Blog

Uncategorized

Weaving in ends

As someone who hates weaving in ends at the end of a project, you can imagine my joy when I discovered that you could weave in the ends as you go along!  I thought I would put together a little set of instructions to share this skill with you.

(The images show me purling the stitches as it is easier for you to see what the yarn tail and working yarn are doing but the instructions also work if you are knitting the stitches.)

1. Insert the right needle through the stitch as if to knit or purl.  Take the yarn tail that you would like to weave in and hold it across the needle. (Front to back if purling the stitch, back to front if knitting the stitch.)IMG_20170815_065953

2. Knit or purl the stitch as normal, taking care to bring the right hand needle under the yarn tail.  The yarn tail should now be sitting across the working yarn.

img_20170815_070029.jpg

3. Knit or purl the next stitch as normal.  The working yarn should now be holding the yarn tail in place.

IMG_20170815_070108

4. Repeat these 3 steps until the yarn tail is woven in as far as you would like.  You could  still secure it in using your usual method if you wish.

I hope that you found this tutorial helpful, and that it saves you a little time along the way.  Happy knitting!

Techniques, Uncategorized

Power of blocking

When I came back to knitting I had never heard of blocking.  It wasn’t something that I needed to do with that scarf or teddy bears jumper that I had knit when I was younger.  It wasn’t until I knit my first shawl that I really noticed the finishing instructions which said to block my work.  What an eye opener that was!

The first pattern that I used to reacquaint myself with my forgotten hobby was a mohair, lace, sleeveless cardigan type affair.  (Not one to start small and build up to the complicated stuff!) After painstakingly working my way through the pattern, researching the things that I didn’t understand, learning the hard way about the benefits of a lifeline, and discovering how to sew a knitted garment together properly I was a little disappointed that my finished garment didn’t quite look the same as the one in the picture.  But I hadn’t blocked it. So it was never going to.

To transform your newly completed knitted object in to the image that you have of what it should look like, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you block it.  If you are unfamiliar with how to block something it is quite straight forward.

  • Soak finished object in lukewarm water with a little wool wash being careful not to rub or agitate it to avoid felting (Wool wash, I use Soak, is not always absolutely necessary but it will make your knitting smell nice!)
  • Let it soak for 20 minutes
  • Take it out and gently squeeze out the water by hand
  • Lie object flat on a towel. Roll the towel up in to a sausage shape and walk up and down it to squeeze out the last of the water (Don’t use your best white towels for this. Sometimes the dye can run!)
  • Unroll the towel and place object on to a flat surface to dry (I use a bath towel on the spare bed)
  • Use pins to stretch out the object to the dimensions given in the pattern. (You can buy fancy blocking mats, wires and pins but ordinary sewing pins do the job just as well, and you can always upgrade to the fancy accessories if you like later on.)

Lace will always benefit the most from blocking in this way.  The transformation is nothing short of magical.  It takes the magic of making something with sticks and string to a whole new level! Do you always block your finished objects? Let me know how you can on if you are trying it for the first time.

Uncategorized

Time to review your goals

At the beginning of the year we all make plans for the things we would like to achieve in the next 12 months.  I even wrote a blog post about it.  But not many of us go back during the year and review how we are getting on with those goals, so when the year comes to an end we end up feeling disheartened that we haven’t achieved any of the things we set out to.  One way of solving this problem is to regularly review your goals throughout the year, but if you don’t quite have the time for that you can do as I do.  Try and keep your goals in mind as much as possible and, more importantly, set aside time in the middle of the year to sit down and assess how things are going.  You may discover that you have achieved more than you thought, or that the plan you made to achieve your goal isn’t working as well as you had hoped.  You could even discover goals that you had forgotten about.  Or you may decide, as I have, that some of your goals have shifted or changed from what you originally had in mind at the beginning of the year.

Since reviewing my own goals, I have been able to tick off a couple of things, remind myself of something that I had forgotten about, crossed out some that are no longer a good fit and replaced them with something more appropriate.  I have come away feeling more motivated and have more confidence that I can be successful in my endeavours.  Qualities that can often be lacking during the mid-year lull.

Dedicating time to this has enabled me to sit and dream and plan, without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else.  To some reviewing plans you have already made may seem frivolous and a waste of precious time, time that could be better spend on other things, but having that sense of achievement can work wonders for your self-esteem and that positivity will spill over in to other areas of your life.   Why don’t you give it a try?  Make a date in your diary to see if you are on the right track to achieving your goals.

Knit Designs, Uncategorized

Close to Home

I love to knit, and have a large collection of knitting patterns, but have often wondered if I would have what it takes to design something for myself.  Where do you begin?

I had recently bought some Daughter of a Shepherd DK yarn with the intention of using it to knit a hat for my Dad.  I had recently realised that he was the only member of my family that I hadn’t knit for so, when I discovered a yarn made from the fleece of sheep raised down the road from his childhood home, I decided it was time to remedy that.

For this perfect project I wanted the perfect pattern, and while there are many beautiful hat patterns on Ravelry (well worth a trip down that particular rabbit hole if you have a few hours to spare!) I couldn’t find one that said ‘Dad’.  It was then I decided to put this design idea to the test, but I soon came up against the same old hurdle.  Where to start?

Fortunately I came across Aroha Knits ‘Initiate Knit Design’ challenge and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  The challenge took you through 5 steps to help you go from idea to finished object, with a homework challenge at the end of each step to prepare you for the next one.  The steps were sent every couple of days but you could do them at your own pace if you wished.  I chose to try and keep up and was amazed how quickly I was able to transform my fledgling ideas in to a reality.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try their hand at knit design.

The result is my ‘Close to Home’ hat.  A unisex hat knit in the round from the bottom up with a simple cable and rib pattern that continues up in to the crown.  The yarn is wonderfully light and warm, making it the perfect transition piece to see you from summer to winter and back again.

The pattern will be for sale on Ravelry and will be released on 1 July.

Social media, Time management

Planning your social media

You have probably been told thousands of times how important social media is to your business, but trying to keep on top of it can leave you feeling overwhelmed.  This is certainly how I felt when I first set up my social media accounts.  I was unsure what to post, when to post and how often I should be posting.  It was time to create a plan!

First of all, I decided how often I wanted to post.  I would recommend that you start small.  I started out posting 3 or 4 times a week.  I wanted to be able to put out good quality content and this schedule enabled me to find my feet without being too overwhelmed.  Think about how much you feel you have to say, how much time you have and take it from there.

Once I knew how often I wanted to post I started to think about what I wanted those posts to say.  When I looked back over my posts for the first few weeks it was obvious that I was completely focused on setting up my business as this was all my feeds showed.  I felt that it was important for people to be able to get to know something about me and so I started showing more of my knitting alongside the business posts.  You don’t have to share everything about your life, think what your ideal customer might be interested to know and start from there.

I found taking part in one of the photo challenges that are popular on Instagram at the moment really helpful.  I found the daily prompts​ enabled me to come up with posts quicker, therefore saving time, so now I plan my content in advance by writing down a few prompts for the weeks ahead.  I don’t always use them, but I find it takes the pressure off when I’m not constantly thinking of something to post.

I don’t use a schedule app for my posts but I know that some people find them useful.  I did try one for a few days but I felt as though I was using more time rather than saving it so went back to posting normally.  If I have a busy week coming up then I will write a few posts and save them as drafts in case I need them.  I have found this to work much better for me as you can post straight from the draft rather than transferring it to your chosen platform.

In the end, trial and error has proven to be the best way to discover what works for me.  I may not always get it right but I am always learning how I can improve.  Don’t be afraid to leave behind the things that don’t work so that you can give more time to the things that do.

Uncategorized

Love your to do list

The humble to do list is probably the first thing you turn to when you need to get organised.  It certainly is for me.  I find that writing everything down helps me to think clearer and that I’m more likely to get things done. When I had my son and life with a newborn took hold, I started to make a list of jobs for the week so that I could keep track of all the things that needed to be done.  When I became a tech editor, I simply added the jobs related to my business to the list.

In the beginning this list was ongoing.  If something didn’t get done it simply didn’t get crossed of the list and the next weeks tasks were added to the bottom.  While this started off well it soon turned out to be a terrible idea!  If a job at the beginning of the list didn’t get done, the overall list would start to span several pages and as result would become overwhelming.  It felt as though I was falling behind with everything as it looked as though I had so much to do.

At the time I was getting started with Instagram and there was a lot of talk about bullet journals.  It looked as though it could be something that would help me better keep track of everything so decided to do a little bit of research.  I soon came across this site which tells you all you need to know to get started.  I soon decided that certain aspects would be more suited to my needs and that by using these methods I would soon have my to do list under control.  I now have a new list every week that shows the tasks carried forward from last week and the tasks that are new to the current week.  I also have somewhere to write down any notes or reminders so that everything is kept in one place.

I have found this method of organising really helpful as having everything written down means that I spend less time thinking about everything that need to be done and a lot less time worrying that I have forgotten something.  By looking at the list I can often see that things aren’t as bad as I originally thought. I can plan out which tasks I can fit in that day and see which tasks can wait.  While some weeks are naturally busier than other, creating my to do list in this way has definitely helped me to stay organised, made me more productive and given me more time as a result.

 

Uncategorized

Do you have the time?

How best to manage my time has been a big focus for me, particularly since becoming a tech editor. I’m sure that this can be an issue for many of you at times so I thought I would create a little series of blog posts sharing my tips for what I have found helpful, as well as the pitfalls I encountered along the way!

Starting your own business is a huge learning curve, no matter who or how many people you speak to before you set out. Your business is individual to you and so is the way that it has to fit in to your life and circumstances. So while you can gain a lot of really useful information by talking to other people in your field, it helps to remember that the nuts and bolts of how you run your business alongside your other commitments is going to be trial and error for a while (and if you are a bit of a perfectionist like me, then this may take some getting used to!).

When I started as a tech editor I had a very clear idea of how I would split my time between my family and my business but it didn’t take long for me to realise that while I had made a detailed plan for how I would handle the editing, I had drastically underestimated how much time the admin side would take. I knew I would have to formulate a plan of action.

So before taking on a task I now ask myself 3 questions:

  • How long will this actually take me?  Be realistic, then add extra time to give you a buffer should it take longer than a expected. If you are unsure how long something takes you, you could time yourself using the stopwatch on your phone to give you a better idea.
  • How much time do I actually have?  You might be free between 10am and 2pm but that doesn’t mean you have 4 hours in which to work.  You might have an appointment at 2pm that you have to travel to and you will need to stop for lunch, leaving you 3 hours or less in which to work.
  • How important is it?  Will everything else grind to a halt if you don’t carry out this task straight away or can it wait a while?

After that it is simply down to maths. If the time it takes to do something fits in to the time you have then that’s great!  If not, can you find more time by asking someone to help you with other tasks, freeing you to carry on with what you need to do?  Or if it isn’t that important, can you reschedule for another day when you know you will have enough time?

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself.  If the expectations that you put on your time are realistic then this will help you to stay focused and feel that you are moving closer to achieving your goals.

Uncategorized

Setting goals

The new year may be in full swing but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be thinking about setting goals, be it for yourself or for your business.  Why should you be restricted to only making plans one month out of twelve? And how many of us have been despondent at the end of the year when we can’t seem to see the results of all our hard work?

In the past I have certainly been guilty of setting an unachievable goal or two. By this I don’t mean that it was something far out of my reach, but that it was so vague that I either didn’t know where to start or had no way of monitoring my progress, so felt as though I hadn’t achieved anything.

This year however I am thinking SMART. This is an acronym that I learnt whilst working as a Teaching Assistant many years ago and is used to help set targets for learning, but is also used in many different sectors to help with setting targets and goals. It stands for:

  • S – Specific.  If you have a larger goal in mind, try breaking it down in to smaller, more detailed chunks.  This will help you to focus on exactly what you need to do in order to get to where you want to be.
  • M – Measurable.  Putting a figure on your specific goals can also help you to focus, while creating a simple way to monitor your progress. For example, “I want to design ‘X’ number of patterns this year”.
  • A – Achievable.  You might decide that you would like to design 12 intricate lace shawls this year, and while this is specific and measurable, you still need to sit back and ask yourself if it is physically possible.  Do you have the time and/or resources to achieve it?
  • R – Relevant.  As you work through your list of specific goals, check to make sure that they are still helping you to achieve your long-term goal. Maybe the bigger picture has changed over time?  Again, check that your specific goals are still relevant to your new direction.
  • T – Timed.  Give yourself a time frame for when you would like to reach your goal.  It can be 3 weeks or 18 months, it is entirely up to you.  Just try to keep it achievable.

The most important thing to remember is that whatever the goal, it is not set in stone.  Life gets in the way sometimes, things can change and that’s OK.  This isn’t a test.  There is no pass or fail.  This is simply a few ideas that you could use to help you focus on achieving your goals.  Even if you don’t get there in the time you had hoped, you will still be closer to your goal than when you first started. And that will be something worth celebrating.

Uncategorized

What to include in a style sheet

A style sheet can be beneficial for you as well as your tech editor. A style sheet will ensure consistency in style across all your patterns, making them a pleasure to knit which could lead to customers returning to you for your next pattern. It will also help your tech editor to know what you want your patterns to look like. This shared vision will help to produce a polished pattern and could also reduce the editing time needed.

Things you could include are:

Abbreviations – Which abbreviations do you use? For example, do you use ‘rnd’ or ’round’?  Do you use abbreviations common to the  UK or US? This can also be helpful if you are a US knitting designer but are using a UK tech editor. Do you list all abbreviations or just those for unusual construction?

Layout – How do you want your pattern to look? Do you use columns? Will you be including a photo? Do you include a schematic or a chart? Do you always capitalise the first letter of each row, for example ‘Row 1: K4, yo, k2tog ….’?

Notions – Do you like to list everything that a knitter will need to create your pattern?

Measurements – Do you want to show measurements in centimetres, inches or both?  Do you like to include regular stitch counts, particularly after an increase or decrease row?

Who are your patterns for? – Do you want them to be suitable for new or returning knitters or are they suitable for experienced knitters only?

These are just a few things to think about and you can change things as your pattern style develops, but the more information you can include in your style sheet, the more information will be included in your patterns.