Tips Theme Week: Beads, buttons and other necessary things

Depending on how elaborate the items you like to knit are, there are some accessories that might be tricky to find, or rather, they are if you don’t know where to look for them.

EVERYTHING can be found at Etsy (no need to mention that I’ve, ehrm, purchased regency underpinnings from here as well…) Similarly to the concept of Amazon, Etsy is like a marketplace with lots and lots of different shops, be it yarn, beads, stitch markers, elaborate jewelry, buttons, beads, handmade underpinnings or tiny crochet hooks for adjusting your dreadlocks, also known as an excellent tool for placing beads in your knitting.

To give you an idea, here are some of the knitting related items that Tove and I have bought from Etsy:

  • 0.6 mm crochet hook
  • Case to keep needles and knit tools
  • Gemstone beads
  • Coconut shell buttons

The trick is to know what you are looking for and search for the correct terms. On Esty it’s usually a good idea to search in their supply section. There’s also several yarn shops represented. So, beware, you can end up spending days and days and days on Etsy!

accessories

Some things are ideal to buy second hand like a yarn winder. I got mine on Tradera. I have yet to get something knit related from eBay (my only experience so far was the Alice in Wonderland coat I ordered from China… which I REALLY needed and which is totally awesome!), but Tove bought both her ball winder and her tiny bead crochet hook from Chinese eBay sellers.

Buttons and beads are a bit trying to chase after here in Sweden. There’s not too much available on the market. So thank goodness there’s the Internet. The following shops specialize in hobby craft supplies:

  • Kristallrummet is a Swedish online shop for crystals and items for making your own jewelry. I’ve purchased beads from here and they offer good service. I believe they have a boutique in Stockholm as well, but I’ve never been there.
  • Pärltorget is an online bead shop based in Falun, with a great selection of seed beeds. Tove has shopped here before with great results.
  • Panduro is the most famous shop in Sweden for getting beads, clay and everything imaginable. They have an online shop as well.

Just running a search on the Internet I came across a few other online shops as well. I have yet to try them though. If you’ve tried them please let us know and tell us what you think!

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Tips Theme Week: Books and magazines

While the rest of our tips and resources have focused mainly on the online side of things, today we’re going to share some print resources. Neither Anneli nor I are that well-versed in the world of knitting books and magazines, but we do own some.

  • A good stitch dictionary is a goldmine when creating your own patterns, or adapting existing ones. There’s something about flicking through a book for inspiration you just can’t quite replicate with websites. I own 400 Knitting Stitches but would gladly have more stitch dictionaries in my collection.
  • For us yarnoholics who keep buying skeins without an intended project in mind, the One Skein Wonders series is a fun source of inspiration and nice patterns. I have the 101 Designer one, and though I’ve not yet knit anything from it, there are lots I can see myself knitting in the future.
  • Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka the Yarn Harlot has written a whole bunch of knitting books. Both of us own Knitting Rules! which I can heartily recommend – it’s a great mix of funny anecdotes, useful tips and tricks, and some basic pattern ideas. A really fun read. Anneli also owns The Secret Life of a Knitter.
  • The last time I was in the US I purchased The Knitter’s Life List. I’ve yet to read it properly, but what I have read I absolutely love. It’s more inspirational than instructional, and really adds something all its own.
  • Anneli owns A Stitch in Time – Vintage Knitting Patterns 1930-1959: Vol. 2 and it’s GORGEOUS. The pictures, the patterns, the styling – all of it is stunning.
  • A book neither of us have read but both would really like to own is Knit to Flatter. Exactly what you need before embarking on the scary journey of knitting things that actually have to FIT. (This is at least half the reason I make so many lace accessories. People think it’s impressive and hard; really it’s because I’m a coward. A shawl always fits.)

The only knitting magazine I have personally bought is Vogue Knitting (one whole issue) so I don’t feel overly confident talking about this side of knitting. As a kid, my mother subscribed to a handicrafts magazine of some sort, which I always thought was really fun to browse through (usually when I should be sleeping). There were also the knitting pages in the “housewife” magazines, but other than that we didn’t really have a “magazine culture” for knitting in Sweden until just recently, and it’s still quite a poor selection. You CAN get the bigger international ones at well-stocked newspaper and magazine shops, but they’re hideously overpriced (twice the original price, at least). Having said that, some of the magazines on the market are:

Do you have any favourite print resources? A book you can’t live without? Share it in the comments!

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Tips Theme Week: Techniques, tutorials and tools

(That’s a lot of T’s.)

First of all, today is a very important day in Sweden – Midsummer, second only to Christmas – so glad midsommar, happy midsummer to you all!

Today we’re sharing some of our favourite resources for the more technical side of knitting. Learning how to use a certain technique, when to use which decrease or bind-off, or what the heck k2togtbl means can be tricky, but luckily we live in a time where you can learn EVERYTHING on the internet. (I honestly don’t know how people managed before!) Here are some of our favourites.

  • knittinghelp.com has GREAT videos with the really great feature that there’s a version for continental and one for English for every technique listed. My personal favourite is their collection of different increases and decreases.
  • Doing a simple search on YouTube always works – there are tons and tons and tons of knitting tutorial videos just waiting to be seen. Really useful when you’ve been staring at instructions and scratching your head with a spare DPN.
  • TECHknitting is a goldmine for the science behind knitting. So clever. If you want to know how to do ANYTHING, you can probably find it in her index.
  • For those (Swedes) of you who are a bit intimidated by the idea of knitting in English, Drops has a great terminology list. Additionally, they have a video library with instructions for various techniques.
  • Knitty has a whole bunch of useful articles. A lot of them are published under Techniques with Theresa. (Her Kitchener stitch tutorial has been my friend many, many, many times.) There’s also the collection of instructions which has a few “famous” articles, like the JSSBO.
  • ChartGen is a fun and free chart generator.
  • Stickskolan is a great resource in Swedish.

Additionally, there are some really great apps to help you with your knitting. Both Anneli and I are iPhone owners, so unfortunately we can’t say anything about apps for Android or Windows Phone, but here are some of the apps which are frequently used on our iDevices:

  • KnitCounter Lite – free row counter tool. (There are a whole bunch and they all work pretty much the same way; this just happened to be the one I downloaded and stuck with.)
  • Knitting Daily – a mobile library of videos, blogs and glossaries from Interweave Knits.
  • JKnit – I actually only just discovered this PDF reader which comes with a built-in row counter and a highlight row the other day. If it lives up to what it promises, I think it may well become my new best friend.
  • Speaking of PDF readers, let’s not forget the trusty ol’ iBooks app. I love using my iPad as a virtual library of all of my patterns, and it’s so convenient to just prop it up on its stand with a chart up while you knit – I haven’t printed out a pattern in absolutely ages. Not as big a fan of looking at patterns on the iPhone, though it’ll do in a pinch.

(Whatever people may tell you, I am in fact NOT sponsored by Apple. Totally open to the idea, though, Apple. Call me.)

Any knitting wizards whose word you swear by? Share the magic in the comments!

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Tips Theme Week: Designers

One of my favourite things about Ravelry is that it really gives independent pattern designers a stage to show off their work on. I don’t even want to think about how much time I’ve spent using the pattern browser, because it would probably be depressing and make me want to go home and rethink my life. While this “hobby” often leads me to new (to me) designers, there are a few that pop up over and over again. Here are a few of our favourite designers, on Ravelry and elsewhere.

  • Kieran Foley (Ravelry), whose entire body of work would go in my Ravelry queue, if I kept one. (I don’t. It’s stressful. Or I’m lazy.) His lace designs are simply gorgeous and I want to make ALL OF THEM. (In fact, I just bought three of his patterns. Oops.)
  • Gudrun Johnston (Ravelry) is GREAT at cardigans. There are at least four I want to make (and one of them is my upcoming cardi project that I’ve already swatched for and everything!) and a whole bunch more I wish I could pull off. Gorgeous.
  • Kitman Figueroa (Ravelry) designs lovely shawls which combine lace and texture in really interesting ways.
  • Evelyn A. Clark (Ravelry) is the creator of the first-ever lace project I knit, and designs gorgeous lace triangles inspired by traditional patterns from around the world.
  • Beth Kling (Ravelry only) is someone I’ve discovered recently and who makes gorgeous, unique shawl patterns. Anneli has knit her Vostok and it’s stunning!
  • Jared Flood (Ravelry), big knitting name who is great at texture.
  • Stephen West (Ravelry), aka the king of stripes. (I also YEARN for his Madelinetosh colourway, in case anyone wants to buy me a present.)
  • Tori Gurbisz (Ravelry), who both makes lovely shawls and with her Zephyr has designed one of the prettiest cardigans on Ravelry, in my opinion. Additionally, she’s published a collection of knitting patterns inspired by myths and fairytales.
  • Kathy Bateman (Ravelry) designs, amongst other things, fun and unique headwear.
  • Meghan Jackson (Ravelry) is another great lace designer.
  • Elsebeth Lavold (Ravelry) who is one of our most famous Swedish designers, has her own yarn brand and designs great Viking inspired knitwear. Anneli visited one of her exhibitions last year and was really tempted by the dress Solveig.

Who are your to-go-to designers of choice? Are there any great designers we’re missing out on? Let us know in a comment!

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Tips Theme Week: Online yarn shops

(I know, we are a bit partial to Madelinetosh. I apologize for this in advance.)

I have a confession to make. I know there’s lots of people who love shopping and taking a whole Saturday to visit every boutique in town (or even worse, going to the capital of Sweden for this purpose). I hate that kind of shopping. It is absolutely exhausting! So thank goodness I live in a time where online shops thrive.

Now, online shopping is a completely different story. No elbowing to make your way, no sweating, no need to worry about fainting when the blood sugar runs low, or finding bathrooms when you need one. You can take your time to chose, you can even drink tea whilst doing your shopping AND watch Doctor Who, and then a nice little package is delivered to your home which you can rip up in childish delight. What can compete with that I wonder?

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The other reason for purchasing yarn online is the limited supply. Yarn is one of the few exceptions where I’d actually prefer to visit a boutique IRL. There is a nice little yarn boutique in Västerås, where I live (not IN the boutique obviously), and an even better one in Stockholm, where Tove brought me when I was new to yarn (and I won’t mention just how much I spent… erhm). Unfortunately neither of them keep Madelinetosh. Just a couple of months ago I actually suggested it to Litet Nystan in Stockholm and they told me that Madelinetosh were currently not accepting more suppliers… How sad is that!

There is in fact just one supplier of Madelinetosh in Sweden: Garnkorgen. It’s a nice online shop with excellent service and if you’re really lucky they might have the tosh variety and the color of your choice. They have quite a nice selection of other yarn brands, needles and beads.

In our opinion, the absolut best online shop for yarn (and Madelinetosh especially) is Jimmy Beans Wool. They have almost everything, not always in stock, but they make sure to get it when you ask. The downer is that they ship from the US (and for me especially because the Swedish customs seems to have blacklisted my name or something because ALL my packages get held up).

So, I just had to do something about this. And because inventing a pseudo is not my first option on the list, I thought it must be better to order from somewhere within the borders of Europe. Apart from listing all their products, Madelinetosh have also listed their suppliers on their website. And that’s how I found a nice little online shop in Switzerland called Woll Wirr Ware. They have a large selection of Madelinetosh Merino Light in stock and offered really good service. The two challenges were first to order in German, which Google translate solved conveniently for me, and the second to pay invoices across country borders, but it all worked out perfectly.

Madelinetosh also have their own shop where they sell “non-retail bases” and other limited special offers. That is how Tove came across her treasured Madelintosh Lush Seaglass just before it went out of stock completely.

Other yarn shops that we know of worth checking out are:

  • This Is Knit, the one Tove visited when she was last in Ireland. They have a nice selection of Malabrigo among other things.
  • Webs, ships from the US and has a huge selection.
  • Whitknits, also ships from the US. Tove bought a “bag” (four skeins) of Tosh for a cardigan project from here for a very good price, so it’s well worth keeping an eye out if they run that special offer again.
  • The Loopy Ewe (one day Tove will tell the story of how she HASN’T been to this store…) which is another US shop with a wide selection.

And a few more Swedish online yarn shops for our local readers:

  • Islinda, where you find Icelandic yarn.
  • Stäket, with their hand dyed more unique yarn varieties.
  • Deisy Design, a Swedish online yarn shop.

Have we missed your favorite? Please tell us in a comment. We’re always eager to find new yarn shopping experiences!

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Tips Theme Week: Blogs and other sources of inspiration

First of all, I have to confess I don’t really read any knitting blogs regularly. Oops. Having said that, here are some nuggets of inspiration on the net that Anneli and I like, in no particular order.

  • Yarn Harlot, because her status as a big name within knitting is well deserved.
  • One Sheepish Girl, whose pictures are constantly gorgeous.
  • Wendy Knits – patterns! Cats! Cupcakes!!
  • Ysolda – it’s possible I have a teensy blog crush on Ysolda Teague. Maybe.
  • Knit Purl Gurl, who does video blogs as well!
  • Twisted Knitter, whose aesthetics and style really appeal to me.
  • Knitting to Stay Sane, because a) who can’t relate to THAT feeling and b) being a great place for finding both inspiration and really useful instructions. And socks! Socks galore!
  • Slip Slip Knit, which has a ton of great patterns and really lovely pictures.
  • Pepperknit. Knitting and baking. What’s not to love.
  • Damn, Knit and Blast It! GREAT name, and really funny stories along with some great knitting.

Like I said, I’m not a prolific yarn blog reader, and these are only a few of the great ones out there. A few more of the many, many, MANY can be found on this list – give it a go!

One things I do do an awful lot of, as opposed to regularly reading blogs, is listen to podcasts. During my commute, during work (don’t worry, only when appropriate!), whilst knitting… you name it. (I think it has to do with my inability to do one thing at a time.) I’d actually really love some more tips for good podcasts (I DID hear rumours that there is a podcast run by knitting Doctor Who fans – WHERE CAN I FIND THIS?!), but some of my favourites are:

  • Stickpodden – in Swedish. Really good quality, relaxed and funny hosts, and a good mix between straight-up yarn talk and other things.
  • Stash and Burn is actually quite similar to the abovementioned, but in English.
  • Knitting Pipeline. I haven’t listened that much but I like what I’ve heard.
  • Never Not Knitting – the very first thing I heard from this was about hexipuffs. I could relate. She also has a great blog!
  • 90% Knitting is a video podcast, which makes it less ideally suited for, say, work hours, but has its own merits.
  • Knitting in Circles is another video podcast, with such a rare thing as a male co-host!

I never really understood the charm of Pinterest until I browsed it on my iPad. Boy howdy, did that eat up some time when I did. (Note to self: never use the phrase “boy howdy” again.) Just searching for “knitting” will bring up dozens upon dozens upon dozens of boards full of inspiration, pretty yarn, and funny quotes. (My own knitting board is 99% funny quotes. Well. I think they’re funny.) Here are some good ones to get you started:

DISCLAIMER: Along with Ravelry, Pinterest – especially the iPad app – will eat your life. I take no responsibility for the neglect of your social life, house plants, pets, small children etc which may result from the browsing of these sites. You have been warned.

That’s a few of the places we go to for inspiration – are there any great ones we’re missing out on? Share them in the comments!

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Tips Theme Week: Find knit patterns

My absolute favourite site of all for finding patterns is Ravelry. I love Ravelry for lots of other reasons too: like keeping track of your stash and your projects, connecting with fellow knitters, seeing what others have knit, intriguing forum discussions, seeing what the yarn you’ve bought looks like when knitted and soooo much more!

patterns

You have to create your own account, but once you have that the wonderful and extensive pattern database is all yours. There are many patterns for free and others to buy. If selecting the advanced pattern search you have many useful options for filtering out patterns. (Like knit or crochet, free or purchase pattern, what type of item, yarn weight and yardage.) It’s one of the most impressive databases I’ve come across (and I work with system development) where patterns and projects are connected. This means that you can view fellow knitter’s results from the pattern you’re considering. You can also access their helpful comments.

There are many sites for purchasing or finding free patterns. Many of them display at Ravelry as well. But we thought we could mention a few here anyway:

  • Knitty is an online knitting magazine that publishes 4 times a year. The June selection of patterns were made available just last week. Knitty acts a little bit like a platform for introducing new designers. (I’m eying the Glitz at the Ritz shawlette convinced an afternoon tea shawlette is just what my wardrobe is short of).
  • Drops is not only the Norwegian brand of soft alpaca yarn, but also a free pattern database. If you don’t like knitting in English Drops might be an alternative as they publish patterns in 14 different languages.
  • Twist collective is an online magazine where you can purchase patterns. Their issues contain wonderful and inspiring pictures of the patterns available. A definite stop for inspiration! (I wish I had an Eiffel tower to model in the background when I photograph my completed projects… Maybe I can settle for a rune stone.)
  • Knitpicks is an online knit store with their own brands of yarn and much more including some free knitting patterns. Unfortunately, for us European citizens, Knitpicks only ships within the US. (We bought some yarn for dyeing and whilst I was scampering about the neighboring woods looking for mushrooms, Tove was busy stuffing skeins in her suitcase across the Atlantic.)
  • Knitting Help offers a nice selection of free patterns.
  • Vogue Knitting, with their elaborate and inspiring patterns, also offers some patterns for free.
  • Knitting Patterns Central is a knitting pattern database.
  • Islinda is a Swedish online shop for Icelandic yarn. They have both patterns for free and to purchase.
  • Tanis Knits is the homepage of the designer Tanis who has been working for Vogue Knitting among others. You’ll find a few free patterns available on the site.
  • Pick-A-Stitch is a Digital Knitting Stitch Collection, so something else entirely. I came across them because of a pattern I wanted from Ravelry and I had to sign up for their newsletter to get it. What they actually do is that they’ve collected over 300 different stitches or knit structures and with a purchased subscription you can access the database.

Most of Tove’s and my pattern resources are online, but there’s quite many magazines and books as well containing patterns among other things (I’m leaving that subject to Tove…). I’m not too fond of having to purchase a whole pattern book because often there’s just one or two patterns you’re after (in my case at least). Then I much prefer sites like Ravelry and I really don’t mind paying a few euros for a pattern. There are many patterns available for free, but since I’m a bit picky (it IS my time after all, and I only want to knit the things I want most of all) I don’t mind paying a few euros for a nice pattern. I know that by doing this I’m also sponsoring a designers work.

Being online and all there’s mobile apps with patterns as well. Tove stumbled upon the Craftsy app just the other day, which is well worth a look.

Where do you get your patterns? Please tell us, we’re dying to learn all the best ways to find patterns!

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Exciting theme week coming up!

Tove and I have decided to run our first theme week (ever) and we’re really excited about this! Of course we hope that this theme week will come in handy for all of our readers. We’ve decided to share some of our best knit tips and resources.

What do you need to get started? Which are the best online shops for yarn, tools and accessories? Where do you find the best patterns? And where do you get inspiration?

Well, that’s just some of the questions we intend to answer! These are the topics we’ve planned to cover:

  1. Patterns
  2. Blogs and other online sources
  3. Online shops
  4. Designers
  5. Techniques, tutorials and tools
  6. Books and magazines
  7. Accessories

They are all big topics, we know. We’ll share what we’ve learnt so far and hopefully you can go from there!

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