Review: Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015

I love August- it’s still summer, but all the fall knitting patterns are emerging! Pom Pom Quarterly has just released their new Autumn 2015 issue, which has 10 beautiful patterns (several of them are unisex), 2 articles on the geography of yarn and sheep breeds throughout the UK, and also a close up on a local production mill (John Arbon Textiles) in Devon that goes through how wool is processed there (and includes a coupon code for Viola Yarn!). There’s also a recipe for a delicious looking pumpkin spice cake. The issue comes in print or digital.

I had a tough time choosing just 5 patterns to feature here- this is a really solid issue and every pattern was something I would happily knit and wear. But to give you a taste, here is a mix of accessories and garments from their new issue:

Review: Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015 | knittedbliss.com

Karusellen

A stranded hat featuring a Swedish Dala horse design, with a folded brim and a fabulous pom pom to top it all off. the folded double brim and the stranded colourwork will really help keep you warm on those cold winter days (that seem so far away, but you know they are coming eventually). Also worth considering is knitting the horse design in a chromatic yarn to add a bit more colour, if that is more your style.  Worsted weight has you knitting this hat up super quick.

You should totally knit this hat if: You love cozy warm hats, pom poms, and two-colour designs are all the colourwork you’re willing to take on.

You should definitely not knit this hat if: You never wear hats, are terrified of stranded knitting, or if you like your stranded designs to have at least 4 colours in them. Although you could always add more colours to the mix!

Review: Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015 | knittedbliss.com

Hitchcock

This is one of the awesomely unisex designs in the issue, and I love this classic raglan henley style. It’s knit bottom up in the round, with the sleeves knit first and then joined to the body when it’s time to work the yoke. The reverse stockinette would also handle a tonal, kettle, or hand-dyed yarn pretty well. Aran weight means you stand a good chance of knitting this sweater in time for the cooler weather, too.

You should totally knit this sweater if: You love timeless sweaters that work for everyone, raglan sleeves, knitting in the round, and you love a good button placket.

You should definitely not knit this sweater if: You can never, ever decide on buttons whenever you knit something that calls for buttons; or if you can’t stand bottom up construction (even if it is in the round).

Review: Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015 | knittedbliss.com

Jean

Knitted in the round from the bottom up, Jean (DK weight) starts from a garter stitch hem that is knit flat then kitchenered together (instructions are included), with the body picked up and knit in the round.  Cable panel is both written and charted, and the back fo the neck has some short row shaping.  Sleeves are knit top down in the round, and also have some short row shaping.

You should totally knit this sweater if: You like sweaters that can be either dressy or casual, Cables are totally your thing,  you want to try top down sleeves, and you like knits that are classic with a twist- the garter hem and cuffs and neck are a great alternative to ribbing.

You should definitely not knit this sweater if: short rows are your enemy, top down sleeves are not your thing, and you aren’t that jazzed about cables.

Review: Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015 | knittedbliss.com

Magdalen

A big, dramatic scarf-wrap full of rich texture and thick cables.  Stitches are both written and charted, And with texture this lush, you know it will keep you toasty warm!

You should totally knit this wrap if: You are crazy about cables, you love dramatic accessories, and scarves the double as wraps are right up you alley.

You should definitely not knit this wrap if:  You just want to zone out with a simple knit, or if knitting over a thousand yards of Aran for a wrap is not your idea of a good time.

Review: Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015 | knittedbliss.com

Woodland Tales

Lacey and delicate DK mittens that have a leafy design, lace pattern is both charted and written.

You should totally knit these mittens if: You love one skein projects, lightweight mittens, and botanical details.

You should definitely not knit these mittens if: the idea of lace mittens doesn’t work for the kind of winter you have- or you could knit a stockinette inner mitt to keep the really cold temperatures at bay.

And those are my top picks for Pom Pom Quarterly’s Autumn 2015 issue! All ten patterns are gorgeous, though- if you have any questions about the others, let me know in the comments and I’ll respond.

 

 

 

 

Modification Monday: Ends Baby Cardi

And the winner of the skein of Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK is….. Sarah! Congrats, Sarah! I’ll be in touch soon about your address!

Modification Monday: Ends Baby Cardigan | knittedbliss.com

Original Pattern: Playdate

Knitter Extraordinaire: Laura (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Changed the solid colour baby cardi to be a stashbusting extravaganza using up 14 + different yarns and colours to add stripes and dots to this awesome cardi. Details – including great tips on weaving in ends- can be found on her project page, here.

What Makes This Awesome: Not only is this baby cardi drop dead gorgeous, I am so inspired by how it stash busted so effectively! Laura even noted in her project page that she used more than the 14 different yarns for the stripes and dots in the stripes. If you are the kind of knitter that keeps her leftover skeins and scraps organized together by weight, then I urge you to take a look at that stash and see if you have enough for an awesome little sweater like this (could also be a great cowl in the same design, if there’s no one you know having a wee one anytime soon!). Laura does note that there were a lot of ends to weave in, and she has some great links to help weave as you go, which is worth checking out. Plus, more adorable photos of this little cutie in a fabulous sweater!

Modification Monday: Ends Baby Cardigan | knittedbliss.com

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

The Nostalgia Machine is an awesome site that has you choose a year, and it loads up a playlist of the most popular songs of that year. So addictive! So fun!

The science behind the wonderful smell that occurs when it rains.

Favourite snacks of famous writers. If I were a famous writer, I’d cultivate a rumour that I was obsessed with an oddball snack just to make this list.

I laughed so hard I could barely breathe at this- a hilarious send-up of a recent Glamour blog post entitled 13 Little Things That Will Make a Man Fall Hard for You, full of ridiculous, antiquated advice. The response article is written for the Vice magazine blog, and it’s pretty bloody hilarious. You don’t need to read the Glamour post to get the humour of the Vice one- it dismantles the list one by one, from a guy’s perspective. I laughed so hard I had to wipe my eyes with my daughter’s toddler dress that was on the couch (I swear I go to Costco and buy the mega packs of tissue boxes, but Lila’s clothes always seem to be closer at hand….).

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a skein of The Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK!

Pin Ups and Link Loves: Watermelon Sorbet| knittedbliss.com

My friends, did you know that you could make watermelon sorbet out of nothing but frozen watermelon??? Because I did not, and this pin pretty much changed my life. I adore watermelon, and as someone who is a big fan of pureeing frozen bananas and pretending it’s ice cream, I see a new frozen love in my future. Pinterest link is here, and the original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Loves: Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos| knittedbliss.com

Barbecue cauliflower and chickpea tacos! Because we are all trying to eat more veg, am I right? And you could always sub in some chicken if you wanted. Pinterest link is here, and original recipe post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Loves: Wallpaper Stairs| knittedbliss.com

I have carpeted stairs, but I often fantasize about what it would look like to rip off the carpet and refinish them. And then do something just like this with removable wallpaper would be such a fun way to add some interest, don’t you think? Totally customizable! Pinterest link is here, the original post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Loves: Llama Top | knittedbliss.com

I’m totally obsessed with this llama tank top. Trying to figure out what size I should order that it will stretch over my pregnant belly, but still fit next summer when I’m ‘normal’. Pinterest link is here, original Modcloth post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Loves: Success| knittedbliss.com

I love this little poster. It’s so easy to see lots of beautiful things and beautiful people on the internet and feel like it means there’s less space for you to shine. But that isn’t true- there’s room for everyone. Pinterest link is here, and while I doubt this is the true original post, a great post where it’s sourced is here. 

It’s a long weekend here in Canada (woohoo!) and we’ve got some friends coming to stay with us for a few days. Anyone else have any fun plans? Anyone else having a long weekend?

Kettle Yarn Co. Collection Preview and Giveaway!

Isn’t it fun to try out new yarns? I had an opportunity to try out Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK recently, and really enjoyed it- it had been a while since I had knit with a wool/silk blend. Kettle Yarn Co. is a UK-base independent yarn company that has put together a great collection of patterns all featuring their Islington DK, which is 55% superwash Bluefaced Leicester and 45% silk, making it a wonderfully soft and easy to work with yarn.  The Boardwalk Collection features 6 patterns:

Kettle Yarn Co Pattern Collection | knittedbliss.com

Top row, from left to right: Arcade, Pavilion, Jetty. 

Bottom Row, from left to right: Bagatelle Cowl, Seward, Promenade. 

You can check out the lookbook here:

The Kettle Yarn Co is also going to he participating in the pop up market for Yarn in the City, the London UK yarn crawl (link is over there on the right, with the big red ball of yarn!) So if you are in the area, you can squish some of these super soft skeins in person.

I got to sample the yarn, and made the Seward hat, in Islington DK ‘ Marigold’. The hat knits up very quickly, and comes with option for a beanie style (like in the pattern photo, top) or slouchy style, which is what I opted for, since slouchy hats tend to look better on me. Did I mention how quickly? I cast on for this hat while on my flight to San Francisco, and finished it within a couple of days. And that was with intense sight-seeing!

Seward Hat | knittedbliss.com

Plus I love a good one-skein project, don’t you? It’s so satisfying. And considering how chilly it was when I was there, I was glad to have a hat to put on!

Seward Hat | knittedbliss.com

Since it’s so much fun to try new yarns, I have one skein  to give away! Just leave a comment here that tells me why you totally need to try this yarn, and you could win this luscious skein of Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK in ‘Verdigris’.

Contest closes Sunday night, August 2nd at 10 p.m. – good luck, my fellow knitters!

Kettle Yarn Co Pattern Collection | knittedbliss.com

Indie Business Interview: Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe

Indie Business Interview: Sweet Sheep | knittedbliss.com

This is Alicia of Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe, a shop that features all-natural soaps, lip balms, lotion bars made with lanolin. Lanolin is one of the most effective natural moisturizers out there, and as a customer, I can attest that her products are amazing- her lip balms are easily my favourite on the planet.  Alicia is our featured Indie Business Interview this month!

Why did you decide to start your own shop? 

Starting Sweet Sheep was something of a whim. As someone with an environmental background, I’m interested in using natural and environmentally sustainable body care products. Then one year at Stitches East I bought a lotion bar (that contained mostly just shea butter) and was super impressed with the idea (so moisturizing! so portable!), but didn’t love the texture or intensity of fragrance. I started researching and realized that most recipes were fairly simple, consisting of 1 part wax, 1 part butter, and 1 part oil. I tried that combination and then fell down the rabbit hole of natural soap and lotion-making ingredients. I sent out samples and surveyed volunteers through my blog, tweaking the recipe until I ended up with a great combination of several different oils and butters, including lanolin from sheep’s wool! I figured knitters would love these bars and since my knitting pattern designing efforts weren’t progressing as I had hoped, I opened an Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe instead.

 Is this business your full-time gig, or do you have another job as well?

This is not my full-time gig. I work as a biologist for an environmental consulting firm that specializes in oil spill risk assessments. I analyze data, research model inputs, and help determine what the ecological impacts of spills and other energy development activities might be. I fit Sweet Sheep stuff in usually late at night and on weekends because I really like having a creative project to focus on outside of my job.

Indie Business Interview: Sweet Sheep | knittedbliss.com

 What is the most difficult part of running your own business? 

Honestly, I think the hardest part is just getting started. There’s a learning curve with setting up and running the shop, figuring out packaging and shipping, and pricing and product development. The scariest part (for someone who isn’t depending on the income to live, mind you) is just thinking “Oh my, I hope somebody likes this stuff as much as I do!” Getting the word out isn’t always easy, either, but partnerships with blogs like this are a great way to do it.

 What is the piece of advice you wish you could give yourself when you were just starting out? 

I would tell myself to quit worrying so much! Turns out, people do love this stuff, and I really did know enough to get started. J Sweet Sheep is just over a year old so I still consider myself to be fairly new at this,  but I’ve gotten more confident in my decision-making as the year has progressed. I’m learning to trust my instincts and that helps reduce stress.

 How did you overcome the inevitable setbacks (large or small) that come with the territory of having your own small business? 

I was lucky enough to know a local indie fiber dyer (June Pryce Fiber Arts) with more experience whom I could ask some of my stickier tax-related questions when I was getting started. She’s been a great help in clueing me in to local festivals and was kind enough to bring a box of my lotion bars up to the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show last year when I couldn’t attend myself. Asking questions of people who know better has been my main strategy when I feel stuck, I love how generous most crafters are with their knowledge. I’m also lucky enough to have a husband who supports my crazy ideas. He’s an expert tin-stickerer and ingredient-measurer and is a ton of help at markets. His enthusiasm doesn’t hurt, either, especially on days when I start to doubt myself.

 What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of turning their hobby into a  business? 

My advice would be to do a good bit of research and have a solid idea of what you want to make/sell and why it’s special enough for other people to buy. I think whatever you’re selling has to stand out in some way in order to be viable. Depending on your business, it might be important to over-estimate your startup costs and know that you might not actually make a profit right away. There are a lot of good resources for running a handmade business, the book Etsy-preneurship was particularly helpful for developing good bookkeeping strategies. And please, for the love of all things handmade, learn to price your products appropriately! There are a ton of Etsy articles on the ‘art of pricing’ and while it’s not as simple as it seems, it’s important because so many crafters don’t price sustainably and instead flood the market with undervalued products that hurt everyone in the long run.

Indie Business Interview: Sweet Sheep | knittedbliss.com

 What is the most satisfying part of Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe?

I love so many parts of it, but customer feedback is probably my favorite. There is nothing better than hearing from someone who just so totally loves the thing you made. I read every Etsy review (they’re really helpful!) and the ones where you can tell that the recipient is really psyched completely brighten my day. I also enjoy vending at markets. When I can help people pick out the perfect scent or watch them get excited sniffing each one (“Oh, Lemon Cake! Peaches & Cream! OMG I LOVE THIS!”) it’s a lot of fun. And I really like that I’m making something that’s better for your skin than the petrochemical-laden junk sold in plastic containers at drug stores. (Read No More Dirty Looks if you want a peek into the scary side of cosmetic chemicals.) I also feel like I’m doing my small bit for the planet, one re-usable tin and recyclable package at a time!

 How important is goal setting to you? What sort of goals can you share with us about Sweet Sheep in the coming 6-12 months?

Over-arching goals are important for me. Especially since I work full-time, if I have too many discrete Sweet Sheep goals I get anxious about what I’m able to get done with my limited time. One goal is to develop new wholesale accounts with local shops. Earlier in the year I had put out a survey asking what kinds of products besides lotion bars and lip balms people would like to see, so another of my goals has been to add a few more products to my lineup. I’ve added handmade soaps already, and next on my list is a whipped body butter that I’m still in the process of developing. I’m always open to suggestions of things people would like to see, so please get in touch if you have a request!

***Alicia has is also generously offering free International shipping (and domestic too!) until August 7th when using the coupon code SHIPBLISS on all order with a minimum subtotal of $10 (USD). Go forth and shop! I know I will be. ***

Indie Business Interview: Sweet Sheep | knittedbliss.com