Current and future knitting

Hi there how are you this week? It has been super hot here in Normandy over the last week or so and all of a sudden the temperature plummeted today and along came the rain. I’m not complaining though as the heat was getting to me. I don’t enjoy working when it is super hot and I spend all my day at my desk perspiring like crazy. And my hands feel clammy making knitting less enjoyable. So a cooler weather is just fine with me.

I have knit quite a bit since last time but I don’t have much to show as most of what I have been working on are test knits I’m not allowed to share just yet. Out of the 3 test knits 2 are almost done and that’s such a relief. Mostly because I have so many things I want to cast on…

The pair of socks is almost at the toe so should be finished by the end of this week. Cardigan 1 I did actually finish yesterday. I wove in the ends, washed and blocked it. But… I had knit longer than usual sleeves and after washing my cardigan grew. I know super wash yarns tend to grow when washed and that’s why I prefer to knit garments with non super wash yarns but sometimes I just don’t have any and the yarn I REALLY want to use is super wash. Anyway, I used my own hand dyed yarn for this, on my SOX base and I absolutely love the color and feel of it but I did knit the sleeves too long. So when I tried the cardigan on last night as it was close to being dry, there was no denying that the sleeves were just way too long. I did check with my daughter to see what she thought because I didn’t want to rip back and re knit part of the sleeves. My daughter told me that long sleeves were “in” so I should leave it as was. Phew. But still I was not quite sure so I reached out to a cousin of mine who is also a knitter and showed her some pictures and she agreed with me, the sleeves had to be fixed. Maybe that decision is what made me have a very restless night! Being unhappy about my sleeves! Anyway, this morning I ripped back a few inches on both sleeves and re knit the cuff. I have finished one sleeve and am working on the second and hopefully I’ll have that done tomorrow.

Even if this was not a major issue, it still had me upset. And maybe even more so because I received some gorgeous new yarn in the mail yesterday and all I wanted was to cast on something new!

The yarn I received was a gift from a wonderful fellow knitter/dyer in Australia! Her name is Andrea and you can follow her on Instagram as @yarnsalad.

She gifted me 6 skeins of a 2 ply silk/lambswool yarn that was originally spun for fashion house Missoni! How amazing is that? I don’t know how or where but she buys yarns that were spun for luxury fashion houses but are no longer needed and then dyes them using natural dyes in her home.

I think that wound up the variegated yarn looks even more amazing (on the right side on the second picture). So now I have to find a pattern for this gorgeous yarn. It’s a thin two ply so between a lace and a light fingering weight. My very first thought when I saw the yarn was RAVELLO! But I already have two so knitting a third one might be too much! And then I remembered another pattern from the same designer, Isabelle Kramaer, called A Hint of Summer and I actually own that. It’s a pattern written for this type of yarn so I’m 99% certain that’s what I’m going to go for.

Here’s a picture of that pattern taken from the Ravelry project page

a hint of summer

My version would not be striped like this but I’d rather do a color block or a few larger stripes with the grey sparkle yarn. I think this could work out very nicely. What do you think? Have you maybe knit this pattern yourself already? I’d love to hear your opinion.

I’m also getting ready for the two big Mystery Kals about to start. I purchased both the Knitting Expat Road to Rhinebeck Mkal pattern and Andrea Mowry’s What the Fade Mkal. Both are shawls and both start tomorrow. This may be too much but hey, these will be fun and I do wish I was going to Rhinebeck 🙂

So the Road to Rhinebeck calls for a DK weight yarn and I’m knitting that with my own DK yarn. I have already wound my yarn and got a project bag ready as you can see here

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I really love these colors together and the project bag… How amazing is that?! It’s a mumin bag from Knitgizmomakes.

The Andrea Mowry What the Fade shawl is a huge one, I think-, as it calls for 6 skeins of fingering weight yarn. I’m not supposed to be buying yarn at the moment but..I accidentally went on Etsy and happened upon a shop update from Trysten of Dragon Hoard Yarns Co. And she had a kit. For the What the Fade kal. So what was I to do? I have never knit with her yarn, I want to try it, I had bought the pattern, I needed yarn for the project, she had a kit, it was in stock… Well one thing lead to another and I bought the kit PLUS an extra skein for some added sock knitting pleasure. I purchased this last week and so I was prepared to maybe not get to cast on at the start as the yarn might take a while to arrive. Well my yarn arrived TODAY! And it’s amazing! As soon as I finish talking to you, I’m going to start winding the yarn into cakes and finding a project bag and just get all the last details ready to cast on tomorrow.  And here is my yarn

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What do you think? These are not the colors I’m usually drawn to but when I saw her listing I just sort of fell in love and had to get this. These have such an autumn feel to them and just look like they will knit into something incredibly cozy.

Are you joining in these kals? I’d love to see your yarns if you are:)

The only actual knitting I can share with you today is a sock I’m knitting. So as I’m not supposed to be buying yarn; I of course am constantly looking at yarn shops and being tempted and so I went ahead and placed my very first order with Lolo did it! And the yarn arrived very quickly and the shipping was not ridiculous which was a pleasant surprise. And so of course I had to cast on the same day my yarn arrived and decided on doing a pair of shorty socks for myself thinking this way I’ll be able to get two pairs out of the skein. And I went hunting for a yarn that could go with Lolo’s yarn  and I found it. I had a partial skein in this lovely purple on my SPARKLES base and it just goes perfectly with the main yarn.  As for the pattern, I’m adapting the Yorkville pattern by the Knitting Expat. This is a pattern from her current New York sock club and I just changed it to be a short version and I love it. The lace pattern is super simple and easily memorized and just works up so nicely in this yarn. I’m on the toe now and hope to cast of sock one tonight!

That’s all for today I think. Next week I hope I will be able to share more actual knitting with you. Thank you so much for stopping by and spending some time with me. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week and I look forward to checking in with  you again very soon 🙂

Happy knitting!

My first ever yarn survey and more

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you are doing fine and that your week is up to a good start. Here in Normandy the summer seems to be back as it is extremely hot and muggy today. Not my preferred weather when working all day at my desk. I’m actually kind of looking forward to autumn and being inspired or enabled by all the knitting podcasters out there that are constantly talking about wanting it to be autumn to start wearing knitwear again 🙂

This past week I have only cast on for ONE new thing and it’s a pair of socks that I’m test knitting for someone so I can’t share a picture yet with you but I believe the pattern will be released in the next two months so I’ll share when that has gone official.

I’m also still working on my two test knit cardigans and making acceptable progress on both. Still nothing significant so not really worth showing pictures this week. Hopefully next week I will have things to show you.

So I thought now was a good time to talk to you about my yarn survey that I shared here on the blog as well as on my social media. The idea was for me to get some insight into the mind of knitters that enjoy and purchase indie dyed yarns. I was curious to see what makes a knitter crack and click that purchase button. What are people looking for; what makes them come back for more and what types of yarns are people interested in. I also wanted to explore the possibility of a crowd funding project involving yarn. More on that later.

A total of 100 knitters participated in my survey and I’m very happy and grateful about that.

You can click on the link below to see the detailed results for each question if  you are interested.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-YX5GF7G6/

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But here is a little overview. The first question was: Do you buy yarn from indie dyers or small businesses and the majority said yes, just over 80%. That was not a surprise as most knitters today are in love with indie dyed yarns.

Question 2 was: what makes you click the BUY button when browsing an online yarn store.

Most people said it was the colorway or 54%. For the rest it was a mix of colorway, yarn blends and price. People had the possibility to expand on the question and  you can read the different answers if you click the survey link above. This also was not a real surprise but still I was curious to see what was the most important to knitters when making a yarn purchase.

Question 3 was about quantity. I was wondering if people generally only buy 1 skein or if they tend to buy more. And this question was specifically about hand dyed yarns. From my experience as a shop owner/indie dyer, I had seen that most people only buy one skein although I have been lucky enough to have buyers who like me cannot control themselves and buy up to 7 at a time! So me personally, I usually buy at least 2 skeins and that has to do not only with my yarn hoarding problem/habit but about shipping too. Often when buying from overseas, shipping is expensive and I feel it is not justified for just one skein when sometimes the cost for two is nearly the same. So I might as well get two:)

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Question 4 was about the use you reserve for your hand dyed yarns. I was curious to know if knitters generally use hand dyed yarns for “special” projects or just for anything and everything. If hand dyed yarn was more of a splurge/ luxury purchase and so reserved for special occasions. Most of you did say that was the case and that you do tend to use the hand dyed yarn for special projects. That does not mean you won’t use them for socks for example, just that you use them for projects that for one reason or another are special to you. Again; people had the possibility to expand and leave a note which you can see by clicking the link above. As for me, I tend to use hand dyed yarns that I buy from other dyers in projects I intend for myself and I usually knit socks, shawls and sweaters with them.

Question 5 was about what makes you come back for more. As an indie dyer myself, I have certain clients that regularly buy from my shops and others that only come by once and never again. And this does not necessarily have anything to do with them having had a problem with their order or giving a negative feedback or anything like that. So I was curious. I know that I have a few favorite indie dyers myself and I regularly go back to their shops and browse and when I can I do buy more. In my case I go back for a number of reasons such as colors, quality of the yarn, customer service and shipping prices.

Most of the knitters said they went back because they were drawn to that dyers colorways. So that was very clear in the responses. For others it was a mix and a lot of people left a note and I really saw that I’m not the only one to not only focus on color but also on customer service/contact with the dyer as well as price, goodies included or not etc.

candy yarn www.knittinginfrance.com

Question 6 was about kits. As an indie dyer I have tried selling kits myself. I have offered shawl kits, a baby cardigan kit and a sock kit. The only one that really sold well was a shawl kit with a pattern from Isolda Teague. In all those cases these were small; not yarn greedy projects. But still I had hoped for more success. Personally I do enjoy the occasional kit but I’m not often able to indulge in such purchases as they very often; or those I fall for; very expensive. I was under the impression from watching all the knitting podcasts on YouTube that most knitters were very much into kits but its not really so. It’s just under a 50/50 division here so maybe there are others that share my opinion/concerns where kits are concerned.

Question 7 was a delicate one. I asked if you were willing to support an indie dyer/small company grow bigger via crowd funding and if yes, how much would you be willing to invest. Although a lot of people said straight no, a lot of others expanded on their answers saying under what circumstances they would be willing to support a small company.

As a knitter I have supported one yarn company go big and that was Knit Circus Yarns. That was a Kickstarter campaign that went well over the starting goal and really gave them a huge bust and I’m happy to have participated in that at my own little level.

I also support a podcast on a monthly basis with a small donation. I support The Bakery Bears podcast because I think they are fabulous and because for a small amount each month I get access to free patterns; extra videos and tutorials not to mention a new knitting magazine that is issued every 6 weeks or so. I appreciate all the added value I get for my money and I also greatly appreciate that they are not constantly asking for money; in fact they never do. They of course mention their patrons and Patreon but more for information on things and not as a means of asking for money. Some podcasts are constantly asking for money and telling us how expensive and how time consuming their podcast is and I do appreciate and understand that, I just don’t like being told so time and time again. After all if you want to have a podcast, that is your choice and you choose how much time and energy you put into it;no one else does. But oh that was way off subject! sorry about that.

Back to the crowd funding. I was of course asking for selfish reasons amongst other things. My shop opened in 2011 and first I had my own ecommerce website but when we moved to Normandy I had to close due to a number of reasons and when I opened up again I went 100% to Etsy. Etsy is a difficult market place to make it when one is as small as I am. There are a million other makers offering similar things at similar prices and even if you enter one shop to browse you easily find yourself in a completely different shop without really noticing it and so sales are easily lost.

Loss of sales means loss of income and that then leads to very meager means to improve and grow bigger and better. I’m at a point where I need to make up my mind about either closing and just dye for fun and make stitch markers and stuff and just use myself; gift to friends or share in giveaways – and all of those are perfectly good things to do. Or I can up the game and get myself my very own ecommerce site again, get more stock so that I can offer more yarns, spend money on advertising and marketing and really invest time and money to become something. And so I was wondering if someone would accept to support me and my little endeavour. I will be talking more about this issue later, maybe in a month or so. I’m working on this idea and hope to share it and actually launch a crowd funding campaign and see what happens.

www.knittinginfrance.com

But back to the survey! Question 8 was about yarn weight. Personally I mostly buy and use fingering weight and I was curious to see if that was the case or not for knitters generally and yes it is! The majority said fingering weight/4 ply yarn. A few DK and a tiny few worsted/aran weight yarns. I’m wondering if that is because we love knitting shawls and socks? What do you think?

 

Question 9 was about super wash versus non superwash. Most indie dyers offer superwash yarns and so in majority of the yarns they offer. I offer both super wash and non superwash in my shop. As a knitter I used to ONLY use superwash yarns before but lately that has changed. Often knitwear is hand washed any way so it is not a question of hand washing or not. What changed for me was when I learned/realized that non superwash wool does not stretch as much as superwash does. This in my eyes, makes non superwash wool THE perfect wool for garments, whether it is fingering weight or thicker. The yarn takes the dye differently because the process while milling is not the same but I really love non superwash yarn. My favorite shawl yarn in my shop is the Back to Basics yarn.

 

And the last question, question 10 was about yarn blends. I was wondering if when buying from an indie dyer/small business you looked for unusual blends, something you don’t often see in commercial yarn or not.  Most of you said yes and some even added a note with their answer that you can read in the survey results. I think that a lot of indie dyers are offering the same base yarn and often the yarn comes from the same supplier. I have tried to offer different bases/ blends with different fibres such as merino, BFL, alpaca, donegal neps, cotton and silk. Lately I have tried two new bases that I’m dying to incorporate into the shop because I’m sure you too would love those. One is an alpaca, linen and silk base. Gorgeous and light, perfect for shawls and summer/spring garments. The other is a mohair, merino and nylon blend which is perfect for socks and garments. Like I expected most knitters are like me and are interested in combining a new hand dyed yarn with a new and unusual to them blend.

 

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the results of this survey and also hearing my input on those. I’m planning on launching a second survey shortly, also geared towards knitters and yarn buying and I will announce that both here and on my social media.

I think this is all for now. I wish you a good week ahead and hopefully you will have plenty of time to knit and crochet to your heart’s content. See you soon 🙂

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Back from holiday

Hi there how are you now? it’s been super long since I last posted here. I took 3 weeks off work and just totally checked out of everything. Now I’m about to go back to work, tomorrow, so I think it’s time I did some blogging too:)

I did go away for a few days and I know that some of you enjoy seeing pictures from my travels and hearing about the things I’ve done but maybe that is not the case for everyone so I’m thinking I’ll do a separate post on my holiday travels so that those who are only interested in my knitting, can just ignore that post all together. I hope I’ll get to that this coming weekend at the latest!

But how about you? I hope you were able to take a few days off work and enjoy some free time to relax and recharge your batteries. I have enjoyed my time off work and I could actually imagine myself taking a couple of more weeks off. I had big plans for things to do around the house and so and of course only a small part of those was actually accomplished so more time off work would be much appreciated. But that will not be possible because in the real world, one does have to work!

Before I went on vacation I had shared with you my list of dream/vacation knitting. I had imagined I’d have more knitting time than I actually did I think. I did work on everything but just a little so no finished objects but one very close and a second one not that far off.

So let’s get down to business. I cast on for the Midsummer haze shawl/cowl by Joji Locatelli using my own yarn, an alpaca/silk/linen blend which is just gorgeous. I knit on this a lot while on short car rides and in queues. I’m very close to finishing this and I really like the look of it. I’m even toying with the idea of making a second one but in black.

midsummer haze

This picture doesn’t do it justice but you get an idea of the construction and patterning. I think I only have one repeat left so I should really just get going and finish this. I’m thinking this might be a Christmas gift for someone.

Socks. For some reason my sock mojo has been seriously affected lately and I have the hardest time to work on my gazillion sock wips. Of course, I didn’t bring a sock wip on vacation. That would have been too intelligent and might have resulted in a finished pair…so of course I just brought a new pattern! I decided on Calentito by Media Peruana and some self striping yarn I dyed myself.

This is a fun textured pattern for shorty socks/slippers. I cast on but did not work much on them so here’s where I’m at now

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Not much but I will finish! This pattern has a garter stitch toe which is unusual.

What got worked on the most was my Breathing Space sweater by Veera Valimaki. I’m knitting that using a new to me base, a blend of merino/mohair and nylon and I LOVE it. The main color is a charcoal/black and the contrast a light pink color. Now I’m done with the striping on the body and just need to knit a few more inches of main color before I can do the ribbing and cast off. Of course my sleeves will need to be done then.

I think I will really enjoy wearing this sweater come winter.

I did get a little bit done on a cardigan that I’m test knitting for  a young designer. I’m actually behind on that project so I need to concentrate on that in the coming days. I have also started a second test knit for another designer, also a cardigan plus another sock test knit so I have plenty to work on these days.

I have kept a little project next to my bed lately and I have knit on it at night as I listen to an audio book and last night I finished my pair of socks. I used my hand spun yarn and I knit two at a time socks knitting from each end of the yarn cake and that produced a pair of very different socks. But in this case I think it is kind of fun. They are very comfortable and will be great to wear in the wintertime at my desk.

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I think this is about all for today. I will be back with pictures and stories of my latest travel, the results of the survey I did a while back and I also need to get back on track with the Maker of the Month series.

Thank you for stopping by today and for spending time with me. I hope you have enjoyed seeing my latest knitting projects. Have a great week and I’ll be back soon.

Happy knitting