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

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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!

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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

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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!

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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 :(

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Radiance Shawl in Artisan’s Lacey Lacey

:)

Pennies per hour of pleasure

How much pleasure do you get from a knitting pattern?  If you think about it, it really is quite a lot – well for the ones you get around to knitting it is hours and hours.  Take your average lace shawl pattern: you get your pattern and you imagine how lovely it will be when knitted up, you imagine the outfit you’d wear it with and how your friends and family will admire it; then you choose your yarn – that’s at least an hour’s wonderment just there; then there’s the excitement of casting on and several hours of knitting calm; perhaps you’ll have some fun sharing your progress on Ravelry, Twitter and Facebook with other knitters and be encouraged by their comments; oh and the exhilaration of casting off, un-pinning it from blocking; photographing the finished shawl for the social knitwork and, finally, wearing it and showing it off – that little buzz of pride you get whenever someone says how nice it is and asks where you bought it – I made it (smug grin).  So, how many hours of pleasure do you think that is?

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Here I am at the MSF offices, as proud as punch to be standing next to their Nobel Peace Prize, awarded in 1999!

All that pleasure from just one pattern!  This is why I am thrilled to be the new P/Hop coordinator.  P/Hop (pennies per hours of pleasure) raises money through the “sale” of knitting and crochet patterns for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).  So, here’s how it works: you browse the patterns on the website and download the ones you’d like to knit (or crochet – you crocheters are not left out) and then you follow the link and make a donation to MSF.  Ideally, that donation should be commensurate with the amount of pleasure you’ll get from the pattern, or, at the very least, any amount that you can afford.

You can browse all the P/Hop patterns here and make a donation to MSF here for all the pleasure you’ll get from the pattern(s).

MSF is an independent, international, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid in more than 60 countries to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural or man-made disasters or exclusion from healthcare.  It’s an extremely worthwhile cause – after all, but for the grace of God, it could be us in need!

If you’d like to know more about what I’ll be doing for P/Hop, check out this blog post.  And, finally, here’s the blog post which I wrote for P/Hop today!

:)

Self promotion round up

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Me, knitting in public at the Paralympics last year

Ah, I have been neglecting my public (sorry mum) as it has been a woefully long time since I last blogged.  In my defence, I have done some promoting of my patterns, both on this site and on Ravelry, so I have been writing…. a bit!

Changing style and new pages

Firstly, I have revamped my blog page!  I do hope that you like it.  If you’re reading this on mobile, it won’t look much different, but if you visit the full site, perhaps you could leave me a comment to let me know what you think.  Changing the theme of a WordPress blog isn’t as easy as at first appears.  The best themes you have to pay for and they are rather pricey starting at US$63.  There are some nice free ones, but they all have different layouts and widgets so not all of them will work with your particular content.  Widgets are the handy little thingymigigs that let you show things, like links, Twitter and flickr feeds and other information in the sidebar.

As well as changing the theme/layout I have added a couple of pages too.  One about the new Kate’s Twirl Ravelry group  (see below) and one to showcase my patterns – now, if you ‘ve seen one of my patterns on the blog, you can go straight to the page instead of searching back through the posts to find the info you wanted about yarn requirements etc and you can even buy them by clicking the relevant “buy now” link.

The Rav Group

I have set up a Kate’s Twirl Ravelry group with several threads for you all to share ideas and generally chat with one another about anything knitting related.

If you’re not already a member of Ravelry, I whole heartedly recommend that you join – It is free and there are lots of free patterns on there, as well as ones to buy. All are sold as PDF downloads. I used to prefer to buy a physical pattern, but now I prefer downloads. The best thing is that you can print it out and then write all over it and shove it your project bag without much of a care – it doesn’t matter if you destroy it or lose it, because you can print up another whenever you need one.

One of the best things about Ravelry is sharing your projects and yarn stash with other users.  You get so inspired – WARNING: you can end up spending a serious amount of time browsing Ravelry, so grab a cuppa and settle down to spend some quality time looking at other people’s craft projects…

There are various groups and forums on there, where crafters share their projects and ideas and generally chat and help one another. I’ve created a Kate’s Twirl Group, which I’d love you to become involved in! There are already 62 Tiwrly members!!  I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge about yarns and knitting and love sharing it, so if you have any questions about yarn substitutions or quantities, or even stitch patterns and techniques, then leave me a message on the General Chatter thread – or, maybe you just want to say hello! :)

The Kate’s Twirl group has a thread for Discounts and Giveaways, not just Kate’s Twirl ones, but I will post any that I spot of a crafty nature. You can advertise any giveaways you have running on your blog or which you find on other’s blogs and let us all know of any other freebies or discounts that you think Twirlers will enjoy! I also post exclusive Kate’s Twirl discounts there, so it’s worth checking out before you buy any patterns!

You can also chat with others (and me, of course) about my latest blog post topic. I’ll create a thread for each new post and make it “sticky” so that it will be near the top.

And finally….. There is a thread for a knit-a-long (KAL) for each of my patterns!

I’d love to get to know my blog readers and hear your opinions and likes, so, go on, get involved and chat! :D

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iMake giveaway

Part of my self promotion was getting involved with latest giveaway from the fabulous iMake blog and podcast.  I “donated” 10 patterns to commenters on the iMake blog post.  The post featured my new pattern, The Birthday Shawl, with winners, chosen at random.    The first winner won copies of all three of my patterns, with 7 runners-up winning a copy of the pattern of their choice.  The winner, Anja (knityourlife on Ravelry) sent Martine and me a lovely email from Germany which showed how excited she was:

“Thank you so much for this mornings big surprise e-mail to be the winner of the iMake/Kate’s Twirl knitting pattern giveaway!!! Imagine me dancing, jumping and singing around like crazy…
 
I had to read that message over and over again, but it is really true! How wonderful!
 
Not only that the sun returned to us here in Bavaria, but also three absolutely lovely patterns are on “their way” to my ravelry account.”
It made my day to receive such a lovely email! :D  All the Kate’s Twirl patterns are now in Lisa’s Ravelry library.

Worldwide Knitting in Public Week discount

This week it  is knitting in public week.  So get yourself  knitting outdoors, in the pub, cinema, on the bus or train.  It’s great fun and people often comment and talk to you about it and even if they don’t, some of the double takes they give you are hilarious!

To celebrate, I am offering a huge 50% off each of my patterns.  Use the code WKIPW at the checkout.  Offer ends at midnight (BST) on Friday 14 June, so get in there quick!

 Birthday close up P1040756 The Birthday Wrap

The Birthday Shawl, The Diamond Dot Scarf and the Birthday Wrap

Here’s the link to the patterns: Kate’s Twirl patterns

Happy Knitting!

:)

Crafty Monkey #4KCBWDAY2

Sheep Carousel by Kate Davies

My Birthday present from Martine (teapot photographer’s own ;) )

So, here we go with:

Day Two (Tuesday April 23rd): A Mascot Project.
Your task today is to either think of or research a project that embodies that house/animal. It could be a knitting or crochet pattern – either of the animal itself or something that makes you think of the qualities of that house.

You’ll remember from yesterday that I’m in the House of Monkey:  Intelligent and with a fun-loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

I started today by reading other people’s blogs on this topic – This was a mistake.  I now feel woefully inadequate and under prepared!  Take a look at these two and see what I mean:

ShinyBees a really funny post  (a Bee)

All She Wants to Do Is Knit - a surprisingly different angle (another Monkey)

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A cheeky little monkey trying to see what I’m up to!

As I was saying yesterday, I love to do projects that teach me something new and I have chosen my next challenge of Fair Isle.  My knitting style clearly shows, because Martine (of iMake fame) bought me the perfect “monkey” project for my birthday.  Thank you so so much Martine!  She bought me a kit from the wonderful people at Jamiesons and Smith of Kate Davies’ fabulously cute Sheep Carousel.  The pattern is perfect for any monkey knitter, because although it is nice and small, it showcases lots and lots of different Shetland knitting techniques.  The very clever Kate has designed it purposely for us monkey types so that we may learn an awful lot in just one project.  When I knit this (my next project) I will learn:

Stranded colourwork

Steeks (scary – involves cutting up my knitting)

Vikkel braids (whatever they may be)

Corrugated ribbing (doesn’t sound too hard)

i-cord (ok I’ve done this one before – but cannot remember it) and

Centred Double Decreases (I must’ve done those before – right?)

So much to learn in something so tiny – as Kate puts it herself on the pattern “Practice on your teapot before trying these things out on a sweater!”  Plus it’s decorated with sheep on a fairground carousel – I’ve yet to meet a knitter that didn’t love sheep, old-fashioned fairgrounds and tea!!

I just can’t wait to get started…

Sheep Carousel

Kate Davies’ picture of the Sheep Carousel tea cosy from her Flickr page

used with her very kind permission

Monkey House #4KCBWDAY1

Kniting and crochet blog week house of monkey

Wow, it seems forever since I participated in the my first knitting and crochet blog week, run by Eskimimimakes, but it is only a year.  I’m hoping that you will agree that my blogging has got a bit better, even if my blogs are still rather intermittent!  Something to address this year, I guess!

As a reminder, the annual knitting and crochet blog week, challenges knitting and crochet bloggers to write a blog each day on a specific topic.  Today’s topic looks at the types of crafters we are – here’s an excerpt Eskimimi’s blog to explain:

KCBWDAY1 The House Cup.
A bit like Harry Potter, but not quite, this year’s Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is split into 4 houses. Don your favourite knitted or crocheted hat and let it guide you to which house you will be in.

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.
The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet.
The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.
The House of Peacock: Peacocks take something good and make it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock’s Tail.” Eskimimimakes’ blog

As you’ll have guessed from my title, I sit in the monkey house!  I love a challenge with my knitting.  Right back when I picked up my needles again, some 13 years ago, I’ve wanted to learn more and more.  I always chose patterns that had something in them that I’d never tried before.  Back then, there was no YouTube to watch people’s video tutorials, you just had to do what the pattern said and hope for the best – I always found it miraculous that it worked – but it always did.  Having faith in your knitting and the pattern was key.

It has to be said that if I’d spend the whole 13 years knitting the amount that I do now, I’d be a knitting guru – I, however, used to be very intermittent with my knitting – doing maybe one or two projects a year, so I still have loads to learn.  The internet, particularly Ravelry, revolutionised my knitting.  There’s just so much out there to learn!

My learning curve now is focused on pattern writing.  I have published 2 so far; The Birthday Shawl and the, award-winning, Diamond Dot Scarf and have another 2 in the pipeline.  By far my favourite, The Birthday Wrap, will be released on 1 May 2013.

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The Birthday Shawl and the Diamond Dot Scarf

The Birthday Wrap

The Birthday Wrap

My next learning project is to tackle Fair Isle…. more about that later in the week!

To read other people’s blogs on this topic, search 4KCBWDAY1 in your browser.  Have fun

:)

Alpacatastic!

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I have been a huge fan of Alpacas for many years, they’re just sooooooooooooooo cute. It is my dream to have a small-holding with a few alpaca, some chickens, a pig, vegetable patch and greenhouse!! Perhaps with a few holiday lets to make some sort of income (pie in the sky dream which I don’t expect will ever materialise – although I live in hope of meeting a farmer or winning the Euromillions).

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Toft Alpaca pom poms

Last year, at Knit Nation, London, Martine (from iMake), Chloe (from Sparkly Shoes are Faster) and I discovered the wonder that is Toft Alpaca. We got very over excited and really rather silly over alpaca pom poms. They are so soft and fluffy. You can hear our amusing chat in Episode 24 of the iMake podcast. It was chatting with Kerry at this show which really did get me dreaming about owning alpacas one day. Originally Toft were just alpaca breeders but thanks to Kerry, who saw the fleeces going to waste, they now produce lots of high quality alpaca yarns in beautifully natural colourways. They do not dye any of their yarns, but blend the various naturally occurring fibres together to get their colourways. They now sell their yarns, pom poms, stunning hand turned wooden buttons and toggles in various woods and sizes as well as hold various craft classes, including knitting, crochet and felting.

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The fabulous Martine came to stay with me for the weekend and suggested that we make a trip to see the Toft Alpaca shop and farm. Martine has also blogged about it here and we both “appear” in her regular craft podcast, iMake, chatting and giggling about it here. Now, when Martine suggested it, we didn’t really know if it would be possible to visit from London. I had thought that the farm was in Oxfordshire, but it is actually in Warwickshire. I looked on their website and saw that is was very near to Rugby and trains to Rugby are 2 an hour from Euston station and take only 50 mins or 1 hour 40 mins (depending on whether you get the fast [and quite expensive] or the slow [much cheaper] train). Martine emailed Carrie at Toft to let them know we were thinking of coming and she very helpfully told us that we could get a taxi from the station for around £10. This was good news, because from the map I really had no idea of knowing just how far away Dunchurch was from Rugby.

Martine and I were so glad that we decided to make the trip. It was really well worth it. We pulled up in the taxi at around 12.30 pm and were met by a lovely lady, whom I think was called Claire. Claire came out of the door to meet us saying “you must be Martine and Kate, welcome”. It was so very lovely to be welcomed by name. We were taken into the office (if we’d gone to the car park we would have gone in through the shop door) and offered a drink of tea or coffee or a soft drink. We’d just had a coffee and a sandwich at the station, so declined, but ordinarily I love to get a drink! :)

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The beautiful setting of Toft Alpaca by Draycote Water

We had a wander around the shop, feeling all the beautiful alpaca knitted things, yarns, fleece and, of course, the pom poms! We were in alpaca heaven and hadn’t even seen an animal yet! Shortly afterwards Carrie came to chat with us and invited us to join a guided tour of the farm which was starting at 1pm. It was a beautiful sunny day and a little warm, but great for a slow ramble through fields of alpaca with a camera! Carrie was a brilliant guide too. She gave us fascinating little facts about alpaca, their fleeces and the spinning process, all the way round. She was unbelievably knowledgable and a really lovely person. You can see so clearly how much she loves her job.

The alpaca were so very lovely and really inquisitive little creatures. Here’s a few more pictures of the gorgeous blighters!

Hello gorgeous

Alpacagate!

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After our wonderful walk we were asked to join the group in a short craft taster session, where people could try knitting, crochet and wet felting. Finally, we had time for a bit of shopping (ahem – well! Ahem… it would’ve been rude not to! ;) )

We both bought bag making kits (we’d coveted them for a little while). Martine bought a medium sized bulb bag for knitting and then felting and I bought a chunky crochet bucket bag to make. If you follow the links you can take a look at what we bought. Martine chose a toggle rather than a button. I did choose a large button though and we both (rather handily) chose the same colour as in the pictures on Toft’s site.

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Handsome young man!

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I started my bag on the way home on the train and made good headway. Before I could complete it, my cat staged a one animal sit in and occupied it. I thought she’d lose interest eventually, but in the end I had to give in, fasten off and “turn” it into a cat basket!

Mable's basket
Purrfect fit

Kerry and Carrie – I’ll be seeing you at Ally Pally to buy some more yarn to complete my bag!!

Finally, I whole heartedly recommend that anyone who gets the opportunity to visit Toft should do so. We had a great time and are seriously considering booking the holiday accommodation at the farm some time!