Happy Valentines Day if that is your kind of thing!
Will you be going to Unravel this year? I always enjoy Unravel–its location in the Maltings, all the fun events and vendors, the atmosphere all come together to make a lovely weekend.
This year will be a bit different for me, as I am both teaching and giving a talk (!). I was surprised when the organisers asked about a talk, and not only that, but specifically something about my journey as a knitter. It seemed a tall order to speak about myself for 40 minutes; even if I thought of something to say, who would come listen to me go on and on? Well, we will find out Sunday….
The first Curious Handmade Country House retreat happened in March, and I was green-eyed with jealously that I couldn’t make it. So I was thrilled when Helen asked me if I would teach a workshop at the second retreat. I joined a stately-home full of lovely knitters for fantastic weekend at the end of October in the gently rolling hills of Cumbria, and took my camera for a little walkabout in between endless cups of tea and the coziest hours spent knitting in front of the fire.
The next CH Country House Retreat will happen in March, just before the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Be sure to sign up for the Curious Handmade newsletter if you would like to find out more!
I am pretty sure that travel is good for me. It is just healthy to occasionally get out of the routine, right?
My trip to the Squam Art Workshops in June was wonderful for so many reasons; because I travelled to a beautiful part of the world and spent time with my people, but also because I had the chance to meet new people who are doing exciting things on the other side of the pond, a few of these I would like to share with you today.
In addition to the full day workshops that attendees sign up for, there are several shorter, drop-in activities going on, including Tierney Barden‘s Fairy Tales and Paper Cutting, which was incredibly fun! My efforts from that afternoon:
I also had the pleasure of meeting Marce, aka BrownBerry, who documented her time in Squam with this sweet podcast:
Marce was accompanied by Nancy, who I met at Squam last year. I’ve been following Nancy Instagram posts of her yoga practice and fitness regime which I find really inspiring; have a look if you enjoy watching superfit people get more fit.
Finally, I was incredibly lucky to have the wonderful Amor from Crave Yarn as my roommate, who allowed me to run off with this gorgeous skein of her Thoreau yarn, a fingering/4 ply yarn of 50% yak, 50% silk in the Stolen Seas colourway (the photo really doesn’t give an accurate impression of the subtlety of the blue).
It is so soft and luxurious that I don’t even want to wind it into a cake. I am more than happy to admire it in the skein until I have time to pay some proper attention to it!
I love teaching people new knitting techniques. It is one of the most rewarding things I do.
I also love learning new things and I’ve had some wonderful learning opportunties recently.
First of all, I was lucky enough to grab the last place at Karie Westermann’s Nordic Traditions workshop at Wild and Woolly. It was great, even though Karie totally skewered my ardent desire to learn all about ‘traditional’ knitting by explaining the way that tradition is often the recent invention of savvy knitwear marketers….
And shortly after that, I got to attend the Squam Spring retreat, where I took a wonderful hap workshop with Gudrun Johnston and a photography/styling workshop with Helene Dujardin, which resulted in some excellent photographs of my new shawl design, Lakelet.
I was assisted by my beautiful classmate Michelle (modelling above), and Helene herself, who was kind enough to take the following 2 photos.
We practiced our styling (and posing!) with a design I have been wearing quite regularly now, Beetlebum:
Classes and Events coming up
On the other side of the coin, I have been enjoying teaching in several new venues, particularly The Yarn Dispensary, where I will be teaching Next Steps Brioche July 9th.
Are you going to Fibre East 30-31 July? I will be there with Kettle Yarn Co. (as is my habit) and I would love to see you. If you are going, please do come by and say hello!
The last event of the summer for me is a trunk show at Purlescence 20 August. From Purlescence:
This time, we’ll be welcoming not one but two guests. Linda of KettleYarnCo will be bringing along a stunning selection of her hand-dyed yarns, and providing inspiration for the yarn will be Renee of EastLondonKnit.
As well of plenty of yarn and other knitterly goodies to browse, they’ll also be plenty of tea and cake to enjoy while you catch up with some friends and settle down on the sofa with some knitting.
We’ll be open between 10 and 4 at our premises in Leckhampstead, just off the 4 near Newbury, and have plenty of free parking available.
Last time I posted about my old studio and my travels on the road to become an independent knitwear designer.
This time I just wanted to post a quick photo diary showing the progression of my new studio. I know there are so many incredibly talented people who are able to perform this kind of transformation on their own, but I had a great set of builders in to do it for me.
Our garage was full of stuff and on its way to becoming a junk store when I decided to have a studio in there instead. It isn’t massive, obviously. It is a single garage with no insulation and had a way to go before I could use it.
Before the building, but after some serious cleaning out occurred…
I was especially keen on natural light, and the ability to put in large skylights was the deciding factor with going ahead.
The builders did an amazing job, separating off a small section of garage from a well-lit craft room. They put in laminate flooring with under-floor heating, power points, shelves and lighting. With a little help from IKEA, we were ready to go…
Once I had moved everything I could fit from the old studio, there is not a lot of room left over, but it is a tiny perfect space with everything I need.
Although this is quite a reduction from the previous studio, I am so happy with the result. I never have to worry about the rent going up again! It gives me the space and time to really work on my own designs and projects and dreams, such as my first hand-knit collection. This first baby of mine, the Klee Collection, is so very close to being ready, I can hardly wait to show you.
My recent outing to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival was particularly exciting, not only because it was a wonderful event put on by fabulous people, but also because I had the good fortune to take a couple of classes. I am a big fan of education in general and was quite the professional student until I took up knitting. I don’t get the opportunity to take so many classes these days, so the Edinburgh Yarn Festival was a real treat.
Saturday morning I took DIY hat design with Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits. I love Emily’s knitwear. There is something really down to earth and wearable about her designs, so I was really looking forward to hearing what she had to say about her design process. (Spoiler: whatever it is, don’t over-design it.) After an inspirational presentation, we got down to the knitty gritty and everyone worked on their own hat designs.
There was a nice mix of those who just wanted to have a go and those who were gearing up to take on designing as a job. Admittedly, I wasn’t terribly focused on the task at hand, and as a result I don’t have much to show for my first class, but it was enjoyable and I have a few ideas to knit up someday.
I also took a class about the Lopi sweater shaping with Helene Magnusson, aka the Icelandic Knitter. I got 2 things in particular from this class. First yarn-over short rows are awesome. Second, I really must to go Iceland someday. It sounds amazing.
Helene modeled her nearly finished Lopi cardigan and used miniature Lopi sweaters to demonstrate different shaping methods–they were the cutest damn educational aids I have ever seen.
It’s like a bug–I am already trying to figure out how I can take some more classes soon! Suggestions for UK-based learning opportunities are welcome!!! What is the best class you have ever taken?
I am nearly recovered from a really great weekend at the Unravel Festival of Knitting.I have been looking forward to it for what feels like such a long time. With suitcases full of workshop materials, knitting and camera, I waddled my way to Farnham Maltings for the first time. Now I can hardly believe I have missed it all these years. It was a great show! So much gorgeous yarn! While it was quite busy, it wasn’t painfully manic and I got to meet so many great people who came by the lovely Kettle Yarn Co. stand where I was helping out.
Kettle Yarn Co. stand
Not an extrovert by nature, it isn’t always so comfortable for me to chat to people, but everyone was very friendly, and a big thanks to Lynsey, Emily and the whole Unravel team, who even came around with candy to help keep the energy levels up.
I was especially looking forward to/terrified of the workshop I was running; Revamp that Jumper and Learn to Love Again…. I had a really lovely group of people who came with unloved knitwear and great attitudes. I meant to take some action shots, but it turns out I was quite busy for the whole two hours, so here are some pics of the haberdashery ‘before’,
I have always loved the LOVER….
It was nearly closing time on Sunday when I realized I hadn’t visited the rest of the show and seen all the other great vendors. I grabbed the camera and ran off to chat to the vendors, grope the yarn and check out the woolly art installations. Frankly, I also went for cake, but, in the single negative experience of the weekend, the cake was sold out. Heartbreaking though that was, there were so many great things this weekend, I didn’t shed a single tear.
‘Growth’ crochet installation at Unravel
Blue Jumper installation
‘I knit because…’ installation
The Main Hall, just before closing. Don’t worry, I won’t give up my day job.
So it would be super duper fab if you, yes you! would join me at Unravel in Farnham Maltings, at which I will be hosting a workshop on rejuvenating your unloved knitwear on Sunday 22 February. I would really love to see your unloved and unworn knits, and work with you to resuscitate those jumpers, hats, scarves or whatever you may have around that needs a little work and affection.
In the spirit of making do and mending, I thought I would show and tell a jumper I worked on not so long ago.
Inspired by the gorgeous work of the lovely Julie of Knitted Bliss and, of course, Tom of Holland, Master Darner, I was keen to repair a particularly holey sweater I came across. It was one for the bin rather than the charity shop, so I figured there was no risk in trying some visible mending.
I didn’t mind the process, although I hadn’t considered my old eyes when I decided to darn a fine-gauge sweater. It seemed to get finer as the darning when on, and there was always one more hole than I thought there would be.
OK, it’s not the most beautiful craftsmanship ever. I had imagined very neat and beautiful darning, but mine turned out rather more, err, rustic.
Nevertheless, I am pretty happy with it.
I do hope to see you at Unravel. If you can’t make the workshop, it would still be great to see you. I will be loitering at the Kettle Yarn Co. booth–please come and say ‘hi’!
Two weeks into the new year have slipped by already! As with every year, I think I will get much done during the holidays (reading, knitting, plotting my global takeover, etc.) but really only manage to eat, drink and be merry, which is really the point of the holidays–taking a break to spend time with people you love and even some you like, right?
Well, I am in full-blown planning mode for 2015, and am really looking forward to this shiny new year. Good stuff is going to happen!
The rest of the weekend I will loitering at the Kettle Yarn Co. stand to flog my patterns and Linda’s beauuuutiful yarn. This is the first of several events I will be accompanying Linda to to help out on the stand, meet knitters and sell patterns.
I will also be visiting the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March as a layperson. I am excited to have signed up for 2 classes and the market place looks like it will be great.
Those of you who know me will know that I loves me a resolution. This year it’s all about 2 words: participation and consolidation.
I tried new things in 2014 & I liked them. I really enjoy designing hand knits and feel like I have found my tribe with crafters of all sorts, and especially knitters. So this year I want to work on that relationship. I have to admit here that I am not much of a joiner. I have not actually participated in a knit-along yet, or been much for forum chat on Ravelry. But this year, I am going to connect by taking part in new things, such as knit alongs, and events and not be afraid to just introduce myself and make new friends.
The consolidation is one of skills and habits; I tried new things in 2014 that I want to continue in 2015, but better. Pattern writing, and grading, my blog and social media are all things I want to smooth out, improve and really delve into, with more tutorials, more finished objects (!), more patterns and maybe some interviews with some of the amazing people I have met in the past year in this industry.
It’s going to be a good year. I have a feeling.
p.s. there are still 2 days left on my 2 for 1 pattern sale! Have a look at my previous post for the discount code.