Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Long Weekend

This weekend was a long weekend in the UK and I think it was a long weekend in the US too and perhaps other countries (I know it was in Norway). That makes today, which is a Tuesday, feel like a Monday and gives me 4 days to get 5 days worth of work done in. It's going to be a busy week. Emily is on half term this week. She's in the middle of AS level exams so will mainly be revising. Vanessa has finished her second year of university and came home on Friday night. She's home until July when she starts a year's work placement in Cardiff. In June she's off to Norway to visit my parents.

End of next week, Vanessa and I are off to London for 3 days. That means that I've got two short weeks in a row and I've got a very busy time coming up. From middle of June until early July it's non-stop here. First I'm off to Sutton Coldfield to teach at Sitting Knitting on 21 June (Pro Finishing, check with Rachel if there's still spaces). 

Three days after we get home, we're off to Cumbria for Woolfest. That means I've basically got to have most things ready for Cumbria/Woolfest before we go to Sutton Coldfield. The day after Woolfest, we drive on to Scotland to visit Simon's sister for a few days. We drive back home the following Friday (it's a 12-15 hour drive and we're doing it all in one day). At this point we've still got all our left over Woolfest stock in the car. On that Saturday and Sunday we move Vanessa to Cardiff to start her job.

And at some point in the next two weeks after that my parents are arriving for a visit. Not sure exactly which date they're arriving. We've got some big jobs to do before they come, as well as the normal tidying up etc. Plus after Woolfest, the house is in chaos for at least a week while I unpack the show stuff etc. So this weekend was the last relaxing weekend for a while and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I tried to avoid work this weekend. Last week, I'd planned to have a bit of a de-stash. This is all part of getting ready for my parents coming to visit and de-cluttering the house. I need more space in my office as I can't fit all my stuff in here and therefore I need to get rid of some stuff. My plan was to list it all on my website, send out a newsletter and blog about it. But that didn't happen. I spent late Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, taking photos and immediately listed some on Instagram as a trial. Quite a bit of it sold but not everything. On Sunday I listed some more on Facebook and most of that sold. I'll be listing the remaining and some stuff I've still to photograph, on my website in a de-stashing category. And I will send out a newsletter when it's ready. So sign up if you haven't already.

On Sunday afternoon, we decided to go cycling. We thought it was going to stay overcast but dry but by the time we got to the Camel Trail it was drizzling. It did stop eventually and we didn't really get wet. We started at a different point than normal and did 23 miles in total. We're working up to cycling the full length of the trail from Padstow to Wenfordbridge and back again in August. That's 18 miles EACH way. It's mainly flat but a section is slightly uphill.

Cornwall is lush and green at the moment, which means we've had a lot of rain lately.

I finished my Noro Silk Garden design on Sunday. I've got to cast on for a new deadline design today but for the rest of yesterday, I decided to knit a bit more on my Kettle Yarn Co Pandora circular shawl. This is coming out to play between deadline projects at the moment and is progressing nicely after the big 'frogging incident of 2015'. I think this will be my Most Frogged Design ever. But I'm happy with it. I'm aiming to finish it on our trip to Cumbria and Scotland so I can get it published in July.

I managed to sit in the garden at lunch time yesterday. It was just warm enough to sit outside to knit for a bit. Our dog, Sam, is enjoying being outside in the sun too.

Yesterday afternoon, Simon, Vanessa and I headed down to Looe, which is the location of my autumn retreat, Mastering Lace Knitting. Don't forget to book your space!

We walked around the town and headed out to the Banjo Pier. Took lots of photos of the sea and of each other taking photos.

We had an ice cream by the beach. And yes there were people on the beach and even a few kids in the water. It wasn't that warm though.

We strolled back by the river, past the fish market. The hotel where the retreat is being held is directly opposite the fish market on the other side of the river.

It was a relaxing and fun weekend and I'm ready for a busy few weeks ahead. How was your weekend?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Let's Knit 93 - Into The Blue

Look, my design, Into The Blue, is on the cover of the new Let's Knit (issue 93) which I think will be in the shops this week as subscriber copies were sent out next week.

I must admit, when this design popped up on my Ravelry designer page (Let's Knit staff add all the designs in each issue to Ravelry) I didn't recognise it. I didn't remember designing this. According to my spreadsheet I even knitted this and I still don't remember it. This is what happens when you're busy. I design and knit things (or one of my lovely knitter knit it for me). Then I send it off to the magazine and forget all about it until one day a magazine hits my door mat or a design pops up on my Ravelry designer page.

Anyway, let me tell you a bit more about Into The Blue. It's a summer vest top perfect for hot summer days. I know Let's Knit is a British magazine and here we don't always get hot summers but maybe you're going on holiday somewhere hot. This vest can also be worn as an all year design. Team it with a jacket or cardigan for autumn/winter wear.

Into The Blue is knitted in Bergere de France Coton Fifty which costs £2.75 per 50g ball. That means, according to Let's Knit, that you can knit this design for £11 (smallest size), £14 (second size) or £16.50 (largest 2 sizes). Isn't that cheap? Coton Fifty is even a very nice yarn. It's a 50/50 cotton/acrylic blend and it's a 4ply.

Into The Blue is knitted in the round to the underarms, then the front and back are worked separately to the shoulders which are joined using a three needle cast off. Stitches are picked up around the neck and armholes and a garter stitch edging will be worked in the round. Just weave in the ends and you're done. No sewing up. 

There's an easy lace pattern running up the centre front. The lace pattern is charged and written out.

Get Let's Knit this week and you'll have time to knit this up before the hot weather arrives. Because it's worked in the round, it's a quick knit despite the 4ply yarn and 3.25mm needles.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Between The Lines - Costa Blanca

The next design in the Between The Lines collection, Costa Blanca, is now ready for you. If you've already purchased the Between The Lines collection you will receive an e-mail (to the e-mail address you used to purchase the collection) with a download link. 

Costa Blanca has garter stitch stripes, lace and beads. It's also big and very soft which makes it the perfect shawl in my opinion. The ladies at Liskeard Knit & Knatter loved it when I wore it yesterday.
Tina Barrett, who's a fabulous designer, snapped this photo of me signing my book at knit group yesterday.

The beads are added using the crochet hook method and there's a video demo on my Tutorials page (click on 'Knitting with beads').

I combines one 100g skein of RainCityCnits Superwash Sock in Hot Pink and one 100g skein of my own Exotic Sock in Natural Grey to create this crescent shape shawl. Neon pink and silver grey are the perfect colour combination for summer. RainCityKnits is based in Canada and  specialise in neon colours. I've got some of their other fabulous colours in my stash too.

Until end of May Costa Blanca is 25% off, no coupon code needed. Costa Blanca is also part of the Between The Lines Collection which is only £8 until the last of the five patterns have been published. Only one more to go so make sure you get the collection now.

Have a fabulous weekend x

Monday, May 11, 2015

On The Needles - In The Frog Pond

I'm so amazed by the number of books, Beaded Lace Knitting, I've sold in the last week. My first book order came on Friday and I've got 1 book left. So I'm ordering more books tomorrow and hopefully they'll be here by the end of the week.

All the books ordered from my website will be signed by me (in my favourite purple Staedtler pen). Order your signed copy here.  I sent out the first big batch of signed books on Friday and here's some of the feedback I've had so far:

Jeannette: It's a beautiful book with inspirational patterns. Can't wait to try one out.

Gwen:The best knitting book I've bought in a very long time.

Knatters Knits (on Instagram): Got this book yesterday and so pleased I did. So well written and helpful and I will make loads of these. Highly recommend you take a look for yourself.

If you've ordered the book and love it, please share it with your friends and on social media. I really appreciate it!

Remember last week in 'Weekend Happenings' how I told you my Kettle Yarn Co circular shawl was just waiting to be blocked. I eventually got around to blocking it and very quickly realised there was no way this shawl would block into a circle. The beginning of the shawl started out as a circle.  I followed a very old pattern which I adapted slightly, partly because I struggled to understand parts of it.

I then tried one type of shaping which didn't work and I ripped a lot out. I decided to split the shawl into 12 segments and work two increases in each segment on every other row. If I'd used my brain, I ought to have realised that would be way too many increases but it didn't click until I tried to block it. Basically I had way, way too many stitches and had to rip out 2/3 of the shawl. I'd also ripped out the edging once (when I had nearly 1000 stitches) because I was running out of yarn too quickly.

I've now ripped out about 3/4 of the shawl and I'm back to the centre circle I started with. I've divided the shawl into six segments which should work out better. One of the reasons I couldn't check that the shaping would work on the original shawl was because I had all the stitches (nearly 1000 stitches by the end) on one 80cm long circular needle because that's the longest needle I had. Last week I ordered a 125cm cable for my ChiaoGoo internchangeable set which will make a 150cm long circular needle (got it within 24 hours of ordering from Purlescence). Once I've finished the first repeat of the new shaping I will change to the longer circular needle so I can stretch the shawl out and make sure the new shaping actually works. I've done more ripping out on this shawl, than I've done knitting. It's a good thing I love the pattern and the yarn which is Westminster by Kettle Yarn Co.

I sneaked in a bit of knitting on this shawl over the weekend and I've only got a few rounds left of the first pattern repeat of the new shaping. I'm hoping to finish this by the end of May but I've got two other shawl deadlines by the end of May too.

That's not the only ripping out I've been doing. Earlier today, after eating lunch, I sat down to knit on my current deadline shawl. I'm on the edging and I finished a row and only had 2 rows left. I looked at the amount of yarn left and weighed it and I'm now ripping back 6 rows on this shawl too. Basically, because the rows are so long the edging has been using up more yarn than I realised. I try to keep a safety margin of 5-10% of yarn left on my shawl designs. That's means that if I have a 100g skein, I leave 5-10g. This means that those knitters who do not knit to the same tension as me, have a better chance of not running out of yarn. Hopefully, I'll finish this shawl and be able to block it tonight.

Is your knitting going better than mine? I hope it is. Have a good week x

By the way, if you don't know, the frog pond (in the title) refers to ripping back the shawls. Many knitters call ripping back frogging and knitting often ends up 'in the frog pond' when it needs to be ripped back. Why do some knitters call ripping out frogging? 'rippit' sounds like a frog.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

It's here!

A big box of Beaded Lace Knitting books arrived yesterday. Within minutes they were followed by a delivery of padded mailing envelopes. I immediately got down to business. I had a lot of pre-orders for the book last week. Thank you very much to all of you who pre-ordered the book.

I got my favourite Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pen in purple (of course!) and got busy signing and packing the books. 3/4 of my initial order has already been sold. If you haven't ordered your signed copy yet, hurry up and order before they all sell out (although I will of course order more).

After a couple of hours of signing and packing books, this is what my desk looked like. My postal sack was heavy when I took it to the post office yesterday afternoon..

I've also been busy listing the designs on Ravelry. I've been trying to do a few per day. Let's take a look at a few more of the designs. 

Ursula is worked sideways as an asymmetrical triangle in Zauberball 100. It takes just one 100g ball and is mainly garter stitch with a beaded fan lace pattern along two edges.

Atlantis takes just one skein of Malabrigo Sock and is a triangle worked from the top down. It has miracle beads creating a diamond pattern to create a border for the lace pattern.

Dina is another triangle but this one is worked from the bottom up. The shape is created by stepped increases. The lace pattern has a 3D look with beads along the edges. Dina is knitted in Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk.

Leah wasn't actually intended for the book. I designed and knitted it in Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere Sock before I started the book but I got so busy with the book I never got around to publishing the pattern and as it had beads and I needed another crescent shaped shawl for the book, I decided to include Leah in the book. 

I'll share more designs next week, but you can see the ones I've listed on Ravelry and you can see all the designs in the Look Book. You can order a signed copy from me but the book is available from other shops too.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend x

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Weekend Happenings

How was your weekend? We had a long weekend here in the UK and our weekend was a mix of work and fun. On Saturday it was Yarn Shop Day and I spent a few hours at Spin A Yarn. I can't say it really felt like work as all I did was knit, chat to people about my new book and eat cake. I'm already looking forward to next year.

I took Sunday and Monday off. It rained for most of the weekend so Sunday was a quiet day. We went to church in the morning and then went out for a drive in the afternoon and popped into a couple of shops in a nearby town. I also spent a lot of time this weekend working on my new deadline knitting project.

I finished the Kettle Yarn Co circular shawl I've been working on for a while now. It's been put aside at times to focus on urgent projects but last week I picked it up, determined to finish it before I started my next deadline project. Unfortunately I ran out of yarn and had to rip back about 10 rounds of around 1000 stitches per round. That was not fun and I was tempted to toss the shawl into the corner but I stuck with it and ripped out what I needed to and re-knitted the edging. The shawl is now waiting to be blocked later today. I can't wait to show you what it looks like finished and blocked.

Once that shawl was finished, I cast on for a new deadline design using Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal in two colours. I can't show too many details of this shawl as it is for a magazine but I'm loving this yarn. I think I'm about halfway through the shawl already. I've done a lot of knitting this weekend. In between Yarn Shop Day and family stuff, I've been watching A Good Wife on Netflix. I started watching series 1 two weeks ago, I'm now over halfway through series 4. No wonder I've gotten so much knitting done lately. I've watched a lot of TV.

On Monday, we had a few hours of sunshine in the morning so we got our bikes out and headed to the Camel Trail. We cycled approx 15.5 miles. We're working up to cycling the entire length of the Camel Trail from Padstow to Wenford Bridge and back. Not quite sure how long that is but probably 25-30 miles or so. Our goal is to do this bike ride when we're on holiday in August.

With all the rain we've had lately, the woodlands we cycled through were very green and the river was fast flowing.

Towards the end of our ride we stopped to watch a steam train pull out of the station.

This morning it's back to work and one of my jobs today is to order copies of my book, Beaded Lace Knitting. I'm currently taking pre-orders for signed copies. If you'd like to be certain of receiving your signed book in the first batch I send out, please order today so I can order enough books. 

The book has a visual index in the back which shows all the designs with name and page numbers. I'm still busy listing the designs on Ravelry I'm nearly halfway through. But here you can see them all.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beaded Lace Knitting is here

My book, Beaded Lace Knitting, is here and if you follow me on social media you will already know that I've been sharing information about the book. The book has started shipping from Amazon US and according to Amazon UK it's not shipping until June but I'm expecting copies in early May. The first shipment of books is about to arrive at my UK distributor, Search Press. If you're a yarn shop owner and you want to stock my book, then contact Search Press for details.

This week, I've started listing the individual designs on Ravelry. The designs are listed there for information only and so that you can link your projects to the design page. The patterns will not be for sale on Ravelry. I've been asked about e-books and I've been told that it will be available on e-book platforms such as Kindle, Google Play Books etc in a couple of months.

Want to buy a signed copy? If you order Beaded Lace Knitting from me, you will get a signed copy. I'm taking pre-orders now and will ship the books as soon as I get them. Pre-order now then I will know how many to order and you're guaranteed to get your books quicker.

Let me introduce you to a few of the designs. One of my favourite, actually I have several favourites and this is one of them. Adelaide is knitted in Fyberspates Gleem Lace in a luscious colour which I just LOVE! It's a long stole but you can make it shorter if you prefer, just knit fewer repeats. Adelaide only takes one skein of Fyberspates Gleem Lace.

Alexia was knitted in Cascade Yarns Forest Hills which was a new yarn to me. When I requested the yarn from Cascade they were very friendly and sent me some other yarns to try out. And as a result I ended up using another Cascade yarn in the book. Alexia is knitted sideways into a shallow triangle. Knit until you've used up half the yarn then start the second half of the shawl. This makes it easier ot substitute the yarn if you need to.

Gillian is another one of my favourites. If you find shawls difficult to wear because they keep sliding off then Gillian is for you. It has the delicate look of a beautiful shawl but it's a poncho so it stays put. Gillian is knitted in Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace as a rectangle which is folded in half and seemed to create a poncho. Very easy and lovely to wear.

Lucinda is knitted in Cascade Yarns Heritage 150 Solids which is a sock yarn. It knitted up beautifully in this triangular shape. The beads in this shawl is enhanced by the diamond lace pattern. The triangular shape is created by working from the bottom up and the rows get shorter and shorter.

 So that's just a quick taster of what's in the book. Here's the Look Book if you want to see more and I'm gradually adding the designs to Ravelry here. You can pre-order a signed copy now. I want to say a big thank you to all my sample knitters. I couldn't have done this book without you.

Did you know that it's Yarn Shop Day on Saturday? I'll be at Spin a Yarn talking about my book and helping you with your knitting problems. I'll there from 10.30am to 2pm so do pop in and see me. Spin A Yarn are planning a yarn bombing event and are asking that you bring a knitted square of any size. If you do you get 10% off any yarn purchase on the day. What about donating some of your old swatches?