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Numerous crochet books are released in the run up to the festive season and press releases for many of them land in my inbox. Not all, but the majority that I am invited to review, seem to include a broadly similar selection of patterns - blankets based on joined motifs (granny-squares, circles or hexagons), tea cosies, pretty/colourful things for the home, flowery motifs, and so on. Having written about these types of books several times over the last five years (many of them are very good) these days I find myself drawn to the exceptions. When publisher Jacqui Small* invited me to review their new book, I could see this one was a bit different, and that I'd want to share it with you. 

Image (c) Konsta Linkola
Crochetterie is the latest offering from Finnish designer Molla Mills, translated into English for this publication. It contains around 30 patterns billed as "cool contemporary crochet for the creatively minded", and in fact contains everything from whittling your own crochet hook to making a utility strap for a skateboard or a football bag. Yes, that's right, whittling and sports - you see,  the patterns are bold and utilitarian and they are about as universally appealing (aka 'unisex') as crochet patterns get. The author says: 
When I told my friends I wanted to create a crochet instruction guide that would appeal to men, their first reaction was astonished skepticism. They questioned whether men could really be enthusiastic about crochet. Why not, I thought. Technically speaking, crochet is downright engineer-level precise, and requires careful consideration with regards to sourcing materials, calculating wear resistance and colour choice.... Crochet is for everyone, and partaking is a great way to improve mood. 
She goes on to say that her crochet seminars have included enthusiastic male participants and that in Finland, crochet has long been a popular hobby amongst boys who make their own beanies. 

Designer and Author, Molla Mills (c) Konsta Linkola
So in the winter of 2014, Molla starting working on her book (I enjoyed the story of the creative process described at the beginning, but won't spoil it for you) and was inspired by the hand-crafters she had seen on her travels - whittlers, weavers, tanners, builders - all men - who worked with precision to get the perfect result. Molla tells us that her projects weren't all perfect and some (including the bag being sewn in the picture above) didn't make it into the book - instead they were opportunities to practice and perfect the designs. She says that learning to crochet will also take practice, and will involve starting over in order to get the result you want. Practical advice indeed, which is backed up by pages of clearly illustrated instructions on how to perform all of the crochet techniques used.  

Image (c) Konsta Linkola
The book itself is a sturdy and chunky hardcover publication containing 271 pages. The crochet patterns in it have a timeless rustic quality including interesting (practical) yarns and leather accents. They involve a bit of sewing, hole-punching and construction and include bold geometrics (where there is a surface-pattern) or are beautiful in their simplicity (e.g. the bike bag pictured above). 

Despite being translated into English, the instructions are clear. More intuitive language is used than might be typically used in other crochet patterns - such as 'single crochet in a tube' rather than 'in-the-round', and 'pillars' for 'trebles'. I'd say these things would help to make the content accessible to someone new to the craft and they can easily be followed by an experienced crocheter. 

Molla's father wears the Wayfarer's Jumper  (and demonstrates how to whittle a hook) (c) Konsta Linkola
As well as the patterns, which are presented in four themes - home, clothes, travels and equipment - there are mini-profiles of different artisans/ crafts people. It's a bit of a family affair too - Molla's father (above) is included and the final chapter features six pages of 'Crocheter's Stretching' exercises from Molla's yoga instructor brother, which aim to loosen stiff limbs and aching muscles from crafting.   

I certainly think both the book and the designs have a masculine appeal, but also that they will be popular with anyone (like me) who likes simple shapes and geometric patterns. I found it quite refreshing and unlike other crochet books I've reviewed, and it's certainly worth checking out if you like this style too.  


Find Molla Mills' website here and you can also find her on Instagram, Facebook and Ravelry. Crochetterie is available from Amazon UK (£16.99)  and Amazon.com ($22.65) as well other craft book suppliers. 

*A review copy of the book was provided by the publisher. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Stockist affiliate links are included in this post.  

Universally Appealing Crochet (Crochetterie Book Review)

Numerous crochet books are released in the run up to the festive season and press releases for many of them land in my inbox. Not all, but the majority that I am invited to review, seem to include a broadly similar selection of patterns - blankets based on joined motifs (granny-squares, circles or hexagons), tea cosies, pretty/colourful things for the home, flowery motifs, and so on. Having written about these types of books several times over the last five years (many of them are very good) these days I find myself drawn to the exceptions. When publisher Jacqui Small* invited me to review their new book, I could see this one was a bit different, and that I'd want to share it with you. 

Image (c) Konsta Linkola
Crochetterie is the latest offering from Finnish designer Molla Mills, translated into English for this publication. It contains around 30 patterns billed as "cool contemporary crochet for the creatively minded", and in fact contains everything from whittling your own crochet hook to making a utility strap for a skateboard or a football bag. Yes, that's right, whittling and sports - you see,  the patterns are bold and utilitarian and they are about as universally appealing (aka 'unisex') as crochet patterns get. The author says: 
When I told my friends I wanted to create a crochet instruction guide that would appeal to men, their first reaction was astonished skepticism. They questioned whether men could really be enthusiastic about crochet. Why not, I thought. Technically speaking, crochet is downright engineer-level precise, and requires careful consideration with regards to sourcing materials, calculating wear resistance and colour choice.... Crochet is for everyone, and partaking is a great way to improve mood. 
She goes on to say that her crochet seminars have included enthusiastic male participants and that in Finland, crochet has long been a popular hobby amongst boys who make their own beanies. 

Designer and Author, Molla Mills (c) Konsta Linkola
So in the winter of 2014, Molla starting working on her book (I enjoyed the story of the creative process described at the beginning, but won't spoil it for you) and was inspired by the hand-crafters she had seen on her travels - whittlers, weavers, tanners, builders - all men - who worked with precision to get the perfect result. Molla tells us that her projects weren't all perfect and some (including the bag being sewn in the picture above) didn't make it into the book - instead they were opportunities to practice and perfect the designs. She says that learning to crochet will also take practice, and will involve starting over in order to get the result you want. Practical advice indeed, which is backed up by pages of clearly illustrated instructions on how to perform all of the crochet techniques used.  

Image (c) Konsta Linkola
The book itself is a sturdy and chunky hardcover publication containing 271 pages. The crochet patterns in it have a timeless rustic quality including interesting (practical) yarns and leather accents. They involve a bit of sewing, hole-punching and construction and include bold geometrics (where there is a surface-pattern) or are beautiful in their simplicity (e.g. the bike bag pictured above). 

Despite being translated into English, the instructions are clear. More intuitive language is used than might be typically used in other crochet patterns - such as 'single crochet in a tube' rather than 'in-the-round', and 'pillars' for 'trebles'. I'd say these things would help to make the content accessible to someone new to the craft and they can easily be followed by an experienced crocheter. 

Molla's father wears the Wayfarer's Jumper  (and demonstrates how to whittle a hook) (c) Konsta Linkola
As well as the patterns, which are presented in four themes - home, clothes, travels and equipment - there are mini-profiles of different artisans/ crafts people. It's a bit of a family affair too - Molla's father (above) is included and the final chapter features six pages of 'Crocheter's Stretching' exercises from Molla's yoga instructor brother, which aim to loosen stiff limbs and aching muscles from crafting.   

I certainly think both the book and the designs have a masculine appeal, but also that they will be popular with anyone (like me) who likes simple shapes and geometric patterns. I found it quite refreshing and unlike other crochet books I've reviewed, and it's certainly worth checking out if you like this style too.  


Find Molla Mills' website here and you can also find her on Instagram, Facebook and Ravelry. Crochetterie is available from Amazon UK (£16.99)  and Amazon.com ($22.65) as well other craft book suppliers. 

*A review copy of the book was provided by the publisher. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Stockist affiliate links are included in this post.  
New yarns are like buses - they always seem to come along at once - and while I am still sworn to secrecy over several things, this week Scheepjes* launched a new version of their popular Merino Soft yarn (see my earlier review post here), called Merino Soft Brush. As a freelance designer working with Scheepjes, I've been fortunate enough to have used it already and am delighted to report that it is almost exactly the same as MS, in fact the only difference is the colour - rather than solid shades, the seven new colourways are mottled to produce a lovely marl fabric. 



The samples here show how the mottled colours are very subtle and consist of different colours depending on the background shade - in Avercamp (left) the flecks are reds, green and brown but for Potter (right) the contrast is provided by lighter and darker shades of blue.

The Particulars: 

  • Each 50g ball includes 105m of 50% Superwash Merino, 25% Microfibre, 25% Acrylic yarn.
  • It is washable at 30C and may be tumbled dried on the cool setting. 
  • The fibre composition means it is both soft and strong. 
  • The recommended needle or hook size is 4mm - 5mm. 
  • MS Brush will be available to order from Scheepjes stockists* including DeramoresWool Warehouse and Paradise Fibres very soon. 

Crochet & Knitting Pattern Suggestions: 

Having the same base, MS Brush looks great when combined with Merino Soft and they would make an excellent choice for my Soundwaves Cowl pattern, which was originally written for Scheepjes Colour Crafter and CC Velvet acrylic yarn. It would also make a lovely pair of Leaf Collectors' Mitts, originally written for Scheepjes Stonewashed. Both patterns are available on Ravelry.

 

As it's getting chilly in the mornings I have plans for a brand new project, something autumnal and cosy, and which I'll share with you very soon. 

Come back next week when I should be able to show you how the new project is knitting up!

Postscript:

If you've been following the blog for a while you'll know that I'm using regular Merino Soft for my Last Dance on the Beach blanket (still a work in progress). In the latest Simply Crochet magazine (issue 49), you'll find a 6 page feature on the project and why all of us who worked on the design took part. If you can't get a copy where you are, a digital edition is available to download onto your tablet - the special affiliate link below will get you access to a 30 day free trial. 



*DISCLOSURE: Yarn supplied by Scheepjes. As always, all opinions are my own. Stockist information includes affiliate links - thank you for using them and supporting CftC. 

New Yarn, New Project!

New yarns are like buses - they always seem to come along at once - and while I am still sworn to secrecy over several things, this week Scheepjes* launched a new version of their popular Merino Soft yarn (see my earlier review post here), called Merino Soft Brush. As a freelance designer working with Scheepjes, I've been fortunate enough to have used it already and am delighted to report that it is almost exactly the same as MS, in fact the only difference is the colour - rather than solid shades, the seven new colourways are mottled to produce a lovely marl fabric. 



The samples here show how the mottled colours are very subtle and consist of different colours depending on the background shade - in Avercamp (left) the flecks are reds, green and brown but for Potter (right) the contrast is provided by lighter and darker shades of blue.

The Particulars: 

  • Each 50g ball includes 105m of 50% Superwash Merino, 25% Microfibre, 25% Acrylic yarn.
  • It is washable at 30C and may be tumbled dried on the cool setting. 
  • The fibre composition means it is both soft and strong. 
  • The recommended needle or hook size is 4mm - 5mm. 
  • MS Brush will be available to order from Scheepjes stockists* including DeramoresWool Warehouse and Paradise Fibres very soon. 

Crochet & Knitting Pattern Suggestions: 

Having the same base, MS Brush looks great when combined with Merino Soft and they would make an excellent choice for my Soundwaves Cowl pattern, which was originally written for Scheepjes Colour Crafter and CC Velvet acrylic yarn. It would also make a lovely pair of Leaf Collectors' Mitts, originally written for Scheepjes Stonewashed. Both patterns are available on Ravelry.

 

As it's getting chilly in the mornings I have plans for a brand new project, something autumnal and cosy, and which I'll share with you very soon. 

Come back next week when I should be able to show you how the new project is knitting up!

Postscript:

If you've been following the blog for a while you'll know that I'm using regular Merino Soft for my Last Dance on the Beach blanket (still a work in progress). In the latest Simply Crochet magazine (issue 49), you'll find a 6 page feature on the project and why all of us who worked on the design took part. If you can't get a copy where you are, a digital edition is available to download onto your tablet - the special affiliate link below will get you access to a 30 day free trial. 



*DISCLOSURE: Yarn supplied by Scheepjes. As always, all opinions are my own. Stockist information includes affiliate links - thank you for using them and supporting CftC. 
Did you ever blip your car keys at the front door, waiting for it to unlock? Or how about wanting to Ctrl+Z when you say something stupid you wish you could take back? My husband and I have often talked about how we wish real life had some of the handy shortcuts that our computers and gadgets do.

After writing about the new LoveKnitting iPad app to help manage patterns and projects, and reading some feedback and user 'wishlists', I got to thinking about the different aspects of knitting (or crochet) that would be easier if life were like an iOS operating system.

Knitted Emojis - image (c) letsgetcrafting, pattern by Nicola Valiji, available at letsknit.co.uk

Here are my personal most wanted "iKnitting" features:

1. Pinch to zoom on tiny stitches when using small needles, and see them magnified (tap to focus if you have bad eyesight!)

2. Made a little mistake? No problem, just Ctrl + Z to 'tink'/undo individual stitches.

3. For a bigger mistake, shake the project to completely frog (undo) it and start again.

4. Copy and paste complicated pattern repeats.

5. 'Saving' your work will put in an automatic lifeline, so you can get back to this point if you make an error later on.

Yes, that would certainly make life a lot easier.... although I'm still not sure what auto-correct might do to a project using drop stitches.

What are the shortcuts that you'd like to apply to your craft?

iKnitting (aka ‘if knitting were possible in iOS’)

Did you ever blip your car keys at the front door, waiting for it to unlock? Or how about wanting to Ctrl+Z when you say something stupid you wish you could take back? My husband and I have often talked about how we wish real life had some of the handy shortcuts that our computers and gadgets do.

After writing about the new LoveKnitting iPad app to help manage patterns and projects, and reading some feedback and user 'wishlists', I got to thinking about the different aspects of knitting (or crochet) that would be easier if life were like an iOS operating system.

Knitted Emojis - image (c) letsgetcrafting, pattern by Nicola Valiji, available at letsknit.co.uk

Here are my personal most wanted "iKnitting" features:

1. Pinch to zoom on tiny stitches when using small needles, and see them magnified (tap to focus if you have bad eyesight!)

2. Made a little mistake? No problem, just Ctrl + Z to 'tink'/undo individual stitches.

3. For a bigger mistake, shake the project to completely frog (undo) it and start again.

4. Copy and paste complicated pattern repeats.

5. 'Saving' your work will put in an automatic lifeline, so you can get back to this point if you make an error later on.

Yes, that would certainly make life a lot easier.... although I'm still not sure what auto-correct might do to a project using drop stitches.

What are the shortcuts that you'd like to apply to your craft?
A: When it's in a 50g ball! 

Confused? Then I shall explain. 

Regular readers will already be familiar with many of the new yarns Dutch company Scheepjes* have released over the last few years. Their brand is fast becoming synonymous with having a wide range of colours in good quality ranges that don't cost the earth, and I'm fortunate to be working with them on several projects at the moment, which meant I recently received a huge box of scrumptious yarns to play with! 


Maxi Bonbon and Maxi Sugar Rush are basically the same lovely Maxi yarn, but in two different sizes. Bonbons are the cute 25g balls, perfect for a smaller project or when making a big project with lots of different colours, and Sugar Rush is the 50g equivalent. 

So let me tell you about the yarn: 
  • It's 100% mercerised cotton. 
  • It's laceweight with a recommended needle/hook size of 1.25 to 1.5mm - this will give a firm stiff fabric (e.g. perfect for amigurumi) - and you can also comfortably use up to around 2.5mm hook/needles for a softer fabric with more drape. 
  • The yarn has a high twist so it's not 'splitty' which can be an issue with cotton yarns. This is especially important for a laceweight yarn when you're using such a small hook or needles! 
  • There are 87 glorious colours to choose from (yes, 87!) and they match perfectly with Scheepjes Catona which means they can be used interchangeably for a wide range of projects! 


I'm already working on a few new designs (with other yarns) at the moment, so I haven't had the chance to start swatching the ideas I have for this one. Luckily I have some talented friends who are already making things to inspire you.

1. Beautiful colour palettes and floral motifs are totally "Atty" and indeed she has been trying out all sorts of designs, including this one: 

(C) Atty*s
2. Kirsten at Haak Maar Raak is making some really cute bracelets: 

(C) Haak Maar Raak
3. Jellina posted a review in Dutch which includes a lovely filet crochet project with alternating stripes of Bonbon and Catona - I love how the thicker yarn helps to provide structure in between the more delicate sections of laceweight: 


4. Christa at The Curio Crafts Room is using Bonbon to make her signature peacock designs, but on a small scale: 


5. Carmen at Crafty Queens is also making more of her 'signature' items - super cute (and very small) amigurumis: 

(C) Crafty Queens

Aren't they lovely? It's so interesting to see what different people come up with when presented with the same materials, and how each person's own style is so clearly evident. 

I've saved my personal favourite until last. This perfectly simple little crochet motif sample, also by Atty, actually reminds me a lot of the beautiful work of Sophie Digard, which I often drool over but am never likely to afford to buy, however I'm pretty sure I could make something inspired by her work using this yarn. I can't wait to try a knitting project with it too. My challenge is now to find some extra time. 

(C) Atty*s

If you're feeling inspired, Bonbon is already available from Deramores and Wool Warehouse (and other Scheepjes stockists) and retails at £1.29 per 25g so you can afford to go crazy with the colours! Sugar Rush will be available in stores very soon. 

*Thanks to Scheepjes, who supplied the yarns reviewed in this post. As always, any opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Affiliate links (to UK retailers) are included in this post to help support the running of this website - thank you very much for using them. 

Q: When does a Bonbon turn into a full-on Sugar Rush? (Yarn Review)

A: When it's in a 50g ball! 

Confused? Then I shall explain. 

Regular readers will already be familiar with many of the new yarns Dutch company Scheepjes* have released over the last few years. Their brand is fast becoming synonymous with having a wide range of colours in good quality ranges that don't cost the earth, and I'm fortunate to be working with them on several projects at the moment, which meant I recently received a huge box of scrumptious yarns to play with! 


Maxi Bonbon and Maxi Sugar Rush are basically the same lovely Maxi yarn, but in two different sizes. Bonbons are the cute 25g balls, perfect for a smaller project or when making a big project with lots of different colours, and Sugar Rush is the 50g equivalent. 

So let me tell you about the yarn: 
  • It's 100% mercerised cotton. 
  • It's laceweight with a recommended needle/hook size of 1.25 to 1.5mm - this will give a firm stiff fabric (e.g. perfect for amigurumi) - and you can also comfortably use up to around 2.5mm hook/needles for a softer fabric with more drape. 
  • The yarn has a high twist so it's not 'splitty' which can be an issue with cotton yarns. This is especially important for a laceweight yarn when you're using such a small hook or needles! 
  • There are 87 glorious colours to choose from (yes, 87!) and they match perfectly with Scheepjes Catona which means they can be used interchangeably for a wide range of projects! 


I'm already working on a few new designs (with other yarns) at the moment, so I haven't had the chance to start swatching the ideas I have for this one. Luckily I have some talented friends who are already making things to inspire you.

1. Beautiful colour palettes and floral motifs are totally "Atty" and indeed she has been trying out all sorts of designs, including this one: 

(C) Atty*s
2. Kirsten at Haak Maar Raak is making some really cute bracelets: 

(C) Haak Maar Raak
3. Jellina posted a review in Dutch which includes a lovely filet crochet project with alternating stripes of Bonbon and Catona - I love how the thicker yarn helps to provide structure in between the more delicate sections of laceweight: 


4. Christa at The Curio Crafts Room is using Bonbon to make her signature peacock designs, but on a small scale: 


5. Carmen at Crafty Queens is also making more of her 'signature' items - super cute (and very small) amigurumis: 

(C) Crafty Queens

Aren't they lovely? It's so interesting to see what different people come up with when presented with the same materials, and how each person's own style is so clearly evident. 

I've saved my personal favourite until last. This perfectly simple little crochet motif sample, also by Atty, actually reminds me a lot of the beautiful work of Sophie Digard, which I often drool over but am never likely to afford to buy, however I'm pretty sure I could make something inspired by her work using this yarn. I can't wait to try a knitting project with it too. My challenge is now to find some extra time. 

(C) Atty*s

If you're feeling inspired, Bonbon is already available from Deramores and Wool Warehouse (and other Scheepjes stockists) and retails at £1.29 per 25g so you can afford to go crazy with the colours! Sugar Rush will be available in stores very soon. 

*Thanks to Scheepjes, who supplied the yarns reviewed in this post. As always, any opinions expressed are entirely my own.  Affiliate links (to UK retailers) are included in this post to help support the running of this website - thank you very much for using them. 
After months of 'secret' knitting, it is a relief to be able to share this knitting pattern with you - I can't think of it as "new" as it was finished in May but it is now available to download exclusively via the new LoveKnitting iPad app. You can read more about the app and it's development here. (LoveKnitting affiliate links are included in this post.)

The Pattern

Fittleworth is a striking two-coloured cowl which is very simple to knit, it's a 'mosaic' knit which means it uses only one colour at a time and a few basic stitches - it's suitable for anyone who can knit and purl on circular needles. If you're familiar with my other designs like Seafoam and Sky Full of Stars, you won't be surprised that Fittleworth can be worn in a few different ways...

Fittleworth, Cowl, knitting, slipped stitches, stripes, jogless stripes,

Stand it to attention, fold it double, or you can even stick a pin or brooch in it for a snug fit. It can be easily customised too - cast on a greater number of stitches (in multiples of four stitches), for a longer cowl or knit more repeats to make it deeper, like a snood. 

The cowl is worked in the round so there is no sewing, apart from weaving-in a few yarn tails, and because of the slipped stitch placement, you don't have to worry about the joins or 'jogs' between the stripes - this is a 'jogless' stripe pattern. 


The pattern sample was made using Cascade 220 Sport (100% wool) in Silver Grey and Goldenrod (one ball of each) although test knitters also used different double knitting or sport weight yarns in all sorts of colours and blends - just be sure to make a swatch if substituting yarns, as you may need to alter the number of cast on stitches. Whichever yarn or colours you choose, it's a fun project and one which most knitters will be able to complete quite quickly and easily.

Inspiration

'Fittleworth' is a small village in West Sussex where a sixteenth century grey stone bridge crosses the river Rother. As we drove through the area in Spring, the surrounding fields were full of glorious golden rapeseed and my husband was making me laugh by reading the village names in a series of silly accents.  Despite the stunning views, I couldn't stop to take photos that day (D was driving and is far less inclined to stop the car for photographic opportunities!), so this design is a reminder of the grey stones and yellow fields that we passed, and the laugher we shared. (I later discovered that JMW Turner also documented his impressions of the bridge, although not through the medium of knitting.)

Screenshot. The app is pre-loaded with six free patterns, including mine!

How to get the pattern

Fittleworth is currently available exclusively via the new Love Knitting iPad app* - you can read about it here. When you download the app from iTunes, you'll find it as one of the selection of pre-loaded patterns. The app is free (and very cool) which means the pattern is free for you too. I really hope you like it and look forward to seeing your finished projects - please feel free to use #fittleworthcowl on social media (and tag me!) so I can see your projects.

*If you don't have an iPad but would like to get a copy of the pattern, stay tuned... 

Design Notebook: Fittleworth

After months of 'secret' knitting, it is a relief to be able to share this knitting pattern with you - I can't think of it as "new" as it was finished in May but it is now available to download exclusively via the new LoveKnitting iPad app. You can read more about the app and it's development here. (LoveKnitting affiliate links are included in this post.)

The Pattern

Fittleworth is a striking two-coloured cowl which is very simple to knit, it's a 'mosaic' knit which means it uses only one colour at a time and a few basic stitches - it's suitable for anyone who can knit and purl on circular needles. If you're familiar with my other designs like Seafoam and Sky Full of Stars, you won't be surprised that Fittleworth can be worn in a few different ways...

Fittleworth, Cowl, knitting, slipped stitches, stripes, jogless stripes,

Stand it to attention, fold it double, or you can even stick a pin or brooch in it for a snug fit. It can be easily customised too - cast on a greater number of stitches (in multiples of four stitches), for a longer cowl or knit more repeats to make it deeper, like a snood. 

The cowl is worked in the round so there is no sewing, apart from weaving-in a few yarn tails, and because of the slipped stitch placement, you don't have to worry about the joins or 'jogs' between the stripes - this is a 'jogless' stripe pattern. 


The pattern sample was made using Cascade 220 Sport (100% wool) in Silver Grey and Goldenrod (one ball of each) although test knitters also used different double knitting or sport weight yarns in all sorts of colours and blends - just be sure to make a swatch if substituting yarns, as you may need to alter the number of cast on stitches. Whichever yarn or colours you choose, it's a fun project and one which most knitters will be able to complete quite quickly and easily.

Inspiration

'Fittleworth' is a small village in West Sussex where a sixteenth century grey stone bridge crosses the river Rother. As we drove through the area in Spring, the surrounding fields were full of glorious golden rapeseed and my husband was making me laugh by reading the village names in a series of silly accents.  Despite the stunning views, I couldn't stop to take photos that day (D was driving and is far less inclined to stop the car for photographic opportunities!), so this design is a reminder of the grey stones and yellow fields that we passed, and the laugher we shared. (I later discovered that JMW Turner also documented his impressions of the bridge, although not through the medium of knitting.)

Screenshot. The app is pre-loaded with six free patterns, including mine!

How to get the pattern

Fittleworth is currently available exclusively via the new Love Knitting iPad app* - you can read about it here. When you download the app from iTunes, you'll find it as one of the selection of pre-loaded patterns. The app is free (and very cool) which means the pattern is free for you too. I really hope you like it and look forward to seeing your finished projects - please feel free to use #fittleworthcowl on social media (and tag me!) so I can see your projects.

*If you don't have an iPad but would like to get a copy of the pattern, stay tuned... 
Several months ago (at Unravel) I met Sophie Randel, a really great knitter who has combined her hobby with her career as a project manager. Sophie's latest project is something that just might impact your own knitting, so grab yourself a cuppa, and if you have an iPad, get that too - this is my conversation with Sophie...  (Affiliate links for LoveKnitting are included in this post.)

Hi Sophie, thanks for taking time to tell us more about your career and your exciting new project! First of all, can you tell us about yourself? 
I’ve been a passionate knitter ever since my mum taught me when I was 12. She is still my knitting idol! I grew up in Hamburg, Germany and as an adult also lived in Cologne, before moving to London last year. Funnily enough,  in all the places I’ve lived, I’ve always lived next to a yarn shop! This is both very convenient and very dangerous...



To fund my yarn buying, I do agile programme and project management at LoveCrafts (the parent company of LoveKnitting) and for the last few months I’ve been working with our mobile team as the product manager for our first LoveKnitting app.

For the non-technical amongst us, what is it that you do? 
My job means I get to work with our technical team to support them in building amazing digital products - which means I can do anything from creating a plan for the delivery of a new feature for the website to organising a launch party. When I first joined the app team, my focus was on defining all the functionality we needed to give customers to ensure a great and useful app experience. I worked with our designers to get their ideas and input and then took that input to our developers to explain what we needed to build (and to also make sure that we tested everything with real knitters). During the last few weeks before launch, I was testing the app continuously. I spent my summer holiday knitting with the app open on my iPad, in the middle of nowhere in southern Germany - it was actually a great way to spend my time off and now I have hundreds of new ideas for what we can build next!

How did you come to be working with LoveKnitting?
It all started one weekend last summer in Hamburg (Germany), I was looking for yarn and patterns online and found loveknitting.com. I was really impressed by their shop and social platform and so I idly checked their job ads (although I fully expected LoveKnitting to be far away). I was amazed to find a job which sounded perfect, and so I applied and within a few months I had packed everything up and moved to London!

Can you tell us more about the new LoveKnitting app and how using it will benefit users?  
When we started thinking about the app we made the decision to build a tool for knitters. We had a few options we were considering but ultimately decided we wanted to build a tool for our customers which made their lives (and knitting) easier. We gathered some feedback from knitters on how they used patterns when they were knitting and found that lots of people complained about the chaotic way they relied on scribbled notes and crumpled printed pages. With our wealth of PDF patterns and our digital know-how, that seemed like a problem we could fix and so we set about building something that removed the need for printed patterns. Today the current version of the app lets you view all the patterns you have in your library on your iPad. From the library you can open your pattern to view it, zoom in on it and then use specially designed tools such as a digital pen, pattern tamer and row counter. My personal favourite is the highlighting tool for keeping track of the size of the garment I am making.


Access the tools from the menu bar on the left (slide it out or hide it with the arrow)

If I was to sum up the benefits of the app for someone who had never seen it I would say the biggest benefits are 1) no more pens and paper to wrestle with 2) you can take all your patterns anywhere on your iPad 3) you can use really great tools developed by knitters, for knitters.


Add your own project photos to the project

How long has it taken to develop the LoveKnitting app and what have been the biggest challenges? 
We started developing the app in February. On one hand it was great to build an app from scratch but on the other it was a challenge- before an app is live, you never really know if you are building something people want. One example of this was the row counter tool. During user testing we had 15 knitters come in for testing and of those 15, 14 said they didn’t use a row counter with only one saying they did. Despite only one person saying they currently used a row counter, we still decided to include one in the app. Our thinking was that if we built a really simple row counter, people would use it. At launch we’ve included a small version of the row counter with just one counter per project and if we get feedback from our users that they really love the row counter and use it, we will spend more time extending the functionality.

Another big challenge was that knitting a garment takes time. This made testing the app in a “real life” environment challenging, and going through the whole process of starting and finishing a project was hard. I managed to start and finish two projects with the app. I started two more and one is the Fittleworth Cowl. I really like the pattern and now that the weather is getting colder, I need something warm around my neck. I bought some yarn at Unravel which I think would be amazing with the cowl.



What's next? 
Now the app is live in the App Store, the next very important step for us is to get feedback from our users. I think in a few weeks we will begin to know what users find useful and what we can improve. While we are gathering that information we plan to build our first iPhone version of the app, so that a lot more knitters can have the opportunity to use our app for knitting. We also want to make the app a lot easier for knitters to manage their projects and share their creations. Other features we want to build include: community features so that you can see projects from other users, more free patterns for you to download directly from the app, an app specifically for crocheters and sooooo many more things. It’s actually an endless list and I also fully expect that our users will come up with new ideas we haven’t even thought of yet!

Thank you Sophie, I am loving the iPad app so far and can't wait to hear what everyone else thinks of it - hopefully we will get some comments on this post once people have tried it! I'll be sure to post an update when the iPhone and Android versions are available too. 

If you're itching to try the app, you can download it on your ipad right now (it's free) and when you do, you'll have exclusive access to my Fittleworth Cowl which is one of the six pre-loaded patterns. After logging in, any of the PDF patterns that you have already purchased via LoveKnitting will also be available in your library. You can also shop for further patterns (including some of my own) and all of the supplies you need to make them. Tomorrow, I'll tell you more about Fittleworth and the inspiration behind it.  UPDATE: Read more about the design and inspiration for Fittleworth here

In Conversation With... Sophie Randel

Several months ago (at Unravel) I met Sophie Randel, a really great knitter who has combined her hobby with her career as a project manager. Sophie's latest project is something that just might impact your own knitting, so grab yourself a cuppa, and if you have an iPad, get that too - this is my conversation with Sophie...  (Affiliate links for LoveKnitting are included in this post.)

Hi Sophie, thanks for taking time to tell us more about your career and your exciting new project! First of all, can you tell us about yourself? 
I’ve been a passionate knitter ever since my mum taught me when I was 12. She is still my knitting idol! I grew up in Hamburg, Germany and as an adult also lived in Cologne, before moving to London last year. Funnily enough,  in all the places I’ve lived, I’ve always lived next to a yarn shop! This is both very convenient and very dangerous...



To fund my yarn buying, I do agile programme and project management at LoveCrafts (the parent company of LoveKnitting) and for the last few months I’ve been working with our mobile team as the product manager for our first LoveKnitting app.

For the non-technical amongst us, what is it that you do? 
My job means I get to work with our technical team to support them in building amazing digital products - which means I can do anything from creating a plan for the delivery of a new feature for the website to organising a launch party. When I first joined the app team, my focus was on defining all the functionality we needed to give customers to ensure a great and useful app experience. I worked with our designers to get their ideas and input and then took that input to our developers to explain what we needed to build (and to also make sure that we tested everything with real knitters). During the last few weeks before launch, I was testing the app continuously. I spent my summer holiday knitting with the app open on my iPad, in the middle of nowhere in southern Germany - it was actually a great way to spend my time off and now I have hundreds of new ideas for what we can build next!

How did you come to be working with LoveKnitting?
It all started one weekend last summer in Hamburg (Germany), I was looking for yarn and patterns online and found loveknitting.com. I was really impressed by their shop and social platform and so I idly checked their job ads (although I fully expected LoveKnitting to be far away). I was amazed to find a job which sounded perfect, and so I applied and within a few months I had packed everything up and moved to London!

Can you tell us more about the new LoveKnitting app and how using it will benefit users?  
When we started thinking about the app we made the decision to build a tool for knitters. We had a few options we were considering but ultimately decided we wanted to build a tool for our customers which made their lives (and knitting) easier. We gathered some feedback from knitters on how they used patterns when they were knitting and found that lots of people complained about the chaotic way they relied on scribbled notes and crumpled printed pages. With our wealth of PDF patterns and our digital know-how, that seemed like a problem we could fix and so we set about building something that removed the need for printed patterns. Today the current version of the app lets you view all the patterns you have in your library on your iPad. From the library you can open your pattern to view it, zoom in on it and then use specially designed tools such as a digital pen, pattern tamer and row counter. My personal favourite is the highlighting tool for keeping track of the size of the garment I am making.


Access the tools from the menu bar on the left (slide it out or hide it with the arrow)

If I was to sum up the benefits of the app for someone who had never seen it I would say the biggest benefits are 1) no more pens and paper to wrestle with 2) you can take all your patterns anywhere on your iPad 3) you can use really great tools developed by knitters, for knitters.


Add your own project photos to the project

How long has it taken to develop the LoveKnitting app and what have been the biggest challenges? 
We started developing the app in February. On one hand it was great to build an app from scratch but on the other it was a challenge- before an app is live, you never really know if you are building something people want. One example of this was the row counter tool. During user testing we had 15 knitters come in for testing and of those 15, 14 said they didn’t use a row counter with only one saying they did. Despite only one person saying they currently used a row counter, we still decided to include one in the app. Our thinking was that if we built a really simple row counter, people would use it. At launch we’ve included a small version of the row counter with just one counter per project and if we get feedback from our users that they really love the row counter and use it, we will spend more time extending the functionality.

Another big challenge was that knitting a garment takes time. This made testing the app in a “real life” environment challenging, and going through the whole process of starting and finishing a project was hard. I managed to start and finish two projects with the app. I started two more and one is the Fittleworth Cowl. I really like the pattern and now that the weather is getting colder, I need something warm around my neck. I bought some yarn at Unravel which I think would be amazing with the cowl.



What's next? 
Now the app is live in the App Store, the next very important step for us is to get feedback from our users. I think in a few weeks we will begin to know what users find useful and what we can improve. While we are gathering that information we plan to build our first iPhone version of the app, so that a lot more knitters can have the opportunity to use our app for knitting. We also want to make the app a lot easier for knitters to manage their projects and share their creations. Other features we want to build include: community features so that you can see projects from other users, more free patterns for you to download directly from the app, an app specifically for crocheters and sooooo many more things. It’s actually an endless list and I also fully expect that our users will come up with new ideas we haven’t even thought of yet!

Thank you Sophie, I am loving the iPad app so far and can't wait to hear what everyone else thinks of it - hopefully we will get some comments on this post once people have tried it! I'll be sure to post an update when the iPhone and Android versions are available too. 

If you're itching to try the app, you can download it on your ipad right now (it's free) and when you do, you'll have exclusive access to my Fittleworth Cowl which is one of the six pre-loaded patterns. After logging in, any of the PDF patterns that you have already purchased via LoveKnitting will also be available in your library. You can also shop for further patterns (including some of my own) and all of the supplies you need to make them. Tomorrow, I'll tell you more about Fittleworth and the inspiration behind it.  UPDATE: Read more about the design and inspiration for Fittleworth here

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