Knitting

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 89: Paula Abdul Would Be Proud

Image Details: Los Angeles by Wilson Loo Kok Lee, via Flickr.

Image Details: Los Angeles by Wilson Loo Kok Lee, via Flickr.

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Intro

This wee’s episode is a little later than planned but here nonetheless. Paula Abdul discussed the concept of two steps forward and two back. If you’ve not heard ‘Opposites Attract’ for a while, I bring it to you for your listening delight.

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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 84: Yarns From The Plain – An Interview with Nic Rudd

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Intro

This week we’re joined by the wonderful Nic Rudd of Yarns From The Plain, purveyor of lovely British hand dyed yarns and voice of the Yarns From The Plain podcast.

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Episode 83: An Interview with Helen Lockhart of Ripplescrafts

Copyright Jeni Reid

Copyright Jeni Reid

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Intro

Before I jump into my interview with the delightful Helen, I have a couple of worthwhile diversions. Firstly, do not forget about the upcoming #RewindKAL…as if you could! Join us for all the chat and bants in the Ravelry group. I also had a bit of a roadtrip this week and a little yarny gathering with Countess Ablaze, Lori from the USA and Larissa Travelknitter. Good times. I also provide you with a small geography lesson focussing on the differences between the Victorian North and New-Town Milton Keynes, as I see them.

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Episode 81: Re-Rewind

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Intro

This week I follow on from last weeks sing-along with a bit of Craig David, including a quick biograghy (for those who missed that 15 minutes of the noughties in the UK) and an eyebrow homage…

The original…

David does Bieber…

Merrion does David…

I am also giving a gentle reminder to pop along to the Shinybees Podcast Group on Ravelry for the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern giveaway. It’s not too late to get in on this Thursdays Patreon virtual knit night, sign up to $5 or more per month and you will be invited to our show and tell and get your wips out. If you love a bit of Swag, get down to the Swagporium and get your hands on an amazing new Barbie carrier, also known as a project bag.

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Episode 80: Relax

Relaxing at John F. Kennedy Park by Edson Chilundo

Relaxing at John F. Kennedy Park by Edson Chilundo via Flickr

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Intro

This week I am back to something resembling my old bouncy self and am using this platform to impart wise words about not biting off more than you can chew and ‘caning it’. Oh and chatting very enthusiastically about Zoolander. Blue Steel! Zoolander KAL anyone?? It’s all a bit sing-songy this week too.

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Episode 77: Knitting Goals

Image Details: 'Goal Awaits Game - Essaouria, Morocco by AG Gilmore, via Flickr.

Image Details: ‘Goal Awaits Game – Essaouria, Morocco by AG Gilmore, via Flickr.

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Intro

This week’s episode follows on from the excitement of preparing for the knitty events of the year to looking at what you want to achieve in your knitting this year. Lots of people are cracking out new planners and diaries, so it’s a great time to think about how to get to where you want to be in terms of improving your skills, tackling projects or trying new things.

Enablers’ Corner

Be enabled to the Nature’s Shades KAL and the TGS Vintage KAL.

Image Details: 'You are never too old to set an new goal or dream a new dream' by BK, via Flickr.

Image Details: ‘You are never too old to set an new goal or dream a new dream’ by BK, via Flickr.

How to Set Knitting Goals

1) Set goals that you find exciting and motivating. Ask yourself why achieving this goal is important to you. Knowing this will help you when the knitting gets tricky.

2) Set goals you can measure progress against. You need to know where you are starting from and where you are going to in order to measure progress. Progress is the important thing, not actually reaching the goal. You need to know how much you have improved as this will spur you on.

3) Write it down somewhere you can see it often and write it down as though it has already happened.

4) Planning, planning, planning. Go back to basics and do the work to see if what you are planning is achievable. Work out your requirements, the speed at which you know, the timeframe you have available and how much you can produce per day and ask yourself, “Is this feasible?” If not, pick something easier (or interim goal) or give yourself longer.

5) Accountability. Tell people with a vested interest in seeing you succeed what your plans are and update them often. It can be motivating having external accountability when trying to achieve goals.

Image Copyright Woolly Wormhead. Downloadable via Ravelry or available in print on website.

Image Copyright Woolly Wormhead. Downloadable via Ravelry or available in print on website.

Review: Woolly Wormhead’s ‘Painted Woolly Toppers’

The latest book from Woolly Wormhead is reviewed today on the podcast. ‘Painted Woolly Toppers’ is a collection of ten hats designed specifically for handpainted yarns and are structured to show off the very best elements of varigated colour ways.

I interviewed Woolly Wormhead in Episode 61,where she talks in detail about her approach to design.

My favourite design is Lamitra.

'Lamitra' from Painted Woolly Toppers. Image Copyright Woolly Wormhead. Downloadable from Ravelry.

‘Lamitra’ from Painted Woolly Toppers. Image Copyright Woolly Wormhead. Downloadable from Ravelry.

I enjoyed the interesting constructions (something Woolly is known for) to the designs as well as the firm embrace of crazy handpainted yarn in this book. There is also a good range of difficulty levels to the projects. The styling and photography is really appealing and extra bonus points are awarded for the shoot taking place in the Northern Quarter in Manchester.

What I would have liked to see (we have to find some areas for improvement!) is more information on the yarns. The name is there and colour way name, but there is no weight/yardage readily available. I am sure I could find this if needed, but I want to know as I am looking so I can mentally shop the stash and estimate how long the projects will take. I really liked the photography, so I would have liked more images of the projects.

Would I buy it? I will as soon as I start to knit more hats, as I just don’t knit many at the moment. It’s a great vehicle for expanding upon basic hat knitting and construction and I’m always looking for ways to use the crazy handpainted yarns I am so fond of!

Can you buy it? Yes you can, via Ravelry either as single patterns or an eBook. You can also get a hard copy of the book, along with the ebook at Woolly’s website. You’ll also find some of her free patterns available for download on her website too, so you can try them out!

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 76: Knitting Calendar

Image Details: '13 Dec 2011 - Countdown to Christmas' by John Davey, via Flickr.

Image Details: ’13 Dec 2011 – Countdown to Christmas’ by John Davey, via Flickr.

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Intro

Hello and welcome to the first episode of 2016. I hope you all enjoyed the festive period and got plenty of knitting time in!

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Episode 75: Joyeux Noel

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Image Details: ‘Esprit de Noël’ by Christophe Pinard, via Flickr.

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Intro

This week it’s a fairly pensive and reflective mini-essay to start the podcast, prompted by an email from Marguerite in Australia (who drives the biggest trains in the world – amazing!) who reminded me about the time in Africa when the power went down and my friends had an entire dead animal in their freezer, which was slowly defrosting! Sometimes at this time of year, it’s all about looking forward and rushing on to the next thing, without fully appreciating exactly how far we have come.

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