Month: April 2018

Ep109 – Hidden Heels with Mitch of Surfing Ducks

Are you going to Woollinn?

Woollinn will be taking place in Dublin on 25th-27th May 2018. I’m venturing over there on a blue and white winged chariot for the event and I would love to meet as many listeners as possible. Please let me know if you will be attending.

Also, there is a great line up of vendors including dear friends of the podcast Countess Ablaze, Travelknitter and The Little Grey Girl.

There’s also spaces left in the workshop schedule, which has some great, big name teachers offering workshops including the likes of Woolly Wormhead, Karie Westermann, Nancy Marchant, Carol Feller, Isabel Kraemer, Justyna Lorkowska and the ever fabulous Nathan Taylor.

Kate Davies will be travelling over from Scotland to give a reading and presentation on her latest book, Handywoman.

Find out all you need to know at the Woollinn website.

#HiddenHeels – Mitch of Surfing Ducks

Mitch of Surfing Ducks is my guest on the podcast this week, where we discuss a plethora of things that spiral slightly out of control and end somewhere around knitted, transferable ‘tramp stamps.’


Day of the Dead Socks by Surfing Ducks


Mitch designs sock patterns with a particular twist; every heel flap is adorned with a quirky design. This led to the brand developing into an almost secret society under the #HiddenHeels theme. The idea is you can have these socks on, and have a heel that is usually hidden from view, but then is brought out on show at exactly the right moment. This moment may well be to secure access to some underground speakeasy with a gin urn.

Mitch is several patterns in now (more have been added since this interview was recorded a few months ago) and each time a new one is released, there is a badge to go along with it. Be one of the first to finish and share pictures of your #HiddenHeels design and collect your limited edition badge.

I don’t know about you, but I want all those badges.

Balancing a day job with designing

We also discuss how Mitch balances her design work against her demanding day job. She began her foray back into socks a couple of years ago after previously finding them difficult. A chance meeting with the lovely Christine Perry of Winwick Mum at Sirdar led to her catching the bug again, thanks to Christine’s infectious enthusiasm for the medium of socks.

Mitch had also worked in customer support for a large online retailer and was the pattern support specialist. Through the experience, she was able to gather lots of knowledge and learn exactly what sort of thing trip knitters up when knitting a pattern, and has been able to bring all that to her design work. Her aim is to make knitting easy, and each of her designs adds one new technique, to ease the knitter into developing their skills in an easy feeling way.

Although her patterns look complicated, only the small heel canvas contains the colour changing. Because it is so small, it can be a great way to introduce techniques without it feeling too overwhelming. Brand new sock knitters have knit several of her patterns and had success, so if you are even a little bit intrigued, chances are you will be able to do them.

For her design work, Mitch uses Stitchmastery and Stitch Fiddle (snigger) although she also advocates Excel as useful for charts.

All of her patterns are available via Ravelry, and there are plans to produce ebooks of the collections at a later stage. Mitch is already teaching sock knitting and would love to do more of this as her business expands.

You can find Mitch at and all her patterns on Ravelry.


Ep108 – Speckled Yarn – So Hot? Or So Not?

Speckled Yarn – So Hot Right Now? A Hot Potato?

Speckled yarn is the marmite of the knitting world right now. Outrageously popular, thanks to patronage by the likes of Stephen West and Andrea Mowry, speckles are so hot right now. Or are they?

What Do The Shinybees Community Think About Speckled Yarn?

A straw poll of hardcore Shinybees listeners suggested a 66/33 split between Hot and Not. A lot of people expressed speckles as being something you need to be in the mood for. Generally though, there was an overall mad-for-the-speckles feeling amongst respondents.

What Are Speckled Yarns?

But what are speckled yarns, I hear you cry? (Where have you been?)

These are colour ways that are dyed onto yarn that is a majority of one main colour, with random spots, splodges and flecks of other (often multiple) colours on top.

This can be achieved using a variety of different methods, and differs from variegated yarn in that the colours are more randomly spaced and generally shorter lengths.

Who are your favourite speckled yarn dyers and designers who create great patterns for these tricky to use yarns?

Also in this episode I give you a quick catch up of where I have been hiding for a year and also what you can expect from the podcast going forward.

Spoiler: I am in camp Not 🙂

Mentioned in this episode

Interview with Stephen West
Travelknitter for red yarns
Shinybees Podcast Community Group