Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Will you be Unravelling this weekend?

We will...

Knitted Cake by Prudence on Flickr. Used under Creative C0mmons licence.

knitonthenet will be at Farnham Maltings for Unravel 2010 this weekend. It's a knitting and spinning festival with retailers, classes and exhibits galore. knitonthenet editor, Susan Crawford will also be giving talks on the Jarmson sisters of Shetland and on Knitted Fashions, 1939-1949.

According to their website,
"Unravel 2010 will be bigger than ever, with a wider variety of stands, giving everyone a chance to see, hear, share and wonder at all things woollen. Activities will include a marketplace, talks, demonstrations, workshops, exhibitions and a knitting surgery."

Sounds good, doesn't it? There are still tickets available from the site and you can also buy them on the door.
We hope to see you there and please do come and say hi!



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Technical Bits: Yarn Weights

Scrummy Orange by Jiva on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons licence.

Just when you thought that you were on top of your knitting lingo, along comes something else to learn. As a beginner knitter, you might just grab whatever yarn and needles come your way, but soon enough you will come to realise that there are differences in yarn weights and indeed in what they are called. For instance you might be using an American pattern, but be based in the UK and wonder what on earth sportweight yarn is in the first place ...let alone where you find it, and why aran weight yarn won't do instead.
The basic reason for needing to use the right weight of yarn is for sizing. If your yarn is too thick or too thin, you can't get the right tension and your sizing will be out. Because of this, it is important to know about the differences in yarn weights, and what they are variously called.

Here are some general guidelines:

UK - 2-ply/ Lace
US - Baby / Laceweight
UK - 3-ply
US - Light Fingering

UK - 4-ply
US - Fingering

UK - (light-ish DK)
US - Sport weight

UK- Double Knitting
US - Double Knitting / Worsted

UK - (light-ish Aran weight)
US - Worsted

UK - Aran
US - Aran / Fisherman

UK - Bulky
US - Chunky

UK - Superbulky
US - Superchunky

As you can see, sometimes there isn't a direct equivalent for the yarns, but you can generally make a near- match. Another useful thing to know is that sock weight yarn will be either 3-ply or 4-ply, depending on the manufacturer, but due to its need to wear well, it will often have nylon content or be a superwash wool, which withstands machine washing.



Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Message from Susan and Gavin

I recently posted a statement on my personal blog, explaining the on going issues that Gavin and I have been dealing with over the last couple of years. We felt that it was also important that our wonderful readers here on knitonthenet also were made fully aware of the uphill struggle we have had to keep going and will hopefully understand therefore why the issues of knitonthenet don't always come out on time! The statistics show that many thousands of you come to the site on a regular basis and we do hope that you will continue to do so while we work on improving the website. The new issue is almost ready for publication and should be out in just a few days time. It was hoped that this next issue would be the first of the new style knitonthenet, but due to the financial restrictions explained below, we have not been able to have a third party build the new site as originally planned. Gavin is undertaking the rebuild himself and it is taking much more time than initially hoped as it has to be squeezed in with all the other work he has to do. We have taken the decision to release the next issue, issue 10, in the existing format so that things don't come to a halt. It would be much appreciated if you could spare the time to read the statement below.

Thanking you
Susan & Gavin

When I met my husband to be, he was a partner in a family print firm with his parents and brother. His role was Graphic Artist. To supplement my art teaching and design income I began to work part time in the office. Just over two years ago a decision was taken for his mum and dad to retire and his brother decided to leave the business. If the business was to continue, my husband would have to buy his brother out. At that time we were in the planning stages of publishing A Stitch in Time and as we planned to move into publishing with this book we felt we needed to keep the business going. In addition to this there were other related business matters arising from the state of the business, outstanding debts, equipment leases - all sorts of exciting things. If we had shut down the business at that point, by the time debts had been cleared there would have been nothing left, and for a business that had been in existence for 30 years, it didn't seem the way to go. So my husband and I took the risk of taking over the business. The business was valued and primarily due to the value of the property in which the business was based, we had to take out a substantial mortgage on this building to pay my husband's brother his share. My husband's parents kindly agreed to wait for their share.

Things since then did not go according to plan. The recession hit and hit badly. Our town had too many printers and as a small firm, we were unable to compete with the larger firms and the print business began to loose money rapidly. I guess here is where we should have shut down, gone bust. But my husband and his parents had worked with the firms we owed money to for 30 years and too many businesses had gone bust on us and we know what it feels like to be on the wrong side of that equation, so we didn't. We pumped every penny we had personally or could borrow into the business to pay bills and wages but it didn't make any difference. So we stopped printing last July and had to release the staff, which was a very difficult time. The wonderful UK bank also decided to stick in a knife and demanded repayment of our overdraft. Cash flow basically stopped whilst £10,000 was taken from us. The Bank was inflexible and at no time in the last two years has it done anything to help. Nothing.

Then on August 5th, as many of you know, my mum suffered a massive stroke, and for a time life stood still.

However, there were still complex issues to sort out with the old business, the premises, the debts and at the same time, try and move forward. Still produce knitonthenet, A Stitch in Time, other designs. Earn a living. I haven't actually been paid since December 2008. Nearly every penny we earn goes to pay off the debts of the business. Very likely we have done the wrong thing, but morally we feel we did it right. Unfortunately, we have debtors who haven't behaved in the same way and in addition to dealing constantly with our debt situation, I have to fit in chasing our debts.

Before christmas we decided to try and raise some capital selling some of the old equipment from the print firm. It is a very bad market out there as many printers have gone bust, banks won't lend money to them to buy equipment etc., so trying to sell equipment into that market is not very easy. We therefore turned to a trusted company, who we had bought equipment from in the past. They took several pieces of our equipment to demonstrate to potential customers and managed to sell a couple of them. The agreement was that they had borrowed the equipment to demonstrate and we would be paid straight away on sale. In December they sold a piece of equipment for us and our share was £2500 which would have helped the situation enormously. We are still waiting. Despite ringing them almost daily, we have received bouncing cheques, false promises, changing stories and very little of the money. They have been paid for the equipment. We have not.

And this is the situation we find ourselves in yet again. So you can imagine, none of this goes hand in hand with being creative, looking forward, being able to invest in your future. It all drags you down, pulls you back, eats up every minute of your time and makes me sick. I can no longer bring myself to trust people. And that saddens me so much.

The only thing we have left from the business is the building which costs us a lot of money just to keep every month. We bought at the peak of the housing market in the UK and practically since the day we bought it, prices have dropped. We knew we couldn't sell as we would still owe money to the bank for the mortgage at the end of it. The market has stabilised slightly since the new year and the property has been valued at just slightly less than when we bought it, so we are going to take a chance and put it on the market this coming week and see if we can manage to sell it. We unfortunately won't get anything out of the sale but if we can clear the mortgage its one more debt out of the way.

So there you go. This all takes constant time, energy and money. And this alone, without obviously, mum. could take up every moment of your life. But we have refused to give up and have continued to create and have managed to get Arbour House functioning as a separate entity and I'm very proud of what we have somehow managed to achieve despite everything colluding to stop us. We have an incredibly strong relationship and pull together at all times. Without this we could not have got through. And we have somehow managed to exist on thin air. With us being in this together, we have no supporting income. If we don't create and don't put our product out there, we don't eat. Its as simple as that. And of course, for a great deal of the time there has only been the two of us, doing everything. The magazine, the designing, the books, the administration, the invoicing, despatch, everything.

Despite this being a long post this is still a greatly condensed and simplified version of the complexities of the business wind down - I wouldn't want to bore you with all of that and I don't want you to think that this is looking for sympathy. But when I look back on this blog it doesn't always make sense. This post ties up all the loose ends and hopefully helps you understand why sometimes posts are erratic even when I say I'm going to post the next day. When you spend half the day on the phone to the bank, debtors, creditors etc., you become too tired to talk to be honest. And things don't often get done on time, because of all these other issues that we have to deal with. Like now, we have to arrange to go and see our solicitor about the equipment issue. We have to tidy up the property so we can sell it. There is just so little time.

I feel positive about the future though. Creativity is flowing. I have commissions and I have plans, knitonthenet is being completely overhauled, books in development, wonderful collaborations with amazing people and fantastic books being published by us, by some of the most talented people I have ever met. Life is turning a corner and I refuse to be dragged back down. My song is Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" and in Frank's immortal words:

Each time I find myself flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.
That's Life!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How You Made It: Jess Dress

Jess by Aruba Blue, images copyright

As Aruba Blue designed her pattern, Jess for knitonthenet Issue 5, she had in mind the kind of pattern which you might be familiar with if you did any dressmaking from Stitchcraft or Golden Hands in the 1960s or 70s. Perhaps you even wore one of these crocheted and sewn dresses as a child: I certainly did.

Designing to combine the rustic feel of the original patterns with modern, summery colours, Aruba wanted the pattern to be very flexible in its making to fit a wide range of sizes. Jess has proved to be a popular pattern with knitonthenet readers, as you can see from these great examples from members of Ravelry.

Jenny from Utah has made two Jess dresses: one as part of the 2008 Ravelympics, and another for a friend's daughter. She cleverly made a matching headband with the leftover yarn with the pink and green dress, seen below. With the second dress, she adapted the straps using the flower motif from the squares (detail below).

Jess for Tianna by Guppygirl. Image copyright Guppygirl

Jess for Steph by Guppygirl. Image copyright, Guppygirl.

Scottish crafter, Jane, crocheted this pink version of Jess for her daughter, spending a lot of time getting just the right fabric for the skirt.

Iona's Dress by FourWeeKids. Image copyright, FourWeeKids

Jen from Barrie in Canada has made two Jess dresses for her daughter as well. The first is a great turquoise and green dress which you can see by following the link to Ravelry here. The second, pictured below is made with beautiful hand-dyed fabric that originated in Ghana.

SugarBaby1987's Gabby's Jess. Image copyright, SugarBaby1987

Over in California, Tricia made two dresses for her twin daughters and she has provided great notes on this one about how she altered the pattern to fit them too. I love the way that the patchwork pattern on the skirt matches the crocheted squares on the first one.

Patchwork Planet by Tricia79. Image copyright Tricia79.

Patchwork Planet Part 2 by Tricia79. Image copyright Tricia79.

Annie in Cleveland (in the UK) made a lovely version of Jess with her daughter's own choice of yarn, and has also highlighted in her notes the importance of getting the tension right in crochet. You can see on this version of the dress that by adding extra squares, it can be made to fit a range of sizes.

Jess by thestitcher. Image copyright thestitcher.

Many thanks to all of the crafters who let us use the photographs of their versions of Jess. It really is great to see the different ways that people interpret knitonthenet's patterns.

editorial assistant

Saturday, February 06, 2010


Crochet Hooks by mk.carrol on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons licence.

Although we're called knitonthenet, did you know that we also have lots of great crochet patterns in our pattern archive for you to make? From the simplest beginner's scarf to gorgeous earrings and a roomy market bag, there are projects for everyone. Here are just a few examples.

Crochet Cot Blanket by Aruba Blue, image copyright

If you or somebody you know is expecting a baby, a handmade cot blanket is a lovely and useful keepsake. Instead of knitting one, why not crochet this great blanket by Aruba Blue? Her original blanket, from knitonthenet Issue 3 was made in blues, but you can easily vary the colours to match the new addition, or use a range of rainbow colours to cover all eventualities.

Market Bag by Carol Ventura, image copyright

Market bags are always useful, so why not make one! Carol Ventura's pattern for her Market Bag from Issue 7 gives enough room for lots of shopping and is a great way to try out a new techniqe. Carol has also written an article about the technique used, tapestry crochet in the same issue.

Athena by Aruba Blue, image copyright

Thinking forward to the hotter weather, we've a really nice pattern for a pair of beach sandals by Aruba Blue from Issue 6. Using a slipper sole, the top of the sandal is crocheted in hemp yarn and tied Gladiator-style with a length of ribbon.

We'd love to hear about any of the items that you've made from our patterns, and see some pictures too. Drop me a line at ingrid[at] with your pictures or add them to our Flickr pool, share them with the Ravelry group or post them on our Facebook page.

editorial assistant