Thursday, 29 January 2015

Knit Crush: Kung Midas Design - Saga Hein

Saga Hein from Sweden has an eye for details. Her designs feature a good amount of stockinette, but are never boring thanks to the beautiful touches she adds to each piece, a well placed cable here and there. Birka and Katla especially calls to me, while Helmia looks like something straight out of a Rowan knitting magazine. Which piece do you like best?

As always, all pictures in this post are borrowed with permission from their respective Ravelry project pages, by clicking their name, you'll be taken right to them.   

Kedja


Birka

Katla

Spiralis

Estera

Helmia

Are you looking for more knit crushes?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Knitting and Joy

First things first 

Knitting and joy is closely connected for me. I can knit all the day long and feel perfectly content, so when I started noticing a lack of joy I knew something was wrong. For over a year now I've been very focused on the whole design aspect. I've learned so much and have grown as a designer, starting to discover my voice and using it. New things were on the horizon, an e-book and trying to get a design published in a magazine.

Frankly, the more exciting everything got the less I felt like knitting and with the whole #vatmoss deal, it was beginning to feel like a lot of work with very little reward. I'd love to say that month after month of no sales doesn't affect me, but that would be a lie. What really did me in I think was that so far my charity pattern, Everyday Rockstar has only sold one copy and I know that a close friend purchased that (and love her for it).

While I really want to some day have a decent side income from pattern writing, at the time being I'll be taking a break from it all to regain my joy and energy. During the next 6 months I'll be writing my BA thesis and I need knitting to be happy place during that time, not another thing in my life with obligations, deadlines and pressure.

Hopefully, by the time I'll be ready to return, I'll not only be rejuvenated, but perhaps the whole #vatmoss ordeal will be solved as well. I won't stop blogging though, fear not and I'm not saying a design or two won't find their way into my life during the next 6 months, what I am saying is that if they do so, they will do it because of an itch I must scratch, not because I feel obliged to work on them.

Now to reclaim the true joy...   



To combat the negative feelings I was beginning to harbour towards my knitting, I decided to knit something cute, something I didn't have to think about. I needed to not think at all, so I grabbed 3 different yarns and a baby knitting book and told my man to pick something, anything for me to knit. 
He chose the Bella Cardigan and some dark purple wool and off I went on my merry way. 
I'm already feeling a lot better about my knitting, less than a week after taking the decision to just have fun with it. Want proof? I've already planned what I want to cast on next: Baby Scallops.

Have you ever been in a similar situation and how did you regain the lost joy?

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Vacation time and crocheting.

For the past month I've been in exam mode. As of yesterday I had my last exam of the semester and I now have a quick break before I return for my last semester of my BA. It's so exciting to be at the brink of writing my first proper thesis and while it will be a lot of work, I'm looking forward to all of it.

As so often before the days of my vacation have quickly been filled with all sorts of activities. I have a good deal of work planned for the remainder of this month and a trip to go spent 3 days with a dear friend on another island.


Of course my vacation plan also includes fibre, organic cotton to be exact. I've begun to wear some make-up more frequently and that means I need a few more cotton rounds to tide me over between laundry days.

If you'd like some no fuss cotton rounds  squares too, then the pattern is included in my free e-book Faithful Knitting.

Subscribe to receive your FREE copy of the e-book: Faithful Knitting

* indicates required

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Sylvan Tiger Yarn - Interview and Discount Code

Today, I have a treat for you: a great interview with Katie of Sylvan Tiger Yarnan independent hand dyer based in Yorkshire, England, creating luxury yarn and fibre using natural dyes.  




Katie was first taught to knit by her Mum as a child.  More recently the wonderful world of Ravelry has expanded her fibrey horizons in the direction of spinning and dyeing.  She enjoys messing about with natural dyes, adding a little of this, a little of that to create and modify new colours.  When not up to her ears in dye pots she enjoys reading, playing flute or cello in her local orchestra and walking in the hills and dales.


Katie, you dye such beautiful skeins of wool, you must have some knitting on your sticks, right?! What are you working on at the moment?
Well, in the run up to Christmas, there are a couple of presents on the needles. Earlier in the year I designed a scarf pattern, Sylvan Scarf, to show off my Tethera yarnbase – a 100% British Bluefaced Leicester 4 ply. I'm knitting a version of that for my Gran in a lovely Raspberry shade. 
There's also a pair of socks for my husband, striped in three colours of Regia 4ply, a great yarn for man socks!
There should also be a scarf for my Mother-in-Law, but I'm running out of time. She'll get the yarn wrapped up then an I.O.U for the finished item! She chose a skein of my 100% Wensleydale lace weight in the Greengage Glut colourway when she came to visit my stall at Yarndale last September.
There's also a pair of colourwork mittens that have been on the needles longer than I care to remember, more urgent items keep getting in the way. And that's before we start thinking about the things I want to knit!
When and why did you start selling your yarn?
I opened my Etsy shop in December 2013 having started playing around with dyes around 18 months before that. I'd found groups on Ravelry devoted to dyeing with Koolaid and was amazed you could dye yarn with a drink! And, from there I did a lot of reading about dyeing with natural or vegetable dyes and became fascinated with the different colours you could get from humble plants. I love the fact that you can get multiple different colours from the same dye source, just by changing the PH level of the dye bath or the mineral content. After testing out lots of dyes and yarns I decided that if I wanted to continue dyeing and experimenting with colour I'd better start selling some yarn, otherwise the house would be overrun!


Summer Berries - Bluefaced Leicester


Where do you get inspiration from?
Partly from the dyes themselves, the way they can be modified to change colour. And, from the landscapes around me; mosses on tree trunks, the different colours in the sea, or even paint splodges on windowsills!




What is you favourite yarn or colour way to dye and why?
Well, purple is my favourite colour so I love producing different purples from different dyes and combinations of dyes. A lot of my yarn bases are based on British Bluefaced Leicester. It's a lovely alternative to Merino in that it's British, and I try to support the British fibre industry where ever I can. It's also one of the lustre wools, it has a longish staple length so it has a lovely shine to it, it takes the dye well and it's soft enough to wear next to the skin. I also like dyeing Wensleydale yarn and fibre as they both take the dye so beautifully and have a shinyness similar to silk.
How much time do you devote to your business each week?
I work full time as a Classical Music Programmer for my local City Council so I work the dyeing in around that. In the run up to Yarndale in September 2014, my first big fibre festival, I was fitting in bits of the dye process in all available spare time! I'd be rinsing off yarn before work, mordanting yarn after making the evening meal (I dye in our kitchen) and then dyeing over the weekend. There was yarn soaking in buckets or hung to dry all over the house! Since then, I have a good stock level built up so I've just been keeping the social media and marketing ticking over and enjoying a bit of a break!


Sitka - Blueface Leicester

And finally, what are your goals and dreams for your business?
I'm enjoying having the opportunity for a personal creative outlet alongside my fulltime job. I'd like to explore more breed specific yarn and work with farmers and breeders to help increase the value of fleece. There are more breeds out there than Merino and Bluefaced Leicester, some of which are endangered or very rare. All fleece can be valueable to the knitter or spinner, it's just a case of finding the right yarn and project for a particular breed. You wouldn't want to knit a next to the skin vest out of Swaledale or Herdwick, for example, but they are great for felted slippers or an outer garment.

Aqua - Shetland

Katie has generously offered 10% off her beautiful yarn and fibre 

Just use ULDENT2015 valid now until 28 February 2015.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

What's on My Needles? - From Idea to Published Pattern..


Going a new way

2015 is the year of Full Disclosure for me. Thus let me tell you about the new project I have on my needles: It's a sock pattern and it's entirely a secret!

For the first time, I feel ready to work on a pattern for submission. Will it be accepted? Only God knows, but I'm giving it a shot.

This shot at a pattern for submission means I'm working on a deadline for the first time, that isn't set by me and can't be changed. It means I can't show you any pictures or really talk about it. I will not, however, stop me from sharing the process with you. I'm sure the next month and a half will provide me with a good deal of headaches.

The big question I've keep asking myself is if it is worth it to work on patterns for submission. Like anyone would do, I made a list of pros and cons:

Pros

  • Some form of compensation is provided
  • It will get my name out to a much wider audience
  • If the pattern is refused, I'll have a pattern to self-publish

Cons

  • I have to keep everything about the pattern a secret. 
  • I have to wait a long time to know if the pattern is accepted
  • I have to follow the guidelines that the publisher decide on
  • I have to work on a deadline

For the longest time the single con of having to keep everthing a secret outweighed every pro. I've now reached a point where it doesn't anymore. I'm running my head against a paywall in so many aspects when I think of something I could do to further my business, but this is one thing I can do, that won't cost me a dime, in fact, it is likely to make me a dime or two if all goes well. 

Now tell me, do you have any experience getting your patterns published? And what are your pros and cons?


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Top 5 Classes to Improve Your Knit Designs

Ever since I started knitting 20+ years ago I've been on a quest to constantly improve my knitting. Now that I'm designing, I'm eager to learn more about that aspect of the craft and I imagine you are too.

Here are my top 5 picks from Craftsy's classes to improve your designing skills. Some I've taking, some are on my list for this year - all are worth the money, since Craftsy has a guarantied money back police if you are not happy with your purchase.

 #1 - Sizing Knitwear Patterns with Faina Goberstein


"Knitwear designer and math professor Faina Goberstein walks you step-by-step through every calculation involved in grading a range of sizes, from the initial gauge swatch through shaping a garment and calculating yardage. You will conquer your pattern-grading fears and finish with a pattern that's ready to knit, and the knowledge and tools to use these skills for years to come."

This is a class I have taken and I've already gone back a few times to re take some of the lessons. Faina's accent is a little strong, but once you get used to it, the information is life changing if you've never graded a pattern before. 

#2 - How To Say It: Pattern Writing for Knitters with Edie Eckman


"Learn the keys to communicating your one-of-a-kind knit designs. Author, teacher and technical editor Edie Eckman presents an insider's guide to clearly communicating knitting patterns to editors, publishers and fellow knitters. This class offers experienced knitters the opportunity to strengthen their pattern writing and reading skills, as well as increase their chances of successfully selling their designs.
Edie walks you through the basics of writing a knitting pattern - from articulating stitch repeats to understanding the impact sizing has on your creative choices - and provides you with essential pattern-writing tools, including her detailed templates and a meticulously crafted style guide. Her sample pattern, the pretty Acorn Cardigan, is included free!"

I've taking this class as well, but I think I'm due for a re-view since I've failed to put my stylesheet into practise. #fulldisclosure 


#3 - Hand Knit Garment Design with Shirley Paden


"Learn how to design knitwear from the master … Shirley Paden! Author of Knitwear Design Workshop, the go-to reference book for knit garment designers, Shirley brings her comprehensive yet simple design process to Craftsy, including a 26-page downloadable workbook and animated video diagrams. Shirley shows you step-by-step how to use one simple math formula to calculate yardage, shape sleeve caps and armholes, distribute increases and decreases and achieve a perfect fit. Don't miss this opportunity to learn handknit garment design from an industry expert."

I've yet to take this class, but it is at the top of my list to take this year!

#4 - Lace Shawl Design with Miriam Felton


"Designer Miriam Felton shares her methodology and design templates, walking you through every consideration for shawls, from inspiration to planning, construction and beyond. This technique-based course will give you an intimate look at a lace master's mind, showing you how to develop your own design process. Design shawls as simple or complex as you desire, and receive help from Miriam along the way. Get your pencils ready and chart your own path in Lace Shawl Design."

#fulldisclosure - I'm itching so bad to do a couple of shawl designs and I have a simple lace one on the way, but with this class I'm confident I could strike into something a tad more complicated. 


#5 - Mastering Cable Design with Fiona Ellis


"Fiona puts a new twist on deciphering cable abbreviations while teaching you basic cable crosses, rest rows and how to creatively combine these knit design elements. She’ll also offer tips on where to find cable design inspiration and how to enhance your garments with I-cord embellishments. You’ll master diamond and doughnut shapes, add and subtract individual cables, play with negative space and learn to change cable angles in this example-packed class. You'll also learn to mix and match elements from existing cable designs to make them your own."

I'm so excited to take this class since I love me some good cables and really enjoy incorporating them into my designs, but sometimes find it difficult to do just that!

Now tell me...

Have you taken any of these classes? What did you think of them? Is one of them calling your name? 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Take a leap of faith in 2015


How to make this your best year yet

Making this your best year yet will not be easy or painless, it will however be worth it. So often we stay in the comfort zone or maybe we gather up our courage and walk to the edge, take a peek at the abyss below us and suddenly forget that if we take that leap of faith we may be granted wings to soar.

If you are ready for your best year, then please join me and ask yourself these (somewhat difficult) questions and then do the most important part: take action!

Insanity

The well known definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Now I ask you - is there a part of your life in which you are insane?
It's very likely that we can all answer yes to this question. I certainly can. I want my micro business to grow, yet I keep doing what I've been doing all along. Writing the same types of blogposts, working on patterns when I feel like it, which truth be told isn't very often, because most days, after work I'm 'too tired', or so I tell myself. I keep telling myself I'm committed to making this a profitable business, but telling myself isn't enough, I have to take action as well.

There may be more than one area of your life, in which your actions and expectations aligns with the definition of insanity, if that is the case then choose one, the most pressing one, the one you feel most uncomfortable with, the one that will bring the most and best change to your life and focus on that area in 2015.

Full Disclosure

As you may know my theme for 2015 is Full Disclosure. It stared out as full disclosure towards you, but I've come to realise that it means so much more - it means full disclosure towards me. No longer will I be kidding myself, wondering why things aren't moving faster, when I put in so much effort... When in fact I'm not putting in nearly as much effort, as I though I was. So look at the area of your life you just decide to focus on and ask yourself this: Are you being completely honest with yourself? Are you telling yourself lies and more importantly, are you believing them? Identify at least one lie you are telling yourself in regards to your chosen area.

Failing to plan...

Another famous saying is that if you fail to plan you plan to fail, that is why you need a plan to even have a shot at making this your best year yet. Make a list of 12 small things you would like to focus on inside the limits of your area this year. These aren't goals, they are sub-areas to focus on, you could even do 4 bigger headings with 3 goals each. You'l need 12 in order to have a new focus each month. I'll show you about mine to illustrate what I mean:

Blogposts
  1. Evergreen
  2. Quality over quantity
  3. Compilations

Social meadia stragegy
  1. Pinterest
  2. Twitter 
  3. Instagram
Patterns
  1. Layout
  2. E-book
  3. marketing
Education


  1. Pattern writing
  2. Designing new pieces
  3. Techniques

Make some goals!

Now it's time to make some goals for your sub-areas, preferably SMART goals, that is goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.  First of all your goal should be Specific, it can't be 'work on my blog', it has to be something like 'come up with ideas for evergreen content'. Now Measurability comes into play and it's an important one, you can't just say you want to come up with ideas for evergreen posts, that way, if you come up with two you have succeed, because that fits the plural of your goal, instead make it your goal to come up with 2, 12 or 24 (you get the point) ideas for evergreen content. Your goal also needs to be Achievable, but make sure at leat one of your goals for the month is a bit of a stretch, while still Realistic: what can you expect to get done? The Timely bit mostly gives itself in this case, as you have one month where that specific sub-area is your focus, so make sure you can get it done in one month.  

Work the plan

Each month you'll focus on a new sub-area and it's specific goals, for example in January I focus on coming up with evergreen content for this blog (kinda like this post, genius, right?!) and then come February my focus will be on quality over quantity, but I'll still keep the evergreen aspect in mind. Thus each month you'll add a new aspect to focus on while you build on the past months' sub-areas. By December 31st you'll have done a complete overhaul of your chosen area in life.   

Now go out and take that leap of faith!