Friday, 19 December 2014

Pebble Beach Shawlette in Kettle Yarns Co Islington

When I went to Fibre East in the Summer (doesn't that seem like forever ago?) the very first purchase I made was from Kettle Yarns Co. I intended to buy yarn to make Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade and wanted to get the recommended yarn Westminster. However, I fell in love with a skein of Islington instead.

This skein is 400m of 55% Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and 45% Silk in the colourway Old Smoke. It is glorious yarn and I decided it would still work wonderfully with Helen's pattern. I actually cast this project on fairly soon after blogging about the event and I can't believe I haven't shown you the results of this knitting endeavour. I think I might have been waiting to take "good" photos, but as I decided to stop waiting for that to happen I will share the "not so good" photos of the project. It should give you a good idea of how lovely the yarn is and how good the pattern is.

The pattern, like all of Helen's, is excellent. Everything is laid out clearly and explained carefully. There is a checkbox system where you can mark off what you have knit and it tells you have far you have come in your shawl knitting (I love that Helen does that).

The knitting was a fun and enjoyable experience, but before I go started the yarn didn't play ball. It was a NIGHTMARE to wind. It took hours to wind this one skein of yarn. It wasn't secured very well and it had managed to get all knotted up. I may have had a little moan on Twitter about this, and found several other people had the same experience I was having. The yarn is worth all the untangling, however, it would have been much better if I'd not had to spend and entire afternoon on the job.

You can see how beautiful the yarn is in the above photo. It has an amazing sheen to it. It also drapes incredibly well.

It is so soft to the touch I would normally fear that pilling would be instant, but as I've worn this time and again, since it was finished in September, there has been no sign of wear. I think this is down to the multiple plies and the BFL content, which is a strong and pill resistant fibre, that is also soft and silky to the touch.

I loved knitting this shawl. I loved the process from the moment I cast on. I have worn it a lot. It's a great neutral colour and it has definitely made me think about getting more neutral knits in my wardrobe, as they are so versatile.

It really does go with everything. It is soft and warm around my neck and the eyelets make the yarn stretch to a decent size, so that it covers some of my lower cut tops. The shawlette feels and looks dressy, but it is casual enough to wear every day.

I really am delighted with this project. I will probably make another version of this pattern, but maybe that one will be in a less neutral colour.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Changes to Pattern Sales

You might be aware that there are some changes to the way VAT (Value Added Tax) is set up in the EU on digital services, which includes pattern sales. From 1st January 2015, the VAT will be charged at the rate set by the European country in which the purchaser lives. Previously it was set at the rate of the country the seller was in.  As I didn't sell enough to warrant paying VAT, you, as a pattern purchaser didn't have to pay it on my pattern sales.

There has been some complicated too-ing and fro-ing on Ravelry about how designers within the EU can still sell their patterns without having to register for VAT in every EU country and they have come to an agreement with LoveKnitting who will become the EU distributors of Ravelry pattern sales. They will collect the correct VAT for each EU purchase and ensure it gets to the right country.

Originally when these changes were announced I thought I would have to stop selling my patterns because I couldn't afford to set up a complicated system that paid VAT to all the different countries. I don't sell enough patterns to warrant that. LoveKnitting has been instrumental in keeping a lot of EU designers in business in the New Year.

So, the implications from the 1st January 2015 are as follows:

You live outside the EU

There will be no change to your purchasing experience.

You live within the EU

When you purchase one of my patterns you will be directed to LoveKnitting and you will make your payment to them, with the relevant VAT on top of the pattern price. You will be able to download the pattern, which will also be placed in your Ravelry library, as before.

If you live in an EU country and don't want to pay VAT on top of the pattern price, you need to buy your desired pattern before the end of 2014.

I hope this new system will work as planned and there will be very little disruption to pattern sales as the changes take place.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Cool Clavicle Cover

Since starting to listen to, and watch podcasts, I have been exposed to a new section of the knitting pattern design community. I think podcasters are led to design in the same way that bloggers are. They tell their audience about something they have designed for themselves and people start asking if they are going to release it as a pattern. The next thing they know, they are a designer! Megan Williams is such a podcaster, part of the Stockinette Zombies duo, Amy Spinler being the other part. In July, Megan released a new shawlette pattern, Cool Clavicle Cover. It looked like something I would enjoy knitting and it was one of my favourite shapes, an elongated semi-circle.

A few months later, I pulled out this skein of SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in the Tea Party colourway and started working on the shawlette. This was the first time I have used this particular yarn and it is very smooth and soft. It felt amazing next to the skin and I couldn't bring myself to put it on my feet, despite knowing it was more than tough enough to stand up to being socks.

The cast on and top edge of this shawl is really unusual and very imaginative. This method of cast on and top edge seem to remove the problem of a top edge bulge that sometimes occurs with this shape of shawl. It creates a soft and smooth top edge, which you sometimes don't get with a garter stitch top edge.

There are several sections of the shawl, done in the same stitch pattern, that breaks up any pooling or flashing you might get with a hand dyed variegated yarn. The main sections are divided with an interesting "chain stitch" that I'd not seen before. These sections help break up your knitting and help keep it fresh and interesting. These two different types of stitch keep you thinking enough without forcing you to be glued to a pattern, as they are easily memorisable.

I did go wrong at the beginning because I forgot that the stitch counts given in the pattern, are for the stitches BETWEEN the stitch markers! And yes, I did rip out those sections before realising that the stitch count I had was actually correct. Other than my user error, the pattern was fun to do and the shawlette is great.

The shawl really is a good clavicle cover. It sits nicely around my shoulders, but still can cover up my upper arms nicely.

It is also a good size to use as a scarf. When it's worn that way, you really get the benefit of how smooth and soft this yarn is.

I wet blocked the shawlette using blocking wires and it made all the edges nice and smooth. I think it would be hard to duplicate this effect without using a LOT of pins.

I think this shawlette would work really well being sized up, by using two skeins of sock yarn, or even using a longer skein of 3-ply weight yarn (heavy lace). It's the sort of thing that would work well with a skein like my Posh Yarn Miranda Heavy Lace in Smooth Criminal.

You can see the different yarn choices used with the pattern here. I think a precious variegated sock yarn would be shown off well with the pattern, and I'm pretty sure I will knit it again.

I think you can tell I really love my new shawlette and have worn it a lot already, and just as importantly, I enjoyed knitting it. I also know I will buy more of the SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock as it is lovely stuff and robust too. I may even be tempted to put it on my feet.


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