Interview

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.’

Yes…

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 http://www.surfingducks.com and all her patterns on Ravelry.

 

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 90: Curious Handmade- An interview with Helen Stewart

ep90 promo

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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!

ep90 me

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 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 79: OwlPrintPanda – An Interview with Amanda B Collins

Ep79 promo

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Intro

This week I very warmly, if somewhat gruffly, welcome Amanda on to the show for an interview. Having previously enabled you to her new collection I was delighted to see more of her work on the front cover on Knit Now magazine. Enjoy some slight sidelines and finding out more about Amanda, her Fiat and lots of dodgy eyelash yarn chat.

Copyright OwlPrintPanda

Copyright OwlPrintPanda

Interview

We start as we mean to go on with a mildly comedic journey through needle felt, crochet blanket magazines, to Amanda’s discovery of Ravelry and her subsequent adventures with spinning wheels before her hobby becoming a business. The release of her first pattern, and it’s popularity on Ravelry, spurred her on and gave her the encouragement she needed to keep going…mostly in orange. Although it’s not a full time profession for Amanda, it is certainly a big part of her life and slots in at the end of her hard working days as a Doctor.

Copyright OwlPrintPanda

Copyright OwlPrintPanda

 

Amanda talks us through her design process. It mainly involves pinterest boards and a quick swatch, though she is not set in one particular method and enjoys taking a more relaxed and ‘haphazard’ approach. That keeps it from feeling a chore for her and keeps things different. No journey is ever a smooth one but there have been no major lessons or terrible experiences for Amanda, just the usual ‘too much yarn, too little time’ and some problems with the space/time continuum. Perhaps some errors and some questionable taste in hot water bottles, tea cosies and cheap yarn…by both of us…

As Autumn Falls, copyright OwlPrintPanda

As Autumn Falls, copyright OwlPrintPanda

 

Amanda’s highlight is the meeting of the lovely yarny community at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. The realisation that she is a big part of the community and the opportunity to meet some of you lovely lot face to face really pleased her greatly. Amanda also talked honestly about the tremendous excitement at having your first submission accepted and the validation of your work. She is also a lover of Ravelry (who isn’t?) and joins the rest of us in wondering how anyone ever got by in the pre-Ravelry world and serious envy of those who discovered it before. The most valuable lesson – Remember that you do this because you love it, keep loving it.

 

Copyright OwlPrintPanda

Fearlas Mor, Copyright OwlPrintPanda

 

Some controversy – socks in bed? Discuss.

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 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 72: An Interview with Alice Elsworth of Whistlebare Yarns

Alice Whistlebare

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Intro

This week we welcome back Alice Elsworth of Whistlebare Yarns in Northumberland for our entrepreneur interview. Having given us loads of great mohair knowledge in episode 69, I can’t wait for you to hear all about life on the farm.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

Image Copyright Whistlebare Yarns.

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Episode 70: An Interview With Boo Knits

Image Copyright Boo Knits

Image Copyright Boo Knits

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Intro

This week I am delighted to bring Bev aka Boo Knits onto the show for an interview! After knitting her Out of Darkness pattern – known to listeners of the show as the ‘Shawl of Awesome’- I was keen to chat to her and hear about her journey into designing and what inspires her.

Interview

Bev’s journey into design was quite by accident, when she could not find the right pattern for a precious skein of Fyberspates Faery Wings, and decided to create her own. The first pattern was enthusiastically received and people began to ask when the next would be coming out. Her husband suggested this could be a good way to pay for her yarn, so she decided to pursue the opportunity.

A lover of high quality and hand dyed yarns, Bev advocates knitting only with what you truly love and paying the extra couple of pounds to have what you really want. In terms of dyers, Lichtfaden and Hedgehog Fibres are current favourites.

You can find Bev on Ravelry and be welcomed into the friendly and active Boo Knits group.

Giveaway

Bev has very kindly donated three prizes to a giveaway palooza: a complete pattern collection and two single patterns. In order to enter, pop over to the group on Ravelry and leave a comment saying which is your favourite Boo Knits pattern.

'Be With You' by Boo Knits. Image Copyright Boo Knits.

‘Be With You’ by Boo Knits. Image Copyright Boo Knits.

Beadalong

There’s still plenty of time to take part in the #beadalong – you can find details on Ravelry here.

Wrap-Up

I’m running a listener survey. Please go here and let me know what you’d like to see from the podcast!

Also, I’ve started a mailing list. You can sign up here and I’ll send you all the latest podcast news, along with the occasional comedy dog in knitwear.

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 69: Man Socks

Image Details: 'Lace Shawl #4' by Gina de Villiers, via Flickr.

Image Details: ‘Lace Shawl #4’ by Gina de Villiers, via Flickr.

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Intro

Hello and welcome to episode 69 of the podcast, from a new location, in England! This week, there’s a bit of chatter about moving house – again – and the calamities that come with that. Jo catchup complete, there is a plan afoot to visit Countess Ablaze at her studio on Swinton on 5th December 2015. All welcome, but please let me know if you are coming, so I can give the good lady Countess notice of numbers. If you can’t make it, I strongly encourage you to check out her shop online.

Socks for Men

Rachel Coopey rejoins us for some chatter about socks for men – for those who knit for men and those who are men who knit. Colour-wise, it’s all about asking what is appropriate for a non-surprise recipient and doing some detective work for those who don’t know they are being knit for.

Self-patterning yarns are a good option for maintaining the interest in a plain stockinette stitch sock for those who are well endowed in the foot department. Also, consider buying 150g of yarn (3 x 50g skeins) to ensure you have enough yarn without getting stuck with large amounts of leftovers.

Listener Q&A with Alice Elsworth of Whistlebare Yarns in Northumberland on Mohair

Thank you to all the listeners that sent in questions regarding mohair yarns and use thereof for knitting and other things. Alice covers why mohair isn’t itchy these days, spinning techniques, uses of different age of mohair amongst other topics.

Beadalong

Want to try your hand at beaded knitting? Step into the #beadalong.

Sign up in the thread on Ravelry and pop over to the chat thread to take part in the beaded fun.

Cast on will take place on 16th November 2015 at 8:30pm live on Periscope with me (@Shinybees).

The KAL/CAL will med on 10th Jan 2016.

Patterns for the KAL are as follows:

Kunye by Clare Devine.

The Kunye Shawl, Designed by Clare Devine for TGSONEKAL and modelled by the fabulour Jess of Ginger Twist Studio.  Image Copyright Clare Devine, All Rights Reserved.

The Kunye Shawl, Designed by Clare Devine for TGSONEKAL and modelled by the fabulour Jess of Ginger Twist Studio.
Image Copyright Clare Devine, All Rights Reserved.

Be With You by Boo Knits.

Image Copyright Knittingfiona, via Flickr.

Image Copyright Knittingfiona, via Flickr.

Winter Wander Shawl by Helen Stewart.

Winter Wander Shawl. Image Copyright Helen Stewart.

Winter Wander Shawl. Image Copyright Helen Stewart.

And for the crocheters, Lisa’s Shawl by Shireen Nadir.

If these patterns are not for you, fear not! You can take part with any beaded design – the main thing is that you have something you are highly motivated to make, for when it gets a bit tricky.

Special Offer Discount Code For KnitVent 2015 from Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade

Knitvent2015 is upon us and if you’re looking to take part in the advent fun, I’ve a cool discount code for you which will get you 15% off the whole collection. Each Thursday from 5th November, a different ‘door’ on the advent calendar will be opened, and you’ll receive another glorious pattern in your Ravelry inbox. The first pattern is Winter Wander Shawl (shown above) and the collection contains another 5 patterns including another shawl!

Helen has very kindly offered a discount code for listeners of the podcast, which also applies to the Candlelit Shawl (shown below) which would be another great choice for the beadalong. Simply enter the code SBKNITVENT15 for 15% off.

Candlelit Shawl by Helen Stewart. Image Copyright Helen Stewart.

Candlelit Shawl by Helen Stewart. Image Copyright Helen Stewart.

Wrap-Up

I’m running a listener survey. Please go here and let me know what you’d like to see from the podcast!

Also, I’ve started a mailing list. You can sign up here and I’ll send you all the latest podcast news, along with the occasional comedy dog in knitwear.

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!