It's all about the KALs

It must be the time of year but suddenly it seems as though KALs  (knit-alongs) are everywhere. If you are anything like me you will need no excuse to abandon your faithful WIPs without a second thought and gleefully dive into the next bright, new, shiny thing - fickle? - me? - surely not.

So with KALs and other events seemingly multiplying like rabbits I did what I normally do and made a list.

And once I'd made a list I thought I should share it with you in case you are feeling the same, slightly festive overload.

KALs - it's all about the list

So, with apologies in advance for the lack of thoroughness ( I haven't attempted to include all KALs - just the ones that have crossed my radar) we have in no particular order:

The Ravelry gift-along (GAL) continues apace with a variety of KALs running. Separated into type of pattern - sweaters, hats, mitts etc there are some great threads here, and a fabulous chatty bunch of people eager to see your projects. #giftalong2014

There is a Mealong running over on the A Playful Day blog and Ravelry group - participants are invited to make a smallish project (originally a single skein of yarn but this has expanded to include different amounts - the group is very relaxed about rules). The project should be something indulgent and for yourself, as a treat at this busy time of year. There are prizes too with the draw happening on Christmas eve.  #MEALONG

In a similar vein there is the Knitmore Girls and their #grinchalong. Sticking with the Knitmore Girls, they have a number of ongoing KALs which are great fun. Largely run on Instagram. browsing the entries using the hashtags #operationsockdrawer is a great way to spend a coffee break. They are also taking part in the long running #projectsweaterchest (in conjunction with Susan B Anderson)

Chrissy of the Stitched Together podcast is hosting a Random Rummage Craftalong which embraces all crafts.It started on Nov 1st and runs until January 31st 2015and must use yarn/fibre etc from your stash. ~#STRRCAL

Eden Cottage Yarns is having a KAL of the amazing Quadratic shawl - designed by the very talented David O'Kelley. This pattern is an absolute classic - I've made one already - and I couldn't resist joining in and making another one. There are some great adaptations so and the KAL thread on the Ravely forum is a great source of inspiration. #quadkal

Helen of Curious Handmade is running a KAL alongside her Knitvent collection for this year. There are some beautiful patterns in this collection - the main challenge is choosing which one to knit first. #giftingzen

And of course I couldn't forget The Golden Skein - who is celebrating their first birthday and hosting a KAL to celebrate. The pattern is a wonderful shawl from Clare Devine - Kunye and the KAL will run from 20th Dec to 1st March 2015 #TGSONEKAL. The shawl is wonderfully elegant and will be just perfect for those few of my Golden Skeins that haven't grown up into projects yet.

The only challenge now is choosing which is to cast on for first - or working out how to do some sneaky double dipping.

A new pattern: Rosthwaite

And a good morning to you on this cold and frosty day.

I'm really pleased to be able to share my latest pattern with you today - the Rosthwaite socks.
Rosthwaite Socks: Cuff down with an afterthought heel

This pattern was designed as part of my Sock Design Challenge which I ran in September and invited you lovely readers and members of my Ravelry and Facebook pages to vote on key design elements.

The overwhelming vote was for top down socks with some fun stitch detail and nothing too complicated or stressful, and I really hope that you like the finished product as mych as I do.

As a bit of a change for me I have also worked these socks with an afterthought heel. The more I work this heel type the more pleased I am with it and if you have never tried it, maybe this is the project to start you off.

There are a lot of amazing resources on the web and I highly recommend the following as a good place to start.

The Knit Girllls have a fabulous tutorial: here

And excellent blog posts on the subject can be found here and here.

I really do hope you decide to give them a try. As a thank you for all your support and encouragement I'm offering a 25% discount until Nov 30th, 2014 with the code Rosthwaite.

Happy Knitting

Giftalong Designer Interview

I'm pleased to be able to share another Giftalong Designer Interview with you today. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Amy (aka PghAmers) on Ravelry who designs wonderful accessories under the label Structured Stitches.

She has some fabulous patterns for sale in the GAL, her website is here and is well worth a look.

Structured Stitches GAL Bundle
What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
This is a tricky one, because I have to design. It’s just something innate in my brain that I have to do on a regular basis. So I’m not designing for a particular outcome, I would still be making up designs even if I wasn’t publishing them.
That said, I think my favorite thing is when a yarn producer loves the design I have produced in their yarn. I have gotten yarn support from a local sheep farmer, a local indie dyer and a small yarn company. The yarn they produce (and dye) is very personal to them, and it is an awesome feeling for them to be excited and happy about what I’ve done with their product. I’ve also shared projects with yarn companies after they are published (in cases when I bought the yarn myself), and it is cool to be browsing my personal facebook page and see that they have posted about my pattern. Certainly, I LOVE it when knitters and crocheters ooh and aah over my designs, but the love from those in the fiber industry feels like I’m being welcomed into a special club. :-D

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from my love of color & interesting construction, combined with the practical considerations of the crafters experience. Similar to architecture, it is about form AND function, and how best to marry the two in one project. For example, I love crocheting motifs and using them to build a larger fabric. I find that working on small motifs while I’m out and about to be ideal, but the ability to crochet those motifs together allows me to avoid sewing and in some cases to make a fabric that doesn’t even look like it is made up of motifs. Sometimes, like with a stranded hat, the function is already well established and it is just a matter of getting to play with how the color and pattern work together.
Overall, my interest is in making beautiful things that are also useful.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
I listed my first two “designs” on ravelry before they were ready to be published. I had just started teaching at my LYS, and the manager wanted to do a KAL/CAL with a yarn that was being discontinued from the store. Both as a nice store activity and to encourage customers to buy it down quickly. She gave me the option of finding existing patterns to use or coming up with my own. In hindsight, I didn’t really have enough time to design two scarf patterns, and I am better off not designing patterns that I’m not super excited about.
One of them I finally finished and published well earlier this year. The other one still sits there taunting me. The original design needs some work, and going back to it feels to me like eating liver and onions. I have all of these other new and shiny ideas I would rather be working on, but I need to just force myself to sit down and finish the design, crochet the sample, and get the whole thing off my to do list!

Which is your favourite design and why?
My favorite design is the Claro Stole. I was browsing mood boards for magazine submissions, and a picture on one of them sparked the idea for this stole in my head. I knew the feeling I wanted the lace to have and how I wanted it to start at different points working from the center out. I was able to find two stitch patterns that accomplished the feeling I imagined, and fitted them in on a half-circle shape. It is probably my most challenging pattern, and it turned out exactly how I envisioned, which really doesn’t always happen.
There is also a design that I absolutely adore which is not public yet, and the publishing date is not under my control. I can’t wait to swoon about it on my blog someday!

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
Only three? That’s not nearly enough!
My initial thought was to choose the nationally known designers who I’ve met briefly or taken classes from, and would like to get to know better, but I realize that I’m lucky that I’ve already gotten to meet them and hear them interviewed on podcasts. So instead I’m going to choose designers that I “know” from ravelry, but whom I’m unlikely to meet in person unless I’m able to go to TNNA someday. All three are strong entrepreneurs who have found three very different business models that work well for their current life situation.
Julia Trice – A great designer, and a patient person who gives lots of wonderful advice and encouragement to those with less experience than she has. She’s thoughtful and honest, while always being diplomatic and prudent.
Triona Murphy – Her design sensibility really speaks to me, and if I had time to knit other people’s patterns very often, I would be a regular customer. We’ve had many lovely chats on ravelry and twitter, and I have the sense we would get along well.
Alex Tinsley – Hilarious on twitter, and with a sense of style that I love. I would want to take Alex shopping after dinner to overhaul my wardrobe. She has a knack for being fashionable without being so out there that you can’t imagine wearing her designs for years to come.

Giftalong Designer Interview: Karen Burnett Designs

Today we have the first of 2 interviews with designers participating in the Ravelry GAL - giftalong2014.
Karen Burnett Designs: GAL Bundle 2014

I asked Kaz of Karen Burnett designs about her work as a designer:

What is the thing you enjoy most about being a designer?
I mainly enjoy the fun of bringing an idea from my head to a finished item, the sense of achievement of turning crazy ideas in my head into something that actually works.

Where does your inspiration come from?
I get a lot of inspiration from the world around me, in designing items that I would love to wear. My cables inspiration come from my Scottish roots and the Celtic designs I love to look at.

What is the one thing you wish you had known when you started out designing?
 I wish I had known that 24hrs in the day is not enough and that WIPS and deadlines have a habit of creeping up on you. Also that designing is certainly not as straight forward as a lot of people think.

Which is your favourite design and why?
My Pilkington Cardigan is my favourite design, it was my first garment design and I love the simplicity of the top down seamless body that’s transformed when you do the cabled band.

If you could invite 3 designers to dinner, who would you choose?
Ohhhh that’s hard just to choose 3 as I would love to be in a room with s big table of loads of designers. I think my top 3 would be Ruth(Rockandpurl) , Liz Lovick (NorthernLace) and WoolyWormHead. But would love to spend a weekend or a full week at a designers retreat getting to know other designers from around the world.

The 2014 Giftalong has begun

It's finally here.

After weeks and months in the planning the 2nd Ravelry giftalong has started. In actual fact it started in the wee small hours (at 8pm EST, American time) but this morning certainly marks my official start.

Some amazing background work by the organisers has brought together 293 designers from 21 countries in a 2 month event

Check out this amazing graphic by the very talented 80skeins for lots of geeky GAL facts:

Amazing Giftalong Infographic by 80skeins

It gave me a real buzz to see that the UK is so well represented. There are many well known and not so well known designers taking part and it is a great opportunity to showcase our work to the knitting world.

The support on the various chat threads on Ravelry has been overwhelmingly positive too, with eager folk chatting, planning and generally having a great fibre-y time.

Louise Tilbrook Designs Giftalong (GAL) Patterns #giftalong2014

Here is a summary of my patterns which are available through the GAL and click here to see the full list of all participating designers and their patterns. There is also some wonderful eye candy here on Pinterest, although I'm not responsible for the effect that browsing this may have on your queue.

The all important details:
The GAL runs from Nov 14th-21st and use of the coupon code "giftalong2014" will give you 25% off each designers selected patterns. There are over 11,000 patterns in total to choose from so you won't be lacking in choice.

Nov 14th also sees the start of a 2 month KAL/CAL where you can knit your chosen patterns to your hearts content and join in the various chatter threads relating to your projects. The "Foot and Legs" thread is particularly fun - but then, I would say that ;)

Competitions, prizes, chatter and more mean that this should be a fabulous event for all concerned. I do hope to see you over there.