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10 Crafty Questions · Tiam / Knit Safari

Starting from well, NOW, every month I’ll be interviewing some of my favourite crafters, makers and shakers that really light up my feed every time I see their designs. This month I’ve been fortunate enough to get to chat with one of my absolute favourite designers, the wonderful Tiam of Knit Safari.

When I opened my Instagram account, Tiam was one of the first designers I followed. I just loved (and still love) her modern, chunky designs, stylish garments and honest approach to making and motherhood – perfection! Whether it’s her craft process, morning commute or beautiful travels around her native New Zealand that she’s posting about, it’s always a treat to stay up to date and follow this talented garment-making goddess! Today Tiam and I chat flabby bits, shoving yarn into garden sheds and the living nightmare that is frogging mohair yarn… The horror!

Tiam, when did you first realise that knitting (and crochet) design was ‘your thing’?

My mum taught me how to knit and crochet (and sew!) when I was really young, and I always dabbled in crafty things. After a long break from anything yarn related, I was at a really stressful job and was finding it difficult to stop thinking about work in the evenings. I had also recently moved back to the UK and brought some peach mohair and knitting needles from my mum’s house with me. I just started knitting – no pattern, the wrong size needles, I didn’t even sketch out what I wanted to make. I just started knitting. The focus shifted from worrying about the day ahead to thinking about how to solve my next knitting conundrum. Do I remember how to cast off? How do you shape a neckline? Is this going to fit? It didn’t matter, because it was something different to my 9-5 to think about, and at that time that’s what I needed. The peach mohair jumper was a giant failure. Too dense, a weird shape, made me look like a blob and it was insanely scratchy. So I frogged it. If you have ever unravelled mohair, you know that’s not an easy task. Long story short, that was over 10 years ago, and I basically haven’t put down the yarn since!

You’re a mum and all of us parents know how hard it can be to balance parenting with crafting and designing. How do you manage your time in order to find moments in the day to run Knit Safari?

I use a project management tool for my longer term Knit Safari goals, plus I write a to do list in my notes app every Sunday night for the week ahead for my day-to-day life, from housework and food prep to social media content and pattern development, and try to focus on those tasks that day (but also not beat myself up when I don’t tick it all off!) Some days, I get nothing done. Other days, I’m super productive and tick everything off. It’s always a juggling act, and I’m still learning how to balance mum-me with yarn-me.

What’s been your proudest moment as a designer?

I pitch ideas to magazines and publications constantly, and a design kept getting rejected. Lockdown happened in the U.K., and I had a gap in my project calendar, so I decided to just do it. The response has been absolutely incredible and has made me realise that I need to back myself more!

I really love seeing your experimental makes pop up on the feed – your loopy cardigan is dreamy – but have you ever had any times where you’ve had a good idea for a project in your head that didn’t turn out the way you wanted in real life?

Well to be honest, not since my peach mohair saga! I pin loads of ideas on various Pinterest boards constantly from shapes to colour trends to stitches, I sketch things and draw size schematics before starting a project (ok not always…) and I don’t tend to unravel things because it’s all mapped out at the start. I learnt from my transgressions – frogging mohair was the kick up the butt I needed!

Do you ever suffer from ‘crafter’s block’? How do you get the inspiration back when it hits?

Definitely, we all do. Especially if I’m submitting to a publication and the moodboard and brief is too vague or too specific. I always go to a “palate cleanser” like some knit socks, to let ideas bubble about in the background. Sometimes, not thinking directly about a thing helps you figure our that thing!

Are there any knitting/crochet skills that you’re yet to master?

I have tried everything (I think!) but haven’t done much Tunisian Crochet, and I have to really focus to do intarsia on my knitting machine so now that I don’t have time to focus, that isn’t something I’m doing! 

My husband can best be described as ‘baffled in a supportive way’ when it comes to how he feels about my yarn and making addiction! How does Mr. Safari deal with the mountains of yarn in your house and does he know how to knit?

Yarnia (my stash) is in the “chalet” (our garden shed!) so it’s sort of hidden away, in giant plastic tubs. Sometimes I’ll get a bunch of yarn support deliveries all at once and he raises a brow, but he is super duper supportive and has made some design suggestions recently that have made things go from blah to wow.

Whats your favourite yarn composition to work with? How about a yarn type that makes you see red?

I love all types of yarn! I’ve seen some rose and mint fibre recently that looks fun to use, but I don’t know how to spin my own yarn so that’s out of the picture for me right now.

Regarding social media, how important is it to be yourself? Do you think sharing your real-life persona is important when running a brand or should us designers put a lid on it and focus on the crafting?

For me, personally, it’s another balancing act! Do I pick the most flattering photos for the grid that don’t show my undereye bags or grey hairs or flabby bits? Of course! Do I also share the explosion of toys, the after-exercise schvitz, or the non-yarn things I do in stories? Absolutely. 

Okay, for the last question we’ve got a bit of a Desert Island Knits situation: which four crafty bits & bobs would you need if you were stranded on an island Wilson and Tom Hanks style?

Oh… hmmm… some circular knitting needles, some good scissors, a crochet hook, (maybe 6-8mm?) and I can’t think of a fourth! Maybe a giant bale of cotton/silk blend yarn? Like enough to knit some glam tropical island outfits while I wait to be rescued. Would that be allowed? 🙂

...Definitely!

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Tiam!

Don’t forget to follow Knit Safari over on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and shop amazing patterns over on their website.

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Essential Tips for Newbie Knitters

Let’s be real. A lot of crafters find knitting difficult, annoying, impossible, weird, clunky… You name it. I’ve heard crocheters say they ‘hate’ knitting and can’t get their head round it, as well as people saying that they really love the way it looks, but the process makes them feel so cack-handed that they end up giving up after a few rows. I’d wager that all over the world there are drawers heaving under the weight of half-finished knitting projects, started with a lot of love and determination, but trashed for one reason or another. RIP, beautiful semi-knits!


I get it, though. My social media handle is Emmaknitty for a reason. Knitting was a craft that had always interested me – especially as my great-grandmother was a master knitter and I always heard tales of how amazing she was at knitting socks and all manner of wonderful things – but it wasn’t plain sailing at the beginning for me at all.

My first knitting memory (back in the olden days of 2008) wasn’t some calming, mindful experience looking like a cool We Are Knitters ad… Oh no. I actually threw the project across the room (like the short-tempered, snarling Scorpio I am) and stuffed it away, hoping never to see it again. I say project, but I mean that it was basically a floppy, uneven rag of garter stitch. A few months later however I decided to try again (like the determinded, pig-headed Scorpio I am) and found myself ‘getting it’. The rest is history.

I often get asked on social media how to get better at knitting. The truth is, there’s no straight answer to that – heckers, is there ever in life? – but I do have an arsenal of helpful tips that will definitely help you out as a new knitter. I’m not going to teach you how to knit or work stitches or anything like that – there are hundreds of people who do it way better than I ever could – but this is a list of hints that I hope will make things a bit smoother for you on your two-needle journey. Ready? Let’s go!

You won’t manage anything without patience

It’s easier said than done, but like most things in life, patience gets you everywhere. If you are starting to knit as a crocheter, the slowness of it will probably be a big factor in you stopping knitting altogether. Crochet is notoriously fast and satisfying, so if you’re used to finishing a crocheted scarf in an hour, the idea of a knitted one taking a week will make your teeth itch, and not like bad-quality acrylic yarn does. If you find yourself getting impatient and annoyed with your knitting, put it down and come back to it another day. Don’t force the process or you’ll only learn to hate it.

Allocate calm time to knit

When you are learning something new, it goes without saying that peace, quiet and time to concentrate are paramount. Give yourself an hour a day in a quiet place where you can’t be interrupted (not when the kids are running riot and your husband is asking you for the 20th time where you put his iPhone charger) to really sit and enjoy the process.

Don’t bother with patterns at the start

One of the things I hear the most from frustrated newbie knitters is “Why are the patterns so confusing? They’re impossible to understand!” and well, I know! Not being bitchy, but when I started to crochet I thought the same thing, you just swap a hdc blo with a kfb – it’s all a confusing new language that you have to learn…
My first reaction to anyone who says that is, “well, why are you following a pattern when you’ve been knitting for a week?”. At the beginning you need to cast on and off, knit and purl and perfect those four things. I shouldn’t say this as designing patterns for beginners is my bread and butter, but the last thing you should be doing when you’re learning to knit is grappling with abbreviations. The best thing to do is work small searches of stitches until you’re happy and ready to move on. Unless you’ve managed to find a picture-based pattern designed especially for beginners, you’re running before you can walk. Get on YouTube, browse tutorials for the basics and worry about patterns later on.

Choose the right yarn and needles

Go big or go home! The last thing you should be doing as a new knitter is faffing about with fine-weight yarn and teeny needles. Choose the chunkiest wool or acrylic yarn you can find and some wood or bamboo needles and start from there. The bulkier the yarn, the easier it is to see you stitches, the faster the process is and the sooner you can finish your project. Why wood or bamboo needles and not metal or plastic? Well, wood and bamboo help the yarn ‘stick’ and your stitches less likely to drop off the needle. Also, avoid very long needles as they can be another obstacle.
Yarn wise, wool and acrylic are excellent choices for beginners as they are forgiving, and in the case of acrylic, cheap and in a huge array of colours.

Knit a rectangle

You can do so much with a rectangle, and it’s the easiest thing to knit, like, whoa. Everyone makes scarves when they start knitting, but a simple rectangle can be turned into a blanket (such a good pick up, put down project), a bag (by seaming the sides, adding a zip and knitting a long, thin rectangle for a strap) or, once you’ve learnt the basics, even a modern floor cushion like my easy The Bubu Mini Ottoman! If you want to keep it even simpler, by knitting a small rectangle you can make coasters or washcloths.

Perfect the basics before moving forward

Don’t push yourself. There’s no point in attempting more complex techniques like increases or changing colours until you’re feeling 100% speedy and confident about the famous four techniques I mentioned earlier on. Get your knitting, purling, casting on and casting off down to a T and then move on. Piling too many skills on yourself will only make you feel frustrated and throwing your knitting, like me back in 2008. Not a good look.

Understand what knitting actually is

Do you know what a knit stitch looks like? How about a purl one? Do you know the differences between knitting with cotton yarn compared to wool, for example? How about the history of knitting? All these things may seem silly when you’re starting out, but learning about knitting beyond the actual process of making an item is all part of the experience and might peak your interest! Knowing what the stitches look like and the different types of yarn is essential, but it is fun and motivating to get to know elements of the importance of knitting in culture and the wider world.

Get some books

Investing in a few good knitting books will help you get to grips with the theory and generally give you a reference guide when you need to check a stitch, refresh your memory regarding a technique or simply just enjoy some relevant bedtime reading whilst you’re learning. Everything is digital nowadays and tutorials can be found instantly online, but sometimes just flipping through a book old-style can be satisfying and even more useful! There are a lot of knitting books on the market, so take a while to browse and invest in a few to really up your game

Don’t spend a lot

It might be tempting to splurge on luxury wool yarn and exotic needles, but if you’re just trying knitting out it probably isn’t a good idea to spend too much at the beginning. Companies such as We Are Knitters sell awesome knitting kits for beginners (and more advanced levels) with all you need to make gorgeous jumpers, home decor items and even pet sweaters, but there’s nothing wrong with popping to a discount store and spending €5 on some simpler but no less useful yarn and needles. Once you gain confidence and if you think knitting is for you, you can always widen your range and go for fancier yarns!

Ask for help

Finding an experienced knitter to help you out when you have doubts is a wonderful way to bond with other makers and make friends. Even better, starting to knit with a friend can be really rewarding and motivating! Most designers on Instagram for example are super friendly and helpful, and although it might not be a good idea to send them a whole pattern to decipher for you, most of us LOVE giving tips to beginners. I mean, any reason to talk about yarn-related stuff is a good reason, right?

Are you a newbie knitter? What do you find the most complicated about knitting? Let me know over on Instagram and share your experiences!

I’d like to send HUGE thanks to everyone who sent in their knitting problems, doubts and frustrations over the last week. I couldn’t have written this guide without you!

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Rito Hobby Infinity Hearts 2X Lace · Review

The yarn reviewed here was gifted as part of a paid partnership with Ritohobby.co.uk.

Winter is almost over and Spring has nearly sprung, so it’s starting to look a lot brighter outside. I always find the transition between Winter and Spring super inspiring, especially with regards to colour, so it’s right about time to kick off the new season with some gorgeous new yarn in Springtime shades!

It’s been a while since I last reviewed any yarn, but I’m so glad to be getting back on it! I was lucky enough to be chosen as a creative influencer for the wonderful company Rito Hobby the other month, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to get involved with this Danish brand and work with them on some cute collaborations and projects.

As part of this exciting new partnership I had the chance to choose some yarn and try it out. After having a peek at their website, I came across this incredibly tactile-looking yarn called 2x Lace by Infinity Hearts, which is a splendid combination of cotton and polyester, ideal for homeware (my fave) and especially blankets and cushions. I decided on three pastel colours, Powder, Yellow and Old Pink which complemented each other perfectly.

The texture of this yarn is a dream for crafters who love modern, tactile looks.

I really love this yarn’s chainette construction which is sturdy but also soft. It’s well suited to all kind of home decor projects, especially ones that need a little weight to them, as well as play mats or rugs and even wall art like macramé or for weaving. The possibilities are endless! It would probably be a bit too heavy for a garment, but I could see it working for an interesting infinity scarf.

I chose to crochet this yarn up using a 15mm hook as I work quite tightly, but for a super-sturdy effect you could use a 6 or 7mm hook, ideal for poufs or anything that you need to be a little more durable. In fact, the recommended hook size for this yarn is 6-10 mm, so there’s a big window in terms of the textures and thickness of the fabric you can make.

Knitting with this yarn is also a joy, as it looks absolutely fantastic used with simple stitch combinations for a really modern effect. It would look stuning knitted up as an XL throw or afghan. Plus, with it’s great-value 250g/90m size, one bobbin of this yarn with go a long way.

All in all, I absolutely adored working with this yarn. For designers who love sturdy, squishy, statement pieces and are looking for a yarn that is all three this should be your new go-to… Fabulous! If you’re a designer who loves touchy-feely textures this will tick all your maker boxes.

Keep your eyes peeled for a fun homeware project usig this yarn very soon, and don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram to keep up with my antics!

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How to Drive a Maker Nuts

If you ask most knitters or crocheters what annoys them about their craft they’ll probably say. “yarn vomit”, “knots in balls” or, at a push “having to hide my yarn hauls from my family” AM I RIGHT FRIENDS? This article goes a bit deeper however, because I wanted to explore a little about the more gut-wrenching aspects of being a crafter that really stick in the craw. From pattern theft (if you follow me on Instagram – thank you – you’ll be WELL AWARE of my recent rants about this) to strangers chuckling at you for daring to be under 80 and enjoy knitting, I’ve got you covered. Let battle commence…

So, do you want to drive a Maker nuts? Why don’t you…

Ask a crafter to make you something for free.

I’m not sure which is the more insulting version of this: someone asking you to make them something for zero money or excitedly offering you a tenner for something that is worth ten times that (or more) in terms of labour and materials. It is of course possible that the person has literally no idea how much time and effort goes into creating a handmade item (and that’s not even including the design process) but that doesn’t mean you should undersell your work.
How to deal with it? Well, be honest. Explaining the process, how long it will take and exactly why you have to charge more than Primark for a blanket is a good place to start. If they still don’t get it after that you let them toddle off to buy something else and be done with it.

“LOL! Aren’t you a bit young to be knitting? LOL”

Lord give me the strength to deal with these ones. Aside from the lazy assumption that knitting is something that only a retiree can enjoy, what kind of person shames a person (especially if it’s a stranger!) for a doing a hobby they enjoy? Yeah, we know it’s ‘just a joke’ most of the time but it’s annoying af and yet another example of how fibre artists are not taken seriously.

Be a yarn snob

I unfollowed a person on Instagram last year because of this. The owner of a relatively high-end craft store in a city near me (the sort of LYS that doesn’t sell hanks for less than double figures), this woman would berate people who ‘insisted‘ on knitting using acrylic or cheaper yarns, completely baffled as to why anyone would even consider daring to work with anything less than mohair/silk blends rolled on the thighs of… You get the picture. This señorita had trouble understanding that the majority of people can’t afford to make things with expensive yarns because, well, they can’t afford it, no matter how much they’d love to. Luxury yarns are obviously fabulous, but most of us have bills to pay and/or kids to pay for and the idea of spending €40 on a 50g skein of yak makes our eyes water. I guess some folks have other priorities, or maybe they’re just so gosh darn rich that they can fill their stash with as many hanks of llama as they like without going overdrawn. By all means gush over luxe, but don’t shame those of us who can’t afford it.

Copy other people’s ideas and patterns

I don’t have enough space here to tell you why it really sucks to copy other people’s stuff, but I’m pretty sure you can work out why. Instagram is chock-full of examples of this: Pee-poor copies of well-known designer’s work with a slightly different take on it, maybe a pompom or two less, but it’s the same thing. I’ve even seen people copy a pattern or idea entirely and have the cheek to TAG the person they coped from in the description bx saying “inspired by – insert original designer here – “I’ve been so tempted to call this out in the past, but what can you do? It’s a sad fact that people who agree with naming and shaming are usually labelled as rabble rousers/trouble causers and that’s that. The only thing worse than this is pattern theft (be careful when you choose those pattern testers, huns) which is something I and a few of my maker friends went through last year. All I can say is that the people who steal or copy other people’s ideas have little clue how much work goes into the process, and it’s even worse when another designer you respect does it. Gross. Grossest of all though is that now most designers see theft as part and parcel of being a designer, and accept that this will happen to them at least once or twice. How can we solve this? It’s hard, but make sure you’re choosing carefully when picking testers, go with reliable people with proven, completed tests on their feeds, steer clear of people who are slow to respond to messages and give feedback, and go with that gut feeling; if you have a bad vibe from someone don’t even go there.

Ask a designer for their patterns for free or – possibly worse – parts of their work

Let’s explain this one a bit. One of my friends (a very talented, well-known crochet designer) was asked recently by someone for the measurements they use when designing garments (i.e one of the most complicated parts of garment design and not something you’d offer to anyone freely, even your pals), another was asked to deconstruct a finished sweater and write the pattern out for this random. For free, obviously. You don’t have to be into this kind of stuff to understand why this would annoy any designer. I’ve also heard tales of people asking others to pick apart finished garments in order to count stitches… The entitlement is real.

Don’t take it seriously

Those of us who are lucky enough to do our craft full or part-time as a job are in a great/dream position, but it’s still quite hard to get people to see what you do as a real job and source of income. Choice comment, “Oh, so you just sit at home and knit all day? Bloody hell…” Do one, mate.

So, what can we do with all of the above? The fact is that a lot of the problems listed are down to one thing: ignorance. If someone asks for a pattern for free they’re probably ignorant to how much work writing a pattern actually is. If a person laughs at your hobby they’re probably ignorant to how much of a valuable, rewarding and important activity is is. If someone steals your pattern… No, those people are just dicks.

Thanks to everyone who inspired this post (my Instafamily) and those of you who shared stories – both funny and horror – to be included in this post.

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Yarn Review · Hobbii Summer Cloud

This yarn was kindly gifted by Hobbii to review and as such is a sponsored post. However, my review is objective and honest.

Summer has almost ended, and here in Spain the leaves on the trees on our garden have even started to fall. I must say that it feels like an age since I last reviewed any yarns, so it’s been lovely to work with the wonderful people at Hobbii again and to try out their newest yarn, Summer Cloud! It’s a pretty, fluffy and sturdy cotton/acrylic yarn with a gorgeous halo and I’m excited to tell you all about it.

I have a wonderful pattern coming soon using this yarn. but for now let’s get to grips with this lovely soft bundle of squishiness. On first impression, this bulky yarn is bouncy, soft, light-yet-heavy and great quality. Even though this yarn is named after the Summer, it’s perfect for winter creations (as well as homeware) and works up quickly on a 6 mm (US 10) hook or needles. Its structure is interesting too, as on first glance it looks like a ‘blown’ yarn, but in fact it is high-quality acrylic yarn wrapped in a light cotton netting. This gives it an irresistible heathered look which looks beautiful and suits snuggly outerwear like hats and scarves.

Hobbii’s Summer Cloud is a gorgeous bulky yarn for all seasons.

Being a bulky yarn you can speed through projects rapidly, with sturdy results using the recommended needles. The only recommendation I would mention is thatas I am a tight knitter I would probably go up a needle size or two the next time I work with this yarn, just to add a little bit of extra drape.

Regarding the colours that are available (I chose Lemon and Butter Caramel), the selection is small but perfectly formed, with colours ranging from cheerful yellows to punchy reds and those ideal staples such as grey and black. Whatever colour you need for your project, you’ll be spoilt for choice with these timeless colours.

Just like the yarn, the ball band design is of a high quality, securely attached and with a clean design. One of my pet hates is dated and messy ball bands, so it’s so lovely to have elegant but simple packaging. Just look at that cloud ice cream – cute!

Overall, this will be my go-to mid-season yarn for all my cosy makes! I’ll definitely be getting my hands on some of their pinks and neutrals to work with, and experimenting with some cute hats and scarves.

Check back soon for some information regarding my newest pattern, designed using this wonderful yarn.