Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Must-haves: Stitch Libraries

Everyone thinking about designing their own knits should have access to a stitch library. Having a few books to leaf through (and some good websites too) is an invaluable source of inspiration.
(Lace ribs 1 from craftcookie.com)

Usually, when I first have an idea for new socks, I tend to know how the overall construction should look, but I won't always know exactly what kind of stitch pattern I want. For instance, I'm currently working on socks that I wanted to have a ribbed cuff, but not the usual k2 p2 cuff. So I went through my stitch library and online sources until I found something that appealed to me and would be easy for knitters to memorise. 
(Bubbles from Vogue Knitting)

When you look to buy a good stitch library, make sure it has a wide variety of stitches. There should be a number of sections including lace, cables, twisted stitches, colourwork etc. Ideally, there would also be a section on edgings and perhaps finishing too.
(Rib and welt from Patons Yarns)

I like books that have both written and charted instructions, though if I had to choose, I'd always pick the charts. That's an entirely personal preference, of course, but charts are great to help you visualise the pattern. 
(Daisy stitch from knittingfool.com)

Do you have any recommendations? Is there a book or website you have found particularly useful and interesting to look through? Feel free to share your tips in the comments.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Wonderwool 2013

It's my birthday! And sadly I am ill. I was going to have a lovely day and dinner out with friends at an Indian restaurant I have been wanting to go to for some time. But there is something exciting happening this weekend too: Wonderwool 2013!
Last year my big birthday treat was the trip to Wonderwool. Luckily, it was the weekend after my birthday, so I had money to spend on all the lovely spinning fluff and other goodies there. This year I wanted to do the same, but sadly I couldn't get a lift. I will miss not being able to check out all the stalls and squish the yarn and fibre. Ah well, I hope next year will work out - if Wonderwool takes place at around the same time I may even get to go on the very day of my birthday.

To all of you who are going this year, have a great time and enjoy it! Try not to torture me too much with pictures of your new purchases.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

It's My Birthday! Get a Discount.

It's my birthday on Friday! Let's celebrate on Ravelry and get 25% off my sock patterns Norolim und Delta Socks from April 26 to April 28!

Couponcode: bdaygirl

Spread the word and let's knit!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

New Product Ideas

When I set up my Etsy shop, it was only to sell my handsculpted stitch markers and the odd skein of hand-dyed yarn. I added jewelry too, but this seems at odds with a shop devoted to knitting and I have decided not to renew those items. 

Recently, I have been thinking about ways to expand my product line and have decided to start working on my new ideas next month. So what can you expect to find?

Well, there will be sets of knitting notions including stitch markers, row counter and mini-scissors. If all goes well, you will also find straight bamboo knitting needles topped with my handsculpted figures. Here's one I made earlier:

I am very excited about the new items and I hope you will be too!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Spinning Up a Camel

After a long winter break from spinning, I recently finished my seaweed yarn and have now started with 50g of baby camel and silk sliver bought at Wonderwool last year, using my Russian supported spindle. I first tried spinning it a while back, but the baby camel was just so fine with a short staple length that it didn't go well and I was covered in fibre. Like silk, this camel fibre loves to stick to everything it touches.
Now that I've returned to it, I have decided to try spinning from the fold instead and that did the trick! It is faster, easier and far less messy than before. I still can't control the tickness as well as I should like, but mostly my yarn is quite even. I like it! I also like that it is undyed and the silk gives it a pretty shine too.
I wonder how long it will take me to spin it all up. Earlier I spun all the way through The Hobbit and have barely gone through a fraction of the fibre. Luckily, spinning is all about enjoying the process for me rather than the end result, so it can take as long as it needs.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Etsy: Norolim Sock Pattern Available Now

I'm in a bit of a sock designing phase at the moment and am happy to announce that my second pattern is now available for download on Ravelry and Etsy

Fans of The Lord of the Rings will recognise the sock’s name Norolim from the films and book. Wanting to flee from the Nazgul, Arwen commands her horse, “Norolim, Asfaloth! Norolim!” Since I first knit these socks using Noro Kureyon Sock yarn, the name stuck.

I had knitted these socks some years before just for myself and never thought about putting the pattern to paper for some reason. it made sense to do it now in order to expand my product range. It didn't take long to put the pattern together again, but Melissa was an essential test knitter (the pink sock in the image above is hers) who found a few small errors that I was able to put right. 

Late last week I uploaded the pattern and I look forward to seeing the socks others will knit!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Spinning Seaweed

 Oh yes, it is possible: you can spin yarn from seaweed!

A year ago at Wonderwool (I will miss it this year, sadly) I bought  few bags of fibre I hadn't yet worked with. Among these were 50g of seacell/seaweed that I didn't finish spinning up until recently. Only took me about a year, but hey! I used the tiny African bead supported spindle I also bought there from Mandacrafts, which spins beautifully, by the way, but it may not have been the greatest choice for this kind of fibre. I think I would have been much faster and better on the wheel instead. Live and learn.

Seaweed top is very slick and shiny, much like silk. It was hard for me to get into the flow while spinning it because of this slickness, actually. After about half was done, I decided to try spinning from the fold for the first time and, lo and behold, that did the trick! I still got stuck fairly regularly, but on the whole this was the best method for the material. 

The yarn is very fine and I intend to leave it as a single in order to ply it with other yarn at some point. Right now I have no idea about the yardage, but I expect there's lots of it.

Okay, so should I start on the milk protein fibre next or continue with the baby camel and silk sliver instead? Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Super Secret Summer Surprise: The Sock Yarn Wundertüte!

I can now reveal the Super Secret Summer Surprise I'd been planning and working on for some time: the Wundertüte!

Wundertüte is the German term for grab bag, it just sounds much nicer and I associate it with the bags of toys and sweets I used to be treated to once in a while as a child. I loved them because you never knew what you were going to get, but whatever it was, it would be fun. I liked the secrecy and the mystery as well as the excitement. 

I wanted to share this excitement and offer more grown-up knitting-themed Wundertüten, so I have chosen themes for my bags, all of them about summer to get us in the mood for the warmer seasons. At the moment there are three themes available: Pool Party, Camp Fire and Welcome to Rio. 

Each bag contains a hand-dyed skein of sock yarn that you can see in the images here, but the set of stitch markers and additional small gift remain a secret. You won't know what they are till you received the bag, but they all match the theme and colour scheme of the yarn. The markers may be beaded or handsculpted. The bag has a total value of £30, but you pay less since you are buying a set of items.

I hope you are just as excited about my Wundertüten as I am! If they sell well, I am hoping to make more on other special occasions such as Halloween, Christmas, New Years etc.

Ruislip: A Beret that Fits

Oddly enough, ever since I had all my long hair cut off, it has become nearly impossible for me to find or knit hats that suit me. When I had long hair everything looked good, but now with this practical crop I am finding it hard to wear any hats at all unless they are chunky.
After several disasters, I have now managed to knit a hat that actually does look better. It's still not perfect, but it is definitely wearable.
Ruislip was designed by Woolly Wormhead and you will find the pattern in Simply Knitting's March issue from this year. I used my own handspun yarn which is squishy and soft. The colours are fantastic as well. I got the fibre from Manda Crafts in the colourway Berry Berry Nice.
Now I am just waiting for this wintry weather to leave and for spring to arrive so I can wear my new hat!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Ally's Feature: Craft Storage Solutions

Ally from Ally's Crafts Crafty Treasures featured crafters in a blog about craft storage solutions. I guess all crafters are keen to see how other people store all their bits and bobs that can easily take over the entire house! There are some great suggestions and ideas - I especially like Alex's plans to turn a whole wall into a black board for organising and brainstorming. Would love to do that too! 

You can also see my Kilner sewing jar that I blogged about previously and read about how I store my things (more of a make-do storage system rather than a solution, to be honest):

Nadia from AbsoKnittingLutely is a spinner, knitter, dyer and general crafter and here's what she told me about here stash!!

 "I have what I call a "warehouse". Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, actually it is just our walk-in closet/storage room where we stuff everything we have no space for. In it I have two large plastic boxes for my yarns and fibre, and two cardboard boxes with finished items in sealed zip-lock bags. And then there is my polymer stash under the coffee table, of course, and the stationary next to the bed ... ;) It's not easy living in a studio flat with your partner and running a business from home at the same time!

I do have several fancy boxes and jars in which I keep bits and bobs. I love my 1L Kilner jar that I turned into my sewing jar and pin cushion."

Designing Patterns

I seem to be in a pattern designing mood of late and have just begun noting down the bare bones of a ribbed sock pattern. I'm also testing another pattern that I hope to have ready for publication soon.
This one is an old design, actually, that I came up with years ago when I first learned to knit. I didn't write down any details at the time and I hadn't yet discovered things like my favourite type of heel or cuff ribbing. So it seemed like a good time now to sit down and write a decent pattern.
I may need another test knitter though I think the pattern itself is fine. However, I only have enough yarn for one sock and perhaps just a little one at that. That means I can't take pictures of it being worn, which just doesn't seem right. I need more pictures to feature in the actual pattern, after all. A test knitter may be able to help with that. 
But so far, so good. The sock is almost finished, I'm on to the foot now and will BO once I see I am running out of yarn. Or perhaps I will just have to carry on knitting with another yarn and take black and white pictures instead!