5KBCWDAY7 – Back to the Future

Today’s blogging topic is to look back at your aims at the end of the last Knitting and Crochet Blog Week and see if you have achieved them, and then look forward to next year and write about what you hope to have achieved by then.

Obviously I’m *such* a good girl that I will have done exactly what I said last year.  *cough*

Unfortunately last year I said this:

So what do I want to do by this time next year?  My main aim (but please don’t judge me if I don’t manage it) is to try knitting socks.

Oh dear.

Well, if you’ve been a committed follower of my blog since then you’ve probably guessed that I haven’t managed this.  In fact I’ve not got further than this:

Socks in progress

Look, I tried!  I cast on two pairs, but I’ve not finished a single sock from either of them.

The dark purple yarn loses alarming amounts of colour, which has put me off.  After knitting just a few rounds I look like I’ve been working in a beetroot processing factory (if such a thing exists).  Also the sock is quite small and inelastic because of the cables.  The plan is to finish this sock and wash it to make sure it doesn’t shrink at all before I cast on the next one.  But I plan to re-skein the remaining yarn and wash it before casting on the second sock.

The green sock is a variation on Milfoil by Rachel Coopey (if you’ve not come across her designs before, you should check them out because they really are amazing).  You’re supposed to make two similar but non matching socks, but I really don’t think I can stand having non matching socks, so I’ve altered the pattern so that the socks will match (because I’m fussy like that).  but the small needles and fiddly pattern means that I’ve not yet managed to get into a good knitting rhythm with these, so they’ve gone on the back burner for now.  The yarn is such an amazing springy green though!

I’m still not really sold on the idea of knitting socks and hiding all that work on your feet, but I also think that there are some incredibly beautiful sock patterns available and I don’t want to miss out.  So overall my feelings are still mixed, just like last year.

Do I get points for effort?  Come on, I cast on two pairs…. please?  *looks hopeful*

On Day 2 of last year’s Blog Week, I also planned to cast on a shawl with this yarn:

Easyknits Sushi Shawl Roll

I was thinking about this:

But which pattern?

How about Lyrica Euterpe by Romi Hill? I like these sort of little shawls and wear them a lot as scarves, and this has an interesting construction, beginning with a semi-circle and then switching to a traditional central spine in the lace border. You can also add beads, although as the yarn is busy that might be a bit much!

But, predictably I haven’t cast it on.  I still like the shawl though, but I’m undecided about the yarn.

So, overall a miserable failure.  Hey ho.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  My knitting ambitions far outweigh the time I have to knit and it wasn’t as if I didn’t knit, I just knitted other things.  Since this time last year, I’ve done several new designs (which I’m proud of) and seen them published in magazines, pattern leaflet and books, so I can’t complain.  I still enjoy knitting, even though having your hobby as a career/job (hobby: knitting, day job: work in a yarn shop, self-employment: knitwear design) makes it difficult to switch off sometimes and manage your time effectively (self-employed people are their own worst bosses – you wouldn’t put up with having to work evenings, weekends and until 1am for anyone else, or expect someone else to do that for you, but I still expect that from myself).

What do I want to have done by next year?  Well judging by last year, mentioning anything specific seems to doom it to failure, so I think I’ll just settle for trying to improve my work/knit/life balance….. hahahahaha!

Did you achieve your goals from last year?

Lottie x

 

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Why do we blog?

Why do you blog? That was the question posed on knitnrun4sanity’s blog last week.

For me this is a difficult question to answer briefly, as my reasons for starting my blog are now rather different from my reasons for continuing it.

To be blunt, I started my blog because I felt that I should. As a designer, it is important to have a presence on the Internet other than just Ravelry (which I still think is very important, as it gives knitters a very direct contact with you for pattern support, and also I love to see projects made from my patterns 😊 and help anyone who asks me a question, as much as I can). I didn’t have a presence like this and after researching a few options, I decided on WordPress.

But despite creating my blog in February 2012, I was too nervous and hesitant to post at first. I had so many doubts. What should I post about? Should I just post about new designs? If I posted on other occasions, what on earth would I post about? How would I keep it interesting? How would I find the time? How much of myself should I put out there? I’m naturally quite a shy person, especially around strangers, and I tend to keep myself to myself, so this in particular was a difficult question for me. It is important to put a little of yourself out there, otherwise your blog will lack personality, but I found it very difficult to open up.

Even once I had answered all these questions, one massive question remained. Would anyone even want to read it? I was so beset by these doubts that I did not actually post anything on my blog until June 2012. (Yes, I know, I missed my first Blogiversary 😳 oops! Let’s call this the Blogiversary post – shhh! I won’t tell anyone it’s late if you don’t – what’s three months between friends?).

What pushed me to post was my decision to release my first self published pattern, Moon River. I felt that I had to make the effort to post, so I jumped in at the deep end. But I remember how long it took my to write that short and uninventive post. I just didn’t know what to write and how to write it. Was it ok to just be myself? How does this WordPress thing even work? It was certainly a steep learning curve.

I continued posting intermittently, trying to find a blogging voice and get the courage to just be myself in my posts. The first time I thought I was maybe getting there was when I posted this, ‘Mae: from sketchbook to pattern book’ about the journey from initial design idea to published pattern, as I remember how many questions I had about the process before I designed myself. I was amazed by the response. People read it! They liked it! Buoyed up by this I began to post more, but then it all tailed off as I was quite busy with my designing and writing posts still took me a long time, with many edits.

What really turned my blogging around was Knitting and Crochet Blog Week from Eskimimi Makes. I came across it by chance and thought I should set myself the challenge of posting every day for a week on the topics that had been chosen. Although it was a lot of work, I found it very rewarding and also liberating to post about other topics and in other styles that I might not have otherwise considered.

Stuff like this:

Venn diagram

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

It also helped me to find some lovely people in the knitting blog community who I wouldn’t otherwise have found. Now I blog because I enjoy interacting with you all. I just hope that all enjoy reading it! I try to blog with a sense of humour, as I would if were chatting to you all in real life. I always look forward to your comments and to reading your blogs and leaving comments on them. I even get excited about particular posts because I’m looking forward to seeing what your reaction will be.

I feel much more confident on blogging about other knitting related things in between designs, especially at times when I don’t have any knitting to show you because it is top secret and I enjoy thinking up ideas for new posts 😊. A couple of days ago I reached the milestone of 100 followers, something I never thought I would achieve in the uncertain months after starting the blog, when I even wondered if it was something I should be doing at all.

Why do I blog now? Because of you!

Thank you!

Lottie xx

Things I learnt from Blog Week

I learnt quite a lot from blog week. Participating was a bit of a last minute decision for me and I’m really glad that I did try it! I don’t think that I am a natural blogger, but I’m definitely improving. So what did I learn?

  1. Less is NOT more. More is more when it comes to posts. More posts = more followers/likes/comments 🙂
  2. Infographics can be fun!

    Venn diagram

    Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

  3. I like bad jokes. *blushes*
  4. I have a strong urge to name posts after puns based on songs from my youth/teens. A spectrum of colour was very nearly called Five Seven Colours in her Hair Stash (but you can’t use strikethrough on titles:(). This tells you several things: a) my rough age, b) I like music that makes me happy, not music that is fashionable, c) someone bought me Memory Lane: The Best of McFly for Easter (and I now have several earworms) and d) I like bad puns. Do you see a pattern emerging?
  5. I can use photoshop (a bit) to produce something tolerable.

    House of Chameleon Crest

    Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

  6. Chameleons are easier to draw than I thought!
  7. Free time and number of posts written are inversely proportional to one another.
  8. I knit far too much blue and turquoise.Wagtail Hat crownRosaleen Shawlette Holden Shawlette edging
  9. I am very indecisive.
  10. You lot are really nice and friendly!
  11. I actually enjoy blogging – and I never thought I would.

Lottie x

This time next year…..

….. what do I hope to be doing?  What do I want to have achieved?

This is the final topic for Knitting and Crochet Blog week 2013; to look forward to this time next year and set yourself goals, or decide what you hope to have done by then.

So what do I want to do by this time next year?  My main aim (but please don’t judge me if I don’t manage it) is to try knitting socks.

Socks are one of the few things I have never made.

Now I know that as some of you read this you will be practically jumping up and down saying something like:

‘Never made socks?  What?  WHY NOT??’

On the other hand, if you’re not a knitter (Never knitted?  What?  WHY NOT?) you’re probably wondering why anyone would do such a thing when there are things called shops that you can go into and hand over money in return for a five-pack of socks of pretty much any design from boring black socks right up to novelty Christmas socks (you know the sort of thing, the ones that say ‘Bah Humbug’ or try to give the Simpsons an inexplicable connection with the festive season).

Forget all that.

You have to understand that a knitter looks at every piece of clothing and thinks ‘Could I knit that?’

I have even had this thought about ball gowns.

I don’t need a ball gown.  I wouldn’t have an occasion to wear one.  I would never have the patience to knit one.  (But imagine how stunning it would be! :))

But this is how the brain of a knitter works.

If you are that person who doesn’t knit, it has probably escaped your notice that for knitters, knitted socks are something of a cult.  There are knitters who make only socks.  Knitters who look at every other pattern and think ‘That’s nice, but I think it would be better if that stitch detail was on a sock’ and many knitters knit socks regularly.

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that I am not one of those people.  But lately I have been wavering.

Gorgeous yarns from 'Andyfest'

There is some sock yarn in here – but I might just make shawls with it 😮
Copyright Charlotte Walford 2012 – 2013

And now I’m going to say something a bit controversial, so I’ll put my tin hat on and get my shield out.

I just don’t see the point of spending hours knitting something pretty (if I am knitting anything it will be pretty, because that is the sort of thing I like) only to hide it inside a pair of shoes.  I’d just be worried about spoiling them.  There I’ve said it.  But I’ve seen lots of pairs of socks that I like, that are works of art, and I feel a little left out.  So I think I might just try, even if I only wear them indoors (stop laughing).

I might start with these Jump ‘n’ Jive Socks by Anna Richardson but don’t hold me to that!

As it is the last day of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (see Eskimimi Makes for full details) I ought to say thank you.

Firstly to Eskimimi for organising the whole thing and choosing fab topics to post on, and secondly to all of you who have taken the time to read, like, comment or follow my blog.  I have surprised myself by how much I’ve enjoyed Blog week.  Your responses have been really fun to read and now I feel a little less like I am just shouting to an empty room!

Lottie x

Top of the Charts

What’s your favourite knitting tool or gadget?

This a tough question for me.  I love many knitting gadgets and tools, from the everyday things like my favourite needles, to the more occasionally used (but still helpful) yarn swift and ball winder.

But what makes my life much easier?  Which of those things would I hate to be without?  Well I wouldn’t want to be without my Addi needles, but what can I tell you about those without being dull?  Not much.  So I’ve decided to tell you all about the thing I would hate to design without:

Stitch Mastery Knitting Chart Editor by Cathy Scott

This amazing software allows you to make beautiful, clear, professional looking pattern charts with ease.  (Before we go any further I should say that I have not received any inducements, incentives or free things to write this – I bought this software myself, and use it all the time, so this is an unbiased view.  If I didn’t like it I would say so.)

You can make very simple charts, like the one below using just knit and purl stitches, right up to big complicated charts (for example the large charts I drew for Cleome were created in Stitch Mastery and used some unusual stitches that the software coped with very well).

Knit and purl chart

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The charts are really quick to do.  This one took me just two minutes, and it is very easy to alter them as well.  You can either undo your previous actions (you can even do this multiple times), or paint over the stitch you have chosen with another one (e.g. replace knit with purl or vice versa).

Colour + stitches chart

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

It’s also really easy to add colours to your chart, even when that square already contains a stitch (very handy for shaping when knitting fairisle).  There are several default colours provided but you can also create custom colours to match the colour of your yarn.

A key is automatically created, and every new stitch that you add to your chart appears in it.  You can edit the key descriptions, and delete entries to the key if you change your mind, as well as change the key font or text size.

Chart pattern repeats

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

You can also add pattern repeats by selecting the cells you want to be repeated.  Then you can add a border and a name or instruction to the pattern repeat.

Not only can you chart simple knit and purl patterns and colourwork, but also cables:

Charted cables

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

and lace:

Charted lace

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

There are a huge number of different stitch symbols to choose from, but you can also create custom stitches if you can’t find the one you want.

Even better, when you’ve finished your chart you can export it to a PDF or an image file such as JPEG or PNG, so it’s easy to share your chart of insert it into a pattern.

I don’t know where I would be without it.

The charts are so quick to do that I make one before I knit a swatch of a new design idea, save it as a PDF and print it out (it’s quicker than graph paper).  Then I can alter it as I go along and this approach also has the advantage of weeding out any impossible stitches before I commit yarn to needles.

If you want to make charts in Excel or similar software, Cathy Scott has also made her knitting chart font available to buy separately and there is a free demo version of Knitting Chart Editor that you can download here as well as a video showing some of the features.

Now, I know there are some of you who are by this point thinking that you hate charts with a passion and avoid any pattern that has them in.  That’s ok, I’m just a person who finds visualising things helpful, but everyone is different.  That’s why despite my love of charts, I always try to include alternative written instructions in my patterns, in case charts are not for you.

That way, everyone is happy :).

Lottie x

A spectrum of colour

What are your favourite colours?

Mini Skeins

Are they the same as the colours you tend to knit with?  Or do you opt for choices that are more practical?  Perhaps the colours that you like best don’t suit you?  (I don’t mind yellow, but it doesn’t suit me, so I don’t knit with it for myself.)

My favourites are turquoise and purple, and I quite like bright colours.  I also like red, coral, pink, blue and green.

Time to see if that is reflected in what I have made recently!

Runa:

Runa Hat

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Wagtail:

Wagtail Hat crown

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Holden Shawlette:

Holden Shawlette

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Rosaleen:

Rosaleen Shawlette

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Ishbel:

Ishbel

Photo copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Gosh!  Isn’t there a lot of turquoise!!  I seriously need to knit with a greater variety of colours 😮 to be a true Chameleon!

I have lots of different colours in my stash, but I think that recently I have been trying to knit up WIPs and newer purchases, so I’ve chosen yarn on the basis of fibres and weight (according to what I want to knit) rather than colour.  Overall my finished projects (including those made longer ago and not photographed) do show a greater variety of colour, but still stick to my favourite shades.

My stash seems to best represent my favourite colours – maybe it’s time to knit some of them up!

Lottie x

‘Venn’ do you have enough yarn?

Please excuse the dreadful pun above, but as some of you may recognise (if you were paying attention in maths at school) this post contains a Venn diagram.

Wait!  Come back!  There’s no more maths (and my Venn diagram certainly has no statistical basis).

Promise 🙂

Venn diagram

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

The eternal question for all knitters and crocheters (usually asked by other despairing and/or long suffering and non-crafty family members) is ‘Don’t you have enough yarn?’

Apart from the obvious answers of:

‘You just don’t get it do you?’

or

‘No!’

or the more long winded

‘But I want to make a purple/blue/turquoise/teal/green/yellow/orange/red/pink/grey/black/cream/white sweater/cardigan/hat/shawl/scarf/mittens/socks/stuffed merkat in lace/4ply/doubleknit/worsted/aran/chunky/superchunky yarn and I don’t have any/enough of that in my stash!’

there isn’t really an awful lot that you can say.  They wouldn’t understand because they don’t knit or crochet.

They won’t understand that yes, you bought that nice DK yarn in the sale that’s not quite enough for a sweater, (but isn’t it a nice colour and you never know what you might use it for, and it was such a bargain!) so you can’t use it for the chunky cabled jacket you’re now coveting from the latest magazine or that beautiful laceweight shawl on Ravelry that everyone is making.  To them it’s all just yarn, and you already have lots of it, so why would you need some more?

This is why so many of us have huge stashes.  Sale bargains.  Yarn you bought to make something that you’re not so sure you like any more.  Yarn you haven’t knitted up because you’re still trying to finish that pesky sweater and those mittens.  (While you’re slaving away on the sweater you’re probably coveting lots of other projects to cheer yourself up, so more yarn finds it’s way in there too.)

When you think about it the Venn diagram isn’t really about knitting at all.  It could just as easily represent ambitions (in pink) and life expectancy (in blue) with the overlapping section representing the ambitions you will be able to fulfil.  Ambitions are what keep us going.  Having something to aim for is very important.  It keeps us motivated.  Something common to non-knitters as well.  Perhaps our stashes aren’t so hard to understand after all.

Lottie x

Karma Chameleon!

So, the second challenge of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 (having yesterday failed to choose a house that sums me up as a knitter) is to choose a project that reflects the qualities and attributes of your house.

So I guess I need to either pick a house or invent a new one.

Darn.

*scrabbles around for a bit of paper and a pen*

*doodles*

*faffs about ineptly on Photoshop*

Ta-dah!

I hereby give you the house of the Chameleon:

House of Chameleon Crest

Copyright Charlotte Walford 2013

Chameleons like many different types of project and are likely to have a WIP to suit every mood and whim. One day they might prefer the comfort of a simple project, the next a challenging project with new techniques knitted to a perfect and exacting standard. They are indecisive, sometimes to the point of frustration. (It is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!)

House chosen/created! What a rebel 😉

So what might I choose to make? Errm…… well that’s the thing about Chameleons……. they’re not really sure which project to cast on first. One day I think I know what I want to knit and am really excited about it, and then the next day I look at what I had in mind and think it’s all a bit, well…. meh.

Because of this I tend to have a lot of different ideas about what I want to make floating about in my head while I decide if it is really what I want to make or not. But this one has been on my mind for a little while. Last year I joined the Easyknits Sushi Shawl Roll Club and I got this:

Easyknits Sushi Shawl Roll

Now these are not really my sort of colours (but there are many colours that change as you knit – like a Chameleon! Do I get extra points for that?), but that’s how the club works, it’s a mystery, so I’m fine with that. But I do want to use it for something as it’s a really soft and squishy Merino/Cashmere blend. I like the blue, but orange and yellow don’t really suit me so I need to find a way of keeping the blue near my face and the rest of the colours away from it. The best idea for this that I’ve thought of so far is a top down shawl, starting at the blue end and working down to the yellow and orange (but I will have to rewind the shawl roll to do this as the top unravelling end where you start to pull the yarn from is in the orange section).

But which pattern?

How about Lyrica Euterpe by Romi Hill? I like these sort of little shawls and wear them a lot as scarves, and this has an interesting construction, beginning with a semi-circle and then switching to a traditional central spine in the lace border. You can also add beads, although as the yarn is busy that might be a bit much!

What do you think? Should I go for it? Do you want to join the House of Chameleon? Leave a comment below to let me know 🙂

Lottie x

All I know is I’m not a Manatee…….

What kind of knitter are you?

Everyone is different.  If we weren’t then the world would be a rather dull place.  Nothing new to see or do, no stories to tell.  We would all have seen and heard it all before.

But have you ever really stopped to think what makes you….. err…. you?  Personally I would have to say no.  I’m not the sort of person who goes on a yoga retreat in Outer Mongolia to ‘find myself’!

So Day 1 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 ‘The House Cup’ involves choosing a ‘House’ that best represents you as a knitter.  There are four to choose from (just like Harry Potter!) but unfortunately there is no Sorting Hat to choose for me.  *Sigh*

But which one am I?

Am I a Bee?

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.

House of Bee

As my WIP Amnesty shows, I certainly do flit from one project to another as new projects capture my interest.  Maybe I’m a Bee!  This is easier than I thought :)!

Better just check the other houses before I decide……..

Just to be sure………..

The House of Manatee: Manatees are gentle, calm and cuddly. Relaxed and unflashy they represent the comfort and soft side of knitting and crochet.

House of Manatee

I don’t think this is me.  I’m not that calm (I tend to worry about things) and I can’t say that I dislike flashy projects (such as the Wagtail Hat that I finished recently).

Also, I don’t live in the sea, and if anyone called me a Sea Cow (another name for a Manatee) I would be very offended!

So I’m not a Manatee.  Now what about a monkey?

The House of Monkey: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.

House of Monkey

This sounds a lot like me.  For me the whole point of knitting (and crochet) is learning new skills, and this is not something that I shy away from.  I love the sense of achievement that you get from trying something new successfully, and I’m quite a determined person, so I don’t mind persisting until I get something right.  In fact I even try techniques that are new to me in my designs.  I used an i-cord cast off for the first time in a design due to be published soon and I like the challenge of this sort of thing!

The House of Peacock: Peacocks take something good and make it brilliant. Buttons, embellishments and a bit of sparkle prove that perfection lies in the details – like a Peacock’s Tail.

House of Peacock

Embellishments?  Check!

Sparkle?  Check!

Perfectionist?  Check checkety check!

This isn’t going very well.  Maybe I should set up my own house.  Perhaps the House of Chameleon?  Or Woodpigeon (whenever I see them they always look dozy and indecisive)?

But at least I know I’m not a Manatee………

So what am I making at the moment?  Errm……… a cosy, chunky blanket…….. in snuggly soft undyed Araucania Limari.

Cozy Blanket

It’s not flashy.

But it is comfy.

Does this make me a Sea Cow?  😦

It’s not like I’m indecisive or anything……. or maybe I’m not so sure…… 😉

What kind of knitter are you?  Leave a comment below to let me know!

Lottie x