An Invitation on a Knitting Adventure

Sometimes the best feedback we receive is when it comes from people we truly admire.

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

This happened a couple of months ago when Mel invited me to be a creative part of 6 Bits Storybooks. I've long admired the positive energy that Mel puts out into the world and I've shared a few of her designs here with you all before. She has a mindfulness that I find really inspiring and have been trying to include into my own daily routine. When she asked if I would be a regular story teller, I was nervous and unsure. With a little hand holding though I have stepped forward and now the words are pouring out thick and fast. 

I can't wait to share them with you.

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

(c) 6 Bits Storybooks

6 Bits is an exciting innovation in knitting publications from the journey of story tellers: knitters, photographers, writers, designers, friends and nature. 6 Bits is a digital quarterly for knitters who love to immerse themselves deeply in their knitting experience, inviting both readers and contributors to make new discoveries and meaningful connections with yarn providers, designers, writers and the creative community around them, paying close attention to the origin of all the elements that are integral parts.

If you visit 6 Bits Storybooks today, you will be able to read a little insight into how my love for storytelling first began. I'm so honoured to be a part of this gathering of women who want to open up and share their individual knit journeys with you. 

I hope you will join us. Subscriptions are already available and the first issue, Unearth, is released on 15th October 2015. 

Focus on Design: Designer Inspirations

Today in the final designer inspiration feature, I have words, sounds and COLOUR inspiration from Felicity Ford aka Knitsonik. I've loved asking all 4 of these designers the same questions and seeing their responses for Design Week and hope you have enjoyed the posts too. 

What inspires you to design?
"I feel great affection for the mucky everyday stuff of life and think it deserves to be celebrated. I've worked with this idea for many years in my sound art practice and in my photography but the advantage of working with yarn is that inspiration sourced in daily life can be returned to that life in the form of useful, warming garments. For me it's all about celebrating overlooked details and finding hidden wonders in everyday things. I hate housework but feel OK about hand-washing a pair of socks full of memories of a familiar place; and preparing veg suddenly becomes fun when an amazing pattern appears in the peelings and cooking turns into a messy photoshoot. 

For me the designing process is about deepening my appreciation for an inspiration source. Time spent exploring any context is an investment of imagination, and I've found I can never look at things in the same way again after I have studied them for colours and patterns for my knitting. Since publishing my book quite a few folk have asked me which swatch is my favourite and the one I keep thinking of is the one based on my digital sound recorder - EDDIE; I adore my little bashed up recorder for its functions but studying it for the production of stranded colourwork has really deepened the love. Every time I get EDDIE out for a spot of recording I think of the swatch and it makes me smile. 

EDDIE (and a fabulous swatch inspired by Felicity's trusted companion)

EDDIE (and a fabulous swatch inspired by Felicity's trusted companion)

Investing time studying and exploring aspects of the world around me makes me profoundly happy and I am learning to design because I want to share the joy of that with other knitters. 

What key skills have you developed as a designer?
I'm getting better at writing down things as I go rather than just knitting them up and then wondering how on earth I did it. I'm also working hard on my writing. I like writing long, reflective pieces but really succinct and precise technical language is something that comes less naturally. In working on the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook I developed some skills around describing creative process clearly and neatening my instructions and I keep working on that. 

KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook

Any tools you can't live without when you design or pattern write?
I can't live without my comrades and their feedback and am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by very skilled, inspiring, generous folks. My buddies are the cornerstone of my designing work and I couldn't be KNITSONIK without their input and support.

On a more nuts-and-bolts level I have RSI and residual damage in my wrists from when my arthritis was very active in my early twenties. Therefore I use a sideways mouse and ergonomic keyboard, I perch my computer on a box of franking labels, and I constantly switch my needles around between square steel needles, bamboo square needles, circulars and DPNs of different lengths. I find that varying the tools I use reduces strain on my wrists which is fairly essential if one is pursuing a career where knitting and typing are the main tasks. Other than that, my main tools are a scrappy old exercise book and whichever pen or pencil is to hand.

When it comes to committing designs to paper, how do you start that process? 
With a swatch! A lovely big tasty swatch full of ideas is usually my starting point, followed by some usually very messy instructions in biro. I'm imagining a different process for a design I'm about to start, though; I think it would simplify things if I had a rough pattern written out beforehand and then tweaked this as I went so that the designing process is more about test-knitting a pattern than just picking up the needles and hitting GO. 

Excerpt from the Sourcebook reveals all Felicity's favourite tools for action!

Excerpt from the Sourcebook reveals all Felicity's favourite tools for action!

My LISTENING TUNIK was a fantastic design experience, I was swatching for days and days before I found the motif I wanted. Once I had that and understood the gauge I just went for it. I was thrilled to bust out a sweater like this but then trying to work out exactly what I'd done was a bit of a forensics exercise and I'm still not wholly satisfied with how the neckline sits on me. 

What advice would you give designers developing their design and pattern writing skills?

Find the right people to work with, get feedback from trusted comrades and look after your wrists!"

With thanks to Felicity for taking the time to share some insights into her design process. If the Sourcebook really spoke to you, I'll be hosting a very special give away on my next podcast episode so please tune in next Saturday!

If you're inspired to get designing, please do join us for the Designalong

The final Design Week blog post will be tomorrow and is a helpful round up of tools of the trade- specifically, charting! If you're enjoying design week here on the blog, you can catch up with the posts here

Unravel and everything after

Sleepily I'm typing in a sun spot of the house, pondering a gorgeous weekend. This weekend was a big one to say the least. I might be over tired as a result but Unravel was completely worth it this year. What a rush!

Highlights for me:

- The Sweet Georgia girls completely fangirling Victoria from EdenCottage

Susan Crawford's stylish booth and winning smile

- Fyberspates new yarn, Cumulus, sitting like little tribbles at the stand

Plume by Lisa Mutch in The Uncommon Thread yarn

- The way my shawl was an instant point of conversation each time I made a new acquaintance. 

Coopknits just next door with her explosion of pompoms

- Eliza Conway gleefully telling me stories of vintage knitting finds and the wonderful reactions they cause. 

- Emily from Tincanknits campaigning for me to attend Edinburgh Yarn Festival (haha)

Knitted Stuffed Heads!

- The knitting decorations

- So much banter, good will and fun from all the vendors. It was truly a brilliant event.

I'm going to be blogging about a few things I brought home and editing 2 podcasts worth of audio this week because sometimes you just don't want something to be over. 

Although my fourth cup of tea begs to differ.