July 19th, 2013

IMG_1100I was lucky enough to spend some time with Woolly Wormhead in Columbus this June. I always look forward to seeing her, not only is she a lovely person to be around, interesting, funny and charming, she is also an accomplished designer. Known for her stunning hats, Woolly takes shape and form and transforms them into gorgeous, wearable art.

She does so again in her latest book, Playful Woolly Toppers; 10 colourful hat designs to inspire your inner child. From cover to cover, Woolly shares her design aesthetic in a well-laid out, clear and visually stunning manner. From a practical level, the hats are all multiple sizes,  unisex and well shaped.

This is a great little book – Woolly’s photography is interesting and tells a great story. Using her home as a background, the visual interest is captivating. If you don’t know about the amazing world Woolly lives in, you can read all about it here. Meanwhile, if you’re itching to get your hands on an autographed copy of this book, leave a comment below and tell me who you’ll knit a hat for (and why).

July 15th, 2013

Today sees me chatting with the delightful Carmen from the Tapgurl podcast. We talked about the book, TNNA, Queen Street and more. Thanks for a great interview, Carmen! If you’re a listener, you can post your comments below for a chance to win a copy of Big Foot Knits!

This was the first podcast I’d ever done, and to say I was nervous is a bit of an understatement. Knowing that Carmen wanted to talk about the book was a big help, but I wondered if I really had a ton of entertaining stuff to actually say! It’s one thing to talk to a live person, you can see their reaction, but an unseen future audience is another thing entirely.

I practiced for this, which took me right back to my theatre days. I had friends send me questions, I even did a mock interview with Lindsey Stephens, which was a huge help. I had notecards of all the points I wanted to talk about, just in case I drew a blank, but I was nervous and worried that I wouldn’t “do good interview”.

I don’t think I’ve “heard” my voice in many years – how would I sound? Would what I say make sense? Am I boring and monotone? Do I actually have a clue about knitting, or would it sound like I was talking out of my arse? Would I remember not to swear? I swear a lot – this was a big concern. The panic was really setting in by the time the interview rolled around.

I think I did ok, though. I know we laughed a lot, which is a good sign. We just chatted, very naturally, and my panic subsided. We talked and laughed for over 40 minutes, and really it was just like any other skype chat. I really enjoyed myself!

So, lesson learned, it’s all about a little preparation, letting my love of knitting come to the fore, and relaxing.

However it turned out, I know that I had fun, that Carmen was a delight to talk to and that I think I conducted myself in a professional manner. Can’t wait for the next one!

If you’d like to interview me for your podcast, or your blog, please use the contact form here and drop me a line!

 

July 10th, 2013

The absolute highlight of my yarn year is always TNNA – the National Needle Arts trade show.  This summer, it was held in Columbus, which is always a blast! I had three goals in mind as I travelled down. Firstly, to reconnect with friends – much like going to a giant knitting group, I always feel inspired and rejuvenated after spending time with them. Secondly, to showcase a new design, both in the booth, in the Lorna’s Laces booth, and also at the fashion show. Thirdly, to source yarns for a new collection I’ve been working on. All three were accomplished (and then some!) with the added bonus of lots of giggles, conversation and a refreshing of the creative spirit that I know will remain for a good while!

DSC01975I was lucky enough to room with the super talented Miriam Felton, who was kind enough to run a photoshoot for me, not scream when I accidentally sprayed us with a cold shower, and generally be the best of roomies! She brought home made gingersnaps and even bought me a smashing new teapot – a match made in heaven! Thanks Mims!

For me, the show is always split into two distinct components – on the floor and off the floor. As amazing as it is to see all the pretty, shiny new things on the show floor, I sometimes think I learn more, see more and do more business off the floor. Whether it’s at the incredible North Market, or the bar at the Hyatt, each and every day there is filled with amazing every time I turn around.

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The highlight of my weekend, was seeing my new pattern debut at the fashion show on Friday night. Knitted in Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace, in the new colorway, Louisville, I was humbled and proud that it got a wonderful reception.The pattern is up for sale on Ravelry, and I’ll be blogging about it later in the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel very lucky to be able to get yarn support for my design work, and this year, I had a specific collection in mind.

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First up is Titus. Created by the charming Verity, who owns two yarn stores in Yorkshire called Baa Ram Ewe, This yarn is a delicious mix of Wensleydale Longwool, BFL and Silk Alpaca. I’ve termed it sophisticated rustic – a bit of an oxymoron, but gosh, this is the softest and most beautiful of yarns. With a soft halo from the alpaca and a nostalgic homeliness, this is a delightful yarn to work with. I think  I’m equally in love with it because it’s a good Yorkshire yarn and because of the hand and colors it comes in. I can’t wait to cast on with this.

 

 

 

 

 

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Next up, I have Baah! Two skeins for the colorwork collection, and one skein just because it’s the exact same color as my hair! This is a superwash merino that has a lovely springy spin on it with strong, vibrantly dyed colors that make my heart go pittypat. I know this one will really highlight the stitches in my new design – the light just loves to bounce and play on stitches with a good merino.

 

 

 

 

 

DSC02007Here’s Anzula’s Squishy. If you haven’t played with this yarn yet, I strongly recommend finding the nearest yarn shop that carries it and literally giving it a squish. Superwash merino, cashmere and nylon create a practical yarn that is so soft and bouncy. It is such a joy to knit with, smooth and supple with a depth of color that is so visually pleasing, that I find myself stopping work and just looking at how pretty it is! As you can see, I couldn’t wait to start working with these two. Bright, pretty colors for a chid’s hat are working perfectly with my knitting technique – I’m really happy with the results.

I have so much more to share, including the book, the people, the gossip and a 3 book giveaway that is truly phenomenal! More soon!

February 28th, 2013

Yesterday was a bit of an exciting adventure as the first previews of What (else) Would Madame Defarge Knit? by Heather Ordover, hit the interweb. There are some delightful thumbnail previews up on Ravelry,  with photography by the amazing Caro Sheridan, and an interview with me. It’s smashing to be able to finally talk about my design in W(e)WMDfK?, it’s been a secret for quite a while now, and I’ve been bursting at the seams to share the pattern, my muse and the rather luscious yarn from Fiber Optic

You can read all about it here, along with a sign up for the newsletter, free patterns and all things Defarge!

If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ve also been playing around with a new design.

 

 

 

 

 

I adore knitting two color cables and twisted stitches, they’re involved enough to keep you interested, but not so difficult that they’re distracting or frustrating. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this turns out as well as I’m anticipating – it’ll be a great weekend pattern. Have you done two color cable knitting? Let me know what you thought of it.

 

February 21st, 2013

A little while ago, I was asked if I’d like to design something for the second installment of What Would Madame Defarge Knit? Of course, I jumped at the chance. I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s a great concept, I got to choose a delightful literary character and I got to work with some ridiculously beautiful yarn.

Well, that book is almost ready to hit the presses, and I can share that I have a jacket with a curious name in there. Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be able to talk more about the design, which character I chose, the essay I wrote and why it all led to an interview where I talk about the importance of treacle.

More info on W(e)WMDfK? can be found here and on the CP website

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February 21st, 2013

With a title like knitting’s essential tool, you may think that I’m talking about needles, yarn, gauge guides, stitch markers or any of the myriad of tools that we knitters and crocheters just can’t live without. Instead, I’m going to wax lyrical about the lowly sheet  of grid paper.

I’ve found over the years that I can’t knit, much less design or tech edit without it. As you can imagine, it’s marvelous for row/round counting, for charting out colorwork ideas and perhaps transposing a chart off the computer. But it really comes into it’s element when you’re working a pattern with multiple directions worked at the same time.

I used to read the pattern as I knitted. Many of us do. But how many times have you worked a section of a pattern, got to the end of it, only to read those dreaded words, “AT THE SAME TIME….”

Now, whilst I’m guilty of sometimes not reading the entire pattern before working it, I do at least read through the next two sections.

Imagine you’re working a bottom up, lacy raglan neckline. You have the lace, the sleeve decs and the neckline decs all happening pretty much at the same time.

Here’s how I’d graph out the sleeve decs – let’s say, k1, tog, every 3rd row, 6 times

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now let’s add in the lace, let’s pretend that there’s a significant lace detail every 5th row

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve added blue circles around every 5th row – see how there are two on row 15? I probably would have missed that without making a note first.

Now let’s add the neck edge. Row 12: Bind off 3 sts, this and every alt row 6 times. I’ve colored in the squares for these because there were too many circles, but you get the idea.

 

 

 

 

 

Once I’ve done this, all I have to do is the actual knitting.  I’ll know what I’m supposed to do each row, without reading the whole pattern, and I won’t get to the end and realise that I’ve missed that third set of instructions!

What about you? What is that one knitting tool that you just can’t do without?  Have you had disastrous results from not catching that pesky AT THE SAME TIME instruction?

April 3rd, 2012

Finally catching up on pattern releases – 2 went to press today and 7 more waiting in the wings.

The first is Lillianthe, a stunning pleated hat knitted in Artyarns Supermerino and Beaded Silk!

The second is Bide a cardigan I originally knitted for Rhinebeck last year. Done in AlishaGoesAround Panoply of Peacocks worsted, this topdown raglan has a deep cuff and welt and is embroidered in daisychain swirls all over the stockinette body. This is such a flattering cardi – it suits many body types and is a joy to knit

March 29th, 2012

This sample I crocheted uses the same principles of the crocodile stitch, but has a more pronounced point. I’m kinda in love with the way all the groups cluster together and how the color definition is highlighted with this kettle-dyed colorway.

Once I’d mastered the crocodile stitch and understood the basics of it’s construction, I challenged myself to come up with 10 shapes that used those same principles – the dragon scales was the first one. It’s very similar to the croc, but it’s sides are more pronounced and the point more, well, pointy. Circles and squares were next, along with triangles, hexagons, leaves and flowers. I’m kinda happy with the results, although I’m somewhat stumped at what to actually _do_ with the stitch pattern other than a scarf or an edging. Perhaps that’s all it needs to be?

 

March 29th, 2012

It seems every few months, I’m able to really buckle down and get a lot of knitting done, I blog, I tweet, I facebook and I love it. Then, life rears it’s ugly head and I have to disappear for a while.

I think this time, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just part of my natural cycle. As frustrating as it is, I’ve accepted the fact that 2 kids on the spectrum equals a lot of stress in my life which sometimes manifests as illness in me. That’s just the way it is – I’m learning to stop beating myself up about it.

I’m on an upswing right now, after a rather scary bout of Staph, which led to an amputation followed by a month in the hospital with MRSA. Not something I’d ever want to repeat. But I’m stronger every day.

Throughout my confinement – and isn’t that a wonderfully old-fashioned term? – yarn has been a constant. From the days of vapidly staring at pretty yarn through a drug-induced haze in the hospital to the revival in knitting, designing and creating that I’m experiencing now.

Before I tell you about the exciting new things that are happening at ChezBrit, I have to send out a huge thank you to my friends for being there for me, keeping me laughing and keeping me sane. Don’t think I could have done it without you, darlings – much love.

As you can probably imagine, everything I was working on before October was delayed by the four months I was out of action, which sadly includes my book Big Foot Knits (Cooperative Press, 2012) In a way, it’s a good thing, as I’ve been able to re-read it with fresh eyes and add a whole bunch of content. The book is in it’s final stages now, and should be out in May. I can’t wait to share it with you all.

A great incentive to get me up and moving is the opportunity to go to The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl in April. I’ll be teaching a couple of classes along with hosting a get-together at the Healing Coop on Saturday night. Lots of door prizes, good food, drinks and fun to be had there! Bring your knitting and come say hello if you’re in town!

On Friday night, I’ll be teaching my Crocodile Stitch and Beyond class at The Knitting Corner and Beadery and my Big Foot Knits workshop at the Healing Center on Saturday and at Slater Mill on Sunday, which is followed by the yarn crawl market place.

I can’t wait to see Traci, Bernadette, Stitchy and Alasdair! It’s going to be a wonderful weekend!

 

October 27th, 2011

Finally have my Secret Garden cardigan for sale. You can find it here on Ravelry. Hope you love it as much as I do

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