Of community, and a sock club update

 

For information about the Knitting Goddess Sock Club, how to get the next instalment, or when to get the past ones, scroll down to the drawing and pictures of socks. For joining me on a journey of deep (and not so deep) thoughts on community, you might want to pause now, and grab a large cup of your favourite beverage and, again, take the comfiest seat, for it might be another long one…

 

A Playful DayIt all started because of Kate, of A Playful Day blog (and podcast). She put together this Love your Blog Challenge for April, with a weekly theme to write about. I had been thinking about my next post for a while without finding something really interesting to write about, so when I read about this challenge, I thought ‘why not?’. The theme for this week is ‘Interactions and community’, and it got me thinking…

Community is a word I learned to re-learn the meaning of upon leaving France. Where I grew up, ‘community’ seemed to be a pejorative word, which was often spitted out with disgust. And it was always associated to religions, immigration (not especially recent one), wealth/poverty… Being atheist, and with not enough blood of one ‘group’ in my veins, I didn’t belong to any of these ‘communities’ often pointed at. And somehow, I was lucky, because I don’t think I had ever heard the word ever mentioned with a positive vibe. I know that grumpiness and criticism often apply to my compatriots, but still…

Imagine my surprise when, during a 3-months stay in the US, I discovered an entirely new meaning to ‘community’. Suddenly, communities were a good thing, people were proud of them. They covered lots of topics, from religion to sport, craft, about the local area, etc. And it was all about sharing, discovering, supporting…, within and beyond the community. There was a strong sense of belonging which was new to me. It boggled my mind.

Fast forward a few years, and I am living in Scotland, took up knitting, joined a knitting group for a while, met knitting friends, discovered Ravelry, started designing… I can now say that I belong to two communities: my local community (the ‘village’), and the knitting community for which I have a strong feeling a belonging. I wrote in the past (here in particular) about the knitting community, and how wonderful it is, for it enabled me to meet some lovely people, either in real life or online, and I received the most unexpected support in the saddest times.

However, the prompt for the Love your Blog Challenge made me question on this sense of belonging, and on the reasons why I feel so strongly about it. Maybe the feeling of being with like-minded people?

Everyone who belongs to the knitting community already have lots of things in common: an appreciation for the time and skills involved in making things, an interest for fibre, etc. Admittedly, we don’t all share the same passion for the crafts: some knit, some crochet, some weave, some spin, some do all of that or only a subset. We are not all eager to study the properties of different fibres, the sheep breeds, the fabric characteristics, knitting techniques, or the properties of knitted fabric under different constraints. But somehow, the common base of things we share transcends the differences, and despite these differences, we can all talk to each other and appreciate each other’s work. And beyond that, our differences enable us to exchange, discuss, share, and grow our knowledge or understanding of the fibre world.

Taking the example of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which happened just a couple weeks ago, the knitting community is like a busy beehive, with shared interests. Have you ever been to a wedding only to find you sitting at a table where you don’t know anyone? Chances are that you don’t have anything in common, and after the usual discussion on ‘how you met the bride/groom’ and on the weather, you soon find yourself surrounded in an annoying silence or meaningless discussions. On the other hand, if you have ever been to a fibre event, and stopped for a coffee/quick lunch, sat at any table, chances are really high that you can have an interesting chat with your neighbours despite not knowing them the minute before. Because you share at least one thing in common: yarn, wool, knitting, fibre! Next time I am invited to a wedding, I may look for a yarn festival to attend instead :)

Beyond ‘simple’ chatter, I have found the knitting (and designing) community to be a wealth of information, where people would share their knowledge generously, or engage in discussions bringing arguments in an attempt to move forward, and not to defend their point no matter what. I never cease to learn about knitting, its history, technique, physics, about business, design, teaching, graphics, trends, colours, etc. Of course, I am not completely naive (although…) and it doesn’t always happen like this, but generally speaking, I think the knitting community is a nice place to be.

While I have no doubt about what I get from the community, I often question what I can bring to it. Obviously, the knitting community has been doing well without me, and would do well without me… Yet, I think I can have a little role, if only to give back some of what I received. Teaching, and sharing what I have learned, read, tried, or ‘unvented’ is an important part of what I want to give back. Like I discussed in a previous post, this is one of the reasons I add interesting techniques to my designs. Of course, I try to convert friends and random people to knitting, and also share about knitting and spinning with children. Another of my little ‘hobby horse’ is to try to convince non-knitters of the value of knitting, and of wool. That is one epic battle… but an interesting one!

Let me tell you about another gem from the knitting or fibre community: the ability to empower, to enthuse, and to inspire. So many times, I have heard or read people encouraging each other to try new techniques, push boundaries (first steek anyone?). So many times, I have felt inspired by a text, photos, work, something shared by a fellow knitter. And what about those discussions which end up looking like a brainstorming session… like this one day I shared on Twitter about me seeing/guessing a lace pattern in the pureed carrot spitted out by Little Miss, and the discussion ended up as a list of names and themes for shawls inspired by baby food (!). Quite likely, these will not happen, but the sharing of enthusiasm and inspiration was great.

Finally, one of the most precious things I have received from quite a few people in the community is the confidence that I am a competent knitting designer, and I will try to not disappoint.

 

Woolly yours,
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

 


 

British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club 2015

British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club 2015

Speaking of designs, and of pushing boundaries and feeling empowered, here is an update on the Knitting Goddess Sock Club:

For those who haven’t joined yet but would like to, the sign-up for the May instalment will close tomorrow March 31st. So if you’re interested, hop over now to Joy’s website and sign up. Last time I checked, there were a few spots still available.

Finally, I am happy to announce that the first design in the Great British Inventors and Scientists Sock Club, the railway- and steam engine- inspired All Aboard! Puff Puff Puff… socks, will be available for sale on 2nd April 2015.

All Aboard - Puff Puff Puff... ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Puff Puff Puff… ©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

Posted in Community, Knitting, Sock Club, Socks | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Edinburgh Yarn Festival Wrap-up and Daffodils too

I can’t believe it’s been one week already since returning from Edinburgh. Time flies, and Janice and I have been quite busy, both with work, DIY, knitting, designing, and looking after our families. So… here is a little belated Edinburgh Yarn Festival wrap-up. Janice will probably share about her ‘stash enhancement’ when she gets a chance.

I’ll start with apologies… Because, no, I don’t have any photos of the event. Yes, I had my camera with me, but I also had Little Miss. And it is a bit of an understatement to say that she didn’t quite show the best of her behaviour during the weekend. As a result, I spent most of the time rocking a wriggly angry screaming baby, instead of enjoying the people, colours, yarns, etc. Photos? No time to think much about that, sadly. So you’ll have to imagine… or go to the EYF website where they have put up some wonderful galleries. Want to see us? There we are :)

Little Miss was all cute and still quite well behaved at this point… it was about 10.45am on Saturday. I was still hopeful and somewhat sociable… Photo ©Edinburgh Yarn Festival Ltd.

(Photography by Katie Blair Matthews, ©Edinburgh Yarn Festival Ltd, used with permission. Have a look at the fantastic photos from their galleries here.)

The festival was a huge success, and I am really sad of not having had the time and mental bandwidth for it. Since it’s been over, I have seen so many photos of stalls and things which I completely overlooked because of the stress incurred by Little Miss. Anyhow, I managed to speak to some wonderful people, and I would like to thank very very much Emily for putting up with baby screams for over an hour while we were trying to have a chat over coffee and cake. Special thanks to Lindsay for her help on Sunday afternoon. And a huge thank you to the lovely people I met, and in particular to Karie, Louise, Jo, Louise, Isobel, Louise, Hanne, Louise’s Mum, Jess, Louise and Helen. And all the others, but I only met 4 Louises.

Aurelie's stash enhancement - EYF 2015

Aurelie’s stash enhancement – EYF 2015

In the meantime, I get to enjoy my small but perfectly formed stash. 100% British yarn: some DK (Brigantia, from Yorkshire), some fingering (Ripples Craft and Ginger Twist Studio, both from Scotland), some lace weight (Squeaky Elliot Yarns, from Wales), 2 greys, 1 gold and 1 ‘crushed berries’… which was to be a gift, and has already been handed over to its new happy owner. Lots of buttons, some of which have a project already planned/knitted, some of which are random buys. And the cutest ribbons too. Also, 2 books (filled with brioche and cables), 2 magazines (from Shetland), 5 greetings cards that will help me a LOT when Christmas time comes. Also not in the photos: some Christmas cards to support the chosen charity of the event: the Teapot Trust. And lots of coffee and cake, but these don’t count, right?

(Above, left: Lucy Hague’s lovely book, which I’d been hoping to see in print for ages… and it was an amazing view to see her pile of books disappear so quickly from her table on Saturday. Both Janice and I bought a copy and we are delighted. Right: a close-up of the squishy enhancement)

I am very much looking for the next edition of Edinburgh Yarn Festival… which has just been announced for March 2016 (announcement was today!). Exact date/location to be confirmed, and as soon as I know, I’ll book my weekend and bribe hubby for babysitting, so I can be On. My. Own… (with knitting friends of course!)


 

Upon my return from Edinburgh, I self-published a very special-to-me design. Remember the Daffodils is the fourth design in the Castle Fraser throughout the Year collection, and these fingerless gloves inspired by the Daffodils which cover the grounds of the castle.

Remember the Daffodils ©Aurelie Colas 2015 Photo ©Jenny Rose Photography

Remember the Daffodils
©Aurelie Colas 2015
Photo ©Jenny Rose Photography

Just like for the Petit Prince and Little Star socks which I published at the same time last year, £1.00 out of every purchase of this pattern will be donated to SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society), a charity which provides support for bereaved families after the loss of their baby.

I wore the fingerless gloves on Saturday at the Festival and got some lovely comments on them. I also met with Louise, one of the very kind testers of the pattern, and it was very special to see her mitt in progress, which looks like a field of daffodils and crocuses. I have cast on for another pair out of handspun yarn (although it’s not my handspun). These were supposed to go in an hypothetical gift box, but I don’t think I’ll be able to part with this pair either.

Every April, the daffodils grow back, as if to show us that our Little Star is still there, but also that life continues…

 

Woolly yours,
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

Posted in British Yarn, Community, Design, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Knitting, Yarn and Fibre Festivals | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Edinburgh: we’re coming!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival -- We're going!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival — We’re going!

Just one more sleep before we board on the train South to Edinburgh. And it’s going to be a short night, as it’s already past midnight, and I haven’t quite started packing… Funnily enough, it’s taking me ages to decide what I am going to bring: projects to knit on, projects to ‘show off’, weather-appropriate clothes, and all the stuff I need to bring for Little Miss too, as she is coming with me of course!

I am very much looking forward to Edinburgh Yarn Festival. The more I read and hear about it, the more I get excited. There will be so many amazing vendors, the most awesome designers, exciting workshops, an art gallery focused on sheep, meet-ups and talks with podcasters, lots of yarn and colours to admire, and  many people I’m dying to meet for real. Yes, I am excited like a child the night before Christmas. And also scared, like a child before the first day at school. Weird!

Wee Cria by Ysolda Teague, and an improvised headband.

Wee Cria by Ysolda Teague, and an improvised headband.

If you are heading that way too, and spot a Little Miss wearing something like this, the closest adult (probably tied to said Little Miss with a lime green sling) should be me…

What you knit is not what you wear…

While I make endless lists of what to bring, what to buy, what to do…, before I jump on the train, I figured I could tell you about my latest pattern release. I had been teasing you a little about it at the end of last post, showing you only the ‘wrong’ side of the socks. Since then, Janice was kind enough to lend her feet for some photos, and her daughter Jenny was patient enough to listen to me and my silly ideas, and take great photos.

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Here is: Inside Out Hypnosis. These socks have been designed to showcase these special variegated yarns that we buy because they are so pretty in the skein, but we are never quite sure what to knit with… Mind you, I think the socks look equally nice with a solid / semi-solid yarn.

Inside-Out Hypnosis Design: ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015 Photography: ©Jenny Rose Photography 2015

Inside-Out Hypnosis
Design: ©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015
Photography: ©Jenny Rose Photography 2015

What you knit is not what you wear…
Knit them, turn them inside out, and voila: an “all-purl” look, hypnotising spirals and comfortable Princess soles… and hardly any purling.

Inside-Out Hypnosis Design: ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015 Photography: ©Jenny Rose Photography 2015

Inside-Out Hypnosis
Design: ©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015
Photography: ©Jenny Rose Photography 2015

 

And when I am back home, when I have one (or maybe two) night sleep to recover, I will finalize another pattern, very dear to me, and publish it then. A few lovely knitters have already tested the pattern, and it is almost ready to share with you all. I will be wearing the sample at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in the meantime…

 

Oh, and if you’re heading to Edinburgh Yarn Festival too, and would like to meet, give me/us a shout on Ravelry or email before tomorrow afternoon. Not sure I’ll have access to Internet after that.

Off to bed for the last sleep before heading South. Bounce bounce bounce…

Happy knitting,
Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

Posted in Design, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Knitting, Socks, Travel | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Thoughts over a cup of coffee

Disclaimer: Yes, it took me a whole month to write another post. To my defense, I’ve been rather busy. With knitting, but also with volunteering/family stuff that I won’t bore you with. And yes, it is one very long post… So please, go grab a cup of coffee, and take a comfy seat.

 

Starting last weekend, an interesting discussion has been happening in the Designers* group on Ravelry, on the theme of “industry changes”, and in particular, on being an independent designer in a changing industry. Some great designers whom I admire very much have been sharing their expertise, their opinions, and their knowledge, and I am really grateful for their insight.

Since I am not a seasoned designer, I couldn’t share a lot about my experience that would be of interest to the discussion. However, I have been reflecting on a similar subject now and again with my other half, trying to see “the bigger picture”. And the truth is that, usually, we end up with rather gloomy, pessimistic discussions.

With the current economical and environmental situations in mind, it is not too much effort, sadly, to think that there may be a time when cheap clothes won’t be available anymore. Remember that easy access to clothing is recent (only in the last century), and has been governed by the expansion of machines, cheap transport, and comparatively cheap energy. But when energy becomes rarer, affordable clothing will become rarer too. And in the long(er) term, knitting (and sewing) may well (re-)become a necessity. To me, knowing how to design and knit objects that fit is important with that respect.

However, during these times of affordable clothes in our modern countries, a lot of knowledge will have been lost. While many people from the generation of my grand-parents and great-grand-parents used to knit and sew, following generations often didn’t learn to knit, sew, mend, etc. In some countries, children may still be taught some of these skills at school, but in the few countries I know of, these lessons have been withdrawn ages ago. As a result, some knowledge has been lost, as it hasn’t been transmitted from one generation to the other. Yes, one can learn from books (I did), but one would benefit a lot from being passed down knowledge and skills from other people. Learning from a master (one’s mum, dad, granny, auntie, neighbour, etc) is, in my opinion, invaluable, as one receives not only a set of skills, but also experience, and memories.

Being from a generation of “non-knitters” who became a knitter mostly thanks to books (as, sadly, I could remember very little from what my granny had tried to pass down to me when I was wee), I want to pass down the knowledge and experience I develop as a knitter. This is why, as a designer, I try to push the boundaries of the knitters who decide to knit from my patterns: I like to have them try new things, discover new techniques, little tricks, etc. And I want to add all the tools necessary to achieve this, be it with photo-tutorials of unusual techniques, written explanations of how the object is constructed, etc. Ideally in an ideal world, I would like to have passed on something to the knitting community, by spreading the knowledge of a technique, or by offering new possibilities in terms of constructions for instance.

Maybe I’m an utopian and believe a little too much in the “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day / Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” proverb. But yes, I hope I can pass down little useful tools now and again to a knitter or two, who can then pass them down, etc.

Where does this tie in with designing, you may ask? And why am I not designing simple utilitarian things? Why do I add unusual constructions, fancy stitches, and the likes? Well, I believe in knitting as a wearable art form. I also get great satisfaction from creating a unique item, where each stitch is handmade, and which only existed in my brain before that. I also believe in knitting as a tool to explore structures, forms, and I love the engineering aspect behind knitting: I find the whole process of turning a piece of string into a three-dimensional object truly fascinating. And of course, I like the idea of learning something while having fun and enjoying ourselves. So, yes, I love doing all that, with the added bonus of sharing tips, techniques, and anything I might “unvent” during my “playtime” with string and pointy sticks.

Long story short (and back to my first paragraphs): to me, the idea of transmission in knitting is essential. Trying to make the pattern more than just a pattern. But also a way to share skills.

Of course, you are very welcome to think differently and tell me off altogether. But thank you for reading this far. May I thank you by adding a few pictures? As a proof that I’m not completely talking rubbish, here is what kept me busy recently:

 

Puddle, Puddle, Splash!

Puddle, Puddle, Splash! ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

Puddle, Puddle, Splash!
©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

Published in February, the Puddle Puddle Splash socks feature a tubular cast-on, for which I put a photo-tutorial up on the blog to support the written directions further. Featuring a lot of texture, these are an ode to the British weather, and also a nice way to get your feet wet (!) in stranded colourwork.

As a matter of fact, note that the place of the colourwork is not candid: for those with less experience at stranded knitting and/or who tend to knit stranded too tightly, there will not be the commonly seen problem of passing the stranded section over the heel; and for those who, like me, wear out their socks under the ball of the foot more quickly than everywhere else, the extra padding provided by the stranded knitting will come in handy!

As for the inspiration behind these socks…

Having lived in Scotland for a few years now, I have learned to appreciate the many types of rain the British weather has to offer. From gentle drizzle, to horizontal rain, large drops running down my jacket, and wet toes when I fail to avoid a puddle while out and about, hiking on the hills, or simply walking the dog.

Naturally, this little fondness for drizzle, rain and other puddles translated into a sock: an ode to the wet British weather.

 

 

 

And there was Photo 51…

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The second instalment of the “Great British Inventors and Scientists” Sock Club for The Knitting Goddess has just been released on March 1st. Starting with a tubular cast-on as well, these socks also feature an arch-shaping to hug the foot nicely.

As for the name and inspiration behind the design… “Photo 51” is a tribute to Rosalind Franklin, whose X-ray diffraction image of DNA has played a significant role in the discovery of the DNA double helix model by Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins.

What an extraordinary time it must have been at King’s College, in London, when the three dimensional structure of the DNA was not quite discovered yet.

Note: Should you want to join the sock club, have a look on  The Knitting Goddess website as the sign-ups for May have just open.

 

And soon to be published: Inside-Out Hypnosis…

Inside-Out Hypnosis ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015 ... this is what you knit

Inside-Out Hypnosis ©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015
… this is what you knit, not what you wear…

Keep your eyes peeled for a fun pair of socks. Some of you know about this design already. The design works great with solid/semi-solid colours as well as the most crazy variegated colourways. You knit-knit-knit-knit… graft, tidy the ends. Turn inside-out and, …voila!, a fun pair of socks knitted from the inside!

 

 

 

My cup is empty. Time for a refill. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to your comments, either good or bad.

Woolly yours,

Aurelie/spinnygonzalez

 

 

PS: why this title? Because my (filter) coffee machine broke down (built-in obsolescence? I wouldn’t dare to think such a thing exists of course…), and I bought a new one today, and I am enjoying this just-brewed coffee very much.

 


* Note: Designers is a group/forum on Ravelry. The first line of the description for the group reads: «This is a professional group for designers of all levels! This group is a place for you to discuss your design dilemmas and questions and to share tips, tricks, and resources.»

 

Posted in Community, Design, General, Knitting, Sock Club, Socks | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Of clumsiness, Sock Club, VAT, yarn festival and stash management

This blog post should have been written and posted last night. However, my clumsiness and myself have spilled a full cup of coffee over the keyboard of my (up and running) laptop yesterday evening. Intense cleaning, drying of said laptop (and of the living room) ensued. A lot of stress too, as I was not sure whether it would still work after that. This is when you start wondering if the regular back-up actually works as it should… Update this morning: laptop generally works, apart from a few keys on the laptop that don’t respond anymore. Next on my to-do list for today: go and buy an external keyboard because somehow some keys are very useful (directional arrows, number three is entirely gone from both numerical pad and numbers at the top, exclamation mark, etc.) and looking for them each time in the “special characters” map is not the most practical thing to do.

 

(Please go brew a large pot of tea  — I’m a little cross at coffee for now, see above –, pour yourself a large cup, make yourself comfortable, this is going to be a long post filled with lots of information. Some funny, some not that funny, some useful (hopefully), and some teasing too.)

 

January? What’s that?

First I would like to apologize for not having been much online, and not on the blog at all for over a full month. Please, be kind to me, January was not the best month ever. We had planned a very long and exhausting road-trip to France (I wouldn’t dare to call that “holidays”), and it was even more exhausting than we had expected. At this point, we know that we won’t do that again… Two weeks after being back home, we are just about recuperating. Exhaustion meant that we also caught all the winter bugs one after the other. Don’t feel sorry for us, we are well and there are lots of more unlucky people than us. I just wanted to let you know that, no, I hadn’t forgotten about the blog!

 

All Aboard…

January had started very well, though. January 2nd, a very very very nervous me pressed the “Send” button on an email containing the first of the British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club pattern to the lovely people who kindly joined the club. I was even more nervous because the design was a “daring” one, with a very unusual construction. Cuff-down? Toe-up? No… these socks started at the back of the heel!

(Apologies to those of you who did join the club and/or follow the Ravelry group, as this is “old stuff” to you. You may want to skip a couple paragraphs.)

Inspired by the British inventions of the steam locomotive and the railway system, the January socks feature an unusual construction: from the heel, down the foot, then back up the leg! Joy did a fantastic job at dyeing these, in a lovely grey/blue which seems to change colour depending on the light, and which she aptly named “Moving Forward”.

All Aboard - Drawing ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Inspiration Drawing
©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

Can you see a sock? That’s how the January sock appeared in my mind…

Let’s get on tracks! All aboard!!! Puff-Puff-Puff…

All Aboard - Puff Puff Puff... ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Puff Puff Puff… ©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

Yes! There is a track train running all around your heel, passing by the coal pit on the instep, and going straight to the buffers at the station. And puffing smoke going up the leg. I had fun creating this design, and I am delighted with the warm welcome that it has received. At this point, at least four club members have already finished their pair of socks. I love seeing the finished socks choo-choo-ing to the station. Thank you to all of you who share updates, photos, comments on your project pages and/or in The Auld Woolly Alliance group on Ravelry. It is really very lovely.

All Aboard - Puff Puff Puff  ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Puff Puff Puff
©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

 

British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club - eBook Cover  ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club – eBook Cover
©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

And since I am writing about the Sock Club… I would like to share this little eBook cover that I created for the Sock Club on Ravelry (any geeks out there? :P )

While I write these words, the sign-ups for March are probably about to close on The Knitting Goddess website. I am so behind that I didn’t get to write a post in time to remind you of it. I am really sorry. To those who were a little on the fence as to whether to join or not, I wanted to say that not all socks will feature an unusual construction, but I will always try to add a little unique-ness to the design. The unique construction of the All Aboard socks all happened because I really really wanted the train tracks to travel all around the heel! I can already tell you that the March design is not about train tracks :)

I also got some questions about whether or not the club designs will be released independently and/or in an ebook after the exclusivity period is over. Yes, I will put together an eBook with all patterns in the club. As they become available to non-club members, I will put the single patterns for sale independently. I will also create an ebook that you can buy early on, and to which the designs will be added when the 3-month club exclusivity elapses. So, in April when the January pattern can be released to non-club members, one will be able to buy the All Aboard socks on their own, or the eBook which, at this point will only contain the January socks. Note that you will then know what the March socks are, but these will be added to the non-club ebook in June, etc. Any question, please ask away.

 

Have you heard of the new EU VAT rules?

I will spare you personal ideas about the EU and their regulations, and you may know about all the VAT issue already, but for those of you who don’t, I thought you ought to know about the new EU VAT rules, and that they are (sadly) affecting micro businesses like ours.

A lot of talented people out there have written excellent posts about it, and you can find more information for instance on these blogs / websites (among many others ):

Over the last few weeks of December 2014, Ravelry and LoveKnitting (a large online UK yarn store who have recently moved into selling digital patterns) have paired up to make this new regulation a little less painful for knitting designers like us. You can read more about this here on Ravelry.

For the moment, Janice and I have both decided to join the Ravelry+LoveKnitting option. What it means practically is that all EU-based customers (except UK-based) will be routed through LoveKnitting when purchasing patterns from our stores. As defined now, the new EU law excludes any threshold which was protecting micro-businesses like ours. It means that, unfortunately, EU-based customers (except UK-based) will also have to pay local VAT on their knitting pattern purchase.

Please rest assured that I will look into any sustainable solution that provides the same price for all customers. In the meantime, I hope this situation won’t deter you from supporting us, and all other independent designers in the same situation.

Important note: the Ravelry+LoveKnitting option does not currently support eBooks, and may also cause issues upon releases of new designs, as it can take a while for patterns to appear on the LoveKnitting website. This is far from ideal, and I hope it gets resolved soon. In the meantime, please contact me via pm on Ravelry or email should you be in the EU (non-UK based) and wish to purchase an eBook from my store for instance.

 

 

Back to more cheerful things… Edinburgh Yarn Festival: are you going?

… Because we are!

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday 14-15 March in the Edinburgh Corn Exchange. Janice and I will be attending both days, and at this point, have booked our accommodation and transport! We are so organised, it’s almost scary.

Are any of you going too? Would you like to meet up? We will be arriving on Friday night, and I will have Little Miss with me. Both Janice and I will be attending a class, and we are very much looking forward to them. I will be attending the much in-demand workshop by Ysolda Teague on garment fitting on Sunday morning. And Janice is looking forward to trying knitting with a knitting belt in the workshop held by the famous Hazel Tindall from Shetland. I told you we were organised!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival -- We're going!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival — We’re going!

 

Use your Stash…. Ready, Set, Bingo!

Speaking about organisation, I guess I should tell you a little about my new plan with regards to tackling (part of my rather large) yarn stash. I am not calling it a New Year resolution, because it’s the best way for me to bet set for failure…

It all started in a group on Ravelry where I feel quite at home: the Stash and Burn Listeners group. A couple years ago, the Use It or Lose It challenge (UILI) was launched to help us yarn addicts enthusiasts reconsider some items in our stash. The challenge has evolved over time, and as our yarn buying habits or relationship to our stash changed. Not long ago, a few of us UILI-ers were discussing what to do for this year. I suggested using a Bingo card, and making our own challenges from there.

The idea has grown from there, and UILI 2015 will be Bingo-card based. No hard rules. Anyone can make their own card and their own challenges should they wish to. I have put together a Bingo card that I plan on using for February (this is the link to the Word doc), and may tweak it for subsequent months. Would you like to join in? You don’t have to use the exact same card, you can change a few things, modify a category, make yourself a joker/wild card, etc. Make the challenge your own, give yourself a goal for this month, or for this quarter, etc.

Bingo-2015-Feb

No hard rules like I said. At this point there are no prizes, except if you want to treat yourself: for instance, treat yourself to a new pattern or some fine chocolate if you manage a Bingo, indulge on a project bag if you fill in the card, or tick all cells in a colour, etc… Be creative! Make it yours!

Want to play along? Have any questions? Ask away, either here in a comment, or even better: in The Auld Woolly Alliance group!

Note: This is not to say that I am not going to buy yarn. No. It is about appreciating what I have in my cupboard(s) too!

 

Phew, that was a long post… Thanks for reading this far.

Now, let’s forget about January. I declare February 1st the new start of 2015. Happy Redefined Year to you all.

 

Woolly yours,
Clumsy-Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

Posted in Community, Design, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, General, Knit-Along, Knitting, Sock Club, Socks, The Auld Woolly Alliance Group | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Is it really 2015?

Happy New Year! How nice to see so many of you joining The Auld Woolly Alliance for another year.  The last 12 months brought a few new friends to our pages. Welcome on board everyone and thank you, from both of us, we hope you enjoy all we have to share in 2015.

Aurelie's Gift-a-Long Collage - A selection of participating patterns

Aurelie’s Gift-a-Long Collage and some special moments too x

It has been quite a year……let me explain. 2014 has brought success, recognition, a house move, a new addition, plus many busy, happy and proud events to Aurelie and her family. I know you will join me in wishing them all the best for 2015!

For myself, 2014 brought new workshops, a few new designs, a ‘big 5O’ birthday and a lot of change in family life.

Although it has been an enjoyable and busy year. As a family we decided it was essential for me to have some ‘time out’. I will be having a break from teaching for the next six months. The result of this may be some new topics appearing on The Auld Woolly Alliance pages. Possibly more related to house renovation than knitting, so I do hope I do not bore you……..too much!

My aim is to continue with a little designing during this ‘sabbatical’ period. I can’t quite believe another year past and once again…..I am way off my planned designing schedule! Surprised? I think not!

On a very positive note, it is with great relief pleasure I would like to announce the long-awaited release of Meredith, my first design of 2015! (I am, of course, choosing to ignore the fact that all the work, testing, etc was done in 2014!)

Meredith Sampler Cowl is a brioche design, and hopefully will be one of a collection of brioche patterns to come off my needles. (During the next 50 years!) I would also like to thank my talented daughter Jenny  for her fantastic photography, along with her good friend Lucinda, the most beautiful model. Together they helped make my little cowl look extra special!

Meredith A

Meredith Sampler Cowl

Having now welcomed in another New Year with the Woolly Alliance,  I will sign out and leave you all to get on with your knitting and your many resolutions for 2015. (If you were daft enough to make any?)

Along with my annual resolution of getting fit and loosing weight…ha, ha, ha! This year I added to my list:

Finish all WIP’s before casting on anything new (designing not included)…….I will keep you posted with this one…..wish me luck!

Posted in Design, Knitting, Ravelry, Review, Uncategorized, Workshop | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Random Thoughts, Good Wishes and a Self-Indulgent KAL

Pretty Fuzzy Christmas Bauble Cocoon - Aurelie Colas

Pretty Fuzzy Christmas Bauble Cocoon – Aurelie Colas

Dear all,

It is this time of the year again when everything seems hectic, when everyone seems to be transformed into busy bees which have only one goal: bringing back home as many toys and as much food as possible. It’s not my favourite time of the year, to be honest, and I’d rather be knitting… (I know, I’m a grumpy old woman already, and I’m not quite 30 yet).

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve tried to be a good little elf, wrapped a few presents (and have another few to wrap), and knitted a couple things (including a couple Pretty Fuzzy Christmas Bauble Cocoon as gifts). Today I’ve even remembered to mop the floor so that, when pictures are taken tomorrow of busy little people unwrapping presents, I shouldn’t feel too ashamed of the state of my house. This afternoon, as I am sitting in a quiet house, with only the noise of the bread machine in the background, I am trying to put a few sentences together for you. Granted, I will need to write again before or after the New Year, with a more elaborate plan, because today, “random thoughts” could be the title of this post.

Abate - Almost done!

Abate – Almost done!

Knitting-wise, I’ve been very busy recently. Mostly, I have been knitting from other designer’s patterns. The gift-along gave me a good excuse to indulge on some patterns and add them to my library. I have already started and completed 6 projects just as part of the Gift-Along (so, starting mid-November), and the 7th just need another 5 rows on the cuff of the second sleeve, and bind off. It’s a jumper for the Little Man, and my job for today is to finish it (Abate, by Alicia Plummer). I think the Little Man is planning on wearing it as soon as it’s off my needles. You see, it’s a green jumper! What could be more perfect? (yes I know, I should add a pocket to make it even more perfect! But it’s greeeeeen!) So knitting these last few rows is what I will be doing as soon as I finish writing this post.

As for new and upcoming designs, the past weeks have been quite exciting, as I swatched (!), designed, knitted, re-knitted, wrote the pattern, re-re-knitted, re-wrote the pattern for the first installment of the Knitting Goddess Sock Club. I’m knitting the second sock at the moment, so final pictures can be taken soon hopefully. The only thing I can tell you about it is that I’m really proud of it, and of what my little brain put together. And a little scared too as to what the lovely people who bought the club will think. Just under 10 days left before I/they find out…

But today is Christmas Eve, and our job for today will be to entertain the Little Man enough so he doesn’t ask every two minutes when Santa arrives. I suspect tonight will be an interesting evening, with a little person getting up now and again to check under the tree… It doesn’t make the elves job very easy! But we’ll see. It’s a lovely age though, when they are waiting for Santa, and yet, one could see the cogs in their brain as they ask questions like “how many Santas are there? Because we’ve seen Santa four times, and he doesn’t look like the same”.

Hence the question: why are we lying to our dear little people? What does it say of us? I guess I should stop thinking, and get back to my knitting… I told you I was a grumpy old woman.

The Woodcarving - ©Aurelie Colas

The Woodcarving – ©Aurelie Colas

On a higher note, tomorrow, a few of us will be casting on The Woodcarving. Enjoying the quiet time after the rush of the runner up for Christmas, in a comfy chair, with a cosy blanket and hot cup of coffee or tea, and yummy yarn and a lovely design (if I may say so myself). Anyone is of course very welcome to join at any time. The Knit-Along is aptly name “self-indulgent knit-along”. You will find more information (and chatter) in this thread on our Ravelry group.

I will knit-along too with some very special yarn, handspun for me by one of my lovely testers. Grab a comfy chair, and join in!

Hanspun, to knit another pair of The Woodcarving

Hanspun, to knit another pair of The Woodcarving

In the meantime, I hope you have a lovely time, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. And if, like me, you are not found of the madness, I hope you can have some quiet time. Don’t forget to keep some time for yourself too, with a cup of coffee and a little bit of knitting.

Take care,

Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

Posted in Child, Christmas, Design, Knit-Along, Knitting, Sock Club, The Auld Woolly Alliance Group | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments