Craft | 9 Activities for Balancing Motherhood and Working from Home

Craft | 9 Activities for Balancing Motherhood and Working from Home

 

Easily one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How do you manage to entertain your kids and work from home?”  This comes in a few variations but usually, it’s from other mums who also work from home or are dealing with toddlers who are sick and trying to catch up while working from home. I want to state this very cleary from the start, every child is different. What works for my kids may not work for yours but maybe you can adapt these ideas to suit your child’s personality. I hope this inspires you to come up with some creative solutions of your own and if you do please share them because I am always on the lookout for new ideas.

The nine activities that I use are:

 

1 – Activity Boxes

I have a number of activity boxes that are packed with different activities that the girls (2 and 3 years old) can do at the dining table while I work on the laptop. These are shoe boxes that I decorated or IKEA boxes with a lid. These are always my first port of call in an emergency. It’s much easier to occupy the girls at a dining table so I can work in the same space.  These boxes are filled with:

  • Stamp Kits: Paper, ink pads and stamps. I got mine from This is Knit and Easons and I use them for both the girls’ entertainment and my bullet journal. They play away while I work and if it ends badly then everyone ends up in the shower.
  • Colouring kits: Pencils paper and sticker books are always a favourite.
  • Play-Doh Kits: or homemade playdough and old plastic chopping boards for them to use as a base.

The best part about these kits is that you can put whatever your child is interested in, in these boxes and pull them out when you need an extra half hour on the laptop.

 

2 – Lego / Wooden Blocks

I can’t believe how often my girls have just built towers over and over again. They play together and apart. They have a system, one builds and one tears it down and fixes the blocks all in a row but it works.

 

3 – Post It Box

I’m not sure where I found this one but oh boy has it saved me a few times. This is an old shoe box that I covered in wrapping paper and when I get junk mail I fold it and pop it in. Then, usually, my youngest will take the lid off and open all of the ‘mail’ while ‘reading’ it. She then tries to pop it all back in the envelopes and then posts it back in the box. As this became a favourite, I got a second box for her to post into as well.

 

4 – Dress Up / Make Believe

I know this seems a little crazy but depending on the girls’ mood, if I dress them up and give them wands or wings they love flying around the house. We use the hall as a flying/landing strip and the girls happily play together. I have music on the laptop that rotates and they have to change their play to suit the music.

 

5 – Empty Boxes

I cannot stress this enough, never ever throw out empty boxes until your kids have played with them. They can colour on them, play hide and seek and if big enough you can cut out windows and use as a playhouse. The box our Dyson hoover came in was gold for entertaining the kids. They just liked to crawl through it over and over again. Then they would fight as to who got to sit in it. I added plastic balls from the ball pool at one stage too and they loved it. The best thing is it just goes into recycling when they are board. For this reason I have started looking at cardboard toys as usually they get bored after a while so instead of having more toys stacking up in boxes in the playroom I can just recycle it instead.

 

6 – Beech Walk / Excercise

This may seem counterproductive as you want to sit and write but if your kids are full of beans and you need to sit and wok then it will go much better if you can wear them out first. I will take them for a beach walk and let them walk until they start moaning at me to go home. Then when I get back I have the activity boxes set up on the dining table or sometimes they just want a nap. Either way, I get my two hours to work so I’m happy.

 

7 – Aquadoodle

The Aquadoodle was a gift for T’s birthday but my kids love it. It’s a giant mat with a pen that you fill with water and you just let them draw and scribble on the mat. We got a second pen when my second child wanted to start playing with it as they are rather impatient when so young. This was amazing when my girls were too young for crayons. It only works on the mat and you just dry the mat when they are done.

 

8 – Indoor Picnics

We have both indoor real and pretend picnics were the girls have to lay out the blanket and set places for them to sit. This is great for teaching them skills and for keeping them occupied. Usually, it starts as pretend and then ends up with them asking for sandwiches or fruit which is great because if they are eating them they are quiet.

 

9 – Movie Time

I put this last on my list as it really is my last resort but when I need quiet time for a phone call or I have something I need off my desk quickly I do use the TV as a babysitter. I pop their favourite movie on and I pop in earbuds and work away from the sofa. I can see what they are up to and I can work at the same time. The problem then is trying to turn off the TV once I’m finished. I don’t like them having too much screen time in a day so usually, this is for when they are quiet and in need of quiet time.

 

There is no magic formula, there are days when my kids are upset and in need of mommy and there is nothing I can do and work gets shoved into the hours when they are worn out and sleeping. I fit my work around what is needed at home though when my kids were smaller, I was doing both at the same time but they usually slept more or on could play on playmats. I hope this post inspired some creative ideas of your own.

 

xxx

 

Craft | Offset Wraplan & Beyond Puerperium

Craft | Offset Wraplan & Beyond Puerperium

This is post is part of my Handmade Wardrobe for Kids Series

 

During the house clear out, I had to pack up all of my baby knits so I thought I could share two of my favourite patterns with all of you. I have patterns that I knit for myself and for friends and these two little cardigans, well, I am genuinely sad to wrap up forever or until I can pass them on to my girls for their children. (Oh my word that sentence just caused palpitations!) They work well together in this post as I used the same yarn in both patterns. So if you are looking for some cute baby knits than scroll on down.

 

Pattern – Beyond Puerperium by Kelly van Niekerk

This was the first handknit that I made when I was pregnant.  After the shock settled I dove into queueing baby patterns. I instantly went for some Hedgehog sock yarn and cast on this top-down knit. I am a Kelly van Niekerk (Brooker) fan for a long time and I always go to her account to see if she has released any new pattern when I need to cast on for a tiny human.

This is a really simple top-down knit worked all in one piece with a beautiful button band to the side of the garment. If you haven’t worked a top-down knit before this is a perfect pattern to start with. This pattern is free in just the baby size here and then if you want the more comprehensive pattern you can find it in different yarn weights and sizes here.

 

Beyond Puerpreium Kelly Brooker by cottage Notebook Nadia Seaver

Beyond Puerperium by Kelly van Niekerk

Pattern – Offset Wraplan by Sara Morris

This beautiful wraplan is a free pattern on Ravelry and it’s perfect for using up yarn that is left over from other projects. I used the Hedgehog sock from the previous project and Rialto DK together to give a texture difference but I also really wanted to work this with purple yarn so that won out over the weight. What I love about this pattern on Ravelry is the inspiration that pops out at you from the finished object gallery for the pattern. I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl so I was choosing knits that could be worn by either which in fairness is most baby knits. This pattern is well written, has over a thousand projects on Ravelry and is firmly in my gift knit folder.

 

Offset wraplan by sara morris by cottage notebook

Offset Wraplan by Sara Morris

Yarn – Hedgehog Fibers Sock

For both these patterns I choose Hedgehog Fibers Sock and the reason for that was because the base was soft it was an amazing colourway that spoke to me from the yarn shelves. I know your wondering so no it didn’t help being pregnant and working in a yarn shop because I wanted to knit all the things and buy *all* the yarn but I stuck to indie yarns and Debbie Bliss yarns for all of my baby knits.

Hedgehog Fibers not only has beautiful colourways bt the yarn held up really well for both of my girls and these cardigans have been washed many times and they still look like they came off the needles recently. Which isn’t true for some of the yarns that I have used since *side eyes my drops big merino sweater but that’s another story entirely. Hedgehog sock also bloomed when it dried enabling me to knit it with the Rialto DK for the wraplan cardigan. I knitted this on a 3.5mm needle so the DK was knitted tightly and the sock a bit loosely. I don’t recommend messing with weights like this as usually it never works out but I knew my tension and both yarns well so for me it worked fine. I would recommend you choose the Rialto 4-ply if you want to cast on for yourself.

As I said at the start I am sad to wrap up these knits and pop them away. I did place the knitted hats to go with both patterns in IKEA frames and they are now on my craft room wall so I have something to remind me of my baby knits. Don’t worry they are against a wall that isn’t exposed to natural light so they won’t bleach! I hope you like the Handmade Wardrobe series and the Handmade Wardrobe for Kids. You can also see a full list of my favourite children’s patterns here.

See you on wednesday for the NaNo update, hint, it’s not looking good.

xxx

 

 

 

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Interview | Woolly Mammoth Fiber Co.

Interview | Woolly Mammoth Fiber Co.

 

One of my favourite features on the blog is sharing interviews with all the creative individuals I meet with all of you. Today is no exception and I’m delighted to share an interview with Emma Robinson of Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co. based in Northern Ireland. I met Emma during the Yarnfolk festival last August and instantly fell in love with her ideas. Emma runs a spinning and dye studio and is always happy to chat about all things fibre related. Her Instagram feed is a thing of beauty and it gives you an idea of just how much Emma loves what she does. I’m also a huge fan of natural dyeing and so I asked Emma if she would like to have a chat and talk about her wonderful yarns:

 

Emma Robinson of Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co.

Emma Robinson of Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co.

 

Hi Emma, Can you give us an insight into your creative background?

I started out studying photography at art college in London. I really enjoyed this experience and I met a lot of interesting folks that got me started in making with fibre as well as with photography. Our tutors encouraged us to be experimental in our approach to making and had no hesitation when I wanted to do some weaving/ woodwork as part of my photography course. Around this time I met Kim Smith through a mutual friend, (she is a wonderful maker who now has a shop in Bristol called Alterknit Universe!), who thought me to knit and spin, and encouraged me to try out natural dyeing! This is where it really all started- I bought my own wheel, graduated, moved home to Co. Antrim and started my photography business, specialising in architectural imagery. I still love photography, and I photograph regularly for architects all over the island of Ireland.

 

What was the main influence for starting Woolly Mammoth Fibers?

The main influence for starting Woolly Mammoth was as a creative outlet. A few years after I had started my photography business I really felt I needed some time to just make, explore and experiment in a more loose way. I started spinning more and knitting, and I knew I wanted to get back to natural dyeing. I also knew I was going to end up with too much yarn before very long, with a number of colours/dyestuffs etc I wanted to try! I needed an outlet, and I decided to do go all out and order a large amount of yarn form Laxton’s Mill in Yorkshire to give it a go and start an online shop!

 

The Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co. on the Cottage Notebook

 

Can you tell us where the name comes from?

Good question! For a long time before Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co was official, my husband and I had a joke about starting a yarn shop. He kept calling it “Woolly Mammoth”- it may have been because my pile of yarn was rapidly growing larger! I’m not sure why, but the name just stuck. Apart from that, they were quite an interesting animal!

 

Why does your brand stand out in this competitive industry?

I guess my brand stands out because my method of making is a little different from others- I only use non-superwash yarns (woolly wools which are spun in Laxton’s Mill, Yorkshire). I love all the beautiful British breeds of yarn you can get- Wensleydale, BFL, Masham, Manx Loaghtan, Swaledale etc, and the large majority of these yarns are in my shop! I do have some Falkland Merino and some Swedish Gotland for sale too. I also use natural dyes on all my yarn. I use as much foraged/ homegrown/ kitchen waste dyes as possible as I feel this makes my yarn ultra special! Where I can’t get colours I’d like locally, I use extracts. So my whole process of natural dyeing is a lot slower than acid dyeing, but I feel it adds some provenance to the whole thing!

I also carry a small range of handspun fibres, which is something else a little special. To top it all off I had my logo designed by illustrator Anna Hussey, who really understood my aesthetic and vision! It was amazing to work with someone who just understood your brand and what it was all about from the get-go.

 

The Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co. on the Cottage Notebook

 

What does being an indie dyer mean to you?  

Being an indie dyer means that I can satisfy the creative part of myself off-screen (with the architectural photography I am often editing on the computer), and it means I can immerse myself in the creative process, a space I felt like I hadn’t had since art college. It also means I am part of a big community of lovely people, who love making too!

 

Currently, which is your favourite of your yarns and why?

My current favourite handspun has to be Swaledale- it’s so warm, cosy and strong. Swaledale is mountain sheep, but incredibly the yarn feels sheepy but still soft! I have made myself mittens and a hat- neither of which I have any trouble wearing. It also is brilliantly lofty, and I am loving the light grey shade I have been spinning recently.

As for my naturally dyed yarns, it’s really hard to pick!!! I am loving my Mustard Green colourway (in all the bases- Wensleydale, BFL/Masham), and I am loving the Falkland Merino in the colourway Bog Cotton.

 

The Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co. on the Cottage Notebook

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

Every day is different for me. Some days I am photographing and travelling a lot, other days I am dyeing and spinning. Interspersed with this are days to sort out accounts, admin, e-mails, Instagram posts etc but most evenings I am knitting if I get a chance!

 

How do you stay motivated during creative down periods?

I would say I stay motivated by making something for myself- with no pressure attached. Either spinning or knitting (or both!), just experimenting or trying out a new technique. Alternatively, I find my local Guild of Spinners Weavers and Dyers a great place to get motivated and learn!

 

The Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co. on the Cottage Notebook

 

What’s in the future for Woolly Mammoth Fibers?

I have lots of ideas surrounding themed yarn and photography which I would love to make happen early next year! I would also love to keep doing lots of spinning demonstrations, maybe do a collaboration with someone woolly or creative and perhaps someday I’d like to take on a few wholesale orders! Watch this space!

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today Emma! If you want to follow along on Emma’s woolly journey you can do that via Instagram (@woollymammothfibres) where you can catch a glimpse of her beautiful photography and fall in love with that woolly grid just like I did. Please pop over and give her a big hello! If you would like to try some yarn from the Woolly Mammoth Fibre Co. you can pop over to her brand new website  www.woollymammothfibrecompany.com . Her next shop update is scheduled for November 30th at 7pm GMT so pop that date in your diary folks! 

Thank you all so much for joining me and I will be back on Monday with some more crafty posts.

Best wishes for the weekend ahead!

xxx

 

 

 

 

**All photography is under the copyright of  Emma Robinson. 

 

 

 

Craft | Composite – Handmade Wardrobe for Kids Series

Craft | Composite – Handmade Wardrobe for Kids Series

This is post is part of my Handmade Wardrobe for Kids Series

It’s tricky knitting for tiny humans. Before I start knitting a pattern for a gift or for one of my own children, my head is buzzing with thoughts and questions. Will this keep the child warm? Is it going to touch their skin? Do I need to have a nice shirt underneath? Is it interesting to knit? What wool will I use? Believe me, it goes on and my mind can be a scary place sometimes but when I saw this pattern by Kelly Van Niekerk I had to cast on straight away.

Composite

Composite is a free pattern by Kelly van Niekerk for newborns around 7 – 9 lbs for DK weight yarn. I used this top on my little girl until she was around 5 months old as she was so tiny when she was born so I’m not an accurate judge of that. The pattern is extremely sweet with lace cap sleeves and is worked top down. The sleeves are worked at the same time as the body and the buttonhole does work it is not for decoration! The finished garment has about 2.5cm of positive ease and if you use a soft yarn you will get a little more stretch out of it.

 

Toddler to 10 yr old

The pattern is beautifully put together like all of Kellly’s patterns and I knitted this while I was pregnant so that is a testament to how easy it is to knit. If you are looking for this to fit an older child she does have a paid pattern available with full grading up to 10 yrs old. It is called Quaintly and you can find it here.The ebook contains the pattern worked in all sizes for fingering, DK and worsted weight yarn so you can choose what works best for you.

Yarn

The yarn I used for this knit was actually given to me by a friend who was leaving the country and it was on a cone. It was around a heavy lace weight so I held it triple stranded to get the gauge I wanted. It has a soft halo and opened beautifully on the lace cap sleeves so I was extremely happy with it and I loved how I thought of my friend when K wore this. I do recommend that you choose a soft yarn that will hold a block and not spring back the second you whip it off the blocking mat as the sleeves need to hold their shape but not grow too much.

 

This is one of those knits that I am truly sad that I am packing away so I will knit another of these for K in a similar yarn. It’s not that I am broody at the minute, it’s that this little top went with a whole host of her clothes. I could throw it over dresses and long sleeves and it was a fantastic transitional knit. It got lots of wear and I wasn’t too precious about it getting dirty or worried about K ruining it. Because I choose a light yarn to knit it, the top dried quickly, almost overnight so I didn’t have to wait too long when I washed it to pop it back on her.

I hope you like the Handmade Wardrobe series and the Handmade Wardrobe for Kids.

xxx

 

 

 

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Interview | The Fibre Co.

Interview | The Fibre Co.

Have you ever considered starting your own yarn company? Today we chat with Daphne Marinopoulos who did just that.  Daphne founded The Fibre Co. back in 2003 in Portland, Main, USA and today, she now runs a beautiful global brand from the UK.  Daphne very kindly took the time to answer some questions for the blog on starting a yarn company, working with independent designers and the importance of sustainability within the industry.

Hi Daphne, Can you give us an insight into your creative background?

I grew up in an era when all young girls learned to sew. I made my own clothes, embroidered my bell bottom denim jeans and knitted woollen scarves. I was guided towards a non-creative career but always had something going on as a creative outlet. I’ve enjoyed the creative process in sketching, painting, beading, knitting, sewing, mosaics, and renovating old houses over the years.

 

What was your main influence for starting The Fibre Co.?

It was a personal love of textiles, knitting and natural fibres in general that drove me to start The Fibre Co.  I was in a career transition and looking for something to do that was based on something I had a passion for.  I wanted to create products to knit with that I had dreamt of but could not find on the shop shelves.

 

What has been your most memorable success to date?

By far, my most memorable success is having fostered an environment that has attracted the most amazing people who make up The Fibre Co. team.

Open Waters Shawl by Melanie Berg in The Fiber Co. Canopy Fingering

 

What are the core values of The Fibre Co.?

The original brand statement for The Fibre Co. back in 2003 was:

Fibre expressed as art.  Crafted with a passion for the unusual in beauty and texture with subtle variances, intentionally imperfect.  These are the characteristics that make up our unique artisan yarns, ready to receive your artistry and inspiration.

Not much has changed over the years as we are still all about sharing a heartfelt passion and creating yarns inspired by nature. As we’ve grown in our fibre journey, we have been able to expand on our ideas and in addition to being passionate about what we do, we now include collaboration, sharing, helping, nurturing and respectfulness on our list of core values. We believe our purpose is to nurture and inspire others by using colours and texture to encourage creativity, bring a sense of well-being and allow all makers achieve their goals.

We’re also very much about the independent designer community.  It is humbling to know that the best of the best designers use our yarns – and we’re keen to promote their work and encourage new talent.

Finally, I would add that it has always been about the triple bottom line for The Fibre Co.—people, profit and planet. We’re always asking ourselves how we can improve our sustainability. We know that sustainability is an essential ingredient for our long-term success. We understand that sustainability is a process and see ourselves as a greening business constantly looking for ways to improve our impact on the environment.

 

What has been the most challenging thing you have had to overcome with The Fibre Co.?

My biggest challenge is carving out time to step out of the day-to-day and give myself the space to observe, think and create.  I’m working on it and learning that trust is the key to building an environment that will keep me on top of this challenge.

 

 
Mirehouse by Fiona Alice in The Fibre Co. Arranmore; Fell Garth Collection II

How do you make your brand stand out in this competitive industry?

We genuinely care about our community — our stockists, independent designers, knitters, and those who tell the great stories about our industry like Cottage Notebook.  I also really love the team that I work with.  Caring and loving is a recipe for success no matter what one does in life.

Currently, what is your favourite yarn that you produce and why?

My favourite yarn is the one that I’m working with at any given moment. No really, it’s true!  My favourite yarn turns out to be whichever one is in my hands — whether I’m working on new colours, test knitting a new yarn or making up sample cards.  If you press me though, I’d say that Terra is very close to my heart as one of the very first yarns I created and with which I learned and developed the art of dyeing.

 

Many of us have dreams of giving everything up and starting a yarn company but in reality, what does a typical working day look like for you?

My days start early and end late!   The typical day begins by reviewing my key projects, making a list of who I need to reach out to, and setting out priorities for the things I must do that day.  Sound familiar?  Its really what I’ve done throughout my working life, only now with The Fibre Co., I have a passion for the product and community that surrounds me.  I’d say to anyone who has a dream, that the most important thing to do is to first be clear about the ‘why’ behind that dream and, then, if that ‘why’ still resonates, go for it.

 

If you could go back and chat to yourself in 2003 what advice would you give?

I would tell myself to relax, enjoy the process and have more belief.

What’s in the future for The Fibre Co.?

I just finished updating our 5-year plan and there are so many fun things on the horizon.  We have plans to round out our range of yarns and expand The Fibre Co.’s brand ethos into other products for our maker community. We can hardly wait for it all to unfold!

________________________________

Thank you so much, Daphne!  If you would like to hear more from Daphne you can pop over here and listen to podcasts about her experiences with The Fibre Co. as she chats about fibres, dyeing and yarn development. You can find tutorials, yarn posts and more from The Fibre Co. over on their beautiful blog, and of course, you can get in touch with them socially on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Thank you all so much for joining me and I will be back on Monday with some more crafty posts.

Best wishes for the weekend ahead!

xxx

 

 

 

 

**All photography is under the copyright of The Fibre Co. 

Craft | Driftwood

Craft | Driftwood

This post is part of my Handmade Wardrobe Series

 

What is it about choosing buttons for a project that makes it languish, unworn and unloved for months after you cast off and weave in all the ends? I have this habit that if I don’t choose buttons right away as I plan for cast on, it takes me an absolute age trying to find just the right set to show off the yarn or knitting. Buttons are the bane of many knitter’s life. This is exactly what happened with my Driftwood jumper from the Blacker PodKal that I took part in, way back in February for EYF 2017, almost 8 months ago!

The first week of October I was at This is Knit and they had some wonderful buttons just delivered and low and behold I fell in love with these little square ones. It was enough to spur me into getting my Driftwood jumper out of the drawer and into my wardrobe rotation. So today I am proud to show you my Driftwood, transitional jumper.

 

The Pattern – Driftwood by Isabell Kraemer

Driftwood is a basic beach sweater that is perfect for chilly seaside walks during those transition months or for adding a light layer on colder winter months. The construction is perfect if you are looking to try out the contiguous-set-in-sleeves. This pattern is knit from the top down and with this sleeve method, you can have a circular yoke with an almost perfect shoulder fit. You can try it on as you go and stop the increases as you find the best fit. This pattern is clearly written and I had no issues with it at all. I am a fan of Isabell’s patterns and I always find her sizing fits me perfectly.

I choose to do 3/4 length sleeves as I wanted to use just two balls of the Blacker Yarns Tamar yarn and for me, it came out perfectly.  The scoop neckline is easy to wear and I choose the blue and natural colourway as I loved the beachy feel of the profile photos on Ravelry. This is a perfect relaxing spring /summer knit and if like me it takes you a few months to knit anything then cast on now so you can wear it next spring!

 

 

 

The Yarn – Blacker Yarns Tamar 4-ply

The yarn I chose the colourways Trevella and Ottery of the Tamar range from Blacker Yarns; the sponsors of the Podcast lounge at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. It is a gorgeous lustre yarn and is spun from the fleeces of fine British rare breeds, including Teeswater, Wensleydale and Leicester Longwool. Yes, it is a bit harsh if all you are used to is merino and very soft fibres but this is a British yarn that is pleasing to work with. What I like about it is the strong diverse colour range along with the unexpected softness that forms on the 4mm needle. This is a yarn that I know will hold up well and is light to wear but incredibly warm. Trust me I have worn it on the beach in Ireland in October! All of the shades in this range are named after Cornish rivers.

Using this yarn for Driftwood was a perfect choice as the slightly worsted spun yarn gave an even stitch pattern that was open but filled with a light and fluffy halo. I also personally think that knitting this at the top end of it’s recommended gauge allowed it to soften a little and for me is a lot easier to wear.

 

Are you feeling inspired to try a new sleeve method or are looking for an easy to wear, everyday sweater that can be tailored for your size and shape? Then Driftwood is a perfect addition to your wardrobe and I am delighted I added it to mine. What do you think? Are buttons the bane of your knitting project or is that just me bouncing around and unable to make a decision?

I hope you are enjoying My Handmade Wardrobe Series on the blog.

xxx

 

 

 

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CLN Podcast – Season 2-1 with Woolly Wormhead

CLN Podcast – Season 2-1 with Woolly Wormhead

Season 2 of the podcast is now live and I decided to kick off season 2 in style with Woolly Wormhead.  This is a 40-minute relaxed chat all about her latest Elemental collection. So grab your coffee, bring out your knitting and find some time for you.

 

You can also find the podcast on iTunes, TuneIn RadioStitcherPlayer FM. While you’re having a listen, why not leave a review and let me know what you think!

 

 

The Elemental Collection

In the first episode of season 2, we rejoin Woolly Wormhead a year after the release of Painted Woolly toppers for Kids which was the topic of our first recording. Woolly is back with a fantastic new sideways hat collection using Bloomsbury DK from The Yarn Collective. Woolly chats about the design process from initial thought to finish project along with how the designs all came together.

 

 

We chat about how Woolly has moved creatively from her Circled collection and how that inspired the direction taken for her latest work. We also take a look at the direction indie design has taken over the years before we get to the very exciting Hat-Along. This is Woolly’s 10th Mystery Hat-Along which takes place over on Ravelry and this year it is run slightly differently with two hat options; Hat A uses Carol Feller’s Nua and Hab B uses Miss Babs yummy 3-ply! For all the links just scroll to the end of the post.

 

 

Thank you so much Woolly! I know you all want to rush over and pick up your copy of Elemental and you can do that here. If you would like to pick up the Bloomsbury DK you can do that here (affiliate link). If you are looking to take part in the 10th MKAL you can do that here with Hat A with Carol Feller’s Nua and Hat B made with Miss Babs yummy 3 ply You can find Woolly over on her blogTwitterInstagram, Ravelry and Facebook if you would like to follow along in her design journey.

Don’t forget to tag #woollywormhead for *any* Woolly Wormhead Hat knitting that you might be sharing on Instagram, Twitter etc. Sometimes #woollywormheadhats gets used along with #elementalhats is the main tag for anything to do with the Elemental collection and some other tags Woolly uses a lot are:

#circledhats

#sidewaysknithatsftw

#sidewaysknithats

Thank you all so much for joining me and I will be back on Monday with some more crafty posts.

Best wishes for the weekend ahead!

Craft | Autumn Knit-A-Longs

Craft | Autumn Knit-A-Longs

As soon as there is a chill in the air in the morning knitters get excited. Knitting season is well and truly here, though, for some of us it never really got warm enough to disappear this year. One of my favourite things that happen in autumn are the knit-alongs that happen over on Ravelry. I have picked up my needles for two already and I’m slightly nervous as to whether I will finish on time. So, for today’s post, I thought I would highlight a few so that you could join in too! There are a few reasons why I love them so much:

 

Why Join A KAL

I’ll be brief. There are a few reasons why I love them so much:

  • You meet wonderful new knitters.
  • The different yarn choices and colours are always inspiring.
  • I always pick up a few helpful hints/tips and the odd technique if I really push myself.
  • They help to move that work-in-progress on your needles to a shiny new finished object that you can wear with pride.
  • I usually laugh an enormous amount and this will lead to a few dropped stitches but it’s worth it.
  • If you have never knitted a garment before the support of knitting it with a few other knitters can help you complete it instead of being stumped and leaving it on the needles.
  • With Mystery KALs; I like the unknown element for accessories and seeing the project grow before my eyes.

 

If I sit here for a while I could probably double this list but I’ll move on to what is happening over on Ravelry right now in case you feel like you could use the support of the online craft community. Some of these have started but it is never to late to jump on board and join in.

 

Boo Knit's Halloween MKAL

Boo Knits Halloween KAL

I love the shawls by Boo Knit’s and I think my very first shawl that ever graced my needles was her Dragon Fly Wings pattern. If you want to take part in a Halloween themed MKAL then pop over to the Boo Knits group on Ravelry. This is a pattern for a beaded lace weight shawl and began on October 1st  with the last clue going live on October 16th.
Price: 4.50 GBP (a little over $6 USD)

 

Camira KAL by Carol Feller

Camira KAL – Caro Feller

I love Carol’s garment knit-alongs and yes this is my own opinion. This takes place over on the Carol Feller KAL board on Ravelry and I usually see the same welcoming knitters popping in and out of the boards. The boards can move a bit quick sometimes but everyone is incredibly helpful. This year for some reason I started and finished clue 1 the day after it was released so I’m hoping to have a new cardigan by the end of October but I will need the support of everyone in the group to get there. Camira is an aran weight cardigan and the pattern comes with an exclusive 15% discount code for Blue Moon Fiber Arts for the sweater yarn and the last clue is released on the 11th of November. Price: €6.00 (about $7.30 USD)

 

Knitworthy 4 by Ysolda Teague

 

Knitworthy – Ysolda Teague

The Knitworthy KAL is in it’s fourth year and it kicked off on August 28th but continues right through to the 4th of December.  The Ysolda’s KAL group on Ravelry is always fun to be around and there is nothing like the support as you work through your knitted gift list. This year Ysolda is paying it forward and donating 10% of sales of the collection to a different organisation every 2 weeks. You can find out where the current donations are going to on her site here. The KAL is priced at £14.00 GBP about €16.19

 

Woolly Wormhead MKAL Mystery HAt A Long

 

Woolly Wormhead’s Mystery Hat-A-Long

Now in its 10th year, the mystery Hat-A-Long from Woolly is always fun and surprising. This year there are two hat options A and B and if you buy both patterns you do receive a discount. Both patterns  also come with a discount code for the yarn required. You won’t want to miss out on the fun on the KAL board here and this year I am doing Hat A (and possibly B but lets not get carried away) The first clue is released on the 1st of November with the final clue on the 29th of November. Price is €4.37 (about $5.00).

 

Strange Brew KAL - Tin Can Knits

Strange Brew KAL – Tin Can Knits

Who doesn’t love a Tin Can Knits pattern? This year Alexa and Emily have devised an ingenious KAL where you can design your own fair isle yoke swear. To find out all the information pop over to their blog post here. Strange Brew is a bottom-up sweater, designed for DK weight yarn in 25 sizes for babies, children, women, and men. This KAL takes place over on Facebook here, they do also have a Ravelry group here but support and the chatter are over in the facebook group for this one.  Price: $8.61 USD about €7.53.

 

 

West Knits KAL 2017

Westknits Mystery Shawl KAL 2017

I couldn’t finish a KAL post without mention West Knits. The Speckle & Pop KAL started on September 29th but continues on until the last clue release on October 20th. The KAL takes place in the West Knits MKAL 2017 group here. The shawl is fingering weight and requires 3 main colours 100g each and 5 contrast colours in smaller amounts. You can find all the details here and I imagine this shawl is going to be BIG! These KALs are always hilarious and the boards do move quickly and it spills over onto Instagram with hashtags. This one is perfect for those stash skeins of Indie sock yarn.   Price: $8.61 USD(about €7.53).

 

Am I missing your favourite KAL? Pop it in the comments so we can find it too. Do you take part in KALs or do you shy away from them? Let me know in the comments. I’m off to stash dive!

 

xxxxxxxxxx

 

 

 

 

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Craft | Strickplaner – Knitting Journal

Craft | Strickplaner – Knitting Journal

Over on Instagram every now and then you will see posts that contain my planner. In reality, I actually have three planners and of course, use Trello and Google Calendar as well. I have lost count of the number of times people ask me how I manage and the answer is planners and help.  When Carol Feller posted that she was stocking the Strickplaner by Martina Behm for 2018, there was a little girl in me who just couldn’t say no. Carol very kindly sent me a journal to try out which leads me to this post.

Over the last ten years, I have met lots of crafters who also use journals and swear by them. For example, there is Diane from The Dublin Knit Collective who is an avid Bullet journal fan and has managed to convert quite the number of Dublin knitters into giving it a try. I use a Filofax and a planner from Paperchase because I can design and print out my inserts to do exactly what I need them to do. I have been using one section as a knitting planner so I was more than a little excited to give the Strickplanner a try.

 

 

When I opened it my first thought was how much it reminded me of my First Communion prayer book as a child which may sound a little crazy but hey my mind is a beautiful thing and it is probably an Irish primary school throwback. The planner is white with two different ribbon page markers and beautifully embossed cover. When you open the planner I was met with the phrase ‘More Time To Knit’ and although sceptical that it could find me more time to knit, I’m a pretty easy going kind of gal so I kept reading.

 

Planning

I’ll get straight to the point, this one planner does the job of two of my own planners and is less than half the size. The idea is simple: first, you plan, then you create and at the end of the week, you find time to relax and reflect on how the week went and what you learned for the upcoming one. If you have never used a planner before this is a perfect introduction and you can use it just for craft and stash organisation. With any planner though, you get out what you put into using the planner. For me, it’s about remembering about the stash I bought ten years ago or keeping on top of gifts, then work and then the kids. I love the quality of the paper and just how much is crammed into this tiny book.

 

 

 

Contents

The planner has a step by step guide on how to use it effectively along with yearly life goals, yearly reflection, quarterly overview and tracker. It has tables of measurements & conversions, needle sizes in mm and US, a ruler a section on yarn purchases to help organise your stash, wish lists, squared pages for knitting patterns and dot pages for mind maps. This planner is going to live on my desk beside my laptop where it’s going to help me work through my wip mountain and gain control of my stash, stop impulse yarn purchases (ok well it will try) and also remind me to find those five minutes to think about tomorrow’s tasks.

 

I’m excited for 2018 to give this a try. I really want to be more organised now that my kids are a bit older and I have more time for me. If you have never used a journal before this is a perfect introduction into getting into the mindset of finding time for you to reflect and work on time management but what I love about this planner is the size and how much is covered by one journal. If you would like to hear from the lady herself, Martina has a flick through tutorial video here where she takes an in-depth look at the planner:

 

 

If you want to pick one up here in Ireland, Carol has some on her website Stolenstitches.com. I hope I have inspired you to try using a journal and as always, Happy Knitting!

xxx

 

 

 

 

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Craft | Arranmore Hat

Craft | Arranmore Hat

 

I don’t know about the rest of you but right here in Ireland I am listening to the rain pelting down and the wind howling around my cottage. Is it like this everywhere?  It’s a typical wet Irish autumn day and the only difference to a winter day is that the wind is warm! This is the perfect time to introduce you to another finished object hot off the needles this weekend. I feel like I should be jumping with joy as it has been months without any finished pieces to show you and then 3 come along at once. If you are looking for a quick knit that can be worked in a weekend than you are going to love today’s post.

 

The Herriot Hat in Arranmore Donaghy (yes it’s a little dark to take pics today but I mentioned the rain right and horrible weather right? Please don’t make me go outside!!) 

 

The Pattern

This pattern is called the Herriot Hat by Nicole Montgomery and it is a free pattern on Ravelry. It’s one that I have wanted to knit for a while since Jenny (aka Townhouse Yarns) knit herself one in Herriot Great. The pattern is simple and straightforward and has clearly defined sizes and also includes how to pick the right size hat for your head! After Woolly Wormhead’s workshops in This is Knit I realised that I have a rather small head and while you might laugh it means that in order for a hat to fit me I have to knit the 18″ child size! Yip, good things come in small packages right?  This sizing is important as the number one reason people are unhappy with their handmade hats is that they are working a size too big and not allowing for growth. Measure your head and work the size 1.5″ to 2″ smaller and you should be fine.

 

Construction

This pattern is worked with a smocked brim which is really fun and fast to work up. Nicole includes a link to a YouTube tutorial if you haven’t worked a smocking stitch before and it is worth it as you end up with a beautiful and unique brim. The hat decreases are worked as normal and give you a centred crown decrease. I worked my hat with added slouch so I worked the brim for the 18″ size and the length to 7″ (largest size) from the brim and then I started the decreases. This gives me a hat I can wear lowdown on horrible days like today or slightly back with an added slouch. This hat was worked up from cast on to cast off in one day making it an ideal gift knit this winter.

 

 

The Yarn

I worked this hat in The Fibre Co.’s Arranmore yarn in Donaghy and it’s interesting to write about this directly after working with The Studio Donegal Soft in the previous post. Arranmore is dyed and spun here in Ireland in Co. Donegal. It has 175 yds per skein and is a blend of 80% wool, 10% silk and 10% cashmere. There really is no comparison between the two yarns as Arranmore is just so luxurious and soft to touch. It’s also slightly heavier and has a lot more drop to it so I expect my hat to grow a lot with wear but it is deliciously warm and I’m still wearing my hat as I type this post!

 

Working the smocking stitch was fun but a little tricky as the yarn liked to hold onto itself but the smocks really pop on the hat in person. I also worked some cables in a swatch and they really stand out too so this is definitely a yarn that I would use for Aran jumpers but I do expect a full garment will be a tad on the heavy side. After working this in stocking stitch there is a lot of bounce and depth to it and I still have just under half a skein left after making this hat for me.  If you are wondering about cables and garments in this yarn pop over to this blog post by Celtic Cast and have a look at her cute little vest she just finished. The yarn was beautiful to work with and I do see a cow in my future as this is something that I would want to be wrapped up around my neck so I can snuggle down into. My one and only issue is that I think my hat needs a big fully cream pom pom. what do you think?

xxx

 

 

 

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*Disclosure: I was gifted this skein of Arranmore for free from The Fibre Co. but all thoughts in this post are my own. 

Craft | Dacite

Craft | Dacite

 

This weekend I ventured out to the beach during the wind to try and get some shots of my Dacite cardigan for all of you.  This has been in need of finishing since the knit-along last year and it was just the sleeve that was too long but then the summer came along and it was far too hot to be jumping around in an aran weight handknit and so like so many of our works-in-progress (WIPS) it languished. This weekend had lots of outdoor time I have been craving but I’m not so sure that I would recommend trying to do this with two toddlers in tow.  And so with some very wind and rain battered hair I sound the finished object trumpet and introduce to you Dacite:

 

 

The Pattern

Dacite is a pattern by Cork-based designer Carol Feller. Back in 2013 in This is Knit I got to try on the cardigan during Carol’s Among Stones trunk show and I fell in love with it but it wasn’t until she released her single patterns from the collection that I actually bought it and cast on last winter. This was mostly because I got married in 2013 and then add in the honeymoon baby and well the second, er, honeymoon period baby and you can understand that my knitting time was massively reduced. I already had Carol’s Contemporary Irish Knits book but I had never knitted one of her garments prior to this. Now, I know some of you may be shocked so I’ll take a break here with another image:

 

 

Construction

This is a simple but beautiful top-down garment.  The two front sides are worked in garter stitch, the back is in stocking stitch and the cardigan is worked in one piece with no seaming. This is my type of relaxed winter knitting. What I love about Carol’s designs that really puts them over the top for me is the finishing. The collar, front bands, cuff and bottom edges are all worked in I-cord giving the cardigan a very uniform and sleek finish. There is simple yet crucial waist shaping and because of the collar, the cardigan can be worn in a number of ways. There are two buttonholes worked near the collar to keep it up but I wanted to use my shawl pin to close.  Now, for some reason this image meant a whole lot to my husband, who took a gazillion (ok, maybe more like 6) of these so I’m putting one in here, just for him as I know he will secretly check on his phone during his commute. Now it is very important as you scroll that you oooh and aaahh at the reflection in the Nova Steel shawl pin.

 

 

The Yarn

I chose Studio Donegal Soft 2-ply as recommended in the pattern. The Donegal Soft yarn is the softer side of their range from the mill in Kilcarr and has the characteristic flecks throughout.  I normally don’t stick to suggested yarn as I have become very picky about what I use but I am a fan of Studio Donegal and it meant that this was yarn produced by an Irish company for an Irish pattern, what’s not to love? My experience with this yarn is that it grows with washing and wearing and if you want it to stay put than you knit it tight. This is a yarn that you absolutely have to knit a gauge square with and wash it.  I can’t emphasise that enough. Whatever you knit from this will last you years, so take the time and care at the beginning to do this right and you will have something you love forever.

 

 

 

The pattern and yarn combination compliment each other perfectly. Even if the cardigan grows a little with wear the shape will accommodate for that and it won’t look stretched. The garter stitch fronts also help with keeping this growth in check. Why, is this so important to me, well I have a pair of mittens in this yarn and to be accurate I will say that I had a pair of mittens that have now been gifted along to a friend because they grew and grew and then grew some more.  I have also learned that if Carol works with a yarn she showcases it to the best of its ability. She knows what works well with different textures and what will make cables pop and her knowledge about ply, composition and colour palettes is just the tip of the iceberg with her. If you want to listen you can pop over to her podcast episode here and listen to her describe her Bloomsbury DK collection and how her own Nua yarn went from dream to reality. Carol’s blog is also a finalist in the corporate Arts & Crafts category of the V by Very Blog Awards this year so pop over here and have a read if you have a cuppa and need more yarny posts or tutorials.

 

 

 

For those who were asking, the above image is what I look like most of the time, tousled hair, a little bit messy but happy. So what do you think? Do you like my choice? Are you amazed and shocked that I have another FO (finished object) to show you? I will be back on Wednesday discussing The Fibre Co. and their Arranmore yarn and there is a very exciting Blog Birthday Post coming your way on Friday along with a very nice competition too!

Until then, Happy Monday to you all

xxx

 

 

 

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Interview | Woolly Wormhead

Interview | Woolly Wormhead

 

Today’s interview is with none other than our favourite Hat Architect, Woolly Wormhead. Woolly very kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions on her new Elemental Collection that has just been released.  For those of you who follow Woolly and have seen her beautiful Instagram feed and those intricate hat designs, I know that you can’t wait to find out just how this collection came together along with the story behind the mysterious yarn bending!

 

Woolly Wormhead – Hat Architect

 

Hi Woolly, welcome to the blog! First, can you tell us about the Elemental Collection?

Elemental is a collection of 5 Hat designs – each Hat is inspired by an element, with of course the 5th Hat being the 5th element, or aether/balance.

The Hats are knitted sideways (which is probably my favourite construction method, and what I’m known best for!) with all the shaping and the colourwork being created through short rows.

The eBook brings all of the patterns together with amazing graphic design and layout done by my friend Zab. You’ll also find thorough in-depth photographic tutorials for all of the techniques, which really help. The single patterns include illustrated tutorials, too, so you get what you need whichever format you go for. With this collection, I needed to develop a new way of presenting the instructions, and although at first, the panel maps seem a little complicated or intimidating, knitters have commented on how well they convey the multi-directional knitting. Everything is explained within the patterns, I promise!

 

Azula

 

 

Can you tell us how The Last Airbender inspired the collection and what are the key concepts with the 5 beautiful designs? 

The Last Air Bender is a brilliant animation that’s also centred around the elements. The key concept is that each of the main 4 elements – earth, air, fire and water – is a nation and world peace is maintained by the avatar (who is essentially the 5th element). Within each nation, there are a number of benders – masters of their elements – who are able to manage and control the elements for purposes of good. It’s that manipulation of the element that I wanted to convey within the designs, as well as aiming for balance within the fabric.

 

Aran, my son, is a *huge* fan of Air Bender (as is my partner, to be honest) and I’ve no doubt absorbed much more than I realised – I was surprised how quickly the idea of working with the elements came together! They both helped me with the names (all female characters) and it was amazing to see how well each name suited the Hat – the personality of the character can be seen within the design.

 

Which leads me to ask what exactly is Yarn Bending?

Well, yarn bending is a bit like air bending or water bending – it’s taking control of the yarn and manipulating it into different directions or contours! This is achieved sideways with short rows, and the effect the short rows create, especially in two different colours, resembles the visual effects of element bending in the Air Bender animations. It’s incredibly effective and very satisfying to do. Nearly all the knitters who’ve knitted an Elemental Hat have told me how much fun they are to knit, and that’s such a great thing to be told!

 

 

Opal

 

 

This collection is a collaboration between Love Knitting and The Yarn Collective, can you tell us how that collaboration came about?

Through Carol Feller! I’ve worked with LoveKnitting for some time for various things relating to selling indie patterns on their platform, and they’re a really progressive company. Whenever I get the chance to see Carol, usually at events, we always have a good chat and catch up, and I happened to mention these design ideas I had. Carol and I share common interests in knit construction and engineering of fabric, and she suggested to LoveKnitting that I use the yarn she curated for them for the collection – The Yarn Collective Bloomsbury DK (affiliate link)- and it went from there. It’s gorgeous yarn and the colours suit the Hats *perfectly*.

 

What is the most challenging thing that you encountered while designing this collection?

Maintaining balance within the fabric. Getting those effective colourwork patterns AND making sure the panels all had the right numbers of rows at any given point wasn’t easy. I gave myself eye strain after 6 works of staring at the monitor 😉

Balance in a piece of knitted fabric means that every stitch has to have the same number of rows so that it doesn’t distort. Short row colourwork is generally used on shawls or cowls or otherwise flat pieces of knitting because incorporating 3 – dimensional shaping is a whole other level of manipulation, and as the Hats are sideways knit, that means the shaping is also done with short rows. It’s not easy, but I really enjoyed the challenge. Once I’d got the system mastered the next challenge was making the solutions elegant… I can’t tell you how many times I’d start one of the designs feeling that it would work, only to feel that the knitting didn’t flow or felt clumsy or that somehow, that one little extra short row stripe made it feel inelegant. This took more time than anything, really. Incorporating the crown and brim shaping was the best fun because that’s what adds that extra something and makes the knitter feel clever – it’s really not obvious where the shaping is!

(I guess it’s obvious how much I enjoyed working on the designs, huh? ;))

 

Toph

 

Do you have a favourite Hat within this collection and if so why?

Hmm… Toph was the first one that really felt like I’d achieved my goal; Katara was way more difficult than Toph (single stripes of colour that stop part way through a fabric provide an interesting engineering challenge in terms of balance) and Korra has a lovely flow to it. Azula was also tricky but required a slightly different perspective to the others and I was really pleased with how that one turned out. I don’t think I can pick one, but I’m not surprised that Toph is the runaway favourite.

 

How do you overcome creative slumps?

I try to work through them, and because these designs had to be 110% calculated before casting on, I went back to the drawing board each time (most sideways designs are the same). As a rule, though, I work through a creative slump with my fingers. I’m a highly kinesthetic learner who does best by doing and being active, so I simply pick up needles and do something. A lot of the time there’ll be half finished designs sat there and they may feel like a waste of time, but they’ve helped me decide what I don’t want to do.

 

How do you think that Knitwear Design is evolving?

I think the evolution of Knit Design is evolving itself? I like now that there are many different paths that designers have successfully trodden for themselves. It doesn’t have to be about lifestyle photography or selling specific stories or working with magazines or feeling that you have to be out kissed to gain name recognition. It can just be about what’s on your needles and your style and how you like to make things. My 12th anniversary is just around the corner and in that period of times, I’ve seen so many changes! For me, it’s always been about being who I am and talking to knitters. My blog, my social media – all places where I prefer to throw the rule book out and just get on with it (I never was very good at falling into line). Just do your thing, your way.

 

Katara

 

You are teaching a few of your popular workshops in the Scottish highlands in 2017.  What can we expect and are these your last teaching dates for 2017?

Yes, I’m teaching at Loch Ness Knit Fest! Sideways knitting, knitted circles and more – lots of fantastic workshops. I’m also teaching at a Yarn Story in Bath the weekend before LNKF and then in November, I’m at a Devon Sun Yarns retreat then a full weekend of sideways knitting at Purlescence in Oxford. I’m slowly reducing the number of workshops I teach as travel can be quite hard physically, so anyone interested should book a spot while they can.

 

How would you like to see craft promoted in the media?

Ooh – that’s a tricky question. On one hand, we have the knitting granny stereotype (still) and on the other, we have the full lifestyle approach. Can the media start noticing that there’s something in between? Focus on the skills, the maths, the history – all the benefits we’re all aware of but the media is somehow oblivious to? You can also pick up the Bloomsbury yarn here and if you are quick you can nab them at sale price until midnight tomorrow. What Luck! 

________________________________

Thank you so much Woolly! I know you all want to rush over and pick up your copy of Elemental and you can do that here. If you would like to pick up the Bloomsbury DK you can do that here (affiliate link) and if you are quick there is a flash sale until midnight tomorrow! You can find Woolly over on her blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook if you would like to follow along in her design journey.

Don’t forget to tag #woollywormhead for *any* Woolly Wormhead Hat knitting that you might be sharing on Instagram, Twitter etc. Sometimes #woollywormheadhats gets used, and that’s cool, but this one is that bit shorter and more common. #elementalhats is the main tag for anything to do with the Elemental collection and some other tags Woolly uses a lot are:

#circledhats

#sidewaysknithatsftw

#sidewaysknithats

Thank you all so much for joining me and I will be back on Monday with some more crafty posts.

Best wishes for the weekend ahead!

xxx

 

 

 

*Please note that the Bloomsbury DK are affiliate links and they are the only affiliate links in this post. 

**All photography is under the copyright of Woolly Wormhead Photography cannot be used without expressed permission. 

Craft | I Want That Wrap Mini

Craft | I Want That Wrap Mini

 

Today, I’m sharing a project that has needed a blog post since October 2015! I would love to say that I really, really think things through before posting…….. in fact yes let us go with that. Last week I was demonstrating at a Moebius workshop and I was lucky enough to be wearing the wrap that Lisa from This is Knit knitted in Donegal Studio WSC yarn using the pattern from Carolyn Kinghorn. I then remembered that I had knitted this for my first daughter but it was only worn once at Christmas and then wrapped and put away.  I came home from the workshop and started looking and after a few hours of searching, I found it with no thanks to some badly labeled packing boxes. I dug out my camera and tried to get a small but very energetic almost 2-year-old to stand still long enough to get some photos. I tried really, really hard with bribery, storytelling and if you can think of it we probably tried it, all so I could show you this gorgeous knit.

I want that wrap mini in Studio donegal Soft

I Want That Wrap Mini

 

I Want That Wrap Mini

The story behind the wrap is simple. I had wanted to knit the wrap for a while (yes back in 2015)  but I was pregnant at the time and I also had a toddler learning to walk so my knitting time was reduced to whatever my sleep-deprived brain and swollen hands would allow. In short, not a whole lot. So I waited and I was doing a stash dive for a new baby sweater and I fell across some yarn that was suitable. Literally fell across the yarn, I was not a graceful pregnant lady. I had two skeins of Studio Donegal Soft and I decided to knit a mini wrap for my toddler instead of myself as the small size had a hope of being finished before baby number two arrived.

 

I Want That Wrap Sleeve

 

Pattern Amendments

This project took me one skein and one day of knitting, in short, my kind of weekend gift knitting. If you are looking for the pattern by Carolyn you can find it here on Ravelry and it’s free. I made this for a 1-year-old, so I halved the stitch count and added 2 stitches either side as edge stitches. For the toddler size, I knitted the wrap as written in the pattern for the adult size but with my reduced stitch count. I kept going until the wrap was 30inches/76.5cm and bound off as directed. I sewed the chunky buttons on as a detail because there was no way I would want this to open on a toddler. I got them from This is Knit but I also use Textile Garden for buttons when ordering online. I wet blocked the shawl and allowed it to dry flat. This is a handwash only wrap because of the yarn but you can knit this in a superwash yarn if that is more to your liking.  That’s it, this was a very ‘wham bam, thank you mam’ type of knit. I actually think it took just as long to get the images as it did to knit the wrap!

 

This Week on Insta

Before I leave you for today, this week I am over on Instagram moderating the Craft As Therapy account. I have chosen the theme of Outside for the week so if you are crafting and sharing images on Instagram why not join us and post images that are taking in the great outdoors or an inspired by nature image by taking a little of nature indoors. All you have to do is share the image with the tag #craftastherapy or #craftastherapy_outside and I might share your image on the account. The group is wonderful and friendly and always supportive, so why not pop over and share your craft as therapy story too.

See you all on Wednesday. I will be back with a related Instagram related post.

xxx

 

 

 

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Craft | Bloomsbury Kids Sweater and The Fibre Co.

Craft | Bloomsbury Kids Sweater and The Fibre Co.

 

Last week I posted about joining in with The Fibre Co. challenge for September.  Guess what, I did it!  I am happy to do the FO (finished object) swagger. Oh yes, I have thrown the summer of the unfinished objects behind me and I finally have a WIP Wednesday to show you all. It turns out that if I get sick, I get an almost uninterrupted stretch of knitting time. Let me introduce you to the garment that is straight off the needles and on to my little model. Have a read and let me know what you think of my choice in yarn and pattern combination.

 

Bloomsbury Kids by Svetlana Volkova in The Fibre co. Cumbria

Bloomsbury Kids (front) in The Fibre Co. Cumbria

 

Bloomsbury Kids

If you managed to catch me on the very quick Instagram Live I did on Sunday, you would have heard me mention the Bloomsbury Kids pattern by Svetlana Volkova and wave the yarn around in front of you. This is a pattern that I have always wanted to knit but I never quite got around to it so it was an easy choice for the Cumbria yarn I had in White Heather.

 

Side Lace Sleeve of Bloomsbury Kids in Cumbria yarn from The Fibre Co.

Side Lace Sleeve of Bloomsbury Kids in Cumbria

 

The Yarn

The Cumbria yarn is loosely plied with a blend of 60% Merino, 30% Masham 10% Mohair so it has a beautiful halo that I knew would show off this pattern beautifully.  I know that people see the word mohair and they have horrible visions of 80’s jumpers but please if you can, go and pick up a skein and just stroke it. The mohair is so soft and it adds so much to this yarn. It is also the main reason I could knit this on 5.5mm needles which is pushing the top end of the yarns recommended gauge. I loved knitting with this yarn it has a lovely texture to it. The stocking stitch area of the sweater is light but dense with a soft halo so it is warm to wear but not heavy. My only issue was ripping back as it is loosely plied so take your time, this is a yarn that requires a slower pace of life.

 

Bloomsury Kids Back in Cumbria yarn from The Fibre Co.

Bloomsury Kids Back in Cumbria yarn.

 

Construction

The pattern is a top down knit using raglan increasing. This is one of those patterns that I have to say I skimmed the instructions instead of reading the instructions. I assumed that you would have one action row with all the increasing and lace work and then one rest row of just knitting. Don’t do what I did, actually read the pattern. The increase for the front of the sweater happens in both row 1 and row 2 of the raglan pattern repeat. You are also working the lace panel at the back first followed by the left sleeve, the front panel and then the right sleeve. The lace pattern is worked on the back and both sleeves leaving the front panel plain.

 

Bloomsbury kids Sweater with The Fibre Co. Cumbria.

My Artistic shot of Bloomsbury Kids Front with Lace Sleeve Detail.

 

Once you have the sleeves on holders it really is just a matter of repeating the lace panel on the back until it is your desired length and then going back and finishing the sleeves.  The lace panel is a six-row repeat made up of three lace rows and three rest rows. It’s easy to remember and easy to read as you knit in case you want to watch TV as you go. I was sick while knitting this and I loved every minute of it so I can recommend both the pattern and the yarn is a great fit for each other. It also comes with the toddler stamp of approval which I was a bit worried about as I was wondering if she would find this itchy. The answer is no she didn’t and she cried when I took it off her to go to bed. So, I’m very excited to find out what you think of my choices and also I’m very proud of these images too!

This is also my entry into The Fibre Co. competition to win some of their gorgeous yarns. Go Team Neutral!  Don’t forget you can come and join us by posting and tagging The Fibre Co. and adding the relevant colour hashtag, #tfcbrights or #tfcneutrals.

*Disclosure: The Fibre Co. Sent me these two beautiful skeins of Cumbria so I could take part. All references to the yarn are my own opinions. 

 

 

 

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Craft | Knitworthy: The Story of Sea Princess

Craft | Knitworthy: The Story of Sea Princess

Knitworthy is a term that knitters use when they are deciding if a person is deserving of a knitted gift. Yes, there are ranks too, for example, are they worthy of the special hand-dyed yarn? Are they worthy of the expensive skein? etc. I thought I’d share my Knitworthy story and also chat about a fabulous pattern too.

The Backstory

This story starts back in 2011 like most I was planning to get a jump on Christmas handknits and gifts. I came across Sea Princess by Elana Nodel and I fell in love with those cables. Like now, I needed a little support getting projects off my needles so this was a mini KAL with Lelknits. I had my sister in laws niece in mind and low and behold I did it. Isn’t she beautiful? I made this cardigan for a 3yr old using Drops Alaska and I think this is one of the reasons why this cardigan has stood up so well in the last 6 years!!!

The PatternSea Princess

The pattern itself is incredibly detailed and stretches over twenty odd pages if I remember but it is sized from 6 months to 14 years. Not only that but Elana also documents the pattern using both a DK and a worsted weight and has different charts for both the long and short sleeved version AND different levels of intricate back cables so you can choose those cables to suit your knitting level. In my opinion charging €6.88 for the pattern is under pricing. I can’t imagine the work that went into creating the pattern with so many sizes and options.

I won’t lie, there is a lot going on in this pattern. It is worked from the top down so from the very start you are working those beautiful cables using 3 different charts and working the raglan increases. It is not for the faint of heart or those having to stop mid-row. I knitted this entire garment in under two weeks and I was completely faithful mostly because the pattern demanded it. It was enjoyable and relaxing and I remember there wasn’t an error and there was a huge support group too over on Ravelry here. I was immensely proud of this cardigan when I finished it and I almost wanted to keep it even though I didn’t have children back then. I shook it off, wrapped it up and gave it to my now Sister-in-Law having no idea if I would ever see it again or if she would handwash it.

Knitworthy

Flash forward to 2017 and my SIL was dropping off a box of clothes for my two little girls and she didn’t say a word about what was in there. The box sat in my hall on my to-do list for a few days before I opened it and unwrapped the beautiful handknits I had made for her children. Low and behold Sea Princess was staring right back at me in wonderful condition and the perfect size for my skinny 3-year-old.
I have never been so happy to see a handknit that I have made back in my hands again. It means the world to me that she kept it but also that I can now pass it on to my kids too, after that it will probably be archived if it’s still wearable. My kids are hard on their clothes, the monkeys. So folks, this, in my opinion, is the definition of a Knitworthy person. So it leads me to ask, do you have a Knitworthy story?

 

 

 

 

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Craft | The Fibre Co.

Craft | The Fibre Co.

I have some very exciting news to share with all of you. As autumn draws in and that welcome chill in the air starts to great us in the morning, it is the perfect time to chat about yarn and some new exciting things happening around here. Do you all remember me acting like a fan girl when Kate from A Playful Day came to visit TIK and gave her workshops? If you don’t pop on over here and have a read, it’s ok I’ll wait.

All caught up? Great, well I have been chatting to Kate who introduced me to The Fibre Co. while she was here during the trunk show at This is Knit in Dublin. I had those moments where I fondled the yarn, “oooooooooo’d” over The Road to China and fell in love with Tsumuzikaze by Michiyo in Meadow and realised I loved the yarn as much as Kate did. It also doesn’t help that This is Knit also stock The Fibre Co. yarn so my love affair with it continued.

Fast forward a few months later and guess what? This season I’m a yarn ambassador for The Fibre Co.!!! I know I can barely believe it. They sent me some lovely yarn, the Cumbria above and the gorgeous Arranmore below which is spun right here in Ireland. But wait there’s more and it includes your chance to win some yarn:

If you would like to win some TFC yarn, then listen up. The wonderful ladies over at The Fibre Co. have just launched a special competition which they kicked off on Monday the 4th of September. All you have to do is show us your creativity online using TFC yarn with the hastag #tfcbrights or #tfcneutrals.

As you can probably tell from the above pictures, I’m Team Neutral and I will be posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Entries tagged with either #tfcbrights or #tfcneutrals will be considered from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and any podcasts (tag The Fibre Co. on social media so they can find you!). 3 winners will be selected by 30th Sept and The Fibre Co. will share the results.

You can find more information over on The Fibre Co. blog here and of course, you can follow my journey over on Instagram here. So, this leaves the important question which team are you? Team Brights or Team Neutral?

Interview | Robynn Weldon

Interview | Robynn Weldon

One of the amazing things that happened during the recording of season one of the podcast was that I got to know knitwear designer Robynn Weldon of Studio Miranda, a little bit better. From her detailed and fun newsletters to her antics on Twitter, Robynn manages to bring a smile to my face on a daily basis. When Lost in the Woods was launched earlier this year, I got to chat with her on the podcast and you can find that recording here but I wanted to send some follow-up questions her way as I realise that not all of my readers listen to the podcast and vice versa.

Robynn very kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to tell us a little bit more about her background,  designs, creative inspirations and challenges as a knitwear designer. I hope you enjoy and a huge thank you to Robynn and to Armin Rüede for the wonderful photographs in today’s post. Enjoy!

Robynn, can you tell us when you started designing and describe your creative background? 

I published my first design in Knitty in 2008, right before having my first baby. Who kept me from doing much more for quite a few years! I started putting a more consistent effort into designing about three years ago, but since I had two kids by then, it’s been slow going. Some people are great at combining knitting with babies, but I’m really not.

Knitting has been my creative outlet since high school. I can’t draw or sew. It’s all about knitting for me. My professional background is in publishing though (layout and editing), so that feeds into my design in that I have the skills to communicate my ideas. I find the actual publishing side of things, pattern writing and layout, about as satisfying as the pure design side. First I make the knitted object; then I make the pattern. They’re both creative and both rewarding, and I love working with other designers on their layouts, too.

Wraparoche

 

Aesthetically, how do you see your designs worn with a modern wardrobe?

I keep a Pinterest board (“Miranda’s wardrobe” – Miranda, as in Studio Miranda, is my middle name) that reflects the way my ideal customer dresses. I want my designs to fit this aesthetic: they should be distinctive, a bit quirky and romantic, but always wearable. My imaginary customer doesn’t want just another cardigan, but she also doesn’t want an heirloom shawl that keeps slipping off her shoulders. So that’s where Pavonis comes in!

I’m actually wearing Winterbeere right now. I’ve never made a knitted summer top before and wasn’t sure how useful it would be, but I wear it constantly, alone or layered, with jeans or cropped linen trousers or a long flowing skirt… It’s become one of my favourite things. So I like how well my garment designs are fitting into my own wardrobe.

 

Can you tell us where your inspiration comes from and what are your key concepts in your designs?

Inspiration tends to spring from the latest yarn I’ve fallen in love with, or from fashion – I get excited about shapes and silhouettes and construction possibilities – or just a problem I want to solve. Most often all three strands working together. Right now I’m developing a few designs that are essentially variations on things I’ve already done, but want to update and take further; plus something quite new and quirky that came out of swatching with a very opinionated yarn; plus something to meet the challenge of a “colourful men’s jumper” – my dad’s request!

My ultimate goal is to create designs that are exactly the way they need to be. Sophisticated but not overcomplicated, with every detail – from the specific increase and decrease techniques to the construction – elevating the expression of the concept. I love the buttons on Winterbeere because they serve three functions: they hold the rolled edge in place, they weight the rather floppy sleeves, and they look awesome. It’s just the perfect finishing touch, and such a small thing became a real highlight of the design.

Winterbeere | Lost in the Woods

 

Can you tell us how the collaboration for Lost in the Woods came about? 

Julia had been thinking about doing a forest-themed collection but wanted a partner or two for it. (She’s written about the process from her perspective.) She approached me after seeing an Instagram post about the forest being my happy place, and I suggested bringing in my friend Emily – since I’d knit one of her designs I knew she could deliver great patterns, plus I knew I’d enjoy working with her. So building the team was almost a random process, but it turned out that we had the perfect set of skills between us: Julia’s graphic design and illustration, my own copy writing and editing, and Emily’s technical input. We were very lucky.

 

There is no denying that the photography in Lost in the Woods is stunning. How did you manage to pull a beautiful, cohesive style together with the designers in three different locations? 

Thank you! I think a lot of the cohesion is thanks to the theme – having everything shot in a forest immediately provided unity. Even though they were different forests in different seasons and different countries. Also, a lot of the atmosphere shots were provided by Julia, so even if you’re looking at one of my spreads, it could be her background pictures. And Julia handled all the grading. I think we spent enough time chatting on Slack, sharing inspirations and progress (and refining each other’s ideas), that we were all very much on the same page, so it came together pretty naturally.

 

What has been the most challenging thing you have encountered in knitwear design?

I have two big challenges. The biggest is photography. The logistics of getting a shoot done are always challenging (finding the right time, with the right weather, and getting the shots before the kids go nuts – so far we’ve always had kids tagging along, and it has to be outdoor shoots because our small flat just doesn’t have the right space for it). Then you’re dealing with me, who hates modelling, and my husband, who loves photography but doesn’t necessarily have knitterly priorities. So sometimes we end up with a beautiful portrait that just totally doesn’t show the item, or a shot that would be fantastic if I weren’t giving really stony “please just get it over with” face. And then I still have a whole lot to learn about processing those shots. Photos are always the biggest roadblock in getting a pattern out.

The other is in learning not to overcomplicate things. Both aesthetically, and in writing the pattern. I wasn’t really aware until working with Emily, as my tech editor on Lost in the Woods, just how much I go overboard. I originally tried writing Pravigan with instructions for one-pass brioche as well as the usual way (with each row worked twice over, once in each colour). Nice idea but completely unnecessary and very tricky to present! So I’m trying to ask myself now, with every technique or tutorial: is this actually necessary, or does it just add confusion?

 

How would you describe your personal knitting style? 

Eclectic! I love to explore new techniques and to knit patterns that have something to teach me. And although it’s not an explicit goal, I am very happy with my own patterns include something a bit different, a new trick for knitters to put in their toolbox. Which I guess is why they all seem to come with tutorials. I’d love to write a pattern that didn’t need a tutorial, it would be so much easier, but for ages now, I’ve had to create at least one tutorial for each pattern. Arguably this is an example of my overcomplication problem – I do make a lot of work for myself – but I think it’s worth it. For my new pattern Wraparoche, I specifically learned a new cast-on and I’m glad that my customers can learn that too!

 

Aside from knitting, do you have any other hobbies? 

I love to read and I love TV – especially scifi. I’m not sure those count as hobbies, but it’s about all I have time for. Any time I think about learning something else – like spinning, or embroidery – I just keep thinking how it would be taking away precious knitting time. And that’s not about work pressure, it’s not about designing. I just want to knit all the things. I’d really love to be able to sew, but learning stresses me out, and as a mom with small kids, I don’t feel the need to spend my very precious time on something that adds to my stress levels. But I hope I’ll get there one day.

 

How do you deal with creative slumps? 

Since design isn’t a major source of income for me, I have the great luxury of being able to just take a break. When I was feeling burnt out earlier this year I just spent a week or so doing jigsaw puzzles, which I find very soothing.

More often, if stuck on a design, I turn my attention to something else. A lot of my designs have come together after percolating in the back of my mind for a long time. I knew the parameters of the problem, I had a vague idea of what I wanted, but tackling it directly wasn’t working… so I just left it bubbling there while I knit or designed something else. And then one day it was all pretty much figured out bar the actual knitting. The indirect approach seems to really work for me.

 

How would you like to see craft promoted in the media? 

I’d like to see more respect for craft as an artistic practice. Not a novelty, not “the new yoga” or “not your granny’s knitting”, but just a way that people make beautiful things. Something that takes a lot of skill and that a lot of people find very rewarding. Those pieces that treat it as a gimmick aren’t only lazy, they’re also really counter-productive – the subliminal message is that this isn’t something to take seriously. Which is why we all hear people say, “Oh I read that knitting is really trendy now,” but not, “I read this great piece about knitting, I’d love to try that.”

Pravigan | Lost in the Woods

 

What is in the future for Studio Miranda? 

A lot, I hope! My younger kid has just started kindergarten, so for the first time in eight years I have a bit of time to really work on my stuff. I’m looking forward to collaborating more (with yarnies and other designers), and to building my skills on all fronts, from photo editing to pattern writing. I’ve blocked Friday mornings off for studying. It’s pretty exciting.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today Robynn. If you would like to hear more from Robynn you can find her on Twitter, Ravelry, Instagram and on her website here and my personal favourite her fortnightly newsletter here. If you would like to catch up on all the interviews here on the blog you can find them here and of course season one of the podcast has some wonderful interviews too.

Thank you so much for joining us!

Best wishes for the weekend and see you all on Monday,

 

 

 

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*Disclaimer: All photography is under the copyright of Armin Rüede. Photography cannot be used without expressed permission. 

Craft | A Conversation About Knitting Needles

Craft | A Conversation About Knitting Needles

 

Yesterday, Sunday, I popped up for an Instagram live chat about needles. Thank you to SuperfanJan for picking the topic! Now, I didn’t think that we could chat for almost an hour on needles but hey, now I realise that an hour probably wasn’t long enough from the direct messages and the hundred odd of you wonderful craft Instagrammers who joined the chat or the live recording. It’s clear that this chat really needs notes with links to the needles so I’m popping the images and links into this blog post and at the end of this post, I will pop up the Youtube recording of the live chat.

 

Knit-Pro Dreamz/Symfonie

 

You can tell how much I love my Knit-Pro Dreamz set. This set pictured in the main image above is wonderful to use. Like the Symfonie series, these are laminated Birch wood that is highly compacted which offers both strength to the needles and also minimises the chance of warping due to water absorption. I bought both of these through This is Knit and you can find the lovely ladies here. I believe that the Dreamz series has been replaced this season with the Royales which have a metal tip. You can read about the series here and if you are looking to purchase just contact the ladies at This is Knit and I’m sure they will do their best to help you.

 



 

During the chat, we move to the KnitPro Zings and these are those delicious metal needles with that tapered tip with a flat head. I love these because I push my needle tip when I purl and these needles make this incredibly comfortable. I like using the Zings in particular for sock knitting. You can find the interchangeable tips here and the DPN needles here.
 

ChiaGoo

 



 

These are the ChiaGoo needles, specifically the Red Lace Interchangeables. These come individually and as a set and are perfect for lace projects or for sleeves/socks two at a time using the magic loop method. I love the weight of the needles and the cable. When I knit with them, I have the impression that they are well made, solid, fluid construction and they feel like an expensive needle. As you see during the chat, I have many reasons why I would choose these as my metal needle of choice.
 

Hiya-Hiya Sharps

 



 
The set I show you is my Hiya-hiya Sharps. they have the sharpest tip of any of the needles in the recording. They are a hollow metal construction and the cable joint spins which makes for a relaxing magic loop experience but they feel a little cheap for the price. I bought my set in January this year and the cables already need replacing in two of the sizes and they do kink quite badly. Disappointingly for me, the end caps for the cables didn’t come with the set but surprisingly cable connectors did. You have to pay another  This set is the 5 inch, small tip set. I got mine on sale on Amazon.co.uk but if you want to try them out first The Constant Knitter stocks the sets and the individual needles. I do enjoy the tips on the Hiya Hiya Sharps which is why I’m knitting my Akoya on them but I’m a little disappointed in the quality of the cables for the price.

 

 

Knit- Pro Cubics

 
We touched on the Knit-Pro Cubics briefly and you can see the full range here. I also mentioned the blog post from Fibre Friends and mistakenly I thought it was Cathy who penned the post but it was Stew. They share the blog at Fibre Friends and both are very knowledgeable when it comes to both maths and needles so you can forgive my mistake. pop over and have a read of the post if you would like to know more.

 

Recording of Live Chat

 

 

 

 

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Interview | Aishling Doonan

Interview | Aishling Doonan

For today’s interview, I thought we could meet Aishling Doonan of Ruby Sasha Designs. This year, Aishling won the Guild of Irish Lacemakers Prize at the RDS National Craft Show for the second year in a row. Aishling’s work is intricate, beautiful and always has a timeless elegance to it. I’m delighted that she could answer some questions for the blog and that I can introduce you to a wonderful Irish Designer.

Aishling, can you tell us when you started designing and describe your creative background? 
Once I could knit, I designed my own things. I taught myself to crochet from books in the local library and I created an entire wardrobe of crochet dresses for my Sylvanian Family bunny rabbit, that I kept safe in a biscuit tin. As a child, I was a reader and a creator in equal amounts and after ploughing through all the Little House on the Prairie novels, What Katie Did and Little Women, I was obsessed with recreating what I had read. So my Sylvanian bunny had gowns, capes, bonnets and shawls. This obsession never really left me and I have always harboured a deep fascination with shawls especially.
My creative background is really just loving to create things with my own two hands. Clay, fabric, paper, it doesn’t matter, I love colour and patterns. Art was always my best subject at school and I always need to be making something. If my hands aren’t working, nothing feels right.

 

We know you love working with lace weight yarn and patterns. Where did your love of lace begin?
Before I got married and before the Internet took hold, I remember looking for a nice shawl pattern. There was very few about in magazines or books in the library, but my local bookshop did some research for me and ordered in Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman. I knit every single shawl in the book, but the only yarn I could get my hands on was a 4 ply cotton by Patons, and it just wasn’t hitting the right notes with me. I knew what I was looking for, I just couldn’t find it. When I finally got into the internet, after a lot of searching, I found Heirloom Knitting by Sharon Miller. I quickly bought the book and some 1 ply cobweb and tried some patterns. I will admit that it didn’t go well and I ended up with a felted ball of frustration. I set it aside for a while and after my daughter was born, I slowly crept back to it. Once I got the hang of it there was no stopping me and my first ever cobweb shawl still had pride of place here at home.

 

 

Detail of centre crown

 

 

Can you tell us about RDS National Craft Show and your recent win of the Guild of Irish Lacemakers prize? 
I found out about the RDS National Crafts Competition by accident, in 2010, when I was looking for a country show where they gave out prizes for crafts. I had seen so many fellow Ravelry users in the US sporting their blue ribbons and I was curious if there was anything similar here in Ireland. By a happy coincidence the day I found the RDS Crafts Competition, was also the final day for entry. So I looked through my stash of finished objects for something that fit the criteria and decided to enter my Peerie Smoorikans Shawl. It was all done online and only took a few moments. I was delighted to find out after a few weeks that my shawl had been chosen for the exhibition that year. I have entered a shawl of my own design every year bar one since then and I have made it to the exhibition each time and have also won some prizes.

 

The Competition is judged in two separate categories, for the established and the emerging maker, over 10 craft categories. There are also 11 sponsored prizes and two top category winners, one for an emerging maker and the other for an established one.

 

The Guild of Irish Lacemakers prize is a sponsored prize separate to the RDS Category prizes, and I have been lucky to win in two years in a row.

 

 Where did the inspiration for the Ríoga Shawl come from? 
I am possibly not very traditional when it comes to inspiration. I have noticed lots of artists are inspired by nature or some other outside influence, a struggle, joy etc. When I am designing I do it instinctively, I love the geometry and simplicity of the Shetland Lace motifs and for every stitch and motif I am drawn to and use, the design seems to flow from there. If it isn’t working, I begin again and keep adding until I am happy with the overall design. Much like writing, a first draft is an unpolished jewel and I will often come back to a design after a break and change or tweak things with fresh eyes. For the Rioga Shawl I knew I wanted a beaded edging and a crown motif. I was halfway through knitting the plain mesh centre triangle when I realised how fitting it would be to have a beaded crown in the centre of it, to tie in all the elements. I am so glad I did, because I think it’s what makes Rioga so special.

 

Ríoga Shawl

 

Aesthetically, how do you see your designs worn with a modern wardrobe?
I think that any sock weight triangles make wonderful scarves and cover ups. They are so easy to carry and wear, in such a myriad of ways, that I think they could be integrated very simply into anyone’s wardrobe. The finer, larger Shetland shawls, also look stunning when they are worn folded around the neck. They make an eye catching alternative to a Winter scarf. Of course, you can also wear them to more formal events and being so light and beautiful, they are deceptively warm and make the perfect wedding cover up. I think everyone should own a Shetland Hap shawl as a cosy couch companion.

 

Can you tell us where your inspiration comes from and what are your key concepts in your designs?
I love the three separate areas of a Shetland shawl, the centre or all over, the borders and the edging. Each has their own distinct personality, there is so much scope for design. The centre can be plain or lacy and generally has a smaller repeated design.

Sealtainn Shawl, constructed textiles category winner 2015, RDS

 

What has been the most challenging thing you have encountered while trying to move into design?
My own confidence in my abilities. I love making and knitting up new designs, I even go as far as writing out a pattern, but then I seem to lose steam and I have moved onto the next new design. Putting designs out there for the public to enjoy is quite a daunting step and I always seem to talk myself out of it.

 

For the knitters out there, how would you describe your personal style? 
My personal style is, let me see, very uncomplicated and unfussy. Classic pieces and clean lines, in all natural fibres. A shawl draped around the neck and shoulders is always very elegant and interesting. It’s almost like jewellery and can really lift an outfit.

Laura’s Shawl

 

How would you like to see Irish craft promoted in the media? 
I would love if people could fully appreciate the time and quality of materials that go into a handmade piece and that craftspeople could get properly paid for their work. I don’t think the general public realise what they are actually paying for.

 

What is in the future for Ruby Sasha Knits? 
I have five new shawl patterns ready for test knitting and also 2 new cowl patterns. I am busy polishing up my patterns and double checking them for errors. I have a funny feeling there may be some new fair isle patterns in my future too as the colder weather descends. I think I will always design, I just need to work on the other side to the job, the marketing and publishing.

Disclosure: All images in today’s blog post are owned and provided by Aishling Doonan

Thank you so much for answer my questions Aishling we wish you the best for future designs and projects! If you want to follow along on Aishlings’ journey you can find her on twitter here, blog here, Instagram here and Ravelry here.

Best wishes for the weekend and see you all on Monday,

 

 

 

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Craft | The Intimacy of Touch

Craft | The Intimacy of Touch

 

There is nothing in this world as distracting to me as yarn and knitted garments. I can be mid conversation with an old friend and a person wearing a handknit shawl/sweater in fabulous colours will walk by and I’m instantly trying to figure out the pattern or if that is a hand-dyed yarn and if I know the dyer or the name of the pattern.  If you can picture a meerkat, standing bolt upright, sniffing the air for danger, you would probably have an accurate enough picture of me trying to follow that handknit shawl/sweater as it disappears into the crowd.

Just two weeks ago at Yarnfolk, I was patting the sleeve of a beautiful Kate Davies Cockatoo Brae before I caught myself and uttered the words “Oh excuse me,… I ” which was thankfully followed by a discussion on the yarn and pattern. Over the years, I have thought I offended someone only to find that they were delighted to chat about their beloved hand knits. (Or I’m apologising, mentally calling myself an idiot, buying coffee and reminding myself about personal space, the person under the sleeve and that the yarn is not all!)

I have gotten used to strangers patting my sleeve or back of my jumper. That personal boundary line can get somewhat hazy when you are surrounded by knitters, all adorned with their favourite handknits. Usually, this is at a special event or festival and you have no idea whose arm you are suddenly stroking but you can name the sweater pattern and your mind is suddenly trying to figure out if they used the suggested yarn.

As knitters, touch is important to us, the yarn, the texture, the stitch pattern, the feel of a garment; we consider each one of these in turn before we decide to spend hours making something that may touch our skin and when we meet someone else who is also impassioned about the same thing, we have just made a new firm friend.

Now, this post is in response to a photo challenge and I wanted again, to push myself, to do something that scares me. I wanted to capture that intimacy of touch and distraction but in photo form. So here is my answer, I hope you like it.

 

 

 

 

 

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