Progress...and a quandry

I'm sure it can't just be me who always seems to reach a sticking point partway through their project. All is going swimmingly, the yarn is fabulous, you love the way it works with the pattern and then, all of a sudden, nothing. All motivation dries up, disappears and the project descends into the the WIP basket never to be seen again.

For me, the crucial point is about 75% of the way through something. Even though my logical brain tells me that just a bit more effort and I'll be casting off, my less than rational brain is yearning to go and do something else. This is often compounded, as in the case of this shawl, when a crucial design decision is needed.

This is warm and squishy DK weight yarn and I'm keen to use as much of the yarn I had as possible - Cumbria DK from The Fibre Co. I'm now at the stage to do the border and the plan I had in my head doesn't look quite right. I find myself in a quandry and so of course I do what I normally do in this situation - cast on for something else.

But, today I am being good. It's coffee at the ready and thinking caps on. Today this shawl will have a border and I will be a happy designer - probably.

February Sock Challenge

Following on from the success of January's Brioche Challenge, February is going to be all about the socks - a subject that pleases me greatly.

Obviously we are all at different stages in our sock journey and so the type of challenge you pick is entirely up to you. As long as it involves socks or sock yarn it totally counts. Some ways that you might participate include (but are not limited to):

  • A new type of sock construction for you - toe-up if you're a cuff down devotee
  • A new type of heel/toe
  • A new technique such as cabling, lace or even (dare I say it) brioche?
  • Challenge yourself to use up a long term resident of your sock yarn stash
  • Use a new type of yarn in your socks - alpaca maybe?

The choice is yours. There is always the option to 'double dip' and join in with the Ravelry UK Sock Knitters group who have a sock KAL starting shortly. And of course, with spring not quite making its presence felt here in the Northern Hemisphere, February sees the return of last year's seasonal #knityellowsocks project- because whose day isn't cheered up by seeing a pair of sunny yellow socks?

So, in short, grab your needles, chose some yarn and get ready for a sock cast on. There will be lots of links and resources over in the Facebook Everyday Knitter group so hop on over and join us if you haven't already.

A way to show appreciation

For the past few years it has been my practice to have a series of sales promotions and discounts on patterns over the New Year period. This year however I chose not to for a variety of reasons but chiefly among these has been the realisation that I want to be able to target my special offers and discounts to those loyal followers.

Certainly mass promotions can have their place and the past several years has seen some of my older patterns pop back into the Ravelry Hot Right Now charts, but that has been at a price. The proliferation of (largely overseas) pattern sharing websites means that any patterns - particularly those offered for free - are vulnerable to copyright abuse and fraud and sadly last year that happened with a number of my patterns that I offered free for a limited time.

So, moving things in a more positive direction I would like to make better use of my email newsletter in order to be able to send special offers directly to those who follow me and who are interested in my designs.

In 2017 I am planning some changes to my email subscription service and this is just one of them. If you are reading this, the chances are that you are already subscribed but if not you might want to consider signing up for regular (non-spammy) updates, snippets and top tios.


No cold sheep here

Apologies in advance for the slight mini rant today but I have heard and seen so much online these past few days about 'Cold Sheeping' that I feel duty bound to try to redress the balance a little.

For those that don't know, the practice of Cold Sheeping refers to going on a yarn diet or a restricted yarn buying policy - akin to going 'cold turkey'. It is certainly a common feeling at this time of year to feel slightly overwhelmed by your stash, or to feel as though your house in general has way too much clutter in it to even contemplate buying anything more stuff. Heaven knows, I am certainly guilty of feeling a slight sense of panic as my formerly well-contained stash spills out of its neat wooden drawers and starts to set up home in other areas of my house (is it just me or does the stuff breed when you aren't looking?).

However, whatever the answer is I'm almost certain that it doesn't involve going on a yarn diet. For the simple reason that diets never work. If they did the diet industry would go out of business. Anything that advocates extreme restriction or denial will inevitably involve a backlash at some point and freed from constraint you will be gleefully hoarding pretty sock yarn again before you can say 'Blue faced Leicester'.

So, I am proud to say that there will be no Cold Sheep or yarn dieting here. This is a Cold Sheep Free Zone.

My stash is a thing of joy - it brings warm and woolly solace to dark days - and it means that at the drop of a hat (or the news of an imminent baby arrival) I can rummage in the stash, grab some needles and whip out something cute and giftable in less time than it takes to traipse into town to buy a congratulations card.

It must be especially hard at this time of year for our beloved LYS's and independent yarnies who have to endure all talk of 'cold sheep' with a fixed grin and a firm hand on their budgets. January can be bleak enough for any business but small, independent businesses feel the pinch more than most and a little support at this time of year could make all the difference. I know that budgets can be tight right now and appreciate that not everyone may have the funds to spend, but even if you can't take advantage of your favourite indie dyers latest update you can help spread the word by telling your friends or sharing it on social media. And if you are visiting your LYS but really don't want to buy more yarn you could always take the opportunity to stock up stitch markers or needles - you can never have too many of either.

So, this January I am encouraging you to give the Cold Sheep the Cold Shoulder. Embrace your stash in all its woolly glory and show some love to our fab independent business.



Stash Exploration

I am a huge fan of the Shinybees podcast - a UK based knitting/comedy podcast run by Jo Milmine. She has just announced a great project for 2017 called Active Stash Exploration which fits in so neatly with what I want to achieve in my knitting this year that I was literally bouncing with excitement by the time I had finished listening.

There are no cold sheep or yarn diets required and no self sacrifice. Instead the project is all about making the most of your stash, celebrating it and allowing it to shine in all its glory.

Jo speaks really passionately about how our skeins tell a story. We all have special yarn in our stash, perhaps with memories of a great holiday (any holiday where you discover a great LYS is, lets face it, a great holiday), or a skein that was a gift from a dear friend.

Those skeins deserve to be used and to be seen and #activestashexploration is all about that.

Jo has set up a new Facebook group for the podcast where you can join in with all the chat, or you can participate via Instagram with the hashtage #activestashexploration.

It will be great fun to see how this develops and I'm certainly looking forward to seeing others start to celebrate their stashes as I delve into mine.