knitwear

anita chew, knitwear, queensland, handmade knitwear australia, textile adventures

Textile Adventures: Alaska Part2

With musk ox yarn bought what’s next on the qiviut trail in Alaska? That would be this little gem in Anchorage.

The Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers’s Co-operative is a Native owned co-op with members made up of women living in various remote villages around Alaska. The members knit garments from musk ox yarn and sell their items through the co-op, with the income going back to the craftspeople.

Established in 1969 it has grown from 25 members to over 200. Interestingly, from what I have read, knitting isn’t a traditional craft of the First Nation people but by using their local yarn and incorporating traditional patterns in their designs they are creating a very unique new craft tradition.

While I was at the Oomingmak Co-op as well as picking up an Alaskan Handknit, I bought a copy of Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas. It is a fantastic book, which includes lots of info on qivuit, the co-op, and has great lace knit patterns. So what have I made with my yarn?

So far I have knitted a traditional Smoke Ring or Nachaq Hood. Which is a short tubular scarf that can be worn a couple of different ways, either around the neck and/or over the head. It’s very lightweight, especially with the lace work, but also very warm. I wish you could reach into the screen so you could feel the yarn, because it really is amazing, instead you might have to head to ‘the last frontier’ yourself for the full adventure.

This Nachaq Hood pattern can be found as a hand knit in Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas. I used the hand knit pattern in the book but converted it to be machine knitted.

anita chew, knitwear, queensland

First market

So we (the knitting and I) stepped out into the world of retail at our very first market stall a few weekends ago. Not one to do things by halves, for some reason I decided that the first market we’d go off to was Finders Keepers in my home state of Queensland. With a crowd of over ten thousand people expected, I found the experience overwhelmingly positive.

Probably the biggest surprise of the whole experience is that the actual retail sales over the weekend weren’t what I feel was the most successful part. Don’t get me wrong, making sales was excellent but there was so much more to it. It was interesting to gauge people’s responses to product and price, which gives you so much insight for development. It was amazing to get specific promotion from the Finders Keepers team and then visually see the flow on effect of that in social media numbers. And it was super exciting that a sale of a beanie on Saturday turned into a wholesale enquiry on Sunday.

Clearly, after just one market I’m no expert but here are my top three tips from a first time market stallholder to any other first time market stallholders out there:

1.     Build a team.
You’ll NEED your family and your mates. So don’t be coy when people offer to help. Just say yes, and then apologise to them later when they realise what they’ve let themselves in for. And if you’re lucky (like me) to have friends in the events hire and styling industries all the better. Make use of them, but be nice about it and promote them as the best stylists in the world. Best stylists in the world = The Styled Group.

2.     Talk to everyone and try and find your people.
Whether it’s customers or other vendors, you just never know where a conversation will lead. Other stallholders can offer great advice and the same goes for customers especially if they’re professional fields are things like marketing or pr. As for finding your people, it’s a matter of seeing where your target market is (mine, not so much in sunny Queensland), where your contemporaries are, and finding those people that ‘get’ what you’re doing. These will be the people that will help you move forward.

3.     Think about the logistics.  
We spent hours and hours and hours building a backdrop for the stall, which looked amazing but turned out wasn’t super practical. I didn’t think about the fact that other stallholders would be butted up to our space so it made it difficult to get to anything we had stored behind it. So I’d definitely think about different storage options and how to really maximise the space better.

But really if I could give any advice to someone who’s thinking about creating a market stall, it would be to just do it. For me, it was a really positive experience and something I’m looking forward to building on. 

anita chew, knit, knitwear, queensland

Finders Keepers Brisbane

While it's all quiet on the blog front, it's pretty hectic on the knitting one. With only a month until the brand launch at the Finders Keepers markets in Brissy it's all knitting systems go around here. 

We hope to see you at Finders Keepers, if you're not in the area though, don't worry the online store will open in the weeks after the event. 

anita chew, knit, knitting machine, knitwear

tools of the trade 3

Now that the knitting machine is all set up with yarn it’s time to knit.

The machine bed has 200 needles across it, which allows you to knit any width within that. By pulling forward the amount of needles you want to use and casting the yarn onto these only that number will knit. From here it’s just a matter of moving the carriage across the bed. Each pass knits one row. Simple as that.

On its basic settings the machine will knit a straight jersey or stockinet stitch. The front side of the fabric is a knit stitch while the back is a purl. It’s the equivalent of knit 1, purl 1 in hand knitting. The same techniques achieved with hand knits translate to the machine, things like Fair Isle, cables and lace work plus lots more.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals the world is your knitting oyster.

anita chew, knit, knitwear, queensland, yarn, knitting machine

tools of the trade 2

Yarn.

Without it, Betsy and I would be pretty useless.  

And by yarn, yes, I mean those balls of wool your mum or nana knit with. Except here’s the thing… it’s might not actually be wool which is why we call it yarn instead. It could be made from any type of fiber like acrylic or cotton or bamboo or yes, wool.  

yarn2.jpg

Just like the yarn that they use when knitting with two handheld needles, machine yarn comes in all varieties of fibers. What makes it slightly different is that machine yarn is generally a lighter weight or thinner yarn and is comes in larger quantities on cones rather than balls.

The cones make it easier for the yarn to be pulled off evenly without everything getting tangled. Betsy has a vertical yarn feeder that brings the yarn from the floor behind the machine up over the top via various hooks and eyes. This threading system allows you to adjust the tension of the yarn as it feeds into the machine.