Article

How to Not Be Annoying on Instagram – Part II

I decided to wrote Part II “THE REVENGE” of my original ”How Not to Be Annoying on Instagram” because, since I wrote the last one, I’ve been inundated with messages with examples of the GALL of some people on social media.
I’m not sure why, but some people think that because ou are a small business you somehow OWE (yes, I am aware of the number of capitalised words I’ve been using here) them advice or… Something.
The thing is, it’s very easy to come across as tetchy or overly-sensitive when describing some of the irritating messages that small business owners often recieve. For example, if you get a message saying “could you show me how to write a listing up on Etsy” or “show me how make that XYZ” you’re effectively asking for someone to show them your business model or to show them – a stranger, using your own time, for free – something you have spent hundreds of hours working out for yourself. It’s not the same as someone asking what hairspray you use, or where you bought that amazing jacket for your kid, it’s bigger than that. Still don’t get it? Maybe this list can help. BAM! This article does contain some swearing, so best to avoid if you dry heave at naughty words.

“Could you kindly tell me how you make that? How much yarn do you use? How did you set up your shop? Where do you buy your equipment, please?”

Could you tell me how to make that? Buy the pattern and you’ll see.
How much yarn did you use? Buy the pattern and you’ll see.
How did you set up your shop? Long nights, low pay and surviving on the preserved blood of my enemies and exes.
Where did you buy your equipment? I carved them out of the bones of my enemies and exes.

Please be aware that the questions above are VERY rarely asked in that way. They are normally a single noun (PATTERN?) or extremely direct question (WHERE DID YOU BY THAT?) which adds to the irritation. However, even if these are asked in a nice way, I don’t share this stuff with people I am not friends with.

In short, please don’t feel anxious about being cagey about skill and knowledge sharing with total strangers.

“I was wondering if you could give me pointers on how to improve my sales and build my following”.

Innocent question, but don’t be surprised if the person you’re asking doesn’t respond how you’d expect. There are entire careers dedicated to this stuff (hello marketing executives) and often small businesses don’t have a specific model that they follow. To be honest though, even if they did, this is a pretty broad question to ask and something that takes a LOT of answering. Like, it’s a huge ask and something people work at understanding sales tactics for years and might not want to share. It’s personal, involves hard work and years of learning and the person you’re asking most probably had to learn the hard way themselves. If you’re considering asking these type questions to a small business, think about how you could learn yourself rather than expecting free knowledge. It’s actually more fun that way. Learning is FUN.

Regarding how to get followers? Be yourself, offer quality, don’t copy and for GAWD sake don’t bloody buy them.

EX-POH-SHA!

Okay. Deep breath for this one, because it’s probably the biggest fuckery you can come across on social media right now (apart from bullying, but I’ll be writing about that very soon)! When you are a designer or maker in your chosen craft area it is the same as any other job, right? You perform an action or task and you get paid for it. Let’s compare it to the real world. Some jobs pay better, some pay worse, some don’t pay because they are internships and you are trying to get a foot in the door… Still shit but you know about that when you apply for the job. In some ways, running a small business on your own is harder than a 9-5 job because we have to be ON IT all the time, at weekends, updating social media, all of those things you have to do to stay relevant. It’s exhausting. I digress, but you know what I mean.

So imagine the gumption of people expecting you to do design work and making of things for no money with the only compensation being that funny new thing they call ‘exposure’. Nope, I don’t mean dying of the cold in a flimsy tent in mid-Feb by the side of the M62, but this baffling concept of “you work and I give you emptiness in exchange, that ok hun? xx”.
This is offensive when random people drop into your DMs asking if they can have a free hoodie, weaving, hank of yarn, wax melt or crocheted item for nothing and expect you to be all happy that they’re going to post a blurry photo of it on their rubbish TikTok account, but when bigger names and companies ask people to work for free and create brand new work just so their designs can be added to a blog, subscription box or anything, there lies the problem.

The solution to this is to know your worth. It doesn’t matter if you are freelance, a ‘newbie’, have 100 or 100k followers, it’s all irrelevant. If you work, you need to be getting money or at least something you are happy with in exchange. Sometimes both, please. This can be a company using you as an influencer to market their products and they give you a lot of yarn, an incentive in the form of pattern revenue, etcetera or an agreement you come to with an individual, but there must be an exchange you are satisfied with. I have heard some people say that they’re okay with doing things for free if it means that bigger accounts share their work and help them get ‘out there’. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I have never heard of a designer or small business becoming successful because a random influencer shared a few of their products or put one of their pattterns on a blog for a bit.

Like I said to a friend the other day, exposure doesn’t pay your phone bill, sis.

“It would be great if you could film a quick tutorial on how to work that stitch.”

Is this one to genuinely get annoyed by? I’m not sure, but this is mostly irritating when the person asking is expecting you to do this for them off the cuff, seeing doing something like this as a ‘quick’ thing and hasn’t bothered to do a quick Google about and research for themselves. Personally, I am starting to involve photo tutorials of more complex stitches and techniques in my patterns, and a lot of designers include them in their paid patterns, but to me this type of question screams entitlement.

My goodness Mavis, I could go on and on, but I need to save matrial for the next one… There will absolutely be a part three of this coming soon, but in the meantime, feel free to message me about all the Instagram things that grind your gears over on my Instagram page @emmaknitty!

Article

Crochet Tutorial · Slip Stitch Rainbow Wall Hanging

Can you remember what daily, boring, routine-based life was like before Covid-19 hit us all? Can you remember the school run? Can you remember having ‘normal’ problems, like the supermarket being sold out of your dog’s usual food, or your daughter refusing to get out of the bath? I do, and it all seems small fry compared to the devastaing panic and worry that millions of people are around the world are suffering these days.
My family and I live in Spain and we are just ending our second week in isolation. We are young(ish), healthy and are privileged. We have a large detached house and garden. We can work(ish) online. We have a car with a full tank and can access the supermarket, albeit individually. Privilege matters at times like this and we are counting our blessings even though the worry can be overwhelming. It makes you want to go to bed early and sleep for a week, but we can at least go out in the garden and breathe the fresh air.

Police are everywhere and people in hazmat suits are disinfecting the streets where we used to stroll about. The other month my husband and I went for a random lunch just as this was starting to kick off. We chatted about how this would probably all be over in the next few days and the tabloids would get tired of it and things wouldn’t escalate. My goodness, how wrong we were.

I apologise if you’re here just for the craft tutorial, but I can’t get on with telling about that without giving you a bit of context. The quarantine situation has become the new normal and it would be insensitive not to address it and pretend that everything is okay. That’s not my style as a maker and, well, person.

So, let me tell you about this project. For many, rainbows represent hope, positivity and a brighter future. My feed has been chock-full of beautiful rainbow crafts recently, people doing gorgeous, rainbow-themed activites with their family and putting them up in their windows to spread good vibes. I’m not a rainbowy person, but I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and create a sweet crochet tutorial for those of you who need a quick, relaxing and pretty project.

Slip Stitch Rainbow Wall Hanging

This little rainbow hanging is a lovely way of showing solidarity and hope during difficult times and uses up scraps – always a bonus! For this design you will crochet a small circle in super chunky wool yarn, create some fluffy clouds using silky bouclé yarn and finish off by slip stitching an adorable rainbow in the shades you choose. This project also has a lovely ‘punch’ needle’ effect which adds a touch of texture and bulk to any interior.

Level: Confident Beginner.

You will need: A ball of We Are Knitters The Wool in ‘Natural’ (or other super chunky 100% wool yarn), a small amount of bulky/chunky yarn in three colours (I used Deramores Studio Chunky in ‘Seashell’, ‘Salmon’ and ‘Mustard’), small amount of white super chunky/bulky bouclé yarn (I used Rico Design Fashion Inuit in Creme), a small amount of Rico Lamé in gold (or dk weight lamé yarn) a 15mm & 6.5mm crochet hook, a clip stitch marker, scissors, a yarn needle.

Skills (US terminology): Chain stitch, slip stitch, single crochet, basic embroidery skills.

Method:

Using the super chunky/bulky wool yarn, Chain four and slip stitch into the first chain to join and form a circle. Chain one (mark this stitch with a clip stitch marker to avoid confusion later) and make seven single crochets into the center of the circle. Slip stitch into the first chain one to join (eight stitches).

Chain one, remembering to mark the stitch as before, and work a single crochet into the same stitch. Work two single crochets into every stitch around. Slip stitch into the first chain stitch as before (16 sts). Now you’ve completed the circle that you’ll decorate.

Break your yarn and fasten off, weaving in your ends on the right side. For this project the wrong side will be visible to give a different, more bumpy effect.

Making sure that the ‘wrong side’ of your circle is facing up, thread your bouclé yarn onto your yarn needle and sew on some small clouds next to each other, making sure to keep them even and with a gap between (see photos).

Using long stitch, carefully embroider the clouds, making sure to fill up any gaps that may appear. When you’re happy, break your yarn and weave in the ends on the reverse side.

Now we’ll make the rainbow. On top of one of the clouds, insert your hook from front to back and pull up a loop of yarn, using one of the three shades of chunky yarn you have chosen. Insert the hook again into a space near this stitch, yarn over and pull through your work. Pull though the loop on your hook to complete the stitch. Careful with your tension! Try and keep your stitches not too tight and not too loose to avoid puckering your work. If you make a mistake just pull the working yarn to undo your stitches and start afresh.

Continue in this way until you have formed the first arc of your rainbow. Break yarn. Repeat with the two other contrasting colours and fasten off, weaving in or knitting the ends on the back of your work as neatly as possible.

Now for the hanging thread, thread the gold lamé yarn through the outer v of one of the top stitches from front to back. Thread through the next stitch, leaving the two free ends on the back of your work and knot firmly together, making sure that your hanging loop is big enough and hasn’t puckered in.

If you like you can sew a backing onto your project, especially if giving it as a gift.

Display your rainbow hanging in a window, in a bedroom, or anywhere you need a touch of positivity and love! If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, please feel free to share in on social media, tagging me @emmaknitty so I can share your work!

This tutorial is dedicated to the tireless work of healthcare workers the world over and those who have lost their lives to Covid-19.

Article

The Goldfish Scarf · Free Crochet Pattern

Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places, but I’ve always found it difficult to find decent mid-season scarves for kids! They’re either super thick and heavy duty for deep winter, staticky (spelling?) and nasty, or, well, they don’t exist. I’ve been after something soft and squishy and light enough for early Spring for my daughter to wear (but also sturdy enough to deal with very cold days), so I decided to design one myself! Wow. Knitting and crochet designer in designing a pattern shocker!

Crocheted using two strands of yarn held double – one variegated cotton and the other baby acrylic – makes for a really squidgeable tact, and combined with the beauty of moss stitch and adorable pompoms, this will be a scarf your little one won’t want to take off in a hurry. As the name suggests, the glorious mustards and blues of this beautiful Katia Candy baby cotton combined with the softness of the muted blue Stylecraft Bambino yarn makes for a very Goldfishy look!

This scarf is an ideal make for those chilly pre-Spring days.

The Goldfish Scarf

You will need: A 5.5mm crochet hook, 50g of variegated cotton yarn (I used Katia Candy in 673), 50g of baby acrylic yarn (I used Stylecraft Bambino in Vintage Blue), around 20g of Paintbox Yarns Simply Chunky (or similar) in Mustard Yellow, a yarn needle, an XS pompom maker and scissors.

Skills & abbreviations (US terms): Chain stitch (ch st), single crochet, weaving in ends, making a pompom.

Measurements: 113cm/44″ by 12cm/4″.

Method:

Ch 20.

Row 1: Sc in the 4th chain from hook, *ch one, skip next ch, sc in next ch, repeat from * to the end of the row.

Row 2: Chain two, turn, sc in ch one space from previous row, *ch one, skip one sc, sc in next ch one space, repeat from * to end.

Continue repeating row two until your piece measures 113cm/44″.

Break yarn, pull through the remaining st to secure and weave in all ends. Make four pompoms for the corners. I made two using the chunky mustard acrylic yarn, one using a strand of mustard yarn and Stylecraft Bambino in Vintage Blue held double, and one using just Stylecraft Bambino in Vintage Blue. You can of course use any colours your prefer.

Did you enjoy this pattern? Don’t forget to share your makes by tagging me @emmaknitty on Instagram. I love to share your projects!

Alex Knitty can always be relied upon for some quality posing and facial expressions!

Article

The Mindful Granny Blanket CAL

In Spanish, ‘cal’ means limescale – there’s a fun fact for you! I doubt that’ll help you when you’re next on your holibobs in Magaluf. In crochet circles however ‘CAL’ (in caps) means Crochet-a-long which is far more fun and doesn’t need Calgon or Cillit Bang. I fear I may be rambling, but what I’m trying to say in a very backward way is…

I’m starting a CAL, guys!

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of CALs (and KALs for knitting). It’s such a wonderful way to bond with other crafters, get that crojo/knitjo moving and create something special that you can look back on with great memories. For my own I wanted my first CAL to represent what ‘Emmaknitty’ stands for; mindfulness and caring for your mental health, simplicity of design, sustainability and – I’m being brutally honest – projects that you don’t need to engage your brain too much with!

So, here’s the Mindful Granny Blanket CAL! I have to say that I wracked my brains for a decent name, especially one that lends itself well to that all important hashtag, but this was the best I could do. Oops. I must work on my succintness.

If you’re reading this you’ve probably come over from Instagram (Hai!) and would like to know all the details, things you’ll need, etc…

The idea

The primary purpose of this CAL is to have a project to work on that is something to look forward to, is relaxing, makes you feel calm, joyful and happy. I want everyone who takes part to love every moment that you spend creating your blanket, every colour you choose to give you a flutter of excitement, every colour transition to fill you with love and remind you of the reasons why you crochet.

I chose a simple granny square blanket because it’s something most crocheters know how to make and it’s a classic design that’s easy to adjust to any size you like.

How to make it

Working from the center out, you’ll make a standard granny square, increasing at each corner, until the blanket is as large as you want. You won’t need to weave in any ends or sew anything/crochet 2000 squares together, just crochet for as long as you like until you’re happy with the size! We’ll be using yarn scraps/yarn that you’d like to destash, working from a large ball that we’ll make by connecting all the yarn together.

The rules

· You’ll need to know how to make a simple granny square.

· You won’t need to buy any yarn or purchase any pattern to take part.

· You’ll need to use several balls of yarn in the same weight in colours you love. Spend time choosing shades that make you go “wow”, combining them in a way that really makes you happy!

· You’ll need to use yarn that’s already in your stash and of the same weight. Avoid buying yarn especially for this blanket, as it’s supposed to be a destash/sustainable project. You can use any composition you like.

· You’ll need to connect all the balls of yarn you choose using the magic knot method, then wind them all together into one large ball that you will work from.

…That’s all!

Feel free to start as soon as you like, and there’s no deadline or finishing date for this. The emphasis is on bringing people together, getting inspired, being happy and calming your mind. Oh, and using up those pesky yarn scraps.

If tou take part, please tag me @emmaknitty on Instagram and use the hashtag #MINDFULBLANKETCAL!

I really hope you love this CAL!

How To · Knitting pattern · Tutorial

Squidlet Newborn Sweater · Free Knitting Pattern

Knitting garments is one of my favourite things to do, but I sometimes get a bit put off by the hard work invoved! Aside from the actual time-consuming knitting part, working out the sizing and paying special attention to stitch count, gauge and all that jazz can really make me stress out. I told you I was a lazy knitter! However, when my bestie told me she was pregnant, I just new that I had to make something extra-special and unique, and the pattern for the Squidlet Newborn Sweater was born!

What I love most about this sweater – apart from it being cute and the colour palette – is that it’s very simple to knit, takes very little time and is wonderful for newbie knitters who want to expand their skills quickly. Plus it fits babies from newborn all the way up to six months, so it’ll last and last. What’s not to love? Feel free to adapt this pattern if you’re a more advanced knitter – you can leave out the stripes if you wish or make it longer at the body section – but this pattern will give you all the basics you need.

All measurements are approximate and will depend on your tension, but feel free to knit as many rounds as you like on the body section for a longer, more relaxed look. Why not make it into a sweater dress?

Above are all the measurements you need. It’s always a good idea to keep a tape measure with you (or a measuring app) to keep track of lengths and widths as you go. Nobody wants to unravel tentacle-like sleeves that you’ve got carried away knitting whilst bingeing on a series!

You will need:

  • 100g of white DK/Worsted/8 ply weight yarn, 15-20g each of four other DK weight yarns in different colours. I used a mixture of wool/acrylic and cotton/acrylic blend yarns for the stripes and a 100% acrylic yarn for the white sections. I recommend using 100% wool or a wool blend yarn for this project, only using cotton if it is blended with acrylic or wool.
  • A pair of 3.5mm & 5.00mm 16″ circular needles, a pair of 3.00mm & 4.00mm 9″ circular needles (or a long circular needle for the magic loop method or DPNs. Instructions are given for working with 9″ needles).
  • Four stitch markers, one in a different design or colour to indicate the beginning of the round.
  • A tape measure, scissors, a yarn needle, two 30cm scraps of waste yarn (the thinner the better).

Gauge: 19 stitches, 27 rounds to 10cm square.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced Beginner (See below for skills needed).

You will need to know:

The long-tail and ‘thumb’ cast on, Cast/bind off, simple Fair Isle (knitting with two colours), knit stitch, purl stitch, slipping stitches purlwise, kfb (knit front and back) increase, using circular needles, picking up stitches, changing colours, the invisible join in the round. It’s also a good idea to know how to steam block (if using acrylic yarn) or wet block for natural fibres.

Notes:

If you are not comfortable knitting Fair Isle, you don’t have to! Simply change colours the regular way instead of using the technique I have used. The result will be almost identical.

As this pattern uses more than one colour, the different colours are referred to as colour one (white), colour two (yellow), colour three (light pink), colour four (dark pink), and colour five (blue/green). These colours may differ on your project depending on the shades you have chosen, so it’s worth making a note of your colours before you start. This can avoid mess ups!

Remember it’s always better to cast on and bind off loosely. If you are a particularly tight knitter, consider casting on your stitches onto a needle one size bigger (so a 4.5mm needle in this case) and then slip the stitches onto the 3.5mm afterwards.

You don’t have block a finished sweater, but it makes it look 200x better. I always recommend doing it to add a great, neat finish that evens your stitches out. Steam blocking is recommended for man-made fibres, but remember to hold your iron at least 20cm away from the garment to avoid melting.

Method:

  • Cast on 55 stitches on the 3.5mm needles. Join using the invisible join method, leaving 54 stitches. Place a marker to indicate the beginning of your round.
  • knit one, purl one (1×1 rib) for four rounds, or for 2cm. This is the collar of your sweater.
  • Change to the 5.00mm needles by slipping all stitches purlwise.
  • Knit four rounds plain (knit every stitch around).

Now we’re going to place the markers that will indicate where we need to increase and form the raglan part of the sweater. Remember to use markers that are the same colour or style and different from your beginning of round marker.

  • From the beginning of the round, knit 11, place marker, knit 16, place marker, knit 11, place marker, knit 16 to end of round.
  • Change to colour two by knitting one stitch in colour one, one stitch colour two.

The next step will be known as your increase round (in bold). It will be referred to as your increase round from now on, so follow this step whenever you see ‘increase round’ in the pattern.

  • From beginning of round, kfb (knit into front and back of stitch), knit until two stitches before raglan marker, kfb, knit one, slip marker, kfb*, repeating this until your reach the beginning of round marker, This pattern will form your raglan increases. Knit one round plain.
  • Work an increase round followed by a plain knit round three times (six rounds).
  • Change to colour three by knitting one stitch in colour two, one stitch in colour three.
    Work an increase round followed by a plain knit round three times (six rounds).
    Change to colour four by knitting one stitch in colour three, one stitch in colour four.
    Work an increase round followed by a plain knit round three times (six rounds).
    Change to colour three by knitting one stitch in colour four, one stitch in colour five.
    Work an increase round followed by a plain knit round three times (six rounds).
    Change back to colour one by knitting one stitch in colour five, one stitch in colour one
  • You are now back to colour one and have worked 24 increase/raglan rounds. You should have 142 stitches on your needles, working out as 38 stitches on the body sections (front and back) and 33 stitches on the sleeve sections. Your raglan increases should measure approximately 11cm. If it doesn’t, no worries! Just work another round or so of increases separated by a plain knit round until it does. If your increases measure a bit more than 12cm that’s also fine, it’ll just mean that there will be a little extra growing room around the sleeves and that’s a good thing.

Now comes the trickiest bit: separating the sleeves. Here we go…

From the beginning of the round, slip the first 33 sleeve stitches onto scrap yarn and tie a knot. Cast on five stitches using the thumb method. Remove the raglan markers as you go, but keep the beginning of round marker in place. Knit across the next 38 body stitches, slip the next 33 sleeve stitches onto scrap yarn as before and tie a knot. Cast on five stitches and knit across the remaining 38 body stitches as you did previously. You should now be at the beginning of the round and have successfully separated the sleeves. Have a glass of wine at this point!

Now lets work the body section…

  • Knit every round plain (knit every stitch for 33 rounds. We’ve almost finished the body – woo!
  • Change back to your 3.5mm needles and knit one, purl one for five rounds. This is the hem.
  • Change back to the 5.00 mm needles by slipping every stitch purlwise (like we did at the collar) and bind/cast off loosely. Using a larger needle means that the hem will be slightly stretchier and less tight, great for slipping on and off a baby’s wriggling body!

We need to knit the sleeves now, so grab your 9″ 4.00mm needles and we shall carry on.

  • Slip all the 38 stitches held on the scrap yarn onto your 9″ needles (or onto longer needkes for magic loop, or DPNs) and knit across all the stitches.
  • When you reach the underarm section, pick up three stitches, place a stitch marker, pick up two stitches. You have no picked up and added the five stitches you cast on earlier. Knit until your sleeve measures 23cm from cast on edge (top of collar). Slip all stitches onto your 3.00mm 9″ needle and knit one, purl one every stitch for five rounds. Slip all stitches onto your 4.00mm 9″ needle once again and bind off.

Repeat the above section for the second sleeve.

To finish, sew up any holes on the underarm area of the sweater – don’t worry, this is normal when knitting raglan sweaters – and weave in all ends carefully and securely. I always follow this game-changing guide by Purlsoho when weaving in my ends.

And that’s your sweater. You’ve done it! Now to make 20 more of them…

I really hope you enjoyed this wordy pattern and found it useful! Don’t forget to tag me @emmaknitty of Instagram if you tried this sweater, and use the hashtag #squidletsweater to share your work.