Just add them here!

Save

Save

Save

Save

If I had one Question…………

Last week I opened a thread on Ravelry and asked on social media if you had any questions that you would like to ask Carol. Today’s blog post has the answers that you seek; from design questions to how she likes to unwind to her favourite pattern. Read on and enjoy:

If Carol had to go to a desert island and take only one pattern of hers to make which one would it be!?

I’m very bad at redoing things, in fact I almost never re-knit patterns that I’ve done. If I had to pick a favourite pattern, it would probably be Ravi BUT if I was actually on a desert island I’d think just keep knitting new stuff and designing even if it was just for me!

Ravi

Ravi in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock

How has your travels/being an expat in the past influenced your knitting?

I’ve spent most of my life in Ireland and only lived for a few years in Florida. However I think having an American husband in Ireland gives me a slightly outsider view.

Growing up in Ireland I never really appreciated all things Irish. In fact at 16-18 all I wanted to do was leave! Originally I wanted to go to Australia. I met my husband at 19 and we got married and went to Florida a few years later. There’s nothing like living outside your country to help you appreciate its uniqueness. It began to dawn on me how special it actually is to be Irish with such a strong culture and traditions. When our first-born was 16 months we moved back to Ireland and it felt really good to be back here. I don’t think I’d have ever appreciated it I hadn’t left for a few years.

In terms of influencing my knitting – I don’t really know? I think it probably makes me more open to multiple influences, drawing inspiration from everywhere. Also the global internet community does that also as much as travel.

How did Carol make the transition from designer on the side to full-time notable designer extraordinaire?

Accidentally! I’m not good at standing still; I don’t like managing businesses just growing them. This means that my head is already planning the next project before I’m even finished the one I’m working on.

When I started I was so obsessed with just designing that I didn’t really worry about how I was viewed. I can only impact what I produce; creating the best knitting and patterns I’m capable of at that time. Whether people like my work and patterns or hate them is something I have no control over. I focus on what I can control; the patterns and giving the best customer support I’m able to. I want to open possibilities up for people. We spend so much time knocking ourselves down that I want to focus on building and believing and having fun! Designer and knitters can often be their own worst critics, often shutting themselves down before they even start – just stop! Focus on what you do well and figure out what you need to do to improve. There’s enough people in the world who’ll knock you so don’t do it to yourself as well!

Which yarn is your favourite to work with and why?  

I don’t have a favourite yarn but I do like most natural fibres.

I like wool and merino, with a preference for non-superwash. In summer I love linen for it’s drape quality. My favourite yarn weight would be sports weight as it’s light enough for shawls and accessories but still knits up quickly enough for a good weight garment.

Killybegs

Killybegs in Studio Donegal Aran Tweed

What pattern are you most proud of?

When I can solve a design problem, a pattern makes me happy. The first time I had to work over and over on a yoke and eventually got it just right was Killybegs. So this will probably sit in my memory as a special one. The way the decreases work into the cabled yoke for this still makes me happy :-)

What is your favourite part of your job?

Variety! I’d never be happy doing a job where it was the same thing every day. I love that I can jump from spreadsheet work, to blog post writing to sketching and knitting. And as an added bonus I get to travel and teach! I find teaching very hard work and exhausting but the feedback and understanding I get from classes that can be built into my patterns is fantastic.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I never really decided, it happened by accident. After the birth of my fourth son I had sold a business and was going to be a full-time mother. I get bored (even with the insanity of a baby) easily and wanted to try something new so I started knitting again thanks to This Is Knit in Dublin. I couldn’t stop knitting obsessively and that very quickly lead to designing. It made me so happy to design and write patterns that it wasn’t a choice at that point, I was just miserable when I wasn’t knitting.

In fact, it even made me step away from a PhD that I was thinking of starting! I was back in college doing tutorials with civil engineering students and had plans to do a PhD in a combination of engineering and architecture. After a few months teaching I resented every night I had to prepare practice questions for the students instead of knitting. This meant that I went in to my supervisor to tell him that I wasn’t going to pursue it as I was going to do knitting instead. His expression at that moment was priceless!!

Where do you draw your inspiration from? 

Everything! Usually it’s something I want to wear that I can’t find. I’ll get a picture of a knit I want and then I’ll create it. Other times I get a new yarn and experimenting with stitch dictionaries and you’ll start to see how it works best. Every yarn has different strong and weak points but you don’t discover them until you kit with it.

Autumn is my favourite time of year in shops; I’ll just wander getting a feel for current colour trends, shapes, and what kind styles are popular this year. While I knit all kinds of items, cardigans and sweaters are always my favourite.

Trousseau

Trousseau Shawl in Sundara Yarn

If you could work in any other occupation what would it be and why? 

I occasionally get an engineering pang when I pass a building site. I liked being out on site. However the thought of retraining and not knitting holds no appeal!

What’s your favourite ice-cream?

I’m not a huge ice-cream fan and can only eat it in small amounts. I do however still dream about a homemade ice-cream that we found in Sarasota, Florida when I was pregnant. It was a dark chocolate peanut butter mix from an Italian store that was just amazing!

What music do you like to listen too?

I don’t listen to a lot of music, except in the car, as I can’t work with music on. That’s not popular when you’re in a bigger office! I tend to be fairly old school and like some of the classics, Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens always make me happy with a bit of Violent Femmes, Florence and The Machine and Taj Mahal on the side. (Perhaps a little of the White Stripes for good measure).

How does she unwind? 

Knitting and a glass of wine – ideally under a warm blanket in front of the fire with my puppy curled up next to me. Perfection!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Carol a little better. If you want to join in the conversation you can find Carol on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. At the moment the biggest conversations are on Ravelry in the Luwan KAL group and the Wrap Up Winter KAL thread. You can of course leave questions or your thoughts on today’s blog post in the comments below.

 

 

Save

The one about Craftsy

With the release of the Ridgeback Craftsy Kit, I thought I could take you on a journey on all things Craftsy. Have you used it? If not or if your looking to find out what’s on offer, this post is for you.

ridgeback-hat-and-cowl-kit-1

Kits
Like the Ridgeback set above, I think the one thing that Craftsy is most well known for is craft kits. It’s perfect if you want to recreate the pattern exactly. The yarn is always tailored to the pattern and you always get enough to finish your project.  All you have to do is pick your favourite colour. Carol has three other craft kits available Penrose Tile (shawl), Traveller’s End (cardigan) and the Mendel Sweater.  All of which are on sale at the moment so it’s the perfect time to pick one up for a gift or try your hand at something new.

Penrose Tile Hand knit shawl design by Carol Feller

Penrose Tile Shawl

Patterns

Craftsy also has some special patterns for example this Ross Cowl from Carol is available for free. It’s a perfect introduction to colourwork if you want to try your hand at it. So if you don’t want to buy a kit you can just grab a pattern. Although some patterns are just available initially as a kit.

short-row-techniques

Classes

Craftsy is also a great place for online classes and tutorials. These are always fantastic value because they are a one on one session with your favourite designer, that you get to keep forever. Carol has four classes available Essential Short Row Techniques, Celtic Cables and Sweater Surgery. These are perfect to add to your knitter’s tool belt that you can reference whenever you need them. I find a lot of knitters don’t have the time for full classes or can’t get to the venue. These are the answer, plus you can re-watch a technique as many times as you need to. The handy 30 second repeat feature and bookmark/note tool makes it even more useful, you can always find the spot you’re looking for. Carol even has a free Craftsy class if you want to dip your toe in the water. It gives you an idea of how the longer classes are put together and also you get to see Carol’s teaching techniques. You can see what Ssmith94015 thought here:

Great class, learned some new techniques for short rows and how to use them. Helped explain some instructions that I came across in a few patterns and now I know what they were trying to say. Have inspired me to create projects using the short row approach.

But wait there’s more

Craftsy isn’t just for knitters, which is why I love it. I really think that crafters express their creativity over a few mediums and there is everything from cooking, sewing, crochet, art and even gardening.  It’s just one of these places that I go to for a specific reason and I’ve lost half an hour to beautiful quilt supplies.

I hope I have inspired you to check it out, pick up a craft kit or try a class on something new. If there a class you are thinking of taking then let us know in the comments.
Also I am collecting some questions for Carol, so if there is something that you have been itching to ask a knitwear designer or just something you have always wondered then drop it in the comments or over on the Stolen Stitches group on Ravlery.

Thanks for Reading,

Nadia

Save

Working with Cables

Cables can intimidate a lot of knitters; they look complex and seem difficult. There are huge variations in cable patterns but to start with learning how to do some basic cable stitches can open up a world of new patterns. One of the reasons I love cables so much is the texture they create. The stitches are moving across the surface of the work so it changes it from flat to three-dimensional.

Sheephaven from IYC 2016

Sheephaven from IYC 2016

I still remember the first cable I ever did, I was astonished at how straightforward it was! I had built cables up in my mind as a huge milestone and difficult skill to master! I was working on a basic stockinette stitch baby sweater and I just added one single four stitch cable to the front. It wasn’t complex but it was enough to allow me to jump in and it opened up the world of cables for me!

So what is a cable?

At it’s most basic cables are just stitches crossed over each other. You do this by moving some stitches to an extra needle (the cable needle) and holding them to the front or back of the work. Then you knit (or purl) the next few stitches, and go back to work the stitches that you had held. These cables can be worked over any number of stitches, either crossing an even or uneven number of stitches.

So you can see that cables don’t have to begin as a complex, difficult skill. This is something you can work up to as you begin to understand how they work. Cables begin increasing in complexity when you introduce purl as well as knit stitches. This is because your cables can now start travelling across your work as well as just being in a straight line vertically. From there you can also start using cable crosses to ‘hide’ a change from a knit to a purl stitch so that you can create stitch patterns that appear and disappear within the cable panel.

Here are a few examples of all of these different types:

  1. Basic vertical cable that repeats the same cable cross in a vertical line.

    img_4358

    Cable from ‘Killybegs’ in Contemporary Irish Knits.

  2. A travelling cable that allows the knit stitches to cross over the purl background so that the cables ‘travel’.

    Cable from 'Ardara' in Contemporary Irish Knits.

    Cable from ‘Ardara’ in Contemporary Irish Knits.

  3. A more complex type of cable where you have stitches changing between knit and purl behind the cable cross.img_4362

In the first of my cable tutorials I’m introducing a basic 2 by 2 knit cable crossed to the right and the left. I’ve explained how you work it in the video and the text describes what that particular cable would look like when drawn in a chart.

Craft Month

So it’s National Craft month, there are a lot of celebrations throughout the year but I think craft is well worth celebrating! Craft for me is primarily about knitting (due to the fact that there’s only 24 hours in the day!) but I do love to learn new skills. Living in the country in Ireland with several children in school I’ve found online classes the easiest way to learn. I can drop in and out and take notes in the spots where I know I’ll want to go back to.

crafty monthAs many of you know I teach several classes for Craftsy which have got a really nice format for learning (and teaching on). The classes are professionally recorded and edited, and the layout makes it easy to ask and answer questions. If you haven’t tried one out I’d suggest giving it a go!

If you’d like to try one of my classes here are some links for 50% off:

Essential Short Row Techniques
Sweater Surgery
Celtic Cables

Anyone who buys classes over the first 2 weeks of March will be in with a chance to donate $1000 to an craft based charity of their choice. (Plus I’ll be in with a chance to win a surprise as well :-))

I know a lot of you out there are very skilled knitters and may not want any knitting classes. There is however a whole range of crafts covered; from jewelry making and gardening to drawing and some fantastic cooking classes.

This one in particular has my mouth watering; all the boys love Mexican food so I wouldn’t mind upping my game a little!

Although I think that this might make a wonderful birthday present for my oldest boy, as he’s rather anime crazy!

So any new crafty or skill you’d like to build during crafty month? Have fun learning!

Essential Short Row Techniques

Some of you very observant people may have spotted that my new Craftsy class, Essential Short Row Techniques, is now live! (This link will give you $5 off the class).

Essential Short Row TechniquesNow as the name hints, this is a technique class. It works through different situations that you will use short rows in and how you can make them your own.

There is a huge lack of information out there about working short rows in anything but stockinette stitch. What happens in reverse stockinette, garter, ribbing or in the round? What about if you’ve got a cable or lace pattern?

I hope to give enough information in this class that you’ll feel comfortable substituting different types of short rows in a pattern, changing the slope created by short rows and maybe even use short rows in your own design!

_DSC8705

Once you’ve mastered Short Rows you’ll want to use them in everything!

Here are a few of my favourite patterns that use short rows. Until March 15th there will be 25% off all of them with code “SHORTROWS“. Just ‘add to cart’ and when you’ve got the cart open click ‘use a coupon code’ to add the code.

Finally, I frequently get questions about the knitted pieces shown in my classes so here is a rundown of everything you’ll see:

Lesson 1: Basanite Hat (in Among Stones, digital only), Sandy Cove, Taupo, Ravi.

Lesson 2: Striped shawl (Tempisque) from new book, Carpino.

Lesson 3: Cabled Cowl sweater from new book (Orosi).

Lesson 4: Capall Dubh, new cardigan from book (Toro).

Lesson 5: Gilligan, Orosi (from new book), Penrose Tile.

Lesson 6: Sandy Cove

Lesson 7: Ravi, Maenad, Dunderry, Taupo.

Lesson 8: Basanite Hat (in Among Stones, digital only), Talium socks, socks from new book (Arenal), Maenad.

 

Short Row magic

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

penrose tile 1

Why do I love them?

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

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

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

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

Teaching & Tutorials

I very much enjoy teaching, but I need to be careful not to overdo it. For me, somewhat on the introvert end of the scale, it’s important to get out of my own head. However I try not to schedule more than one event a month. I’m usually thinking about it for a few days before the event (so less sleep), have great fun while I’m doing the class and then crash for a few days afterwards until I get my rhythm back. Plus of course juggling the lives of 4 children when I change my schedule is no small task!

I think it’s fun and exhausting for me as I throw a lot of myself into the class. I don’t just want to teach knitters a step-by-step technique, I’m much more interested in them understanding how it works. For instance when doing grafting, I don’t just want to teach a series of steps to work in basic 2×2 ribbing. Instead I break it down into sections that are reproducing each step of your knitted stitch. That way every knitter in that class can walk out being able to transfer their knowledge to absolutely ANY type of grafted rib. When I teach cable charts I don’t just show how to work the exact cable shown in the chart. I break it down explaining how the chart is constructed so even if the legend is missing the knitter can easily interpolate the chart themselves.

When I teach classes I have discovered that learning can go both ways. During classes I’ve seen new methods of knitting, learned new techniques and I get to see patterns and written instructions from the other side. If I only sat at home writing patterns I’d be writing them as I want patterns to be written, explaining everything the way I understand. So in short teaching classes helps me write better pattern instructions and keeps me expanding my own knitting knowledge.

Over the last year or two there have been more and more knitting tours coming to Ireland. Originally it was just Tourism Ireland and Jean Moss but in the last few months I’ve taught a tour from Belgium, several more from the USA/Canada and there are 4 more upcoming over the next few months including one from Norway. While not everyone is going to do a knitting tour of Ireland I also travel a little for teaching. The next trip I’ll be making is to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March. I love Edinburgh very much, so it is a good spot for a weekend trip! The classes aren’t up for sale yet but you can view all the details here. On Saturday 14th I’ll be teaching Seamless Knits: Beyond the Raglan and on Sunday 15th I’m teaching Short Rows: Beyond the Basics.

If you want to find out what upcoming classes I’m teaching keep a look out on my class page here.

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…

Classes at This Is Knit

On February 15th I’m going to be teaching 2 classes at This Is Knit in Dublin. The first class, De-mystifying Short Rows is one I’ve done before BUT it’s been updated with some new material :-) I am completely and utterly fascinated by short rows so I keep digging a bit more to figure out new ways of working them and new shapes you can make with them. This class is the fruits of this digging – I’ve added a new technique that I love and I’ve created a whole lot of new swatches to see all the things you can do with them. You’ll never think about short rows in the same way again….

The second class that I’m teaching, Sweater Surgery, will be a very different, fun class. You can approach this class in one of two ways; either as a sweater knitter who has a completed a sweater and was unhappy with the end product OR as a sweater newbie who want pointers/tips/hints BEFORE they get started.

So when you come to the class if you’ve got a sweater you want to work on you get to bring it along, otherwise just a set of swatches to experiment on will do the job.

We’ll work through our body measurements (you can’t fit a sweater without knowing what size you need!) and then do a bit of trouble shooting.

From there we’ll work though some techniques that can be used on sweaters that or finished or still being worked on.

Changing sleeve and body lengths, steeking a sweater into a cardigan and changing the edging on a garment.

We’ll even talk a little bit about modifing flat patterns so that they’re worked in the round.

So lots for everyone and a good way to get started on your new knitting year!