July 01, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

Celebrate my birthday with 29% off any of my self published individual patterns. Enter the code 'rainbow<3' when checking out here or on Ravelry to receive your discount :)

I'm afraid we aren't able to offer this on books, patterns published by a third party or on the Rhinebeck Sweater patterns by other designers. The sale will end at 10am GMT tomorrow. Now, is it too early for cake?


June 30, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

Nine years, plus a few weeks, ago, I started a blog. It wasn't something I'd put much thought into. I'd recently found Knitty.com and Craftster.org and was thrilled to find a few other people who were as into my new hobby as I was. I'd been knitting for a couple of years and had already discovered that I found it easier and more interesting to make things up than keep track of my place in a pattern. That didn't mean it had ever occurred to me to design my own patterns, I hadn't even really thought about the fact that regular people made those. 

And then two things happened. I got the first Stitch n Bitch book, which I discovered through the author, Debbie Stoller's magazine, Bust. Since high school I'd been making monthly trips on the bus to a retail mall to pick that, and other magazines that opened up a cool, feminist world where women did interesting things, had strong opinions, liked sex, cared how they looked, and didn't think crafts were weird and old fashioned. I found the puns in Stitch n Bitch trying and some of the projects were more my thing than others, but I loved that it explained the techniques I didn't know enough to know I needed to know. The most exciting thing about it though? That had to be the little bios of each of the contributors that accompanied each pattern. I wanted to be one of them. 

Enter Knitty. I didn't have the faintest idea how you went about getting into a book, and the only knitting magazines I'd ever seen looked more like they were aimed at an odd hybrid of stereotypes of grandmothers and pre-teen girls. Browsing Knitty one day I noticed that they had a page titled "get into Knitty". Much to my surprise, it all seemed like stuff I could do. Follow a template for the pattern, take photos, etc. I started swatching. I worked the shaping for every size out, separately, on graph paper and the construction clearly shows that most of the patterns I'd looked at were very traditional, but I made a cardigan, and a pattern. 

The photo I thought best summed up who I was back then — I wore that hat constantly; an early Ravatar; and the current one. 

Just like the contributors to Stitch n Bitch I got to write a short bio and provide a photo for Knitty, and their guidelines said this would be a good place to include your blog link. Right then and there I registered a domain and started looking into blogging software. 

My first blog header

My first blog header

My first post was motivated by a project I'd made for a swap on the Craftster boards, wanted to share the chart, and needed somewhere to host it. This morning I managed to track down the original photo and reinstate it. Nothing could more hilariously reveal that I had no idea I'd be writing this now at that time than the fact that my very first post is about an intarsia project based on a topless photo from a seventies porn magazine. On the other hand, a lot of my subsequent design work has focussed on making sweaters work with boobs, and I do have a special ability to bring any conversation around to breasts. 

I was nineteen years old, feeling a little lost in the multitude of ways that are part of being on the cusp of adulthood, and remembering that the thing that made me truly happy as a kid was making stuff. That summer I rode my bike everyday to work at my uncles' office, a job that left plenty of time for browsing the internet and writing blog posts. I saved the money I made, and that wasn't blown on partying, to buy a digital camera. I blogged about the projects I made, which focussed heavily on skulls, corset style lacing and comic book characters, and wrote for an audience made up entirely of friends. 

When Amy Singer, the editor of Knitty, emailed me to let me know I'd made it into the issue I was so thrilled, and so unaware that it might not seem very professional, that I posted her email on the blog (something I had no memory of until now!). I do remember finding her comment about Rowan amusing: they seemed like such a distant world. 

One morning in September I woke up and thought my little website had been hacked. There was absolutely no way that that many hits could be legitimate. But they were. Knitty had gone live, they'd put my pattern on the cover, and it turned out that when, a few months earlier, I'd been so excited to find a few people who liked to knit, I'd been grossly underestimating their numbers. There were thousands of them. People who loved to knit, who were as excited about finding new techniques, stitch patterns and designs as I was, and who wanted to see my 'other designs'. 

I had no idea then quite how dramatically that would change the course of my life in that moment, but I do remember feeling like something bigger than I'd realised was happening. I couldn't imagine that it would turn into a career by accident while I was busy trying to figure out what to really do after university. It was exciting to meet other people who liked my hobby, but I didn't know then that some of them would become the dearest friends. I liked seeing where blog visitors and commenters came from, and I read about other bloggers lives in far off lands with wonder, but it didn't even cross my mind that I'd travel to meet them there. The creators of books seemed to operate in a completely separate universe, one I couldn't imagine crossing into, let alone being a part of changing. I sometimes wished I had extra hands and extra hours in the day, but I didn't know the answer would be found in amazing employees and collaborators. I was hoping to buy yarn and take away pizza, not to support both myself and others. 

I couldn't leave out Ravelry, although it didn't come along until a couple of years later. Here's a screenshot of my notebook that I took when I was first allowed to write about it publicly. 

I couldn't leave out Ravelry, although it didn't come along until a couple of years later. Here's a screenshot of my notebook that I took when I was first allowed to write about it publicly. 

More than anything, no matter how thrilled I was to find that there were other people out there like me, I couldn't predict what a wonderful community I'd stumbled into. You changed my life, I love you dearly, and I wouldn't be writing this nine years on without you. The yarn industry, knitwear design, and the online crafting community, have seen enormous changes in that time, but I'm still, when it comes down to it, thrilled that you're out there and that you love sticks and string. From all of us at team Ysolda thank you. What will the next nine years bring? 

Tomorrow is my birthday, and in time honoured tradition, we'll be doing a pattern sale so do check back for details on that. 


June 20, 2014 by Rebecca

Wee Carson was released at the beginning of the week

I've already started one for my niece and will be doing a tutorial for installing the zipper and the ribbon. Yes, we are planning an adult version of this one, the yarn for it is in the studio.

Brooklyn Tweed released their first kids collection on the same day, BT Kids.

Is it time to start crafting for Christmas? Mary-Heather, Sarah and Christina certainly think so and announced #craftmasinjuly on Twitter yesterday.

Locals — This weekend is Edinburgh's first yarn crawl The Indie Burgh Yarn Crawl organised by Jess of Ginger Twist Studios. Have fun if you're participating.


June 19, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

I learned this little trick from my friend Mel and it's so helpful for those of us who can never remember if they clicked the row counter. 

After the first 10 rows take a piece of scrap yarn and lay it across your knitting between two stitches. Continue knitting. 

10 rows later pause at the same point and flip the scrap yarn to the back. 

You can easily total up the rows you've done by counting the 'stitches' of scrap yarn. And if you forget to flip the yarn just grab a darning needle and thread it through where it should have been. Find it hard to eyeball 10 rows? Try doing just 6, 

technique thursday


June 13, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

The new Knitty came out earlier this week. It's exactly 9 years since I sent my first pattern ever to Knitty and accidentally changed the course of my life — nostalgia! Isn't that cover sweater pretty? 

Season 2 of Orange is the New Black came out last Friday, we may have binge watched it at the weekend. Love this clip, thanks to Cirilia for capturing it! 

Don't forget World Wide Knit in Public events start this weekend, maybe you'll find one local to you.

Yellow Submarine Yarn bombing project unveiled.

Quince and Co released their new yarn last week Piper 50/50 Merino, kid mohair heavy lace weight. 

I've been working on some sweaters (got to do something to make all that tv watching productive) but my current big project is a wedding dress for my oldest friend. The wedding is three weeks tomorrow and I'm still working on developing the pattern so I'd better get a move on! 


June 12, 2014 by Ysolda Teague

In last week's post I shared a tip for swatching in the round, which is necessary because differences in knit and purl tension can mean you get a different gauge working flat or in the round. This imbalance can also cause other problems.

Yarn flows backwards. If you ever have problems with ladders when working on dpns or magic loop try pulling the yarn tighter after working the second stitch on the needle. That will pull the extra yarn out of the space between the needles and the stitches just worked will help to lock it in place. 

In the same way extra yarn from a looser purl stitch and the yarn used to switch from knit to purl tends to flow backwards into the last knit stitch. You might have experienced this problem when working cables or wide ribbing — the final knit stitch of your cable or rib looks much sloppier than the rest. Trying to tighten the yarn while working that stitch or right after does nothing. The extra yarn isn't there yet, so you can't remove it. 

The trick is to work the following purl stitch more tightly. One way to do this is to wrap the yarn differently so that it takes a shorter path around the needle. This can be done whether the yarn is held in the right or left hand. 

Western style knitting involves the yarn moving around the needle in an anti-clockwise direction while for Eastern style knitting it goes clockwise. If you look at the illustrations below you can see that when purling the Eastern method results in less yarn being used — a shorter path is taken. 


It's probably fairly obvious how to wrap the yarn differently with it in the right hand but here's a video with it in the left. I actually find this much easier to do than a Western combination purl. 

Switching from Western to Eastern will change the orientation of the resulting stitch on the needle. 

This means that in order to keep the stitch uncrossed the needle must be inserted into the back loop when working the following row. 

Many knitters will find that they get the most balanced knit and purl tension by working knit stitches Western and purl stitches Eastern. Worth trying if you have noticed issues with rowing out. Annie Modesitt termed this Combination knitting and has written extensively about it — the main thing to note is that decreases must be worked differently to achieve the same slant. 

I don't find my flat stockinette is noticeably imbalanced but I do use the Eastern purl when working ribbed or cable patterns. When working back and forth I work the first purl stitch following a knit Eastern — this will be alternating stitches on the right and wrong sides. You can see what a difference it makes on these swatches which were worked in the same yarn on the same needle size. 

For narrower rib patterns I find it's easier to just work all of the purls eastern. If you've ever thought that the inside of ribbing worked in the round was neater than the outside this is a good solution. 

If you've been finding this series of posts helpful and you're interested in garment knitting you might like to check out my book Little Red in the City which these illustrations are extracted from. 

technique thursday