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.

img_0331

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!

*********************************************************************************

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!

*************************************************************************************
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:)

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.

******************************************************************************

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!

francofille knits mon coeur

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!).

francofille knits sunset over the seine

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!

francofille knits vendange

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.

francofille knits macaron socks

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!

******************************************************************************

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!

 

 

Meet the Maker of the Month – Michelle of Berry Colorful Yarnings

Hi there, the end of this month is chock full of information and blog posts as I took a little break and came back with a ton of things to share and also this meant that the Maker of the Month feature is way later in the month than usual. I do hope you forgive me for this and so here goes!

 

I first learned of Michelle and Berry Colorful Yarnings when I was in the yarn subscription club The Golden Skein (no longer operating). Every three months I would get three skeins of hand dyed yarns, each from a different dyer and one of those was Michelle.

Since then I have been following her on social media and of course on Etsy where she sells her yarns. Michelle specializes in self striping yarns and as a sock knitter, I find that super exciting! Somehow, self striping vanilla socks seem to knit up on their own, one is always so excited to get to the next stripe!

A while ago I contacted Michelle and she kindly accepted to do a little yarn swap and so I was lucky enough to get to try out some more of her yarns. This is the pair of socks I knit out of the first skein.

IMG_7361

 

I used my own hand dyed purple yarn for cuff, heels and toes so as to not disrupt the striping. I knit these from the cuff down and did an afterthought heel as I often do when using self striping yarn.

Michelle’s yarn is a pleasure to knit with and her sense of color is amazing. I have a few more of her yarns in my stash and cherish them very much! And I thought it would be so fun to interview Michelle and introduce you to her and her work if you don’t know her already. And she kindly accepted the interview AND a giveaway! So you just might be lucky enough to win one of her yarns yourself!

So here is my interview with Michelle


 

I see from your about page on Etsy that you opened your shop in 2011. Had you been dyeing yarn before then and selling elsewhere or is 2011 the year it all started?
2011 was the first time I had sold anything I had dyed and I started off with my etsy shop right away.

How did you come to start dyeing yarn and then selling online?
I have always been a lover of indie dyed yarn and I was buying yarn from international dyed but the shipping times and costs at that time were starting to add up. I had mentioned to a knitter friend of mine that “I wished I was talented enough to dye yarn” and her replay was “you are” so after chatting with my husband I jumped in feet first and haven’t looked back!

Do you work as an indie dyer full time or is this a part time thing ?
Dyeing is a part time thing for me. We homeschool our two girls and I help my husband run his business.

Where do you get your inspiration for your colourways from ?
I get my inspiration from many sources but I really love pulling colors from nature. There are some really beautiful combinations right in front of our eyes. I love when a customer brings me a photo and asks for a self striping yarn from it. This really allows me to be creative.

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

The most popular colorway has to be The Pats doorway, themed for the New England Patriots Football team. Second would be either the 12 color Rainbow or the 12 color 12 days of Christmas colorways.

bcy 12 days of christmas

I know you are most known for dyeing self striping yarn. How did you come to choose that type of dyeing method/yarn? Do you also sometimes dye tonal or semi solid yarns?
I had been dyeing yarn for several years when I wanted to do something a little different than what all the other dyers were doing. So I tried the self striping technique. I still love dyeing tonals and semi solids and will jump at the chance to dye them 🙂

Do you accept custom orders?

Currently no.. but after the first of the year my plan is to bring that option back to the shop.

What does a typical workday look like for you?
After getting the husband out the door, I get any business related emails and paperwork needed done. I get the girls schoolwork done and then some lunch.. if we don’t have a ton of activities for the day then off to the dye studio I go.. I get lost in the fun of color.

What have you got planned for Berry Colorful Yarnings in 2017? and where do you see your company in say 5 years from now?
2017 for BCY will be a slower year. But 2018 is hopefully going to see a few fiber shows and crammed full of new color combos and maybe even some fun new stripe tech.

Where does the name of your shop, Berry Colorful Yarnings come from?
Berry is my last name, Colorful for what I strive to always make my yarns, and Yarnings was what my youngest daughter would call anything I was doing with yarn or fiber, so Berry Colorful Yarnings happen to just fit so nicely!!

And a little about yourself, where do you come from/live?
I live in southern New Mexico, I spent 11 years here as a kid (military kid) then in 1996 my husband and I moved to CA and lived there for 17 years. We moved back to this area a few years ago and love it here.

Are you a knitter and/or crocheter?
I learned to crochet as a kid but didn’t learn to knit until 2009. My middle niece showed me how one summer.

When did you learn to knit/crochet?
Crochet I was about 10 and 2009 is when my niece showed me how to knit..

What are your favourite projects to knit/crochet? I’m guessing socks but I just might be wrong 🙂
I just recently became a sock knitter, that is why my stripes are a bit wider than some. I needed to be able to knit my own yarns into a hat or cowl. I love love to knit hats!!

bcy shawl

If you are a big sock knitter, do you have a go to pattern/recipe?

I love a toe up vanilla sock at the moment!

Do you knit socks cuff down or toe up?
Toe up for sure

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media? Do you have a blog?
I prefer Instagram (all though pretty pictures) I have a website that’s under construction and I would love to try and get my blog going again.. fingers crossed but right now I am mostly on IG as @Bcyarnings 🙂

bcy

Thank you so much Michelle for taking the time to answer my questions and giving me and my readers a little sneak peek into your life. And an even bigger thank you for donating a yarn for the giveaway! Michelle has donated a skein of her Daisy colorway that I show you here below.

bcy daisy

Berry Colorful Yarnings in Daisy, self striping

bcy daisy close up

A close up of Daisy

To enter this giveaway and have a chance of winning a skein of Michelle’s self striping yarn in the Daisy colorway you have to:

  1. go to her shop and take a look at her in stock yarns and/or sold yarns and
  2. come back here to leave a comment telling us which one of her colorways is your favorite
  3. Also tell us what pattern you would knit with her yarn should you win

I will use random number generator to draw a winner from the comments below (So I will not be replying to anyone so as not to disturb the drawing) on May 5th. Good luck to you all and enjoy the browsing 🙂

My works in progress and a redraw for a winner

Hi there, how are you? I hope you had a wonderful weekend and that your week is shaping up to be a good one.

I have been making good progress on my knitting projects and getting ready for others and I’d like to share those with you today.

So first I have two finished objects that I think I have not shared with you yet. Both are socks. Surprise surprise:)

The first is the Lovealong Socks. A pattern by Amy Meeks of the Periscoping sisters. I knit these socks as part of a kal that is being hosted by Amy in the Periscoping sisters Ravelry group, by Dani of Little Bobbins Knits Ravelry Group and Christy of the Yarn Cafe Creations Ravelry Group – only if you knit with her yarn which I did. So I entered my pair into all three FO threads and now I just need to cross my fingers and wait and see if I win anything!

img_7406

This was a fun pattern to knit. The pattern only gives one size, and it’s not my sock size, so these will be for one of my girls. The yarn is the Banana Split colorway from Yarn Cafe Creations and it is super soft and squishy. It may be a bit on the busier side where the pattern is concerned. I mean the patterning would show up more if I had used a tonal or a less speckled/variegated yarn. But I still love them. They were actually quite a quick knit too.

I also finished another pair that was/is part of another kal. Those are the Prairie Socks by Kay Jones of the Bakery Bears Podcast. I’m a huge fan of Dan and Kay’s podcast and when I saw the socks on their podcast I really wanted to knit them asap. I found a single skein of a mystery yarn base and I dyed it up specially for this project. The inspiration behind the color was just thinking of grass and colorful flowers and I really love the outcome. Both of the socks and the yarn. I have of course entered this pair into their kal/giveaway thread and cross my fingers.

The yarn is less saturated in the second half of my skein somehow and so you see that one of the socks is greener than the other. But that’s ok. I still love them.

And then on to works in progress. Of course I have numerous pairs of socks on the go as always. I’m only going to share one which is a pair that I’m test knitting for my friend Dana of Dana Gervais Designs. This pattern was actually designed using one of my hand dyed yarns! Which I’m so excited about. And of course I had to test knit this, no question about that. I did choose to you a different yarn for this than she used in the design, but it’s still one of my own. I chose the POP base, which is a  tweed base with colorful nepps in that make such a fun addition to the yarn. This yarn knits up so nicely. It’s the second time I use this base for one of Dana’s designs.

So this pattern is currently being tested and it has mirroring patterning. I’m currently working on the left sock. The picture on the left is of the front of the sock/leg and the one one the right is of the back of the leg. I’m just at the heel here. I think these will be gorgeous and I really look forward to having them finished.

I’m also working on three shawls at the moment. There’s the Snowmelt kal, a shawl pattern by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. I’ve finished clue 3. Here’s a picture I took after clue 2. I’m sorry but I don’t have a picture of it as it is now, ready for clue 4. I’m using a new base that I call Back to Basics. It’s a fingering weight 100% non superwash merino yarn and it is such a joy to knit with.

img_7404

This is a fun knit and I’m happy with the colors I dyed up for this.

Then I’m also knitting the Snow Day shawl by Mina Philipp of the Knitting Expat Designs. That shawl is designed for a sport weight yarn but I’m knitting it using a new base in my shop that is DK weight. It’s a 100% organic merino yarn and the color palette is similar to the one in my Snowmelt shawl.

I’m getting close to finishing this shawl and really love all about it; both the pattern and the yarn and colors I chose.

img_7420

This is a fun asymmetrical garter and slipped stitches shawl and I think it will be super cute and cozy to wear:

The last shawl I’m working on is one that I cast on in January for the Brioche challenge being held by Louise Tilbrook. Clearly I did not finish it in time! But I’m getting there, slowly but surely. I’m doing the Briochealicious shawl by Andrea Mowry. Some of the yarns are my own some are either store bought or from another indie dyer. This shawl is huge! It’s not a complicated knit, it has a lot of garter in it. I think it’s just the size, the number of stitches that make this such a slow going project. Well and then of course I’m not a monogamous knitter so I haven’t been focusing on it much lately. But now I really want to get it done. Because I have found two other shawls that I want to cast on! More about those later. I don’t have a picture of my shawl to share today. it’s such a big shawl and I’m only using a 40″/100 cm cable so it’s all scrunched up so I feel I wouldn’t be able to take a good picture of it. You’ll just have to wait and see when it’s all done and gorgeous:)

So that’s about it for knitting this week.  This coming week I’ll work on my shawls and my test knit socks and continue working on some socks that are in need of love in my pile of wip. Oh which brings me to my challenge of last week! The cleaning up/reorganising of my mountain of wips! Gosh, I was so excited to share all these works in progress I totally forgot about that until just now! But this is becoming quite a long post so I think I will keep that till next time. And I’ll also have to tell you all about the upcoming sock knitting challenge that I’m joining in on as of March 1st! Lots of things to share still! Hope you will stick around and come back for more:)

But before I leave you today, I have a winner to announce! You may remember a giveaway I did in January in conjunction with my Maker of the Month feature which for January was Knit Cosmic Strings. I did draw a winner for the giveaway only the lucky winner never contacted me! I did remind everyone of this in a post this February but still no sign of the winner so I’m considering that as a forfeit of the prize. So I have just drawn again from the comments for the giveaway and this time around I do hope the lucky winner will see this and contact me so I can send the gorgeous yarn out! And as a reminder here’s the yarn

knitcosmicstrings-giveaway

So drum rolls please. And the winner is….Aylin A who wrote:

The colors are all gorgeous, but if I had to decide on a favorite it would definitely be Peony!

So if you are the lucky Aylin A, please either send me an email at knittinginfrance@gmail.com or send me a private message on Instagram where I’m @knittinginfrance so I can get your details and ship the yarn out to you asap!

I’m also still waiting to hear from this month’s Maker of the Month winner so if you participated in that one, please check out the winner announcement and contact me if you are the lucky one.

I want the prizes to go out to readers of my blog, people that follow my blog and enjoy spending time with me here so I’m not looking people up. I think that when you participate in a giveaway, you should follow up and see if you won or not and so if a prize is not claimed within a month, I’m going to re-draw for a winner. I hope you understand and agree with me on that. At least this is how I’m thinking/processing for the time being.

And there will be another giveaway beginning of March for that month’s Maker of the month so you still have a chance of winning something:)

That’s all for today. Promise! Take care and have a great week:)

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:)

AND THE WINNER IS…

First off, thank you so much to everyone that joined in the giveaway. It was a lot of fun to have so many people participate and I’m happy to have introduced this new yarn dyer to you. Most of you were not aware of them, some of you were. I loved seeing the comments and I’m sure that Bea and Phu loved reading all the positive feedback to their work and it will certainly help them in the future as they have had great feedback on colors and yarns. I wish I could give loads of prizes but there is just one! which is this gorgeous set of a full skein of Shoreditch in fingering and a mini of Cherry also in fingering.

knitcosmicstrings-giveaway

And the very lucky winner is…..And by the way, I used Random Number Generator to draw a winner…..is shanelariannblog! Congratulations to you! Please send me an email to knittinginfrance@gmail.com to claim your prize. I need your full name and address to mail this gorgeousness out to you. You have a month to claim your prize if you fail to contact me within that time frame, I will draw again for a new winner.

For those of you that did not win this time, there will be more fun giveaways here in the future. I have planned another giveaway with another yarn dyer in February and in March the giveaway will be with a knitwear designer so that’s super exciting too.

Have a great rest of your week:)

Let’s start the new year with some fun stuff

Hi there, how are you? Happy new year to you. I hope you had a wonderful holiday and a great beginning to your new year.

I spent Christmas and New Years here in France and then I left for a few days to see my family and friends in Iceland. It was great to be back in Iceland and see everyone and take in the air and just enjoy my time “back home”. I’ll be telling you more about my visit there and all the yarn I bought there…yes I did buy yarn! But that will be for my  next post, probably next week, because for today I want to introduce you to someone I admire.

As you most likely know if you have been following my blog for some time, I’m an indie dyer. As such, I do have a significant stash of yarns I dye for myself, undyed yarns for my shop and last but certainly not least, of other hand dyed yarns!

Regularly I say to myself “this is it! I’m not buying more yarn for X months”. I say this because I realise that I already have enough yarn to last me a lifetime or because I’m sort of running out of space to keep my stash… But so far I have not been able to keep my word. I just can’t help myself. I love browsing Etsy, I love looking up yarns I see on podcasts or on Ravelry. I want to try new dyers I’ve only just heard about. I just want more fun and colorful yarn to knit my next pair of socks!

Last year, that is 2016, I randomly discovered this shop on Etsy run by a couple. And they have the most beautiful yarns. Their shop is called Knit Cosmic Strings and I found myself going back to their shop all the time and finally I just gave in and placed my first order. Since then there have been many more! Every time they do an update, I’m there browsing, dreaming and more often than not, buying! And so I thought, I’d love to introduce these incredible dyers to you and at the same time learn more about them and so I approached them about doing an interview and lucky for me (us) they accepted! And not only did they accept an interview but they accepted to do a little giveaway! They donated a skein of their gorgeous yarn along with a contrasting mini! I’d love to keep the yarn, I’m not lying, but I already have 2 skeins of this particular colorway so no need for me to be jealous!

Below is the interview with the two dyers behind Knit Cosmic Strings, Phu and Bea, which I hope you will enjoy and then there will be the info on the giveaway that you will not want to miss!

knitcosmicstrings-wasabi-1

I see that Knit Cosmic Strings opened on Etsy this year and I was wondering if you had been selling elsewhere before then or if your yarn dyeing adventure began in 2016 with your Etsy shop?

We did not sell yarn elsewhere before opening our Etsy shop. Bea had previously run a shop on Etsy, so it was a platform that she was confident in using. Before that, our yarn was just for personal use, as well as ending up in the hands of Bea’s mum! Originally the shop was an excuse to have some more fun dyeing yarn, but we have found it such a rewarding experience interacting with our customers, seeing the things people make and getting to know people in the crafting world, that we have decided to continue and try to expand.

What prompted you to start your own yarn dyeing business?

Bea originally found it frustrating to buy more mass produced yarn in the exact colours she wanted, so she started looking into hand dyed yarn. One day she read about how it was done and decided it might be something she would be good at. She was immediately hooked and now our home has been taken over by yarn, dye pots and dyeing equipment.

I see from your about page on Etsy that you run the shop as a couple. How does that work? Do both of you dye yarn or does each of you have a distinct job/responsibility within your business?

This works very well for us, as we each have different skills that are required for running our hand dyed yarn business. Phu has been an amateur photographer for several years, and is very committed to making sure the photos are as accurate to the colours of the yarn as possible. He also finds it very satisfying to pack orders! Bea is the more creative of the duo, and does the vast majority of the yarn dyeing, as well as designing the new colourways. Phu has also started to learn a little of the dyeing, to speed up our restocking endeavours.

Where do you get your inspiration for your colourways from?

Bea’s creative process usually involves trying to “dye a feeling”. These “feelings” tend to be inspired by the weather outside, a food we have eaten, a city we have visited etc.

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

Our most popular colourways are Temptation, Rose Garden and Shoreditch. People tend to prefer them on a sock (75% merino wool, 25% nylon) base, due to its versatility. We intend to try some new bases with different compositions soon, such as yak, alpaca and silk. We are big fans of alpaca, because it is so soft and we hope our customers will like it too!

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?

Most of our customers seem to knit shawls and socks, but we try to make our dye lots big enough for a small garment and, depending on the colourway, we can take a custom order for a large number of skeins if somebody wants to make a nice cosy sweater. We try to make our colourways appealing to a wide range of people, but tend to aim for a cross between fun and classy! We have tried out a few different yarn weights, but 4ply/fingering is by far the favourite.

Do you accept custom orders?

We accept custom orders for larger/out of stock dye lots, but we do not create new colourways to specification.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

We start by re-skeining all of our yarn from the supplier, as the skeins tend to be messy and sometimes a bit tangled. We then soak the yarn and during this time we pack up our orders to send to our customers. We tend to dye the yarn in the afternoon or early evening and this can take many hours. After dyeing, the yarn is washed, dried and then skeined up ready for picture taking.

What have you got planned for Knit Cosmic Strings in 2017? and where do you see your company in say 5 years from now?

We plan to start a sock club in 2017 and we would like to attend some yarn festivals. We are also starting to think about getting our yarn stocked in a shop or two and in 5 years time we would love to be stocked in a few indie yarn shops throughout the world! We would also be thrilled to be walking down the street one day and see somebody wearing something made from our yarn!

Where does the name of your shop, Knit Cosmic Strings come from?

We wanted something a little more thought provoking than a more obvious name would be, so we started to come up with more abstract ideas. “Cosmic Strings” popped into Phu’s head one day and we could not shake it, so it stuck! The “Knit” part was added to differentiate between our yarn and other uses of the term.

And a little about yourselves.  You currently live in Edinburgh but is that where you are from?

Bea is English and Dutch, and mostly lived in the south of England until a new job brought her to Edinburgh. Phu is originally from Vietnam and moved to the UK when he was 10. He moved to Edinburgh to complete his PhD, where he met Bea. We are both originally scientists, who wanted a more creative outlet.

Are both of you knitters/crocheters?

Bea is a knitter and Phu is a crocheter!

When did you learn to knit/crochet?

Bea learnt to knit when she was a child, but really started to enjoy it in her late teens. Phu learnt to crochet in 2016, teaching himself from a book and youtube tutorials!

What are your favourite projects to knit/crochet? Like do you knit socks or shawls or are you more into garment knitting?

Phu loves to crochet scarves and snoods. Bea likes to knit pretty much everything – a typical month would include a shawl and a pair of socks or hat. Sweaters tend to be a longer process, often interrupted by the latest KAL on ravelry!

What is the best way for people to follow you on social media? Do you have a blog?

We have a facebook page, but our favourite social media platform is definitely Instagram. We publish shop update announcements, colour combinations, projects we are making and the odd “behind the scenes” shot. Its also a great informal way to start a dialogue with our customers, outside of Etsy.

I hope you enjoyed reading the interview with Phu and Bea. Like I said before, they generously offered to donate a skein of yarn in the colour way Shoreditch, one of their most popular ones, as well as a contrasting mini skein. In order to participate in the giveaway you need to go over to their shop by clicking here . Browse their lovely shop and then come back here and leave a comment below telling us what colorway you love the most. You have a week to participate or until the evening of January 17th. I will then use a random number generator on January 18 to draw a winner from the comments below. The lucky winner will receive this gorgeousness

knitcosmicstrings-giveaway

So enjoy me enabling you some and try your chance at winning this gorgeous yarn.

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed the interview and looking at the pictures of this gorgeous yarn. I wish you lots of luck for the giveaway. So until next time,

take care 🙂