In the knitting basket

It has been far too long since I shared any of my works in progress with you. Today it is all about texture.

First up two personal knitting projects. They are both plodding along very slowly, but there is nothing wrong with a slow knit.

Parachutey by Stephen West in Kalinka Linen. The colours in this top make my heart sing (and dance and stomp about in pure glee). The linen is interesting to work with and my wrists can take a bit of a beating after a while but the resulting fabric is magnificent.

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Next up is the Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart. I am knitting this in the most amazingly soft yarn from Kettle Yarn Co – Westminster (50% silk / 50% baby Camel). I love how the eyelets give a wonderfully simple textured detail to this beautiful design. Letting the yarn shiny in all its glory.

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Next up I have two new designs I am working on. These will be with you in a few weeks.

First up are some socks knitted in Hartlam Calvinia in the colourway “I Dare You”. Knitted from the top down they include all the elements I love in socks at the moment.  A little bit of lace, a whole lot of rhythm and texture, oh glorious texture. My new favourite heel, the garter short row adds to the smorgasbord of texture going on here. Watch this space for details on their release.

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Last but certainly not least is a cowl knitted in fabulous yarn from Ginger’s Hand Dyed in Edinburgh. Combining two of her gorgeous DK bases in perfect winter hues this reversible cowl looks far more complicated than it actually is. This project is perfect for mixing and matching single skeins of yarn and would work for sock, DK, aran and chunky. Keep your colour palette neutral or go wild with colour. More details soon.

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What are you knitting at the moment?

Creative Blog Hop

A little while ago the brilliant blogger, writer and social media / marketing guru for the knitting world GreenTriangleGirl aka aplayfulfday nominated me in the Creative Blog hop. The idea is each person blogs with their answers to four standard questions and nominates two people to continue the chain.

I have really enjoyed reading answers by those who have already taken part and feel honoured to be part of this process.

Here is my contribution:

What am I working on?

At the moment I am really focussing on finding my feet.

Currently my life resembles a treadmill where someone has turned up the pace and my little legs are going as fast as they can to keep up with the belt. I am working very hard and am proud to say my legs are getting stronger and the strides are getting longer. Some days I can’t believe I am still standing, but I am and I relish a good challenge.

This year has been pretty huge for me on the work front and things are really picking up. This is wonderful and I am infinitely grateful for each and every opportunity that comes my way. As a bit of background, I had dabbled a little bit in some technical editing work when my daughter first arrived but had planned to go back to work in my old field. I never thought of myself as someone who would thrive on being self-employed. I am not sure why this is because I could not have been more wrong, it’s great working for myself and the world of freelancing is where I belong. I love it.

After building up my client base I finally took the big plunge a few weeks ago and went fully freelance (technically part-time I suppose as I wanted to balance my time between work and my little one). I have not looked back since. Current projects include technical editing and layout design, collaborations with fabulous indie-dyers for design collections of my own and researching for some pieces of writing commissioned by a knitting magazine.

No day is ever the same and I am very fortunate to have a good balance of creative design work and ordered more technical work, the perfect match for me.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a difficult question for me. I am the ‘new kid on the block’, I am carving out a place for myself in this sector and that will take time. Actually, I think it will always be a ‘work in progress’. I have an interesting mix of skills and this has translated into an interesting mix of work within this sector.

On the client work front I like to think of myself as someone who is balanced and brings a wealth of experience from different sectors together to be the most effective editor and designer I can be for each individual client. In the past decade I have been on what some might think of a very varied and rather random journey. I started out studying photography, then worked in media selling advertising for a national newspaper, then shifted focus and worked in the humanitarian sector before studying to be a teacher. During this time I lived and worked on three continents; loving life and taking random opportunities to up sticks and move on as they presented themselves. I think this gives me a pretty unique set of skills. I love being behind the camera, I am passionate about creating with my hands and am equally comfortable behind a laptop screen plugging away at excel or tinkering about with a client layout. Having worked in fast paced deadline driven environments I thrive on the pressure that an imminent deadline brings (always useful when submissions are due).

Why do I create what I do?

I love making things work. At heart I am a problem solver who likes to look at the puzzle pieces and put them together, finding the missing pieces and working out where they are or how the gaps can be filled in the most effective way. This is why I love technical editing and layout work as a combined project for a client. Technical editing is a puzzle with maths, words and structure. I find the process of reading a pattern, knitting the design in my head and plugging the numbers into a spreadsheet very satisfying. Bringing the technical elements together with the words and watching the design dance across the page is pure magic. Sometimes when I am engrossed in my knitting I feel as if my fingers are dancing across the needles, the yarn turning and twisting through my fingers, I become entranced by the process of creating. I find the same joy in watching words and numbers combine into a brilliant pattern.

Combining this technical work with the creative process of designing a layout brings together a package that really works for designers. I love walking people through the process of what they want, what they need, what works for them, what they would like to avoid and then combining all of this together into a style that screams “I am xxxx”. The knitting world is a busy place and it is important to know who you are and have an identity that speaks to those who love your work and support you as a creative. A good pattern and layout design is just one tiny part of the process but I love being part of it, and that is why I have chosen to do what I do.

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How does my creative process work?

I am an ideas person, ask the people close to me and they will attest to the fact that I have no shortage of ideas. I really do need a few more days in my week. I like to get all my ideas out there, frequently in a stream of consciousness to my husband the second he walks through the door. Then I like to let things simmer away, tinkering here and there, pondering the multiple options and waiting for the last minute before the deadline where I pull everything together in a blaze of glory and produce a finished product. (Okay maybe it is less of a blaze of glory sometimes and a mad dash to the finish line). I doubt this is the optimum way to work, waiting for the last minute, and in all honesty I do a lot of work before the deadline is even close. However, I always seem to have the most focus when I have no other option but to focus. With weeks to go my mind easily wanders off to my next brilliant plan, it is only in the final days that I can neatly tie up loose ends and bring something to life.

Between the idea and the mad rush for the finish line there is a process. It always involves my notebook and a pen. I love my computer but there is something about putting pen to paper that makes a difference to the way my brain works. I also like to talk to my nearest and dearest about ideas, problems and potential solutions. Articulating the process helps me to digest it a little better.

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There you have it. A little bit more about who I am, what I am doing and why. I have a new blog series planned about getting started and am just putting the final touches to the first posts. Watch this space for more details.

In the spirit of the creative blog hop I would like to nominate two fabulous ladies who are rocking their own sectors of this industry at the moment.

The first is someone who has been a brilliant source of inspiration to me in the last year. Jess from Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh has a way with the dye pots and a fabulous bricks and mortar shop.

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My second nomination is my favourite northerner Jo the voice behind the Shinybees podcast and half of the brilliant The Golden Skein team.

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The golden skein

 

The moment when something screams “knit me”

I really do love the moment when something comes across my desk and it just screams “knit me”. During my Saturday morning editing stint there were two such moments. In all honesty it took a lot of restraint to not down tools, dig in the stash box and start swatching.

Now they are both live on Ravelry I just had to share them with you. They are both very special in their own way and I could not help but shout about them.

The first combines many of my knitting loves; lace weight yarn, beautiful stylish shapes in airy fabric and the clever use of techniques, think i-cords and ways of combining yarn that you don’t see very often. Pellucid by Dieuwke van Mulligen is something really special. 

Copyright: Dieuwke van Mulligen. Used with permission.

Copyright: Dieuwke van Mulligen. Used with permission.

Using Fyberspates Gleem Lace (55% wool / 45% silk) this would be a luxurious and stylish addition to your autumn wardrobe and with some clever layering it could take you through winter and pop you out into spring again (yes, I am already thinking of spring and autumn only just started – that is the Southern Hemisphere in me).

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I am seriously tempted to cast this on, I have two shades of grey lace weight that I think would work very well together.

The next design is another pattern that I feel will soon be adorning my needles with some sumptuous grey yarn. David O’Kelly (the lovely partner of Victoria Magnus from Eden Cottage Yarns) launched Quadratic over the weekend. It is an excellent example of how a simple concept can transform into something quite magical with the right combination of shape, yarn and colour.

Copyright: Victoria Magnus / David O'Kelly. Used with permission.

Copyright: Victoria Magnus / David O’Kelly. Used with permission.

A triangular shawl knitted from the bottom up in squishing garter stitch with bands of stocking stitch featuring luxurious Hayton (MCN) in a steely grey and bright Autumn shades in BFL Sock. What’s not to love.

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I can see myself knitting one of these in a skein of yarn from The Golden Skein, I have the perfect grey main colour. To top it off I have some silk / merino mini skeins I bought at Unwind that would make the perfect stripes. I might cast this on for my trip to Yarndale in a few weeks. It would make the perfect train knitting project.

This pattern is 50% off until midnight on the 6th of September with the code QUAD50.

There are so many new patterns on Ravelry this week. Have you spotted anything that screams “Knit me”?

Happy knitting.

Cx

 

Cuboid

Copyright: The Knitter/Philip Sowels (Used with permission)

Copyright: The Knitter/Philip Sowels (Used with permission)

I am so excited to share this design with you. Cuboid was born about a year ago when I first started out designing socks. I instantly fell in love with the stitch pattern and the shapes created by the simple lace juxtaposed against the garter stitch. I made a tiny little sock for my then tiny little baby.

Life has changed a lot since I first made that sock. I now have a willful young toddler who is certainly not teeny tiny anymore (I blame the giant husband genes), I live in a different country and am taking my first steps into a successful freelance career with many more exciting designs to come.

I initially wanted to use this design in my Sock Anatomy book, I found a striking green yarn and knitted up the samples. I quickly ran into problems though as I could not grade the pattern into the small increments needed for baby, toddler and child socks. The design was shelved as I worked on other patterns. I could not leave the design though, I knew it was going to make a beautiful sock, for me it just worked. The elements combined in a way that made my heart sing.

To say I was chuffed when The Knitter agreed to commission this sock would be an understatement. I was ecstatic. I could hardly contain my excitement and remaining cool, calm and collected was nigh impossible.

And now many months after that day when they called to say they wanted the sock I can present to you Cuboid. 

Knitted in Knitting Goddess Britsock, a magical blend of 60% Wool, 20% Nylon (Polyamide) and 20% Alpaca. 

The magazine (The Knitter – issue 0075) is available in good newsagents throughout the UK and I know you can have it sent overseas too as a good friend of mine in South Africa gets her copy every month. More details can be found on The Knitter’s website. 

Copyright: The Knitter/Philip Sowels (Used with permission)

Copyright: The Knitter/Philip Sowels (Used with permission)

Edina

Good morning,

Today sees the launch of the third pattern in the Head to Toe series. Please welcome Edina to the fold.

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September: Summer draws to a close

The days are starting to shorten and the cooler weather is arriving. These gorgeous mitts come in two lengths and are perfect for dressing up an outfit, or adding a touch of class to your early autumn wardrobe. An elegant design with mirrored cabled details that flow along the arm and around the thumb. The perfect accessory to take you from summer to autumn.

You will need one skein of DK for this pattern. The mitts shown were designed using the fabulous Ginger’s Hand Dyed, and I know she has lots of lovely colours in stock at the moment. 

Ginger’s Hand Dyed Yarn Sturdy Spledor DK (100 g / 3.53 oz, 250 m / 273 yds, 75% merino / 25% silk), 1 skein. Sample shown in the colourway ‘Dove’

You can buy Edina as a single pattern for £3 or as part of the ebook for £10. Please visit my Ravelry store to purchase your copy. 

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Happy knitting

C

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Autumn, a fresh start and a new design

Creative Commons - Purple Sherbet photography

Creative Commons – Purple Sherbet photography

Tomorrows marks the meteorological start of Autumn. I had not even real thought about it until I started seeing my Southern Hemisphere friends posting about summer being on its way on social media.

I can’t quite believe summer is over at the end of today. The air is a little crisper here in Edinburgh but the days are still lovely. This morning we went on a long family bike ride which was the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. The weather was cooler, not so muggy but the sky is still blue and the sun still shining.

Autumn marks a big turning point for me, a fresh start on the blog. It is knitting season and I have so much going on that I can’t wait to share with you. I have taken a little break from blogging to regroup and have a lot planned for September and beyond, starting tomorrow when I launch the third pattern in the Head to Toe series. Hope you have a restful Sunday, pop back tomorrow for more details about the new pattern.

Here is another sneak peak of the design … its perfect for autumn!

Edina

C

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Maryfield

In July I launched my Montrose hat – a slouchy lace beret showcasing the fabulous merino / silk 4ply from Ginger’s Hand Dyed. The hat only uses 50 – 60g of the 100g skein and I could not let the remainder of the skein languish in my stash box. To make sure I got to use every inch of the skein I designed some quirky and elegant mitts. Maryfield was born.

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Fabulous, stylish and funky, these mitts have Jess’s name all over them. I love them and so does she. Maryfield is available in two styles and three sizes.

The pattern has been released as a special kit pattern available at Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh and online from Jess’s shop. The comprises of a skein of Ginger’s Hand Dyed Splendor a 50% Merino / 50% silk blend, a hard copy of Montrose (hat) and Maryfield (mitts) plus digital download codes for both patterns. This kit comes in a beautifully sewn project bag made by the fabulous Jess and retails for £25.

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This pattern is exclusive to the Ginger Twist Studio kits until after the book launch in October.

Have a wonderful Friday folks and a fabulous knitting filled weekend.

Clare x

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An Interview

Things have been a little slow on the blog lately. I am finding my feet in the world of freelancing. It is great and I am loving every second of it, although the pace at the moment is a little fast.

That said, I wanted to pop past and share this podcast interview with you. I met up with Jo from the Shinybees podcast at Unwind in Brighton last month.

http://shinybees.com/2014/08/25/episode-20-pack-up-your-troubles/

If you would like to know a little bit more about me and how I am finding my place in the knitting world drop past and listen to this excellent podcast. The interview also features George from Yarn Garden who is a fantastic dyer from Newcastle.

Happy listening and happy knitting.

C
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Brunswick

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Yesterday saw the release of Brunswick, the second pattern in the Head to Toe collection. I am very excited about this capelet / shawlette. I wanted to capture Jess in the design, her quirky vintage style is the inspiration behind the entire collection. The tricky bit was I needed to get a functional piece from a single skein. I think I did it with a stylish flair, hopefully you agree.

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Brunswick is knitted from the top down, featuring cable details along the front panels and a feather and fan style lace border. The edging is finished with a pretty looped picot bind off. The capelet can be worn wrapped around your shoulders and secured with the button and i-cord fastening, or you could use a pretty shawl pin or brooch.

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The capelet uses a single skein of Delight, a high twist 100% Merino 4 ply with 365m / 400 yes per 100g.

The pattern is available as a single download for £3.50 or as part of the ebook for £10 (featuring four gorgeous patterns).

To celebrate the launch of Brunswick I will be giving blog readers a 30% discount on this pattern for the for the next 24 hours. Just use the code brunswickblog30 at the Ravelry check out. The pattern will cost £2.45 with this discount code. 

Here are some more pictures of the gorgeous and versatile Brunswick.

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Don’t forget about the KAL in the group where we will be knitting all the Head to Toe patterns until the end of October. There are lots of fun prizes to win and a really friendly bunch of knitters to chat to. 

Have a wonderful weekend.

Happy knitting

C

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In the dye pots this week …

Today is a momentous day! I have finished my last day of formal employment and the world of freelancing awaits me. I am very excited. Lots more news to come over the coming weeks.

First up, some design / knitting news. Tomorrow sees the release of Brunswick, the second pattern in the Head to Toe series. And to celebrate there has been lots of dye pot action. Not by me though. The talented Jess from Ginger Twist has been working hard to make sure there is a fabulous selection of yarns available for those of you want to wrap yourself in the utterly gorgeous Ginger’s Hand Dyed. If you have not worked with these yarns before you are in for a treat. Jess has a real eye for colour and her yarns are magical to work with.

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Which yarn should you pick? Well, the pattern was designed with Delight, a high twist merino sock yarn. I wanted to show how this yarn could be far more than socks. Not that I have anything against socks, but I love this versatile base and wanted to show it off. Brunswick does just that. I love this base it is wonderful to work with and really takes the dye well so the colours are fantastic.

You can also use Luscious, this is a new and very luxurious base that Jess has just started stocking. This yarn is very squish worthy. With 70% wool with 20% silk and 10% cashmere, its really is a touch of luxury. 

Jess and I had a long chat about colours at the start of the week before she hit the dye post. She has dyed up a spectacular array of colours in preparation for the release of Brunswick tomorrow. She has also been kind enough to offer a sneak peak behind the scenes. I thought you would like to see the process behind the yarns available.

Yarn soaking waiting for the magic to start.

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The magic is all in these bottles.

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Then the magic starts to happen. Yarn is dyed and then rinsed.

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Finally the yarn is dried and it is almost ready to be brought to the shop for squishing, caking and knitting.

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Jess has dyed up lots of gorgeous yarn and will be restocking the (bricks and mortar) shop tomorrow, so why not pop past and grab a gorgeous skein of hand dyed to cast on Brunswick this weekend? If you are not in Edinburgh you will be able to buy yarn from her online shop at any time and the new yarns will be listed no later than Sunday. 

In the Delight base, 100% merino you can get a skein of Liquid Sunshine (a fabulous yellow), Changing the Brief (the stunning colourway used in the design sample), Grey Gardens (it is grey – need I say more?), Cherry Bomb (a striking red) and Tink (Lavender and Perimwinkle blue, a pretty special colourway). 

Want to add a touch of luxury to your life? Try Luscious (wool, silk and cashmere) in Dove (my favourite shade of grey), Witching Hour (the cousin of Changing the Brief, a rich and sumptuous colourway) Changing the Brief (rich purple and blue used in the design sample) and Persuasion (a sophisticated shade of teal blue). 

Plenty of options and each colourway would suit the design perfectly. One skein is all you need for the Brusnwick shawl. The pattern will be launched tomorrow and I would love for you to come along and join in with us in the KAL over in my Ravelry group. All yarns are welcome in the Rav group too!

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Happy knitting

Clare

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