Monday, 31 March 2014

Shop Update: Russian Doll Stitch Markers

In this final instalment for the month, let me introduce one of my bestsellers at Abso-knitting-lutely: matryoshka stitch markers.
The success of these Russian dolls surprised me. When I added the first set to my shop, it did not fly off the shelf immediately. Instead it took 2 -3 weeks till they found a new home. I then made another set in new colours and that one was snatched up soon after. So I made another set and then another, and it soon became clear that there was a demand for them. To cater to this demand, I have added more sets here.

Even though forming these dolls is fairly easy to do, it is their faces that are a little daunting! I have to paint the features onto them, giving them unique features that give each of them a different character. Sometimes they look like they're frowning, others look cheerful, some are rather non-committal. But that keeps the process interesting and the results different every time.

Have you got your set yet?

Friday, 28 March 2014

Shop Update: Sushi, Owls and Peacocks

More stitch markers at Abso-knitting-lutely! Mini sushi is back again at last. Since they take much longer to prepare than any of my other markers, I do not make them very often. I really should because they are quite popular and always leave the shop fairly quickly. So if they're just the thing you are looking for, get them before it's too late!

But there is not only the usual stuff in my shop right now. There are two further new designs and I am especially happy with these owl stitch markers:
I had been wanting to make owls probably ever since I first set up my shop, but it took until now to find a way to make them that seemed doable in such a small size. I especially like their little faces and the feather markings on the back. Simple, but effective.
Another new addition are little peacocks that also come in a set of four. Something different and difficult to figure out at first, but now they are ready and eager to get onto your needles.

In my final shop update blog post, it will be all about Russian dolls!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Shop Update: Ladybirds, Four-leaf Clover and Mushrooms

There's not been a lot of knitting going on at Abso-knitting-lutely HQ lately. Blame it on the sunshine! As soon as the sun peeked through the clouds (and, sadly, fog) I got out my box of polymer clay delights and started on some new stitch markers.

Here is a selection of old designs in a new colour and new ones. You may have seen the mushrooms before in other colours, but I never actually made them in red for some reason. The ladybirds are almost life size, actually! Just a tiny bit larger than the real thing, these stitch markers are great if you don't want to deal with larger ones getting in your way as you knit.

The leaves and four-leaf clover are new as well and a great spring addition to the shop. The red mushrooms originated from a custom order I received over Twitter and I have made an extra set to add to Abso-knitting-lutely just in case you fancy them as well. 

In the next shop update you'll find sushi, owls and peacocks.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

My 5 Favourite Yarns for Knitting

I am sure that anyone who has been knitting for a few years will have found their favourite yarns. There are so many beautiful yarns, especially from small indie sellers, so choosing just five favourites is a tough choice. Here is my top 5 of best yarns:

This yarn was sent to me by my American friend Wendy who herself had to order it from Canada. The yarn is definitely worth getting from across the pond if you can afford it. It isn't cheap, but the quality is amazing and so soft. I would rather use it for nice drapy shawls or even a top, though I did actually make a pair of socks called Staked that turned out really well (see blog post). Too bad it isn't superwash though, as I found out when I put my socks in the washing machine. Oops.

(Image source)

Koigu was the first yarn I bought in the UK. I was just in England for 6 weeks to decide whether it was a place I would like to live, and it so happened that it was my birthday during that stay. Going to Get Knitted was my birthday treat and I spent a very long time picking out some skeins. I still have the gloves I made from my purple skein! What I like about this Canadian brand is the quality of the yarn and especially the wide range of colours. Again, it is a pricey option, but well worth it if you can spare the change and are looking for a special treat.

(Image source)
This yarn is a blend of merino and silk which makes it soft and gives it a beautiful sheen. It drapes nicely and has a good weight. Actually, my current work in progress is knitted with this yarn and it is a pleasure to use. You get 1000 m per skein at £16, currently.

The middle skein of 100% silk is from Artisan Yarns, bought at the first ever craft fair I went to. (I am not sure now if the one on the left was also from the same company or not, but I think it might have been.) Fibre Fest is still my favourite show and it is a pity it hasn't taken place since. Luckily, you can find Artisan Yarns at other craft shows all over the country. The colours are beautiful and the yarns are fantastic. I still haven't used my skein of pure silk because I want to keep it for a special shawl and already have one in mind.

5. Noro
(Image source)
Now, Noro isn't everyone's cup of tea. It seems to be much like Marmite in that people either love it or hate it. the main reason knitters aren't keen on it is that the yarn is uneven at times as it is not plyed, has knots that may occasionally change the colour gradient, and may rip if it is too thin in places. Personally, I haven't had any of these issues (yet) and I continue to use Noro Kureyon Sock and Noro Silk Garden because of their colourways. There are still 3 or 4 balls of Kureyon Sock in my stash from a holiday in Exeter, I just remembered!

So what are your favourites? Which yarns can you not do without? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Shop Update: Squirrels, Apples and Owl Stitch Markers

After a break from polymer clay crafting over the winter, it is now time to get back in the saddle and come up with some new stitch markers sets.

Thanks to Hollie's photos, I decided to mix apples and squirrels in my latest sets. They really go well together, don't they?
A brand new design is also available now in the shape of these light brown owls. I love them! I had always wanted to make owl stitch markers, but I couldn't figure out a good design that would work well in such a small size. These have come out perfectly.
I'll be introducing more new designs soon. Expect to see lady birds, four-leaf clover, and leaves!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show, London

 Guess where I was on that very sunny day yesterday! For the first time ever, I went to The Knitting & Stitching Show in London to have a look at all the woolly goodies. As I am not really a sewer, the sewing part of it did not interest me as much, so I wandered around the halls in search of anything I could knit or spin.
I set myself a (meagre) budget of £50 and here is what I came home with: 3 skeins of undyed sock yarn (2 of them with extra sparkly bits) so there will be some dyeing going on soon, a little project bag that came for free with my purchase of the yarn from Tall Yarns 'n Tales, a set of 3.5 mm rosewood knitting needles from The Little Knitting Company, and a small bottle of Soak wool wash (Celebrate) from the same place. 
These are all things I had always wanted to get at some point and Tall Yarns was the one place I definitely wanted to visit. I have bought undyed yarn from them before and it has always been really good quality. I look forward to dyeing the sparkly yarn, especially. They will probably end up with a solid colouring rather than a mix of colours.
I am extremely happy with my purchases! I was, however, a little bit disappointed by the show itself. There is a lot for sewers to see and it seemed that that made up the greatest part of the show. As a knitter, I would have liked to see a greater number of independent sellers of yarn, roving and the likes than I found there. When I looked through the list of sellers on the website, I actually knew just one of the companies. I thought more of the sellers I know from Wonderwool or Fibre Fest would be there too.

There wasn't much to photograph either, but I did find these suspended fish hats by the Silkfelt Collective in one of the aisles. They looked a lot of fun! The detail was amazing. Not sure where I'd wear a hat like that, but their art is fascinating.
There was also a small exhibition of fashion textiles of felted and sewn clothing. I especially liked the white dress that looked like it was made of feathers. In fact, it consisted of bits of fabric that had been machine embroidered to look like feather.

The show was quite busy, but the aisles are quite wide so there is usually a lot of space for everyone to get through without any problems. The sewing areas seemed more crowded than others. There were also a lot of seating areas, but many sat on the floor as well. The food available in the area was good as well and I was so tired by the end of the visit that I was glad to be able to sit down at a table and wake myself up with a bottle of Coke!
It was there that I had some lovely chats with other visitors. One of them had even bought those giant knitting needles to make rugs and throws with! Those do tempt me too, but I already have no space for my stash so they'll have to wait. Luckily everything I bought fit into this little project bag.

All in all, I am glad I went and did enjoy myself. I don't think that I will be back though because other events such as Wonderwool are better suited to my interests and offer a greater variety of sellers. I also - and this is highly subjective - have the impression that the overall quality of goods is better at other events. I suppose I will have to go to more events and find out for sure.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Customer Appreciation Photos - Yay!

(Image by Hollie)

Not too long ago, Etsy allowed customers to leave feedback for sellers including photos. Sadly, this was done away with last year with the introduction of the current review system so it is a rare thing for us sellers to receive pictures of our products in use.

But the great thing about the internet is that you can cannot with your customers in other ways and, in my case, I interact with many of them on Twitter now. So it happened that I made a sale during the very new #knittinghour on Thursday evenings and within two days Hollie's new stitch markers had arrived at her home. I thought I'd share her beautiful photos with you today.
(Stitch markers, as always, from Abso-knitting-lutely)

As it happens, Hollie is also an Etsy seller and has a stand-alone website here, so have a look at her knits and her cute kitty Elvis.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Knitting Inspiration: Whales, Mitts and More

(Images from the original designers)

Time for another round-up of knitting patterns that have caught my eye this week! The featured patterns are a mix of free and for-sale patterns, many of which are new to the Ravelry database. Enjoy!

1. Hazel the Humpback Whale can be downloaded for free from Ravelry. You can also have a look at how other knitters have managed to get on with this pattern. It was featured on the Ravelry homepage in late February, which is how I noticed it. The whale's total length is 26", knitted with DK yarn. I really like this one so if you knit it, let me know how it turns out!

2. I love this unusual construction of fingerless gloves. Pieces of Eight is knitted with fingering weight yarn and you will have to visit the designer's blog for the detailed pattern. Also check out her other patterns there, including more fingerless gloves knitted from the thumb and wavy colour knitting with short row shaping.

3. For 6 USD you can buy the pattern for Oriental Bay, a crescent shawl with optional beads. With both charts and written instructions, you can't go wrong. The colour change is fantastic!

4. Ancient Runes will also set you back 6 USD. It is knitted with worsted yarn and comes in sizes XS to XL. The back has a cute button detail that I really like and the stitch pattern is simple and looks like it is easily memorised.