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.

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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.

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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.

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It looked beautiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Maker of the Month Francofille Knits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the inspiration behind your shop and your yarns?

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

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

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

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Mon Coeur

What are your most popular colorways?

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

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Sunset over the Seine

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

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

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Vendange

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

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

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

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

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Macaron sock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Autumn Afternoon

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

A Weekend Yarn Sale

Hi there, I hope your week has been good and the upcoming weekend will be even better.

Today I’m just posting a  little info. To make room (and some money too to be honest) I’m having a sale in the shop, my first ever US LABOR DAY SALE. The sale is on til Monday September 4th and EVERYTHING in the shop is 20% off. No code needed!

I’m hoping to sell as much yarn and other goodies as I can because I want to bring in some new yarn bases that are not usually on offer with indie dyers and so might be of interest to you.

As always I ship worldwide at low prices and I hope you will not be deterred from shopping due to shipping charges.

That’s it for tonight. I have posted about the sale on my social media and thought I should do so here too as my blog followers are not necessarily following me elsewhere and I would not want you to lose out on my sale. This might be your chance to test some of my yarns and try them for yourself rather than just read about everything I knit with my yarns:)

So if you feel like browsing/shopping just click here 

Have a wonderful weekend. Those that are in the US , happy holiday and maybe you are lucky enough to have a prolonged weekend. I hope you’ll get a chance to do lots of knitting this weekend. I started my What the Fade shawl and am hoping to finish clue 1 over the weekend. I’m also looking forward to casting on clue one of the Road to Rhinebeck mystery kal tomorrow and maybe you too are joining in those.

Enjoy your weekend, happy knitting and I’ll speak to you soon:)

 

My first ever yarn survey and more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

candy yarn www.knittinginfrance.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.knittinginfrance.com

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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