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  1. Alexandra-Palace - Compressed

    The Ally Pally

    The Knitting and Stitching Show is a four day event takes place every year over the 2nd weekend in October, at Alexandra Palace (affectionately known as the Ally Pally) in London - and I never miss it.

    Alexandra Palace is an iconic building dating back to 1873, which sits perched on top of a hill in North London.  Along with the exhibition halls, there is an ice rink and a lovely park that spreads out in front of the building complete with a boating lake and cafe.  The park is even more stunning this time of year with the leaves turning on the trees.  Being so high up, the view over London is second to none.  You can see all of the landmark buildings from East to West across the City from the new glass towers in the City of London in the East to the old and much loved Post Office Tower in Central London to the West.

    It is a wonderful weekend of creativity with amongst other things, textile galleries showing amazing textiles in every imaginable medium from all over the world and the graduate showcase which again covers all textiles.  There are always a handful of graduates there who are more than happy to talk about their exhibits and it's always heart warming to see these young designers about to make their way in the world.  Normally I take lots of photos of the exhibitions, but this year for some reason, I didn't.  At the end of this blog post are some I took from previous years to give an idea and flavour of the items on show.  There are also famous faces from the textile world giving talks and demonstrations and sometimes book signings.  This year's show was no exception and I eagerly lapped it all up, chatting to exhibitors and watching some of my crafty heroes give talks and demonstrations.

    Oh and the shopping!  Oh my goodness the shopping - there are so many tempting crafty things to buy!  This year I was VERY restrained.  In fact I didn't buy anything knitting related at all - very unlike me.  Everything I bought in the end was for dressmaking.  Even though sewing patterns and fabric were the order of the day, it didn't stop me swooning over and squishing a considerable amount of yarn and flicking through many inspiring knitting reference and pattern books. 

    The Ally Pally show is a mind boggling array of all things crafty and there's always more to see and do than can possibly be crammed into one day.  You really need to spend a couple of days there to do it justice - and one year I may well do just that.  It is my annual crafty pilgrimage and I can't wait to do it all again next year!





    Exhibition pieces from previous years



  2. Waves Mood Board - Compressed

    Mood Board

     Back in the summer I signed up for the Initiate Knit Design Challenge, which is a challenge run from time to time on Instragram by Frenchie of Aroha Knits fame.  As with most things I do, I just did it because I thought it would be interesting and to see if I could actually design anything worth making.  The challenge was structured very well with emails being sent explaining each step of the challenge and live Q&A sessions with Frenchie herself.  They weren't live for me though, as she lives in Japan and I am in the UK, so our timings were completely out!  I caught up with everything on the replays, so, thankfully, all was not lost!

    From day 1 I was absolutely hooked and I found the whole process fascinating.  We started by creating a mood board.  Now, I had heard of mood boards, but to be perfectly honest, I had no idea what they were.  What a revelation and what fun! Like most people, I don't need much of an excuse to rummage around on Pinterest, so I was very happy to get lost down that particular rabbit hole and come up with some stunning images to put onto my board (see above).  I have to say at this point that I had a rough idea of what I wanted to create using a particular ball of yarn in my stash, so the Pinterest search was pretty focussed.  From here I moved on to thinking about the stitch pattern I would use.  As the ombre colourway of my yarn is reminiscent of the sea I wanted to use a stitch that represented the beach and sea in some way.  After flicking through my knitting books for a while, I found the perfect stitch pattern - a modular shell shape. 

    After that, it was time to get out the knitting needles and have some fun!  Suffice to say, there has been a lot of knitting and unpicking...  knitting and unpicking...  which is all part of the designing (and learning process).  It's fascinating to me, that an idea that looks so amazing in your head can end up looking completely different once on the needles.  The shawl is now finished and it is time to get the pattern tech edited and tested.  Once all of that is done, the beast will be released into the Big Wide World!

    Shawl1 Compressed


    All aspects of designing were covered from the mood board, right through to pattern layout.  I really loved doing this challenge and have since joined Frenchie's Swatch Studio Circle to take my designing further.  Yes, I have definitely got the designing bug and have a cowl and socks in the production line as we speak, with other ideas still in the noodling and doodling stage waiting to be transformed into something wearable.

    So as they say..... Watch This Space!

  3. Hand

    Photo by Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

    We all do it.  We sit there knitting or crocheting happily away, thinking "just one more row and then I'll stop".  That one row turns into three more rows, then four more rows, and so it goes.  When we do finally stop, we realise how stiff we are and how sore our hands, wrists and arms have become.  Although we should take little breaks from time to time to stretch our hands and fingers to keep them from getting too sore, we don't.  I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to this!  Working in front of the TV in the evening doesn't help.  How many times have I got so engrossed in what I'm watching that I end up knitting non-stop for practically the entire evening!  As part of our self-care routine, we should get into the habit of doing a few simple exercises to help ease those aches and pains.

    I found a brilliant channel on YouTube - Yoga with Shira.  She guides you through various yoga stretches for overworked hands and arms.  As well as being very informative, they are highly entertaining!  If yoga really isn't your thing, then maybe these simple exercises, which I also found on t'interweb, might help.  They are for neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands.  Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, so the muscles get a good stretch, and repeat each one at least 5 times.

    • Tilt your head forward to gently stretch the back of your neck and hold.
    • Turn your head to one side and look over your shoulder and hold. Repeat on the other side.
    • Tilt your ear to one shoulder and hold. Repeat on the other side.
    • Interlace your fingers and stretch your arms out in front of you (palms facing away) and hold.
    • Keep your fingers interlaced and reach your arms over your head (palms facing up) and hold.
    • Interlace your fingers and cup the back of your head, then push elbows back (imagine you are trying to get your shoulder blades to touch each other) and hold.
    • Place your hands in the small of your back and stretch your shoulders backward, trying to make your elbows touch and hold.
    • Hold your fingers up in the air and gently spread your fingers apart. Hold, and then draw them back together.
    • Hold your hands upright, fingers apart. Draw your fingers into a light fist with your thumbs on the outside. Hold, and then release.
    • Put your hands in the “thumbs up” position and gently rotate your thumbs in circles in one direction and then the other.
    • Hold your hands upright with your fingers spread comfortably apart. Touch your thumbs to the tips of the littlest finger and then open your hand back up. Next, touch your thumbs to your ring fingers, and then open them back up. Then your middle fingers, and back. And your index fingers and back.
    • Rest your forearms on the edge of a table or arms of a chair with your thumbs pointing up. Move your wrists up and down through their full range of motion.
    • Hold your right hand out, palm facing up. With your left hand, grasp the fingers from your right hand and pull down and hold. Repeat on the other hand.

  4. Why use TE

    Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash


    Why use a tech editor?  That is a very good question.  Why should you.....

    My job as a tech editor is to check knitting and crocheting patterns to make them as concise and easy to use as possible.  It doesn’t matter how many times a designer checks over a pattern, things can easily get missed, so casting a fresh pair of eyes over it is always a good idea. 

    The first thing I do is give the pattern a good read through to familiarise myself with the style and content.  If a style sheet has been submitted, then I check the pattern against it, looking out for things like:

    • Making sure all abbreviations are listed and clear.
    • Check spelling, grammar and punctuation and general consistency through out the pattern.
    • All maths is correct in the stitch count, tension and sizing.
    • The pattern layout flows logically from section to section.
    • Photos, schematics and charts agree with the pattern.
    • Check any charts there may be against the written instructions.
    • Check stitch count is correct in the charts.
    • Make sure there is a key for the charts.

    I will let the designer know about any inconsistencies or errors found in the pattern, but it is not my job to re-write or alter the pattern in any way.  A common mantra amongst tech editors is “it's not my pattern” as there may be times when something doesn’t look right but, for whatever reason it has been designed that way.  In circumstances such as these I would talk it through with the designer, but ultimately I will to go with the designer’s decision. 

    The same tech editing skills can be used for crochet patterns as well as knitting patterns.  Although patterns are interchangeable these days between the English and American market, I need to bear in mind the fact that some of the terminology is different between the two types of pattern.  The main ones that spring to mind in knitting patterns are:

    English American
    Tension Gauge
    Cast On Bind On
    Cast Off Bind Off
    Stocking Stitch   Stockinette Stitch  
    Moss Stitch Seed Stitch
    Grafting Kitchener Stitch







    There are others, but I think you get the idea.  Crochet stitch names also differ between English and American patterns, so I always have my trusty conversion chart close to hand.  There are many international knitting and crochet guidelines on the internet which are invaluable when tech editing.  I use them a lot, along with my vast selection of reference books - all of which are a tech editor's friend. 

    Tech editing isn't just about checking patterns.  It also encompasses chart writing from written instructions, schematic drawing, size grading and style sheet creation.

    When all is said and done your tech editor is your pattern buddy and you will, over time, establish a friendly and trusting working relationship, both of you working towards creating the best pattern you possibly can.


  5. Top Ten List

    Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash


    We all want the same thing - to create a pattern that is accurate, complete and a joy to work from.   

    So with this in mind here is my Top Ten Check List, in no particular order, of things you should check before sending your pattern off for editing.  This top ten works for crochet patterns too.

    1.  Layout is logical and clear and the pattern style is consistent.  Make sure everything that should be in capitals is in capitals and that abbreviations are consistent.  Have you switched between "rep" and "repeat" for instance.

    2.  All of the component parts of the pattern are there and in a logical order.  For example - back, front, sleeves.  Top down socks start at the leg and toe up socks start at the toes.  If the design has an unusual construction, are the instructions clear?

    3.  All of the materials used in the pattern are listed.  Needles, crochet hooks, how many stitch markers are needed, how many buttons (if used), stitch holders, tapestry needle.  Don't forget the unusual things like pompom or tassel makers.

    4.  Check that all abbreviations listed are used in the pattern.  Don't forget special abbreviations for special stitches or techniques.  If internet links are used, make sure they work.

    5.  Tension is given for all stitches used.  If your design has various different stitches,  it could be a good idea to suggest the tension for each stitch as all stitches knit/crochet differently.

    6.  All measurements should be in both metric and imperial.  This goes for yarn weight and length and needle/hook sizes too.

    7.  Make sure you send photos to your TE to back up the pattern.  They should be clear and include close up shots of stitch patterns.  These are vital for your TE in order for them to know exactly what they are editing.

    8.  All charts and schematics are included, if used.  If there isn't a schematic, then detailed finished measurements are essential.  Do the charts match written instructions and are the chart keys correct.    Make sure all of the stitches are listed in the key.  If you use Stitchmastery for your knitted charts don't forget that when just one knit or purl stitch is used, it shows them as K or P, without the 1 after them.  This is something that should be picked up and corrected.

    9.  Make sure rows/rounds are labelled correctly.  Check that all right and wrong side rows are labelled correctly and that all rounds are rounds and rows are rows.

    10.  All finishing instructions are included.  Make sure you explain all seams that need seaming or grafting.  Does your design need blocking?  Does your hat need a pompom or your shawl need tassels?

    These are all things I have encountered when editing patterns.  All it takes is a quick 5 minute check through this list.  It will save you time and, if your tech editor charges by the hour,  money too! 

    It may also be worth considering using a style sheet.  Not only will this make your patterns consistent, it will also help you to pick up on these things before you tech editor does.....