A little knitting

How are you this week? I have been very busy at work lately and so have had less knitting time than usual. After a busy day at work I find I mostly need some relaxation knitting. Something simple that will help me relax and clear my head.

Lately I have also been semi monogamous and mostly knitting on just three things.

First there is my secret test knit wrap. I’m about 60% in I think and now the going is getting tough. It’s no longer a simple brioche but brioche patterning. This means I now only knit on this when I have a clear head and some time to concentrate.

It is going to look stunning when done and I really look forward to finishing. As I cannot show you what it looks like at the moment, here is a little sneak peak of how the two yarns are knitting up.

These pictures were taken at the very beginning but give you a nice idea of how the yarns/colors are working out.

Then I’m working on another test knit which this time is not a secret. It’s a cardigan by Finnish designer Suvi Simola.

It is knit in one piece, back and forth so I’m somewhat slowed down by the purling. So far I have not made much progress. I’m still working the yoke which has a beautiful pattern with an unusual rib section.

I’m knitting this with Holst Garn Supersoft and it is working up very nicely.

This gives you an idea of the yoke pattern.

Here is a close up of the yoke pattern. It is looking nice don’t you think?

And then there is my summer T-shirt. The pattern is called Notice (Spring) by designer Ankestrick. It is a simple top down, raglan short sleeve top. I’m knitting mine in almost the same colors as the sample in the pattern pictures. I’m using Holst Garn Coast which is a wool/cotton blend. I really like how the yarn feels when knit up.

I’m getting close to the bottom ribbing so I’m hoping next time I post I will be able to show you the finished garment.

I really like the colors I chose and I look forward to wearing this.

I’m not sure if I told you I was working on a new sock pattern. I wanted to design a new pattern and I have knit one sock. Next step will be to write down the instructions and try to knit the second sock by following those. If that works I will grate the pattern and knit a second pair to be sure the patterning works on the bigger sizes as well.

The yarn is quite busy but I hope you can still see the pattern. I’m thinking of knitting the second pair in a solid color so it will maybe show up better.

I think I have about 5 sock patterns that I have partly worked and “just” need to grade and write up and have tech edited to maybe sell on Ravelry.

I have also been asked a few times to do a tutorial on sock knitting and even if I am not an expert sock knitter I can share how I knit socks. I would like to hear from you if you would be interested in a tutorial. So please leave a comment below if you think that would be of interest.

That’s about it for today. I’m going to continue working on the same projects this week and if I manage to finish one I might cast on for something new or better yet, get a project from my pile of wips !

I hope you will have a wonderful week ahead with plenty of knitting and pleasant times.

Thank you for stopping by today and for sharing your time with me. Until next time….Happy Knitting:)

This weeks knitting

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you had a wonderful weekend with lots of time to relax and knit.

Christmas is coming very soon and so the stress is building and the to do list keeps growing so a little bit of down time is even more important now. Just to stay sane and recharge the batteries don’t you think?

So I have been knitting quite a bit lately but most of what I’m working on are super secret test knits! Very exciting for me but not so much for you as I’m not able to share much with you just yet.

I hadn’t planned on doing much gift knitting for this Christmas so that’s fine. However I have a very ambitious list of “socks I must knit”! A list that keeps growing longer and longer. I’m hoping my test knitting deadlines will still allow me to get some of those going.

I have finished two objects since last week that I can share with you. One is a cowl, the Land of Sweets cowl by Helen of Curious Handmade. I did share some about that last week and now I have finished and my little one has started wearing the cowl to school.

land of sweets finished

This was fun to make and I can see myself making more of these.

I also finished a child size cardigan that I was test knitting. For the first time I was a total fail! I misunderstood the increase section at the beginning of the pattern and so the fronts are both the wrong shape and too big! I only realised my error when I was way past the error and well into the allocated time and so I did not rip back but kept going! The cardigan is wearable and my little one likes it. Instead of being a button up cardi it is more of a wrap around cardi!

cowtown one

This picture was clearly taken before I finished. I have since woven in all the ends and done both button bands and neckline. But this picture gives you an idea of how it has to be worn. I have to find a fun pin or something to keep it closed for her. Oh well, I guess we cannot succeed all the time and mistakes are there to teach us a lesson! What I learned was to ASK if something is unclear! Not to carry on as if everything will magically fix itself.

Currently as I said before I’m working on test knits, one is a pair of socks and I’m almost half done there. The other is a sweater and that is a big project and on top of that I think I asked to do a size too big! Oh well, it will end up being an oversized cozy sweater for me. The pattern calls for 10″ ease so if I have a little more that should be ok.

This garment is knit in pieces which is not how I usually knit sweaters so a little change there for me. I’m also knitting with a new to me yarn so this is a fun test knit to take part in.

I have a few ideas for more sock designs and I really need to make some time to work on those and to write of the two that I have finished so far. I’m excited to put those into the world one day and see if people like them… or not..

So my plans for this new week include continued knitting on my two test knits, cast on for a pair or two of socks and maybe even another cardigan. How about you? What are your knitting plans for this week? If you feel like sharing your plans, projects or drool worthy patterns, please do:)

That’s all for today. Thank you for stopping  by today and spending a little time with me. I wish you a wonderful week ahead and look forward to check in with you again soon:)

Happy knitting

 

ps- just a quick note to say that I have put my Etsy shop into vacation mode for the moment. I’m still planning how I will work and sell my yarns in the future but most likely I will sell them here on the blog and you might see the first yarns pop up end of January 2018.

The Maker of the Month – Goosey Fibres

Hi there, as promised here comes November’s Maker of the Month interview that I did with the lovely Caitlin behind Goosey Fibres.

I’m not sure where I first heard of her yarns, probably on a knitting podcast, but I went looking for her shop and when I found it on Etsy, there was no turning back! I had to buy yarn!

She has some beautiful color ways and I love the fact that she offers all or almost all in 50 gr skeins. Now that I’m all about the shorty socks, I love this option.

So I of course asked if I could do a little interview with her for the blog to introduce you all to her work and lucky for me, she accepted!

So far I have only knit one pair of shorty socks with her yarn but they are beautiful and I have many more planned.

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Here I used 2 50 gr skeins and I love the colors. The yarn was a joy to work with and the socks fit nicely and are comfortable. I will definitely be knitting more socks from all the yarn I bought from her.

So here goes my interview with her which I hope you will enjoy and of course there will be a giveaway!

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goosey fibres

Tell me a little about yourself, where do you come from and where do you live and work today?

Hi, I’m Caitlin (Cait), I’m a yarn-dyer / stay-at-home-mum.

I live in the States, south of Boston, but not quite the Cape. I’m from Oakland, California, but we moved here 3 years ago, right before my son was born. I’m so happy to be somewhere that I’m tucked away in the woods, in a quiet little town. I loved California, but started feeling burnt out from being constantly surrounded by people and noise. I’m basically a home-body, surrounded by toys and yarn.


Are you a knitter/crocheter/spinner/ weaver ? And if you do all, which craft is your most favorite?

I knit and crochet, but I definitely consider myself a knitter first and foremost. I would love to try spinning and weaving, but don’t feel like I have the time right now to sit down and learn.


When did you learn to knit/crochet/spin/weave ? Do you remember who taught you?

I learned to knit when I was 8. I was home sick and curled up in my parents’ bed, and my mum gave me a couple straight needles and some worsted weight yarn and taught me the knit stitch. I didn’t really make anything, but loved the click click click of the needles. I FULLY became a knitter when I was much older, at 28. Both my sisters-in-law were big knitters and made it look so tempting, so I made my then-boyfriend (now-husband) a hat. I used Youtube videos, mostly, to learn new stitches.

I am teaching myself crochet only recently, in the past few months. I’m making a sampler blanket with my waste-yarn. It’s HIDEOUS, but I LOVE it. It’s got bobbles and waves and every other crochet stitch under the sun.


Do you have a favorite type of project that you regularly turn to? Like socks or shawls etc.

Sweaters and socks, there’s always at least one of each on my needles. I’m a sweater fanatic and work on those at home, and carry socks around with me to work if I’m in the car or…anywhere, really.

goosey fibres cardigan

Would you say that fibre crafts have become a lifestyle for you ?

100% It’s a hobby, a passion, a business, a therapy, a constant thought in my mind.


How did you come to dye yarn and how long have you been dyeing yarn ?

I started dying one winter a few years ago on cheap yarn that I only bought a few skeins of, mostly to see if I liked it and if it could potentially be a more affordable way of getting yarn I wanted. It was NOT cheaper, but I loved doing it.  I started dying, also, because I had spent too much on yarn one month and my husband got nervous about my yarn-spending. He jokes that I started yarn-dying out of spite, because I hate to be told not to do anything.


When did you decide to go professional and open a yarn shop ?

I opened my shop for a couple reasons. 1. Because I thought my colors were pretty and I felt confident that I could reproduce them. But largely 2. Because we had bought a house and I had left my job to stay at home with my son, who needed speech therapy and OT, and we were feeling BROKE. Money was really tight and there was a real fear that we weren’t going to be able to keep making ends meet, so I thought maybe I could sell a skein or two and at least help pay with heat. Instead, it took off, and I’ve been able to help pay most of the bills. It was really a huge boon, opening my shop.

goosey fibres yarn 3

What is the inspiration behind your shop and your yarns?

My initial (and constant) inspiration is my son, August. We call him Goosey, so I named my shop after him. As for my yarn names, I’m inspired mostly by language and turns of phrase, or books. Sometimes, a sentence or couple words will just stick in my mind, and I start seeing colors that I think represent those words. I think I have Synesthesia, so words have colors in my mind. I try to show that in my yarns.


When reading your about page on Etsy, you mention that the shop name comes from a family discussion. Could you tell us a little about that, how you came up with the name ?

I think I touched on this a little. I wanted it to represent how much I love Goosey, something that shows him as he gets older how much he inspired me and changed my life.


What would you say inspires you most in your work as an indie dyer?

It seems to depend on the season. I have a constant line of Harry Potter yarns, because I feel like those are my people. But the weather also inspires me, as well as my surroundings. I love New England and it’s wacky weather. I’m also inspired by movies and pop culture.

goosey fibres yarn 1

When you dye yarn, do you decide on a theme or do you dye “on the fly” so to speak?

A bit of both. Often, there will be a word or thought stuck in my head, and I want to show what that looks like, as far as color. But other times, I just wonder what a couple colors would look like together and will start experimenting.


What are your most popular colorways?

Always and Wizarding Wheezes have been the most popular, but with Winter on its way and weather getting chillier, people are going more for blues and greys. So lately Polar Express is picking up steam, as is Hagrid’s Hut.


You are one of few dyers to offer fingering weight yarns in 50 gr skeins and as a sock knitter I really appreciate that. I think it is great when doing contrasting heels/toes and cuffs or just when knitting for small feets. Is there a reason why you decided to offer this option in your shop? And what has the experiment been like for you, are people buying more 50 gr skeins than the typical 100 gr ones in fingering weight?

I thought the 50g skeins were going to be a limited option, but they have been wildly popular! I love them for making my son socks and for heels/toes/cuffs. They’re the perfect size for those things! I’m a complete convert and will be keeping them in the shop indefinitely. 50g skeins are the best!

goosey fibres sock blank cheat day

You also dye sock blanks, is that a new addition to the shop?

Sock blanks are actually one of the first things I tried to release in the shop, but my early versions were so ugly. I had no idea how to get clean lines or anything. It’s been a long experimental process with blanks, and I’m still thinking of new techniques to try.


Do you have a preferred method of dyeing or material to work with? Like do you enjoy hand painting sock blanks more than dyeing yarn in the skein?

It depends on my mood. If I’m a little cranky or just feeling really quiet, I prefer to work on blanks. Then, I can just sit and paint and listen to podcasts or music. Generally, though, I love working with skeined yarn. There are so many dying techniques, that I find skeined yarn very energizing to work with.

goosey fibres sock blank 1

What do you have coming up for the shop til the end of this year? Any special deals/events/kals ?

I have a deal starting 11/20 running till December 10th. I am also thinking of starting KALs for whatever main project I’m working on. For instance, I’m currently knitting the Slade cardigan by Michelle Wong, so I am going to list kits for that and offer a discount for as long as I’m knitting it. That way it’s kind of like a KAL, because we can all work on it together. So, there will always be some kind of kit offered at a discount, depending on whatever project I’m working on.


Where do you see your business in say 5 years from now ?

I hope it’s still going strong! There’s a real fear that it might fail or…just the uncertainty of the future. But I hope to only go up. I’d like to move out of my home studio and expand to a more commercial setting. I’d love to start doing trunk shows and be carried in more shops, as well.

 

A lot of dyers also podcast or do a blog. Do you do either of those?

I DO have a podcast on youtube, though am not great about my regularity. I get quite camera shy. If you wanted to watch it, it’s Goosey Fibers on YouTube.


Do you  have a group on Ravelry for your yarn and customers? Are you active there? Do you regularly organise kals and other events via your Ravelry group?

This is another area I need to improve on. I have a group on Ravelry, called Goosey Fans, but it’s fairly stagnant. In the near future, I will start doing KALs and fun giveaways, but life has been so busy this year I haven’t quite had the time. New Year’s resolution!


For those that want to follow you and your shop, what would you say is the best venue for that ?

The best way to get insider news and deals is to sign up for my newsletter on gooseyfibers.com! In the future I hope to leave Etsy entirely and work only on gooseyfibers.com, and the newsletter is the best way to stay on top of any news!

Thank you so much for the interview! This was fun; it’s a lovely thing, to look back on beginnings and to see how far it’s come. You’ve also helped me set some goals for myself!

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Well a big thank you to you Caitlin! I did love reading your answers and if my questions helped you in a small way that is just wonderful!
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Caitlin and if you too want a chance to win some of her amazing yarn, please join in the giveaway!
How to join? Just go over to her shop and browse and drool and then come back here and leave a comment with the name of your favorite colorway from her shop.
When will we draw the winner? We will draw the winner next Friday, December 1st here on the blog.
What can you win? This amazing set of yarns. A full skein of Tesseract on the Goosey Sock base and a 50 gr skein in Decoy Detonator on her Gosling base
goosey fibres giveaway
Good luck to you all:)

Knitting through sorrow

Hi there, how are you doing this week? I hope you are doing good and enjoying your week so far.

As you will know if you follow my blog or on my social media, last week was a difficult week for me and my family. The loss of a loved one is always a life changing event I think for those of us left behind. It stirs up so many feelings, brings so many questions.

As I work through my loss and my subsequent feelings and questions, I have found solace in knitting. Knitting has helped me to stay focused. It has helped me to sort through my feelings. I can knit and think, I can cry and knit. I can console myself and knit. And frankly, without knitting, I don’t know how I would have coped.

I felt a need for knitting. Not to have idle hands at any time. And yet, I did not want to work on anything that required brain power, no complicated designs, no big projects. Of course this could only lead to a lot of sock knitting! And I will be sharing pictures of my socks here in a bit.

I knit so many socks that it has become like second nature for me. I don’t need a pattern and yet I still buy tons of sock patterns – just for the stitch patterns that are used. I always do my own heel and toe and cast on and cast off. But i’m totally unable to resist a beautiful sock pattern and this past week, as I have been knitting on socks I have also bought a few new patterns!

I’m now quite quick to finish a pair of socks so that adds to the pleasure of knitting a pair as I have a finished object within days. I do still have one cardigan in the wip pile for myself and a cardigan for my  youngest and that one I’m working on these days. A little at a time. But for comfort I have really been drawn to sock knitting and here’s what I have to show for it!

These are the #MarieCurieQuestforSocks. I’m helping knitting a pair of socks for every patient staying in a Marie Curie Hospice at Christmas in the UK. The main yarn, the patterned one, is  a special yarn dyed by West Yorkshire Spinners for this charity. I’m almost done with pair 4. And for this last pair I knit them two at a time magic loop and I did them as tube socks so now I just have to pop in the heels. I should be able to send all 4 pairs off before the end of this week.

It has been a joy to participate in this project and I have dedicated my participation to a friend that passed away last week from a rare disease. I had intended on knitting a 5th pair but when a close family member died just two days after my friend, I just broke down and I think I have to just take things slowly and only work on what I can, no stress involved. And so I’m going to be proud of these 4 pairs. That’s probably more than the average donation so no need to be sorry for not knitting 5 pairs. As you can hear, I’m trying to convince myself that this is ok:) And it is! I know it is!

But I have not just been doing charity knitting. I have also finished a pair of shorty socks for myself and those I knit out of my first ever skein of Wolmeise yarn. This skein was gifted to me by a friend about 5 years ago or so and it has been sitting in my stash since. So this pair of socks counts towards my Stash Appreciation Project – where the aim is to knit using beautiful yarns from stash.

The yarn is a dark navy blue so not easy to see the pattern. It is a sort of open work patterning that I adapted from some other pattern I had purchased. I really like the look. The yarn itself feels very nice and the socks are very comfortable. Also I’m very much into shorty socks these days. They are both comfortable to wear and quick to knit so win win!

As I prepare for a Maker of the Month feature for January 2018, I’m knitting my first pair of socks with yarn from Biscotte Yarns. A Canadian yarn dyer well known for their self striping yarns. This pair of shorties is for my youngest. I don’t know the colorway name as this came from a 200 gr bundle of self striping yarns. My new favorite! You buy either 100 or 200 gr of self striping yarns, mill ends, so what you get and how much of each is a surprise. This particular yarn came in a 62 gr skein so I have enough for a shorty pair for my daughter and there will be some left over.

So the yarn feels very nice and I love working with it. But more on that later!

biscottes yarn shorty sock

And last but not least, I designed a sock pattern! I did say before that I was in a place where I needed simple, comfort knitting. Nothing that required brain power. Well before getting all the bad news, I had actually started working on a design and I would knit on this a little bit each day. Not a lot at a time but sufficient for it to grow and now I have a finished pair!

I really like the pattern. Now I just need to grade it, make sure the stitch pattern works in all the sizes I would like to have. Then I have to re knit a pair in my own yarn and of course write up the pattern.

The idea here is to start selling kits including my patterns and my yarns. Maybe that would be a good idea to help me keep my business alive in the new year.

Anyway, I’d love to hear what you think of this attempt. I used a very sparkly yarn from Yarn Lab UK. A very nice dyer that sells on Etsy. I believe this colorway is called Poirot’s Christmas.

I found a stitch pattern in a stitch dictionary and adapted that to my stitch count and I think it looks nice.

new sock design 12nov

The stitch pattern will show up better in a solid or semi solid colorway and that is how the next pair will be knit.

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My test knit sock has grown since this picture but not enough. I am now past the heel and about half done with the foot so hopefully I will have at least sock one done by the end of this week and can start on sock two this weekend. I really enjoy using this new yarn base, 50/50 merino/cotton. It feels nice and the stitch definition is very nice.

So that’s about all for this week. I just need to finish the heels on my last Marie Curie socks, finish my second Biscotte yarn shorty sock, finish the test knitting sock I’m still working on AND start knitting some Christmas socks! I have never been so excited about knitting Christmas socks! I have splurged on some beautiful self striping colorways from different dyers so I have plenty to work with. Hopefully next week I will be able to share something there.

Thank you for all the kind thoughts and messages you have sent my way lately. I’m not very present on social media these days as I’m just not feeling very social. I know you understand. They say time heals all wounds and time will help me to carry on and be the best I can be.

Just one more thing before I leave today. I will be publishing this month’s Maker of the Month interview this coming Friday, November 24th so don’t miss that!

Until next time, take care and enjoy your crafting:)

The Sale goes on

Hi there and thank you for all the kind messages. I’m slowly getting back to normal. Losing a close family member suddenly feels totally unreal and completely unjust. A lot of crying has been done and that will be going on for the foreseeable future. They say time heals all wounds so I now just need to give it time.

In spite of everything, life must go on and part of that for me is reopening the shop. I still need to sell as much of my current stock as possible to be able to continue on with my modest plan for 2018. So I have re opened the shop. It will be open from now and until December 4th or so. Then it will probably be closed for good unless… unless I still have lots of yarn left in which case I would reopen for a week or 10 days at the end of December.

So if you like my yarn, if you have yet to try it or if you just want to show a small business owner some support head on over to my shop and enjoy the discount:)

That’s all for now. I’ll be back next week with pictures of my knitting from this week. I have been doing some healing knitting as I contemplate and think of everything.

Have a wonderful and crafty weekend:)

The potato experiment

What?! If you have not heard of my experiment you are probably thinking I must have lost my mind! Why would I want to talk to you about potatoes on a knitting blog? Well, no wonder you ask.

So it all began with some grocery shopping before Halloween. Our grocery shop had some Vitelotte potatoes and they had packaged them in a Halloween package and branding somewhat like Halloween potatoes. I had never tasted Vitelotte potatoes and it was Halloween so I thought this was just perfect timing and bought a kilo!

When I finally cooked these, just peeling them before cooking stained my hands purple and so I thought maybe, just maybe, I could use the peels to dye yarn. These potatoes have such a beautiful purple color. I could just imagine seeing some gorgeous yarn in a beautiful purple.

I looked online and found nothing about using potato peels for dyeing yarn. Maybe not strange! But I decided to do it anyway. So I put the peels to the side and let them dry.

vitelotte potatoes See why I was imagining purple yarn?

When it was dry I cooked the peels. I put them into a small mesh bag and cooked them for hours and boy did they stain! or give color! Not sure how to word that.

IMG_0475

It looked beautiful.

I chose to use some of my organic merino yarn as this was natural dyeing. I read up on mordanting and I had some Alun for mordanting and so off I went. I followed the instructions on how to mordant my yarn BEFORE dyeing. And then I plunged it in.

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I had such high hopes! But something strange happened! The yarn did NOT take the color or almost nothing! I put three skeins in and even after over an hour in the dye stock, there was still lots of color in the water.

I let it sit longer and checked from time to time until I decided it wasn’t working and I took the yarn out. The leftover water was still pink!

I am a beginner at natural dyeing and maybe I did something wrong. Or maybe potato peels are not meant to be used as dye stuff.  Anyway I did it and here are a couple of pictures of my yarns next to the same yarn undyed. If I had not put an undyed skein next to them you would not see these were actually dyed. It’s that subtle.

So the middle skein is undyed. The others have a sort of very light beige color.  I’m not sure if I’m going to use them as is or if I will overdye them with something else. I’m still debating that.

Anyway it was a fun experiment and a lot of people were interested in the results so I hope you have enjoyed stopping by today and seeing my pictures.

Until next time; Have a great weekend and I’ll speak to you soon:)

All the November plans

hi thee how are you? I’m super busy these days as I have family from Iceland staying with me so any free time is taken up taking care of and enjoying their company.

I have kept knitting though but everything regarding the blog and my huge upcoming project, the crowd funding has been on the back burner due to lack of time.

On that subject, I did update my pages here on the blog and you can read the English version here or the French version here. Basically what I explain is that building a successful campaign takes time and effort and it is far from easy. I’m also worried about the timing, the end of the year is often tight financially for people, I know it is for me. But I’m trying to stay positive and after all, a lot of little things can make one big thing meaning a lot of small contributions can help me stay a float!

I’m hoping I will be able to launch the campaign next week around November 6 and I will of course notify you here.

On other news, there is my Marie Curie Charity knitting I told you about (if you haven’t read that post just hop on over here).

I’m joining Sarah of Sherlock Knits in knitting socks for all the patients in the Marie Curie hospices in the UK for Christmas. This is an ambitious task but rewarding on many levels. The original idea was to only use the special Marie Curie yarn by West Yorkshire Spinners.

wys marie curie

The variegated color on the top is the Marie Curie colorway that was meant to be the main color. However they are still in need of a lot of socks and time is getting short so they are now accepting socks in any yarn as long as it is in the Marie Curie colors; that is yellow, blue and white. Of course if you can use the special colorway that would be amazing. That yarn can only be purchased from one shop in the UK as they are the ones who actually commissioned WYS to do this and part of the proceeds also goes to Marie Curie. Here is a link to their shop if you are interested in joining in and using the special yarn: http://www.cityknits.co.uk/marie-curie~2839 As I’m writing this I see they are out of this yarn but hopefully there will be more in the future. In the meantime just use any or all of the three colours.

They are asking for men’s size socks only as patients often have swollen ankles so only size 72 stitches and I believe they should be simple vanilla socks. They need to have the socks by December 13th to be able to package them all and get them out to each of the 9 hospices in the UK.

marie curie pair one

I’m about 75% done with pair number 2 and all from one ball with contrasting heel/toe and cuff on one and only heel and toe on the second. I’m planning on knitting 4 pairs if I possibly can. I did buy 2 skeins of the Marie Curie yarn so that should be possible, just a question of time.

If you are interested in joining in this project and willing to knit a pair of socks, please let me know and I’ll get you all the info needed.

Now onto other things. It’s November 1st today and this signals the beginning of the Stash Appreciation project! I’m thinking of creating a hashtag, #KIFSTASHAPPRECIATION so if you share your projects on IG we will all be able to follow each other’s progress.

I know that this Stash Appreciation Project is not meant to be a yarn diet, it is just meant to incite us to use some of the amazing yarns we have in our stash. However I did go completely wild this past October and I bought a lot more yarn than I ever thought I would. I hope participating in this project has not had the same effect on you! Anyway I now have even more reason to only knit from stash! I think I may suffer from a mailbox syndrome. I so enjoy going out to my mailbox and getting to open up a package! It may not be normal!

So back to the stash! I’m of course going to keep knitting socks and my Marie Curie socks will be a part of that as I have had the special yarn in my stash for a few weeks and the contrasting yarn for months. I have a gazillion sock yarn skeins that I’m dying to use so no shortage there.

mothy and the squid christmas sock

This is a new to my stash yarn from Mothy and the Squid and I’m knitting a Christmas sock making up the pattern as I go.

I also would love to knit a sweater as a Christmas gift for someone and I’m going to knit that from my handspun yarn from a while back.

I would also like to work on my pile/mountain of wips and I think that can qualify for Stash Appreciation as those wips and yarns have been in my stash for longer than I care to admit. If you too have some projects waiting for your attention; this might be the right time:)

I have created a thread in my Ravelry group as I was not able to set up a forum here on the blog and the link to that is here. I look forward to seeing your yarns and your future projects. I will share mine both here and in the thread.

Another project that I’m planning on, and this is not related to the Stash Appreciation, is getting more into natural dyeing. I have tried dyeing with avocado peel and stone and now I have some Vitelotte potato peel drying and I hope to try to dye some yarn with that soon.

vitelotte potatoes

I think this could make for some beautiful yarn don’t you?

I think this will be all for now. I will be back soon with more info on my Fundraising Campaign as well as more finished objects and progress on the Stash Appreciation. I hope you have enjoyed stopping by today and spending some of your time with me.

If you are at all interested in seeing my yarns and other handmade items, please click here to browse my Etsy store; Everything is 30% off for another 24 hours!

 

 

The Maker of the Month Francofille Knits

I have admired from afar the work of Devan of Francofille Knits. She has a beautiful sense of color and I really wanted to try some of her yarns. I first approached her asking if she would be willing to do a swap and as she kindly said yes I then asked if she would be willing to do an interview for the blog and maybe even donate a skein of yarn for one of my readers. And she again said YES!

I’m currently knitting a pair using her yarn for the main color and using a pattern I have made up myself. I have sock one all done and I’m passed the heel on sock 2.

So here is my interview with Devan and I hope you will enjoy reading that and getting to know her.

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Tell me a little about yourself, where do you come from and where do you live and work today?

Let’s see.  I’m the indie dyer and designer behind Francofille Knits, and I host the Francofille Knits podcast.  For the last year, my husband and I have been living outside of a very small town in rural Indiana—our property is surrounded on all sides by corn and soybean fields!  Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, and living in college towns my whole adult life, this has been quite an adjustment for me, but one I’ve absolutely loved. Living in the country, the pace of life slows significantly, and I have more time to notice and appreciate the world around me.  I like to think that my dyeing and designing has benefited from this more intuitive and relaxed lifestyle.

Are you a knitter/crocheter/spinner/ weaver ? And if you do all, which craft is your most favorite?

I’m a knitter first and foremost, but I also dabble in crocheting and spinning.  I’m a relatively strong crocheter, but my spinning needs a lot of work!  Knitting is absolutely my happy place.

When did you learn to knit/crochet/spin/weave ? Do you remember who taught you?

I learned to knit and crochet when I was 16.  That summer, I was working as a counselor at a summer camp, and saw one of the British counselors knitting on a scarf and begged her to teach me! Lucky for me, she was patient enough to take on a student, and by the end of the summer, I was half way through the lumpiest, most uneven garter stitch scarf ever!  A few months later, I was watching a movie with one of my friends, when she pulled out an afghan and started crocheting.  Once again, I was obsessed and desperate to learn how to crochet.  I started several crochet blankets in high school, with my friend’s help, but I’m not sure if I actually finished any of them. I ended up putting both the knitting and crocheting down while I was in college, but ended up picking them both back up when I was in graduate school, because I needed a way to unwind that had nothing to do with my academic life.

Do you have a favorite type of project that you regularly turn to? Like socks or shawls etc.

I always have at least one pair of socks on the needles, and a sock pattern I’m writing up.  I usually have a shawl or two going as well.  I’m not a monogamous knitter—I need to be able to bounce from project to project as the mood strikes or I’ll quickly lose my knitting mojo.  Lace, cables, brioche, texture, I love it all!

Would you say that fibre crafts have become a lifestyle for you ? 

Absolutely!  Before starting Francofille Knits, I was a French professor—I earned my PhD in French Linguistics.  If you ever have trouble sleeping, I’d be happy to send you a copy of my dissertation—300+ pages on a specific change in word order in 13th-16th century French!  But, fate had a different plan for me than I had expected, and about a year ago, I found myself leaving my career in academia for a variety of reasons.  Thank god for fibre crafts!  My love of fibre crafts provided me with a new career, one that I have found just as fulfilling and satisfying as my previous career!

How did you come to dye yarn and how long have you been dyeing yarn ?

I’d been wanting to learn how to dye yarn for almost a decade! When the stress of writing my dissertation would get to me, I’d daydream about opening a yarn shop and selling hand dyed yarn.  I finally decided to take the plunge in April 2016 (just over a year ago!), and I haven’t looked back!  Inspired by some friends of mine (Ally & Abby of the Get Lit and Knit podcast), I took a class on yarn dyeing at YarnFest in Chicago, and it literally changed my life.

When did you decide to go professional and open a yarn shop ?

Like I said, I had been daydreaming about becoming a fibre artist for a long time.  But, I don’t think I actually started taking it seriously until June 2016.  I was having so much fun dyeing yarn, and dyeing up yarn faster than I could ever knit it.  I decided, after much Instagram support, to open up an Etsy shop to sell my extra skeins, and the rest is history!

What is the inspiration behind your shop and your yarns?

The inspiration for everything in Francofille Knits comes from my love of France and the world around me.  As you might have guessed from my shop name and previous career, I’m an absolute Francophile, and have been since I was a little girl.  I took my first French class when I was 5, and instantly fell in love with the language.  The further I progressed in my studies, the more I fell in love with France, it’s people, it’s culture and it’s history!  All of my colorways are inspired by places I’ve visited, people I’ve studied, or the French language itself.

When reading your about page on Etsy, you mention that the shop name comes from your love of France and everything French. Have you lived in France yourself ?

I have, but not for long enough!  I spent 5 months in Avignon when I was in college, way back in 2004.  I then got to spend a summer in St. Brieuc, Bretagne in 2010.  I’ve also gotten to travel to France several times, and even got married in France (St. Andiol, near Avignon) in the summer of 2015.  That was a real adventure, as I was the only person in our group of 16 who spoke French.  It was such a great experience, and I wouldn’t change a moment of it!

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Mon Coeur

What are your most popular colorways?

It’s hard to say, because it changes all the time! I change out the colorways in the shop every few months, based on my mood and the seasons.  If I had to pick a few, I’d say “Summer in Provence,” “Monet,” “Bûche de Noël” and “Sunset over the Seine” have probably been the most popular ones so far (and some of my favorites too!).

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Sunset over the Seine

Is there anything exciting going on in your shop these days ? Do you still have spaces for your Advent Calendar?

I’ve currently got a wide selection of fall colorways that I’m really quite proud of!  I also have just a few spots left for my Advent Calendar, 12 Days of Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah miniskein sets!  I’ve been having an absolute blast dyeing up all the yarn for these sets for the last few weeks, and can’t wait to get them shipped off to their new homes!

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Vendange

What do you have coming up for the shop til the end of this year? Any special deals/events/kals ?

Speaking of the holidays, in the next few weeks (mid October) I’ll be releasing my Holiday colorways and November Sock Club.  Every month, I dye up a small batch of a secret colorway and design a sock pattern to go along with it.  It’s such a fun creative project for me, and I think my customers enjoy it too as it always sells out, and there are several who sign up month after month!

Where do you see your business in say 5 years from now ?

I’d love to be able to quadruple my output and have several stores that carry my yarn. I just did my first craft fair, and loved it! I’m definitely planning on organizing a few trunk shows and signing up for some fiber festivals in the future as well.

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Macaron sock

In addition to your yarn dyeing, you also design patterns that you sell on Ravelry. Have you been designing long ?  How did you come to designing your own patterns?

I’ve been designing for almost as long as I’ve been knitting.  The first pair of socks I ever knit, actually, were my own design (I modified a vanilla sock pattern, adding a lace motif to the top of the foot).  I only started writing up my patterns at the beginning of 2016, though.  My first pattern was also my most ambitious to date—the Amboise Shawl, inspired by the Château d’Amboise. I absolutely love that triangular lace shawl, especially because it looks so impressive while being a fairly intuitive knit!

Is knitwear design something that you would like to develop further ?

Absolutely! It’s so much fun coming up with the right pattern to go with the colorways I dye up.  It’s so incredibly satisfying! 

What type of item/garment do you most enjoy designing? Does the inspiration for your patterns also come from France ?

I think the shawl designs have been the most fun, but designing socks has been a fabulous challenge, mostly because I’ve put out one (almost) every month this year.  Some of the patterns are more obviously inspired by France than others—the Amboise Shawl, and another shawl inspired by Chenonceau which hasn’t been test knit/published yet—while others are inspired by my home in rural Indiana.

And as if dyeing yarn and writing patterns wasn’t enough; you also podcast! Tell us about that. How did you come to podcasting, is that something you enjoy doing and for someone that is not familiar with your podcast, what would you say is the “theme” or main emphasis in your podcast. What will be find there.

I started podcasting at the beginning of 2016, in part because I knew that there were some significant changes coming in my life.  I knew that I was going to be changing career paths and that my husband and I would be moving, and wanted a creative outlet that would connect me with the online knitting community even more than I already was.  I had been a fan of the Knitmore Girls podcast and YarnGasm (and the long defunct Electric Sheep podcast) for years, and just decided to dive right in!  My podcast format is typically fairly standard, talking about what I’ve been working on, what’s going on in my life (just a little) and going over what yarn I’ve dyed up that week.  During the month of October, I’ve decided to challenge myself to do Vlogtober—recording videos every single day!  So far, I’ve been able to stay on track!

francofille knits autumn afternoon

Autumn Afternoon

For those that want to follow you and your shop, what would you say is the best venue for that ?

Instagram, for sure! For my personal knitting/life pics, you can follow me @bdevan, and for all things shop related you can follow @francofilleknits!

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A big thank you to Devan for taking the time to reply to all my questions. To check out her knitting patterns on Ravelry, just click here 

To check out her Etsy shop and her fabulous yarns just click here

Devan has generously accepted to donate a skein of yarn to one of you. To take part in this giveaway, just hop over to her shop and then come back and tell me what your favorite colorway is. The winner will receive this glorious skein hand dyed by Devan.

I will draw a winner using Random.org a week from today or october 24th. Good luck to everyone!

 

 

The end of an adventure and one last enabling post before we all commit to stash appreciation

Hi there, writing this post has been a long time coming. I have thought about this for a very very very long time and I think I really need to get it together and just take the plunge! The plunge in question is… closing my Etsy shop! Now I’ve said it!

I would like to take the opportunity to share with you the story of this shop adventure that is coming to an end.

In 2010 I was very unhappy with the work I was doing and I longed for a job that I would actually enjoy doing. I was already heavily into knitting and the idea of opening a shop started to take shape. At first I wanted to create a niche shop and concentrate on knitting needles. At the time, in France, knitting needles were very limited and most knitters only knit on long single pointed needles. I wanted to introduce circular needles to them. In my home country of Iceland we knit everything on circulars and I think they are fabulous. I started looking around at what was available and what I could sell. On the 1st of March 2011 I opened my shop, Knitting in France. I had my very own website and I offered a variety of knitting needles. I can safely say that I was a pioneer in France and even in Europe when it came to selling knitting needles because I introduced a number of knitting needles brands that were otherwise unobtainable in France and often in Europe at large.

I had Signature Needle Arts and was the only distributor for those in France and one of very few in Europe if not the only one. I also introduced Kollage square needles and I still have a few of those left. I was the first to sell these in France and one of very few in Europe. I also had Swallow casein needles from Australia and again the only one in France selling those. I had Indian Lake Artisans hexagonal, handmade wooden needles and still have some left in stock. Those are works of art and a joy to work with. I also believe I was their first stockist in France.

I was also the very first stockist of  Hiya Hiya in France and I’m proud of being the one to introduce French knitters to that brand and even European knitters because at the time very few shops sold these in Europe. And Chiaogoo, also the first stockist in France to offer those.

Today all the important yarn shops in France carry some of these brands that I took a chance on in 2011.

I also offered handmade knitting and crochet accessories and I took in a few commercial yarns such as Rooster yarns. I did also offer Dream in Color yarns and again I believe I was the only stockist in France at the time.

The product I took the biggest chance on was an amazing yarn, Qiviut from Arctic Qiviut company. Qiviut, if you are not familiar with that fibre, comes from the underdown of musk ox. It is a rare fibre and very labour intensive in production. It is the warmest wool you can have and Arctic Qiviut had both natural color yarn and hand dyed ones and they also offered luxurious blends with qiviut, cashmere,angora etc. A skein of this luxurious yarn costs a fortune but I did manage to buy a few for the shop and I did sell most of them though it took some time as the price was not for the faint of heart. I was of course the first to sell this yarn in France and I helped them organise a tour in England and France to introduce their yarns to other shops and today a few shops in England carry their yarns.

Later on I wanted to start dyeing my own yarn and totally fell down a rabbit hole. For a while my shop did well and I really enjoyed feeling like I was doing well. I took part in yarn shows in France and in the UK.

In 2013 we moved to Normandy and at that time I took the worst decision ever with regards to my business. I decided to close my independent website/shop and to concentrate on selling on Etsy.

Etsy is a tough platform to be on, the competition is fierce and even if you begin in one shop you can easily find yourself in another shop without noticing it. The indie dyed yarn business has exploded over the last few years and every day new dyers open shop. I think we have arrived at a crossroads where the offer way surpasses the demand. Today if you are not a podcast star as well as an indie dyer or a friend of a podcast star, it is very hard to get the word out there and sell your yarns. This is just my humble opinion and I may be totally wrong and maybe I’m just saying this out of deception. Who knows.

Anyway, I at least have come to a crossroad and I need to decide which way to go. I absolutely love my little shop, I love sourcing quality yarns, I love dyeing small batches and I love seeing pictures of what my clients then make with my yarn. But the hard fact is that I’m not selling enough for this to be a sustainable business. Unfortunately I don’t have the time needed to revamp and re-vitalise the shop. I work full time and I have three children. I also don’t have the finances to fund a big purchase of base yarn to be able to offer sweater quantities of different colors etc.  And let’s face it, maybe I just don’t have the talent!

So I have decided, with a heavy heart, that I need to close this chapter of my life. I need to just concentrate on my own knitting and this blog which I so enjoy writing. However to limit the financial loss and to make some space at the house, I need to sell as much as I possibly can of my current stock. And so I’m having a Going out of business sale! As of now and until November 1st I’m offering -30% off everything in the shop and I hope you will take the time to take a peek and maybe buy a skein or two. My base yarns are high quality and used by  a number of well known indie dyers in Europe and I have dyed them up in small batches with lots of love and care. I will include free stitch markers with every order, the more yarn you buy, the more markers you will receive:)

I know that this goes against my announced plan of Stash Appreciation that will start on November 1st but hey, if you are joining me in that, you do still have till November 1st to buy yarns no questions asked! And you would be supporting a very small home business at the same time:)

So, I’m sorry if this comes across as if I’m pleading for help. I did want to share the story of my yarn shop adventure with you and I did want to tell you about the discount just in case you were interested. Please feel free to share the info with all of your knitting buddies. There is no code needed, the prices are already discounted in the shop. I of course do worldwide shipping at reasonable prices. You can check out my sale by clicking here 

That’s all for today. Have a  wonderful weekend and enjoy your crafting:)

My Birthday yarnie gifts

Hi there, I’m sorry I did not keep my word and post a second time last week. Time seems to constantly elude me these days. I hope you understand:)

I wanted to show you some of my Birthday gifts because yes it was my Birthday not so long ago. First off, my daughter the artist made me some super fun stitch markers from polymer clay.

I love using these!

And this year is the second time I organize a Birthday swap in my Knitting in France Group on Ravelry. It is a small swap which I think suits us all well as the pressure is limited and we don’t have to send gifts every month of the year. It is however super fun when it is one’s turn to receive those yarny gifts and it just so happens that I’m the last to celebrate my birthday. I’m still waiting for some to arrive but I thought I should share with you those that I have so far.

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This was the first gift I got and it arrived the morning of my Birthday! A nice sock size project bag, amazing chocolates and a Finnish specialty. A wonderfully smelling hand cream and a fun needle gauge/key ring from Succaplokki. And two skeins of yarn. The pink one is from Wollmeise and the purple one is from a new to me French dyer called Squirrel’s Yarns. I love the colors and will most likely be using them to knit into socks. The project bag also contained a gift, a hand knit shawl!

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Yes that’s me wearing my new shawl:)

The second gift arrived soon there after.

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How fun is this Truckin’ project bag? And the yarns are gorgeous! The green yarn is Harry Potter inspired from Just a Girl and her Dog Yarns. The Teal one is actually hand spun and the label says Creek Side Farm. Both are gorgeous and the Honey straws have me intrigued.

The third gift arrived this past weekend.

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I love the lamb post card. The monkeys on the right are actually magnets and now reside on my fridge. The Minion tin contains some buttons and the yellow piece you see behind the mignon is a table cloth and I think it may have been woven.

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I absolutely LOVE this tag to attach to a hand knit gift. Not sure I’ll ever be willing to part with it though. It’s now hanging on a wall next to my desk.

When I first saw this I thought this was a crochet kit but it’s actually a knitting pattern. You can knit a 3D fish and it comes with the beads and the DMC thread. Amazing. One of my daughter has already requested she keep this once it’s done.

And to finish I got this bag of beautiful teal colored silk to spin into something gorgeous. And 2 skeins of Claudia Handpainted yarns for a future pair of socks.

Amazing right?! I do love a good yarn/knitting swap and as this is birthday related it is even more fun I think. I might organize this for the third consecutive year in 2018 so if you are interested in joining do let me know. I will be asking in my Ravelry Group soon if people are interested in joining again. Actually this year I think I only have one new participant all the others joined the first time around and jumped on the chance to join in again for this second time. We’ll see if we have enough participants for a third edition.

But I did also treat myself to some yarnie goodness using my birthday as an excuse. I know I’m an adult and that I don’t need an excuse to buy yarn BUT seeing as I already have more than I need and that I’m trying to cut down on yarn purchases, I’m using the Birthday excuse anyway!

So I purchased some yarns from a destash on Ravelry. This is the first time I have ever done this and I admit I was a bit apprehensive as I did not know the seller at all. I saw a post from this person on Instagram and the yarns pictured were all gorgeous so I had to jump over to Ravelry and take a look. Well I actually ended up buying not 1, not 2, not 3 no no no! I bought 5!!! Yes that’s right I  bought 5 skeins! And they have arrived and they are all as gorgeous as they were on Ravelry.

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Both of these dyers are new to me. I had known about the Wool Barn but never seen their yarn in person and I admit I was oblivious to Woolberry Fibre Co. The yarns are gorgeous. 3 out of 5 skeins are singles so they will be knit into  shawls or cowls in the future. The others will become socks I think.

I also bought more yarn from Lolo Did It. I of course wanted to indulge myself but I also wanted to help with Lolo’s Hurricane Harvey charity and I received my Harvey yarn this weekend. And it’s gorgeous and Lauren even added a complimentary tape measure! Always useful.

This yarn will become a pair of socks in the future.

So as you can see I have been spoiled lately with yarn. I hope I haven’t made you jealous or caused you to break your “no yarn buying” ban. I don’t often share my purchases but as I was on the subject of gifts and so I thought it would be fun.

On another note, I’m bringing the Maker of the Month feature back. I hadn’t intended on stopping during the summer but things happened. I’m hoping we will be doing the first feature in a week or two and the next maker is a yarn dyer and as always there will be a giveaway associated with the feature so stay tuned!

I think this will be all for today. I was going to show you my progress on the mystery kals but I have changed my mind and I’m not going to share until they are officially over. For the first time ever I have not shared pictures of my progress on these on social media and I have even avoided seeing other peoples pictures as well so this time it really is a true mystery knit a long for me.

I hope you have a wonderful week with lots of knitting time! Speak to you soon:)