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The Secret Power of being an Introvert

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

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

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

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

Have you found your inner peace with your personality type?

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The Magic Of The Garter Stitch Tab

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

No Holes Here

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Inspiration

 

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

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

Penrose Tile

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

Feamainn Shawl knitting pattern by Carol Feller

Feamainn Shawl

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

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

Three Beautiful Spring Knits to Inspire You

Talamh

Around now I start dreaming of Spring knits that I can reach for on cold mornings. I still need that touch of wool to get me out the door and ready for the day ahead. So, for today’s blog post I thought we could take a look at three of my favourites:

 

Talamh

Talamh is a timeless, textured cardigan from the Four Elements collection. The open lacework in the yoke creates an interesting fabric to look at and to knit. Talamh is knit from the top down in a light-weight yarn with some slight shaping for a flattering finish. This means that it is a perfect cardigan to fend off the cooler days and looks just as stunning with jeans or a dress.

 

Dark Pearl

When I knit for Spring or Summer, I like to have lace or openwork in the pattern and Dark Pearl ticks all of my boxes. The stocking stitch back and sleeves provide the comfort of relaxed knitting that will keep me warm while the elegant scalloped front adds a dramatic flair that is intriguing to knit.  The cowl neckline allows this cardigan to look elegant while closed but also falls beautifully in a waterfall while open. Knit in a fingering weight yarn I know this cardigan is light yet warm and perfect for transition seasons.

 

Adrift

As the warmer days of Summer start to roll in, I like to move to lace weights and Adrift is a beautiful cardigan that can be worn two ways. The long front panels allow this cardigan to fall elegantly to the side or to pin closed like a shawl when extra warmth is needed. This is also a pattern that allows the yarn to really shine as the stocking stitch would look beautiful in variegated/ semi-solid yarns as well as solids. The shape is perfect for pairing equally with dresses or vest tops in late Spring /Summer.  The pattern also comes with both short sleeve and ¾ length sleeve options, so you can tailor this to suit your Summer season.

I hope I’ve inspired you to think about those Spring garments that help you get the most out of your knitted wardrobe. What are your favourites? Or have you knitted one of these cardigans?  Let me know in the comments.

Anticipation

Take a deep breath, yip you smell that right? The air around here is ripe with the smell of anticipation. The Irish Yarn Club is soon to open memberships on October 24th and last year memberships went pretty fast!
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The Irish Yarn Club is now in it’s fourth year and each year brings with it something special. Carol designs 3 items that go with the unique colourway and yarn weight dyed by 3 talented Irish Hand Dyers. This year that will be Hedgehog Fibers, Townhouse Yarns and Dublin Dye Company. There is lots more of the technical information on the Yarn Club page over on ThisisKnit.ie and if you would like to hear about how it all started you can read Carol’s Blog Post from our archives here.
I thought I would showcase some of your fine talent and Carol’s patterns from previous years there are no spoilers in this post I’m afraid and each year Carol has mixed it up and kept even myself and those in This is Knit guessing!  First up from 2014’s yarn club is one of my favorites and I’m all about hats at the moment. Tempano is a cabled hat in Hedgehog Fiber’s twist sock.  The choice of cable and twist sock base allows the cables to really pop. The Image here is from a lovely knitter, Polli,  who joined the yarn club all the way from Finland. (Yes they do post worldwide for the club!)
Handknit hat in Hedgehog fibers twist sock Design by Carol Feller

polli’s Tempano in Hedgehog Fiber’s Twist Sock

It was hard to chose a pictures for 2014’s shawl Dunderry but rkavanagh’s Dunderry in  Coolree Silk/Baby Camel fingering snapped it for me. My eye’s just kept going back to it. The silk allows the lace pattern to really open up and it drapes beautifully. You lucky knitters, 2014 was a special year.

rkavanagh's Dunderry in Coolree Silk/Baby Camel fingering

rkavanagh’s Dunderry in Coolree Silk/Baby Camel fingering

The final pattern in 2014 was Talium in Dublin Dye Merino Sock and these are a real treat. The have short rows shaping the heel and toe with an elegant arrow pattern running the length of the sock.

Talium by Carol Feller

Talium by Carol Feller

2015 was a new year and brought new exclusive colourways and they do like to mix things up and Townhouse Yarns joined in. Carol designed the lovely Fortune Green Cowl for the Camden Tweed Base and this is to this day one of my favourite cowls and yarn bases. Cowls are a lovely gift knit but also very handy in have in your bag and pull out when the weather suddenly turns a bit nippy.  This cowl has a slightly wider base to allow you to really snuggle up in it and the lace and cable panels really add a celtic flair to the knit.

Jazzycath's Fortuen Green Cowl

Jazzycath’s Fortuen Green Cowl

The surprise of 2015 was the pattern Dalchini, it’s a fun lace knit in Dublin Dye Company Alpaca Sport. here kkkkate has made the Flapless version suggestion on the forums by Carol. There is a lot of action in the Irish Yarn Club forum and Carol and the staff from This is Knit will be there to help you out.

kkkkate's Dalchini in Dublin Dye Alpaca Sport

kkkkate’s Dalchini in Dublin Dye Alpaca Sport

The final pattern in 2015 was the Feamainn Shawl in Hedgehog Fibres Silk/Merino Lace. I love the stunning colourway and did I mention that these colourways are never to be repeated?

Feamainn Shawl by Carol Feller

Feamainn Shawl by Carol Feller

We are almost all caught up and last year the team behind the IYC shook things up a little. You can read Carol’s blog post for the full background but suffice to say the introduction of yarn from an Irish mill in Donegal was as added to the mix and then dyed by Dublin Dye Company. Carol designed the hat pattern Sheephaven to showcase the beautiful flecks in the Donegal yarn. Yvonne from Dublin Dye chose a lovely subtle colour to bring out these flecks too. That was really something special.  This is secretly (or not so secretly) a favourite of so many knitters. The yarn is lofty and just asks you to be cabled (You don’t talk to your yarn? You should, it’s very chatty)

Sheephaven by Carol Feller in Dublin Dye Company's Donegal WSC base.

Sheephaven by Carol Feller in Dublin Dye Company’s Donegal WSC base.

If that wasn’t enough of a shocker, everyone thought that the patterns would just be for accessories right? Oh no Carol designed Kompeito in Hedgehog Fibres Merino Lace  which has a very generous 1200M and allowed this beautiful shawl / vest to really shine. There was many an excited squeal when those packages where open, I don’t quite know how the serves of Twitter held up to the tweets and excitement!

Konpeito by Carol Feller in Hedgehog Fiber's Merino Lace

Konpeito by Carol Feller in Hedgehog Fiber’s Merino Lace

The final pattern is one that I can’t believe I missed out on (gasp! I know I missed last year sniffle) Probys is made with Townhouse Yarns gradient mini skeins. The pattern has also popped up later in Knitting with Rainbows because it was loved so much! The mitts below are by the wonderful filidhruadh on ravelry who joined in all the way from Switzerland!

filidhruadh's Probys mitts in Townhouse Yarns Mini Skeins

filidhruadh’s Probys mitts in Townhouse Yarns Mini Skeins

So what surprises are in store for you this year? Well your going to have to head on over to the Irish Yarn Club page to find out!

See you next week

Nadia

 

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Thank you!

I’ve got a huge thank you for everyone that bought sample from me. I’ve donated €200 to both DAWG and West Cork Animal Welfare thanks to you all :-)

I’ll leave the remaining samples on the blog but I’ll be going on holidays next week so it will be a few weeks before they are sent out.

THANK YOU!

Knitmas time

Every year the Irish knitters have a Christmas gift exchange (Knitmas). I always feel I’m too busy and should pull out but I just can’t resist! This year I sent a box of goodies to my recipient that included a little bag made by Sara. She does such beautiful work and she was happy to custom make 2 bags for me – one was going to be sent but I kept the other one :-)
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As you can see the bags are very, very cute. They make a really good knitting bag, they’re small enough for a little project, they fold up flat when not used and the bag sits upright when used which is great to keep your project yarn in.
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This year my amazing elf was Evin O’Keeffe. Rather than repeat her I’ll direct you to a post giving details of my goodies :-) If you’ve been following my twitter feed you’ll see the trail of tweets as I opened each gift! (Much to my excitement I was the receiver of a pair of hand knit socks.) What I would like to show you all though is her first book that she included in her gift. I had been just about to buy the book the night before so her gift beat me to it! She set up a publishing company, Anchor and Bee, earlier this year and Bake, Knit, Sew is the first title to be published.
IMG_3333This book is a lovely blend of knitting, sewing and baking projects as the title would suggest! I’ve picked out each of my favourites below to give you a flavour for the book. As well as the lovely projects the photography is a delight to look at, Evin is a very talented photographer with a very keen eye for food photography. Lemon cakes are one of my favourites, and this Lemon Drizzle Cake looks like a winner. I’m try to see if I can convince one of the boys to bake it for me over the holidays!

IMG_3336Next project up is the knitted Honeycomb teacosy. It’s really cute and a perfect match between style and function. Who wouldn’t want a honeycomb on their teapot.IMG_3340Finally I come to the sewn project. Now as I’ve said before I am not a sewer. I’ve bought a machine but I’ve yet to even thread the bobbin (shame on me). However this cute apron may just get me moving!

IMG_3341Go on and check her book out!

Back at the desk

I’ve just come back from holidays and I’m sitting here at my desk trying to remember where I was before I left! I actually love the feeling of returning from holiday, I adore what I do and I miss it when I’m away :-) I feel so lucky every day to be able to say that.

Once I’m settled back in here I’ll give you a few yarnie updates from my holidays, I’ve got a nice little collection.

Support for the Philippines

I’m finding it increasingly distressing watching the news coming out of the Philippines. They need support and they need it right now. If you can please support a charity/agency that is helping in the immediate aftermath.
I want to do something to help out as well, for the next 2 weeks I’m pledging 50% of the profits from my Stolen Stitches pdf sales to Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders. You can find them all here.

Knitting for kids

Anyone who’s seen my patterns and blog probably knows that I like knitting for kids. I think that knitting for children is very liberating, the sizing is less exact, you can go wild with color combinations and you can try out construction techniques on a small scale.
Often I will try out a pattern idea with a smaller child project first and then the adult pattern later. Sometimes it happens the other way around, I begin with an adult pattern but then realize that it would make a really cute child knit!

A few examples of my adult/child crossover are: Thirsty Rose, Ignus Junior, Taupini, Iceling Cardigan and Eilonwy Junior.

So what’s the best way to have fun and learn with your children knitting?

If you want to learn a new construction technique see if you can find a child pattern that uses it. This allows you to test it out on a small scale to see if it’s something you want to do on a adult garment.

Next step, get your child involved! Whether you’re knitting for your own child or as a gift ask them what they want. Bring them to a yarn store and see what fibers they like to feel. What colors do they love? Children often get fixated on particular colors so knitting them a garment in their favorite color will make them insanely happy! (Note on this – you may need to do a little gentle steering in the right direction at this point!)

Figuring out sizes for children can be a little tricky. The fit of children’s garments is different than with adults. As a general rule boys need a lot more positive ease and girls a little less. I wouldn’t advise any negative ease for children though.
Measure them carefully, what is their chest size, sleeve length, neck size and torso length? If you have access to a well fitted item they own measure it up and use it for comparison with the sizes in the pattern.
For most children they don’t grow outwards very quickly which means when children outgrow clothes it tends to be in the length of the body and sleeves. For this reason you might add a little extra length if it looks like it just barely fits.

So pick a pattern and get started with some knits for kids!
Below you’ll see a link to my Craftsy store with a few pattern suggestions. These new little craftlets I can make on the website are a very handy way to show you a few patterns at one time.

Visit Carol Feller’s Craftsy Pattern Store »

Musical overload

I’m not quite sure how it happened but it would appear that I’ve ended up in a very musical house.  When I was young I learned some piano and played the classic flute as a teenage.  However I never remember feeling a sense of pleasure or relaxation when playing.  It felt like something I ‘should’ be doing rather than an enjoyment.  Our first son didn’t really show any musical interest when he was small, in fact even learning tin whistle in school seemed to cause distress so we didn’t pursue it for him.  However now as a teenager he has been teaching himself guitar over the last year and wants to know why he didn’t learn any musical instrument when he was younger!  You really can’t win.

Our next son began Suzuki violin at 4 with his father.  Joe had never really played any instrument growing up but has a really good musical ear.  Being the parent of the Suzuki pair really awakened his interest in music and shortly after he actually began teaching himself guitar.  What I find fascinating is the pleasure he gets from playing.  When he’s stressed and needs to unwind he’ll play for 5 minutes and it just chills him out.  (Fortunately I have knitting for that).  This son has also got a good musical ear like his dad and has just moved from violin to viola.  It’s his birthday this week  and what he wanted was a ukelele.  Pictured above is the one he picked out for himself, and he is so very, very pleased with it!  He has played it so much over the last 2 days I’m not sure he can actually feel his fingertips anymore.  You may notice a slightly larger instrument behind, his dad went shopping with him and somehow this pretty guitar ended up coming home….

Over the last year I’ve been submerged in music again.  Due to timing issues I’ve become the Suzuki parent in the house and my youngest has also now started.  He is a sweetheart but is always convinced he is right.  Lets just say that this makes music practice interesting.  Anyone out there doing Suzuki violin with a really, really stubborn child?  Would love to hear how you manage to reduce conflicts at practice time!