Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Wednesday WIP - Something New

If you were looking for Monday Mini Tip on Monday, I apologise. I had a really bad week last week and I just didn't manage to get the blog post written before the weekend and Monday was a public holiday here and my husband's 50th birthday so I took the day off. 

Simon, Vanessa and Emily on our day out yesterday. 

I'm also struggling with a shoulder injury I sustained four weeks ago when I slipped and fell in a hotel room bath. I already suffer from quite severe chronic upper back/shoulder/neck pain. As I fell, my right arm got pulled behind me and it was immediately very, very sore. In fact, I was a tiny bit worried that day that I may have injured or even broken my right upper arm. But I could move it to shoulder height so I decided to ignore it and carry on.

Over the first two weeks, the soreness and pain eased a little big and I got more movement but for the last two weeks there's been little improvement and the pain in my right shoulder has been severe. Problem is I'm already taking max painkillers daily so I can't take any more. This has meant I've gotten less computer work done but more knitting because, luckily, it doesn't hurt when I knit. 

On Friday, my massage therapist noticed that my right shoulder blade wasn't moving at all and that my shoulder joint was very inflamed. Afterwards I had a doctor's appointment and she confirmed that my shoulder blade wasn't moving. Hopefully it's just a strain but it may be a tear so I've been referred for a scan. In the meantime I've got to try to pace myself so I keep on top of my workload. 

The silver lining is that I'm getting more knitting done. I've spent a lot of time in the last week swatching for new designs, mainly for my next book, but I also cast on for a new design.

Last week when I was teaching at Spin A Yarn, I noticed four shades of Lang Merino 200 which looked beautiful together. I bought them without any idea of what I'd make. Last Wednesday, as I was swatching for new designs, I suddenly decided I'd design a poncho. I had a stitch pattern I was desperate to use in a new design soon, so I swatched and did the maths and cast on for my poncho.

I'm making good progress and I'm over halfway. We're going to Scotland on Friday for a long weekend (present to Simon from his sister - we're vising her and her husband) and I would love to be able to wear this poncho. But that means I've got to block it by early afternoon on Thursday which gives me exactly 48 hours from when I'm writing this (I wrote this yesterday afternoon). I've got a lot of knitting to do so I may not be able to manage that but I'll let you know how I get on.

I'm using four colours and each time I change colour, I work a few transition rows in a lacy garter stitch. I decided to add beads too but not too many. 

This design may become part of the Lace Wear Volume One Collection. It's between this one and another design which is on my needles. I'm hoping to publish the next pattern next week and when I do the price for the full collection will go up again. Each time I publish a new design the price will increase. If you purchase the collection now, you will receive the three designs already published and you'll automatically get each future design when it's published.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Noro Magazine Spring/Summer 2016

Photo by Sixth & Spring Books.

I've been really fortunate in recent months to be able to a few designs for Noro publications. I designed an asymmetric shawl for the Noro Silk Garden - The 20th Anniversary Collection which can be ordered now. I blogged about this design recently. 

Photo by Sixth & Spring Books.

The Noro Magazine has been a favourite since it was first published and I'm so excited that I've got a shawl in their Spring/Summer issue. This time I designed a top down hybrid triangular shawl. This shape is one of my favourites as it's such an easy shape to wear.

Photo by Soho Publishing

Here's what the pattern page says: The earthen tones of Silk Garden Sock colorway #417 give this triangular lace shawl - worked from the center neck down in traditional Alpine patterns - an ageless folkloric air. Accompanying the eyelet increases at the outer edges, twin double-eyelet columns form a Faroese-inspired center panel. An elastic Russian bind-off finishes the dainty scalloped edge.

Photo by Soho Publishing

Noro Magazine Spring/Summer issue will be in the shops soon. There's 29 patterns in this issue and I really like quite a few of them. I wish I had time to knit something for myself this summer.

Photo by Soho Publishing

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday WIP - Making Progress

I've finished the deadline shawl I've been working on recently. It is for a magazine and will be posted today. I'm very happy with how it looks and I can't wait to share it with you when it's published.

We had beautiful spring sunshine here on Sunday and after Emily's birthday lunch we drove up to Dartmoor and parked up by a stream and went for a little walk. I wasn't feeling 100% so I only walked a little bit then sat down and knitted in the sunshine. 

I finished the first sock of my Mudpunch pair on Saturday and cast on for sock number 2 so I'd have something easy to knit on during our day out on Sunday.

After finishing my deadline shawl, I got back to a project which I started recently. I'm using the Yarn Therapist MCN sock yarn (merino/cashmere/nylon). It's incredibly soft and I love knitting with this. I'm hoping this will become the final design in the Lace Wear Volume One Collection and that I can get it ready to be published in June.

At the moment I've published three designs in the Lace Wear Volume One Collection with three more to come. If you like what you see, I recommend you purchase it now. Each time I publish a pattern, I will increase the price again and I'm getting close to publishing pattern no 4.

I've had a little bit of stash enhancement this week too. On Monday, this lovely La Bien Aimee Field Bag (made by The Fringe Supply Co). I also got a skein of Merino Singles in a gorgeous purple. I've got a few ideas for this skein and I'm keen to cast on soon. As you can see from the photo above, I've already started using my yellow Field Bag.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Mini Tip Monday - How to deal with a pattern problem

You've purchased a pattern and you're knitting along when suddenly you come across a problem. What do you do? Message the designer privately through social media or Ravelry? E-mail the designer? Contact the yarn company? Pop in to your local yarn shop? Ask in your favourite online knitting forum? 

Knowing how to approach a problem will help get you a quicker response. 

So where do you go with your pattern questions? It depends on what the problem is and here's my advice. Please note that other designers may have a different opinion to me.

1. You think there may be an error in the pattern? 

I know every knitter hates an error in the pattern but unfortunately it happens. All publishers, magazines and professional designers have their patterns checked by a tech editor who checks if the pattern is correct, can be knitted as it's written, can be understood by knitters and will result in the item photographed. But we're all humans! We all make mistakes. Little things slip through. Sometimes big things slip through. Designers hate errors more than knitters do! But it happens.
  • Depending on who published the pattern, look on the designer's, yarn company's, publisher's, magazine's website and see if there's a list of errata. 
  • Many designers, including me, list errata on the Ravelry pattern page.
  • Double check your knitting and the pattern to make sure it's not you who's making a mistake. Check you've done what the pattern asks and that you've understood the pattern properly. If you read an instruction and it doesn't sound right, try actually doing it. You may find that it is actually correct and will work out.
  • If you can't find an errata on the designer's website or the Ravelry pattern page, then contact the designer via e-mail or ask in their Ravelry group if they have one.
  • Many designers are contactable via social media and Ravelry messages but most of use prefer e-mails for pattern help and questions as it makes it easier for us to keep track of what's happening.
Please do not make a statement complaining about the designer and the pattern online before you've checked that there is a problem and you've given the designer a chance to rectify the problem.

2. You don't understand how to work a stitch or a technique.
  • These days there is tons of useful information online. But be careful! Not everyone who uploads a You Tube video actually know what they're talking about! 
  • If you find a useful online source with lots of reference information, bookmark it so you can find it again easily.
  • Ask in the designer's Ravelry group or in a relevant Ravelry group (or other online forum).
  • Remember that one technique can be known by several different names.
So if you don't know how to do a Russian cast-off, it may be a waste of time to e-mail the designer because she may not be able to respond immediately. Instead, search online and check for You Tube videos.

I posted an errata re Eliza on the Ravelry pattern page 
after a knitter informed me that there were no instructions re casting off.

Here are a few other do's and dont's regarding asking for help.
  • If you've purchased a pattern or the yarn to knit it in your local yarn shop, then it's fine to ask them for help. They may be able to help you or they may suggest who you can contact. But if you've purchased the pattern and yarn online then I don't think it's appropriate to ask your local yarn shop for help. Most yarn shops are happy to help but they may be resentful if you're not a customer.
  • You've got a favourite designer or knitting teacher and you contact them for help with a pattern not designed by them because you know they're helpful and you've got their contact details. If you contact me with a question not relating to one of my patterns or workshops, I may still help you if I have time. But I'm very busy and I struggle to keep on top of my e-mails, so any questions not relating to one of my patterns will go to the bottom of the list and may not get a response at all if I'm too busy.
  • Try to find out how a designer wants to be contacted before you contact them. My Ravelry designer page states that I prefer to be e-mailed re pattern questions. I'm not on Ravelry daily. For the last 6 months I've struggled to keep up with my e-mails but I'm in the process of setting up a new system to make the process quicker and easier. I've now got a separate e-mail for customer queries ( and my aim is to respond to all e-mails within a week. I'm planning to have set days where I do certain routine tasks like responding to e-mails. I prioritise e-mails over Ravelry, Facebook or other social media messages.
Here's how to get designers to want to help you:
  • Don't be rude! You'd be amazed at some of the e-mails designers get.
  • I know e-mails are casual and that's fine but be polite. 
  • Ask if they can help you. 
  • Make sure you include as much info about your problem as possible.
  • Don't immediately assume it's a mistake in the pattern.
  • Give the designer a chance to respond. Most designers are small one person businesses and they have families and outside responsibilities. I have received e-mails during the night or at weekends with a follow up e-mail within hours if I haven't responded. 
         1. I sleep so won't respond to e-mails overnight. 
         2. I work set office hours and I have a lot to fit into those hours. 
         3. I try to take weekends & evenings off, so even if I'm posting online I won't                      respond to messages.
  • If you work out the problem and don't need help, let the designer know. Click on your original e-mail in your 'sent folder' and forward it with a note saying you no longer need help as that will help the designer connect your second e-mail to your original one. 
One of my workshops at Spin A Yarn who also hosts two knitting groups monthly.

Don't underestimate your local knitting group. There are lots of advantages to joining a local knitting group and one is that there may be people there who can help you. I am an active member of my local knitting group (Liskeard Knit & Knatter meets on Thursdays from approx 10.30 - 12.00 at Stuart House (next to the library) in Liskeard - new members are welcome) and I'm more than happy to help people and so are tall the other members in our group. 

But if you'd like help from your local knitting group, become an active member and attend regularly. Don't just turn up when you need help!

Here's my policy on dealing with pattern questions and problems.
  • If there's an error, please let me know. I want to be able to put it right and put up an errata on Raverly.
  • Check my Tutorials and Pattern Support page. I'm planning to add a frequently asked questions section.
  • If you think there's an error, check the Ravelry pattern page.
  • I prefer e-mails ( instead of Ravelry messages, Facebook messages or other social media messages.
  • Give me a week to respond. I'm busy and I have chronic health issues which means i can't spend all day on the computer. I've also got e-mail notifications turned off on my phone and tablet, otherwise I feel like I'm working 24/7.
  • I'm happy to answer questions regarding my own patterns but please do not e-mail me about general technique questions or about other designers' patterns.
  • I'm happy to help you with pattern questions or other technqiue questions in my workshops but please ask me before the class starts so I can decide when it would be best to fit it in. I usually help people at lunch-time because I'm not always able to stay on to help at the end of the class.
  • Join my Ravelry group. I'm trying to get my Ravelry group more active and to answer questions in there. It's something I'm still working on and need to improve on.
A little side note: if you love chatting in Ravelry groups, starting chat topics, help with hosting KALs, answer pattern queries - I'd love your help. I'm looking for more moderators for my Ravelry group. You'll need to be active in Ravelry groups, enjoy chatting and starting new topics. If you are familiar with some of my patterns and would be able to help answer easy questions that'd be a great help. I would need you to notify me of questions or issues I need to deal with. If you're interested please contact me (e-mail me on

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Baby is 18!

Emily is 18 today! She's my youngest and I can't believe she's 18 already. The last 18 years have gone so quickly. There's a special treat for you at the end of the post.

Emily used to love dressing up in 'princess' dresses.

Emily has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, young woman. She's doing her A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Philosophy and Ethics and she's hoping to go to Cardiff University in September to study Biochemical Sciences.

Emily's first day at secondary school when she was 11.

She has been playing the piano since she was at primary school and at the moment she's working towards her Grade 5 exam which she's sitting soon. She also loves walking, running and working out.

Emily with Father Christmas in Norway.
 I'm on the right and my grandparents are in the back ground.

She's also a keen scout. She started in Guides (that's the girls equivalent to scouts here in the UK although girls can join Scouts too now - it used to be for boys only) when she was around 5 years old and transferred to Scouts as a teenager. The highlight of her scouting career is probably her Explorer Belt expedition to the Czech Republic two years ago. For that trip they were divided into groups of four and they did a 10 day round trip in the Czech Republic without any proper adult supervision. They had to get from camp to camp, plan their days and manage their money and food etc. They had a great time!

Emily riding a horse in Norway. I'm walking next to her.

To celebrate Emily's 18th birthday, I'm offering 18% off in my Pattern Shop and in the YarnAddict Shop today, 24th April, only. The discount code: 18 will expire at midnight UK time. 
Emily with one of her cousins in Norway.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Yarn Shop Day 2016

Three years ago, Let's Knit started 'Yarn Shop Day' to support and promote yarn shops around the UK. These days we can buy yarn from the comfort of our own living rooms, so why do we want to make the effort to visit our local yarn shop? Your local yarn shop may not be that local. I consider Spin A Yarn my local yarn shop. But it's an hour's drive away. 

I wrote about the importance of yarn shops in my life as a knitter three years ago. You can read 'Love your yarn shop?' 

For the first yarn shop day and for last year's yarn shop day I spent the day at Spin A Yarn in Devon. You can read about last year's event here. This year I'm not attending a yarn shop event because it clashes with Simon's birthday weekend and Vanessa will be home. Also, I've got such a fully booked schedule this year that I just can't take on any more events.

30th April is Yarn Shop Day and I encourage you to find out where your local yarn shop is and if they're doing anything special that day. If they are, then get involved. If they're not, why not go along to support them anyway.

Most yarn shops have dedicated staff that love knitting and/or crochet. You can see and touch the yarns on display. You can see the colours in real life. Shopping in a shop is not the same as shopping online. The staff can advise you and help you choose the perfect project for you and the yarn to go with it. If you get stuck, they may be able to help you out.

One of my workshops a Sitting Knitting in Birmingham. 
I'll be back there in June to teach Toe Up Socks.

Many yarn shops also have knitting groups and workshops. Workshops give you the opportunity to improve your skills, learn something new and meet other knitters. Spending a whole day knitting and talking to people who love knitting as much as you do is fantastic. Most of us don't get to spend all day immersed in our craft so treating yourself to a workshop is wonderful. See my workshop schedule.

I've just been to my local knitting group this morning. I enjoy going most weeks to chat to sit down for an hour or two and knit and chat. Sometimes we may chat more than we knit. But the ladies at my local knitting group love knitting as much as I do. When we finish projects we bring them in to show off and everyone knows and appreciate the amount of effort that has gone into making it. If any of our members get stuck on their project, there's usually someone to help them out. And we have some interesting discussions and they don't all involve knitting. 

So this month, find out where your local yarn shop is and what they offer. Join their knitting group - many run knitting groups both during the day and in the evening. Pop in on 30th April and make a purchase, even if it's just a small one. If we don't support our yarn shops they will disappear from our high street.

Check out Let's Knit for events in your area for Yarn Shop Day!

Are you doing anything special for Yarn Shop Day? Tell me in the comments below.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wednesday WIPS - Deadline Knitting & Swatching

Another blog series I'm starting this week is Wednesday WIPS. Wips means 'works in progress' and I've got lots of those but most weeks I've got one or two that I focus on. If I've got design deadlines then that'll be my priority project. This week I'm mainly focusing on the shawl above because the deadline is next week and I've got a lot of knitting still to do. I can't show the details of this shawl because it's for a magazine but I'm loving how it's turning out. Aren't my flowers beautiful though? A friend gave them to me on Friday after we'd had a bit of a row.

One of the most challenging things for me as a designer is to keep the balance between working on current deadlines and self-published patterns as well as planning ahead and submitting to magazines and yarn companies. It's easy to get wrapped up in deadlines and forget to look ahead and then you suddenly find that your deadlines dry up. I've missed quite a few important magazine submission deadlines in the last year because I've been too focused on current design deadlines.

So this weekend I spent the vast majority of my knitting time swatching for new designs. Some are for yarn company and magazine design submissions and some are for self-published designs. I did some more swatching yesterday and I'm doing more in the week ahead but I need to make sure I alternate between swatching and knitting on my deadline shawl. 

I knit in church every week and I usually take something easy with me. My current easy 'take along' knitting is my Mudpunch sock. I'm using my Creme Caramel toe up sock pattern but instead of the heel included in the pattern, I'm doing an afterthought heel which is my preferred heel option for a stripey yarn like this. On Sunday, during church, I knitted from the top green marker. The yellow row is my waste yarn for the afterthought heel, which I'll remove later.

Want to learn to knit Toe Up Socks? I'm teaching my Toe Up Socks workshop at Sitting Knitting in Birmingham in June. Contact Sitting Knitting to book.  

Interested in learning more about afterthought heels? Know how to knit socks but are you getting bored with your regular heel and toes? I'm teaching my new 'Heels & Toes' workshop (this workshop is suitable for both toe up and top down sock knitters) at Artesano in Berkshire in June too. Contact Artesano to book.

What's on your needles this week? Share your wips in the comments or tag me on Instagram to share what you're working on.

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