WELL....it's FINALLY Spring here on Prince Edward Island and we kind of consider this the beginning of our "year" since it is the beginning of tourist season and when things really start hopping! All of our lambs are now "on the ground" as we shepherds like to say, and we are looking forward to the grass growing, getting some natural grazing happening, and getting some lovely, soft fleece growing as well. We also just wrapped up our official first year of business in our store and that has us doing a lot of reflecting on the past year, and a lot of looking forward to the next one.
We have LOVED becoming a part of the amazing online (and on-farm/in-store) knitting community. In the past year we have had so many positive experiences getting deeper involved in this wonderful hobby and form of creative expression, that we wanted to share some of our favorite discoveries of the past year! To advanced knitters, some of these may seem SUPER obvious, but hey, they were all new to us and they improved our knitting tremendously so we thought we'd share just in case!
- 1) Fruity Knitting Podcast: This is number one for a reason! To say this podcast changed our knitting life would be an understatement! Andrea and Andrew are entertaining, inspiring and will bring your technical skills to a level you never thought possible. Believe us!!! I (Jennifer) have only been a "serious" knitter for about a year and I just steeked a cardigan for fun. That's right! I've been cutting up my knitting like a reckless fool and getting away with it, and I have Andrea and Andrew to thank for that. They release a new podcast every two weeks, but if you are like everyone else, you will want to go back and watch them all from the beginning (and be downright despondent when you actually get caught up). Subscribe HERE.
- 2) Cocoknits: We featured these amazing knitting tools as part of our build up to Christmas campaign, but we can't really praise them enough. Ingenious, well made, innovative tools to keep your knitting organized and running smoothly! We sell a number of their accessories in our store, including their amazing stitch markers, both opening, and closed. If you've ever felt the "SNAP" of a plastic opening stitch marker break in your hand, then go HERE ASAP.
- 3) VeryPink Knits: Our favourite technique videos! Partly because she has a HUGE number of them, and partly because of Staci's wonderful personality and way with teaching, VeryPink is our go-to when we find ourselves screaming things like "KITCHENER STITCH IS RUINING MY LIFE!!!!" (#truestory). Generally speaking, Kim is the knit doctor in our household and can handle just about any problem, but with those extra challenging I-need-this-explained-on-repeat-at-least-twenty-times issues, VeryPink is where we both go. Subscribe HERE.
- 4) Steeking: We had never steeked before. Now that seems absolutely ridiculous! Why on EARTH would you purl half a cardigan if you didn't need to? I had never even heard of it, but we were kind of getting mocked for purling our Fair Isle sweaters and cardigans, even when the pattern called for it. Really! In a nice way, but still! If you follow our instructions on Number 1 on this list, you will naturally be eager to give steeking a try!
- 5) Short-tip Interchangeable Needles: To our knowledge (please correct us if we are wrong...) Knit Picks makes the shortest of the short at a teeny 2.75 inches. I used to HATE doing sleeves. Not that I don't think the magic loop is amazing, but I'd rather just knit around continuously, and these needles make that possible until you get down to a very small number of stitches. I also have a morbid fear of DPN's, sorry, I just do. Maybe because my giant Irish wolfhound constantly pounces on my knitting and I can just HEAR them snapping, or maybe because I'm pretty much a klutz with two needles, so any more than that seems like a ridiculous idea, I don't know....but I adore my short-tips! Buy them HERE.
- 6) Hanna Lisa Haferkamp: Hanna Lisa is an amazing, intelligent, business person and a professional coach to many makers. She also does some amazing maker business podcasts and newsletters, AND sells the most amazing, beautiful, sustainably made project bags on her site. We have enjoyed getting to know her in the past year, and we even did a collaboration with her (all the way in Berlin!) We look forward to everything she puts out. She is also one of the founders of Making Stories, a pretty amazing knitting publishing company, and well, we're just big fans. Her site is worth checking out just for the project bags, but if you are also trying to make a living at this "making" thing, there is some very valuable advice to be found there. Check it all out HERE.
- 7) Lace Blocking Wires: Again, over to Knit Picks for these babies, or they are available in our bricks and mortar store. Who doesn't procrastinate at the thought of blocking a lace shawl? Well, we do...did. We don't have a ton of time to pursue personal projects so anything that makes turning those WIP's into FO's is a smash hit with us. These wires are essential, and they just work better, no matter how much patience you have for pins, or how dead accurate for straightness your eyesight is.
- 8) Blocking a Hat on a Balloon: Our friend Simone from Sand and Sky Creations turned us on to this one! You absolutely MUST measure the balloon before you put the hat on it (heads are surprisingly small compared to a blown up balloon) but this technique works like a charm! We just blow it up to the desired size, or slightly smaller, and then put the hat on and keep the whole works upright by placing it in a large coffee mug on the table. Works like a charm!
- 9) Knitting two socks/sleeves/pockets whatever at a time: the instant cure for second sock syndrome. How is that even a thing when you can do it this way?!? Bye, bye sleeve island as well! It takes a little getting used to, but is well worth the effort to learn this uber satisfying technique. When you're done, you're DONE. Be gone second anything, because we are SO OVER you.
- 10) The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: We bought this book because we have sheep...but now we wish everyone would buy it. Even we were amazed at the variety of sheep and fleece types out there...well more amazed at how they ALL have advantages and disadvantages and are uniquely beautiful. Really, truly, uniquely beautiful. This is also a BEAUTIFUL book and who doesn't love looking at pictures of wonderful sheep and their fibre!?! Every breed featured is knit up, and spun up and explored in great detail. Never assume natural yarn won't work for a project or can't do what you want it to do until you've consulted this book. It's an EXCELLENT gift for any sheepy peeps out there as well. Find out more about this treasured book that is always at our fingertips HERE.
Well that wraps up OUR favourite discoveries for the year, if you have any to add put them in the comments below, we'd love to check them out as well!