Knitting up a storm!

Kate's Twirl:

I’ve been blogging over on The Golden Skein Blog again. :)

Originally posted on The Golden Skein:

Tornado over London?  Well not too sure about that, but our members where certainly whirlwind knitters with our Tornado over London colourways from Quarter 1 of the Power of 3 and Slimmers’ clubs.

If you haven’t knitted yours yet, here’s a selection to inspire you…

Dye for Yarn – Tornado over London

DyeForYarn-Tornado-Over-London

The lovely Louise Tilbrook knitted the Velvet Rose Shawl by Helen Stewart.  I think this is gorgeous and am seriously tempted to turn my DFY skein into this too, but my skein is reserved for the P/Hop Commonwealth Games Knit-a-long.

Louise Tillbrook's Velvet Rose

Louise Tilbrook’s Velvet Rose

Linda (aka Lindarose287) bought 2 of these wonderfully fluffy skeins and knitted this gorgeous cardi called Hematite by Lisa Mutch.

LIndaRoses287's Hematite

Lindarose287′s Hematite

LIndaRoses287's Hermatite2Linda took advantage of the incredibly long length of this 100 g skein – a whopping 480 metres! I’m sure you agree, the results are fabulous.  as is Linda’s figure…

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Flying high

Kate's Twirl:

As I’ve been very lazy with my own blog, thought I’d keep you up to date on The Golden Skein blog.

Originally posted on The Golden Skein:

Tornado over London yarns

Quarter 1 of our Power of 3 Club and Slimmers’ Club went really well for us.  All our fabulous members adored the yarns and many came back for more – which meant that we had sold out by mid April.  Wow Wee!!

So for those of you who missed out, here’s what our fantastic dyers came up with from this stunning photo!

Tornado G4 over London, courtesy of the Ministry of Defence

Tornado G4 over London, courtesy of the Ministry of Defence

First to arrive at TGS London came from the dyeing genius of Beata of Hedgehog Fibre‘s in Dublin, Ireland:

Hedgehog-Fibres-Tornado-Over-London-2

100 grams of a gorgeous high twist sock yarn consisting of 80% Blue Faced Leicester wool and 20% nylon. The colourway was named “Stark” and uses a  silvery grey base, representing the silver plane and grey sky, but with beautiful and subtle variations of other colours picked out from the ground below.  I made socks with mine –…

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The Golden Skein

I’ve been rather quiet for a while, but that’s because I’ve been busy with my lovely business partner Jo (aka Shinybees), with The Golden Skein.

We are commissioning independent hand dyers, from around the world, to create colourways for us from inspiration pictures and then retailing them in yarn clubs to limited numbers.  Some of the dyers may be know to you but many will be entirely new. We hope to introduce talented dyers to a wider audience, as well as have lots of fun sharing pattern ideas and pictures of projects with existing and potential club members.

At the moment, we have just the 2 clubs up and running: The Power of 3 Club, which sends 3 skeins a quarter to members, each dyed by different dyers to the same inspiration picture; and The Slimmers’ Club which is just 1 skein from 1 of the dyers in the Power of 3 Club, designed for those on a yarn diet or who are a little short of cash, but don’t want to miss out on the excitement and fun of it all.  We also hope to run The Small Flockers Club and the 837 Miles Club.

I’m pleased to say that sign ups are open and going well.  All clubs are limited edition and the yarns are non-repeatable.    Our post out dates are 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December and you can sign up for 1, 2, 3 or all 4 quarters.

These are the pictures which we will be using for Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter 2014.

Tornado GR4 Over London

Spring: Tornado GR4 over London, form UK Ministry of Defence on Flickr

Harvest

Summer: Harvest by Lorna Rande on Flickr

Harvest

Autumn: Harvest by Tom on Flickr

Celebration

Winter: Celebration by Yihan on Flickr (used with kind permission)

We ran the Trial Club to make sure that everything worked properly and, barring a few website glitches, all went well – Phew!  There was so much excitement and we were very pleased (not to mention mightily relieved) that our yarn club was well received.  The excitement and chatter over on our Ravelry group was fabulous.  Thank you so much ladies for being so enthusiastic and fun.

This is the inspiration picture for the Trial club, which was used with the kind permission of Nick Ford.

Happy New Decade by Nick FordHappy New Decade, by Nick Ford

And here is what our fabulous dyers produced, 3 fabulously different skeins of yarn:

Trial Club 3

This first to arrive at TGS headquarters, way back in September, was Nurturing Fibre’s 100% merino in a colourway named “Golden Dawn”.  You can read about Carlé and her experience dyeing for TGS here.  Carlé hand delivered the yarn all the way from South Africa.  OK, that wasn’t quite as extreme as it sounds, Carlé was lucky enough to be doing a small tour of Europe and met me one evening for supper.  I don’t think the staff of Pizza Express had ever seen so much yarn.  At on point we had Carlé’s whole new season of colours covering the table top!

"Golden Dawn", dyed by Nurturing Fibres  for the TGS Trial Club

“Golden Dawn”, dyed by Nurturing Fibres
for the TGS Trial Club

Next to arrive was Sparkleduck‘s “And The Clouds Began to Break” which arrived by post and was surprisingly different from Carlé’s – this was very exciting! This yarn is a luxurious 55% wool and 45% silk.   You can read all about Heather’s dyeing inspiration here.

"And the Clouds Began to Break" dyed by Sparkleduck for the TGS Trial Club

“And the Clouds Began to Break” dyed by Sparkleduck for the TGS Trial Club

And last, buy by no means least, For The Love of Yarn‘s “Walk of Tranquility” arrived.  I didn’t get to see this yarn in the flesh (so to speak) until the club members did.  Jo sent me one skein at the same time as she sent out all the TGS club parcels.  It was very exciting to see the package arrive.  I’d seen pictures of the packaging but didn’t really know how lovely it was till it arrived in the post. The golden mailers really add to the excitement.   Lisa wrote something for us too about her dyeing process. You can read it here.  This yarn is very squishy, or “smooshy” as Jo calls it, because it is 80% merino superwash with 20% bamboo.

Walk of Tranquillity dyed by For the Love of Yarn for the TGS Trial Club

“Walk of Tranquillity” dyed by For the Love of Yarn for the TGS Trial Club

I can’t wait to see what our next 3 dyers come up with for the first quarters of  The Power of 3Yarn  Club and the Slimmers’ Club from the fabulous photo of a Tornado over London.   Just look at all those silvers and greys and then there’s all the tiny flecks of colours on the ground, which should make for some interesting effects. I’m sure we’re going to get 3 stunning Golden Skeins.  The first yarn will be arriving next week and I’m getting over excited already!!

If you’d like to know what it’s like to be a member of a Golden Skein yarn club, then take a look at these blogs and podcasts from those lucky enough to take part in the Trial Club.  I’ll be posting again soon (OK you probably know by now that it may be a while) about the projects I made with my 3 yarns.

Blogs from trial club members:

The wonderful Shoe wrote on her Sparkly Shoes are Faster  blog

The fabulous Martine wrote “Oh Yarn” on her iMake blog

The lovely Clare wrote on her Yarn and Pointy Sticks blog

Podcasts about the Trial Club

Yarns from the Plain

iMake

Caithness Craft Collective

Knitting with TGS yarn

The lovely Shoe also wrote a blog about her first TGS project: 2014 The Year of the Sock

What Jo had to say about it all

The Shinybees blog post

The Shinybees podcast

:)

The thrill of popularity

I released a new pattern yesterday morning and was reasonably pleased by the number of downloads throughout the day and by the time I went out that night I was pleasantly surprised by how well it was going.  The next morning I was quite shocked by the sheer number of download confirmation emails sitting in my inbox:  437

Untitled

I have spent the rest of the day marvelling at just how popular the pattern is.  It is being downloaded at a rate of more than 1 per minute – it’s just amazing.  It has made it to number 2 on Ravelry’s “Hot right now” section too!

Untitled

As I write (9:35pm, 16 November), the pattern has been downloaded 1364 times!!  Now, I’d love to think that it is all because I am wonderfully talented and have designed the best pair of fingerless mitts ever going, but I know that this is predominantly down to the fact that I am offering the pattern for FREE if you download it before the end of November.  Just type in the coupon code FREE at the Ravelry check out.  Here’s the link: Pat’s Mitts.  I’m thrilled to bits by its popularity – no matter what the reason! :)

Here’s more about the pattern – please note that if you click the Buy Now button below, it will by-pass the discount bit and you’ll have to pay the full £3, so please use the link above if you are downloading before the end of November.

Pat’s Mitts

P1040902

A long, super cosy pair of fingerless mitts embellished with a simple cable pattern

Each mitt is knitted in the round, from the bottom up, in reverse stocking stitch with a traditional cable pattern running along the back of the arm and hand. The pattern gives instructions using the magic loop technique. Here’s a link to how to do magic loop Knit Picks magic loop tutorial. Any experienced user of DPNs will be able to convert the pattern easily, if magic loop isn’t your thing.

My lovely friend, Patrick, wanted some mitts. He was quite specific about his requirements. They must be black, with a cable running along the arm and he wanted them to be quite long covering the wrist. The first time he asked for mitts, I attempted to teach him to knit, with a view to him making his own. I soon realised that knitting some mitts in the round, with a cable, was probably a little beyond his talents – his enthusiasm was laudable but sadly his particular talent for “making” stitches where none were required was rather prohibitive!

Easily adaptable The mitt is a good average size with plenty of stretch and will, therefore, fit most people. If, however, you’re making them for a particularly small or large hand, this can be easily achieved by adding or removing a couple of sts – feel free to contact me if you would like help with this.

You will need:

130 metres (142 yards) of aran weight (worsted) yarn, 4 mm (US size 6) circular needles (or size to obtain gauge) of at least 80 cm in length, a cable needle, 2 or 3 stitch markers, a darning needle and either a stitch holder or some spare yarn.

Gauge

24 stitches over 29 rows per 10 cm square (in unblocked reverse stocking stitch)

Approximate Dimensions

Each finished mitt, when laid flat, measures:
Width 7cm (3”) approximately
Length 25 cm (10”) approximately

Knitting round up

Wow wee I’ve been a busy bee this last couple of months.  A new term has started with lectures written and delivered and I’ve p/Hopped for hours by blogging, pattern publishing, printing, show stall hosting and various other bits of prepping for fund-raising around the UK.

 

Full TGS logo

On top of all that , there’s the progress made on a very exciting new yarny business venture with my lovely friend Jo (aka Shinybees).  The website will launch soon at www.thegoldenskein.com but, in the meantime, you can follow our progress on Twitter, Ravelry and Facebook.  We’ve also signed up to Pinterest but we’re not that sure what we’re doing there – if you’re an avid Pinner, perhaps you could drop me a line…  We will be specially commissioning, themed, independently dyed yarn collections through a variety of yarn clubs.  Clubs will contain yarn from all over the world in limited edition colourways which, in many cases, will not be available anywhere else.  We’re hoping that our very first trial club will be quite soon, so keep an eye out for more news and details…

Despite all this, I seem to have managed to get a fair bit of knitting done, so this blog, as the title suggests, is a knitting round up.

I’ve just quickly looked back at my previous blogs and it seems I haven’t done a round up for a very very long time.  I can’t blog about them all, but here are the last 5 FOs (FO= ‘finished off’ and is just one of those knitty terms we use):

Way back in June, I finished Pop Spots, by Juju Vail – this was a very simple, but incredibly effective, 2 colour knit.  I decided to make the large version, but confess that the incessant purl rows towards the end made me lose the will to live, so I made a shawl somewhere in between the big and small one! The yarn I chose was Shilasdair Luxury 4ply which is a lovely “sheepy” yarn – now I say sheepy, because it feels it, but it actually doesn’t consist of much sheep yarn at all.  It is only 40% Wool and the rest is 40% Angora,10% Camel and 10% Cashmere.  It is lovely and springy and the dyes are all natural.  The smell is wonderful!

 Pop Spots

My Pop Spots in Shilasdair Luxury 4 ply

Then on the 29th July (yes it took 1 evening), I knitted this little guy – The Teeny Tiny Teddy by Alessandra Parsons and available to download for a donation to P/Hop.  I made him in a DK weight, but the pattern is written for sock weight yarn.  In truth though, you can knit him in any weight of yarn you choose – just change the needle size to that recommended on the yarn band/tag.  It’s a great way to use left over yarn and he is jolly cute!

P-hopTeeny Tiny Teddy (sorry about the cat hairs on my sofa!)

At the end of August, I finished the Trinity Shawl by Anniken Allis – another P/Hop pattern which is a pattern you can knit in 3 different ways, which is why it was named Trinity.  I knitted this in a skein I’d been saving for ages – just not sure what to knit with it.  In the end I decided to take the plunge.  The yarn is Merino Cashmere Fingering from Skein and it is beautifully soft.  The colourway is called Daisy – my favourite flower.  I knitted the shawl as part of a knitalong of P/Hop patterns in the Shinybees’ Ravlery group.  KALs are always fun.

TrinityTrinity Shawl in Skien’s Merino Cashmere Fingering

The next knit I tackled was part of a teaching project.  My dear friend Kat, whom I taught to knit recently, wanted to make Sweetness, by Tin Can Knits, and felt it might be a bit complicated for her, so I agreed to knit it at the same time.  It’s a lovely 2 colour cowl knitted in aran weight.  Of course, Kat had underestimated her talents and even managed to make the version which includes a provisional cast on and grafting.  I was mightily proud – I have introduced a brave knitter to the world!  We both knitted them in Malabrigo twist and now it’s getting colder, I’m looking forward to mine keeping me nice and cosy! :)

UntitledSweetness in Malabrigo Twist

And last, buy by no means least – actually I think it’s my favourite of them all – I knitted the Radiance Shawl by Helen Stewart.  I found this pattern when at Fibre East running the P/Hop stall.  Boo’s Attic had several of them on her stand, showing off her yarns.  The flow of the pattern is so lovely and I knew it would work really well in the 100% silk lace-weight yarn, that I bought at Ally Pally, way back in February – Artisan Yarns’ Lacey Lacey in colourway Red Rose.  The drape is just wonderful and the sheen on the silk is beautiful, not to mention the vibrant colour.  Sadly my pictures don’t do the colour justice :(

Radiance

Radiance Shawl in Artisan’s Lacey Lacey

:)

I bequeath my stash to….

The stash, the whole stash and nothing but the stash!

She who dies with the largest stash, wins!

Don’t worry, I’m not going all morbid on you and I have no intention of shuffling off this mortal coil just yet, it’s just that a couple of things have got me thinking about what happens to our stash when we do pop off…

I was working in the shop the other Friday (officially, I no longer work there, but to staff, Loop is like Hotel California – you can check out but you can never leave…) and got chatting with a fabulous American customer.  She was desperate to get as much yarn as she could that would fit her luggage allowance (sadly not very much).  In a shop filled to the rafters with gorgeous yarns and a deadline to catch a train, this is no easy feat.  We were generally discussing the best yarns and her tastes etc, which of course leads to discussion of the stash – every knitter is always looking for ways to justify their ever-growing stash and this lady came up with the best I’ve heard yet “She who dies with the largest stash, wins!”

Last week, I was catching up on the Shinybees podcast and heard Jo talking about how horrified she was (initially) when talking with 2 best friends that one of them said she wouldn’t knit the other’s stash if her friend were to die!  It wasn’t until Jo saw the size of the stash in question that she realised it would be impossible for the friend to knit it as well as her own, within her lifetime – quite possibly several lifetimes…

Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled

The Golden Skeins

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, my stash is quite modest – at the moment!  The problem is, the more you knit, the more you want to knit and there just isn’t the time to knit all those yarns that you want, but you still HAVE to buy them!  I tend to be a little more restrained than some because I live so near to a great yarn store.  This means that I only tend to buy yarns that I just adore, if I cannot get them there, or if I can only get them there for a limited period.  The yarns above are Skein Queen bought at Unravel, Artisan Yarns bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show  and 2 skeins of Skein‘s Cashmere blend which was at Loop for a limited period.  Theses are my “Golden Skeins” – they are so beautiful that I had to have them and yet, they are too beautiful to knit – or rather finding the exactly perfect pattern for them is really hard!

So, I shall leave instructions that my stash will go to my funeral and all those who want skeins can take their pick each in turn (starting with the knitter who has know me longest) at the funeral tea with a glass of champagne in their hand!  This way, no one friend will be given the daunting task of knitting up my stash, but all my friends will be given the chance to honour my stash by knitting up at least on of the skeins.

Leave me a comment to tell me about your golden skein and/or what your plans are for your stash when you snuff it!  Join in the chatter with others on this topic on my NEW Ravelry group!

:)

My designing process – The Birthday Wrap

The Birthday Wrap

me, looking rather silly, but wearing The Birthday Wrap

I’ve been kind of designing ever since I started knitting, but I never thought of it as that.  I remember making a head band when I was around 17/18.  I used to just make myself stuff without really thinking.  Remember cheerful chicken - I just made him up and then there’s the tiny i-cord mice and a hot water bottle cover that I made for several friends.  It wasn’t until I made the shawl for Annette’s birthday (The Birthday Shawl) when my friends at Loop encouraged me to write it down and publish , that I thought why not!!

My mum was my inspiration for my latest design: she has always been one of my biggest supporters.  My mum cannot knit or sew, but has encouraged my sister and me to be crafty.  I knit and my sister sews.  When I showed her the birthday shawl she was thrilled and thought it was really lovely.  She emailed all her friends with pics.  Now, my mum is in her 60s and a triangular shawl just doesn’t suit her style, so I couldn’t really make her one, so I resolved to knit her a longer version using the same lace-edging.

The project starts with a provisional cast on, so is worked from the centre out consisting of mainly garter stitch with leaves growing along its main body, in opposite directions from the centre and with a knitted-on leafy edging at each end. The result is a warm and elegant (just like my mum) oblong garter stitch and lace wrap with frilled lace ends.

The design process which I go through is very time consuming.  I start with the basic idea and then swatch stitch patterns – this one was particularly hard because I wanted it to tie in with an existing lace edging, so I must’ve tried around 10 different “leaf” designs.  Once I’d decided on the final stitch pattern, I then cast on and started to knit.  After knitting around 3 pattern repeats I realised that I wanted to have the centre panel surrounded by a similar “holey” effect as the beginning of the border, so I frogged and started again!  Thankfully I liked the new version.

Once I’ve knitted a design, whilst jotting down notes, I then have to write it up so that other people can follow my instructions and knit it too.  This bit is not as easy as it may sound. I usually make a few changes based on what I learnt on the original knit, so the first one is always slightly different from the main pattern.   I like to always use a chart and written instructions and, whilst it may seem simple, getting the two to actually mirror one another is never that easy (not to mention that the chart software I have isn’t that great).  Also, I find that it’s not easy to spot your own errors, so this is often where my test knitters’ input is valued the most.

The Birthday Wrap The Birthday Wrap Patt's Mitts by Kate Ellis for Kate's Twirl

The sunny photoshoot

As part of the writing up process, there needs to be a photo shoot.  No one wants to knit up a pattern if they don’t know what it looks like. For my first two patterns, I photographed the knit myself, but it’s much better to have pictures of someone wearing it.  This time, I asked my lovely friend Annette (of the Birthday Shawl fame) if she would help me.  It was coincidence that I was going to her home that weekend and that she has a beautiful garden.  Annette was fantastic at taking the pictures, making suggestions and arranging me into position.  We were extremely fortunate that the weather was gorgeous – the first nice day of the year!

So, once the pattern is written and has accompanying photos, I have to find test knitters – I usually post on Ravelry for this.  The test knitters have their work cut out and do not get paid.  I think this pattern has been amended 6 times during the test process – not major changes, but clarifications and corrections.  I am very grateful to Vikki and Kerry for their hard work.

At the same time as the test knitters, I also knit the pattern again, following my own instructions. This helps to iron out any little glitches before publication.  This whole process can take months.  This time I gave myself a deadline, to coincide with a giveaway on the iMake blog.  If you’d like to get one of my patterns for free, take a look at her site: iMake

Now you’d think that that would be the end of it,  but knitters nearly always find some errors too.  When they do, I like them to let me know.  Every time I discover an error, I amend the pattern and then email new copies (update Ravelry libraries) with a corrected version.  I think it is only fair when people have paid for a pattern that you keep them updated.  There is an errata function on Ravelry, but you shouldn’t have to faff about looking in different areas to knit something.

Well, that’s about it, in a nutshell.  This pattern is definitely my favourite so far.  When I was knitting it, I thought it was ok – that was it, just ok – but when I un-pinned it afer blocking, I was stunned by just how gorgeous it was.  The lightness and flow of the fabric are wonderful (even though I say so myself – whoops trumpet blowing again)!  I do hope that you’ll like it.  Please visit my Ravelry page and add it to your favourites: The Birthday Wrap

 The Birthday Wrap The Birthday Wrap The Birthday Wrap

Take a look at my other designs here: Kate’s Twirl Raverly store

:)