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

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

:)

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!

:)

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…

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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

:)

My lovely crafty ladies – 4KCBWDAY6

My my, day 6 already . There’s only one more to go tomorrow and then I’ve successfully completed my 2nd knitting and crochet blog week!

Here’s the info from Eskimimi on today’s topic:

Day Six (Saturday April 27th): A Tool To Covet

Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can
either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet
hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special
lamp, or stitch markers.

Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which
applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a
tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?

One of the best things about having knitting as a hobby is that you don’t actually need a vast array of tools and gadgets.  Anyone can learn to knit with just a pair of needles and some yarn.  If you need a stitch marker you can make one with a scrap yarn tied around your needle and if you want to use a row counter, tallying with paper and pencil works just fine!  obviously though, as you get more into your craft there are one or two things that just make it sooo much more pleasurable.  Look at these gorgeous scissors:

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Antique style bird scissors

Not only do they look beautiful, the are a lovely weight and are very very sharp which is perfect for snipping through yarn.  My absolute favourite tool (tools really) is my ChaioGoo interchangeable needle set.  Since I first tried a ChaioGoo circular (not an interchangeable) I was in love.  The cable is fab and doesn’t wrap around itself, but the very best thing is the points.  There are stainless steel, but they are not cold to the touch nor are they heavy, so if you prefer bamboo because they aren’t as heavy or cold as steel tips these would work for you.  And, if you really like, they do do tips in bamboo too.

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My heavenly ChaioGoo set

But, what I like about them most is that they make the most gorgeous noise and vibration when you slide the needles over one another – it’s just such a joy to knit with them.  I know that this probably sounds really odd and a little petty to anyone who has never tried them, but I bet everyone who has, knows exactly what I’m talking about here!

Oh by the way, the title of my post relates to the name Chaio Goo (chau gu) which means Crafty Lady in Chinese…

:)