Boost

About a month ago I wrote here about the Cabled Scarf designed by Annelies Baes with Greener Wool Mergelland. Together with Annelies I planned a small social media campaign where I would post something about the scarf on Facebook and Instagram and she would share the post with her following.

Thanks to shares by accounts with a large following (Filière Laine, Annelies Baes, Brei- en Haakdag and Inside Crochet) and a few friends that resulted in a reach (as calculated by Facebook, you never know what it really means) of 5.138. That’s gigantic! At the very best a post from Greener Wool has a reach of over 250, but most of the time it doesn’t get over 150. For once Facebook’s nudging that this post was performing better than normal and that I should boost it convinced me in doing so. Mind you, they’ve said that about almost every post so far.

I set a budget of 8 (eight) euro and I asked Facebook to do the following:

Target men and women, ages 13 – 65+ who live in 6 locations, and have 9 interests.

Location – Living In: Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, United States and European Economic Area (EEA)

Excluded Connections: Exclude people who like Greener Wool

Age: 13 – 65+

Language: Dutch, English (UK), French (Canada), English (US), Dutch (België) or French (France)

People Who Match:
Interests: Sustainability, Sustainable living, Ravelry, Environmentalism, Sustainable Brands, Natural product, Ecology or Organic product
And Must Also Match:
Interests: Inside Crochet, Simply Crochet, Crocheting Club, Crochet Guild of America, I Love Crochet, Crochet! Magazine, Crochet, Knit and Crochet Now! or Crochet World Magazine

That resulted in an additional reach of 6.468. My phone just didn’t stop buzzing for 7 days because of the incredible number of likes on Instagram.

I have to admit that this most probably wasn’t a very expert targeting, but honestly, I think it was all fake.

I took the effort to look deeper into the people liking the post. Checking their profile on Facebook or on Instagram showed time and again the same stuff: duckfaced millennial fashion victims with no interest whatsoever in sustainability, crafts or crochet! At first I had – on Facebook’s advice! – selected the entire world as geographical area. They would take care of selection the appropriate regions for me, they said. On the first day all the likes received by my post about a woollen scarf came from Middle Eastern desert places where it’s 40° on cold days. So I changed the parameters and selected only countries where I’ve actually already had real likes and real customers. To no avail: the origin of the likes changed, but the profiles where of the same type.

Will I ever again boost a post on Facebook? Obviously not! Did I get something for my 8 euros? Yes, I’ve learned that the real boost comes from real people.

Advertenties

Pitti Filati

Last week I traveled to Florence for Pitti Filati. That’s a bi-annual business fair where the Italian spinning mills present their products to the fashion business and more specifically to the buyers of the big fashion companies. They’re the people who buy what is needed to make next season’s garments, from tissue over yarn to buttons, clasps, ribbons and any other haberdashery item you can imagine.

In the fashion circus this business fair is actually preceded by another one, in Paris: Première Vision. That’s the place where the colours for the new season are shown for the first time to the fashion industry. Mind you, in September 2017 they presented the colours for spring-summer 2019 and it’s all very secret: visitors are not allowed to take pictures (which everyone sneakily does anyway) and if you want to take the colours home you have to buy a horribly expensive booklet.

At Pitti Filati, which is half a year later, there’s no secret. The news is out in the open anyway, so the entry price includes a sampler with yarn in the new colours, they have an extensive online media gallery and they have a place where you can take samples from big cones of yarn. It’s quite funny to see all the people wind small balls of yarn around their fingers …

It might look as if nobody knows where the colours come from, but that’s not entirely true. There are expensive fashion bureaus like WWD where hot shot consultants know all about it: they study trends, which enables them to predict the new trends, which they study of course. Obviously they’re always spot on.

For a small company such as Greener Wool there’s not much to find at such a gigantic industry fair. Real buyers are looking for tonnes of produce and kilometers of fabric. Once you mention sustainability and organic certification, most companies have nothing to offer. If they have, it’s almost never as a stock service (where they keep some stock in-house so that small companies can buy small quantities directly from them). So if I’d like to buy this marvellously soft yarn in these splendid colours that is entirely GOTS certified, then there’s the beige and the black in stock service. The other colours though have to be produced especially for me. That’s starting at 40 kg, per colour. Now that makes for quite a few skeins of yarn!

Double Knitting

This week I’ve taken up double knitting again. I almost forgot how much fun that is.

Quite a while ago I wanted to knit multi-coloured mittens. I looked for a pattern and I decided on working with this one from Drops:

Fideli Mittens from Drops

Never having done stranded colourwork I was in trouble right away: there was no way I could get the tension right. So I tried to learn more about all the different possibilities for colourwork, and I discovered double knitting. That did not only solve my tension issue, it also made the inside of the mittens as beautiful as the outside!

At first double knitting is really confusing: I kept forgetting what was back and what was front, which should be a purl stitch and which should be a knit stitch. It takes a while to figure out how to handle the yarn. Some people knit with both colours in one hand, other people have a colour in each hand. That’s what I’m doing. In The Knitter’s Book of Knowledge Debbie Bliss states that this is the fastest and most even way of holding yarns, but it requires some practice, especially for the hand that you usually don’t use to hold the yarn. I’m still struggling to get even purl stitches with my right hand.

The basic principle of double knitting is that you create a two-coloured reversible fabric. Where you change colour both sides of the fabric hold together, but when you work rows entirely in the same colour the front and the back only come together on the sides.

 

In double knitting you create the reversible fabric by alternatively working a stitch on the front side and a stitch on the back side of your project. In my blue and white sample with both sides in stockinette stitch, I will first knit a blue stitch, bring both yarns forward, purl a white stitch, bring both yarns to the back and repeat the whole sequence. If I want a white stitch to appear on the blue side however (and a blue stitch on the white side), I knit a white stitch and purl a blue stitch. While I’m working on the blue side of my sample, that is. When turning around the work, it’s the other way around, and that’s where I went wrong at first in this sample: as I hadn’t been double knitting in a while, I couldn’t get my head around switching the colours, so I had to make my drawing twice …

Double knitting motif

The most easy way not to get lost in double knitting is to consider every pair of stitches as one (a blue one + a white one, a knit stitch on the front + a purl stitch on the back). When counting one counts only pairs, not single stitches.

For double knitting I learned a lot from watching instruction videos. Most credit for helping me figure out how to work double knitting goes to Nathan Taylor aka Sockmatician, an actor with a passion for complex knitting projects. On his YouTube channel where he vlogs about knitting, he also has a series of excellent instruction videos for some more advanced knitting techniques. His expert patterns for socks and other things are on Ravelry.

For the blue and white sample I’m working on now, I’ve used the two-colour long tail cast on Nathan shows in this video:

 

The selvedge with slipped stitches is shown in this video. Mind you, I had to watch it at least 20 times before I got it right! I’ve decided to keep the selvedge the same colour throughout the sample, because when I try to make it follow the pattern I get confused again!

 

If you’ve never worked double knitting before and you’d like to give it a try, it might be a good start to watch this video over and over for an hour or so …

 

Or have a look at this video from Drops if you’d rather keep the both yarns in one hand:

Rib Magazine

In the Ravelry pattern database out of the 473 710 registered knitting patterns 283 758 or about 60% have a value for the gender property, with the following distribution by value:

Ravelry Knitting Patterns by Gender

Out of 94 223 sweater patterns 79 848 have the gender property set, with the following distribution by value:

Ravelry Knitting Patterns for Sweaters by Gender

So only 1 out of 10 patterns has been specifically designed for men.

I’m always somewhat disappointed when I leaf through a knitting magazine or book. At the best there are one or two things that I could wear hidden away at the last pages before the pattern descriptions. Somewhat late and thanks to Cecelia Campochiaro’s Sequence Knitting book I’ve discovered that there are people who try to fill the gap.

In the autumn of 2016 Eric Lutz and Devon Johnson launched Rib Magazine, a magazine specifically created for men who knit or those who wish to knit for them. By the time of writing they’ve made 3 stylish issues with beautiful patterns and entertaining articles about men in the world of the fibre arts. There’s also a cocktail recipe …

Rib_Alchemy_Cover_1024x1024

I’ve tried to get it as an article to sell in my shop, but it’s no use. It’s too much hassle, too many people wanting to take profit and taxes along the way and in the end I’d have to ask more than double the original price. So if you like it, you’d better buy it directly from them at https://ribmag.com.

In any case: I’m really enthusiastic about it, and Jan – my husband – already started knitting Cecelia Campochiaro’s Revolution Watch Cap from issue 3, in Cheeky Merino Joy from Rosy Green Wool, colour Cornish Slate.

Cabled Scarf

On December 1st 2016 I very proudly launched my webshop, with exactly one single product: the Mergelland yarn, in three natural colours, Chalk, Silver and Slate. It had arrived from the spinning mill just one week before, a week that I had needed to design, print, cut and glue ballbands, to make sufficiently decent pictures and to put everything online.

On that same day I found an email from Annelies Baes in my shiny new Greener Wool mailbox. “I design crochet patterns,” she wrote, “and I publish them in magazines and on Ravelry. My husband is from Limburg, from the same Mergelland region where the sheep come from and we like to go there over the weekend. I’d like to work with your yarn. Would you like me to make a nice and beautiful design with the yarn?”

I still don’t understand how she found me this quickly, but of course I was really happy with the request! Only months later I figured out that she’s actually very well known in the world of crochet and that she’s a prolific designer: check out her Instagram or – even better – her page on Ravelry where she has over 250 designs!

Today we can show you the cabled scarf she made. The pattern was published in Inside Crochet Issue 97. It requires two skeins of each colour of Mergelland, six in total. Pictures by Leanne Jade, styling by Claire Montgomerie.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Sequence Knitting, simple methods for creating complex fabrics

Sequence Knitting

When we were in Berlin last month we dropped by at Wollen Berlin. My eye fell on a particularly beautiful book: Sequence Knitting by Cecelia Campochiaro. I didn’t dare buying it by fear of having overweight luggage on the return flight, so I added it to my wish list. And guess what I found under the Christmas tree …

Cecelia Campochiaro has a Ph. D. in Chemistry and it shows: the book could easily have been the popularized version of a doctoral dissertation on knitting. The approach is very systematic and the book is well structured, starting with definitions and methodology, then elaborating every method in separate chapters.

Sequence knitting is nothing more than “knitting a sequence of stitches repeatedly using some kind of rule to create a fabric”. It’s easy knitting: you just repeat the same over and over, so you can watch TV or listen to your favourite book while knitting. There’s actually nothing new to sequence knitting. What is interesting about this book is the elaborate and systematic exploration of the myriads of possibilities that exist.

Even if the approach is almost scientific, it’s a very beautiful book with several knitwear examples, patterns and lots of illustrations. In the book one finds many sequences in an almost mathematical and easy to remember formula and an illustrative two-colour diagram. Thanks to the patterns and the many pictures it’s very inviting to start knitting right away!

To be short: this book is a must-have for every knitter, and in the library it goes on the shelve with the basic knitting bibles.

sequence knitting book

right lifted increase - knit 1 through the back loop - left lifted increase

I can’t align the increases with the decreases!

We’re still knitting Christmas balls, and no, they won’t be ready for this year, they’re for next year. Last week we’ve elaborated a little bit about a few types of increases and decreases that might be suitable for knitting a ball. This week we’ll try to match increases and decreases.

Visually the same

Let’s start with the idea that we’re proud of our increases and decreases. We would like to use them as a decorative element in the ball. Visually both left lifted increase – knit 1 – right lifted increase and knit 2 together – slip slip knit show as a double column of stitches lying on top. Let’s try to combine them!

But … by reading the description alone you notice that something isn’t right: the increase goes over 3 stitches, the decrease only over 2! What looks like a two columns of stitches in the increase is in fact half a stitch, a stitch and another half stitch. It’s actually shifted to the left or the right by half a stitch compared to the decrease. So they don’t align!

The same stitch count

To keep things symmetrical and in order to use the same number of stitches I’ve combined left lifted increase – knit 1 – right lifted increase with knit 2 together – knit 1 – slip slip knit but then they don’t look the same!

Similar effects result from the following combinations:

  • left lifted increase – right lifted increase with knit 2 together – slip slip knit
  • right lifted increase – knit 2 – left lifted increase with knit 2 together – slip slip knit

We’re still looking for a different solution:

Double decreases!

In a double decrease you work three together into one stitch. Right lifted increase – knit 1 – left lifted increase is a similar increase, because you create three stitches out of one. You’re actually using the same loop from the stitch below the middle stitch for both lifted increases. But that makes a hole and that’s a no go for Christmas balls, the filling would come out!

The example above shows the slip 1 as if to purl – knit 2 together –  pass slipped stitch over double decrease. It can also be done with the slip 2 together as if to knit – knit 1 – pass slipped stitches over double decrease, as shown below, but that makes for a somewhat awkward result. The decreases almost disappear into nothingness and create an inward fold in the fabric while the increases lie explicitly on top of the fabric and create an outward fold in the fabric.

Two stitches

Juxtaposing make 1 left and make 1 right or the other way around creates something rather nice to look at and it combines perfectly with slip slip knit – knit 2 together.

But none of these is stretch proof. This increase and and both decreases leave holes when stretched.

Unobtrusive

So maybe in the end it’s best to make the shaping as unobtrusive as possible … Make 1 left – knit 1 – make 1 right or make 1 right – knit 1 – make 1 left combine both rather well with slip slip knit – knit 1 – knit 2 together, although the decrease still tends to stretch a bt too much.

The best result I found was the combination of right lifted increase – knit 1 through the back loop – left lifted increase with the slip 1 as if to purl – knit 2 together –  pass slipped stitch over double decrease. Note the knit 1 through the back loop. It changes everything and makes this increase the most invisible I’ve found so far!

Picking up the loop for the left lifted increase tends to be a bit difficult when working this way. I’ve found it easier to work the right lifted increase, then to slip the next stitch as if to knit through the back loop, then to pick up the loop for the left lifted increase with the left needle, then to work the middle stitch from the right needle and then to complete the left lifted increase.

The conclusion? There’s no perfect solution, but thinking things through leads to a better result than just picking the one increase or decrease one happens to use most frequently.