A new week

Hi there, how are you? Been knitting a lot? I have been knitting consistently but I’m not able to show you everything because one of the projects  I have been knitting a lot on is a secret test knit.

I have been trying to finish certain things lately and so I have limited myself to a small number of projects to work on because I really want them to be done before I cast on for new projects.

So this past week I have worked on 3 things: a shawl, a cardigan and a sweater.

The shawl is the A Girl’s Best Friend by Isabelle Kraemer. I really love this pattern. I had seen a lot of knitting podcasters knit this and I really wanted to get this on the needles and I’m finding it to be such a joy to knit. I’m also super happy with the three yarns I chose, two single ply yarns one of which is my own hand dyed and then one 4 ply yarn from Madeleinetosh. I really love how the yarns knit up and how the colors go together. I’m pretty sure I will get a lot of wear out of this shawl when it’s done.

girls best friend

I’m almost done. I’m on the last section which is a sort of ribbing and I’m knitting that part in the Madelinetosh yarn. The grey is my yarn and the pink is Woolberry Fibre Co. So I have about 2 1/2″ of knitting to go on this but the rows are super long so this will take a few hours to finish.

I should finish this week and when I do, I’m going to cast on for the Baubles shawl by Andrea Mowry. I dyed some luscious yarn for this already in an alpaca/silk/linen blend so I’m excited to get that on the needles but I’m being serious so not casting on till my other shawl is done!

Then I have been working on my test knit as I said. It is a top down, seamless sweater with a lace yoke. I’m knitting it using Holst Garn Tides which is a wool and silk blend. I’m totally head over heels with Holst garn now. It is such a joy to work with and the price is just amazing! It is so much less expensive than many commercially produced yarns and they have so many colors to choose from. When I go to their website I just want to buy 10 balls of every single shade they have!

And then I have done one good/serious thing this past week. I actually picked up a wip from my pile of wips/shame! I can hardly believe it myself! And oh I’m so happy I did!

So I picked up my Veronika Cardigan by Shannon Cook. This is an oversized cardigan/wrap knit on an aran weight yarn. It is knit almost all in one piece and it is so simple! I think I’m about half way done now and I’m hoping I will be able to finish in the next two weeks. This is not really the appropriate garment for the upcoming season but I will get  a lot of use from this come autumn and next winter.

The yarn I’m using is Waltham from Kettle Yarn Co. I had bought this yarn for something else, a cardigan by another designer but I had some issues with the pattern and as I was about halfway done I ripped the whole thing out and decided to keep the yarn for something else. And I’m so happy I did because it is perfect for this Veronika cardigan.

I have other sweaters in my pile of wips that really need working on so once Veronika is done I’m hoping I will pick up another one and get that done but I have a little creeping doubt that might not happen immediately. Why? Well, because I’m about to cast on for another sweater test knit – that is as soon as I finish my second sleeve on the current one. And then I want to cast on for a second Flea cardigan- this time for my mum. And I just bought and received a kit for a sweater.

I usually do not buy indie dyed kits because they are usually out of my budget but for some reason I was unable to resist this time. The sweater is the Alyeska by Caitlin  Hunter. I already had the pattern and when I saw this kit from Olann I just went ahead and purchased it!

I have never had yarn from Olann before so this is exciting too. The kit is a mix of singles and one skein of mohair yarn. I’m really looking forward to knitting this and I’m trying to convince myself I need to wait and maybe have this as my summer vacation knit. That would be fun AND in the meantime I would work on something else from my pile of wips.

alyeska kit

This is the kit. How beautiful is this! I bought the biggest kit even if I do not need to knit the biggest size but I was just worried otherwise I might not have enough yarn or something.

So that was a big splurge!

This week I’m going to finish (hopefully) my shawl so I can cast on for the Baubles next week. I also have to finish my current sweater test knit and I’m about 40% done with sleeve two now so that will not be an issue and then I’ll go on to the new test knit. So then I will have one shawl and one sweater on the needles plus my Veronika cardigan. I think I should work on my sock club socks along with those projects so I get both pairs done by the end of the month. That would be a good idea, rather than cast on for a new garment but I know resisting will be tough.

And one more thing before I leave you today. I have not forgotten my Spring Challenge. I’m going slowly, slower than I had expected. I have created a page here on the blog for this where you can read about what I’m doing and comment and share what you are doing too.  I’m currently thinking about the type of supplies I will need to start working on the re-organization. Boxes I think for the yarn and I’m currently trying to find something for the knitting needle organization so if you have a good idea, do share. I have created a board on my Pinterest page for storage solutions so if you are interested do take a look.

I think this is all for today. Thank you for stopping  by. Have a great rest of the week and happy knitting 🙂

The US stash enhancement

Hi there, so as promised here is my haul report!

When I went to California I knew I would not be able to resist yarn buying. I knew I would have to buy something if only to save on shipping! But I also did not want to buy just anything. I wanted to buy things I might have a hard time finding in France or Europe. In the end I bought way more than I should have and I now feel somewhat guilty of having used this much money on yarn and knitting stuff. But hey, I’m not in the US on a regular basis so I’m just going to enjoy and try to resist yarn buying for a while…

My very first purchase was a silly one because I bought two skeins of Regia Pairfect and this is a yarn that can be found in Europe and frankly I found it rather expensive in the US but for some reason I was unable to resist.

So I have already knit a pair for my son with one of the balls. The one on the right is for myself. I really like the patterning on this one.

knit picks felici

I also knew that I had to try some Knit Picks Felici self striping sock yarn. I see a lot of pictures of Felici yarn and socks and this yarn is not sold in France and I believe it is hard to come by in Europe. it’s also not expensive so I had to try. I bought a set of 4 balls which is enough for 2 pairs – you need two 50 gr balls per pair.

I also fell for a couple of skeins from the Legacy Fibre Artz on Etsy, Chelsea and Sue. I saw one of their podcast episodes while in the US and really liked the yarn they showed and decided to take a look if they had some in their shop. They did.

legacy fibres  And I love the sheep enamel pin – a sheep in socks how cute is that?

Then I heard that my friend and designer Nancy Whitman was having a “going out of business” sale and I had to take a look. I ended up making two orders from her and I got a lot of beautiful yarn at an amazing price.

So from left to right: Claudia hand painted and I have started a sock as you can see, Araucania and Malabrigo – both are sock yarns, Madeleinetosh Sock, Madeleinetosh Tosh Light

I rarely buy Madeleinetosh because of the high price point but on the sale I got some at 30% off and the rest 40%. Too good to passe up on.

The Madeleinetosh yarns I’m going to use for shawls mostly I think. I’m thinking of doing the A girl’s best friend shawl by  Isabelle Kramer. That uses 3 yarns I believe and then I’m looking into other three color shawls for the rest.

And then there are the project bags! So I watch a lot of podcasts and I’m always drooling over yarns and project bags and I finally let myself be totally enabled and I bought a few!

These two bags are from By the Bay Yarn on Etsy. These are sturdy canvas bags that somewhat resemble the famous Fringe Supply bags. They are beautifully made drawstring bags with a handle and two inside pockets. The pink one is a medium size and I have my Midnight Sherbet wrap in that. It is big enough for a sweater project though. And the purple one is the large size and that one is really huge. Would be great for a sweater or a blanket project.  I’m super happy with these two bags and the price is great too, so is the service and fast shipping. I truly recommend these if you are looking for quality project bags.

I was also enabled by the famous Andrea Mowry but I subscribe to her newsletter and in one of those she was promoting Madder Root bags and so I totally fell for those too.

madder root

I got a small and a medium. The pattern is like knit stitches. These are sturdy bags and take a lot of yarn. What I especially like about these is the clip on the top. You can clip them shut and so hang them from your wrist or as I did while travelling, hang them from your hand bag/carry on. Brilliant!

The last bag purchase I made was actually from Norway and I got that when I came home but as it is part of this recent haul I think it deserves to be mentioned. This is a Norwegian company and I was totally enabled by Skeindeer Knits on one of her episodes. She showed this bag and I just had to have the same! I even chose the same red color!

plystre bag

This is a canvas bag with a leather strap and I think this can be used as a regular handbag as well, not just a project bag. I like the front pocket which is quite big and can keep your wallet and phone or knitting notions. The interior has various pockets including one with 3 eyelets for knitting stranded colorwork without getting your yarns in a total mess. The company that makes these is called Plystre. They have just come out with a bigger bag that is a backpack and I really like that one too.

And to finish of, I was also gifted some yarn! I was able to meet up with a dear friend who is also a celebrity but he works with Cat Bordhi and organises knitting retreats with her all over the world. Cat and Jim have used my hand dyed yarns when they do retreats in Iceland and this was the first time we actually met in person.

Jim used to own his own yarn company that was called Frog Tree Yarns. He still has some yarn left and he gifted me two skeins of sport weight yarns and I think I will make socks with those, or mittens or hats.

frog tree

And a pack of 10 skeins of fingering weight de haired llama yarn! Ultra soft and amazing yarn! I think I will knit a stole or something special with that.

So as you can see, I have made quite a lot of purchases. So this means even more yarn and notions to organise as I embark on my Spring Cleaning Challenge! More on that soon!

That’s all for today. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed taking a look at my purchases.

Happy knitting!

Happy new knitting year

Hi there! First off I would like to apologize for the long silence. I can imagine you may have wondered if I had stopped blogging all together! It’s probably been close to a month since I last posted here and I have not been very active on social media either. Not to mention that I closed my Etsy shop. So I guess I have given you all the reasons to think I was just going off the grid.

Well, I’m still here and I hope to keep blogging and growing my blog in this new year. The past month or so has been very busy to say the least. Both on a personal level as well as on a professional level. I’m hoping I will be able to get back into my rhythm of blogging once a week. I might, if I can, blog more to begin with because I have so much to share with you. Things have just been piling up!

Now I wish you and your family and friends all the very best in this new year. I would like to thank you for the past year we have spent together. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to follow my blog and my knitting adventures. Thank you for sharing your story and for commenting here on the blog. Thank you for supporting my yarn dyeing business if you are one of my clients. I hope 2018 will be a good year for you, one of happyness and good things. I hope you will be able to indulge yourself in knitting and anything else fibre related that you may enjoy. I hope you will be able to build on your skills and and learn new things. And I hope you will keep on following me on my journey as before.

I honestly don’t know where to begin. I have so much to share but I don’t have much time and I’m assuming the same goes for you so I cannot write an epic blog post. I will have to portion down all the things and share over time.

Maybe I should start where we left off, with Christmas knitting. I think I will do that.

So last time I blogged, I was knitting a lot of socks. I did not knit much for Christmas gifts. I had been intelligent enough to have set aside a few things during the year that I was able to gift for Christmas but basically I did not gift much knitwear this past Christmas. I mostly knit for myself! And mostly socks.

So here goes, and I may have shared the first two pairs with you already but I guess that’s ok as it was such a long time ago.

I made up this simple pattern to use with self striping yarn and I think it worked out great with this beautiful yarn from the Cozy Knitter called Gingerbread House. The pattern is a very simple lace pattern that is worked on the first row of each new color. I did write down the pattern and I’m hoping I will be able to write it up in a formal fashion and maybe even put up on Ravelry this year. Who knows, 2018 might become the year of knitting designs for me…

Then there was another pair of self striping socks in a Christmas colorway. This time a pair of shorty socks.

Again I made up a super simple pattern and used as I came to a new color. This one I also wrote down just in case. The yarn is Vintage Christmas from the Yarn Jar. I had some brown yarn I had dyed myself in my box of minis/left overs and used that for heels and toes.

And now on to the pairs I think I have not before shared here with you.

This pattern is called Sugarplum Fairy and is by Knitterarium. This pattern is for sale on Ravelry. I knit those with yarn from Lolo Did It called Hippo for Christmas. I absolutely LOVED knitting these socks! The yarn is nice and the pattern a total joy to work. I can definitely see myself knitting more of those. I love how high up they are, I love the lace detail on the top and all the twisted stitches just look so nice. I had begun knitting this before I left for Iceland but I finished the pair there.

Next up is a pair that I cast on on Christmas Eve or should I say the yarn is one I used to cast on on Christmas Eve. I was going to knit ‘Twas the night before Christmas by Little Bobbins Knits and after knitting the cuff and the first pattern repeat I had to surrender to reality and change pattern. This yarn was way too busy for such a delicate pattern. So I ripped everything out and lucky for me, as a patron of the Bakery Bears podcast I had received a pattern for Christmas from Kay called  And All Was Calm (I think) and I swiftly cast that on. I’m not entirely satisfied with the results. I think I should have just knit a plain vanilla sock with this yarn but I didn’t have anything else as I had tried to limit my yarn on this trip and I had to cast something on so. I did like the pattern and I think I have to knit it again in a less crazy yarn or maybe even a solid yarn. This is a patron only pattern so not available on Ravelry.

Here you see a part of the sock blank which was just amazing. I got that from Joyance Fibre. She is based in Holland and she paints the most amazing sock blanks. The very busy parts on the legs are where there was a Santa Claus on the sock blank. The sock blank was beautiful, the yarn was enjoyable to work with but it just wasn’t the right yarn for this particular pattern.

IMG_0778

Here you can better see the socks and the lace pattern which is somewhat obscured by the yarn.

I had started this pair just before leaving I believe and it was the first pair I finished in Iceland. The main yarn is from Lolo Did It but I don’t remember the colorway. The contrasting yarn is from Goosey Fibres. The pattern is Caramel Apple Socks by Vanillawool. I absolutely ADORE this pattern. I love the lace pattern that knits up into a delicate sock. Such fun to work. The pattern comes in one size only, 64 stitches but can easily be adapted to a bigger size and that is what I did as I usually knit 72 stitch socks on 2.25mm needles. This pattern was really fun to knit and the lace pattern soon because memorized and I just really got into a rhythm when knitting them. I’m planning on knitting these again and I could definitely see me knit those as shorty socks for summer.

Then there is another pattern I made up myself and cast on while in Iceland. I had bought my very first skein of yarn from Molly of The Homespun House. It was one of her Christmas colorways and I really wanted to knit something with that while on holiday. I was still on a twisted rib high after my Sugarplum Fairy socks and so I went for a twisted rib sock. I did twisted rib on the front of the leg and foot only and all the way to the cast off. And I’m really pleased with the results. Just what I had in mind when I cast on.

This was on a tweed base so there are some black nepps and then lots of colored speckles on top of a light green base. I really like those.

The last pair I cast on while in Iceland was the pattern I had planned on knitting on Christmas Eve; the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Little Bobbins. As the yarn I had planned for that pattern did not work out, I had gone to a LYS (and I’ll share all about that in a future post) but unfortunately I wasn’t able to buy any sock yarn suitable for that there. But lucky me, my cousin came for a knit afternoon on December 30th and she so generously gifted me a skein of yarn! A beautiful skein of yarn from a new to me Icelandic dyer! The dyer is called Dottir Dyeworks and her yarn was beautiful. I have yet to visit her shop and discover more about her and her yarns but the one I got was perfect. Of course I had to cast on for a new pair of socks and this was the perfect yarn for Little Bobbins pattern.

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern and the yarn went perfectly with it. I finished this pair shortly after getting back home.

While in Iceland I did also work on my 2nd Avenue Wrap by Amy Miller. That wrap is huge and it is taking me FOREVER to finish.

IMG_0757

While in Iceland I knit from the little blue marker to the top. Not a huge deal but then I was all about the socks! I have since knit a little bit more on this and am now in the next section which is knit in the black sparkle yarn. I did change the stitch pattern. I was supposed to be like in the grey section at the top; a mix of stockinette and garter stitch. I chose to knit like a seed stitch or something similar just to maintain some interest as this is somewhat boring to knit. I’m knitting this entirely out of singles yarns that I have dyed myself EXCEPT for the pink yarn which is a singles I purchased from another dyer. The pink is also the only yarn that does not have sparkle. I think this will be such a great piece once it’s done. I can really see myself wearing this and wrapping up both inside and out. But it is looooooong to knit….

Since I came home I have been knitting mostly on socks! A shocker I know! But I also have started a shawl and two sweaters.

I think this will be all for today. I hope you have enjoyed coming back and spending some time with me today. Next time I will share my knitting objectives for 2018 so stay tuned.

Hugs and 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 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.

IMG_0465

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:)

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!

 

 

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:)

Stash appreciation for the end of year

Hi there, I’m veering away from this months sock theme here but I had this idea that maybe we could help/inspire/cheer each other on in a common project.

So this year I have spent more money than usual on yarn. I have a big stash in addition to all the yarn for my shop and still I find myself constantly stalking indie dyers and looking at online yarn shops drooling over gorgeous yarn I don’t really need and don’t have any immediate plans for. And I need to stop!

As an indie dyer I really shouldn’t encourage you to NOT buy more yarn but hey I need your support and maybe you need mine.

So the idea I have would to organize a sort of “Stash appreciation project ” from November 1st to January 31st. I’m not capable of going on a yarn diet. I have tried and knowing I’m not allowed to buy more yarn makes me want to buy ALL the yarn.

But if together we embark on a Stash Appreciation Project for three months where we encourage each other to explore and USE some of the beautiful yarns we have stashed all over our houses, maybe I will be able to not only NOT buy more yarn (or at least buy less) but I will actually make a dent in m stash! Doesn’t that sound way more exciting that going on a yarn diet? I think so.

Maybe we could have some prizes. Maybe a prize for the one that uses up the biggest number of skeins from their stash? A prize draw from those that have managed to refrain completely from yarn buying for 3 months? And just a general draw from all the participants willing to follow me in this project?

The prize would not be yarn as that would go against the idea of working through our stash. I’m thinking pattern prizes to encourage us to continue on the stash appreciation journey. I have a few hard copy knit patterns from Ysolda Teague I bought from her to make kits and I also have one for a crocheted shawl by a French designer and maybe I will be able to negotiate with a designer or two to donate patterns.

What do you think? I’d like to see if I can create a sort of forum here on the blog for this and if not, then I would create a thread in my Ravelry group.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and if anyone is interested in joining me. Let me know by leaving a comment below. 

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more on my sock knitting.

Knitting woes and successes

How are you today? It’s actually evening and so I’m posting this later in the day than usual but now that my working hours have changed I have less time to dedicate to the blog and so I may be changing the day I publish..or not.. I’m going to see. I know it can be confusing if you are used to seeing a new article every Thursday and then things change and the blog is updated at random. I really want to avoid that as much as I can.

Anyway I’m doing good and  I hope you are too. The past week weather has been horrendous with lots of rain but today we had a beautiful autumn day with sun and warm temperatures. Of course I should not be complaining as the weather here in Normandy France does not compare to the hurricanes that have been devastating lately. I do hope that you and your family are safe and sound and not suffering due to weather.

I have lots of knitting to share with you again but I’m afraid that if I share everything this will become way too long so I’m going to try and post again later this week.

First issue has to do with some knitting successes and other not so much successful knits.

If you follow me on Instagram you will now that my Breathing space sweater is in time out. I actually finished the body and bound off. I very proudly tried it on and….disaster! It was way too large/wide. Words cannot begin to describe the deception! I had been working on the sweater since late July and I was using a very special yarn that I had dyed myself. And it just looked PERFECT! Or so I thought!

IMG_0040

After looking at myself in the mirror for a while I had to face the truth. I knew that it was no use to close my eyes and cast on for sleeves as if everything was perfect. I new that after washing the sweater would likely stretch a little bit and that would just make it totally unwearable. I had to RIP IT BACK!

IMG_0041

To ease the pain, I did so immediately! I just sat down and ripped it back to the underarms and it has been sitting in timeout since. I’m wondering if I should just rip it out entirely and begin all over again and I seriously think I might. Start with a clean slate so to say.

IMG_0042

I had knit the XL size as I’m both tall and rounds but clearly XL was too big so I think I will go down one size and maybe modify the pattern and do less increases on the body. I hadn’t realised it was meant to be so “roomy” . I think I would like it to fall closer to the body without being at all clingy. And I also might knit it a bit longer than I originally did.

I do want to knit on it again because I really love the pattern and my yarn but I’m thinking that maybe I need to finish a few projects BEFORE I pick it up again just to be sure I’m in the right mindset and ready to concentrate on this.

Ripping back is never easy, especially when you are 50% finished with a garment but I think I made the right choice and I’m proud of myself for having bit the bullet and ripped back immediately. A few years back, I think I would have just pouted and thrown it in a plastic bag as far back in my closet as possible. Hoping never to encounter this again. At least getting older brings some wisdom!

As for successful knitting. I can share two HOs with you today and both are test knit socks. The first pair is a Harry Potter inspired sock pattern and that pattern has actually been published as a free pattern on Ravelry now. It is called Chaussettes Knittich which in French means Knittich socks. The designer is a friend called Liisa Lanka and she is a Finnish knitter and now designer living in Paris, France.

I was lucky enough to get to test knit her first ever sock pattern. This is a relatively simple sock pattern with two text stripes inserted and the pattern comes with charts for you to follow as well as an empty one for you to try out your own text/design.

I chose to knit my pair in the Griffindor colors as my older daughter is a Harry Potter fan and in the Griffindor house. I have finished sock one and am currently working on sock 2. I used my SOX yarn base.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Another successful knit is also a test knit sock. It’s a very interesting pattern with an unusal to be heel construction and the stitch pattern travels around the foot. It is called Convergence and the designer is Dana Gervais. This pattern will be published for sale on Ravelry this autumn I believe. Again I used my own yarn on my SOX base.

 

I’m working on two more pairs of socks at the moment, one is a second test knit for Dana and I’m only at the very beginning.

IMG_0113

And the other I’m actually getting close to the toe on sock 2! I’m using the Central Park Socks pattern by Mina Philipp only I have adapted the pattern to make them into shorty socks. I’m knitting the main part using my first EVER Lolo dit it yarn and then using my own SPARKLES yarn for heels, cuffs and toes. I just happened to have the perfect match in my stash! I absolutely LOVE how these are knitting up and I foresee more shorty socks in my near future.

central park shorty socks

I think this is all I have time for now. I will try to be back later this week to show you my progress on the big mystery kals of the moment, the What the Fade and Road to Rhinebeck. I also need to show you my knitting related birthday gifts because yes I did get a year older last Saturday and as I organise a Birthday Swap in my Ravelry Group I’m receiving wonderful yarny gifts, two have arrived and two more are on their way:) And by the way, please feel free to join my Ravelry Group:)

So until next time I hope you are doing good and having a great time knitting all the things. I’ll be back soon. Promise!