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Winner + Charity Spotlight: Geek-a-long

The Geek-a-long is a yearly mystery blanket KAL hosted on the Lattes and Llamas blog and Ravelry group. Each Sunday, a free pattern for a geek-themed double-knit or crochet square is released; Megan-Anne and Jac ask only that participants consider a donation to the Child's Play Charity. Once again, Knitter's Pride is proud to be a benefactor, and we want to share a little bit more about the Geek-a-long with our fans this month.
Jac & Megan-Anne of the Lattes & Llamas blog.
Each year, Megan-Anne and Jac design 48 different squares which are centered around a fandom theme (this year, it's Mad Scientists); from these 48 squares, participants can choose 24 squares to create a 48"x72" blanket, which means that it's not too late to join in to this year's event! After 48 weeks of releasing square patterns, information about how to assemble the blanket and add an edging is shared on the Lattes & Llamas blog. All past square designs can be found here on the Lattes & Llamas website.
2014 Geek-a-long Blanket
Last year, the Geek-a-long event raised $3,440 for the Child's Play Charity, which is a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in their network of over 70 hospitals worldwide. They hope to surpass this goal in 2015, and we look forward to watching their progress over on the Lattes & Llamas blog.

WINNER

Designer Spotlight: Jana Huck + Giveaway

Jana Huck is a knitwear designer based in Luebeck, Germany; she is mostly known for her patchwork interpretations of the symmetry drawings by Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher. Jana also designs garments and accessories and blogs in English and German at www.janukke.com.

She has a group on Ravelry, janukke Strickdesign, where you can join KALs and other knitting related activities. Hop over and have a look, Jana loves to hear back from knitters!

How long have you been knitting, and how did you get started designing?
I have been knitting for almost seven years now. Once I had figured out how to follow directions and how the knitting process works, I wanted to realize my own ideas. And it didn´t take long until I wrote them down so that I could share them with other knitters, which is ridiculously easy ever since the invention of the internet and Ravelry. I cannot say enough how wonderful it is to get in touch with other knitters and share ideas, inspirations, techniques and so much more!
On the Shore Blanket

Where do you get inspiration?
I draw my inspirations from everywhere. From life really, as cheesy as this is. Everything around me is intense and often pretty. I especially like to be inspired by nature, but I have also often been intrigued by architecture, graphic patterns, the art of M. C. Escher, and the work of other knitters, among other things.
Often the yarn itself is what makes me think of something. It can be anything, for example the way leaves are dancing in the wind on a tree in spring, something completely random like that. With that picture in mind I start knitting.
My goal for every design is that it is new and has never been seen before like this. All inspirations are merely jumping off points and become a thing of their own.

How did Janukke Strickdesign come about?
When I started designing I used the alias “janukke” on Ravelry. Later it became the label “Janukke Strickdesign”.
Swirlybird Shawl

How do you balance your own design and blogging career with curating Janukke Strick Design?
Ah, you are asking the hard questions! … That´s something I come back to every so often to reevaluate. Naturally, I am drawn to designing. That´s what I started out doing and what I enjoy. But caring for the public and social media part of designing is how knitters get to know my designs, so it is very necessary. And I enjoy talking to knitters tremendously – it´s how many new friendships developed over the years. So it´s a balance. Sometimes I feel I am focusing too much on knitting, then again I have the notion that I am not knitting anymore at all. So I guess the average is ok.

Do you have any knitting horror stories/mishaps?
Of course! Who hasn´t. But none of them are too entertaining. There´s the sweater that for some reason fell into my laundry unnoticed and got unintentionally felted, there are the beginner mishaps of choosing the wrong yarn (who knew merino would grow All That Much?) or the wrong pattern (eek, I look like I never heard of such thing as fashion).

What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
This year I have so many great plans that it´s hard to pick only one or two. I´ll be working together with yarn companies, meeting other knitters that I know through the internet, teaching workshops, … and I haven't even mentioned the many designs I cannot wait to get done and put out there. I already had my first small success this February with my new Sea Buckthorn shawl collection, which is a good start into 2015, I think.


Five Rings Cuffs
Giveaway
This month we're giving away a Rhine Needles & Crochet Hook Case to one lucky blog reader. To enter, leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite design from Jana Huck's Ravelry Page. Don't forget to leave us your Ravelry ID so we can contact you if you're our lucky winner!

Summer Fun with Pom Poms

Today, we're featuring three fun craft ideas for the Knitter's Pride Rejoice and Nirvana Pom Pom Makers. These are great crafts for using up those odd bits of leftover yarns and fun to do with kids, too! 



For our projects, we made larger pom poms using the 2.5"/8.5cm Nirvana pom pom maker and smaller pom poms using the 3/8"/3.5cm Rejoice pom pom maker. For instructions on how to make pom poms, take a look at this tutorial from our blog archive.  

Pom Pom Hair Tie
Our first project is a fun summer accessory for keeping the hair off your neck! All you'll need is a pom pom in the size of your choice (we used a small one) and a hair tie. 


Using the tails from your pom pom, secure the pom pom to your hair tie. Be sure to wrap a few times and tie some nice strong knots so that it won't come apart. 


Voila, you have an adorable pom pom hair tie! 


Pom Pom Flowers
Our second project is a great way to decorate your home throughout the year - and you won't have to worry about watering or wilting! We went outdoors to source a small branch to use with both large and small pom poms (in the example below, we use one of each size, but feel free to get creative!).


All you have to do is tie your pom poms to the branch using the tails; you can use a little craft glue to secure the ends in if you like. Using hot glue or other craft glue to secure each pom pom might be helpful with more slippery yarns like cotton. You can make several and put them in a vase for a lovely decoration! 


Pom Pom Garland
With our third project, you can add a little color to any part of your home! You can make your garland as long as you'd like, depending on where you plan to hang it. 

For our garland, we used 8 of the smaller pom poms and crocheted a chain approximately 4.5 feet long. 

To make sure your garland comes out fairly even, fold your crochet chain in half, and arrange the pom poms in the order you'd like them to appear. Remember that the ones at the center (on the left in the photo below) should be closer together since the crochet chain is folded.


Tie your pom poms to your crochet chain and trim the ends. Now you're ready to hang your garland! 


We used ours to brighten up a shelf in the kitchen! Where would you hang a pom pom garland?




Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to Shelley, you're the lucky winner of a Nova Platina Deluxe Interchangeable Needle Set! We'll be in touch to arrange delivery of your prize. Thanks to everyone who participated! 


Recent Events + Giveaway!

In March of this year, the Hobby & Handarbeit (commonly referred to as simply H+H) trade show took place in Cologne, Germany. This yearly event attracts 370 exhibitors and over 15,000 trade visitors from all over the world, and KnitPro is proud to take part by exhibiting our wide range of needles, hooks and accessories for knitters and crocheters (for those of you who might be wondering, Knitter's Pride products are sold outside of North America under the KnitPro brand).
This is also when we introduce our newest additions to the KnitPro product lineup, and we enjoy getting a chance to chat with visitors to our booth each year.
Another great thing about attending H+H is to get a peek at the emerging trends in the handcraft industry. This video from the H+H YouTube Channel does a great job of sharing some of the inspirational ideas we spotted at this year's show: 
More recently, our needles and hooks were found at YarnCon, which is an indie yarn and fiber festival which takes place each spring in Chicago, IL. 
In addition to being part of the yarn tasting area, Knitter's Pride products were found in the Gnome Creation Station, which was an area where visitors could knit or crochet a small gnome toy to be included in an upcoming art installation in Seoul, South Korea. 
The installation will be created by Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochiland, who recently put out a call to crafters near and far to donate their gnomes for the cause, dubbed #ProjectGnomeDiplomacy. You can read more about the project here on Anna's blog; we look forward to seeing it take shape later this summer! 


Giveaway
Use the widget below to enter this month's giveaway by signing up for our newsletter (if you are already a subscriber, simply enter your email address to confirm). Click here for a direct link to the entry form if the widget does not work for you!

Designer Spotlight: Heidi Gustad of Hands Occupied + Winner

Heidi Gustad of Hands Occupied
wearing the Faux Woven Cowl
This month, we are proud to have sponsored YarnCon, Chicago's Indie Fiber Festival. To celebrate, we're featuring another Chicago-based knitwear designer, Heidi Gustad of Hands Occupied. 

Heidi is a part-time librarian with a passion for all things crafty. On the Hands Occupied blog, you'll find knitting and crochet patterns and tutorials, project ideas for other yarn crafts, and plenty of inspiration, too! Crafters of all skill levels will find lots of useful information, from the Knewbies tutorials to tips and tricks geared towards more advanced knitters and crocheters. 

How long have you been knitting, and how did you get started designing
I first learned to knit at age 8 from my grandma who saw in me an anxious kid who could benefit from a relaxing hobby. Plus, I was a total freak for crafts as a kid - it made perfect sense. While I didn't fully latch on to knitting regularly until I was in high school, I have technically been knitting for almost 20 years, despite being 27.

I started designing my own patterns for myself in college, but it didn't occur to me to start sharing my patterns, let alone start publishing my patterns, until a couple years ago. I ultimately became a designer because of my blog, Hands Occupied. I started the blog when I was 23 as a way to more actively participate in the online crafting and DIY world. What I wanted to do from the beginning was really start a knitting blog, but I was too chicken. I blogged about general craft tutorials and inspiration for the first couple years of my blog. During those years I learned how to code so I could make my own changes to my site as needed, I learned how to take decent pictures, and I learned how to market my content online. What was missing from the equation those first couple years was the level of passion I feel for knitting and crochet design.
The Long John Cowl, a free pattern from Hands Occupied

About 18 months ago, I started blogging knitting patterns since, dammit, that's what I wanted to do. I think I just had to get to a certain age to get the confidence (and skills) I needed to finally take the plunge into design. The blog gave me a chance to put patterns out there for free, which gave my readers the chance to share what they liked or didn't like about a given design and let me know if I made an error in my pattern, which was a really effective way to learn quickly what pitfalls to avoid in designing! It was interesting how much my experience marketing general craft DIYs like Mod Podging fabric on a shelf helped in marketing my patterns. The photography experience and social media network have proven especially useful.

Where do you get inspiration?
I like to make patterns that are practical. Of my free blog patterns, the most popular have both been cowls that I designed during the deepest, coldest days of Chicago's last two winters. One, the Faux Woven Cowl, was designed to be virtually windproof for my husband's daily walks to and from the train he takes to work. And the Long John Cowl was inspired by my need for extra warmth on my own way to work, but it also rolls down to be worn as a neck warmer when my workplace is freezing. 

Outlander Chevron Shawl,
a free pattern from Hands Occupied
Since I like to design with an eye toward practicality, I'm often inspired by the yarn I'm working with. I love getting my hands on a new-to-me yarn, swatching with it, and having a spark of an idea when I understand how the fiber would behave as a garment. Sometimes I'll swatch with a laceweight and notice a fluidity to how the swatch lays/handles, and I'll know just the right type of garment to design with it. (Maybe this makes me sound crazy/artsy fartsy or doesn't make sense, but for me, there's just this gut feeling thing that happens with certain yarns that's super inspiring for me as a designer.)

How do you balance your own design/blogging career with your part-time job as a Librarian? Do you have any helpful hints for ways to maximize crafting time for those who are pressed for time? 
Pardon the pun, but at this point I could write a book about how complicated balancing my job as a Librarian and balancing my creative career is. (For a short version of the anxiety and compromise and whatnot that leading a dual career lifestyle entails, check out this post I wrote on the subject.) Most people assume I do all of my blogging and design work on top of a full time Librarian gig, but it's not the case. I chose a couple years ago to take a part time job that still required my library science Master's degree in order to achieve a better balance between my creative career and being a Librarian. That's the key. I still work way more than 40 hours a week, but based on what I can tell from friends' careers and my husband's most of us work way more than 40 hours a week. I just try to keep my Librarian job to around 20 hours, and design with the rest of it. Luckily audiobooks exist to help me keep up with all of the reading required of my bookish job. :)

The first few years I blogged, I was working full time in libraries and attending grad school. I also got married and moved to Chicago from Michigan in there one year too. That was shenanigans. I thought that it was necessary to be sleep deprived and ultimately a little unhappy in order to pursue any career, especially a creative one. I don't recommend that.
What I do recommend for finding more time to create, even if it's just for yourself, is this:
  • If you get a full hour for lunch, bring something you can eat in 15 minutes. Then plug in some headphones to zone out with your craft for the other 45.
  • If you can take transit or carpool, do! I bring knitting and crochet on the train all the time. I recommend avoiding DPNs since those can drop and roll away from you, but circulars and crochet projects can be your commuter crafting BFF.
  • If you get frustrated by a never-ending project, consider alternating working on those with an easy-to-finish project like a chunky hat or socks or mittens. Switching up your routine can help you feel more productive and avoid frustration, particularly when time isn't on your side.
  • Use a calendar. When I was in grad school, working full time and blogging too, I would schedule myself time to create, even in just half hour chunks. I'd try to create for a little while after work but before I shifted to homework time to help give myself a mental break.
  • If you're in school, particularly if you're taking online classes, knit while you watch your lectures. Crochet while you get reading done via audiobook. It takes some balancing, but you can find little bits of creative time without losing sleep!
Vintage Checked Mittens,
a free pattern from Hands Occupied
What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
I'm going to my first needle arts industry conference in May, and I couldn't be more pumped! I hear I will come away with some excellent design inspiration and lots of new friends.

Do you have any knitting horror stories/mishaps?
The first time I designed a baby blanket, I completely took for granted that what I thought was a piece of cake to make could just as easily be translated into a written pattern. That was a big, facepalm-inducing moment for me that helped me really understand the process behind designing and proofing a pattern. Nothing feels worse than when a dedicated reader and internet knitting friend ends up confused when they trust you and your work as a designer. Luckily, my blog readers are amazing and ended up teaching me a lot the first few months I released patterns on my blog. Nowadays, I've published a few patterns in print, have signed with a book agent and am opening my own indie pattern shop online, and thanks to the feedback from readers, I know what they like about my designs and how to work with a tech editor and test knitters!

April Blog Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to AnnBan, who won a Waves Crochet Set in this month's giveaway. We will get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of your prize. Be sure to visit the Hands Occupied blog for another chance to win a fabulous prize from Knitter's Pride!


Olek in India

Olek is a polish-born fiber artist. She is best known for covering large pieces, including people, buildings, statues, and more with crocheted pieces. One of Olek's recent projects has been a collaboration with St+art India foundation to create India's first ever crochet installation.


AllKraftz has partnered with Olek and St+art India foundation to cover an entire women's shelter in crochet pieces. AllKraftz, the Indian retailer for Knitter's Pride and KnitPro products, donated crochet hooks for the entire project and sent 14 women from the KnitPro factory to work full-time on this project.


Olek also visited the KnitPro factory where all Knitter's Pride and KnitPro needles and tools are crafted.



Olek was a pleasure to work with and our team in India greatly enjoyed their experience working with her. In India crochet is seen as a craft done by women in more remote areas and at home. She told the women to crochet freely and make whatever pieces they'd like--she didn't want to dictate patterns but wanted each woman to express herself. She told stories about her experiences working with people in different countries and the crafty women of KnitPro also enjoyed sharing their stories with her.

The final project to cover a women's shelter in Delhi took 60 people 3 weeks and around 90 kilometers (over 50 miles) of fabric!




You can also read a wonderful article about the project that was featured in the Huffington Post here and see more photos in the article from Juxtapoz Magazine here.

Giveaway
This month we're giving away a Waves Crochet Hook Set to one lucky blog reader. To enter to win share with us what inspires you to craft. Don't forget to leave us your Ravelry ID so we can contact you if you're one of our lucky winners!



Winner + Vintage Pattern Inspiration

We're excited to sponsor a new contest which is happening now through April 15, 2015: the Revive a Vintage contest hosted on the Roving Crafters website. This challenge is open to knitters, crocheters, tatters, and other crafters across the globe with the ultimate goal of keeping the traditions of crafting alive. Source patterns or images should be from 40 years ago or earlier to qualify for this contest; you can read the full list of requirements here.

We're looking forward to seeing what folks create based on these guidelines; below are a few of our favorite vintage knitting and crochet inspirations which we've spotted over on Pinterest to get you started in the right direction:


For site links and other information for the above images, click here to visit our Vintage Inspirations Pinterest board!

It seems like many of the vintage knitting patterns we've come across are knit flat and then seamed, as you can see in the vintage illustration and advertisement below:


It will be interesting to see if contestants will choose to update such designs for knitting in the the round, favoring circular needles or DPNs, or if they will continue the tradition of knitting with single-pointed needles as many crafters in the past have used.

There are some great prizes up for grabs, and Knitter's Pride has donated two needle sets for to prize pool (pictured below). When selecting needles for this (or any!) project, we recommend watchingour new "Find your Needle" video series which features Staci Perry of Very Pink Knits to ensure that you have selected the perfect Knitter's Pride needle for your next project; crocheters can get a closer look at our many crochet hook options by watching this short YouTube video!



Speaking of prizes, our lucky winner in this month's blog giveaway is Kathy Trunzo! We have contacted Kathy to arrange for the delivery of the prize, a Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers Set. Be sure to check out our tutorial featuring this time-saving project here on the Knitter's Pride blog & share it with a friend!