Textile inspiration can start with anything really. But normally, for me, it begins with either an illustration, croquis (which is a small test pattern) or photo. Illustrations, especially fashion ones give a lot more information than the other options. This can be really helpful in deciding things like fibre, density of the fabric, and even how much detail may or may not be added. Like any form of design outcome (and probably like most things in life?) the more you know, the better off you are.
This weekend was my first experience in yarnbombing. I've never been much into it to be honest. Sometimes I just don't 'get' it. Like do tree branches really need extra warmth?
But because my small home town was having a big community event, we started to knit. (Me, my mum and my sister.) And knit. And knit. And pom-pom. AND knit and pom-pom. For weeks until it was the night before... and then the rain came. Which was very unfortunate and a bit annoying because we live in 'the sunshine state'. Where there is sunshine approximately 350 days a year.
Here's our top tips for first time yarnbombers from first time yarnbombers.
1. Knit everything slightly smaller than you think it should be. Wraps need to be firm to stay in place throughout whatever weather is thrown at them.
2. Don't darn in or cut off the ends of your yarn at colour changes. The ends can come in handy to sew on large pieces using the colours you've already got which makes the join neater.
3. It's totally more fun to 'bomb' under the cover of darkness. Even if it means you have to be up before the sun. You'll also be able to tell if you'd make a good criminal* and how stealth you actually are.
*Terrible. I was late and then forgot to bring the actual knitted piece to wrap around the street post. And also forgot scissors. So, yeah... no, not stealth nor would I make a good criminal.
- Possums are made from a Australian Country Spinners Australian Animals pattern book. Chickens are made from a Jacqui Turner Designs pattern available for purchase at http://www.ravelry.com/stores/jacqui-turner-designs
Recently I’ve been running my very first competition, #MakeMyBeanie. To enter you had to colour in the supplied beanie template with the winner receiving his or her own beanie made.
I had some great entries but from the start I was hoping to get one that would push the creative boundaries a bit, something that may be a bit of a challenge. And I always look at a kid’s artwork and see amazing textile potential, so for me choosing the winner was a pretty easy choice.
Normally I create adult size beanies but because of the design it seemed necessary to scale down a little. So firstly, a bit of math and some basic planning was required.
Because in knitting we start at the bottom and work upwards the first real challenge was how to create that rib. I thought the easiest way to achieve a similar black and white mix was to simply knit one black yarn and one white yarn together to create a marl effect. Interesting as it knitted it created obvious horizontal lines which initially I wasn't so fond of but grew on me (probably because there was no easy fix).
Once the full piece of knitting was done it was time to embroider the coloured design into the fabric. Using both swiss darning and backstitch techniques I did the design by eye rather than drawing it out first. While it means it's slightly disproportionate in places I hoped it would help recreate the free loose line work of the original.
From there it was just a matter of finishing touches like the pom pom and tidying up all the loose ends. I have to confess I LOVED this project (enough that I'll probably run another one next year), and I am SUPER happy with the result. I hope it's new owner will be as well.
So this week I joined up to the Etsy Creative Courage Challenge. Which fingers crossed means that by the end of the challenge, in a month or so, I'll have my very own Etsy store. With products in it and everything.
Initially I wasn't sure I'd use Etsy as a store front. I'd done a lot of reading in the lead up to launching my brand and I had read a few things that slightly put me off being a Etsy vendor. The research I found indicated that if you had the ability/resources to set up as your own online shopfront, then do it. It allows for a stronger brand identity.
The other thing I read that scared me a bit was people saying that for whatever reason Etsy had shut down their store. In that moment they realised that even though they thought they 'owned' their store, they really didn't. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there were circumstances that Etsy did what they thought was right in regards to a seller breaching contractual rights. But at the end of the day, Etsy has all the power.
Recently though, I had been thinking about joining up. People were asking if they could find me there and with winter coming to an end here in Australia it makes sense to try and tap into a wider marketplace. Coincidently I saw that Etsy had just launched their Creative Courage Challenge so I signed up. I figure what's the worst thing that can happen, right? And to be honest they had me at ALTA PAPERCRAFT's awesome promo animation.
AND THEN this morning Pip Lincolne told me she thought I was a genius (see visual proof below)! So that's that, now I'm completely sold to this whole Etsy thing, add me to the list with the other 1.5 million sellers and let's see how we go.
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.
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.
Meet my Singer knitting machine (now I realise I should have named her)... Betsy.
I've had Betsy for about 3 years, which is only a very short part of her life. She was made around 1974 and has spent the majority of her time with a lady in Victoria. As her third owner, she spent some time with another RMIT knit graduate for a few years before I bought her during my final year of uni studying textiles in Melbourne.
Domestic knitting machines like Betsy are a bit unheard of these days but were big business back in the day. Your nana has probably got one tucked away in a cupboard or the back shed that's been untouched for decades. Depending on the make, model and condition they can still bring in a bit of money today. Recently I met a lovely lady, Thelma, who told me about how she bought her first knitting machine, a $1100 Passap, back in the 80's from Myer. Interestingly today Thelma could realistically get a similar price if she sold that exact machine.
I'll be posting more about Betsy and her workings but maybe in the meantime go check out what you can find in your Nana's back shed.