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Friday, 21 November 2014

OUT AND ABOUT - Berlin

Helena and I were so excited to be invited to Berlin by the wonderful team at Wolle Roedel who are one of our first stockists in Germany. They have about 100 stores across the country - including some new concept stores called Idee which are very modern and multicraft focused.

Our visit actually coincided with the publication of our book Wonderland/Kindermode Stricken in German by publishers OZ Verlag. This is huge milestone for us at MillaMia, and something that has made us so happy! We are able to now reach this passionate nation of knitters who have loved our designs and wanted to be able to access them more easily.

Saturday began with a 4 am start! Short, early flights on Easyjet are never exciting but we were relieved that our travelling went smoothly - bar one inadvertant adventure on the train from the airport! Nevertheless we still made it to the KaDeWe shopping centre, and Idee in Berlin on time for an 11am start.

I took the opportunity to knit on the Bosse Cardigan for my son Freddie and Helena was happy to be able to wear her lovely new Snow Storm Wristwarmers

Idee truly is a mecca for crafters - they stock everything from Liberty fabric to gorgeous pompoms, paper craft and stationary. Helena and I decided that we were in heaven and picked up lots of lovely stamps and fun Christmas decorations.

The Wonderland/Kindermode Stricken display looked great

The Idee staff made us so welcome and showed us to an area of the store where there was a whole section of wool set up for MillaMia. We had a good selection of our Wonderland samples with us but they had many there already, so we decorated a tree with our free Christmas decorations (watch this space and our Facebook page for exciting news of this new FREE pattern next week!). They had around 100 books in store for Helena and I to sign as we met customers, who were mainly German but one or two international customers too.


http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=de&to=en&a=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wolleroedel.de%2Fshop%2Fde%2FdieProdukte%2FAnleitungen%2FBuecherMagazine%2FStricken%2FquotKindermodestrickenquotJackenPulloverampCofuerkleineLeute.html
It's such a thrill for Helena and I to see Wonderland printed in German
 


As well as signing books and meeting lots of new customers, Helena and I ran a workshop using our Christmas Ornaments pattern with the staff from Idee and their customers. It was great fun as the ornaments are all quick and easy to make - perfect for a workshop as everyone feels as though they have achieved something in a relatively short space of time.



. . . and finished!

Ellen and Yvonne, our friends from Wolle Roedel / Idee came and took us out for a delicious lunch of currywurst sausage, chips and beer which I would heartily recommend as it was so delicious. Apparently this is a typical Berlin lunch and pretty much the equivalent of fish and chips!

Ellen, Katarina and Yvonne enjoying that traditional Berlin lunch

As is always the case when you're enjoying yourselves, time flew by and it was 4pm before we knew it. Helena and I we were off travelling home again all too soon but had decided before we even left the city that we would definitely going back again next summer (for the weekend this time . . .) to see more of beautiful Berlin!

A wintery kiss goodbye from Berlin!
(posted by Katarina)

Friday, 14 November 2014

SMALL PROJECT - Using oddments

Like most knitters, I have a guilty hoard of oddments from a host of finished projects. There is virtually every type of yarn, in every colour of the rainbow, often in a substantial enough quantity that the thought of throwing it away . . . well, it doesn't bear thinking about.

So when I discover a project that isn't a sock yarn blanket (I never finished those), or baby hats, bootees, wash cloths or dare I say it - hexipuffs, I get a rush of relief. The thought of liberating some unloved yarn ends and finding them a purpose always makes me feel so worthy!

The Bokstav Gift Tags from Winter Knitting are the perfect oddment-busting project. This lovely little project just ticks so many boxes for me - it's small and quick; uses up even the sparest of yarn ends; is Christmas related and will dress up parcels for my most special people with the added bonus that I can reuse them every year.

You might imagine that I have rather a lot of MillaMia oddments . . . and you'd be right! But the ones that came instantly to hand were the Midnight and Snow Naturally Soft Merino that I had left over from making the Snow Storm Wristwarmers. I did finish these in record time and immediately gifted them to Helena, who so ably demonstrates just how stylish they are teamed with a fake fur jacket.

Helena sporting her Snow Storm Wristwarmers in Midnight and Snow

The gift tags are super quick to knit and use between 7 and 10 grms of yarn in total. The pattern advises that the alphabet motifs are swiss darned (or duplicate stitched) on, but you could easily use the chart to knit them as you go. I swiss darned mine to achieve the slightly raised look which I'm really pleased with. The tags are incredibly tactile when they're finished - as they are made from 2 pieces stitched together to make them reversible it makes them plump and substantial. I used a whip stitch to seam them together which is almost invisible and then gently blocked and steamed them to even all the stitches out.

 

 
 
I have finished 2, and have another one on the needles for my daughter. They're really quite addictive - so quick and instantly gratifying that I fear I may decide that every gift I give this year has to have one . . .


Winter Knitting is available from www.millamia.com, selected MillaMia stockists and good craft title bookstores.
(posted by Max)

Friday, 7 November 2014

WINTER KNITTING - New Book

It's November, and that officially means we can start to think, and talk about Christmas without feeling the slightest bit guilty! I groan inwardly as huge tins of Quality Street, Christmas wrap, cards and baubles begin to appear in October, but November feels more like Winter, Christmas is only a matter of 6 weeks away at best and is the perfect opportunity for us knitters to get planning our gift knitting.

This year my gift knitting has all but been taken care of by the launch of our latest book - Winter Knitting. I confess it actually felt as though Christmas had come early when I received my own copy - it feels like the most wonderful gift, and although I knew all of the patterns that went into the book, I sat down with my hot coffee one afternoon and browsed at my leisure.

The outcome, of course, was that I immediately wanted to knit everything in the book! As I turned the last page I realised that I had subconsciously been choosing items and colourways for specific people, and wondering who, among my knitterly friends who also love a book like this. That too was easy, as I know that every one of them would cherish Winter Knitting and find myriad projects to keep them happily knitting through the dark days of Winter.

http://millamia.com/collection_patterns.php?id=12
Snow Storm Wristwarmers in Forget-me-not and Snow


Faced with so many things I urgently wanted to knit, I decided to start with something small and relatively quick for some instant gratification. The Snow Storm Wristwarmers are the perfect small project to begin with and the fairisle pattern is so typically Scandinavian which is always so evocative of crisp, snowy mornings for me! I choose a classic combination of midnight and snow (with my Mum in mind - hope she isn't reading this . . .) and set about my knitty business.



I knitted the rib in midnight and looked to the chart to begin the fairilse body of the mitt, realising almost at once that the chart didn't match the ones shown in the picture. My heart sank a little, as I could see that the chart was actually the one included in the cowl pattern which is opposite to the wristwarmers. No matter, I thought as the mitts will match the cowl which I'm almost certainly going to knit too. So, I continued faithfully knitting as per the pattern - the second picture below is my wristwarmer blocking - beautiful, if different to the one shown in the book.

http://millamia.com/collection_patterns.php?id=12
Snow Storm Wristwarmers and Snow Storm Cowl both in Forget-me-not and Snow


My first finished Wristwarmer in Midnight and Snow

Curiosity had me wondering how the midnight and snow would look in the same layout as the pair shown in the book, and so before I began the second wristwarmer I embarked on a mitten-sized swatch with the colours reversed. This is easily managed, just by logging in your brain which colour square represents which colour yarn and so I didn't have any difficulty in switching them around.

The swatch with the chart reversed nearest to the bottom of the picture


Keeping my place on the chart is an entirely different matter though, and as you can see in the pic below, my top tip for keeping your place (even when you put down your knitting, or a small person inadvertently picks up your beautiful new book) is to use Washi Tape which is easily removable but will restick too. Mine is Christmas themed - just to remind me that I'm knitting gifts!

Christmas themed Washi Tape keeping my place on the chart


It seems that Winter Knitting has inspired a flurry of gift knitting in the MillaMia team. Tanya cast on her own version of the Snow Storm Wristwarmers too, in a beautiful combination of storm and lilac blossom. As you can see, she has reversed the chart so that the main colour storm is transitioning from the rib into the main body and the lighter lilac blossom is the contrast colour.

Tanya's Snow Storm Wristwarmers in Storm and Lilac Blossom

I wonder if these will make their way to a friend or family member this Christmas, or whether Tanya, like me is going to find it too hard to gift them away . . . !

(posted by Max, with help from Tanya!)

Friday, 31 October 2014

DESIGNER PROFILE - Sue Stratford

You will probably best know the incredibly talented Sue Stratford for her knitted meerkats, dogs, puppies, cats and kittens! She often refers to herself, with a rueful smile, as 'the meerkat lady' - it is after all the book that first catapulted her to the heady heights of the Top Ten best selling craft books on Amazon, and earned her a loyal fan base eager to knit and collect her menagerie of cute creature characters.


Sue's talents don't end at conjuring up knitted animals though. She owns The Knitting Hut yarn shop (which does stock MillaMia!), has presented on Create and Craft TV and as well as writing her knitted characters books, has published a book of Mini Christmas Knits and a book of Merry Christmas Sweaters.


With the launch of a brand new FREE Sue Stratford Christmas Sweater pattern in conjunction with Deramores and to support Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 12th December for Save the Children AND knitted entirely in our lovely new Naturally Soft Aran yarn, we thought it was high time we asked Sue for an interview. Luckily for us, she agreed!


http://www.deramores.com/christmas-tree-dog-jumper-pattern
The FREE Christmas sweater pattern designed by Sue for Deramores


1) Can you introduce yourself, the shop and tell us a bit about how you came to start designing.
Well my name is Sue Stratford and I have owned and run The Knitting Hut since December 2005 when I started work on getting the shop ready to open. I have stocked unusual and interesting yarns over the years, always trying to find something a bit different whether expensive or at the cheaper end of the market. I started designing or 'making patterns up' as I called it to use up yarn which had not sold. This is where the Fluffy Mousies came from. Originally they were knitted in a boucle yarn which just had not sold, however once I made the mousies out of it, it flew off the shelves and I had to look for an alternative yarn. A good friend of mine gave me a little mousie knitted using angora yarn and that was it, I had found my new yarn!



 2) You are most well known for your knitted collectables – how did you find yourself designing a Christmas Sweater?
The idea for a Christmas Sweater book came about from a conversation I had with Caroline, one of the directors of Search Press. At first it was going to be a much smaller project which then took on a life of it's own and twelve sweaters later the book was born! I have been lucky enough to be involved with the Save The Children Christmas Jumper Day campaign for the last two years as a result of the book which is a fantastic charity and one I have been proud to support.

3) I am always interested in the design process – where did the idea for the sweater come from and how did you go about bringing your idea to life?
I love the idea of having something extra and the design for the Christmas Tree and Dog was one that I originally did for the book but didn't make it in. I had great fun making the dog and tree 'wrap' around the jumper, I think it is great with a novelty knit like this to have something to see on the back too. The Reindeer design which is in the book also wraps around, the Reindeers' bottoms are on the back of the sweater.

 
Deramores are also generously donating £2.50 from the sale of every copy of Merry Christmas Sweaters to Save The Children 

4) We loved that you chose to use the new MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran – what is it about MillaMia yarn that so attracts you?
I have always loved MillaMia yarn and I have used the Naturally Soft Merino sportweight in a number of my designs. I love the feel of the yarn and the stitch definition is lovely although I would be hard pressed to decide whether those are the things I love most or the colours! Putty Grey has to be my all time favourite colour and I used the Limited Edition Cobalt and Lime to make Danger Dog in my last book. I also used Petal for a pink French Poodle - of course! The addition of the Naturally Soft Aran range has just increased the possibilities of what I can do with the yarn and it was just perfect for this project! I used the lovely new Cherry Red for the main body of the sweater, Emerald for the tree, Latte for the sausage dog and Ochre for the garland and star.

http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=brights&id=37

http://millamia.com/yarn.php?type=Aran&range=brights&id=36
MillaMia Naturally Soft Aran was perfect for the Christmas Sweater

5) What else have you got on the needles at the moment? Is there a new Sue Stratford book on the horizon?
At the moment I am trying to finish the next book which is 'More Mini Christmas Knits'. This is a result of people saying they have knitted everything from Mini Christmas Knits and want more! I am also working on a design I made in the summer for a yoked cardigan, initially knitted in a cotton but now also in wool which is nearly ready to be published. I have promised myself the reward of a new project for me when I've finished the book - the project is Unicorn Stripes by Antonia Shankland.



6) Lastly, where can we find the pattern?
Deramores and Search Press have been very generous in publishing the pattern for free in all four adult sizes which is great! The pattern can be downloaded direct from Deramores . . .  http://www.deramores.com/christmas-tree-dog-jumper-pattern

http://www.deramores.com/christmas-tree-dog-jumper-pattern
 
(posted by Max)

Friday, 24 October 2014

FREE PATTERN - It's a treat!

With a week to go, there is still plenty of time to knit up a few terrifyingly good Halloween treats for the kids (big and small!) And what better excuse to conjure up some dastardly decorations and creepy critters than a FREE-KY pattern??


At MillaMia Towers we've been busy concocting a bevy of ghoulish delights that will set a spine-tingling tone for any Halloween party. From cataclysmic candle holders to spooktacular spiders and bewitching bats there is a quick and easy knit to wickedly entice even the most frightful knitter!


Head(less) on over to www.millamia.com to download your free patterns or click on the portal pics and lunar links . . .


Those of you with eyes like a hovering hawk will notice that a couple of captivating new colours have crept into the pictures below . . . our Limited Edition colours for 2014 are levitating onto yarn shop shelves near you now! Choose trick or treat Teal or pick perfectly ripe Pumpkin and knit up a few terrific treasures this Halloween . . . mwaaaa-ha-HA!!!!!


Create a ghastly glow . . .

http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Cat Candle Holder&sort=&type=
 
Drive the kids batty . . .
 
http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Bat Toy&sort=&type=
 
Creepy crawly up on unsuspecting guests . . .
 
http://millamia.com/pat_size.php?name=Spider Toy&sort=&type=

 
Have a monstrously good time - Happy Halloween!!!!!!
(posted by Max)