learning

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 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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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!

Episode 66 – The Diamond Fibre

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Image Details: ‘Angora Goat’ by noricum, via Flickr.

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Intro

Hello and welcome to another rip-roaring episode of the Shinybees podcast. Today we have the return of Enablers’ Corner, some chat about mohair – the diamond fibre – and its properties, particularly in sock knitting. Following that, we round up with a rundown of the latest shipment from The Golden Skein and encourage you to try out three fabulous hand dyers.

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Episode 65: National Knitting Week

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Image Details: ‘Striped Leg Warmers’ by Star Athena, via Flickr.

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Intro

This week’s all about wool. Wool everywhere! Wool Week in the UK runs from 5-11th October as does National Knitting Week. So, there’s a bit of chatter about what’s happening round and about for that. Also, there’s some parish notices: the podcast will be moving (again) in a few short weeks. Expect a lot more Money Pit chat to ensue! Also, I’m running a listener survey. Please go here and let me know what you’d like to see from the podcast!

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Introducing the Sock Surgery with Clare Devine

Sock Surgery Square

Banish your sock knitting woes and get some toasty toes!

If you’re a listener to the podcast, you’ll have heard our recent introduction of the bi-weekly Sock Surgery with Clare Devine of Yarn And Pointy Sticks Designs. Aided and abetted by our glamorous assistant, Kate, we’ll be chatting about knitting socks from the very beginning. We’ve already covered subjects such as how to choose yarn and needles, and in the next episode, out on Sunday, we’re getting to the exciting bit: casting on.

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Day 6: Improving your Skill Set.

Skills Drop Off

Image Details: ‘Skills Drop Off’ by squacco, via Flickr.

Day 5 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week brings the subject of improving your skill set to the table. As a knitter, I find that once you know a couple of basic stitches and how to cast on and off, you open up a whole world of pattern and project opportunities. Granted, it’s a bit fiddly to start with and there is all the stitch dropping and creating, frustration, laughter and undoubtedly the odd expletive, but I have yet to meet anyone who has not been quite proud of their first project. I still remember starting the Knit Club, way back in the day now, and the competitive crafting that took off when knitting a pair of garter stitch baby booties. I can’t say whether they are all still knitting in secret without me poking them in the bum with a 12mm needle, or plying them with wine, cake and some good chatter, but should they ever feel the need to pick up sticks and string again, I know they will have the confidence to do so.

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Afrikaant!

The Afrikaans Language Monument

Image Details: ‘The Afrikaans Language Monument’ by teachandlearn, via Flickr

Following the recent theme of not strictly craft related posts, this one is about my attempts at learning Afrikaans. Or Afrikaant, as I prefer to call it at the moment! I am using ‘Teach Yourself Complete Afrikaans’ by Lydia McDermott, which is available as a book, a CD or as a package with both included. I went for the package, which I ordered from The Book Depository, a company I’ve used before and who, rather helpfully, do free worldwide delivery! This was delivered to an address in the UK before I left, and took about 5 days to arrive. This book should take me up to A-Level standard in the UK.

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The first rule of Knit Club is….

knitted cake

Image details – knitted cake by freeformbyprudence, via Flickr

Don’t talk about Knit Club!

I think I might get this made up into a slogan t-shirt, along with ‘Knitting is not just for Nanas’ or some other suitably informative knitting-related cliches. There is a clandestine ‘stitch and bitch’ going on in the Chateau Shinybees  locality, however its members (other than my good self, of course) and its precise location remain shrouded in mystery. I’m an ‘out and proud’ knitter and would quite happily be seen in public, brandishing a pair of knitting irons with gay abandon, my latest work in progress hanging from the needles. Alas, however, the other stitchettes are definitely not out of the knitting closet yet, and prefer to secretly beaver away at their latest project far, far away from prying eyes.
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