Interviews

Ep 132 – Stolen Stitches with Carol Feller

Carol Feller joins me on the show this week, sharing her journey into knitwear design. Carol Feller (StolenStiches.com) is a designer, teacher, and author living in Cork, Ireland. She has published almost 270 patterns and 7 books, including Short Row Knits (Pottercraft) and Contemporary Irish Knits (Wiley), and is a popular instructor on Craftsy.com with almost 400,000 students. She regularly teaches at yarn shops, fibre festivals, knitting retreats and tours, covering a wide variety of basic and advanced skills including chart reading, garment shaping, short rows, cables, and colourwork. Carol first learned to knit in primary school, and there is a strong history of crafting in her family. In university, she trained as a textile artist, and then as a structural engineer. Both of these backgrounds influence her work, which uses innovative construction methods to create well-shaped and flattering objects that are intuitive and enjoyable to knit, and that make the most out of carefully chosen yarns. She strives to help knitters create beautiful and unique products that they will love to use.

Getting into Knitting

Carol came back to knitting after children, having first learned as a child. In this episode, she mentions how her aunt had imported yarn into Dublin when she was young, and then how she had found her way back into knitting. This Is Knit, a knitting shop in Dublin, played a part in this. Carol first began to experiment with her knitting, before moving into full on designing, with her first published pattern in Knitty coming around a year after she started.

Image Copyright Joseph Feller

Online Business in the Days of Dial Up

Carol’s first online business was a forum, during the days of dial up Internet, so she has seen platforms and social media apps come and go. Although the first business was not knitting related, she learned a great deal from the experience, which she put into good use in the design business. She credits Ravelry with helping her to get her patterns out into the world initially, although she does host and see patterns, books and yarn through her own site, Stolen Stitches.

Teaching Knitting

Carol shares her knowledge with regards to teaching in this episode, particularly the use of knitalongs to motivate and teach people how to create specific objects. They can be especially useful when the garment has unusual construction, and Carol advocates a phased approach to releasing the clues/pattern so that the slower knitters have more chance to keep up. This staggered release usually means that the more experienced knitters tend to help the newer ones, which means they don’t feel left behind, and everyone has more fun moving through the pattern as a team.

Image Copyright Joseph Feller

Design as Art and Science

Carol draws upon her background as a textile artist and a structural engineer in creating her designs, which leads to interesting patterns that are fun to knit and great to wear.

Travel and Teaching

Carol travels and teaches worldwide, as well as hosting retreats and workshops more locally with Irish Tourism. She will be hosting retreats in Ireland in 2019, with workshops at her new studio space in Cork.

She is also hosting a number of knitalongs this year for both garments and accessories, with the first one, the Ice Cloud MKAL, starting in January.

Where to find Carol Feller online

You can find all the links for Carol at Stolen Stitches and her blog at Carol Feller.

Music by Adam and the Walter Boys with ‘I Need a Drink’ available via iTunes.

Ep 120 – Rusty Ferret with Leona Jayne of Fluph

Leona Jayne Page, Rusty Ferret Dyer and owner of Fluph in Dundee

It’s a chatty and fun episode today with the enigmatic Leona Jayne Page of Rusty Ferret/Fluph. Voted back onto the show as a guest for the second time, Leona tells us about how she moved from yarn shop owner into hand dyer. You can hear the first appearance by Leona on the show in this episode, where she talks about moving from forensic psychobiology to yarn.

Rusty Ferret

Who is Rusty Ferret?

Rusty Ferret was, when we last met Leona, in the closet as a ‘local dyer’. Well, the worst kept secret in knitting was uncovered. Leona was revealed as the dyer behind Rusty Ferret. Rusty is a steampunk gentleman and Leona is kind of his handler. Inspiration for her colour ways is found everywhere. Leona has a particular love for the saturated and neon colours.

Much excitement ensued at the news of subscription boxes and new yarn lines. Polwarth is championed as one of the yarn bases Leona stocks. She described in detail how she came to decide to use this particular fibre, and its benefits for both dyeing and creating garments.

Rusty Ferret Yarn

Image Copyright Leona Jayne Page.

Since the last episode, Leona married her now husband Mark. Never one to be shy and retiring, here she is rocking the sequins on the big day.

Leona does Wedding Chic. Image Copyright Leona Jayne Page.

DPNs vs Magic Loop, Commercial Yarns vs Hand Dyed Yarns

We cover a number of other topics in this episode. Commercial yarns sparked some debate, as whilst they are affordable and uniform, I consider them to be a little bit boring. DPNs vs magic loop for knitting in the round had leona and I on opposing sides of the fence. I like DPNs! The economics of Primark clothing was another topic covered. Ever fancied getting into Art School? Leona has the scoop on that, too. Apparently it’s all about being able to do ‘mark making’, and doesn’t require the ability to actually draw.

Fluph Rusty Ferret Minis

You can find everything about Leona at http://www.fluph.co.uk

Music for this episode is used with kind permission of Adam and the Walter Boys, with ‘I Need a Drink’, available via iTunes.

Ep 116 – Return to Shetland with Susan Crawford

Susan Crawford of Susan Crawford Vintage joins me this week and we take a journey through the past three years since Ep55. In that episode, Susan talked about the Pubslush (crowdfunded publishing) campaign she was undertaking to print pre-orders of the book. She also described at length, the painstaking process she had been through the research and create the Vintage Shetland Project.

Podcast Episode Trailer

Vintage Shetland Project book cover. Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

This involved researching at length pieces in the Shetland Museum archives, along with the stories of the people behind the pieces. It is a social and historical exploration of the Shetland Islands and beyond, as the stories stretch far away from those shores. A computer program was written to record each stitch of each project meticulously, and these details were used to create patterns to recreate these pieces in the modern day, in a range of sizes, for men and women. You can hear the full story of this here, along with more about Susan and her journey to becoming a knitting historian, writer and knitwear designer.

On location at the Vintage Shetland Project photoshoot on Vaila, Shetland Islands.
Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

The Vintage Shetland Project

The Vintage Shetland Project was officially published in February 2018. The culmination of 8 years of painstaking work, the book is an absolute triumph, both as an academic work, but also as Susan was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer just prior to the original planned publication date.

To quote from the blurb on the Vintage Shetland Project book:

Fashion & social history intertwine in the Vintage Shetland Project as Susan Crawford recreates & explores cherished pieces from Shetland’s rich knitting heritage.

The Vintage Shetland Project, is the culmination of eight years of hard work and personal determination. Inspired by the patterns and colours of Shetland knitting, the fashion historian, author, designer and publisher Susan Crawford began a journey into the rich heritage of Shetland knitwear, and in particular the pieces held in the Shetland Museum archive. With the help of Dr Carol Christiansen, the museum’s curator, Susan undertook the task of carefully selecting the most stunning and original designs from the 1920s to the 1950s, transcribed them stitch by stitch, and has here recreated them for the modern knitter, in stunning detail and a range of sizes for women and men. In combination with the collection of 27 comprehensive patterns for garments and accessories are carefully researched essays exploring the stories behind each piece and honouring their creators – some famous, some forgotten. Photographed by Susan on the island of Vaila, situated off the west coast of Shetland, this book also celebrates the untameable beauty of Shetland itself. Compiled with Susan’s trademark attention to detail, this book is a fabulous treasury of Shetland knitting design and a valuable insight into its textile traditions. It offers you the chance to delve into a fascinating era for knitwear design and to bring it to life in stitch-perfect vintage style.

The meticulously written patterns showcase Susan’s new yarn range, Fenella, created specifically to enable you, the knitter, to perfectly recreate these unique museum pieces. Made using 100% British wool, grown, spun and dyed in Britain, in a range of 26 colours carefully chosen to emulate the shades found in the original vintage pieces.
The Vintage Shetland Project is a celebration of stunning design, beautiful knitting and the people of Shetland themselves, during a time of local change, international conflict and revolution in the knitting industry.

Yule – Vintage Shetland Project. Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

In this episode we talk about the realisation of the Vintage Shetland Project into its paper form, and discuss a few of the amazing stories that have come out as a result of this research. This includes a hitherto forgotten knitting historian from 1930, whose work was destined to be lost forever until this project and a daring WW2 pilot, who believed the Fair Isle sweaters knitted by his doting Aunt kept him safe from the Luftwaffe.

Inside the Knocker Jotter. Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

The Knocker Jotter

Next, Susan talked about another project, connected to her diagnosis: The Knocker Jotter. Susan was very open about the details of her journey through cancer. The Knocker Jotter was a creative project, that came about with members of her cancer support group, and was very empowering for the women involved. It involved a photoshoot of all the women, as they are following cancer; all the way from undergoing chemotherapy to a full, double mastectomy without reconstruction. These images were combined in The Knocker Jotter.

FUBC Shawl in the Victoria and Natural colour combination, modelled by Victoria, who inspired the colour way.
Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

FUBC Shawl

Susan also created the FUBC kit, which is a shawl kit that was launched to celebrate the end of Susan’s breast cancer treatment. This included two skeins of Ghyll yarn, one of which was a limited edition colour by one of four of her favourite hand dyers, the other undyed, and two different shawl patterns which combined the two colour ways. £15 from the sale of each kit is donated to Cancer Care, which was the charity which helped Susan during her illness.

One of the glorious views at Monkey Ghyll Farm.

Future Plans for Monkey Ghyll Farm and Susan Crawford Vintage

Finally we return to the present, with exciting plans for Monkley Ghyll Farm. There are naughty Shetland sheep, retreats, workshops and jam and gin on the horizon. Susan has a vision for turning the farm into a creative sanctuary, and sharing this special location with others.

You can find Susan at http://www.susancrawfordvintage.com

Music for this episode is ‘I Need a Drink’ by Adam and the Walter Boys and is available on iTunes.

Episode 100: The Great Shinybees Hexipuff Amnesty

Intro

Here we are folks and who’d have thunk it: A tonne! From my South African garage to my Wigan spare bedroom – with a couple of amazing awards in between – over the course of 4 years.  A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you for all the support.

A couple of shout outs today:

GiffnockGirl – loving the pokeballs after our pattern pick last time. Though I am lamenting the lack of Pikachu man bun covers. I can only assume you are all out seeking perfect models for them and I can expect those photos shortly.

Chelociraptor – I always enjoy some fun crochet patterns and burgers are no different.

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Episode 96: This Thing of Paper – An Interview with Karie Westermann

Intro

Straight into the news this week as I have so much of it. Firstly, I want to thank you all for your wonderful positive feedback on last week’s episode and my time with Countess Ablaze. A lot of the feedback was around how well she copes with her autism, and how it doesn’t stop her from doing what she wants to do. We have both appreciated it very much, you are all lovely people.

If you would like some of our crazy Orange Mocha Frappuccino, the bad news is that the batch we dyed completely sold out to newsletter subscribers in two hours. [Fortunately for us, The Countess (despite being in incredibly high demand) has kindly agreed to do a very small number of pre-orders for those of you who missed out. You can pre-order the yarn here until the limit is reached or 20th June, whichever is earliest. Dispatch will be 1st July. Edited: This is now totally sold out. Thank you!

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Episode 95: Orange Mocha Frappucino with Countess Ablaze

 

Intro

Hola everyone, I am back from my ‘holiday’. Don’t let the flippant Spanish there throw you off, I’ve not been anywhere and haven’t even had time to knit! In fact I’m still knitting the lace panel for #RewindKAL. Been very busy with other things and Casa Shiny is like a madhouse as usual and that’s taking up much of my headspace. A couple of important points to note before we get down to the good stuff (and it really is good today):

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Episode 92: Midwinter Yarns – An Interview with Estelle Faust

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Intro

I am delighted to welcome Estelle this week. I always enjoy the Midwinter Yarns stalls and particularly their banter so I was thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed on the show…twice. For those who are not familiar with them they are into traditional, robust yarn but with a modern style – very Scandi.

Fair warning, there is a small amount of cake/pastry chat today.

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Episode 90: Curious Handmade- An interview with Helen Stewart

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Intro

So first things first, my mental and yet fabulous (obviously) assistant LJ is running the London marathon this weekend. She has broken her arse as a result of yarn fumes, sort of, so listen in for the full comedy breakdown of the incident. If you should take pity on the poor maniac then you can sponsor her here. As promised here is a little snap of her and what she will look like on the day in case you happen to be around and want to cheer her on in her sorry state! Good luck LJ!

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I feel sorry for her already…

Interview

The lovely Helen had a very crafty upbringing in Queensland, complete with Macrame and all. How could she not grow up to be a creative soul? At the age of 25 she upped sticks after catching the travel bug and ended up here in the UK. She began knitting again as she was living in London (and it’s cold innit?) The growth of her hobby began as her friend asked her for a contribution to her pattern book, though it was after the publication of her Afternoon Tea Shawl pattern in Knitty magazine that she began to feel more recognition and believe that this may be something she would like to focus on. After having her second child she wasn’t loving corporate work the same way and wanted something flexible to fit around the children and having them gave her the push she needed to start her own business, something she never dreamt she would do. One of the least likely elements of her business is her podcast, given that she is quite shy. Her husband says it works for her as it creates a community and allows her to talk with people without actually having to meet them. Helen feels it is an excellent springboard into friendships and makes things easier when you do meet face to face. Clearly it is a good thing she took that leap – Helen’s career high is winning the UK Podcast Awards ‘Best Hobby Podcast’ last year.

Afternoon Tea Shawl c) Helen Stewart

Afternoon Tea Shawl c) Helen Stewart

There is no fixed pattern to Helen’s day, other than the drop off, work for 6 manic hours and then pick up – familiar to all us working mums. Given that her business is so varied, with many elements, her days are never the same, though having a podcast to do gives her some structure each week. Posh coffees also have a pivotal role. Another varies aspect of Helen’s life is her creative process. It will often begin with a colourful yarn she finds that sparks her interest and then she will look for a theme, however vague, that she can use to try and tie different pieces together. She likes a good swatch and some designs are quick and easy but some take an entire shawl’s worth of swatching. It can be a time consuming process but, thankfully, one that she greatly enjoys.

With the words ‘no journey is a smooth one’ ringing in her ears Helen gives a cautionary tale of what happens when you don’t allow yourself the time you need. Early in her career she submitted an idea to a magazine with a very tight deadline. It didn’t work as she was inexperienced and ambitious but had a trip planned and due to unforeseen circumstances got held up on the other side of the world. She submitted work that she wasn’t happy with and ended up with it not being published. The message Helen hopes we all get from this is to be patient, respect yourself and your process and give yourself the time you need. An excellent learning experience for all of us, thank you for sharing Helen.

Pebble Beach Shawl c) Helen Stewart

Pebble Beach Shawl c) Helen Stewart

If Helen could go back and talk to her pre-yarny self she would stress the importance of unpicking and fixing your mistakes immediately. It won’t magically disappear by itself and it’s easier to only unpick one row. You also need to get straight back on it, don’t throw it to one side in a hissy fit like I do, basically. One big message from this interview is to be patient. That is the main bit of advice Helen would give someone looking to enter this business world as it takes years to become a success. Since we’re an impatient bunch (sorry, Helen) I asked what’s next for Curious Handmade and was thrilled to hear that there is a new shawl collection in the pipeline that may even become a club. You can find Helen at www.curioushandmade.com and all the wonderful links from there. The podcast is available at Stitcher and Itunes.

Wrap Up

That’s all from me this week. As always, thank you for listening. Feedback is always appreciated, and you can email me or message me via Ravelry or social media. If you enjoyed listening today, please consider leaving an iTunes review, to help others find the podcast too. Happy crafting!

Episode 88: The Wool Kitchen – An Interview with Helen Reed

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Intro

A short intro this week as the old croaky voice is threatening a return. This week I am thrilled to bring you the other half of my Best in Show EYF winning double act – Helen from The Wool Kitchen. She is from the wrong side of the Pennines but a good Northener nonetheless and is responsible for my breaking of the ‘no 4 ply purchasing’ self inflicted rule for EYF. Her love of colour gets me every time…

Interview

Helen follows the classic pattern of a knitter – her mum taught her all she knows! She was a knitter, mainly of scarves, until her first pregnancy, when she started to knit clothes for the impending arrival. It was during this time that she realised she could read patterns and immediately have the 3D image of what it could be. Her love of bright colours and her interest in how a piece of string can be manipulated into different patterns and paired with other colours is what fuelled her desire to dye. She is a self confessed geek.

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Episode 87: Travelknitter- An Interview with Larissa

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Intro

I hope we are all enjoying the change in weather…she says whilst looking at today’s snow. Before we get going I will take the opportunity to let you all know that you can still join the #RewindKAL. There is no pressure, you can join in with whatever you choose and just take your time, Lord knows that I am. I am also excited to say that I am on the wonderful Yarn in The City podcast this week with Rachel and Allison. I like a little mini enabling, so if you haven’t heard them before but you like this show I’m sure you’ll appreciate them too. You may remember an interview they did on the show in July last year.

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