A winner and a surprise giveaway

Hi there, I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day yesterday with your loved ones.

As promised I have drawn for a winner for the Yarn Cafe Creations giveaway today and the winner will receive this skein of Pumpkin Carving in her fabulous fingering base yarn.

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And the lucky winner is…. Samantha! So Samantha, when you see this please contact me by either leaving a message here on the blog, by sending me a DM on Instagram or by sending me an email to knittinginfrance@gmail.com so I can get this skein to your mailbox asap!

To all the others, thank you so much for participating and no worries there will be plenty more giveaways this year.

And as a matter of fact there will be one here right now! And this one is a bit of a surprise even for me. Turns out I won Mina’s New York Sock Club ( Mina of the Knitting Expact podcast and designs) in a giveaway held by Andy of AndreSueKnits. Only being the impatient person I am, I had already purchased my membership to the club so I contacted Mina and she accepted to forward my prize to someone else and so I’m doing a giveaway.

If you are a sock knitter or want to become one, I love Mina’s patterns and want more of them, if you were thinking of signing up for the club but haven’t done so yet, this is the giveaway for you! To join it’s super simple, just leave me a comment below and tell me a little bit about your sock knitting journey (if you already are a sock knitter) or why you want to start knitting socks if you are a newbie to those.

I will draw a winner using Random Number Generator this Friday, February 17th, in the evening my time. So this is a bit of a “flash” giveaway. I hope you will join in and best of luck to everyone:)

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New needles and a challenge for myself this week

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you are doing well and enjoying your week. As of today I’m off work for 4 days! A mini vacation as my kids are on school holiday so I’m super happy.  We don’t have anything special planned but just relaxing and NOT working sounds like such a great plan right now.

I am going to use part of this free time to challenge myself. I’m going to tackle my mountain of wips! So, I’m not sharing a picture of that with you now because I’m too ashamed of its current state. I have a corner in my bedroom that has become home to a pile of wips in various stages of completion and even some “to be knit” projects. When looking at this, you just see a pile of project bags and yarn peeking out from some of them along with printouts of patterns.

After watching VeganJilly’s last episode, The Knitting Broomstick, and hearing about her decluttering January and how she tackled her wips, I was inspired to do the same. I know that in there there are projects that are going to be frogged, projects that are not going to be done just now and so I can return the skein of yarn to the stash and of course others that I will need to work on asap.

I’m hoping that after going through it all, I’ll be able to downsize to a manageable mountain of wips (when I know what that is, I’ll tell you).

Another motivation to do this is the approach of Sock Madness 11th edition! I joined in last year for the first time and made it to the second to last round. I’m not so sure I’ll make it that far this time around but I still want to join in the fun. But to start the sock madness I feel I need to clear some stuff off my needles and not feel overwhelmed with all the projects that are waiting to be worked on.

Once I’m done, I will share pictures with you. Promise 🙂

Do you have the same problem? Are you a long time sufferer of Castonitis like I am? I’m constantly casting on new things and if something is not quite as exciting as I thought, there’s a good chance it will end up as a languishing wip!

If you have had this problem and overcome it or if you want to share how you tackled your mountain of wips, I’d love to hear about it.

But enough of that, today I wanted to tell you about my new favorite needles. In 2011 when I launched my Knitting in France shop, I specialized in knitting needles. I felt that, at least in France, the choices were very limited and I wanted to offer a broad choice of needles. And I did. I offered casein needles (from milk protein -still have some in stock if you are interested), square needles from Kollage (also still have some), triangular needles (these sold out), hexagonal needles (by Indian Lake Artisans) – still have some, Signature Needle Arts – the Rolls Royce of knitting needles and those all sold out. And then I had a selection of Addi, Chiaogoo and Hiya Hiyas. I was actually the first shop to sell Hiya Hiyas in France!

So I have tried a lot of different knitting needles be it the material used, the shape or style. I think 99% of my knitting is done on circular needles and those are obviously my favorite type. I do still have a large selection of dpns and I still use these occasionally for socks and mitts.

Recently I have noticed an increased interest in knitting socks on 9″ circulars. When I had those in my shop, people were afraid of trying and I often got feedback from customers about them being fiddly to use an rare were the customers to come back for more of those. I tried them myself and I agreed with them. I’m very tall and so my hands are big and I just felt awkward using them. I tried for a bit and then just decided it wasn’t for me. But recently seeing all the podcasters using them as well as knitters on IG, I decided to give them another go. And guess what? I actually like them now! When knitting socks, especially vanilla socks, I feel they knit up so much faster. I began using my Chiaogoos and Hiya Hiyas and then I heard of this Addi needle and just had to try it out. Now I have at least 6 of those!

In German they are called Sockenwunder which translates to Sock Wonders and they truly are. The difference from other needles is the size. These are actually 10″ and the difference is in the needle point size. Your left hand point is “regular” 9″ size but the right hand one, the working needle, is longer and that makes all the difference for me. It gives me something more to hold on to and makes the process a lot less fiddly.

On the second picture you can clearly see the difference in length for the two needle points. The price point for those is good I think. I haven’t been able to find these in France so I buy them on Amazon and they always come from some yarn shop in Germany.

If you like using 9″ or if you have been thinking of giving them a go, I would recommend you try these out. I really love using them for my socks and I have been using them a lot more than my regular 40″ circulars (I do magic loop).

Another needle that I just aquired and love is the latest addition to Signature Needle Arts. Like I said above, I used to sell their needles in my shop and at the time I of course purchased some for myself, mostly dpns at that time. Because of their price tag, these were a slow seller but I was proud of being able to offer them to my knitters but it wasn’t a sustainable solution for me unfortunately. I did not stop buying them though and they later stopped doing the fixed circulars and turned to interchangeables only which I though was sad. I did buy a number of those still and of course they are all a joy to knit with. Only these were all rather big sizes, 3.50 mm and up.

Then around Vogue Knitting Live, I learned that they had launched a sock size circular! And of course I had to go and get one. I think they still only offer one size, 2.25mm. I really love this needle. It is super pointy of course, but their Stiletto point is my favorite. I do prefer the cable they use for the interchangeable needles to this one, but it’s not lessening my pleasure when using them though.

I’m currently knitting my Prairie Socks on them. Of course the price is many times the price of the Addi needle so this is more of an indulgence purchase. But if you have the chance of getting one, I’m sure you will enjoy using them very much. They are super slick and very light. They totally live up to their reputation!

So that’s what I wanted to share with you today. Let me know if you would like me to talk more about the different knitting needles I have used and the different materials they are made out of. I could do a series of posts on that if you are interested.

But before saying goodbye, I have two reminders:

First, the winner of the Knit Cosmic Strings Yarn giveaway has still not contacted me. If you participated, please go check out this post and if you were the winner contact me asap. If I don’t hear from the winner by the end of this week, I will draw for another winner.

And second, today is the last day to join in the Yarn Cafe Creations giveaway. Just click here if you haven’t read my interview with Christy and join in the giveaway. I will draw for a winner using Random Number Generator sometime tomorrow, February 15th.

I wish you all a lovely Valentine’s Day and a wonderful rest of the week. I’ll be back tomorrow for a short post to announce the winner and then next week for a regular post and I will be sharing my progress on the Mountain of Shame aka mountain of wips:)

The Maker of the Month – Yarn Cafe Creations

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you had a nice weekend and that this week has been a success so far. I had a nice and relaxed weekend myself. I did not quite as much knitting done as I would have liked but I did enjoy working on my projects and that is all that counts.

Today is not going to be my regular post with updates on my projects and so forth because today I’m doing the Maker of the Month February edition.

I have planned to introduce you to a new maker every month and those will be either yarn dyers, pattern designers or other kind of makers that are involved in the knitting/crochet/fibre world. I have already planned interviews all the way to next July which is very exciting and if you have any suggestions for a maker I should check out and maybe feature here please do let me know.

So the Maker of the Month this February is yarn dyer Christy Houghton of Yarn Cafe Creations. I’m sure some if not all of you have already heard of her and maybe  you even follow her podcast The Girls in the Yarn Cafe.

I heard of her first on the Periscoping sisters podcast I believe because she was collaborating on a kit with Amy and I just absolutely LOVED her yarn for that kit and went ahead and bought a couple of skeins. Since then I have subscribed to her YouTube channel and follow her on social media and of course I continue buying her yarns:)

The first yarn I bought from her was a fingering weight yarn and the colorway was called Ocean Mist

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I think it is just such a mesmerising colorway.

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And I ofcourse knit a pair of Simple Skyp Socks – my first pair of those actually.

Since then I have aquired a few more skeins, all in 4 ply fingering weight because I absolutely love her fingering base and of course I love knitting socks.

yarncafecreations-calgary-and-mermaid-party

These two are waiting to be turned into socks. The one on the left is Mermaid Party and the one on the right is Calgary.

And actually I’m currently knitting with one of her yarns because like I told you in my latest post, I have decided to join in the Lovealong kal that is being hosted by Dani of Little Bobbins knits, Amy Meeks of the Periscoping sisters who designed the pattern and Christy whose yarn was used to design the sock. And to be able to have 3 times the chance of winning something in this kal I of course decided to knit with one of Christy’s yarns. The yarn I chose is again her superwash merino 4 ply base and the colorway is called Banana Split.

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Beautiful, right? And once it’s been wound up into a skein, this is what it looks like:

yarncafecreations-lovealong-yarn

So colorful and yet subtle and it totally lets the pattern shine. I feel this was a great match for this pattern as both the yarn and the pattern are equally beautiful and don’t overshadow each other.

This is where I’m at currently

But enough about me. It’s time I shared the interview with Christy so here goes:

Hello Christy and welcome to the Knitting in France blog.  To start off would you please tell us a little bit about yourself ?
When did you learn to knit and do you remember who taught you, if you learned from a person that is ?
I learned to knit, after years of crocheting, by watching YouTube videos. I knew I likes the look of knitting more than crocheting but had always been intimidated by it. Once I started knitting, I couldn’t stop! It became my new passion. That was about 7 years ago.
Do you have a favorite type of project to knit? I for example am a big sock knitter and always have a ton of those on my needles.

I will go through phases where I am in love with sock knitting and then I find a sweater pattern that I just can’t put down. I have recently discovered shawls and wraps and am finding these an absolute joy to knit!  I guess I don’t have a favorite type of project, I just like to continuously challenge myself with new knitting projects. 

Do you crochet, spin and or weave as well ?

I only crochet but hope to learn spinning someday. 

Do you knit in public and if so, do you have a favorite spot to do so?

I knit in public all the time!  My favorite place to knit in public would be at a conference. I am constantly attending conferences for my job and find it easier to focus on the speaker if I’m knitting. 

I see that Yarn Cafe Creations opened on  Etsy in 2015 and I was wondering if you had been selling elsewhere before then or if your yarn dyeing adventure began in 2015 with your Etsy shop?

I started on Etsy in 2015 and it was first and only attempt at selling yarn. I feel like I found the right place to sell my yarn and have been very happy with the results. 

What prompted you to start your own yarn dyeing business?

I discovered hand-dyed yarn on Instagram and couldn’t believe how expensive some of the yarn was. I decided to research it to see if the bare yarn was expensive. I wanted to know if it was worth the money to buy hand-dyed yarn. I found that there was bare yarn available at very reasonable prices and felt like I could make a quality product to sell at a more affordable price.  I knew that  there were probably people out there who couldn’t afford to pay what some of these yarn dyers were charging. I wanted to make it more affordable for people who may not be able to afford this type of yarn. 

Where does the name of your shop, Yarn Cafe Creations come from?

My boyfriend actually came up with it. I love coffee and coffee shop decor so he thought this name would represent me well. 

Where do you get your inspiration for your colourways from ?

Well, color is not my strong suit. I usually look at clothing fashion to see what colors people are wearing that season. Then I will look at online color palettes for inspiration. I also love to look at nature photos to see what beauty I can find out in the world. 

What is your most popular colorway? and/or  most popular yarn base?

Ocean Mist on Fluffy Sock. 

Do you have a target audience/clients? I mean do you try to cater especially for say the sock/accessories knitter or do you also try to appeal to the garment knitter with larger dye lots?

I have stocked many different yarn bases in my shop but have found that I sell much more sock/fingering weight yarn than any other yarn type. I would love to carry many different yarn weights but have tried to cater to what sells. Sock yarn is much more popular for sock knitting, shawl knitting, and other light knits. 

Do you accept custom orders?

I do custom orders all the time and really enjoy doing them. 

Do you dye yarn full time or do you also have a “regular” job ?

I work full-time as the Director of Quality over 7 medical offices. I am also a marriage and family therapist and own my own practice. I see clients 1-2 nights a week. Yarn dyeing happens on the other weeknights and on the weekends. I like being busy. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I start my day in the morning by dropping off packages at the post office and then heading to my medical job. There are a lot of meetings during any given week and a lot of tasks that require my attention. At about 5:00, I will then go see a therapy client or head home if it’s not a therapy night. When I get home, I will usually do a couple of batches of yarn and then get orders ready to go out the next day. Then it’s off to bed!

What have you got planned for Yarn Cafe Creations in 2017? and where do you see your company in say 5 years from now?

I have many collaborations with bag makers and pattern designers coming up in the next few months. I’m hoping to continue to grow this business while still being part of the medical community. I have a passion for both. In 5 years, I hope that people will still love my yarn enough to still be purchasing it. This will allow me to continue to do what I love. 

You also have a podcast called The Girls in the Yarn Cafe that you do with your daughter and I love watching that podcast every time you publish an episode. Can you tell us a little bit more about the podcast like when you started and what you show and discuss for those that might not yet be familiar with your podcast ?

Our podcast started with just me. I made a couple by myself and it was called The Girl in the Yarn Cafe. I decided to have my daughters come on as guests, just for fun. Trysten is my only knitting daughter and after she was a guest we found that people loved us together. She and I have a great dynamic on our podcast and we have so much fun doing it. I think we do it for our own entertainment and are just so happy that people enjoy being part of it. I hope we can continue doing it for years to come. 

What is the best way/best place for people to follow you on social media?

I am most active on Instagram and Ravelry. I do have a Twitter and a Facebook page but I’m less active on those.

Thank you, Bogga, for your interest in my yarn business!  I appreciate your support!!

Thank you so much to Christy for accepting my interview and for sharing her knitting and yarn dyeing life with us. And Christy has also generously donated a skein of her yarn for a giveaway! This is on her 4 ply superwash merino Fluffy Sock base and the colorway is called Pumpkin Carving and it is gorgeous!

To join in this giveaway all you need to do is go over to Christy’s shop Yarn Cafe Creations browse her gorgeous yarns and then come back here and leave a comment with your favorite colorway. I know choosing is close to impossible but just write down one of the many you love 🙂 You have until February 14th to join and leave a comment and I will draw a winner using random number generator and announce the lucky winner here on the blog on February 15th. The winner will then have one month to claim his/her prize and if not claimed I will draw a second time.

That’s it for today. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to spend time with me. I hope you enjoyed the interview with Christy and I wish you the best of luck with the giveaway. Next time the post will be all about my knitting and my new knitting needles that I love so much I have to share so you too can try them out.

Take care and happy knitting 🙂

The February Plan

Hi there, It’s me again! Sorry if you think this a bit too much for one week but like I said at the beginning of the week I had soo much to share!

So today is or should just be  a short post but a necessary one because we are at the beginning of February and I have this big plan for what I’m going to knit this month and I thought maybe some of you would like to knit along with me.

So I’ll be knitting 2 shawls and 3 socks – that I know of for the time being – and a cowl

Here is a picture of all the yarns except the Snowmelt shawl which I had not dyed when I took the picture.

all-the-february-yarns

Row 1 (bottom) Yarns for the socks Row 2 (middle) my 3 color cashmere cowl Row 3 my Snowday shawl

First the shawls. So there is the Snowday shawl by Knitting Expat Designs. This pattern was published in January and I immediately bought it. I loved the colors Mina chose for hers and I just knew I had to knit this. I’m using my own yarn of course. Mina wrote the pattern for a sport weight yarn but I don’t have any so I’m using a DK yarn. This is a new base that I’ll introduce in the shop next week. It is a non superwash organic wool from South America and I really look forward to knitting with it and seeing how it knits up. I loved the colours Mina chose and so I decided to stay with the same theme/colours.

snowday-yarn

Mina is hosting a year long kal in her Ravelry group for all her patterns so this shawl can be entered into that.

 

The second shawl is a mystery knit along and it is the Snowmelt mkal being held by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. This is a 5 clue, 3 color shawl and the mkal launched yesterday on the 2nd of February. I have chosen another new yarn base for this shawl. This yarn is a 100% non superwash merino in fingering weight. it dyes up beautifully and it is very soft and I look forward to knitting with it for the first time. Just looking at the yarn and the ply I’m sure it will be gorgeous and give a beautiful stitch definition. I dyed up 3 skeins in complimentary colors for this and again the theme is blues.

snowmelt-yarn-1

I’ve heard Helen say that color A is the one that has the most lace and she recommends using the lightest color for that. I don’t want to use the speckled yarn for the lace so I’m thinking then the light blue on the right side. I was going to have the darkest one as color A but I should probably follow Helen’s advice. So I look forward to knitting on this.

And then there are the socks and they all come with a kal. I’m very kal these days it seems and yet I rarely participate in the chatter.

So first it is the Lovealong kal – this kal is being hosted by Dani of the Little Bobbins; Amy of the Periscoping sisters (the designer of the sock pattern) and Christy of Yarn Café Creations who dyed the yarn Amy used in her design. This means you can actually enter your socks into at least 2 threads to win a prize and if you knit the socks with Christy’s yarn then you can enter in her group too. So as I have some of her yarns, that’s what I’m doing!

Then there is the January Challenge in Louise Tilbrook Designs group on Instagram and Facebook. You are supposed to knit a pair of socks and somehow challenge yourself. I’m cheating a bit because I want to knit one of Louise’s patterns and I chose one that is not necessarily very challenging but hey I’m the boss of me so! I’ve chosen the Bleaberry Tarn socks, a paid for pattern on Ravelry and I’m going to knit it in one of my new colorways that I’ve called Baby Pink Sparkles.

The third sock is for a kal being held by designer Rachel Gibbs. I’ve never knit one of her patterns before and I follow her on IG. I saw a post about her kal that actually began in January but I believe runs till the end of February so I decided to join and knit one of her patterns. Rachel designs lots of textured/patterned socks and the patterns are really gorgeous. I chose the Time Stream Socks and I’ve chosen another one of my Sparkles yarns in a turquoise colorway I had in my stock.

The last of the planned knits for the time being is a cowl. I’ve had this pattern in my Ravelry Library for a long time and never gotten to knit it so it is time. I have chosen an amazing yarn. This is a new base that I was trying out and want to later offer in the shop. It is a pricy one because it is a 50/50 merino and silk yarn. It is incredibly soft and knits up like a dream. I already have a cowl knit in this yarn and I love it. So the pattern I’ve chosen is the Three Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli and I think this is the only planned knitting this month that is not part of a kal.

So I dyed two skeins of my merino/silk yarn and then I had one skein of a 100% silk yarn in natural, undyed state.  I think this will be heavenly and I really look forward to getting started on that one too.

three-color-cashmere-cowl

Have you planned what you want to work on in February? Are you maybe joining in some of the kals that I’m doing? I’d love to hear what you have got planned so don’t be shy and leave a comment below.

That’s it for now. I wish you all a wonderful weekend ahead with lots of quality knitting time. Thank you for sharing your time today with me. And until next time, happy knitting 🙂