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Winner + Designer Spotlight: Boo Knits

Our ongoing Designer Spotlight feature allows us to get a glimpse of what drives them to create.

Today, we interview Boo Knits. Bev is a knitter of shawls predominantly, and she has an avid obsession for beautiful yarns, beads and knitting needles. She lives in mildly moist but beautifully green England.

When did you learn to knit/crochet?
My aunt tried to teach me when I was a child but gave it up as a bad job when I just couldn’t hold my yarn properly. I still don’t! Many, many years later I taught myself with the aid of books, YouTube and a fair bit of trial and error to find the easiest way that worked for me.

What are your favorite projects to design?
I love to design shawls and have designed a couple of scarves/stoles but that doesn’t mean that that is all I will ever design. I have something different on the needles at the moment and we will have to wait and see whether it will become a pattern or not. I love the fun of designing and knitting lace – the playing with pattern and texture is mesmerizing.
Diamond Fizz by Boo Knits

A lot of knitters are intimidated by lace knitting. What are some of your fool proof tips for success with lace projects?

The most important thing is as simple as read the pattern. Read it again. Make a cup of coffee. Read the pattern. The answers to many of the questions I get asked are already in the pattern. Another useful tip - Stitch Markers! Stitch Markers are your friends, they are not a sign that you are new, less than able, cannot count, they are there to help keep track of your stitches and pattern and to help to make sure you don’t get to the end of the row only to have to tink back to put something right at the beginning. The finer your stitch markers the better, especially with lace knitting as some of the thicker markers can leave a mark in your knitting that looks like a ladder. These often disappear after blocking but not always and prevention is better than cure.

Many of your designs use beads; do you have any tips or tutorials to help knitters who are new to this technique?
Using beads is much easier than anyone would think. I would definitely recommend the better-quality beads on the market and particularly like Miyuki, Toho and Matubo – they have nice, smooth, large holes to get your yarn through. I almost always use their Size 6 Seed Beads and Size 5 Triangles on lace as the smaller beads simply get lost on anything heavier than cobweb. All of my patterns have the beads placed on the stitch individually. This ensures that the bead sits nice and straight on the stitch rather than sitting on a slant which happens when the beads are pre-strung.

There are many ways to apply a bead; with a tiny crochet hook, dental floss, a specially designed beader or, my favourite way, using a cro-tat hook. I load beads onto about six cro-tats at a time and stand them up in either a small vase or a jar of beads so that I don’t have to keep reloading. This means it is much quicker to finish a row with beads on and is less fiddly than only having one bead at a time.

Somehow it is smoother to apply beads when you have several on your hook. Just pop your stitch onto the loaded cro-tat, hold your hook at about 45 degrees with your stitch taut (at about 90 degrees from the hook) and push the bottom bead gently. The top bead should just pop onto your stitch and you are then ready to work the stitch as directed in the pattern.

What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?
As a lace knitter, it would have to be blocking wires and t-pins – an absolute must for anyone knitting shawls! I am sure, if stranded too long, they would become really good multi-purpose tools too.
Moonflower by Boo Knits

I have a MKAL starting 1st May called Just Be You. The shawl has been designed in conjunction with Lichtfaden for Sabine’s Meridian Pure Silk yarn. Just Be You is a crescent shaped, beaded and worked from the top down in a heavy lace weight yarn 660m/110g.
Sabine’s love for colour is evident to all and we talked at length about a style and influence for the design. Wave-Gotik-Treffen (WGT) is a gothic music and fashion festival held every year, for the past twenty-five years, in Leipzig, Germany.
With a Victorian picnic in the park, readings, theatre performances and medieval markets as well as the huge number of music events it is the biggest festival of its kind anywhere and is considered the ‘Mecca’ for cybergoths, metal heads, steampunks, neo-Victorians, dark romantics, dark electro, industrial and medieval fans.
Thousands of people descend on the city wearing the most amazing outfits – people attend alone, with friends or with their entire family and travel the world over to take part and experience this week-long event that is always a friendly, tolerant and trouble-free festival. So, whether your style is Victorian Lady, Gothic, Steampunk, or Jeans and T-shirt – Just Be You!
This shawl is a celebration of all of us, whoever we are, whatever we are and wherever we are – that we accept ourselves and others without judgement. Choose your colour and wear your shawl with pride and love and be true to yourself.
If you cannot wait until 1st May to cast on, then there are lots of other patterns available to try. Rum and Cola and Spritzer are brilliant for those new to lace, Voodoo and Spellbound would be great for anyone wanting something with more detail and Wintersweet, Danse Macabre and Temptress would be perfect for those with more experience. There really is something for everyone.

Winner
Congratulations to Connie K., this month's giveaway winner! We will contact you to arrange for the delivery of your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered this month's giveaway! 

2 Tips for Crocheting in the Round + Giveaway

Happy National Craft Month! Since March is also National Crochet Month, we're sharing two great crochet tips for jogless stripes and better joins for in-the-round crocheting. Stay tuned for a special giveaway, too!
in the round.JPG

Many beginning crocheters are disappointed when they see jogs in their striped projects (such as hats) or when they have a bumpy seam going up their in-the-round projects. 

The Problem: Color Jogs & Messy Joins
First, let's look at the traditional joining method to see why color jogs happen:


In color A, single crochet all the way around, slip stitch to join. Chain 2, insert your crochet hook into first stitch and join color B.
traditional joining.JPG


This technique creates a spike or a jog in the stripe. While it isn’t that apparent in large stripes, with 1-3 row stripes these jogs are unsightly.


The Solution:
In Color A, single crochet around until you get to the final stitch of the round. Insert your hook into the last stitch, yarn over with Color A and pull a loop through. With Color B, yarn over and pull the final loop through, and slip stitch to join. This gives you a jogless join!

jogless step 1.JPG
jogless step 2.JPG
jogless step 3.JPG


What about those funny bumps when joining in the round?
For solid color pieces in the round, your best option is to use the spiral method.


When you reach the end of your round, instead of slip-stitching to the beginning of the round, single crochet into the first stitch and continue. Use a removable stitch marker to keep track of the number of rows you’ve crocheted. Slip stitch on the final row to finish off the piece.
spiral step 1.JPG
spiral step 2.JPG

We hope these tips help you with your crocheting in the round!


Giveaway
One lucky blog reader will win a Waves Crochet Set! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us what projects you're looking forward to making this spring. Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win.

We will pick our winner at random to announce on our next blog post on Friday, March 24. Good luck!

Winner
Congratulations to Margo B., our winner for the bonus giveaway we announced on our last blog post! We'll get in touch with your shortly to arrange the delivery of your prize. Thank you to everyone who entered our contest!

Designer Spotlight: Jen Geigley


Chunky knits are still hot! These quick-to-knit projects offer instant gratification, and there are so many great designs making use of big yarns, big needles, and oversized texture. Designer Jen Geigley could be called the queen of chunky knits: both of her books, Weekend and Everyday, are chock full of gorgeous & wearable projects. Below is our interview with Jen, and be sure to read on to the end to see who won our February blog giveaway, and for a special treat!


When did you learn to knit/crochet?
I started knitting in 2008. I had two friends who were knitters and I begged them to teach me. One night, they taught me how to cast on, knit and purl and I immediately became obsessed. I read every book I could get my hands on and I haven’t stopped knitting since.

How did you get started designing?
I wrote my first pattern in 2010 – just a simple cowl that I had knitted a few times, but really liked. So I decided to write down the pattern. That pattern accidentally launched me into knitwear design because (almost overnight) it became very popular online. After that, I decided to experiment more, play with yarn, shapes and stitch patterns and keep writing.


What is your design process typically like? What are your favorite projects to design?
Everything starts in a sketchbook that I carry with me. I also make mood boards for larger projects, like my books. I draw first, swatch next and then start writing. I really love making an entire collection and envisioning how it will look together when photographed. It generally takes me about a year to write a book and knit samples. Some things end up not fitting with the collection and I usually have to knit them in their entirety to figure that out. Some things just don't make the final cut … it's kind of like Project Runway (Make it work!).
Leo Scarf from Everyday
You've now self published two distinct collections of patterns, Weekend and Everyday. How were you able to complete such big projects on your own?
It definitely takes a team in the end! I had lots of help from my tech editor and my talented photographers and models made everything look amazing. But yes, for a long time this was just me … slowly playing with ideas and brainstorming how things would look when they were all put together. With my first book, I definitely had to talk myself into it. I didn’t get completely serious about writing a book until I hung out with a successful photographer and book publishing friend of mine. We sat down and he talked me through the publishing process. He filled in the blanks and answered so many of my questions. I had the knitting part figured out, but the rest had been a mystery. It was that day that I decided to jump in and really go for it. I made myself a firm deadline of Fall 2015 and that was it. I wasn’t going to let another knitting season pass me by. I wrote a note to myself on a post-it and kept it on the inside cover of my sketchbook. And it just said ‘Don’t stop.’
I first started the rough outline of my book by dividing it into two parts – the first half is very photo-heavy and the second half is the text portion of my book. The patterns. So I made a list of photography shots that I wanted to get of each project. Then I made some bullet points for everything I’d need to write … special technique explanations, resources, acknowledgements, the table of contents, etc. And of course, the patterns themselves. Each pattern needs a list of supplies, notions, the sizing information and gauge. Plus a detail photo, and the instructions. So I began organizing that info in a graphic way using InDesign … experimenting with the hierarchy and the flow. (Sometimes being a graphic designer is a valuable thing!)
To track progress and keep up with the deadlines I had set for myself, I used Action Method notebooks. They have little blanks for Action Steps and things to put on the backburner. I kept several of these going … I’d cross things out or move on to new lists as things changed or new goals took priority. I also kept one sketchbook where I’d draw out pattern ideas and jot down quick notes. It’s very messy and scribbly but I’ll probably keep it forever.
Gap-tastic Cowl

What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?
I cannot live without my Knitter’s Pride Nova Cubics Platina interchangeable circulars set! Truly. I can’t remember how many years I’ve owned these, but I knit almost everything in my books with these needles. I love how my stitches stay uniform when knitting with Cubics. Truly a game-changer. I also love that Knitter's Pride carries the big needles that I need for my super-bulky projects – I have the Jumbo Birch circular US 36 and US 50 needles and I use them all of the time.


Do you have any knitting horror stories or mishaps?
Well, I just lost one of my project bags for an entire week. It had 4 skeins of yarn in it and a half-finished sweater! Every time I thought about it, I felt sick. I had no idea where I'd left it and called every single place I’d been to that week (which was a lot of places) and it finally turned up at a car dealership where I’d had an oil change.


I also left my entire knitting bag at a coffee shop one time and as I had walked out, one of the yarn balls had trailed behind me into the parking lot, unbeknownst to me. When one of the employees found my bag, they must have went outside and scooped the yarn up and saved the bag for me until I came back the next time. There was a big post-it note on my bag that said 'give this to the knitting girl.'  I've decided to attach luggage tags with my contact info on all my project bags from now on. HA.


Jen Geigley has written and self-published knitting patterns since 2010. Clean, modern designs inspire her and she has a love and appreciation for simple knits that are wearable. Her designs have been published in Knit Simple Magazine, Noro Magazine, Knitsy Magazine and Rowan’s Online Publications. She is the author of 'Weekend: Simple, Modern Knits' and 'Everyday: A casual, modern hand-knit collection.' (Jessica Jones actress Krysten Ritter is a fan of her books and recently recommended them to her Instagram followers!) Jen's most popular pattern, the Gap-tastic cowl, has been knit 18,252 times on Ravelry. She is passionate about sharing the love of knitting by teaching knitting classes to adults and children at local high schools and workshops and loves knitting with her daughter.


Find Jen around the web!
Buy the books here - http://www.jengeigley.com/shop/


Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Iamjoannep! You have won this month's blog giveaway, we will get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of your prize.

Bonus Giveaway!

One of our lucky readers will win this prize pack! You can enter our contest by using the widget below, or click here to view a mobile-friendly version. We'll announce the winner on our next blog post on Friday, March 10. Good luck!


Giveaway + 3 Ways to Use our Fabric Bags (That Aren't for Knitting)

While we love knitting (and yarn and crocheting, too!) some of our products aren't just for knitters. Our fabric bags are colorful, durable, and washable - made from stunning hand-printed fabrics in a variety of styles, they are ideal for many different uses! Read below for 3 non-knitting ways to use these bags.

1. When you travel, it's important to keep all of your vitamins. supplements, and other small things contained and all in one place. The small zipper pouch from the Amber line is great for teas, Emergen-C and other small things you might need when traveling, and want to be able to reach quickly.



2. Another organizational/travel tip is to use one of the large zipper bags from the Joy line as a makeup bag or dopp kit. Keep small toiletry items inside along with make-up, travel-size shampoos or lotions, or a small hair brush. This will help clean up and dress up your bathroom counter with a cute fabric bag.


3. If you are into other fiber arts like embroidery or needlework, a medium zipper pouch from Amber line is good for containing other tools of the trade, here we have embroidery floss, some wooden cross stitch blanks, scissors, and other small notions.


Click here to see all of our fabric bag options on the Knitter's Pride website. If you already have one of our fabric bags, we'd love to see how you are using them - show us over on Instagram and use the hashtag #knitterspride!

Giveaway

One of our lucky blog readers will win a red Amber zipper pouch this month! To enter, leave a comment telling us how you would use one of these bags! Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win.

We will randomly select a winning comment to announce on our next blog post on Friday, February 24. Good luck!

Winner + How to Dye Yarn at Home with Minimal Mess

Congratulations to imwalton, our winner for this month's blog giveaway! We will be in touch with you shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize.

If cabin fever is starting to set in this winter, why not try dyeing your own yarn to add some color to your next project? It's easier than you think - in fact, you might have everything you need already in your kitchen! Here, we've used sugar-free Kool-Aid to dye a multi-colored skein of yarn and will show you how to do your own at-home dyeing with minimal mess.

Supplies:

  • 1 skein of undyed yarn. We've used Beth, a blend of 30% US Merino Wool, 20% Silk and 50% Alpaca from Kraemer Yarns, which already has several ties on the skein to keep skeins tidy throughout the dye process. Click here to see their many undyed yarn options!
  • Packets of sugar-free Kool-Aid in a variety of flavors. We've chosen Pink Lemonade, Strawberry & Grape to create a Valentine's Day-inspired colorway; click here to see the colors produced by each flavor on the Knitty blog archive.
  • 3 bowls (for mixing dye).
  • Microwave-safe dish. Make sure that your entire skein of yarn can fit comfortably without the colors touching.
  • Gloves.
  • Dish Soap.
  • Spoon for mixing.
  • Newsprint or brown craft paper (to cover your work area). 

Dyeing Your Yarn:

1. Mix each flavor of Kool-Aid in its own bowl with hot water. For our colorway, we mixed 1 c. hot water with 1 packet of Pink Lemonade, 2 c. hot water with 2 packets of Strawberry, and 2 c. hot water with 2 packets of Grape. Stir with spoon to ensure that powder is thoroughly dissolved, then add a dash of dish soap to each bowl and give it another quick stir (the soap will help to work the dye through your skein of yarn).



2. Take one end of the skein and dip it into your first bowl of dye. Gently work the dye through with your gloved hand in a "massaging" motion.


3. Take the middle of the skein and dip it into the next bowl of dye, again massaging the dye throughout the  skein with your gloved hand.


4. Take the other end of the skein and dip it into your final bowl of dye, working the dye through the skein with your gloved hand.


5. Now, begin massaging your yarn to incorporate more of the undyed skein into each color section like so:


6. Allow the skein to set in the bowls for a few more moments, then transfer to your microwave-safe dish carefully, gently squeezing to remove excess dye from each color section as you do so. Make sure to go from light to dark in order to protect the lighter color as much as possible.


7. Heat set the dye by microwaving for 1-2 minutes (find more info on how to heat set your yarn here; there are also guidelines for heat setting dye in a conventional oven found here).


8. Remove your yarn and allow to cool down before the next step - you want to avoid shocking the fibers from hot to cold, which could cause accidental felting.

9. Rinse  in cool water, either by hand or in a top-loading washing machine which allows you to skip to the spin part of the cycle. If rinsing by hand, gently remove excess water by squeezing skein gently, then wrapping in a fluffy towel to remove remaining moisture. Hang to dry, or lay flat on Knitter's Pride Blocking Mats, if you prefer.

Note: If this is your first time dyeing, or if you are just unsure whether or not you have correctly heat set the dye, we recommend testing a small section of the skein under running water first before immersing the entire thing. If your dye was heat set correctly, you will not see any dye in the water at this stage. It will be easier to return to step 7 to re-set the dye if you have only rinsed a tiny section!

Once your skein is dry, you can look for the the perfect pattern for your new creation!
Our Naturalz needles are a great choice for this colorful yarn!

Like this post? Pin it!

New Year's Resolution Mad Lib & Giveaway

At the start of every year, people make New Year’s Resolutions to improve their lives: weight loss, improved eating habits, saving money, or learning a new skill often top the list.

Have you ever thought to make resolutions for your crafting life? Do you want to learn how to knit brioche, or how about learning how to do broomstick lace? We've created a fun Mad Lib to help you make yarny resolutions for 2017!

Start by filling out the following spaces below (you can print your own copy here, or do the mad lib online) and then transfer your answers into corresponding blanks of the story below!

Feel free to print the PDF and bring it to your knit night to see what your friends are going to resolve for 2017 - we invite you to share photos of your completed Mad Lib on social media using the #knitterspride and #knitterspridemadlib hashtags, too!



To complete Mad Lib: Fill in the blanks below, then transfer your answers to the following story.

[your name]: ______________
[craft not ending -ing]: _____________
[plural noun]: _____________
[number]: __________
[skill not ending in -ing]: _____________
[verb not ending in -ing]: ___________
[number]: __________
[month]: ___________
[exclamation]: _________
[designer name]: _____________
[color]: ____________
[color]: ____________
[number]: __________
[fiber art tool]: __________




Now it’s time to fill in your answers to discover your Yarny Resolutions for 2017! 


I, [your name] _______________ have the following resolutions for 2017.
  1. This year I will [craft not ending -ing] __________ 10 [plural noun] __________ with size [number] ____ needles.
  2. One lucky person will win
    this Royale DPN Needle Set!
    I will learn how to [skill not ending in -ing] ________.
  3. I will not [verb not ending in -ing] _________ until I finish [number] _______ sweaters before [month] ______.
  4. I am going to make the [exclamation] ______ shawl by [designer name] ___________.
  5. I am going to create a sweater in [color] _____ and use [color] ______ as an accent.
  6. I will keep my yarn stash below [number] ______ skeins, and if I exceed that number, I will sell my [fiber art tool]  ________!


Giveaway
Paste your completed Mad Lib into the comments below to enter yourself into our January Blog Giveaway! One lucky blog reader will win this Royale DPN Needle Set.

Be sure to also include your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We'll announce the lucky winner on Friday, January 27. Good luck!

Winner + Designer Spotlight: Wooly Wormhead

Wooly Wormhead Interview
Congratulations to caffeine72, our winner for this month's blog giveaway. We will get in touch with you shortly to arrange delivery of your prize! 

For our final blog post of 2016, we are pleased to share this interview with Woolly Wormhead, whom we've been a fan of for quite some time. We have donated a few prizes to her Muratura KAL that is happening now through December 31 (click here for more info), and last week she shared a technique tutorial with us - click here if you missed it


When did you learn to knit/crochet? - or - How did you get started designing?

My mum taught me to knit when I was 3, and I started making clothes for my dolls. You could say I started designing when I was about 7 or 8 or maybe even younger, as I clearly remember making up patterns by myself for my toys, and finding inventive ways to achieve things. I made my first jumper for myself when I was 9, and from there continued making garments for myself every year.

What is your design process typically like? 

Varied, but always organic! I'm not very good at having everything planned out on paper beforehand, with several trusty swatches. I can do it, but I always need to refine on the needles. And often that means ripping out and adjusting. I will chart out stitch patterns and know how the design will be graded before I cast on, but it's never a done deal; the design is never finished until everything is polished, and that's usually done on the needles. It's not uncommon for me to reknit a Hat 3 times to get the fine details just right.

What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?

My Karbonz short tip interchangeables - they're my go-to needles, each and every time. I'm also developing quite a thing for the Zing short tip interchangeables, too!


What tips do you have for knitters who plan on gifting their KAL hat to that knit-worthy person on their list? 

Sizing is really important - one size does not fit all! That said, you can pretty much guarantee that if the Hat you knit doesn't quite fit or suit the person you originally had in mind, it will fit and suit someone ;)

I have a super handy guide on my website to measuring for Hats, and gives you an idea of average head sizes. They are just that though, average. Some Hats and stitch patterns are much more forgiving about size (lacey slouchy Hats for instance) but others are not - cables and other heavily structured patterns need more precision. It's always worth remembering that a knitted fabric will stretch widthways, but what it gains there it loses in length.

There's also a useful guide on my website for choosing the right Hat style to suit difference face shapes and hairstyles - some people might be surprised to hear that there is a Hat to suit everyone!

Muratura hat designed by Woolly Wormhead
What is your favorite cast-on method for hats? Other projects? 

That would depend on the brim with vertical Hats... the alternate cable cast-on where a rib is needed, a cable cast-on if the edge pattern really doesn't matter or needs something giving but strong, and a crochet provisional cast-on as a main cast on as a decorative finish, especially on garter stitch. I've recently been introduced to the Chinese waitress cast-on and am keen to experiment with it more, and see how it works in the round (i.e. can I join it invisibly?)

Other projects? What are 'other projects'?! ;-)


Woolly Wormhead is a Hat Architect. With an instinctive flair for unusual construction and a passion for innovation, Woolly Wormhead is a designer whose patterns are trusted and celebrated by knitters all over the world. As a designer, Woolly is driven by a need to create and develop her understanding of 3D form. Communicating her ideas and sharing her specialised knowledge with her audiences is key to Woolly’s success as a designer. Woolly's high quality pattern writing ensures perfect results, teaches new skills and encourages us all to become Hat architects. Visit www.woollywormhead.com for further details.