One very busy summer

I honestly have no idea how it is August already. Five minutes ago it was May. Where has the summer gone? Actually a better question would be where the summer weather has gone. I’ve never needed so many woolly items during the summer months before.

But weather aside, it has been one of those ridiculously busy summers. I’m still reeling at the moment, but things are starting (I say starting, I’m wary of something popping up unexpectedly) to come back under control. I can breathe! Finally!

So, in terms of non-knitty stuff, I’m still at University and about 3.5 weeks away from submitting the dissertation. Things have gone well with it, and the research and data gathering elements are pretty much done and I’m now on the writing up stage. All is going smoothly at the moment, and fingers crossed that it stays that way! Unfortunately, this has taken a lot more time than I perhaps anticipated (you’d think having done this kind of stuff of before I’d have been prepared for this, but never mind) and when combined with other things means that I’ve neglected the social media side of things.

In knitty news, things have also been exceedingly busy. Between Uni work and knitty work I don’t really feel like I’ve had much time off. However, the last of the commissions (of four… I think? Or was it five? I lost count… I think it is five) was sent off on Friday and I can fall over (at least on the knitting side of things for a little bit).

I cannot say much on most of the commissions but I’ll post more about them when I can. I think the first preview is coming up on August 12th, and I’ll share the links when I get them. One of them is now out (Notus) and I’ll be posting on that later this week. There have been some re-releases to discuss too. The Luck of the Irish Socks from the Three Irish Girls Sock Club is now available for individual purchase, and I’ll be adding a post on those too.

That was a very brief round-up but I’ll be posting more during August on the aforementioned patterns, and some upcoming self-published patterns coming out soon.

Pattern | Cluaran Tea Cosy

Cluaran Tea Cosy
Cluaran Tea Cosy

The Cluaran Tea Cosy was released in October last year, following on from the Design Competition for the Glasgow School of Yarn. (The theme was Homecoming in Scotland, can you tell?)

It uses my perennial favourite – Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumperweight; using three shades (although you can get a great effect using just two – more on that in a future post). The pattern comes in four basic sizes, with additional guidance for customising the fit for your own tea pot. The slits for the spout and handle are steeked and finished with an i-cord bind-off. And the best bit in my opinion? The wee thistle tassel at the top!

Full pattern information can be found here.

Notes: Cluaran = Thistle.

#Giftalong2014 Interview: Trappings & Trinkets

Image (c) Nicole Montgomery

I’m delighted to welcome to the blog, Nicole Montgomery, from Trappings and Trinkets. Nicole is one of the designers participating in this year’s giftalong! Her Giftalong patterns can be found on Ravelry here

Tell me about yourself

I have a cat that thinks he’s my husband. I have a husband who I started dating when I called in to a college radio show I knew he helped with and dedicated a song to him. Music has always played a big part in my life – I graduated college with a music education degree and taught in a public school for 3 years before I had kids. I have taught private piano & voice lessons for 20 years now. I’ll be 40 next year and plan to do something big to celebrate. My kids probably think I’m the scroogiest mom ever because I hate decorating for all celebrations (it’s not that I hate celebrating….I just hate clutter. There are no Easter wreaths, Halloween skeletons, or St. Patty’s Day leprechauns at my house. And I will definitely be one of those older ladies that just puts up a tiny tree on a tabletop for Christmas once my kids are out of the house and won’t care!)

Do you have a favourite yarn, or colour that you cannot stop knitting?

If I was headed to Noah’s ark before the flood and could only save one yarn, I’d have to bring madelinetosh sock yarn with me. I gravitate more toward thinner yarns than chunkier knits, and tosh sock is soft, sturdy, wears well, and comes in so many beautiful colors. My personal favorites are in the blue & purple families., but I also love a good gray or brown!

When and why did you start designing?

I learned to knit about 8 years ago. A friend hosted “Knitting and Sangria Night” – I think I was the only one who stayed sober enough to learn the craft! When I started following patterns, I found myself always thinking, “This is ok, but I’d like it better if I could just change this, this, and this.” So I started designing because I tend to have a very specific idea of what I want to make, and typically I can’t find a pattern for that exact thing, the exact way I want to make it.

Sock Monkey Ear Flap Hats, Image (c) Nicole Montgomery

My first pattern, the sock monkey hat, was a request from a friend of mine who is a photographer. She was describing a hat to me that she saw and I remember saying, “So it’s like the monkey head goes on top of the baby head?” She assured me it was adorable. I went home and looked for a pattern – a few crochet patterns were available, but google only gave me one link for a knitting pattern. I clicked the download link and killed our computer with a virus. This was before I knew about Ravelry and I should have known better than to trust a website that looked shady and had Cyrillic characters in the web address. So, the computer was dead and I still didn’t have a pattern. I decided I’d just figure it out myself, and got such a positive response from friends that I thought, “Maybe I can sell the pattern to help contribute to the cost of replacing the computer.” Then knitters who bought the pattern were so encouraging that I decided I’d continue to write up the things I made because I was having such good experiences interacting with them. And I was happy to be building a career that had flexible hours and still allowed me to be available for my kids, which had always been a priority for me.

What is your favourite design?

Favorite that I designed? It’s like being asked to choose between my kids. But if I have to, the one I’m probably proudest of is the Orchard Pullover. (But the Beekeeper’s Tank and World War G{loves} are tied for a close second!) Favorite from another designer? I just made a Rock the Lobster cardigan this summer and it turned out beautifully. It was a rare pattern that I don’t think I modified at all because it was so beautifully designed, very well-written, and just aligned perfectly with my own taste.

Orchard Pullover, Image (c) Nicole Montgomery

What inspires you?

Just about everything. Sometimes I look at a skein of yarn and know exactly what it should be. My World War G{loves} is an example of this. I might see someone wearing something I love while I’m out running errands and I go home and draw it, then decide how I can make it my own. Siesta Tee was based on the idea of a mesh sweater with long set-in-sleeves that I saw on someone in a restaurant. I re-imagined it as a looser-fitting garment that you’d wear in the summer – something to throw over a tank top or a bathing suit at the beach. Sometimes I look through stitch dictionaries and imagine those patterns on finished projects – the cables on the Orchard Pullover and the lace from my Grazioso Wrap are examples of this.

Grazioso Wrap, Image (c) Nicole Montgomery

Do you have a favourite designer?

I can’t say I do, but it’s not because there aren’t a lot of really great designers out there. It’s mostly because I just don’t get to knit from other people’s patterns as much as I’d like to. And like I said before, I think my particular-ness in what I want to make means that I often find a pattern or two by a designer that I absolutely love, but the rest of their catalog might not appeal to me. It doesn’t reflect badly on them – I just recognize that I tend to march to my own drummer when it comes to what I want to create.

Anything else you’d like to add?

For me, the most rewarding thing about being a knitwear pattern writer is seeing that other people have gotten some pleasure out of my work. It always puts a smile on my face when I see a new project uploaded to Ravelry that is linked to one of my patterns or if someone sends me a link to a blog they wrote about one of the projects they made from a pattern I wrote. I am grateful for the knitters who have supported what I am doing because they have allowed me to indulge my creative side in a way that fits beautifully with what I want for my family.

Thanks Nicole for the interview! And remember this year’s Indie Giftalong will be running until 11:59 (EST) on November 21st 2014.

You can find Nicole’s blog, Trapping and Trinkets here, and her Facebook group here.

#Giftalong2014 Days 1+2

It has been busy over here since the Giftalong started, I’ve managed not to spend all my time on the Ravelry or Pinterest. What I mean is that I’ve taken food and sleeping breaks, and work breaks. I haven’t managed to do much knitting!

I’ve been having fun repinning some cool things over on Pinterest, I’m enjoying the opportunity to browse some designers I haven’t encountered before. I’m in love with a children’s cardigan by Jenny Wiebe – never mind for the kids –  I want one for me! I seem to have a thing about colour-blocking at the moment – Michelle Meyer has a gorgeous shawl which is definitely tempting me too.

Today I’ve mainly been looking at mittens. I have some lovely fibre from Hilltop Cloud – a gradient shading from white to dark gray.

My favourite mittens were sadly chomped by the dreaded moths so I’m on the lookout for a new pair. I haven’t spun the fibre yet so I’m not limited by yarn weight. You can see my current favourites on my Giftalong2014 favourites board on Pinterest.

I have a few mittens and wristwarmers included in the Giftalong too: Planetarium Wristwarmers, Buttons! Mittens, Hildasay Mittens and Voar Wristwarmers.

 

And don’t forget – you can find all my #giftalong2014 patterns here, and I’m chatting about the giftalong on Twitter and Instagram too!

Are You Ready? #giftalong2014

The Indie Giftalong 2014 starts at 8pm (EST) tonight!

I’m participating this year as a designer – you can find my bundle of discounted patterns on Ravelry here and also look at them on Pinterest as well. The offers are only available via Ravelry so you’ll need to log on over there.

And it is going to be huge! Check out the stats…

Tesserae Shawl: Pre-Order Offer

After quite a bit of interest, I have decided to add the Tesserae Shawl pattern to Ravelry for pre-order. And as a reward for those who want to purchase early, the pattern has been discounted to £3.50 GBP until midnight GMT on October 14th, 2014! After that the price will revert to £4.50.

The final pattern will include full written instructions for both the half-circle (pictured below) and full-circle versions. On purchasing the pattern at the moment, the downloadable file includes complete notes on dimensions, yarn / yardage requirements, tools and gauge.

The pattern can be found on Ravelry here. (Please feel free to repost this offer!)

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New Pattern: Flock Together Cowl

If you weren’t already aware – I have another pattern out in this month’s Knit Now Magazine (Issue 39, Sept 2014).

(C) Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing

The cowl is extra cosy as it is fully lined. It uses three yarns – two for the colourwork and a third for the lining. Available in three lengths (short, medium, long) – the short is shown above.

At the moment the pattern is available from the More Mags website and in stores in the UK. It will be available for individual purchase next year on Ravelry.

I’ll write more about the inspiration behind the pattern in another post.