The words, they will not flow.

A large part of my work this year has been pattern designing. Off the top of my head, I can think of seven patterns which I have designed and have yet to be published. Why? Mainly because there seems to be a barrier between the knitting part of my brain and the descriptive, writing part. Look see, I’ve even forgotten the word I wanted to describe being able to transfer one’s thoughts coherently into words! Oh dear.

I am a visual learner. Charts are my jam. Give me a lace chart or a cable chart and not a lot will phase me. Written knitting instructions (unless it is as simple as “knit the next twenty five rounds”) really slow me down. By the time I’ve finished reading a line on a complex pattern, I’ve forgotten the first half!

I think that I have a similar issue with pattern writing. I would love to chart everything, publish the .pdf and say “voila! Enjoy!”. However, if I want to charge for my patterns (and on the whole I quite like earning a living!) I need to offer them as well written as I can.

I have a wonderful tech editor who can make sense of the most nonsensical sentences that I can write. In at least two of my patterns I have muddled and fudged my way through an explanation of a stitch pattern and Maria has taken them and turned them into something that people outside of my brain can understand! This skill cannot be minimised, and is all the more wonderful (and humbling!) given that English is her second language!

Currently I am preparing to publish a selection of patterns designed specifically for our new Cartref Yarn line. The idea was to have the patterns ready to sell at Wonderwool Wales when we started selling the yarn. However, life and all its accoutrements got in the way and so I am still writing the patterns.

In no small part is this a result of my brain weasels being especially nasty and derogatory so far this year. A lot of my yarny friends seem to be struggling with their own mental health this year and I can sympathise completely. Add to that the sort of brain fog which leaves me struggling to separate and order my thoughts, and this has not been conducive to lucid writing.

I’ve buckled down today though. I’ve sent two patterns to my tech editor, and I’m part way through another. Which sent me here to moan and whine at you. The pattern I am currently working on is for colourwork mittens in the Scandinavian style, but I’ve added my own influence to them. Influence isn’t the word I want; what is it? Flavour? Style? (Do I have a style?!)

The mittens use two colours of yarn; in the pattern I recommend our natural undyed and then any of the colours of Cartref Yarn that you fancy to pair with it. They would all work equally well! I have made the charts and will not be writing out line by line instructions, but by necessity there is some writing and I’m really struggling. It’s the writing equivalent of the way you talk when you’re really drunk and really tired. You go round in circles for ages to get your point across when you could have used nine words and got the job done, saving much reading time, paper and ink. Much like this blog post in fact. Meandering. That’s a good word.

Maybe it’s exhaustion. Maybe it’s the three children (and the dog) taking up so much of my brain, there’s only the tiniest bit left for logical thought. Maybe I’m not actually someone who is good with words (stick to the yarn, Jennie). Maybe it’s all the depression. Whichever one it is, while Maria is willing to plough through the pattern drafts I send her way and while ideas are struggling to get out of my brain into the bright sunshiney world I will keep trying to commit those ideas to paper. You never know, one of these days I might get the hang of it!

 

How is it May already?

In my head, the year is in the form of a clock. I’ve always visualised the year like this, for as long as I can remember. However, sometimes my calendar-clock lets me down.

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For instance, here we are now at approximately 26 minutes past 2019. In my brain, it’s about ten to 2019, or 2018:50 if you will. This is very problematical when I’m working to longer range deadlines. As you can imagine, I am continually being shocked by time having moved more swiftly than my brain can compute!

Since I last wrote here, lots has changed. We got a dog! Her name is Molly and she is half poodle, half Golden Retriever and is a beloved addition to the family.img_20190504_192432817839970868862274483.jpg She has been featuring quite regularly on my Instagram account if you follow me there. Also, I am now the mother of an official adult. My oldest turned eighteen at the start of April and, to reinforce the point, he received his first polling card through the post yesterday!

In business news, Work-Wife Zoë and I have launched a whole new yarn line! This accounts for my radio silence over here, as the first few months of this year were largely spent on writing patterns and creating colourways. All of which were a secret until after Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March, which was the arbitrary date we had given ourselves to tell the world about Cartref Yarn. I’m really proud of this yarn. It is 100% Welsh, the fleece having been sourced in Wales, then gone through a Welsh mill to produce the final gorgeous yarn. We then brought it home to Cardiff and Barry Island and dyed it here. It hasn’t yet crossed a border, with the exception for a few trial miniskeins that we sent out for review! That yarn will be launching online next Friday, so if you like a proper woolly wool, please have a look at our website and our Instagram account.

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I know a lot of you enjoy the vlogs that Zoë produces about our trips away, so you’ll be glad to hear that there’s one for our recent trip to Wonderwool Wales. The usual shenanigans and tomfoolery can be expected!

Finally, I’m in the midst of planning a lovely big shop update for next Saturday evening. I’ll be sending out a newsletter to announce the exact time once I’m confident I can get all of the pictures taken and listings written!

Summer holidays

When I left school, I really thought that my life would start following a cycle of a calendar year rather than an academic one. However, what I didn’t account for was becoming a parent and my year being inextricably linked with that of my children for an (as yet) undetermined amount of time! And so, a new year is about to begin. My three children have all had their long summer holiday, during which we have managed to do both too much and yet not quite enough.

What I’m referring to is the working parent’s guilt. Of course I’ve spent time with my children, had a little holiday, gone on the odd day trip, had movie afternoons and surprise ice cream excursions. And so not a lot has happened at work because of the lack of continuity and shortened working hours. And yet there is also that guilty feeling of not quite having spent enough time with my children. The questions arise in my brain about whether I should shut down entirely in school holidays, devote myself entirely to them. But that’s not how business works, that’s not how the world works and so we muddle on through.

We’ve had a lovely holiday to Yorkshire, dropped by Nottingham and Wollaton Hall on the way home and had lunch in Sherwood Forest! There was lots of knitting time on our various journeys and while we relaxed in our wooden lodge on the North Yorkshire moors, so I did a bit of pattern designing for the upcoming knitting retreat in October and I knitted gift socks too.

Speaking of the knitting retreat, Zoe and I have found time (somehow! In between catering for the 6 children that we have between us!) to launch and sell almost all the places at our second knitting retreat which will be in Stratford-Upon-Avon next June. The third retreat (back in Cardiff for October 2019) is in the planning stages and we have some very exciting tutors lined up!

I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of shop updates over the holidays with batts entering my shop for the first time, along with a great big wodge of gorgeous DK yarns, self striping sock yarns and gradients.

There has been other behind-the-scenes work going on, like show applications for next year, pattern designing (I have four patterns that will be coming out in the next couple of months!), stock planning and kit planning – I’ve got at least two and maybe three kit ideas in my head, one of which I plan to release this autumn, so keep your eyes peeled! I’ve been very much like a swan (minus the elegance and beauty) with not much to see but lots of work going on under the surface!

So, it’s back to school week. New uniforms have been acquired, I’ve sold a spare kidney to pay for shoes, transport has (almost) been sorted out (don’t ask, it’s a very long story!) and by the end of the week all three kids will be out for at least six hours a day and my working routine can re-emerge from the summer haze.

But first, gin!

 

Hot Right Now – their shawls and my yarns!

If you are a member of Ravelry you are probably familiar with the Hot Right Now pattern list. I decided it would be fun to look at some of the patterns in that list and see if I could pair them with some suggested yarns from my shop. For this blog post I am looking at shawl patterns.

Frosting by April Reis looks to be a wonderful pattern for variegated yarns. Its garter stitch construction and reversible cable edging would mean that you could pick any multi colour yarn and enjoy the knit and the look of the colours all progressing. And that tassel has to be great for fiddling with, right?!

Les Amis Shawlette by Nona Davenport is right up my alley for the sort of shawl I enjoy wearing. It calls for just one skein of 4ply/fingering weight yarn (perfect!) and is almost a cowl in that, as far as I can see, it is worked in the round for a certain amount of time and the designer mentions pulling it over your head for ease of wearing. So no shawl ends disappearing off at the first gust of wind!

The designer recommends solids or speckles. How about one of these from my shop?

Artesian by Romi Hill is another gorgeous pattern. This has been out for a few years now but is still popular on Ravelry so you might have come across it before. I think I’d enjoy knitting this from a gradient or a yarn with long colour changes. I love the geometric lace panels too.

Reyna by Noora Laivola would be another good choice to show off some variegated yarn. With the alternating mesh lace and solid panels it is enough of a pattern to keep your interest whilst showing off your multicoloured yarns! I would knit this in a bright yarn I think, but then you might have guessed I’m not much of a one for neutrals!

Finally, Bark Lines from the very talented Joji Locatelli would look good in a whole variety of yarns. My personal preference for this would be a tonal colourway. And probably purple because I gravitate towards purples every time! Do you have a dominating colour in your yarn collection?

So, that was my first collection of patterns and yarns which I hope has inspired you! Next week I will be publishing a post about garments which call for 4ply/fingering weight yarns and doing some yarn matching there too.

All photos are copyright of the designer unless otherwise specified. Please go and buy one or all of these patterns to support terrific indie designers!

Spanglish Socks are coming!

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My new sock pattern will be released this week! Now that I have uploaded all my new yarn colourways into the shop I can focus on something else for a little while. This sock pattern has been tech edited and test knitted, and I’m so very grateful to all my wonderful test knitters! It was lovely to see such a range of yarn colours knitting up my pattern.

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Socks knitted by (from l to r) Lilangelsg2, Cailleach412 and annele76 (Ravelry names)

Spanglish Socks will be released on Friday 25th May and for the first week of release you can buy the pattern with a 50% discount, no code needed at the Ravelry checkout. Going forward the pattern will also be available in my own Etsy shop and on LoveKnitting.com but the initial discount will only be available in Ravelry.

All of the lovely yarn!

If you are on my newsletter list or follow me on Instagram you will have seen that I had a bumper shop update last Friday. Seriously, it was huge! I hadn’t put yarn in the shop for aaaages, and so I had so many new colourways to upload it was a little overwhelming!

Anyway, the shop update went well and the first bundle of packages went out yesterday. This week I’ve been thinking about which of my yarns would work well in popular patterns. I’ll be writing a special blog post about my thoughts very soon.

My next shop update will be full of project bags and (if I have enough time for all the photos and writing!) stitch markers. I have oodles of new bags and marker sets which I made for Wonderwool and Wool@J13, so there will be plenty to tempt everyone in that update!

In knitting news I’m still plugging away on my Angelus Novus Cardigan. I think I’m about half way through the triangle which will form most of the back and part of the front of the cardigan. It’s such an interesting construction, I’m really looking forward to the next part just to see how it works! I’m using my own DK yarn in a whoopsie colourway – it was supposed to be my “Erin” colourway except the purple came out far too dark and so I decided that it needed to live with me forever! Oh darn! I’m really glad that we’re doing this Renee Callahan knitalong in our Knit-Tea Retreat group because I don’t think I would have made myself find time to knit this otherwise, and I’m loving it so far.

In non-knitting news, I’m determined to conquer the garden this year. I have sadly neglected it for the last couple of years due to a combination of bad weather and being very busy elsewhere, but I would love to have a colourful oasis to retreat into when the weather is good enough. So, I’ve decided to go out and work on it, just for half an hour each day to start, to try to regain some sort of order in the chaos. I battled some brambles on Sunday and as a consequence I currently look like a feral cat has attacked my arms. However, it’ll all be worth it in the end!

My next show is…Craft4Crafters at Exeter Westpoint

In a few short weeks, from the 15th to 17th February I will be exhibiting at Craft4Crafters in the Westpoint Arena in Exeter. I’m excited and nervous as I’ve not been to any multi-craft shows as a trader, so I’m not sure whether that means that the customers will want different things compared to the ‘normal’ yarn shows I vend at. Plus, this is a three day show and I’ve only ever done one or two day shows before.

I have some tickets up for grabs, very kindly provided by the organisers of Craft4Crafters so, if you’d be interested in getting your hands on a pair, keep your eyes and ears open. I’m most likely to announce that on my podcast first, although I’m sure I’d make a note on Ravelry and Instagram as well.

I’m right in the middle of my preparations at the moment. Lists have been made, stock has been taken (as in I’ve done a stock take, not suffered a burglary, touch wood!) and a tentative show prep diary has been laid out. I have oodles of gorgeous fibre to dye, and bundles of yarns clamouring for colour. Zoe and I are planning on opening pre-orders for a new kit at about the same time as the show and so I’ll need to prepare my samples ready to have on show. Plus I have to make all the other fun things that I make like the microskein earrings, stitch markers, progress keepers, project bags, miniskeins etc. Suffice to say, I’ll have plenty to keep me busy over the next four or five weeks!

One thing that I will need to do is draw up a rough stall plan sometime soon. My stall doesn’t vary hugely from show to show but there are always slight differences in the space I’m allowed to inhabit, and it will make set up so much faster if I can have a layout in mind before we get there. It saves me sitting on the floor in a flat spin trying to work out how to organise my display furniture!