Friday, 28 November 2014

The Accidental FO

The accidental FO

How does one accidentally create an FO?

If like me, you tend to jump into things with both feet, it's quite simply really.

A chance mention by Victoria of the wonderful Eden Cottage Yarns about a forthcoming KAL made my knitterly ears prick up. The pattern in question is a wonderful shawl - Quadratic - designed by David O'Kelly. Using 1.5 skeins of sock weight yarn this is a generous garter stitch shawl which uses small scraps of leftovers or mini skeins to create fun, colourful and rather addictive stripes.

Garter stitch - check
Mini skeins - check
2 skeins of delicious ECY Titus sitting in my stash - check

Faster than you can say KNIT! I was off and away.

The work week from hell, kids homework woes (curse you, long division) and a husband working on a different continent meant that I was sorely in need of a soothing garter stitch (and red wine).
Quadratic shawl by David O'Kelly

Without giving away the "secret sauce", the pattern has you start out with a large number of stitches and then work decreases until the end. At the beginning the more closely spaced stripes spur you on to work "just one more row". And once you are past the half way point, the ever decreasing stitch count means that the project just flies off the needles.

It is rare for me to knit a shawl so quickly, especially one with 150m of yarn but this was a true pleasure. A sort of "perfect storm" of pattern, yarn and stress and I am truely delighted with the finished product.

The shawl measures a generous 55" by 25" after very gentle blocking and patting (lots of patting) and it is wonderfully wearable.
Quadratic shawl - in action

Of course there is the minor detail of the fact that I have managed to start and finish the shawl before the official start date of Dec 1st.

Drat! Oh well, I will just have to make another. It's a hard life ;)

For all the KAL details check the ECY group on Ravelry - here

See you there :)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A new pattern: Rosthwaite

And a good morning to you on this cold and frosty day.

I'm really pleased to be able to share my latest pattern with you today - the Rosthwaite socks.
Rosthwaite Socks: Cuff down with an afterthought heel

This pattern was designed as part of my Sock Design Challenge which I ran in September and invited you lovely readers and members of my Ravelry and Facebook pages to vote on key design elements.

The overwhelming vote was for top down socks with some fun stitch detail and nothing too complicated or stressful, and I really hope that you like the finished product as mych as I do.

As a bit of a change for me I have also worked these socks with an afterthought heel. The more I work this heel type the more pleased I am with it and if you have never tried it, maybe this is the project to start you off.

There are a lot of amazing resources on the web and I highly recommend the following as a good place to start.

The Knit Girllls have a fabulous tutorial: here

And excellent blog posts on the subject can be found here and here.

I really do hope you decide to give them a try. As a thank you for all your support and encouragement I'm offering a 25% discount until Nov 30th, 2014 with the code Rosthwaite.

Happy Knitting

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Giftalong Designer Interview

I'm pleased to be able to share another Giftalong Designer Interview with you today. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Amy (aka PghAmers) on Ravelry who designs wonderful accessories under the label Structured Stitches.

She has some fabulous patterns for sale in the GAL, her website is here and is well worth a look.

Structured Stitches GAL Bundle
What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
This is a tricky one, because I have to design. It’s just something innate in my brain that I have to do on a regular basis. So I’m not designing for a particular outcome, I would still be making up designs even if I wasn’t publishing them.
That said, I think my favorite thing is when a yarn producer loves the design I have produced in their yarn. I have gotten yarn support from a local sheep farmer, a local indie dyer and a small yarn company. The yarn they produce (and dye) is very personal to them, and it is an awesome feeling for them to be excited and happy about what I’ve done with their product. I’ve also shared projects with yarn companies after they are published (in cases when I bought the yarn myself), and it is cool to be browsing my personal facebook page and see that they have posted about my pattern. Certainly, I LOVE it when knitters and crocheters ooh and aah over my designs, but the love from those in the fiber industry feels like I’m being welcomed into a special club. :-D

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my love of color & interesting construction, combined with the practical considerations of the crafters experience. Similar to architecture, it is about form AND function, and how best to marry the two in one project. For example, I love crocheting motifs and using them to build a larger fabric. I find that working on small motifs while I’m out and about to be ideal, but the ability to crochet those motifs together allows me to avoid sewing and in some cases to make a fabric that doesn’t even look like it is made up of motifs. Sometimes, like with a stranded hat, the function is already well established and it is just a matter of getting to play with how the color and pattern work together.
Overall, my interest is in making beautiful things that are also useful.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
I listed my first two “designs” on ravelry before they were ready to be published. I had just started teaching at my LYS, and the manager wanted to do a KAL/CAL with a yarn that was being discontinued from the store. Both as a nice store activity and to encourage customers to buy it down quickly. She gave me the option of finding existing patterns to use or coming up with my own. In hindsight, I didn’t really have enough time to design two scarf patterns, and I am better off not designing patterns that I’m not super excited about.
One of them I finally finished and published well earlier this year. The other one still sits there taunting me. The original design needs some work, and going back to it feels to me like eating liver and onions. I have all of these other new and shiny ideas I would rather be working on, but I need to just force myself to sit down and finish the design, crochet the sample, and get the whole thing off my to do list!

Which is your favourite design and why?
My favorite design is the Claro Stole. I was browsing mood boards for magazine submissions, and a picture on one of them sparked the idea for this stole in my head. I knew the feeling I wanted the lace to have and how I wanted it to start at different points working from the center out. I was able to find two stitch patterns that accomplished the feeling I imagined, and fitted them in on a half-circle shape. It is probably my most challenging pattern, and it turned out exactly how I envisioned, which really doesn’t always happen.
There is also a design that I absolutely adore which is not public yet, and the publishing date is not under my control. I can’t wait to swoon about it on my blog someday!

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
Only three? That’s not nearly enough!
My initial thought was to choose the nationally known designers who I’ve met briefly or taken classes from, and would like to get to know better, but I realize that I’m lucky that I’ve already gotten to meet them and hear them interviewed on podcasts. So instead I’m going to choose designers that I “know” from ravelry, but whom I’m unlikely to meet in person unless I’m able to go to TNNA someday. All three are strong entrepreneurs who have found three very different business models that work well for their current life situation.
Julia Trice – A great designer, and a patient person who gives lots of wonderful advice and encouragement to those with less experience than she has. She’s thoughtful and honest, while always being diplomatic and prudent.
Triona Murphy – Her design sensibility really speaks to me, and if I had time to knit other people’s patterns very often, I would be a regular customer. We’ve had many lovely chats on ravelry and twitter, and I have the sense we would get along well.
Alex Tinsley – Hilarious on twitter, and with a sense of style that I love. I would want to take Alex shopping after dinner to overhaul my wardrobe. She has a knack for being fashionable without being so out there that you can’t imagine wearing her designs for years to come.

A lack of daylight

About this time of year I start to realise that I am not designed to be a nocturnal animal and the shortage of natural daylight starts to be a nuisance. Never more so than now when I am trying to grow my fledgling pattern design business. Photography is an area that I am keen to improve upon and everything I read emphasises the importance of natural light.

All well and good until you consider that my day job has me leaving the house at 8:20 (school run before driving to work) and arriving home after 5pm. The hours of available daylight for photography purposes at home are condensed into a 20 minute slot between 8:00 and 8:20 and not surprisingly lost trousers and missed homework is often higher on my to-do list at that time in the morning.

I have tried carefully assembling my subject matter the night before so that all I have to do is grab my camera and take a few shots (whilst telling a small child to brush their teeth - again) but the general morning chaos isn't really conducive to calm, unhurried work.

My latest cunning plan is to take the photographic subject with me in the car. Arranged on a tea tray - passengers in my car must think I am very odd - and with the car parked in a suitable spot at work I can take advantage of the last hour or two of daylight and do my best to get some good shots.

I found some good tips here and here.
And there are some great "what not to do" tips by A Beautiful Mess here.

It is a constant struggle though and I would welcome suggestions on how you do it. What tips and tricks can you share to help us make the most of those precious daylight hours?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Giftalong Designer Interview: Karen Burnett Designs

Today we have the first of 2 interviews with designers participating in the Ravelry GAL - giftalong2014.
Karen Burnett Designs: GAL Bundle 2014

I asked Kaz of Karen Burnett designs about her work as a designer:

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
I mainly enjoy the fun of bringing an idea from my head to a finished item, the sense of achievement of turning crazy ideas in my head into something that actually works.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I get a lot of inspiration from the world around me, in designing items that I would love to wear. My cables inspiration come from my Scottish roots and the Celtic designs I love to look at.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
 I wish I had known that 24hrs in the day is not enough and that WIPS and deadlines have a habit of creeping up on you. Also that designing is certainly not as straight forward as a lot of people think.

Which is your favourite design and why?
My Pilkington Cardigan is my favourite design, it was my first garment design and I love the simplicity of the top down seamless body that’s transformed when you do the cabled band.

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
Ohhhh that’s hard just to choose 3 as I would love to be in a room with s big table of loads of designers. I think my top 3 would be Ruth(Rockandpurl) , Liz Lovick (NorthernLace) and WoolyWormHead. But would love to spend a weekend or a full week at a designers retreat getting to know other designers from around the world.

Knitwear is always right

As ever, those clever Mason Dixon ladies have hit the nail on the head:

Knitwear will solve everything

Credit: Mason Dixon Knitting Graphics Department (Kirsten Stone)

Friday, 14 November 2014

A passion for British wool

If you have some spare time this weekend I can highly recommend this interview for a fun and informative read.

Karie Westerman (aka Karie Bookish) interviews the wonderful and highly knowledgable Louise Scolley of Knit British fame.

Louise is a passionate advocate of British wool and her interview is a fascinating insight into the modern day British wool industry and the work being done to champion our amazing heritage.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The 2014 Giftalong has begun

It's finally here.

After weeks and months in the planning the 2nd Ravelry giftalong has started. In actual fact it started in the wee small hours (at 8pm EST, American time) but this morning certainly marks my official start.

Some amazing background work by the organisers has brought together 293 designers from 21 countries in a 2 month event

Check out this amazing graphic by the very talented 80skeins for lots of geeky GAL facts:

Amazing Giftalong Infographic by 80skeins

It gave me a real buzz to see that the UK is so well represented. There are many well known and not so well known designers taking part and it is a great opportunity to showcase our work to the knitting world.

The support on the various chat threads on Ravelry has been overwhelmingly positive too, with eager folk chatting, planning and generally having a great fibre-y time.

Louise Tilbrook Designs Giftalong (GAL) Patterns #giftalong2014

Here is a summary of my patterns which are available through the GAL and click here to see the full list of all participating designers and their patterns. There is also some wonderful eye candy here on Pinterest, although I'm not responsible for the effect that browsing this may have on your queue.

The all important details:
The GAL runs from Nov 14th-21st and use of the coupon code "giftalong2014" will give you 25% off each designers selected patterns. There are over 11,000 patterns in total to choose from so you won't be lacking in choice.

Nov 14th also sees the start of a 2 month KAL/CAL where you can knit your chosen patterns to your hearts content and join in the various chatter threads relating to your projects. The "Foot and Legs" thread is particularly fun - but then, I would say that ;)

Competitions, prizes, chatter and more mean that this should be a fabulous event for all concerned. I do hope to see you over there.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

How would you choose...?

...Your 300th Ravelry project

After rediscovering knitting some 7 years ago, and joining Ravelry shortly afterwards I am approaching a significant milestone: The addition of my 300th project.

Not that this means I have 300 completed projects under my belt you understand. A fair number fell by the wayside - victim to the inumerable ways that our knitting life can bite us on the bum: poor gauge, poor yarn choice, yarn/pattern mismatch, general muppetry (mine, of course) - you get the idea.

Once I've made the decision to get rid of a project I sometimes mark it as frogged but more often than not I choose to wipe it out of existance (often in a fit of pique) and delete it from my Ravelry page - hence the reason why there are less than 300 projects proudly proclaiming themselves.

A selection of recent Ravelry knitting projects

Over the years a quick project count reveals 22 projects that declare themselves to be frogged and a roughly equal number which are Hibernating - a polite way of saying they are unlikely to ever see the light of day.

As my thoughts turn to adding my 300th project however I can't help but feel as though this one should be a bit special, something out of the ordinary. Maybe even an epic project. A Magnum Opus as Brenda Dayne of the now, sadly retired, Cast-On podcast once said.

But for now I'd like to turn the question over to you - what would you do? Or, if you have already reached these dizzying heights - what did you do - to celebrate your 300th project?