It's possible and necessary to use the same inspiration to create different knit outcomes. By using different techniques and yarns you can end up with a completely alternate swatch or ones that can sit together within a range.
Over the next few weeks we'll look at different outcomes from the same inspiration. Like this one, which the inspiration of, has been posted before.
Croquis' are fun little pattern ideas that textile designers generate before turning them (well, the good ones anyway) into full pattern designs.
It takes many knit swatches to make one garment. (Many, many, many.)
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.
For me, knitting is all about translation. It's about taking inspiration from an image or artwork or texture and recreating it into a textile. Recently, I was digging through some older work and it gave me the idea of Translation Tuesday. A special day to celebrate textile translations. (And perhaps also celebrate words that begin with the letter T.) AND because I'm a terrible blogger and this seemed like a fun way to at least TRY and be a bit consistent with posts.
So here we go. It'll be a mix of old and new work and will showcase the textile inspiration and the knitted outcome. And it'll happen (fingers crossed) every Tuesday!
It’s been a few weeks now since the launch of ‘Make Your Mark’ and thankfully everything seems to be working. It is however, not a super quick process, more like the pace of a snail at times. But like any custom or handmade project I guess that comes with the territory.
There are basically three major production steps. First is pre-production. This is where we take your supplied artwork and make sure it will print well. At this point we look for things like colour and image clarity as well as check the technical size is going to work on the outcome. It’s important to make sure that the file looks good so the print will look good.
Next is printing. We send our files off to an Australian based digital printer and try and wait patiently for their return. On average it takes about a week and a half to get the fabric back. Once we have received our custom printed fabric it’s into stage three of manufacture. This is where we make up the product or kit as ordered, ready for delivery.
We try really hard to complete each step as quickly as possible, especially in those stages where we have complete control. However, there are times when we have no control over timing at all. Which, yes, freaks us out. But during which we try and remain calm.
From the initial order to final delivery can take up to four weeks (sometimes more, sometimes less). While it might seem like a long time between placing your order and receiving your final product in the mail, you can see there are plenty of things that need to happen along the way. We hope that the timeframes don’t put you off getting something custom made; they do say that ‘good things come to those who wait’.
It’s been pretty quite here on the old blog for a while. But happily at least, it’s because there was a bit of work going on behind the scenes rather than just total procrastination.
This week, I launched my first print based project 'Make Your Mark'. And it’s a pretty fun one.
The project has been in the works for years. Most of which was just percolating at the back of my brain somewhere. The initial idea came when I was studying textiles at uni so I was probably more aware of surface and printed pattern than I’d ever been. Then I’d visit my mates who were in their first few years of parenting and their houses were filled with beautiful vibrant painterly artwork created by their small offspring. And in my brain I’d think “look at that expressive paint work, there’s no way you could capture or recreate that sense of freedom and exuberance as an adult” and then I’d say out loud “this would make an amazing fashion/homewares print”.
And so that is where it started. Then with all the positive reactions from my kids inspired ‘Make My Beanie’ contest winner last year I thought it might be time to create this printed version. It’s much quicker to print rather than knit, you see.
So here goes, I’ll keep you posted.
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.
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.
I’ve been thinking about holidays a lot this week. In amongst panicked thoughts of how much money I need to save for adventures at the end of the year, I’ve also been thinking I should finally write some posts about a few of the amazing trips I’ve taken. For me, a big part of the delight of discovering a new country is learning about its textile story. (And when I say learning, normally that actually means buying. Hence the need to save for holidays.)
I thought I’d start with Alaska because… well, it’s pretty special.
I’d done my textile research before we left so I knew there was one very very special thing in Alaska I wanted to find and that was musk ox yarn or qiviut (kiv-ee-yute).
Qiviut is considered the softest wool in the world, softer than cashmere, and is extremely warm. It’s also really rare and is one of the most expensive yarns in the world dubbed ‘the qolden fleece of the Arctic’. The musk oxen naturally shed their underdown fibre (qiviut) each spring, up to 2.5kgs per year, which is collected to produce yarn.
While there are still wild animals, there are also a few musk ox farms around the state which you can visit at certain times of the year. Instead we visited the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Centre and while everyone else headed off to see the bears I excitedly went to visit the musk ox herd. In my head I thought they’d be a similar size to a bison, but they were so much smaller. I loved them.
And yes. I bought qiviut yarn. Of course I did. And yes, it cost a lot.
Stay tuned for more textile holiday adventures including more from Alaska.
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.
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.
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.