Onward! To the Ravelry 2019 Challenge

Last year I participated in the Ravelry 2018 Challenge. I set out to complete 20 projects over the course of 2018. I figured that would be a manageable number, knowing my knitting habits and my busy schedule. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I ended up finishing 33 projects. I wasn’t purposely trying to pack a lot of projects in; I feel good about that result. Good enough that I signed up for the 2019 Challenge too. At this point, based on last year’s results, I’ve conservatively set a goal of 30 projects.

During 2018 I completed the following:

  • 1 blanket
  • 1 cowl
  • 5 shawls
  • 1 adult cardigan
  • 2 toddler cardigans
  • 4 doll cardigans
  • 19 pairs of socks

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have a couple of projects that were started that I didn’t complete yet. Notably “Alecia Beth”, a contiguous cardigan in 4 ply yarn. I hope to finish that in time for late spring when my winter sweaters and coat are too warm for the weather.

I’ve been thinking about what new things I’d like to try and knit this year. I definitely want to make a steeked, stranded colour-work cardigan. I have been looking at designs. I like the way that the colour-work wraps around those yoked sweaters that Tin Can Knits are known for.

Steeking is a construction method used to make cardigans. It’s typical of Fair-Isle and Norwegian sweater knitting. The idea is that you knit the sweater in the round like a pullover. Easy peasy! You allow extra rows of stitches in the areas where you want to cut it apart. Some people simply make a tube for the body with some extra steek rows where the sleeves will go, and down the centre front. They knit it to the full desired length. Then they knit the two sleeves separately. To put it into a nutshell, you reinforce the stitches on either side of where you plan to cut it open so your knitting doesn’t simply disintegrate. Then you cut it open. YIKES! Then you add button panels in the front (or a zipper) and insert the sleeves. Some people finish it off with a band of ribbon or a knitted band to cover up the edges where it was cut. If you use wool that isn’t super wash it is expected to felt enough along those edges so you don’t have to fuss with a binding. Some people knit the sleeves with the body so they are connected without having to steek them. I’m thinking that’s what I’d prefer.

What I don’t love about the yoked style of sweater is the neckline. To me, it always looks like it barely hangs onto the shoulder. I am not crazy about necklines that sit right at my neck either. So I’m hoping to find something that will be along these lines but with either a V-neck or a scoop neck. I could probably use short rows to shape the neckline more the way I like it. I suppose I could be brave and knit it using a pattern like the one above, but then do a steek around the neckline so I can shape the neck however I want it. That would be an option. Hmmm… for the first steeking project, that might be a little bit scary. But I figure that if I start with a child sized cardigan it should be less intimidating. Then, if I mess around with changing the neckline, it won’t be as big of a time investment (or yarn investment for that matter). Yeah, I definitely want to try my hand at steeking this year.

When thinking about what else I’d like to knit, I realized that I don’t have much in the way of toques or cowls. I’ve got some patterns in mind that I would love to knit. This time I will choose the yarn colours so that they actually look good with my coat though! There will definitely have to be some hats in my challenge list.

Obviously, I will knit socks. In particular, I have had a pattern in my queue for some time that I really want to do this year. These dirndl socks play all the right notes to thrill the German ancestry running through my veins.

Then there are these beauties:

Dornröschen schlafe hundert Jahr

I also want to get the next size up in my contiguous child’s cardigan designed and tested. I want to get the pattern cleaned up and ready to publish and I need to have at least 2 sizes to feel like it’s worth finalizing it. I may go for three but it’s such a tedious process that I might just be dreaming on that count.

I want to make a mohair shawl for one of my sisters, and a sapphire blue lace shawl for another one of my sisters. (She’s got a significant birthday coming up in 2020 and the shawl I have in mind is a huge project. I need to start it this year if I want to complete it for her birthday in May.)

I plan to participate in Tour-de-sock again this summer. That’s always a fun challenge that nets me six to eight pairs of amazing socks. I love my fancy socks. Even if no one else sees them inside my shoes. They make me feel good.

I have bits of leftover sock yarn that I might make into a net shopping bag to see how that goes. Every time I dig in my leftovers bag I’m frustrated that there isn’t enough of any of the yarns in there to make a pair of socks. This might be a good way to use some of that up. I think that will be a good mindless knit to do in front of the television in the evenings.

Oh my, I think that’s a year’s worth of knitting summed up in a 1000 words! Whee! I hope I haven’t bored you with my ramblings today. I must say that taking the time to think about what I want to make has me feeling inspired.

Happy Knitting!

 

Advertisements

Let’s Get Worsted, in Kettle Valley!

This year, I finally felt ready to hunt for local hand-dyed yarns and patterns to sell in my store. I believe strongly in supporting local small business whenever possible. Now that I have built up my inventory of staple yarns I really wanted to offer something a bit more luxurious. I had a small selection of hand-dyed yarns in solid colours, but I wanted something with really interesting colourways. I found it.

Black Cat Custom Yarn is located in Chilliwack, BC (Canada).

I was excited to have the opportunity to meet the owners this fall and to see and feel their yarns in person. A customer told me about them and I was not disappointed. I brought in a modest selection of two weights of Black Cat yarn. It has been a hit.

I have already placed another order and they are dying it now. Once it arrives it will expand the selection to 17 colourways of “Let’s Get Worsted” and 15 colourways of “Everyday Sock”. The price point is typical of hand dyed yarn.

I recently made up a project using the “Damsel” colourway of  Black Cat’s “Let’s Get Worsted”. The pattern was the Kettle Valley Shawl from Knox Mountain Knit Company out of Kelowna, BC.

So first of all, I should have done a gauge check. I didn’t and my gauge was a bit soft. I ended up using three and a half skeins rather than the three that the pattern called for. That was definitely on me. I’m confident that it could be done with three if the gauge is matched.

The Pattern: Kettle Valley Shawl by Knox Mountain Knit Co.

knox-mountain-knit-coKnox Mountain Knit Co. patterns are inspired by landmarks of the Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. I love that each has a short write-up describing what inspired the pattern. They are beautifully printed on sturdy paper and priced reasonably. They all come with a Ravelry code that allows you to have both the hard copy and a Ravelry download to access on your devices. I now have hard copies of all their designs for sale in my store. (The patterns are displayed in two binders; if you’re in the store ask me where to find them. You can also view them on Ravelry.) The photographs are beautiful. They offer sets (hats, mittens and cowls) that are sold separately but made to coordinate. This is a wonderful option if you are making gifts… especially for those individuals whose birthdays land near Christmas.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I loved the twisted stitch method used. The first few times I did it, I had to check the instructions but once I comprehended what was happening and why it worked, I was off to the races. It’s a nice big shawl without being so large as to feel like a blanket. It was my first worsted weight shawl and I had my doubts because I like lace shawls and I love to knit with sock weight yarn. I think I may have been converted. Yes, by the final row I was knitting 357 stitches. However, I finished this, knitting leisurely in front of the TV in the evenings over the course of 10 days. I didn’t even knit every evening. It is made up of sections that when viewed as a whole mimic the trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway in the vicinity of Kelowna, British Columbia. I found that with each section, it took very little time to get a sense of the pattern so I could just knit away without checking the reference. That’s how I like it! I’m delighted with the outcome and so is the person who received it as a gift.

The Yarn: Black Cat Custom Yarn; Damsel; weight “Let’s Get Worsted”

This yarn was an absolute pleasure to knit. It was soft and smooth. The stitch definition is fantastic. All the effort I put into creating those trestles stood out and made the pattern proud. It reminds me of Malabrigo yarn. Sometimes when I make a larger project I get a little bored of looking at the yarn by the end of the project. Not with this yarn! There is just no getting bored of this yarn. The colourways are so fun and the names are nerdy and sometimes a bit cheeky. It definitely has personality. I washed it with Eucalan and blocked it. I thought it was soft before I washed it. Washing it softened it even more. I sat there squishing it between my hands and against my face for ages! I guess you figured out that I highly recommend this yarn.

Because it is dyed to order, it takes some time from when I order it until it arrives. That’s probably the only real drawback to this yarn. Once I get a sense of how much and how frequently I need to reorder, that will be less of an issue.

I encourage you to take the time to check out Black Cat Custom Yarn and Knox Mountain Knit Co. Both of these small BC businesses offer a high quality product for a reasonable price. If you want to make a special gift for someone you care about, I recommend combining the two for something truly memorable.

Happy Knitting!

Reframing Gift-Giving

Ads, ads and more ads… do you get as tired of them as I do?

As a business owner providing both services and retail products, I recognize that advertising is a very important piece of finding and informing the people who may want your products or services. We all need to make a living, after all. And yet everywhere we turn these days, we are hit with a barrage of ads. And it seems to me that it ramps up even more once anticipation of the holiday season begins.

As we approach the holiday season, I find myself feeling quite irritated by all the junk being advertised as gifts. You know what I mean? The stuff that only sells because it’s weird and will get a laugh (before being tossed in the garbage along with its packaging), or the stuff that sells because people want to look cool or be on the cutting edge.

Okay, so here’s what I’ve been contemplating. When I’m asked what I would like for Christmas (or my birthday), I always feel at a bit of a loss to come up with anything because I have all the “stuff” I actually need.

What I really want is time and the opportunity to spend unrushed time with the people I love.

I want to laugh with them. I want to enjoy home-cooked meals with them or go for walks and enjoy the scenery in this amazing part of the world. I want to feel connected with them. I don’t need them to spend money on me. Don’t get me wrong, I love to receive gifts as much as anyone. And I love the way it feels to know that they have spent precious time and energy to make me something. It’s a very clear message that illuminates just how much they love me. How wonderful is that?

I was reminiscing about past holiday seasons and remembering how varied they have been for me. There were years when it was all I could do to pay the rent and still have enough money to feed myself. I remember feeling a tremendous degree of shame in those years when I simply couldn’t give material gifts. The commercialization of the holiday season persistently and insidiously plants and builds an unconscious (or subconscious) sense that we must purchase items to give as gifts… and not just to loved ones but to teachers and co-workers and bosses and the check-out lady at the grocery store.

No wonder I found myself feeling overwhelmed with shame in those years when I had no money to spare for gift giving.

It’s so easy to get carried away and overspend in a way that puts us behind the 8-ball when the new year settles in. I’ve definitely fallen into that trap and paid the price!

I still really wanted to give my loved ones gifts, so I made up coupon books and each coupon could be redeemed for some service that I could provide. For instance, “this coupon can be redeemed for a kitchen cleaning”. When that person called in the coupon, I would go to their house and clean their kitchen for them. I gifted “tea party” coupons and “walk in the country” coupons, “pedicure” coupons and “car wash” coupons. People didn’t always cash those coupons in, but when they did, I was delighted.

Years ago, after my mom passed away we were doing some organizing of her things. I needed a small pair of scissors and looked through the drawers of her sewing cabinet and found one of the coupon books I had given her.

She had saved it all those years.

It’s funny, at first I felt bad that she hadn’t redeemed any of them. Yet she had kept that coupon booklet, and she kept it with things that (before her dementia was too severe to allow it) she used every day. That left me feeling deeply touched. She didn’t need anything from me. She just wanted to be reminded that I loved her. I like to think that my little coupon book shouted, “I love you Mommy!” every time she opened that drawer to get her scissors out. (And yes, I called her “Mommy” right up until she passed away.)

In other lean years, I would go to the thrift shop on $1/bag sale days (that was a few years ago… LOL) and look for items made of really interesting fabric. I’d carefully choose things that I could transform into new and useful items. A dated leather coat could become a beautiful purse; a several decades old fur coat could become a teddy bear. I often found remnants of new fabric, bundles of lace and other trim. I always went primed to be creative and think outside the box. I always found interesting things that had the potential to be transformed.

One of the things I love about Revelstoke is that our community embraces earth-friendly practices. Re-pair, re-purpose, re-use, re-cycle… in Re-velstoke. My business couldn’t exist without people who want to avoid throwing things away just because they are slightly damaged. Repairing clothing and gear is a huge part of what my shop offers our community. I love to see people purchasing items at the thrift shop and cutting them up and transforming them into something completely different.

I love that. I love the creativity and ingenuity that goes into that process.

It’s fun when customers bring their projects in to show me. It’s inspiring.

Like most people, I want my holiday season to be meaningful. If I’m going to give gifts it’s going to be done within my financial means and it will be because I want to express my love for those people dearest to me. And hey, I’m happy for any excuse to bake and knit! I’m all for less stress during the holiday season. I’ll be in a lovely state of Zen, knitting under a blanket in my comfy chair as the snow falls outside.

Happy Knitting!

So Many Ideas…

I am blessed to know a lot of very creative people. It comes with the territory considering that I run a yarn/sewing shop. One of the realities of being a creative person is that there are always a lot of ideas, inspirations and goals to strive to manifest. There are new skills to acquire and develop too! And on top of all those luscious projects, you still have to make your way through the mundane day to day responsibilities too. At the risk of sounding cliche, there are only so many hours in a day.

As a creative person, with a broad spectrum of interests, I do sometimes find myself feeling frustrated that I can’t pack more amazing things into each day and still manage to eat, work, sleep and keep up with a basic level of housekeeping. I already pack my days pretty full. As winter settles in and November firmly plants itself I find that I have to be careful not to let myself get overwhelmed when I start thinking about all the things I would really like to do before the holiday season arrives.

Winter is a very busy time in the store, between the sewing repairs, the yarn sales, making sure my stock levels are where they need to be, providing a high level of service and making sure that my paperwork gets done, it is a lot to do. I love it, don’t get me wrong; it’s fantastic. It makes for a full and rewarding life! In the evenings, I like to be able to knit as I curl up in front of the TV with my DH. Some nights, I have to be honest, I am simply too tired to knit.

Every day, I am surrounded by all the beautiful yarns that I sell in my store. I am the one that orders all the patterns and pattern books. There are so many stunning possibilities, so many potential projects. I imagine mittens, socks, hats, cowls, sweaters, cardigans and more. It can be a challenge to rein all that in. And like most knitters, I have a number of projects on my needles, patiently waiting to be completed.

In January, I started my 2018 Ravelry Challenge and set a goal to finish 20 projects this year.

You know, I have already completed 27. And I wasn’t rushing them. Well, maybe the Tour-de-sock socks were a little rushed… but the other items were definitely not rushed. I completed them mostly in the evenings in front of the television in the company of my husband and cat. Some of them progressed on Saturdays in the company of other local knitters who came to my shop to knit. Some of them on lazy Sundays when I just wanted to ignore the rest of the world and indulge in the zen of my knitting in my cozy chair.

Every one of those projects was a visceral and sensual outlet for my creativity. Fibre arts is amazing that way.

It’s such a tactile “pastime”. (Or should I say obsession?) The colours and patterns are a feast for the eye. The textures of the materials are sheer bliss to me. My friend would grin, with sparkling eyes and insist, “Orgasmic!” Yeah, some of them really are. And to take a ball of spun fibres a couple of pointy sticks and a bunch of hieroglyphics on a page and turn that into something wearable… yeah, now that is a pretty amazing experience. To do it again and again… what a privilege.

As much as the typical stresses of life can get to me, I am so grateful to live this life. I’m grateful that I am able to run a little shop. I love that I can provide the sewing services that I do; that our little town has the demand for those services! I love that I can surround myself with glorious colours and textures of yarns. Most of all I love that I get to interact with other amazing and creative individuals who share my passion for fibre arts.

I am learning that it’s okay to take each day as it comes.

Some days fly by and fill themselves up, with complete disregard to the things I thought I was going to do. I have my lists of what must be accomplished and the deadlines that apply to those tasks. And I do my best to navigate, filling a lull with a quick job off the rack, or perhaps a single round of knitting… or even a quiet moment to savour a well earned cup of coffee. I am learning that it’s a waste of energy to beat myself up if a day doesn’t go the way I thought it should; to let go of expectations that really don’t mean anything to anyone but me. Some days I’m more successful in that than other days. And when I give myself permission to allow the days to flow, somehow everything manages to get done in time. Not only that, but I enjoy those days so much more, even if they are very full.

As the moments of pre-holiday season panic shiver through me, I am determined to take a long deep breath and let those feelings simply dissolve. I am making a list of the items that would be nice to get done for those closest to me. But I am determined to keep my knitting blissful. I am absolutely determined to keep my knitting time sacred. It’s important to me that I don’t make it start to feel pressured or like “work”. My goal is to infuse my love of fibres and knitting into each project for each of the people I make something for. And I’m confident that when they wear those items I made for them, they will feel the love I poured into them. I refuse to allow my own expectations rob me of the joy that knitting brings me. I invite you to join me!

Happy Knitting!

6 Gift-Making Tips

Many knitters and crocheters, sewing enthusiasts and other crafters use their creative skills to fashion gifts for their friends and family.

Whatever the project, crafters put their hearts into every step that goes into making those gifts. From choosing just the right yarn or other materials and the pattern, to all the hours carefully constructing the project stitch by stitch. If you are lucky enough to be considered knit, crochet or craft worthy, know that you are loved. I have some tips to offer Makers when they are planning out the gifts they want to create.

Depending on what your focus is, your priorities for each project can change.

Focus on Budget – Time:

When we think about a budget, we usually think about money. The reality is that we have a budget of time every bit as much as we have a financial budget. As someone who knits gifts, I’m always looking for projects that won’t become centennial jobs. There are all sorts of things I’d love to make for the people I care about. But there’s only so much time to do it. If I had unlimited hours to knit, I would be making lace shawls and 4-ply cardigans and other elaborate things for the people I love. But I don’t have unlimited time. Gosh, that’s such an understatement! I am a pretty quick knitter, but there’s a limit to what I can make in the precious time I have available.

Focus on Budget – Money:

It can be easy to let the cost of projects get away from us when we want to make something particularly wonderful for someone dear to us. Most of us have to work within a budget. Most of us also make gifts for multiple people. Even if you are not a “planner”, it’s good to be methodical about all the bits and pieces that you’ll have to buy, with money, for the projects you plan to make. And you know as well as I do, that those materials can really add up. Most crafters of all shape and size have a stash of supplies for their favourite making discipline. If money is tight, dig into that stash and see what you can use.

Focus on the Materials:

You can focus on the yarn or other materials and choose something absolutely scrumptious. There are so many gorgeous yarns (fabrics etc.) out there. Make the project a showcase for the materials by keeping your pattern selection simple. Put a little more resources into the purchase of the yarn or fabric and less into the work of the project. You might use silk embroidery thread instead of cotton. Of course there is a caveat with this. If it requires special care, you want to be sure that the recipient will apply that special care and not throw it in the washer and dryer with their jeans or towels… SHUDDER! If you think they will treat it right, but just need to know how to look after it, you could always include a travel size bottle of a “Delicates No-rinse Wash” like Eucalan with their gift. Pop in a card with the url to a demo of the product and brief, hand written care instructions.

Focus on an Artful Pattern:

There are many knitting and crochet designs that feature beautiful patterned stitches. There are sewing patterns that are true and complex works of art. When you choose one of these patterns, it’s best to back off with the materials and keep them simple. You don’t want to set up a competition between the yarn or fabric and the intricate pattern you create with it. This sort of design takes more focus to make. The more focus you need, the more time you need to allow. You may not be able to do a lot in a sitting. And you really don’t want to leave a project like this to the last minute. In my experience, that’s when you make silly mistakes that sit there like neon signs, screaming to be picked out and rebuilt.

Focus on the Practical:

There are many practical items that you can make as gifts. The nice thing about practical hand-made gifts is that you can be pretty certain that they are going to get some use. My family members love to receive hand-knit socks, for instance.

Focus on the Special:

You know that person who really likes things to be fancy? This is when you pull out those projects that you couldn’t resist pinning. Beaded projects, projects with felted accents or embroidered touches, personalized projects… add that little something extra that says “Oh yeah!”

Keep a record:

It’s easy to forget what you did for whom and when. I encourage you to keep a notebook. I love those small binders that hold paper that is basically a letter sized sheet cut in half. You can either buy the pages punched and ready to go or you can take normal paper and cut it in half and hole punch it. You can create sections; you can move the pages around. This is great for organizing what you have made for people. I tried keeping track on my phone; it was too frustrating. Between phones that die, upgrades and apps that don’t allow you to effectively back up your data when you do get a new phone… ugh! Well, “old school” works. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can staple the label from the yarn or a snip of the fabric onto the page, write down the name of the pattern and whether you modified it at all. If you ran into any trouble with the pattern, you could make a note of what it was and how you resolved it as well. You don’t have to worry about running out of pages, because it’s a binder! The main thing is that you want to jot down just enough so that you don’t accidentally make them the same thing twice… or for that matter so that if someone else sees it and wants one, that you can remember what you did.

And there you go. However you choose to focus on the gift projects you have on your making list, I hope you have fun with them.

Happy Making!

 

Gearing up for Winter: New Products

Every day as I fill in work orders, I look at the calendar. I am surprised (though I shouldn’t be) at how quickly October is disappearing.

The snow is creeping its way down the mountain and there is a definite chill in the air. In my store, I’ve been busy stocking up on the products that I know my customers will be looking for, what with cold weather coming on.

It’s always exciting to see new things. As I do every year at this time, I find myself either feeling really excited about the new things I’m bringing in or hyperventilating about the cost of doing so. I just never know for sure whether customers will be as excited about the new things as I am. I’m pretty sure it will be worth it, though.

So, here’s what I’m really excited about.

Estelle Chunky Yarn

estelle worsted and chunky

I’m being either brave or insane, but I am bringing in the entire colour line of this amazing, gorgeous, super-soft yarn. I initially brought it in only in the heathered colours by special request for a customer who wanted to make a Chunky Fair Isle sweater. When it came in, we both went crazy for how exquisite this yarn is. With the taxes in, it’s a $10 bill per 100g skein. You just can’t beat that price. It’s a blend of wool, acrylic and nylon; an excellent combination for long wearing and easy care.

47 colours, my friends! I’m STOKED!

Estelle Worsted Yarn

Okay, all those things I just said about the Chunky apply here but in worsted weight. I’m bringing in 40 colours of this one as well. These are set for a ship date of November 1st. (Keep breathing, Judy!)

Estelle Bulky Yarn

This one, I only ordered in Hudson’s Bay colours. I feel blankets coming on!

King Cole Big Value Baby DK

40 colours of this lovely yarn as well. I don’t remember specifically where the price point lands on this, but it will make customers happy!

King Cole Comfort Kids DK

I just brought a few colours of this one in. It’s already here. So soft, such an excellent value and lovely colours. I brought in a few solids to go with the multi colourways as well.

King Cole Drifter DK for Baby

this one is really cool. The colours are a little more sophisticated. It gives a sort of Fair Isle effect. The balls are 100g.

Rico Creative Bubble

SCRUBBY YARN! This is the actual yarn for making scrubbies for doing your dishes. How cool is that?! I have 3 colours on hand right now, the others are on back-order. They will get here when they get here. I brought in a pattern for pot scrubbers that look like emoticons. I also have a pattern on order to make scrubbies that look like watermelon slices. Too cute!

Black Cat Custom Yarn

I’m bringing in a selection of both their sock weight and their “Let’s Get Worsted” (British Columbia dyed) yarns. If you know and love Malabrigo yarn, you will adore Black Cat Custom Yarn! I can hardly wait!

I ordered other new yarns, but they get to be a surprise. 😀

Nostepinnes

Now, other new things include Nostepinnes. Noste-whosie-whatties, you say? Nostepinnes. These are beautiful turned wooden tools that originate (from what I’ve been able to gather) in Norway. You use them to hand wind yarn in such a way that it gives you a centre pull ball. Here is a link to how you do it. I haven’t had a chance to try one out yet, but I will.

Needle Keeper

Next up on the new items list is the “Needle Keeper”. If you knit with circular needles, you need this amazing little gizmo. I don’t believe I ever lived without it. It protects your needle tips and connections from breakage while also preventing stitches from falling off the needles. They also help to keep your knitting bag tidier. Your needles won’t get tangled with all the other stuff in your bag. If your cat likes to chew on your wooden or bamboo needle tips, you can foil their evil plans with a Needle Keeper! There’s no way your cat will chew through this puppy! This is my favourite new thing. Here is a link to the video that the inventor has up on YouTube:

DPN Tubes

Another cool product along the lines of the Needle Keeper is Knitter’s Pride’s DPN Tubes. These do for double point needles (DPN’s) what the Needle Keeper does for circular needles. I found a review of this product. Here’s the link:

Eucalan

After all the endless hours of knitting or crocheting your beautiful garments with exquisite yarns, you need to be able to take care of them. Eucalan makes a lovely rinse-free wash for delicates. I brought in 4 scents of this in 500ml bottles: Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender and Natural. If there is enough demand, I’ll bring in jugs to allow us to refill your containers. A little bit of this product goes a long way. It contains lanolin, which acts as a fibre conditioner and keeps your items soft and lovely. Here is a link to Eucalan’s demo of the product.

With all these new products coming in, I guess I’d better get busy rearranging the store!

Happy Knitting!

Let’s Show Designers Some Love!

Designing is both a skill and a creative art form. Whether the designer’s work results in a building, a chair, a garden or a garment it’s important that we respect it. Not just anyone can create a design. Today I want to celebrate designers.

Designing requires more than just coming up with a cool, innovative or creative idea. It takes a lot of trouble shooting, math, trial and error, frustration and perseverance. There are probably a zillion design ideas that will never see the light of day. And it’s because it’s a lot of work to take it from idea to item.

Truly original ideas are very rare.

Generally, anything that is designed is going to have similarities to existing items. If we focus on knitting patterns as our example (since that’s my daily focus) let’s face it, a cardigan or a sock have to be a certain way or they won’t function as required. So you have your basic structure that immediately limits how creative you can get. If it isn’t essentially a tube with a 90 degree turn in it and one closed end, it won’t be a sock. (I know, you can have a tube sock without a heel… you get my drift, though.) Obviously, there’s a lot that a designer can come up with to create a beautiful sock that is different than others. That’s where the talent, vision, skill and perseverance come in!

Recently I started looking for local knitting designers. I want to support them by selling their patterns in my store. So far I have purchased patterns from Raquel Oliveira of Squamish, BC and Knox Mountain Knit Co. from Kelowna, BC. Their designs are lovely. I encourage you to check them out on Ravelry or come and see them in my store.

Raquel Oliveira

© Knit It Out

Joy     Cocoon     Shannon     Stawamus

Knox Mountain Knit Co.

© Knox Mountain Knit Co.

Cedar Creek Cowl     Biggie Hat     Granby Mitts     Fintry

I have personally been inching away at a cardigan design for small children using a particular construction technique. After spending months of all my spare time, (obsessively) I have one size completed (using chunky weight yarn). I used three different yarns respectively, abandoned one of them, knit and frogged many, many times. I tested the pattern more than once and had another person test the pattern as well. It was revised multiple times to correct the errors we found. That was only one size. Yeah, I can “math” the others to some extent, but they still all have to be test knit to be certain that the proportions will be correct. The math in knitting is not exact. It’s a lot of work.

I already have a full time job (being a knitwear designer is not a particularly lucrative way to make a living! cough, cough… LOL) so all this happens in my down time. It takes care and focus to write a good pattern. Often when I have down time, I am too tired to have the focus needed. Often, I’ll get the bones of the design down so I can go back to it later and write it out properly. I have a collection of those, waiting to be finished. I still absolutely LOVE designing. I truly love the actual writing of the pattern every bit as much. And that (as any knitter knows) is an art form too. A well written pattern is worth a thousand poor ones. Once the actual written pattern is created, it requires photos and formatting. That takes a whole other set of skills and a particular eye.

What I’m trying to say is that designers who create beautiful patterns that we can follow to make practical and lovely items deserve our respect and support.

When you find a design you like, show that designer some love! Buy their pattern.

We can protect designers by avoiding those sites that take you down a rabbit hole for the promise of a free pattern. Those sites often don’t even own rights to the patterns they are giving away and it means that they take away from legitimate designers the means to support their creative endeavours.

Next time you are scrolling Pinterest or Ravelry take a moment to really appreciate the endless hours designers have spent turning inspiration into a tangible pattern.

Follow the designs all the way to the designer’s actual page; respect their copyright. Or purchase them from a brick-and-mortar yarn shop that purchased hard copies directly from the designer. The prices we pay for patterns are a pittance relative to what it takes to create them. If a designer is really lucky they might sell enough of each pattern design to cover the cost of producing it. There are so many designs available that competition is fierce. We need these amazing, creative individuals in our world. Let’s show them some love!

Happy Knitting!