Friday, 28 November 2014

Indie Design GAL 2014: Meet a Designer, Cristina Ghirlanda

The knit and crochet along part of the Indie Design GAL on Ravelry is continuing apace (there are prizes to be won; see here for full details, note that you will have to be logged into Ravelry for the link to work), and I am delighted today to be interviewing a fellow GAL designer, Cristina Ghirlanda (minimi on Ravelry; her design portfolio can be seen on her Ravelry designer page, she can also be found on her blog and Facebook page). As I said in a previous blog post, I am in love with Cristina's Polonaise hat, and, even though it is at the very edge of my cable knitting skills, I hope to at least cast it on before the end of the GAL (I can't make it too high a priority as that hat will definitely be for me, and gifts probably ought to come first; it might become my Christmas break knitting).

Polonaise hat, image copyright Cristina Ghirlanda

1.How long have you been knitting? And who taught you to knit?
My mother is a knitter and she taught me to knit as a child. I was never interested though, until the discovery of wooden needles in 2006. I would not knit without them!

2.When and why did you start designing?
The very reason that I knit is that I want to create exactly what I have in mind. The only way to do that is to design my own. At the beginning I was only designing for myself. Then to my surprise, there was an interest in what I was designing, so I've started designing seriously since 2013.

3.Which of your designs are you proudest of?
My favourite design is Bella Vita Cardigan. It's the kind of plain sweater that I want to live in.

Bella Vita Cardigan, image copyright Cristina Ghirlanda
 4.If money was no object, what would be your dream crafting item?
A professional model! That's not exactly a crafting item ;-)

5.You design for adults, children and babies. Which is your favourite age group to design for?
I have no preference, I still have to try to design for men though.

6.What inspires your designs?
People. Some of my design ideas are from answering the question "what would look great on THAT person?".

7.I love all your beautiful cabled designs. Do you have any tips for anyone who hasn’t knitted cables before?
Inspect your work often. There is nothing more irritating that discovering that you have crossed a cable wrongly several inches below.


Minimissimi Sweater Coat, image copyright Cristina Ghirlanda

8.You have a toddler. Is he interested in your knitting, and have you tried to teach him to knit yet?
My son loves winding yarn! He's still too little to learn to knit.

9.If you’re not working on one of your own designs, do you have a favourite designer whose patterns you turn to?
I like trying patterns from new designers!

10.What’s your favourite knitting technique?
Knitting in the round. I hate purling!

11.Are there any techniques you’re keen to learn?

Fair isle.

12.Are there any techniques you have no interest in learning?
I'm open to learning anything, not just in knitting!

13.What are your design ambitions?
Make a living by designing alone.

14.At Bake Day Wednesday we like a nice piece of cake, so what is your favourite type of cake?
Chocolate muffin! I hope to share my favourite recipe soon on my blog!

It has been lovely getting to know about more about Cristina, and she has been added to my Ravelry favourites list! Her latest design, Flip, is a lovely unisex design in sizes up to 10 years, and is available now in her Ravelry store.

Flip, image copyright Cristina Ghirlanda

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Indie Design GAL 2014: Christmas Pudding Hat

The knit and crochet along part of the Indie Design GAL on Ravelry is in full swing (there are prizes to be won; see here for full details, note that you will have to be logged into Ravelry for the link to work), and I've been knitting one of my own patterns, the Christmas Pudding Hat, as my latest project in the KAL. The Christmas Pudding Hat was the first pattern I published, just over two years ago, and is still one of my most popular. I was hoping that my daughter would be able to wear the prototype that I knitted for my son, however, my daughter is much smaller than my son ever was, so that hat is massive on her! So I hunted through the stash and located the leftovers from Can't Catch Me (Wendy Merino DK), which are the perfect colours for a rustic pudding, as well as being lovely and soft and warm - perfect for winter.

The hat was a pretty quick knit; I finished it in a couple of days. The hat itself is knitted in reverse stocking stitch - I enjoy purling, but know it's not everyone's cup of tea, so you could just as easily knit the hat in standard stocking stitch, then turn it inside out. The sauce is knitted separately, then stitched in place as I liked the three-dimensional effect that gives, then the leaves and berries are knitted and attached at the end.


All blocked and ready to wear now! Just need to wait for December to start, then it shall be worn pretty much constantly!

Competition time!
Do you want to knit a Christmas Pudding Hat too? The pattern is available in my Ravelry store, and is written for 5 sizes from baby to adult male. Also, in the spirit of the GAL, I'm giving away one copy of the pattern. If you'd like to win it, leave your Ravelry username or email address in the comments section by 11.59pm GMT on Sunday 30th November 2014 and I'll draw a name from the (metaphorical, possibly even actual) hat sometime on Monday. The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted via email or Ravelry messenger.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Indie Design GAL 2014: Farm to Market Mitts

I picked up Aimee Alexander's Market to Farm Mitts as part of the Indie Design GAL sale on the basis that they had an interesting cable pattern, and would make an excellent speedy gift. Wanting a quick project I had a quick rummage through the stash and located several pairs of balls of Merino DK in a selection of colours. The pattern calls for 120 m, so one ball should just do it, but it's always worth having a little in reserve, just in case. I went for some pink James C. Brett Pure Merino that I've had in the stash for a couple of years; I bought it with the intention of making a pair of fairisle mittens for a university friend, but have never got round to it, so these slightly less time-consuming mitts are for her!


The pattern is great, really clearly written with a lovely clear chart. There's even a handy table of stitch count vs. charted row number (which would have been even handier had I noticed it before I did the final thumb gusset increase row on the second mitt! For reference, it's just below the chart). The instructions are pretty straightforward and I found it easy to memorise the sections between the cable rows (I never managed to memorise the cable row, even after two mitts), and the cable is only knitted every 8th row, so there's not too much to keep track of.

I risked not doing a tension square, I've used this yarn recently enough at this tension that I was confident that 2.5 mm and 2.75 mm needles would be fine. The mitts grew quickly (although their growth was much slower when feeding a baby at the same time! I still managed to knit both in three days whilst working on a couple of other projects too), and were very satisfying to knit. I kept trying them on while knitting them and they're lovely and cosy. Pre-blocking they were a little snug on my 7.5 inch circumference hands, but they'll give a bit on blocking, so I'm sure they'll fit well (and my friend has smaller hands than me; obviously that was written before the mitts were blocked, and after blocking they were perfect!).


One very minor thing to note is that the cable requires two cable needles, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as a first cable project. I couldn't work out how to do the cable without using cable needles, although it's probably possible. I used a spare circular needle instead of two cable needles as it meant I only had one extra item to keep track of; it worked really well, and I'm really pleased with how crisp the cables look.


Overall I'd say this was a really enjoyable knit; interesting but not too taxing, and the resulting mitts look great. I only needed 111 m to knit them, so still have a spare ball of yarn to do something else with. And remember, if you buy the pattern before 11.59 pm (EST) on November 21st 2014 you can get 25% off using the code giftalong2014.


Having said I was being restrained and not buying any more patterns, three more have leapt into my basket (nothing to do with me, honest!). I've enjoyed knitting these mitts so much that I've bought two more mitts patterns: Given 'Em The Slip Mitts by Triona Murphy (I saw someone else's shared to the GAL group on Ravelry and fell in love), and Antiquity by Alicia Plummer (purely on Corley Grove's suggestion in my interview with her); and another hat pattern, Tupelo Slouch by Sara Gresbach (I'd been deliberating over buying it, then saw a finished project and knew I had to buy the pattern). I have yarn in stash for them all, but am certain I won't get everything I've bought patterns for knitted before the end of the GAL, but they're all at the top of the queue, so over the next year people I know are going to get some lovely gifts!


Thursday, 20 November 2014

Indie Design GAL: Meet a Designer, Melissa Metzbower

Here's the third in my series of interviews with designers in the Indie Design GAL 2014. Today I talk to Melissa Metzbower, who can be found on Ravelry under the name mmetzbower, and her eclectic selection of designs can be seen on her Ravelry designer page. So what does Melissa have to say?

1.       How long have you been knitting? And who taught you to knit?
I've been knitting for about 15 years. My friend had a teen magazine that said that knitting was the "in" thing. I had been wanting to try knitting, so she let me borrow her magazine that had the basics. That magazine, the internet, and a little pamphlet by Coats and Clark taught me how to knit.

2.       How long have you been crocheting? And who taught you to crochet?
I was taught how to crochet by my Nanny (grandmother) on vacation one year. I might have been maybe 12 or 13. I decided to follow a pattern for a Barbie dress using this ridiculously thin cotton thread. I ended up with a half-way decent dress, and my daughter plays with it with her dolls. I still occasionally crochet, but I stick to baby blankets. My skill ends there.

3.       When and why did you start designing?
I started designing when my daughter began having problems with her skin reacting to non-natural fibres. Cotton was great for her, but at at the time the only stores that sold an all cotton sweater for a 3 month old also had very expensive prices. I decided to give a baby sweater a go. At first I knit from other designers patterns, but when I couldn't find what I wanted, I took matters into my own hands. My first attempt at designing my own sweater was for her. It was a Christmas sweater with puff sleeves, smocking type front, and a folded hem.  I've kept designing because, frankly, the money I make pays for the yarn I use, and everything I design has a recipient in mind, and/or a specific function.

4.       What was your first published design?
My first published design was my Hallows Cardigan. I went to the movie and saw Ronald Weasley in his version of this sweater and was in love! Not with Ron, but his sweater! I spent the rest of the movie trying to catch a glimpse of it. I wanted one for my little boy. When I couldn't find a similar pattern, I designed one that was very similar. Many requests for me to publish the pattern for my son's sweater led me to write it down, have it tested, etc... and finally publish it.

Hallows Cardigan, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

5.       Which of your designs are you proudest of?
I am really proud of my Blackberry Brambles. It was the first sweater that I've ever knit for myself using my own measurements and not blindly following a pattern. I tell all of my testers to choose a size based on their back (shoulder) width. Everything else can be adjusted, but if this area doesn't fit well, the results are not something that they will be happy with. I love this design and wear it all the time. It's amazing how a well-fitting sweater can make you feel beautiful!

Blackberry Brambles, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

6.       Do you think you’ll ever release any crochet designs?
Probably not. I'm not sure that would be nice to do to those folk that like to crochet, ha ha!

7.       If money was no object, what would be your dream crafting item?
I'd love to have a set of interchangeable knitting needles/cables that have flexible cables. I'm using a set my hubby gifted me ages and ages ago, and the cables are like weed-whacker cord. But they are still useable, so I work around it.

8.       The gift-a-long is clearly right up your street as you give most of your samples away as gifts (as do I), who is your most knitworthy recipient?
That would have to be immediate family and my sister, Christina. She's still got the first scarf I ever made for her. It's an ugly, poorly knit acrylic rectangle! I'm embarrassed of it now, but she treasures it. She's the recipient of the current design sample I'm knitting now. 

9.       What inspires your designs?
Necessity. Pure and simple. I needed a hat/scarf combo to cover my little girl's face, so she doesn't wheeze, but something pretty to wear out, and the Winter Bonnet was born. I needed an owls sweater for a baby shower for a friend's baby, and Owl Always Love You is the result.

Winter Bonnet, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

10.   Your ‘Owl Always Love You’ baby cardigan is super cute (I love owls); what inspired this design?
My friend's baby registry! She decorated everything for her little girl in owls! At the same time, a friend that had been trying for a second child for years, found out that she was having a little boy, so one version of Owl Always Love You is lacy, and the other version is plain. Both samples were well loved by these babies and their mommas. My favourite feature of this design is that the buttons are knit into the fabric. Baby would have to gnaw apart the sweater to pull them loose!

Owl Always Love You, image copyright Melissa Metzbower

11.   If you’re not working on one of your own designs, do you have a favourite designer whose patterns you turn to?
I really have enjoyed Susan B, Anderson for baby things, Atelier Alfa for sweaters, Lise-Anne Michel for her slippers that my kids LOVE, and Heidi Hirtle for her purses. Once I find a design that I like, I tend to reuse that pattern over and over.

12.   What’s your favourite knitting/crochet technique?   
Grafting. I find it soothing. Bizzare, I know! And seaming things up. Although, most of my sweaters these days are seamless. I don't like weaving in ends. One time I cheated, tied the end into knots, and threw the sweater in the wash. That sweater came out looking moth eaten! I don't do that any more!

13.   Are there any techniques you’re keen to learn?
I want to try brioche and steeking. If there were more hours in the day! I'm slowly adding new techniques as I find I need them.

14.   Are there any techniques you have no interest in learning?
Hmm... I'm pretty much game for anything!

15.   What are your design ambitions?
I'd like to one day have a nice portfolio and perhaps branch out into tech editing. I love crunching numbers and editing for typos and such.

16.   What are you planning on making during the gift-a-long?
I have a cardigan that I've been commissioned to make, so that, and that second sock for my little boy! If I have extra time, I'd like to get some mittens made for gifts.

17.   Anything else you’d like me to include?
It takes a bit of time, resources, and determination to produce a good pattern, but I love my knitters and want to give them the best, so I plow on! If anyone knitting one of my patterns ever has a question or needs clarification, I'm always here to help!

18.   At Bake Day Wednesday we like a nice piece of cake, so what is your favourite type of cake?
I'm not sure what it is called. Maybe your readers will know! My grandfather received a medal from the king of Norway for his service in WW2. The Norwegian consulate came out and had a ceremony and brought a cake with them. It had layers of fruit, custard, and pound cake. It was delicious! Our bakeries over here don't carry that, so I'd love to find a recipe and make my own! I also like Festive Irish Cheesecake. :-)

Thanks for chatting to me, it's been lovely to find out all about your work. And I shall definitely be hunting down that Norwegian cake! If anyone has any ideas, let me know...

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Indie Design GAL 2014: Meet a Designer, Katie Degroff



Today we meet our second Indie Design GAL 2014 designer, Katie Degroff (Ravelry user name sheltipap). Katie’s beautiful, colourful sock and shawl designs can be found on her Ravelry designer page, and she can also be found on Pinterest. Here is my interview with Katie. 

1. How long have you been knitting? And who taught you to knit?
I've been knitting for almost 6 years now. A seriously awesome friend whom I used to work with, who also introduced me to my husband, taught me to knit. He now has his own sheep flock and is a wiz at everything crochet, knitting, spinning, etc.

2. When and why did you start designing?
I started designing at the beginning of 2013. I used to design lampwork and wire jewellery so I missed creating new patterns and designs. What drew me to designing knitting patterns was listening to what people were saying they did not like about certain designs or what they would like to see. I always enjoy putting a new spin on common ideas.

3. What was your first published design?
My first published design is a sock pattern called Roots of Love. It is a free pattern where I took a slightly different approach to a woven cable.
Roots of Love, image copyright Katie Degroff

4. Which of your designs are you proudest of?
Proudest design for me would have to be my Currents Socks or Topanga Scarf. I came up with a totally new heel design for Currents and a design that looks good in any colour variation of yarn. And for Topanga, I worked with Inner Yarn Zen for a custom pattern for a kit and truly love how it came out!
Currents, image copyright Katie Degroff
Topanga, image copyright Katie Degroff

5. If money was no object, what would be your dream crafting item?
I would say my dream crafting item would be a room full of silk/cashmere blend yarns for everything!

6. Can you crochet? If not, have you ever considered learning?
Crochet and I do not get along. LOL. I have tried, several people have tried teaching me, but it’s so foreign a feeling and I could never get the hang of it.

7. You have a daughter and a baby on the way, do you ever knit for them? And if so, what have you been knitting in preparation for the new arrival?
I am a horrible knitting momma and finished the baby blanket that was to be for my daughter when she was 3... However I have knit her several sweaters, toys, blankets, and she is now four and LOVES to try to knit. And for the new bundle on the way, I will begin knitting as soon as we find out what he/she is! I want to be a better knitting momma and have a lot more for this little one to come home too, LOL.

8. What inspires your designs?
I would say the biggest thing that inspires my designs is listening to what people are saying about other designs. Whether it’s as simple as to how things are written/charted, or having options, or loving a particular TV character/style and coming up with something to fit those needs.

9. I see you’ve designed lots of socks. What makes you like knitting socks so much, and do you ever suffer from second sock syndrome?
I always have to have some socks on the needles! Forever I could not knit with anything but fingering weight yarn. Last summer I took the plunge and learned to knit socks two at a time, and since then second sock syndrome is no more for me! However prior to that, I will admit I still have a few one sock wonders, LOL.

10. If you’re not knitting one of your own designs, do you have a favourite designer whose patterns you turn to?
A few favorite designers that come to mind are Vanessa Smith for her sweaters (amazingly written patterns, that seem to flatter all shapes and sizes), Jeannie Cartmel for her socks (they are SO intricate the designs boggle my mind how she comes up with them), and Melanie Berg for her shawls (she combines simple looking colour changes with little bits of flare that make them interesting).

11. What’s your favourite knitting technique?
My favourite knitting technique would have to be working sleeves, mitts, socks, anything, in the round, 2 at a time. It is a little bit of a pain to learn how to set it up, but it really saves SO much time!

12. Are there any techniques you’re keen to learn?
I want to sit down and learn double knitting and picot work. I have toyed with both, but I need to sit down and actually learn them.

13. Are there any techniques you have no interest in learning?
I can't really think of anything I wouldn't want to learn, however seaming sweaters makes me cringe LOL.

14. What are your design ambitions?
At the moment I really don't have any design ambitions, just to continue to create designs that appeal to may different people. Whenever I try to force a design it always fails, and I never want to become someone who pumps things out just to sell them.

15. What are you planning on knitting during the gift-a-long?
Honestly I haven't picked out patterns yet, but I plan to knit some fellow designers’ socks for gifts during the Gift-A-Long.

16. At Bake Day Wednesday we like a nice piece of cake, so what is your favourite type of cake?
CAKE! Evil word, LOL. I would have to say an awesome chocolate cake with chocolate mousse layered in between. You have my mouth watering!!!!!!

Chatting to Katie has been lovely, and it’s been fun finding out about her design ethic. Still not sure she can tempt me to knit a whole pair of socks, but I’m starting to warm to the idea, especially if I can knit them simultaneously – that would eliminate the distinct possibility of having one rather cold foot!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Fluffy White Clouds

In June, Knit Now magazine published the pattern for my favourite of my designs, Fluffy White Clouds. The design had been in my head for a while, as I originally submitted it in a previous round of submissions, but it wasn't accepted as it didn't fit in with any of the themes in that submissions round. I knew that I loved the design, and when the themes for the Summer 2014 issues were released I knew this design would be a good fit, so I re-submitted the design, successfully this time.


The design is simple; the blanket features a repeated cloud motif, but sometimes simple is best. The blanket is knitted in gorgeously soft Bluefaced Leicester, which makes for a wonderfully snuggly blanket. I was very excited when the sample was returned to me a few weeks ago - I'd forgotten that it was due to be returned. It's taken me a few weeks to get round to taking photos of it as we've all been super-coldy, but I finally did this afternoon, and I think it looks perfect. This is one baby blanket that isn't being given away!

 


If you'd like to make your own Fluffy White Clouds blanket the pattern is now available in my Ravelry store. Happy knitting.

P.S. While this pattern is not eligible for the giftalong2014 discount, it can be knitted as part of the Indie Design KAL on Ravelry (for more information, read my previous blog post on the Indie Design Gift-A-Long). And remember, there are prizes to be won!

Indie Design GAL 2014: What to gift?

I've really enjoyed hunting through all the designs in this year's Indie Design GAL, there are so many fantastic designs. I've created a Pinterest board of all my favourites (I didn't look through the sock, garment or shawls boards as they're not really things I knit, no matter how beautiful they are), and somehow got to over 130 pins! Realistically I'm never going to knit all of them, so what have I decided to buy during the sale period of the GAL, and how did I reach those decisions?

Criteria 1: You can only knit so many hats
Looking through my Pinterest board I became aware that there were definite themes in what I was pinning: hats and mitts with cables were popular, alongside lots of textured baby blankets. But there's only so many of each of those things that I can knit, so I've limited my purchases to one of any given type of pattern.

Criteria 2: Can I knit it from stash?
My stash is pretty large. So I don't need to buy any more yarn. If I say this often enough I will remember! So I decided only to buy patterns for things I know I can knit from stash. A bargain pattern is not a bargain if I have to go out and spend £30 on the yarn for it.

Criteria 3: Will I actually knit it?
Some of the patterns I pinned are beautiful, but I know that I will never actually knit them. Some I don't have anyone who would appreciate them, others have lots of fiddly bits I know I'll never sew together. So I concentrated on buying patterns for things I know I want to knit.

So which patterns did I buy?
In the end I narrowed my pattern selection down to four.

1. Kari baby blanket by Triona Murphy
I saw this baby blanket a few weeks ago and knew that I had to knit it. The texture is unusual and very beautiful. I don't have a baby to knit it for at the minute,  but there are plenty of charities that accept baby blankets, so I might just knit one or two for charity.

2. Farm to market mitts by Aimee Alexander
I had pinned lots of mitts, but these won as they look complex enough to be interesting, but straightforward enough to be knitted pretty quickly. I am also a sucker for buying a couple of balls of merino DK at a time, so have plenty of stash to make them from. I can see a few pairs of these being made as Christmas presents.

3. Polonaise hat by Cristina Ghirlanda
I love this hat! Need I say more? The cables look complex enough to be a challenge, and I'll enjoy practising knitting my cable-needle-free cable technique on them. I also have a couple of super-furry pom poms that could be added, and lots of aran-weight yarn stashed, so this hat will be an excellent stash buster.

4. Red Riding coat by Lisa Chemery
I love the look of Lisa's patterns, she has a real sense of style. I've already knitted Entrechat, so know I can work with her style of pattern. This coat is last on my list: I bought some bargain Artesano British Wool Chunky a few months ago and if I make this coat in one of the larger sizes I should be able to use almost the whole 500 g from stash, so there's no hurry, my daughter can have this one for when she's a toddler.

I've also been very kindly gifted Summer into Fall by Lisa Chemery, which I'm very excited about knitting for my daughter.

So that's me sorted for the next few weeks, if only the days were an hour or two longer!


Sunday, 16 November 2014

Indie Design GAL 2014: Meet a Designer, Corley Groves



As part of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014 I’m going to be running a series of interviews with fellow independent designers on my blog. This is first in the series, and is with Corley Groves (Ravelry user name cagroves91). Corley is participating in the Indie GAL 2014, and all her designs can be found on her Ravelry designer page. A relative newcomer to the design game, Corley can also be found via her blog, Facebook page and Etsy store. I caught up with her via email, and this is what she had to say.

1. How long have you been knitting? And who taught you to knit?
I've been knitting for just about 10 years.  I picked up a kit on how to knit at a middle school book fair and went straight to my Gammi's (grandma’s) house where she taught me to cast on, knit, and purl.  She hadn't knit for quite some time and we both had a blast!  I haven't been able to stop since.  A few years later I decided to branch out and taught myself (with the help of the internet) new stitch patterns, shaping, fair isle, and so much more.

2. How long have you been crocheting? And who taught you to crochet?
I can't remember when I first learned to crochet.  I taught myself!  I was tired of seeing so many pretty patterns that I couldn't make because they were for crochet.  So I looked up videos and blog posts to learn to crochet.  It was probably about 4 or 5 years ago.

3. Which do you prefer, knitting or crochet? Are there any other crafts you do?
Most of the time I prefer knitting.  But I find myself going through stages where I prefer crochet.  I guess it just depends on my mood :)  I also sew.  That was my first window into the crafting world!  I was about 11 or 12 when my mom signed me up for a sewing machine class and I loved it!  I was gifted a sewing machine that year for Christmas and it's the machine I still use today.

4. When and why did you start designing?
This year!  Although technically my first design was published August of 2011, I don't consider it my start into design because I didn't realize that's what I was doing.  So to me I started designing in June of 2014.

5. What was your first published design?
Technically it was my Wonderful Tea Wallet.  But the one published in June was Lattice Baby Hat.
Lattice baby hat, image copyright Corley Groves
 6. Which of your designs are you proudest of?
Oh that's such a tough one!  I have three that I'm very proud of: Diamonds and Cables Cardigan, Sleep Tight Baby Sleep Sack, and Beanstalk Vest.
Beanstalk vest, image copyright Corley Groves

Diamonds and cables cardigan, image copyright Corley Groves
7. If money was no object, what would be your dream crafting item?
I really want a spinning wheel!  I would love to learn how to spin my own yarn.

8. Who is your most knitworthy recipient?
I am!  I'm the easiest to knit for because I know exactly what I like and I know I can be trusted to take care of everything I make.  But, besides me, my mom and my Gammi (the one who taught me to knit).  They both appreciate all the hard work that goes into my items.  I get high praise from them both and I know they take good care of what I make.

9. What inspires your designs?
Anything and everything!  Pictures, other patterns, fabrics, you name it.  I know when I see it.  As a nanny and a babysitter I do get a lot of inspiration while working.  Hence all the baby items :)  But I'm starting to branch out into other works for other age groups.

10. I love your SleepTight Baby Sleep Sack; what inspired this design?
I was browsing patterns on Ravelry and came across a knit pattern for a sleep sack.  I realized it was the first one I'd seen on Ravelry and I was surprised.  So I decided to create my own version!  I've used many different sleep sacks as a nanny so I know how practical they can be.  I sketched it out and then flipped through stitch patterns until I found one that would be perfect.  I was on the hunt for something solid (little fingers and toes can easily get caught in holey patterns) and yet pretty.  I'm really happy with how this design turned out.
Sleep tight baby sleep sack, image copyright Corley Groves
 11. If you’re not working on one of your own designs, do you have a favourite designer whose patterns you turn to?
Usually if I'm not working on a design I'm testing for Boknits (Boadicea Binnerts).  I really love her designs.  And she knits at lightening speed so she always has multiple tests going on!

12. What’s your favourite knitting/crochet technique?
I love knit patterns that incorporate seed stitch!  I just love the look and the texture it brings to different items.

13. Are there any techniques you’re keen to learn?
One day I will learn to knit socks!  At the moment they are pretty intimidating but I am determined that one day I will learn.

14.   Are there any techniques you have no interest in learning?
Steeking.  I'm too scared!  And I also don't like the idea of knitting something just to cut it up.  More power to those who can do it!

15.   What are you planning on making during the gift-a-long?
A nice balance of gifts for others and gifts for myself.  I plan to make a bunch of the Tiptoe Slippers to gift out to friends and family, Antiquity for a friend and for myself, and then if there's time I'll make some of the other patterns I plan to purchase. 

16.   At Bake Day Wednesday we like a nice piece of cake, so what is your favourite type of cake?
Funfetti!  What could be better than vanilla cake with sprinkles baked in?

Thanks so much for chatting to me, it’s been lovely finding out all about you. Corley is definitely a designer to keep an eye out for; I’m excited to see what she’ll come up with next!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014, an introduction

Today marks the start of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2014 (GAL2014), of which I am very excited to be a part! So let's start by letting you all know what the GAL2014 entails.

The GAL2014 is a two month long knit- and crochet-a-long (KAL and CAL) being run by a group of independent designers on Ravelry in the run-up to Christmas. From 8pm (EST) 13 November 2014 to 11.59 pm (EST) 21 November 2014, 293 independent designers will be offering 25% off between 4-20 of their patterns by using the code giftalong2014. All the details, including a list of participating designers can be found here (you'll need to be a member of Ravelry for this link to work. If you're interested in knitting or crochet and are not already a member, go and join, you won't regret it!). I'm offering 25% off all of the patterns in my Ravelry store, except those that cost £1 (and you can get all my £1 patterns at the same time by buying the pattern for my Nature's Way baby blanket). Patterns included in the sale can also be browsed though on the group's board on Pinterest.



Once you’ve bought your GAL patterns, you can join in any of the relevant KAL/CALs in the GAL2014 group (e.g. if you were thinking of knitting my Apple for Teacher hat, you'd join the hat KAL/CAL). All you need to do is write a post in the KAL/CAL thread you want to join, including the pattern name you will be knitting and a link to your project page; once you've posted in the appropriate thread you'll be eligible for lots of lovely prizes, including 1866 free patterns from participating designers! I'll be cheering anyone knitting one of my patterns along within the threads; I'd love to see other people's finished objects.

KAL/CALs will run from Thursday, November 13 at 8pm (US-EST) through to close of play on New Years Eve [Wednesday, December 31 at midnight (US-EST)], which should give you plenty of time to get involved.

On your marks…get set…. GIFT!! I hope you can join in the fun, I'm looking forward to taking part, both as a designer and a knitter.