Archives For Knitting

Snowmelt MKAL tutorials and FAQs!

Helen —  February 1, 2017 — 3 Comments

The first clue for the Snowmelt MKAL arrives tomorrow! Are you ready yet? If not, don’t worry. As I mentioned yesterday, we still have flocks of new knitters signing on, and you have time to get sorted.

Today is the last day of the 20% off early bird special, so snag your copy now!

I’m still getting lots of questions about the MKAL: how it works, what to expect, and how to prepare. To help everyone get ready, I’ve put together a few resources for you.

First, I’ve created a few video tutorials for Snowmelt, including a guide to choosing yarn, and a special video showing you how to do the beautiful icord cast-on for this shawl. I know this is a new technique for some of you, but it’s so simple! I think my little walk through will help you master it easily.

Check out the Snowmelt MKAL videos here!

Next, for anyone who didn’t get onto the email list in time, I’m going to post the FAQs I sent out last week:


Q. This is my first MKAL – what can I expect?

A. Firstly – thank you for your bravery and trust – taking a leap and a chance on a pattern you haven’t seen before. I am honoured!!

A mystery knit along is all about surprises: you buy the pattern without knowing what the finished design will look like and get one clue a week until the whole pattern is released. The community aspect is huge, too: people share their progress each week and speculate on what might be coming next. Knitting a project with a group is lots of fun and supportive  – you will find lots of company in the MKAL chat thread and people to ask questions or if you have any problems.

Q. This is my first Curious Handmade shawl – what can I expect?

A. Enjoyment, on the whole! Relaxing, satisfying knitting. And of course, a beautiful accessory at the end…

On the more technical side of things, you can expect clarity. My patterns are clearly written in the unique Curious Handmade Percentage Checklist™  style with stitch count for every row and percentages of stitches knit to help you pace yourself and estimate yarn needed. Directions are written in full and also charted instructions for any lace sections.

Q. I’ve knit loads of Curious Handmade shawls before – what can I expect?

A. Well, you’ll recognise the checklist format, and if you’re a fan of my patterns (thank you!) I think you’ll find that this project is quite “typical” of my designs: lacy, feminine, easy-to-wear, and just a little romantic. I also think it will keep you guessing until the last clue is finally revealed!

Q. What is the level of difficulty?

A. It is beginner to adventurous beginner throughout.
It is a slight step up from beginner in places due to some easy lace and the amount of knitting involved but it definitely isn’t difficult in any sense. There might be a handful of rows you really have to concentrate on where you are setting up a new pattern – but it is very achievable for an adventurous lace beginner. And lifelines are always helpful if you are worried!

Q. Do I need a special code for the Early Bird price?

A. No, the Early Bird price is already applied in Ravelry, no code required. The 20% Early Bird discount will apply until Wednesday February 1st.

Q. I think the amount of the price is wrong, maybe I didn’t get the discount?

A. The price of the pattern does not include VAT. Ravelry automatically adds VAT to all purchases of patterns in the EU when you check out. The amount varies by country. I’m sorry about any inconvenience, but it is out of my control.

Q. I bought the pattern but I don’t see any knitting instructions!

A. This is a presale period for the MKAL. When you buy the pattern you’ll get an info sheet with yarn specifics and some general hints to help you prepare. The pattern will be released piece by piece, with a new clue to knit each week.

Q. When will the clues be released?

A. The clue reslease schedule is:

Thursday Feb 2nd: First clue is released!
Thursday Feb 9th: Second clue released
Thursday Feb 16th: Third clue released
Thursday Feb 23rd: Fourth clue released
Thursday March 2nd: Fifth clue released

The KAL will run until the end of March.

At the end of the MKAL I’ll compile all the clues into one pattern document so that you have everything in once place if you’d like to knit it again!

Q. I don’t have time for an MKAL right now, can I still participate somehow?

A. Life sometimes gets in the way of knitting, and not everyone can keep up with the weekly clue releases. That is perfectly okay! You can jump in and out at any point, or even wait until all the clues are out before you begin. The KAL will run for about a month after the last clue is released, so you can still join in and post your finished shawls on your own schedule. Pop into the chat thread now and then, and don’t forget to check in on Instagram with the hashtag #SnowmeltMKAL


There you go! I’m so excited for the kickoff tomorrow. I can’t wait to see all your gorgeous creations.

It’s almost time for the Snowmelt MKAL! I’ve been watching the amazing yarn-choosing process of hundreds of excited knitters over in our Curious Handmade Ravelry Group and on Instagram (check out the growing #snowmeltmkal hashtag for some mouthwatering yarn photos!) and the energy is just electric. We’re just two days away from the release of the first clue, but we still have new knitters joining us every day. The MKAL will be running until the end of March, so even if you don’t have yarn yet, you’ll have plenty of time to grab something gorgeous and play along.

For the last Curious Handmade MKAL, Summertide, the wonderful Kristen from Skein Yarn wrote a brilliant guest post on colour combinations that I wanted to share again with you. You can find it here. There’s a lot of inspiration and wisdom in that post! Kristen also put together a few lovely combos just for Snowmelt:

Skein yarn for snowmelt mkal

You can read all about these delicious colourways over on the Skein Blog.

I designed this shawl in part to encourage stashdiving. This is the last official day of Stash Appreciation month here at Curious Handmade, after all, and while I know many of us are enjoying the excuse to buy new yarn for this project, I also know that many more have some wonderful single skeins lying around, waiting for the perfect project. Chances are there are a few hiding in your stash that could surprise you when you put them together. This MKAL is a chance to explore your stash and experiment with combinations you might not have considered. If you’re on the mailing list, you will have gotten an email with all the yarn info and tips you need to start choosing, but I’ve seen people asking for advice since then, so in case you missed it, I thought I’d repost it here.


The yarn I used for the sample is the breathtaking Magellan Speckle Fade Kit from La Bien Aimée. This is a gorgeous hand-dyed single ply superwash merino.
Sample Yarn:
La Bien Aimée; Magellan Speckle Fade Kit [100% superwash merino; 366m/400yds per 100g skein], 3 x 100g skeins,
Colourways:
Le Petit Nuage
Le Grand Nuage
The Magellanic Cloud

OR

Actual yarn used for sample in a fingering weight single ply yarn:
Light – Le Petit Nuage 80g / 293m / 320 yards
Medium – Le Grand Nuage  80g/ 293m / 320 yards
Dark – The Magellanic Cloud 75g/ 275m / 300 yards

To give you a few ideas of other ideal yarns you could use:

Curious Handmade favourite Skein does a luxurious base called “Classy” – 70% Superwash Merino, 30% Silk * 430 yards / 393 metres in 100g

The wonderful Tosh Merino Light from madelinetosh would be another excellent choice – 420 yards / 384 metres in 100g

Over at The Wool Barn, Maya’s Silky Singles base would make a perfect Snowmelt – 70% Superwash Merino 30% Silk * 400m / 436 yards / 400 metres in 100g

Lots of you want to use stash yarn, and you’re in luck! I specifically designed Snowmelt to work with three different skeins of fingering weight yarn, since I know most of us have at least a few gorgeous “orphan” skeins kicking around. Here are the hints you’ll need to choose your own yarn:

  • I used a gradient set – but that is not necessary. Aim for some contrast in colour or tone between the three yarns. The contrast in some sections is quite subtle with the yarns I used.
  • In general the shawl is simple enough that you can be more adventurous with using speckles and variegated colourways – depending on your taste of course.
  • The most significant lace section mainly uses Colour A so if you don’t like your lace in wild yarn this is the colour to have as a tonal or solid or semisolid.
  • I used a single ply but any sock yarn/fingering yarn would work just as well. You can even combine single ply and sock yarn, as long as you like the interplay of slighly different textures. If you have doubt, try knitting a little test swatch.
  •   I used 4mm circular needles.

I hope those tips give you some confidence to choose your own yarn for this project. If you haven’t jumped on board yet, let me enable you: if you grab the pattern by the end of Feb, 1st, you’ll get a special early bird price of 20% off! Happy knitting!

Snowmelt Mystery Knit Along

Helen —  January 30, 2017 — Leave a comment

snowmelt-short-banner

Melt into spring with 8 weeks of knitting, camaraderie and mystery!

It’s that moment between the last slow weeks of winter and the first sweet days of spring. There’s a gentle tension in the air as the thaw begins: the cosy joys of hibernation give way to a pleasant restlessness. Your heart stirs and the sap starts to run. This is a season of growth and change, but it begins quietly, deep in the frozen ground, before the last of the ice has even disappeared.

This time of year feels nearly miraculous. It offers a chance to renew the dreams that have slept for so long beneath a blanket of snow. The earth is preparing to surprise itself again with a wild swell of springtime creativity. It’s a call to adventure and an invitation to stretch our own creative powers. It’s time to uncover what this fresh new season has in store.

The Snowmelt Shawl Mystery Knit-Along is all about setting aside some time to nourish our creativity together. The design unfolds at a gentle pace, week by week, as each clue is released, ending with a stunning new accessory to treasure through many seasons. This shawl is a tribute to the slow process and deep satisfaction of creating something beautiful.

Snowmelt captures the romantic style with a contemporary edge that knitters have come to expect from Curious Handmade designs. Stretches of satisfying texture and simple, effective lace make this a deeply engaging pattern that will surprise you and keep you guessing as you move through the clues. It’s approachable for adventurous beginners but interesting enough to delight veteran shawl knitters. No matter where you’re starting from, this MKAL is the perfect way to celebrate the unfolding of a new season and the fresh energy of growth and discovery.

The pattern
When you purchase this pattern you will receive a download that is an introduction to the pattern until the first clue is released.

PURCHASE THE SNOWMELT SHAWL MKAL HERE

The Snowmelt Shawl is written in the Curious Handmade Percentage Checklist Pattern™ style so you can keep track of stitch counts, yardage requirements and pace yourself throughout the KAL. The lace sections are charted.

MKAL Schedule
Mark 2 February in your diary for the first clue.
Until then, sign up to my Curious Handmade newsletter for lots of tips for getting prepared and selecting the perfect yarn.

Clue #1: Thursday 2 February
Clue #2: Thursday 9 February
Clue #3: Thursday 16 February
Clue #4: Thursday 23 February
Clue #5: Thursday 2 March

and the KAL will run until the end of March so that you’ll have plenty of time to finish!

Yarn choice and needles
Choose 3 skeins of 100g skeins of fingering/ sock yarn, approximately 366m/400yds each.

Sample used:
La Bien Aimee; Magellan Speckle Fade Kit 100% superwash merino; 366m/400yds per 100g skein, 3 x 100g skeins,
Colourways:
Le Petit Nuage
Le Grand Nuage
The Magellanic Cloud

OR
Actual yarn amounts used for sample in a fingering weight single ply yarn:
Colour A: Light – Le Petit Nuage 80g / 293m/320 yards
Colour B: Medium – Le Grand Nuage 80g/ 293m/320 yards
Colour C: Dark – The Magellanic Cloud Dark 75g/ 275m/300 yards

4mm (US 6), 100 cm long circular needles or needles to get gauge

Gauge
20 sts/32 rows = 10cm (4”) in stockinette stitch after blocking

While exact gauge is not critical, be aware you may use more yarn if you knit at a looser gauge than the pattern and allow for extra yarn.

Join the Adventure
Join in here if you want to join in the chatter in Curious Handmade community to share progress, chat and ask questions.

The joy of a mystery KAL is the surprise!
Please post only the Snowmelt MKAL picture as the first one on your project page, or if you prefer – a picture of your yarn. This helps keep the pattern a mystery until others have knit it.
There will be spoiler threads set up in the group and clearly marked for each clue. Please only post progress pictures there and keep the chatter thread image free for those who love a good surprise.

CH 149: All about the socks

Helen —  November 24, 2016 — Leave a comment
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Its the week for socks – this week I published my first ever sock design the Vintage Fairy Lights socks and soon followed up with a second design for Knitvent 2016, the Juniper Socks.

Happy Thanksgiving to my US listeners!

Show Sponsors:

Meadow Yarn

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include Northbound Knitting, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links:

My most recent video podcast where you can get a glimpse of some of my recent projects

Vintage Fairy Lights Socks

Knitvent 2016

Juniper Socks

Knitvent Update:

This week’s pattern is the Juniper Socks. Here’s the description:

The Juniper Socks were designed for wearing while traipsing over a carpet of pine needles in the snowy forest or just toasting your toes in front of a crackling open fire.

Made for yourself or for a lucky loved one, the cosy, unisex Juniper Socks knit up quickly, with a lovely textured rib stitch inspired by the beautifully rugged needles of a juniper bough, and a fun contrast colour toe and heel for a little traditional charm. If you’d like to add a little more colour, the ribbed cuff looks wonderful in a contrast, too! Knit from cushy DK yarn, these socks are a perfect way to stay warm when the cold winds blow. Imagine them tucked into your boots or just slipped on to cushion your feet from the chilly floor when you first wake up on a frosty morning.

This pattern is written in the Curious Handmade Percentage Checklist style™.

A chart for the textured pattern is included in this pattern.

The sample was knit with Blacker Yarns Tamar DK

Events:

We’ll be gathering for another Curious Handmade Krimbo Party here in London on Sunday the 11th of December at the Paternoster pub on the corner of Paternoster Square near St. Paul’s Cathedral.

RSVP to helen@curioushandmade.com especially if you’re interested in being part of a possible Secret Santa swap!

That’s our show for this week! Thanks so much for listening, and until the next episode, happy knitting!

Play

Ch 130

This week I’m introducing the newest Shawl Society pattern and chatting about my stash and my “fantasy knitting queue.”

Show Sponsor:

Meadow Yarn

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include Northbound Knitting, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links:

Happier Podcast Designing Your Summer Episode 67

Little Bobbins Podcast

Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti

Blue Sky Alpaca Yarn

Copper Corgi

Juno Fibre Arts Yarn

50 Shades of Gradient

The Shawl Society News:

This week I released the 2nd secret pattern from The Shawl Society: the Amulet Shawl.

Amulet was inspired by the mystical beauty of an ancient Egyptian carving of a powerful scarab beetle with wings outstretched to provide shelter and protection from harm. The elongated triangle shape of this shawl recalls the scarab’s wings, which are also echoed in the graphically striking rib section. The most important characteristic of any amulet is the power ascribed to it by its owner, and I have tried to infuse this design with some of that energy and intention. The sacred significance of handmade objects is something that every knitter knows. Made for yourself, it is an eloquent act of self-care. When knit for a loved one, it is a compelling symbol of comfort and love.

The pattern has two sizes and can be knit with one colour or two. Optional beads add a bit of sparkle for special occasions!
There is a mini KAL running for Amulet until and the prizes are amazing:
1. Seven Sisters Arts is giving one of her beautiful Gradient Sets to one of the winners! I’m obsessed with the Ravens Wing gradient.

2. Marce of the wonderful Brown Berry Chronicles podcast has generously donated a $30 gift certificate to the luxury eco skin-care company Lola Blue Living.

The Shawl Society patterns are exclusive to members until the end of this session in November, but it’s not too late to join! There’s an overall KAL running until then too, with lots more prizes on the way.

TSS-banner-logo-soon
Joining The Shawl Society feels like stepping through a hidden doorway. You know you’re about to escape into something fresh, unexpected, and full of possibility.The Shawl Society is a pattern subscription club for anyone who adores the element of surprise. Membership entitles you to six amazing months of secret shawl patterns (one pattern will be released each month – June to November) to knit along with your fellow initiates. Participation in the Shawl Society also opens up a world of secret codes, exclusive discounts from boutique yarn producers, and members-only pop-up sales.The six designs in this mystery collection cover the entire shawl spectrum. You’ll encounter different shapes, sizes, and techniques, and the difficulty level will range from relaxing patterns you can knit as you lounge at the lakeside all the way to challenging projects to ignite your sense of adventure. The shawls will be released one by one, and each will take you on a journey. All you have to do is follow the path as it unfolds, one step at a time. The Shawl Society – JOIN HERE

A few weeks back I put together a Knitted Gift Guide for all the knit-worthy people in your life. Today I’m turning that around and offering up a list of delicious gifts that knitters themselves would love to receive! You deserve a little spoiling, especially with all that gift-knitting you’re surely in the middle of right now, so this is a handy link to forward on to anyone wondering what you’d like to find wrapped up with your name on it this holiday season! (And if you don’t want to wait and hope, you can treat yourself to one or more little presents as a reward for knitting well done!)

Something you want…

Technically we know that all that’s necessary for knitting are two sticks and some string, but why stop there when the word is full of beautiful knitting tools, notions, and accessories? From the practical to the beautiful to the just-because, any of these items can help to make precious knitting time extra special. Even for the knitter who has everything, there’s always one more gadget or little luxury that can make life just that bit better.

 Gift Guide Accessory Collage

Top, left to right: Gin Stitch Markers from The Little Grey Girl, Christmas Spice Candle from Wild Planet.

 Bottom, left to right: Grellow and Grey Sirka Counter, Bento Box Case for Sirka

Something you need…

It seems as though devoted knitters always have a heap of projects on the go, and keeping them all sorted and ready to pick up at a moment’s notice is key to switching effortlessly between each piece. Beautiful project bags are wonderful presents for a knitter, because you can really never have too many of them, and there are so many gorgeous designs to choose from.

 Project bag collage

Top, left to right: Macaroon notions bag and zippered XL project bag by Maria Elena Bliss

Bottom, Small zippered project bag from The Little Grey Girl

Something to stash…

No knitter’s holiday can be complete without something new and wonderful to play with. There is strictly no such thing as too much yarn, and no matter the size of the stash, a luxurious skein or two of a special yarn is always welcome. I fell in love with so many magical yarns this year that it was almost impossible to narrow it down, but here are a few I’d love to find in my stocking.

yarn gift guide collage 2

Top, left to right: The Fibre Company’s Canopy Fingering in Red Ginger, Anzula Squishy in Grace, Skein Yarn‘s Top Draw Sock in Ice on the Windowpane

Bottom, left to right: CoopKnits Socks Yeah! in Malachite, Blacker Yarns Doulton Flock Border Leicester 4-ply in white, baa ram ewe’s Titus in limited edition Wesley Bob

And something to read…

Books and magazines full of photos, patterns, information are indispensable to a devoted knitter. We go to them for instruction and inspiration, for hints about technique, and a hit of pure beauty. They make amazing gifts. It’s wonderful to look up at a row of knitting books and issues of magazines on your shelf, knowing that you can dive in and explore at any time.

reading gift guide collage

Top, left to right: London Stitch and Knit: A Craft Lover’s Guide to London’s Fabric, Knitting and Haberdashery Shops; Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design; Field Guide to Fleece, The

Bottom, left to right: PomPom Quarterly ; Amirisu Magazine ; Maker Spaces – Creative interiors from the homes and studios of inspiring makers and designers

Don’t make them guess this year! Email this guide to the chief present-givers in your life and let them know what will make you smile. If you’d like to be a little more subtle, I recommend strategically leaving your browser window open now and then…no matter what, I hope you receive all the lovely gifts your crafty heart desires this holiday season.

If you listened to last week’s podcast, you’ll have heard me talk about a wonderful new yarn I had the chance to try recently. Sue Hole is releasing some wonderful single-breed small-batch yarn that I know is going to appeal hugely to everyone who fell in love with her nephew Benjamin Hole’s Hole & Sons recently. As I mention in my podcast review, Isle Yarns – pure wool from the Isle of Purbeck, is amazing stuff. With all of our talk recently about sustainable fashion and materials, I’m finding myself more and more drawn to small producers like this. I love knowing the story behind the fibre I am holding in my hands. It makes everything more magic and more real.

Isle yarn comes from a carefully bred and tended flock on the Isle of Purbeck. It has a vital rustic appeal: when knitting this yarn you really feel connected to the source. It has a lot of individual character and is not so processed that it could be from anywhere. It manages to be light and robust all at the same time, and it’s very, very springy.

It’s a lovely DK weight but the knitted fabric is quite sturdy and firm. I knit my test swatch using 5mm needles and I like the slightly open fabric. It still has a lot of body and keeps its shape even though the recommended needle size is 4mm. The fibre bloomed beautifully after a good 20 minute soak in Eucalan. It became much softer, with a beautiful body to it. I just laid it out and let it dry without pinning out or stretching it.

This yarn is inspiring too – I’ve had a recent yearning to knit blankets, and my mind instantly started ticking along those lines with design ideas for this yarn.

Isle Yarns Poll Dorset Swatch

I think the fact that this yarn is woolen spun contributes to its amazing elasticity, and how it can be so light and airy while staying so strong. For an extremely in-depth and informative article with an explanation and comparison of woolen and worsted spun yarn I recommend this Wovember post by Sue Blacker, founder of The Natural Fibre Co, who spun this yarn for Isle Yarns.

I also have this lovely interview to share with you. Sue Hole gives us a bit more background on her new yarn, and another peek into life on the farm.

*****

Can you tell me more about how Isle Yarn came to be? I know it’s being released under a different label than the Hole & Sons yarn, but I’m curious about the family relationship of the fibre.

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Photo Credit: Marte Marie Forsberg

This yarn is from a different flock but still a family flock. Here on the home farm we have a commercial flock of 1400 north country mules and Dorset crosses. We also have a small flock of 30 pedigree Poll Dorsets which we keep to produce our breeding Rams and this is the flock Ben used.

I’ve got a fabric and wool shop in our local town so I had Ben’s wool for sale but it all sold so quickly that I was soon out of stock! So the next time Ben took fleeces to the mill I took fleeces from my son Sam’s Poll Dorset flock to have knitting wool produced so that I could restock my shop as by then Ben had a fair idea that the next batch of home farm wool wouldn’t be around for long again!

I was excited to see that this batch includes some beautiful colours. I’d love to hear more about your inspirations when it came to choosing the shades for this first release!

The colour choices have been the hardest part of the process! I’d love to have all the colours of the rainbow but for each colour the mill needs 4Kilos so if I’ve got 20kilos  of wool at the mill at one time I have to choose carefully and so from the sample colours that the mill offered I’ve chosen strong, rustic colours alongside the natural.

I’ve had most of the wool balled in 50g balls but half of the natural had been made into 100g hanks and so far that’s what has been the most popular so the next batch will be in hanks and the colours will be Heather, Moss and Mist grey/blue. Over time I’ll add to the colour range and as there is a 10 week cycle from  dropping off the raw wool to collecting the finished wool I’ll aim to choose seasonal colours to coincide.

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Photo Credit: Marte Marie Forsberg

I have a feeling this yarn is going to be a big hit. I know that the very limited quantities are part and parcel of making such special small-batch yarn, but what are your plans for further production and for the future of Isle Yarn?

The quantities are around 20kilos each 10 weeks at the moment. We also have a small flock of Suffolks to breed Rams from and we’ll be shearing that flock at the end of January, so I’m tempted to have that spun for knitting wool too and develop a single breed range. In fact I recently brought ‘The Field Guide to Fleece’ by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius which is a very good reference book. Deborah Robson also does a very good free Craftsy lesson called Know your Wool.

islesheep

Photo Credit: Marte Marie Forsberg

 

When the first batch of wool came back I sent it out to experts like yourself to ask for reviews and that feed back is proving to be invaluable. Claire Ward of claireinstiches on Instagram has designed a hat pattern especially for the wool which is so exciting!  I’ve seen photos of the test knit which has a lovely bold lace pattern running through it and I can’t wait to knit it.

So that’s the story so far!

*****

I want to thank Sue for creating this wonderful yarn, for sending it to me to review, and for taking the time to tell us all about it.  You can buy Isle Yarns wool right now in Sue’s online shop. l suggest you snap some up as soon as possible. I think it might be the best-kept secret in wool right now, but it won’t be for long! You can also keep up with all their adventures at the farm on Sue’s beautiful Instagram account.

I love gift knitting. Love, love, love it. At its best, it is a perfect distillation of everything I love about the holiday season. At its worst, though, it can leave you stressed, strung out, and exhausted. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

– Hiding in the bedroom knitting like a maniac while friends and family party downstairs.

– Wondering if your aching wrists are actually going to survive knitting 25 pairs of socks.

– Staying up until 3 am on Christmas morning to finish one…more…hat.

– Wrapping up a photo of the unfinished pattern you’re knitting with a sheepish IOU to put under the tree.

As a designer, I’m no stranger to knitting under a deadline. I’ve had my moments of panic, but over the years I’ve learned a few things that really make a difference.

  • Plan, plan, plan. The number of knit-worthy people in your life and the number of hours you have available for knitting might not match up. Be realistic about what you can accomplish and don’t push yourself too hard. (You’re already on top of this one if you’re filling out your Curious Handmade Gift Knitting Planner. Hooray!)
  • Find a supportive community. Knitting, especially gift knitting, can be a solitary pursuit, but it doesn’t have to be. It really helps to have some kind of outlet where you can share your victories, ask for advice, or just blow off a little steam. I’m a little biased, but I love the knitters in the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group so much. They always rise to the occasion and are so welcoming, generous and helpful.
  • Schedule knitting time. While much of our knitting happens in stolen moments here and there, I always find that I get so much more done in the hours I set aside for knitting and nothing else. When you’re working on something secret, this is even more important. Put knitting dates in your diary and keep them.
  • Pamper yourself a little. Knitting for other people is an incredibly generous use of your time, but it’s not just a selfless sacrifice. Remember why you love to knit. Treat yourself to some nice new tools. Choose fibre that you love to handle. Pick patterns they’ll love, but make sure they’re interesting (and/or easy!) for you. When you sit down to those scheduled knitting sessions, make yourself a big cup of your favourite warm beverage, put on some music, and light a candle or two.
  • Take RSI seriously. Nothing puts a crimp in your plans like a knitting injury. Gift knitting is the big leagues, and it’s so important to take care of yourself. There are plenty of resources to help keep your precious hands (and neck, and arms, and wrists, and back) safe and healthy. Here are a few great ones:

8 Warning Signs Your Knitting Could Give You RSI

Exercises for Knitters from The Fit Knit Chick

6 Ways to Make Knitting More Comfortable by Elizabeth Bagwell

 

I was lucky enough to interview the very talented and lovely Renee Callahan on last week’s podcast. She gave us a glimpse into her fascinating art and fashion background, and chatted about the inspiration behind her new collection of knitting designs. The collection has just been launched, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Today I’m very pleased to be part of a blog tour to spread the word! Before I jump into my own impressions, I’ll share the official description.

The Klee Collection is a collection of modern garments and accessories designed for the knitter to enjoy both the process of knitting, with innovative constructions, as well as the product of their work, with wearable, beautiful garments.

“The Klee Collection is a gathering of knitting patterns close to my heart. Although I trained as an art historian, I rarely get a chance to see even a fraction of the amazing art on offer in London,” explains designer Renée. “A few years ago the Tate Modern held an exhibition of Paul Klee’s work and it was like visiting an old friend. The inspiration to design my first collection came quickly and I have named each of the designs after a painting by Klee.”
Each design features unique geometric lace knitting inspired by the strange and wonderful shapes that run like a language through Klee’s work, providing interest and detail on extremely wearable garments. Selfish knitting at its best, this collection is intended to be worn and loved for years to come.
Angelus Novus Cardi 1 by Renée Callahan

Renee’s passion for art and beauty is apparent in every detail of these designs. I love knowing about her process: I think it adds a real depth to the collection. In honour of that, I thought it would be fun to show you the paintings alongside the designs that they inspired.

Angel in the Making

angel in the making collage

Garment: Pullover sweater
Accessory: Shawl
Yarn: Walk Collection Cozy Merino Fingering (100% Superwash Merino, 400 yd/366 m per 100g skein)
Colours: Sample knit in Nightshade and Lipstick

I think the lace detail on the cardigan’s yoke is so pretty. I’m a big fan of colour blocking and these are two distinctive pieces that could become total wardrobe staples.

Twilight Flowers
twilight flowers collage
Garment: Pullover sweater
Accessory: Long, fingerless gloves
Yarn: The Uncommon Thread Everyday Sport (100% Superwash Merino, 328 yd/300 m per 100g skein)
Colour: Sample knit in Hemlock
I am a little in love with those mitts! So elegant and romantic. They would make a gorgeous holiday gift.

Angelus Novus
angelus novus collage
Garment: Cardigan
Accessory: Shawl
Yarn: Blacker Yarns Swan DK (100% Superwash Falkland Islands Wool, 119 yd/110 m per 50g ball)
Colour: Sample knit in Stone
If I had to pick a favourite from the collection, it would be the Angelus Novus cardigan. I love the interesting construction and it’s so wearable. I also love that Blacker yarn. DK weight is my favourite weight for fall sweaters in London – heavy enough to keep warm but not too bulky.
I can see all of these designs fitting into all different kinds of handmade wardrobes. It’s wonderful to see a collection where every single piece is in harmony with each other. I pre-ordered Renee’s collection because I knew it was going to be something special, and now that it’s here I’m delighted to say it’s every bit as wonderful as I’d hoped!
You can purchase The Klee Collection today on Ravelry. (Go ahead, treat yourself!) To learn more about Renee, her designs, the beautiful things she makes and all the wonderful things she’s up to, you can find hers at all of these places:

ELK Ravelry group

This is just the first stop on the blog tour: next the collection will be visiting Carmen on The Yarn Story blog on Nov 3rd. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s else’s reaction to this wonderful collection. Now I just need to find some time to get at least one of these projects onto my needles!

It’s never too early for elves, especially knitting elves. It’s no secret that I love the holiday season, and for many knitters it begins right about now. This year I’ve been working on starting earlier, building in a margin, and giving myself the gift of extra time for all kinds of projects.

At this time of year, that extra time becomes even more important. I’m determined that this time there will be no last-minute holiday knitting marathons! That’s why I’ve released the Knitvent 2015 Holiday Knitting Planner a bit earlier to help us all get the season started off right. I’m already scribbling madly in mine!

Planning is half the fun. I love thumbing through holiday magazine shopping guides, dreaming of all the possibilities. With all the thinking I’ve been doing lately about cutting down consumption, I decided to make a different sort of gift guide. This is for all of us who love to give handmade presents instead of going crazy in the shops. With Knitvent 2015 just around the corner, it’s also a little sampler of the kinds of designs you can expect if you join in this year!

forhercollage

Your mum, your bestie, your child’s favourite teacher: all the brilliant women in your life deserve spoiling, and a handmade gift is an incredible way to show them how much they mean to you. Patterns, clockwise from top: Warm Wishes Hottie Cover, Red Robin Shawl, Fresh Powder Cowl.

forhimcollage

Knitting for men can be a challenge, which makes it even more important to pick the right pattern. Make him something he’ll be proud to wear with these man-approved designs. Patterns, clockwise from top: Eden Fells Hat, Checkerboard Mitts, Eden Fells Scarf.

forkidscollage

There’s no sweeter feeling than making something cozy for a favourite little person. Create an instant heirloom with some adorable, cuddly designs for children. Patterns, clockwise from top: Georgie Baby Blanket, Twinkle Twinkle Baby Blanket, Naughty or Nice Pompom Hat.

foryoucollage

This year, maybe it’s your turn. It’s easy to get so caught up in knitting things to give away that you never have a chance to wear your own creations. Be kind to yourself with something sparkly to wear to a holiday party or something snuggly to wear everywhere. Patterns, clockwise from top: Stardust Infinity Scarf, Lind Cowl, Candlelit Shawl.

Choosing the perfect patterns is the first step towards having a successful holiday knitting season, and it’s such an exciting stage of the process. I hope this little guide has sparked your imagination. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got in store this year!