Monday, 30 November 2015

For December... something a little different

Hands up who is feeling a little bit overwhelmed as the festive season approaches?

To-do lists, shopping, groceries, carol services and decorations. It can all seem a bit of a frenzy at this time of year and I don't think I am alone in what I have heard people refer to as Seasonal Overwhelm. It all seems a bit too much, especially as we tend to put pressure on ourselves to have the "perfect" Christmas.

This month, in December I plan to take a little step back from my endless to-do lists and instead focus on small things that could help bring a smile to some other seasonally overwhelmed soul.

I took inspiration from this random acts of kindness calendar which allocates a small task to each day of December in the run up to Christmas. Because I am a Knitter I felt compelled to re-work it a little with more of a craft related emphasis - apart from which - I am British and the notion of approaching random strangers in the street is more than a little disconcerting.

I took some great suggestions too from members of my Ravelry group, as between us, we discussed small ways in which we could brighten someone else's day (and cheerfully procrastinate about not writing our Christmas cards).

So... the rules... well there are none really. The 24 suggestions I have laid out are just that, suggestions. I intend to do one per day and will try to post an Instagram picture or Tweet of my #rakdec15 action. If you would like to join me - as much or as little as you like - that would be fabulous too and if you use the hashtag I'll be sure to track you down.

As it is the season of giving I will have two skeins of yarn from my stash (yet to be determined) which will be given as prizes. If you are a member of my Ravelry group feel free to chat about the RAK challenge over in the thread and after Christmas I will do a random prize draw for 1 skein from among the chatterers. The other skein will go to a random prize draw from anyone on Instagram or Twitter who posts a picture of their random act of kindness and uses the #rakdec15 tag and #louisetilbrookdesigns.

Above all, have fun, relax and be kind to one another this festive season

Thursday, 26 November 2015

5 minutes with...Hollyberry Designs

Today I have 5 minutes with Holly Stevens of Hollyberry Designs aka Biddybelle on Ravelry.

º Designs by Holly Stevens

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
The creativity and feeling of accomplishment when something I have drawn on paper comes to life! (and the fact that if it doesn’t turn out quite how I expected no one knows except for me…)

Where does your inspiration come from?
Lots of things, alot of the time I will see or think of a stitch pattern I love and think “wow that has to be a hat!” or when I am searching for a pattern and can’t find exactly what Im looking for I can start working on it myself. Sometimes I even see an item of clothing in a shop and think about how it would translate into knitwear.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
I wish I have known about Stitchmastery a lot earlier! It’s made designing so so much easier and I would fully recommend it.

º Bobbie Hoodie by Holly Stevens

Which is your favourite design and why?
I often go through phases of loving something above all else, for a me-knit I absolutely love my Lilybelle hat, the lace is just so intricate but super duper easy to knit. I equally love my Bobbie hoody, I can hear my Nana’s voice echoing in my ear as she pulled my jerseys down lower saying “keep your kidneys warm.” In Southern New Zealand its rather chilly for most of the year so it gets a lot of use - now I just need to make one for my 4 other children!

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
Wow - that is a tricky question! I would love to meet up and pick the brains of Justyna Lorkowska and Georgie Hallam about kids knits. Oh definitely Andi Satterlund as I love all things vintage inspired and would love to chat to her about adults garments as one day I would love to try my hand at that - but I just don’t feel confident enough quite yet!

Instagram ID: hollyberrydesigns
Facebook:HollyBerry Designs 

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

5 minutes with...Sweet Paprika Designs

As part of the Indie Design Giftalong 2015 I am featuring short interviews with a few designers I have come across during the event. Today we have Elizabeth Sullivan aka Sweetpaprika on Ravelry

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
I love the creative process and trying to transform ideas from my head into actuality. Sometimes more successfully than others, but that’s all part of the process. I also love seeing people make and enjoy my designs.

©Sweet Paprika Designs

Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere! Often a yarn or a stitch pattern inspires me, but when I’m actively searching for ideas I start looking at everything around me: colour combinations of my son’s toys, sewer grates while out for a walk, embroidery motifs, vintage clothing shaping, street fashion… It’s kind of like my brain starts buzzing and everything becomes a possible starting point for a new design.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
I started trying to design stuff for myself as a teenager, long before I ever thought of publishing a pattern. I wish I’d known a bit more about garment construction back then. I think it would have saved me a lot of half-finished sweaters! Socks and hats were my most successful early design attempts.

Which is your favourite design and why?
That’s such a tough question! One of my designs that I’m most proud of is Leif the Lucky because it was kind of an accidental design. I had three colours of yarn leftover that I wanted to make into a hat for my brother as a Christmas present. I wanted it to be really warm so decided to work it in double knitting, threw in some Latvian braid and once I knew I had enough yarn left added earflaps. I love the way it turned out and I probably wouldn’t have chosen the construction method I did if I’d had unlimited yarn of each colour, but it really worked for this design. Plus my brother loved it too and it’s always satisfying to know that a knitted gift is well appreciated!

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
I’ve met and worked with so many people online that I’ve never met in real life and it would be so great to sit down and have dinner with them all. Maybe not all at once though – that would be a big dinner!
If I had to choose only 3: Barbara Walker (my knitting hero), Jennifer Wood (who I’ve been working with for several years now), and Julia Trice (I’ve long admired both her designs and her articulate and supportive Ravelry posts).

Instagram ID: sweetpaprikadesigns

Monday, 23 November 2015

5 minutes with Corrine Walcher

As part of my participation in the Indie Designer GAL I have a series of '5 minute interviews' lined up with a few designers whose work caught my eye.

First up we have Corrine Walcher aka Gingy on Ravelry who has a great range of designs including socks and accessories.
Designs by Corrine Walcher

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
I love that I can make people happy with things that come out of my brain, and that I can work from home while taking care of my family. It’s really a luxury. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I love the math for sizing. And I hate it too, but mostly I love it for keeping my brain active.

Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere! I see patterns in nature, I see interesting shapes, and I want to turn that into something tactile. Sometimes it’s a theme or fictional or historical character assigned to me by a dyer for a club, and I’ll let my imagination go from there.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
I always thought knitting design was magical - think of the first time you turned a heel - until I got a good grasp on the fundamentals. Once I had the knowledge that it isn’t really magic, it sort of fell into place. Or maybe it is magic, and I’ve just learned how to harness it.

Which is your favourite design and why?
My favorite design of my own? I think Key Largo. It’s the first time I really challenged myself and wrote a multi-sized pattern aside from a sock. I’ve knit a lot of sweaters - a lot, seriously - but I wanted something just mine. Serendipitously, Mrs. Crosby Plays needed something in one of their new bases, and contacted me.
Key Largo by Corrine Walcher

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
Cat Bordhi - she turned me into a sock knitter. I learned to knit with two circulars for her and now I churn out a pair of socks in a couple of days. Before that, with dpns, I felt like I was wrestling an octopus. And I’ll tell you, nobody else does a knitting video like her. When I do a provisional cast-on, I’m singing “Waaaaaaaaay up high! Waaaaay down low” in my head.

Elizabeth Zimmerman - I suspect we are very much alike. No-nonsense, get-it-done sort of people. Alas I’m too late for her to join me.

Maureen Foulds - she’s one of my dearest friends but we live far apart. She’s been instrumental in my designs from day one: helping with aspects I didn’t quite grasp, proof reading, even test knitting and helping with my advertising.

A big thank you to Corrine for answering my nosy questions. If you would like to follow her on social media she is on Twitter and Instagram as well as on Ravelry.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Indie Designer Giftalong 2015

Aaand..they're off

The 3rd annual Indie Design Giftalong has now started over on Ravelry.

335 designers from 30 countries have combined to offer a fabulous 25% discount on selected patterns. Use code giftalong2015 at checkout from Thursday, November 19th at 8:00 pm US EST - Friday, November 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm US ES.

Louise Tilbrook Designs: GAL Patterns
As well as the sale and the chance to find some new-to-you designers there are KALs, competitions and general chatter happening over on the Indie Design Giftalong group.

 As you might expect I'll be hanging out in the thread related to sock and other foot/leg patterns but I can never resist checking out all the other amazing patterns - and I do need a new hat for winter....

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Gotland Socks - In Progress

Last week I talked about the start of my adventure into knitting with 100% British wool and the #breedsswatchalong project. On a recent visit to my LYS - the wonderful and charming Sheep Shop, Cambridge - a selection of 4ply Blacker Yarns caught my eye.

Gotland 4ply from Blacker Yarns

The Gotland 4ply from Blacker Yarns came in a wonderful range of muted greys, from pale to dark and I knew immediately that 2 balls were destined to come home with me to make a pair of 100% British wool socks.

Here I departed slightly from the KnitBritish recommendation to knit an 8" swatch. Sorry Louise, but an 8" square on a yarn worked at 32st per inch is not going to happen in my lifetime :)

I decided to do the next best thing and knit a sock toe. Let's face it, I'm sure a lot of sock knitters work out their gauge by doing this. I for one, very rarely try to convert a gauge knit flat into one knit in the round and the various methods for working around this have never really struck a cord with me. If I'm going to see what gauge I get with a sock yarn I find it a lot easier and more relevant to just start knitting a sock. It could explain why I have so many abandoned sock toes on needles strewn around my house but anyway, I digress.

I knit a sock toe (on 2.25mm needles) and was very taken with the resulting fabric. Firm and dense yet with a great halo and a definite warmth - this yarn would make totally fabulous warm socks. I can't speak to their durability, although I'm sure the firm gauge will help with that, but I'm going to carry on and see what I come up with.

In this fabulous article on using breed specific yarns for socks, Sue Blacker suggests that there may be some felting on the inside of 100% Gotland socks due to the nature of the wool, but I'm game to give it a go. I will report back...