Shinybees - The Knitting, Comedy and Yarn Podcast

The podcast for those who like their knitting, yarn and comedy in equally large measures. Hosted by UK knitter Jo Milmine, there's also a regular Sock Surgery co-hosted with Clare Devine and Kate Read. Business minded? Enjoy the interviews with industry entrepreneurs for top tips and inspiration on making it in the yarn industry. Finally - enjoy the finest fringe knitting pattern picks that Ravelry has to offer.

The Podcasts

Where do you lose knitting time and how can you go about carving out more time to do it? In this week's episode, I talk about the idea of cutting out mindless phone scrolling time to increase your knitting time, and the associated benefits of doing so.

Also we have a news round up for the start of the month, including information about the #titsoutcollective run by Countess Ablaze (along with her new YouTube channel), the Great London Yarn Crawl from Yarn In The City, the Indie Burgh Craft Crawl in Edinburgh and Fibre East.

Full show notes and links for this episode are at

Direct download: Ep_115_-_Phone_Down_Knitting_Up.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 1:48pm UTC

Yarn Snob. For some it's worn as a badge of honour and for others, it's the worst thing in the world, but what exactly is a yarn snob?

There was (unsurprisingly) no dictionary definition for yarn snob, so I looked up both words individually to arrive at the following:

Yarn Snob noun - A person who believes that their tastes in spun thread used for knitting, weaving or sewing are superior to those of other people.

I looked far and wide to come up with 6, gusting 7 different types of yarn snob, and I'm looking for your help to get that up to a solid ten types.

In no particular order...

1) Acrylic Yarn Snob. Would rather be found face down in a pool of their own urine than knit with acrylic. 

2) Novelty Yarn Snob. May or may not embrace the acrylic but would definitely not se seen working with eyelash yarn, tinsel yarn, fun fur, pom pom yarn or any other novelty type yarn. 

(These people are missing out on a major joy of life - tinsel yarn. Ed.)

3) Indie/Hand Dyed Snob. If a real person they know hasn't sweated on or broken their back over it, they don't want to know. Machine dyed yarn is the work of satan himself.

4) Luxury Fibre Snob. They won't even knit with a 75/25 Merino/Nylon if it is hand dyed - it's cashmere, alpaca, baby camel and silk all the way here. 

5) The Trendy Name Snob. This is the artist formerly known as Wollmeise circa 2012, when people would full up brawl to get their hands on it. Back then, it was the yarn to have (current comparable: La Bien Aimee). They won't use anything that has had its jour.

6) Price Snob. Don't care what it's made from as long as it's stupidly expensive.

7)* The Confused Yarn Snob/ Yarn Swinger. Likes your luxury and hand dyed but also vocal about love for tinsel yarn. Swings all ways when it comes to yarn; doesn't like to save the love for one subset.

Do you identify with any of these? Any more you'd like to offer to get us to ten? 

Full show notes for this episode are at

Direct download: Ep_114_-_Yarn_Snobbery.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 5:58pm UTC

Dublin is the destination for this week's show. It's a new format where you can join me and (lots of) friends live-is from Woollen in Dublin. The festival took place at the end of May and you can join us there now.

There were lots of great vendors and big name teachers attending on this inaugural festival.

Full shownotes and links (there are a lot of them!) will be available at

Direct download: Ep_113_-_Woollinn_Dublin_.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 9:51pm UTC

Clare Devine of #KnitShareLove rejoins me on the podcast this week, as we catch up with her after quite a while since her Sock Surgery days on the show.

Clare is now in Australia, the country where her knitting adventure began, in a totally-unsuitable-for-knitting Broome. Now based in Brisbane, which is pretty warm, and presents its own knitting challenges.

Since her last appearance on the show, which was shortly after the adult edition of her book, Sock Anatomy, was released, she's been involved of lots of exciting projects and collaborations. She's designed her first cardigan pattern, as well as working with UK dyers Joy McMillan of The Knitting Goddess and Jess James of Ginger Twist Studios.

Recently, she's turned her attention to working with and raising the profile of home-grown talent in Australia. We briefly digress into the development of independent designers on Ravelry and the idea of training to be a designer. 

In terms of local talent, Clare recommended Circus Tonic Handmade, a former geneticist PhD turned hand dyer. She also shared a wonderful story about Tarndie, a farm around two hours west of Melbourne. She used this yarn in a project during her first stay in Oz, having been recommended it to use for a felted bag. Around seven years afterwards, she met Jools of Woollenflower, who waxed lyrical about how wonderful this yarn from Tarndie was, and how Clare must visit when she went back to Australia. After a stint working one day a week in a yarn shop in Melbourne, the owner asked if she would like to teach at an event at... you guessed it... Tarndie.

Tarndie have Polwarth sheep and have been farming for many years, The yarn is spun in New Zealand. They have also been in collaboration with Great Ocean Road Woollen Mill, which is local to them, to produce a Super Bulky yarn called The Henry. This is made from a mix of Alpaca and Wool.

There aren't many boutique yarn spinners - a lot of the clip is merino, which is sent to China for processing. Clare talked about a Gotland sheep farmer called Cheryl, who is based in Victoria. She has the only flock of Gotland sheep in Australia and breeds for diversity rather than conformity. As a result, her sheep have a wide arrange of colours in the fleece.

Clare talked passionately about the importance of educating customers as to why local and boutique yarns can be expensive, as well as why they can make great choices. She promotes these yarns by using them in her design work, and also because it allows local knitters to access the yarns, as many people like to knit the pattern with the exact yarn. She advocated being enthusiastic about yarns and  producers, as the likes of Louise Scollay has with KnitBritish, to help share these great products and knowledge with others.

Clare can be found at or as @knitsharelove on Instagram.

Full show notes and links are at

Direct download: Ep_112_-_Knit_Share_Love_with_Clare_Devine_.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 1:01pm UTC

How do we get the entire world knitting? It's a mission of mine and today we discuss the five pillars of knitter assimilation: marketing, self-belief, tools and materials, medium and motivation and access to decent resources.

Of course, this are the Shinybees Pentagon of Knitting Assimilation and I think these are the things we need to be considering if we do want knitters to take over the world. More specifically, if we want the entire world to knit. Think how awesome that would be.

Pillar one is marketing. No, it's not just for sleazy snake oil salesmen and here's why: knitting has an image problem. Every man and his dog this that knitting is for Nanas and pregnant ladies and the media and film do nothing to change that view. Everything people see is stereotyped like this and that is a big issue. 

Knitting needs to become more relevant and desirable if we want everyone to do it.

Pillar two - self belief. Sit in public and knit and you will get an array of comments like 'oh, I could never do that' and 'I tried to learn when I was a kid and I was terrible at it' and 'It looks so hard!'. Curiosity os the first step to learning, but we also need to deal with the issue of self belief in order to get people to actually try and learn the skill, instead of telling themselves repeatedly that it is too hard.

Pillar three - materials and tools. Very often, a first foray into knitting is a cheap kit with low end acrylic (not all acrylic is created equal) and bendy plastic needles. The instructions are almost always total pants and the whole thing is set up to encourage failure.

Yes, this may be cheap failure but failure is not what is needed for assimilation (see pillar two). We need to be setting newbies up with better tools and nicer yarn, to encourage continuing, and to make the end product worth it.

Pillar four is medium and motivation aka Death to the Dr Who Scarf. How many times have you seen others to have been yourself taught to knit using the Whovian method? Let's just all knit a massive boring scarf that will take forever and hope they stick at it!

Yes scarves are easy and allow for (a lot) of repetition but they are so large they are insurmountable. We need to be bringing the Shinybees Trifecta of project awesome into this: a quick win + right level of complexity + desire for finished item = knitting dreams.

Pillar five is access to decent resources. Most of the freebie videos on YouTube are crap. They are too fast, badly lit, too far away to see what is going on or lately, have an alarming array of props in there. Learning is not about perfectly styled shots; it's about getting the information across in an accessible a way as you can. We need decent resources to point newbies towards.

You can find full links and show notes at

Direct download: Ep111_-_Assmimilating_New_Knitters_.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 1:23pm UTC

Jane Murison of Yarnison joins the show this week, talking about knitwear design, fish and chips and the urban landscape as an inspiration.

Jane began designing a couple of years ago, and has several knitting patterns now, that are a homage to the post industrial landscape of Manchester, that she sees every day on her walk to work. A UX designer by profession, Jane enjoys bringing together design inspiration, techniques and the user (knitter) experience in her designs. Not one for 'quiet' yarns, she enjoys working with bold colours and neons to create striking pieces.

Her approach to design is to make things that she herself likes to wear, but struggles to find in the mainstream pattern world. This results in quite quirky and recognisable pieces that can be made as bold or as quiet as one desires, depending upon the colours chosen to make the pattern.

One of my favourite of her patterns is the Urban Hero shawl, which was inspired by the neon yellow flashes of hi-vis vests on the builders working all over the city. There is almost constant construction work, and these vests pepper the (often grey, it's Manchester) landscape with pinpricks of colour.

We discussed the juxtaposition of chevron lace, hi-vis and Batman's cape in this pattern and Jane explained how her approach has ben reflected in other designs, such as Boomtown Beanie.

Builders came up again when discussing how the domestic arts and quite traditionally male construction roles are actually very similar skills when you break them down. Plastering is, in fact, exactly the same thing as buttercream icing.

We also discussed the traditional Friday meal that is fish and chips. Eye-opening.

Jane's favourite yarnies to work with are Countess Ablaze, The Knitting Goddess, Five Moons, Riverknits and Rainbow Heirloom.

In terms of tips for embracing the crazy bright and variegated, Jane recommends pairing with a semi-solid or solid, and avoiding too much detail in the stitches, if you want the detail to be seen. Texture can sometimes work well if you are wanting to play with the colour and create unexpected pops, as she does with her Manhole Cover sock pattern.

In terms of designers that make good patterns that are suitable for pairing with variegated yarns, Jane recommends Curious Handmade's Helen Stewart and Martina Behm (Strickmich).

From her own designs, Urban Festival was specifically created to work with the variegated yarns.

You can find everything about Jane's patterns over on Ravelry and she is @Yarnison on Instagram.

Full show notes, images and links for this episode are at

Direct download: Ep_110_-_An_Interview_with_Jane_Murison_of_Yarnison.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 1:14pm UTC

Mitch of Surfing Ducks is my guest on the podcast this week, where we discuss a plethora of things that spiral slightly out of control and end somewhere around knitted, transferable 'tramp stamps.'


Mitch designs sock patterns with a particular twist; every heel flap is adorned with a quirky design. This led to the brand developing into an almost secret society under the #HiddenHeels theme. The idea is you can have these socks on, and have a heel that is usually hidden from view, but then is brought out on show at exactly the right moment. this moment may well be to secure access to some underground speakeasy with a gin urn.

Mitch is several patterns in now (more have been added since this interview was recorded a few months ago) and each time a new one is released, there is a badge to go along with it. Be one of the first to finish and share pictures of your #HiddenHeels design and collect your limited edition badge.

I don't know about you, but I want all those badges.

We also discuss how Mitch balances her design work against her demanding day job. She began her foray back into socks a couple of years ago after previously finding them difficult. A chance meeting with the lovely Christine Perry of Winwick Mum at Sirdar led to her catching the bug again, thanks to Christine's infectious enthusiasm for the medium of socks.

Mitch had also worked in customer support for a large online retailer and was the pattern support specialist. Through the experience, she was able to gather lots of knowledge and learn exactly what sort of thing trip knitters up when knitting a pattern, and has been able to bring all that to her design work. Her aim is to make knitting easy, and each of her designs adds one new technique, to ease the knitter into developing their skills in an easy feeling way.

Although her patterns look complicated, only the small heel canvas contains the colour changing. Because it is so small, it can be a great way to introduce techniques without it feeling too overwhelming. Brand new sock knitters have knit several of her patterns and had success, so if you are even a little bit intrigued, chances are you will be able to do them.

For her design work, Mitch uses Stitchmastery and Stitch Fiddler (snigger) although she also advocates Excel as useful for charts. 

All of her patterns are available via Ravelry, and there are plans to produce ebooks of the collections at a later stage. Mitch is already teaching socks knitting and would love to do more of this as her business expands.

You can find Mitch at

Links and full show notes for this episode are at

Direct download: Ep109_-_Hidden_Heels_with_Mitch_of_Surfing_Ducks.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 12:17pm UTC

Speckled yarn is the marmite of the knitting world right now. Outrageously popular, thanks to patronage by the likes of Stephen West and Andrea Mowry, speckles are so hot right now. Or are they?

A straw poll of hardcore Shinybees listeners suggested a 66/33 split between Hot and Not. A lot of people expressed speckles as being something you need to be in the mood for.

But what are speckled yarns? These are yarns that are dyed onto yarn that is a majority of one main colour, with random spots, splodges and flecks of other (often multiple) colours on top. This can be achieved using a variety of different methods, and differs from variegated yarn in that the colours are more randomly spaced and generally shorter lengths.

Who are your favourite speckled yarn dyers and designers who create great patterns for these tricky to use yarns? 

Also in this episode I give you a quick catch up of where I have been hiding for a year and also what you can expect from the podcast going forward.

Spoiler: I am in camp Not :)

Direct download: Ep108_-_Speckled_Yarn_-_So_Hot__Or_So_Not_.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 3:03pm UTC

Where sh*t tea, tray bake and exposure collide!

Lyndsey aka Countess Ablaze joins me this week for a chat about issues facing us crafters and business owners. A recent recipient of an offer of 'exposure' as payment, along with some fairly misogynistic stereotyping of her customer base, The Countess decided to take a stand against this (and raise some actual money for charity in her own, imitable way) by creating some new colour ways.

In this episode we discuss the thorny issue of 'exposure' as a payment for our craft, time and expertise. Is it ever acceptable? Where does the balance lie when offering this as an exchange of value? Why does it seem to be so rife amongst the creative industries and is it a peculiarly female thing?

Next up is misogyny as an everyday blight. Lyndsey shares some examples of when she has encountered this working in her business, including the entirely false notion that her husband bankrolls her little craft hobby business. Spoiler: he doesn't.

We briefly cover the deeply offensive idea that anyone in the North would drink sh*t tea.

Finally, we discuss the use of charity causes to excuse bad behaviour, and as a tag on excuse for self-serving events or initiatives, rather than having them as a focus.

We wrap up with her reply and salute to this - two new colour ways called Sh*t Tea and Tray Bake and If I Want Exposure I'll Get My T*ts Out - with £3 from the sale of each skein being donated to Women's Aid.

Direct download: EP107-_Sht_Tea_and_Tray_Bake_with_Countess_Ablaze_-_08032018_16.38.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 5:04pm UTC

Who likes Angel Delight?

This week's episode is definitely on the delight end of the pudding scale as opposed to a seven tier unicorn cake and that's often a good thing. It's a low tariff canter and catch up with no big questions asked or answered and instead we have some light and fluffy as air fun.

In community news, I invite you to come and join the #shinybeescolourworkchallenge  over in the Facebook group and try your hand at some stranded knitting. If knitting with more than one colour has been intimidating to you in the past, now's the time to cast that aside and give it a crack. There will be helpful hints and tips posted in the group throughout the month and the occasional Shetland Pony in Fair Isle. Obvs.

In Enabler's Corner I enable you to two not quite yarny but definitely fun (depends on your version of fun for the latter, but I like it) things to try. First up we have the delightfully witty Amy Nolan of Ginger Rainbow who does the most fantastic illustrations and doodles. She's very witty and manages to bring situational humour out in her quirky drawings. I am a big fan. Secondly, we have #hotelroomview, the fun adventures of working on the road and seeing a lot of hotel rooms, hosted by the wonderful Bexx. It really shouldn't be that exciting or gripping, but there is something about these hotel room views that has captured my imagination. It's a bit like looking at house porn on Rightmove.

In Wippin' Piccadilly, I have finished Helen Stewart's Spindrift Shawl and the Everyday Brew by Clare Devine. I'm never knitting with black yarn again. Future/fantasy knit searching has taken me to the Prism hat by Tin Can Knits which is part of the Mad Colour collection which was released in August. This versatile pattern gives oodles of opportunity for creating a one-of-a-kind hat, and is really more like three patterns in one. Also catching my eye from this collection is 1999, a sweater with a masculine lace (that's a thing) panel down the front. The collection itself comprises 16 patterns and is available from Ravelry for $21.60 USD.

Shownotes for this episode are at

Music is by Adam and the Walter Boys with 'I Need A Drink.'

Direct download: Episode_106_-_Colourwork_Challenge.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 5:31pm UTC