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

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 www.knitsharelove.com or as @knitsharelove on Instagram.

Full show notes and links are at www.shinybees.com/112

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 www.shinybees.com/111

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 www.shinybees.com/110

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.'

Yes...

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 www.surfingducks.com.

Links and full show notes for this episode are at www.shinybees.com/109

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 www.shinybees.com

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

Knitting: Is it *just* knitting? Or is it more than that?

That's what we are going to be exploring today and in future episodes is how knitting transcends just being handiwork and becomes something much bigger. Today that's going to be using the Pussy Hat Project as an example. This is not a political rant episode, it's about using this case study (yes, I am a Geographer) to understand how knitting can spark change and allow people to be heard on a wider level.

In community news, I'm inviting you to join the new Facebook group - Shinybees Podcast Community. There's loads of chat going on in there about podcast stuff and knitting, Use the Facebook Groups App to avoid having the rest of the Facebook guff making your phone go. 

Big goal for this year is 1,000,000 downloads for the podcast. I hope you'll all join me in reaching this target and I'll have lots of info for you about how to make that happen.

Lastly a shoutout for 5647rhats45 for a lovely iTunes review. 

Knitting as more than craft is the topic of the chat this week and I'm pulling apart the Pussy Hat Project from a technical/case study perspective. I am staying well away from passing political comment as to my own personal views, so if you are sick of hearing about it, I hope you will still find this useful. There are lessons to be learned around the idea of knitting as more than craft and how we achieve change through the medium of knitting. For those not aware, the Pussy Hat Project aims to provide the people of the Women's March on Washington DC a means to make a unique collective visual statement, which will help activists be better heard. It also aims to provide people who cannot physically be on the National Mall a way to represent themselves and support women's rights.

Whether or not you agree with the politics of this project, there are lessons: power of a community gathered around a common aim; ability to inspire and motivate people to take part; accessibility to new crafters; creation of new connections within the project; the sheer logistical effort involved in managing a project to create and distribute 1.2 million pink hats.

In Enablers' Corner, I enable you to the Not Seen Before MKAL which starts on 31st January 2017. This is part of the Sight is Life project (and collection) which raises funds to support a facility in the DRC who conduct sight saving and restoring operations.

Show notes are at shinybees.com

Music for this episode is Adam and the Walter Boys with 'I Need a Drink'.

Direct download: Episode_105_-_Knitting_As_More_Than_Just_Craft.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 11:22am UTC

Permission. You don't need it from anyone to enjoy your hobbies, especially and most particularly if that hobby is knitting.

This week the chat is about two notions: 1) selfish knitting and 2) hiding yarn purchases from significant others. Selfish is a bad word. It has negative connotations and is not a compliment. Why, oh WHY then, do we use this to describe engaging in our hobby if the thing we are making is for the benefit of ourselves? It's utter twaddle! Nobody expects it from football players or golfers. Nobody calls them selfish for doing their own hobby for their own-flipping-benefit. Why is it an accepted thing as a knitter?

Secondly is the idea of it being a big joke to hide yarn purchases from significant others. To the extent of it being an 'amusing' sign in yarn shops. No, no, no. 

You are allowed to give yourself permission to buy whatever you want, whenever you want and knit whatever you want with it for your very own self UTTERLY UNAPOLOGETICALLY.

Also - family who think you knitting in public is antisocial (whilst they play on Facebook) - do one!

In Enabler's Corner I have a huge amount of love for Sam and his geographical knitting and travelling. 

In Active Stash Exploration, I revisit a very special skein from South Africa. It is leftovers from the Tanya's Train project. 

Show notes are on the blog at shinybees.com

Music for this episode is 'I Need a Drink' by Adam and the Waterboys.

Direct download: Episode_104_-_Your_Permission_Is_Not_Required.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 3:48pm UTC

The first show of 2017 brings the project of the year for podcast to you. This year, we're all about Active Stash Exploration. What's that you say? It's definitely not cold sheeping, that is for sure.

First up we have a quick catch up on happenings, before diving in to some news both for the Bees on the business front and for the podcast. Bees Inc is restructuring and that means we will lose some parts of the empire in order to focus on others. There is a free business group on Facebook (Business Without The Boll*cks) as well as a new online community portal that I am currently building. If you're sick of tying yourself in knots about what you 'should' be doing in your business and getting nowhere because of it, I'm the girl for you.

I also organised a business retreat in Cumbria at the end of January. There is one place left - email me to enquire.

On the pod front, I have lots of exciting stuff lined up for the year. The main project will be Active Stash Exploration, but there will also be lots of mini themes and challenges to go along with it. I have started a new Facebook group as an alternative to Ravelry which is getting less engagement in the forums due to the clunky interface. The group is Shinybees Podcast Community.

In Enabler's Corner, I am enabling you to the Brioche Challenge over in Louise Tilbrook's new group on Facebook - Everyday Knitter. If you have ever wanted to learn brioche and have been a bit intimidated, there are loads of great folks over there casting on, ripping back and trying again. If you want a go and need moral support, that is definitely the place to do it. The community is already really chatty and helpful. 

Hat Enabling this week is courtesy of Gillian Harkness of Mina Knits Designs with the Rios Rocks collection. It's a group of 6 hats designed in Malabrigo Rios and inspired by the Rio Olympics. If you prefer the more understated look, this could be the collection for you. Quick to knit (worsted weight yarn) and great for nice, semi-solid colours. My favourite is the Rio hat. Collection is available on Ravelry at £14.40.

And then we have Active Stash Exploration. This is my rally against the idea of cold sheeping and stashing down. I've tried it before and I am no good at it, chiefly because when I am told not to do something I have to spend time thinking about how to do it without flagrantly breaking the rules. I hate the idea of depriving myself of something that brings joy. Counter this again the feeling of FOMO when you go into the stash and find stuff you cannot believe you own and you can't wait to knit, but you don't have chance yet.

Active Stash Exploration is the method I will be using to kick those feelings of missing out to the kerb. It's NOT about cold sheeping - the emphasis is on active exploration of what we already have and the stories attached to the yarn. A nifty by-product of this probably will be less acquisition but the emphasis is not on that.

My theme for January is reacquaintance with what I have and thinking about which stories I want to share first. I would love to hear your stories if you decide to join me in this with the hashtag #activestashexploration and in our shiny new Facebook group.

Full show notes for this episode ate at shinybees.com

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

Direct download: Episode_103_-_Active_Stash_Exploration.mp3
Category:Knitting -- posted at: 2:00pm UTC