Episode 31: Unravel-ed

We are back from Farnham, and are slowly recovering from the fantastic weekend that was Unravel! In this episode, we talk about the show, get a North American perspective on Unravel from Kate Atherley, and cover the usual news, events and current projects.

Our booth on Sunday morning at Unravel, somewhat depleted of yarn.

Our booth on Sunday morning at Unravel, somewhat depleted of yarn.


So many shout outs today! First up is a shout out to the lovely Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch (go check out her blog now!). Sarah has written the first review of the London Craft Guide, and we are so glad she enjoyed the book!

Another big shout out to Maylin who sent us a lovely note on Sunday about the book that really helped us power through the end of a very long weekend.

Finally, thanks so much to everyone who came by the booth and looked at the book, checked out the yarn and shared it with their friends! We'd particularly like to thank Julie of Evie and Lily who came by throughout the weekend to keep us up to date on her Instagram efforts.

Book news

So, the book is launched, which means we are up to our eyeballs in fulfilment. A few local yarn shops picked up their wholesale orders at Unravel, so if you are looking to find the book in the wild, you can get it at Nest, Wild & Woolly, and Knit with Attitude in London, A Yarn Story in Bath, and Fig Tree Yarns in Jersey. It will also soon be available at Loop, Handweavers Studio & Gallery and Stag & Bow in London, and at The Old Pharmacy in Faversham.

If you preordered the book before 17th of February, you should now have received a Paypal invoice to cover the shipping on your book. If you have not received this invoice, please let us know via the contact links at the bottom of the page, and we will get you sorted out.

Upcoming Events

28th February - Decorative Estonian Cast Ons with Lucinda Guy at YAK in Brighton

12th March - Introduction to Brioche and Shawl Shapes with Bristol Ivy at Loop. The Brioche class is sadly sold out, but the Shawl class will look at how to create different shawl shapes and then add stitch patterns and play with unconventional shaping.

13th March - Knitting Outside the Box with Bristol Ivy at Loop. This full day class is great for people interested in designing, or just wanting to experiment.

16th March - Introduction to Brioche with Bristol Ivy, this time at YAK in Brighton. A good alternative if you miss out on the Loop class.

17th-20th March - Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016!!!! Classes start on the Thursday, marketplace is Friday and Saturday with associated other goings on. Rachel will be there with Porpoise Fur and will have the book available, so if you'd like to check it out (or get some spinning fluff), come on by!

The exclusive Yarn in the City custom colourway from Third Vault Yarns has sold out!

The exclusive Yarn in the City custom colourway from Third Vault Yarns has sold out!

What we're working on

Rachel finished her Because Sock Yarn by Kate Atherley, in the amazing Yarn in the City colourway dyed for us by Third Vault Yarns, and upon showing it to the designer, discovered that there was some (ultimately highly successful) user error involved in her sample. More on that to come in a future blog post. She also finished a second colourway for the Ironwork hat, and has started a shop sample for A Yarn Story and a handspun Honey Cowl (she might be the only person in the world who has not knit this yet) out of SweetGeorgia BFL/silk in the "Rogue" colourway.

Allison has sadly missed out on having a new FO for this episode, but she's forging ahead on her Candy Bag sample, her handspun Gradient Pullover, and a very long-standing WIP, the Tulip Cardigan.

Kate Atherley joins us around the mic for an impromptu SnB on the podcast with thoughts on Unravel.

Kate Atherley joins us around the mic for an impromptu SnB on the podcast with thoughts on Unravel.


This episode we sit down for a quick Stitch n' Babble with the lovely Kate Atherley, who has recovered enough from her trans-Atlantic jet leg to tell us a bit about her impressions of Unravel and the differences between UK and North American shows. Please forgive the occasional long pauses as we were all feeling the effects of a seriously wool fume heavy weekend.

As always, please let us know what you think by tweeting, liking, or loving our posts when you see them go up on Twitter,Facebook and Instagram – or even better, leave a comment in the shownotes, post on our Ravelry board or send us an email at hello@yarninthecity.com. 

You can find us on iTunes or Stitcher Radio (and please consider leaving a review for us!), or download us directly from the Yarn in the City website.  

Our Knit Night is every Wednesday from 7:00pm to 10:00pm at The Goat on the Rise in Clapham Junction. We'd love to have you join us!

Music Credits (all available on NoiseTrade)
A Rainy Week in Paradise - Elessar Thiessen
Morning Light - The Dirty Guv'nahs
After the Fight - Jars of Clay

London Craft Guide Project: Because Sock Yarn

On the latest episode of the podcast we're pretty excited about the upcoming Unravel festival of knitting at Farnham Maltings. Not only is it one of our favourite shows of the year and right here in our backyard, but we'll be launching the London Craft Guide there and we're thrilled that we can finally start telling you all about it.

Over the next few weeks leading up to Unravel we'll be interviewing the contributing designers from the London Craft Guide as well as showing you their wonderful projects (photographed beautifully by Juju Vail).

To kick things off we're starting with friend of Yarn in the City - Kate Atherley - whose Because Sock Yarn shawlette and fingerless mitts make the most out of every last meter of souvenir sock yarn!

Photo credit: Juju Vail

Photo credit: Juju Vail

YITC: Tell us about the inspiration for your design.
KA: The inspiration for this design was a one-of-a-kind skein of sock yarn that I bought when I was on holiday. I do it all the time: visit yarn shops when I’m away from home, and because I’m a sock knitter, I look for sock yarn. And sometimes the sock yarn is too pretty for socks, and needs to be shown off! As it pretty typical, the sock yarn I’d bought was pretty wildly variegated, and so I although I wanted to make a neck piece, I knew that a classic lace shawl wouldn’t work. Although it uses traditional lace shawl design elements: garter stitch, and an applied edging, I think I’ve created something interesting to knit, and modern and fun to wear. And of course, because the shawl doesn’t use up all of the yarn, the rest of the skein makes a pair of fingerless mitts, which allow you to show off the yarn and use up the leftovers. They’re quick to knit, so you might even get them finished before your trip ends. You do travel with a spare set of 2.5mm needles, don’t you?

YITC: How do travel and craft fit together in your world?
KA: I travel a fair bit to teach. For me, knitting is a critically important part of travel: it’s a way to pass time and keep myself entertained, and equally it’s a way to get some very focused knitting time without interruptions.  I couldn’t bear to be without a project (or five) when I’m on the road. I love that I can knit while still keeping an eye on what’s going on: enjoying the view from the train, people-watching, or indulging in a trashy movie on the in-flight entertainment system.

YITC: Tell us about you and your personal design style. How does your project fit in?
KA: Ultimately, I’m all about practical and wearable pieces. I like that they should be interesting or out-of-the-ordinary, and fun (or challenging or informative or engaging to make) but at the end of the day I want to be able to use and wear what I make. This pair of designs is exactly that: a fun project with a practical (but not uninteresting) result!

Photo credit: Juju Vail

Photo credit: Juju Vail

YITC: What's your favorite part of the designing/creative process?
KA: I love that first spark of an idea: finding a stitch pattern in a stitch library, seeing an image I want recreate in yarn (a wrought-iron gate in New York inspired an upcoming sock pattern), or finding a yarn that calls to me. And then I love that final finishing step, seeing the thing I imagined become real: weaving in that final end, seaming that final seam, pinning the piece out for blocking.

YITC: Do you have a favourite designer who's work you follow?
There are two designers whose work I adore: Bristol Ivy, because I think she represents the future of the craft, and Susan Crawford, because she honours and keeps us in touch with the rich history.

YITC: What creative (or travel!) plans do you have for 2016?
KA: I’m travelling a lot for teaching this year, and I’m excited about it. I find that being in a new place always inspires. I love to see what yarns and projects other knitters love, and I always learn from other knitters.

Kate also enjoys walking her dog, and drinking coffee. She's always knitting, whether it's one of her designs or someone else's. Up next for Kate: she's working on a book about mittens and gloves. You can find more of her designs on Ravelry, or through her website, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

Social media info:
Twitter: kateatherley
Ravelry: kateatherley
Instagram: kateatherleyknits
website: kateatherley.com


Chatting with Kate Atherley

It's no secret around YITC HQ that we're big fans of Kate Atherley so we're completely thrilled to be able to have her join us for this year's Great London Yarn Crawl and Pop-Up Marketplace. In fact, with the addition of Kate's workshops that we're hosting, it's become a weekend event!

We asked Kate a few questions so that you can all get to know her better too, and learn a little bit more about what she'll be teaching and talking about during her visit. Enjoy!


We're so excited to have you teach your workshops as an accompaniment to the Yarn in the City GLYC and Pop-Up Marketplace weekend - especially as there seems to be a real interest in design as knitters become more experienced in their craft. You also have extensive experience in knitting, designing and teaching about socks. How did you move into teaching about pattern writing and do you have a preference between teaching about socks vs. teaching about pattern writing and design?

KA> Before I became a knitting professional, I worked in the software industry, specializing in communications. I worked on both the documentation and the marketing sides, always on very technical software products, fairly complex stuff. It was my job to make sure that what the technical types were saying made sense to “ordinary people” – the users of the software. It was all about making sure technical concepts and processes are communicated clearly, in a way that anyone can follow. When I started designing my own knits and writing patterns for them, it became clear very quickly that my technical writing experience was entirely relevant. What also became clear was that I have an unusual combination of skills and experience: not many knit designers have worked as technical writers!

Pattern writing came relatively easily to me, but this is not true for most designers in my experience. Add to that my degree in mathematics, and I had inadvertently created the ideal background for technical editing. The more teaching and editing I did, the more it became clear to me that designers often really struggled with pattern writing, and so it seemed like a natural use of my skills to start teaching – and then, eventually, write a book. Although I love teaching socks (and other types of knitting projects), I get the most pleasure from helping designers with their pattern writing. The better written the pattern, the more accessible it is to knitters of all levels, and so in my small way I feel like I’m helping expand the variety of patterns available for knitters!

Leading up to and over the course of writing your book Pattern Writing for Knit Designers, what are the most frequent pitfalls that  you've seen aspiring designers fall into when starting to writing their own patterns?
KA> When writing instructions, it’s challenging to put yourself in the shoes of the knitter, especially if you’re writing a pattern for less experienced knitters. You may know how to work Moss Stitch, but another knitter might not, so to say “work in Moss Stitch for 10cm” might not be enough information for the knitter to be able to successfully work the pattern. You have to ‘forget’ what you know. A classic example is the definition of the “ssk” decrease... So often, it’s defined in a stitch glossary as “slip, slip, knit”. This is great if you already know how to work the decrease, but it’s less than helpful if you don’t – in fact, it’s horribly misleading. A knitter who doesn’t know how to work an ssk will do something that’s not even faintly related to a decrease, if this is all the information they are given!  

What are some of your top tips for aspiring designers looking to start writing their own patterns?
KA> Look at other patterns for similar sorts of items, to see how they are written out. They can provide helpful inspiration and useful templates. For example, when I wrote out my first cowl pattern, I forgot to include the instruction to join the round... I only realized this when looking at a cowl pattern from another design! Use the style sheet of a publication you like, to help guide you as to what information to include and how to express things. Definitely have someone – even just a friend – proofread the pattern. It’s impossible to review your own work. 

You're also going to be joining us at the Indie Designer Spotlight as part of the Pop-Up Marketplace. What will you have to show off to visitors and what are you most looking forward to chatting with them about?
KA> I’m planning to show off my newest book: Custom Socks, from Interweave Press. I’ll be bringing some of the book samples, for a little trunk show. I’m really excited about this book, as it’s doing something entirely new: helping knitters properly understand sock sizing and their own fit needs. I’ll be talking about how to get the proper fit for a sock – including how to measure your foot to diagnose your sock fit needs – how to create your own sock patterns from scratch and how to customize an existing pattern.  I’ll probably also have a few of my shawl samples... I’ve also been working on a mini collection of things to do with sock yarn that doesn’t work for socks: I’ve got patterns for wild hand-painted yarns, for yarns with short yardage, and for yarns too pretty for socks.

What's next for you in the coming year?
KA> Well, a natural follow up to custom fit socks is mittens and gloves... look for news on a book about that!  I’m also working with a couple of crochet experts on a possible crochet version of the Pattern Writing book.

If you'd like to take part in Kate's classes there are still spaces available! Click here for all the details. And in addition to teaching for Yarn in the City, Kate will also be teaching at A Yarn Story in Bath on September 3, and returning to the UK for the Joeli's Kitchen Retreat in February in Manchester. All the details are on Kate's blog here.

Episode 11: Taking Care

Shout outs:

Many thanks to Felix for a wonderful Quotidian Colourwork workshop on 26th March! And many thanks also to our participants, who were fabulous and enthusiastic and brought wonderful inspirations and made lovely swatches. A wonderful time was had by all except for Allison, who was very sick and had to miss out. Sad faces all around...

Allison's knitting bag that was to be her source of inspiration for the Knitsonik workshop - another time!

Allison's knitting bag that was to be her source of inspiration for the Knitsonik workshop - another time!

Felix now has a thread in her Ravelry group for people to share their swatches, so check it out for some amazing colourwork experimentation! And if you need to get any yarn for your stranded colourwork explorations, our sponsor Tangled Yarn is offering 15% off Jamieson & Smith yarns through 26th April. Just use the code "KNITSONIK" at checkout.

What's going on:

25-26th April: Wonderwool Wales, Builth Wells.

9th May: Wharfe Wool Fair, Otley, near Leeds.

9-10th May: Stephen West is teaching two classes at Loop in Islington - Knit a top-down shawl and Colour play the Westknits way!

15-16th May: I Knit Fandango, Royal Horticultural Halls, London. We will be there at the Porpoise Fur booth - come say hi!

15-17th May: Gwlana, a knitting retreat in Pembrokeshire, Wales with Brenda Dayne of Cast On and Felicity Ford of Knitsonik.

16-17th May: John Arbon Open Weekend, South Molton, Devon.

23rd May: Highland Wool Festival, Dingwall Mart.

25th May: The Shipston on Stour Wool Fair, Shipston on Stour, South Warwickshire

30-31st May: Proper Woolley, Holsworthy, Devon.

What we're working on:

Allison's finished Beeswax Hat

Allison's finished Beeswax Hat

Allison finished her Beeswax Hat in Mrs. Moon's Plump DK and it is glorious! She's also finished the first mitt for the book, and has started the second. Hooray!

Rachel finished the first of her Boat Race hats, and has gotten 40+ rounds into Hat 2 before ripping it out to the ribbing and starting over again (setbacks are part of designing, right?). She's put a few more rows on the Windmill Bay Stole and, as there weren't enough things already in the works, she cast on for Inspiration Knit's Painted with her unicorn yarn - Wollmeise Pure in Edelstein.

Taking care, slowing down, and a special interview with Kate Atherley:

We talk about taking "Me" time, scheduling, bullet journaling and general ways to slow down and reassess at the end of the year's first quarter. 

We also talk to Kate Atherley about her new book, "Pattern Writing for Knit Designers", which is an invaluable resource for anyone even remotely considering writing a knitting pattern for other people to follow. You can find Kate on her website, and purchase the electronic version of the book here, or a physical copy here

We're starting a SW London Knit Night! Come join us at The Goat on the Rise on Wednesday, 22 April from 7 pm onwards. Please pop over to our Ravelry group and let us know if you'd like to join us - that way we can be sure to book enough space for everyone. We hope to see you there!

As always you can find us on RavelryFacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest. If you enjoy the podcast, please go leave us a review on iTunes - the more reviews and ratings we get, the more likely other like-minded people are to find us.

Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts and feedback with us, and come say hi at any of the events we're attending if you get a chance!

Music credits (all available on NoiseTrade)
Loneliness & Alcohol - Jars of Clay
Everything You've Done Wrong - Sloan
Slow Down - Austin Kolb Band