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Every Christmas Eve, without fail… I darn socks

Every Christmas Eve, without fail, I curl up with a glass of wine, a warm and snuggly dog and a pile of socks in need of repair.

It’s a tradition I started about a decade ago that helps centre me before the onslaught of cheery faces and socialising that Christmas Day entails. It’s my self-care ritual before my autistic brain is overcome with the chaos and cameraderie of the season.

My family usually go out for Christmas Eve pints, but they have long learnt that despite my love for them, my socks need my attention that night, so they imbibe without me… and we’re all better for it the next day when I arrive batteries fully charged and able to enjoy the day’s feasting.

This year – as with last year – is to be quite different, however.
My family aren’t off to the pub tonight. And tomorrow, I won’t be joining them in their celebrations.

Despite this, I am clinging to my sock tradition. Somehow, it feels even more important this year.

I’m not sure if I’m deriving comfort from the preservation of this tradition when so many other customs fall necessarily by the wayside, or if repairing that which has been worn away this past year is an act of self-care and regeneration.

Whatever the reason, I examine each patch, I observe its unique shape and then I chose a contrasting yarn to repair it.

The contrast is important to me. What is the point of repairing something only for your hard work to disappear? It took time and effort to get that hole there, and time and skill to repair it. Both are worthy of acknowledgement. So, I use orange yarn on a grey sock, green yarn on a black one. Each repair declares “I made it through, I have the scars to prove it, and I’m wiser for them.”

I know it’s just a sock, but it feels like more than that right now so this evening, I intend to curl up with a glass of wine, a warm and snuggly dog and a pile of socks in need of repair.

I highly recommend it as a Christmas Eve activity, if you’re so inclined.

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The cost of a pattern

Here is a list of all the things I needed to learn in order to run a moderately successful* pattern-selling business.

(In no particular order)

Adobe InDesign
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator
Etsy backend
Ravelry backend
Crochet/Knitting (obv)
Pattern Writing
Creative Writing
Patreon backend
Photography & Lighting & Set Design
Modelling (assuming you’re doing it yourself, cause that’s cheaper)
– and consequently, make-up, hair, clothing
Ad Lib Public Speaking
Speech Writing
YouTube backend
Public Relations
Crisis Management
Instagram/Facebook/Twitter etc
Self Care
Time Management
Team Leadership
And on top of all that, you have to be creative, original, inspiring, socially conscious and available for questions.

And some people think designers don’t deserve 7 quid for a pattern?
And bare in mind, both PayPal and your selling platform of choice will take a hefty cut of that 7 quid too, and there are taxes and expenses to factor in after everything else.

So, really…? We don’t do enough for the cost of the cheapest bottle of wine in Lidl?

When you buy a pattern, you support a designer and you validate their hard work and long hours. When you steal a pattern or complain that designers don’t bend over backwards to supply multiple samples in multiple yarns, or that they don’t reply to your email within 24 hours, or that you chose a complex pattern as your first forray into a particular craft and now you’re stuck and it’s their fault… you kill morale and break hearts. And a broken heart is rarely creative.

All I’m saying is, there’s a LOT involved.

I mean. We’re in a pandemic right now and stress is already at an all time high.
I’m really feeling it, and I can see others struggle to cope, too.
So, can we please all lay off one-person businesses for a little while, let us recover and regroup after the shock of Raverly’s ignominious decisions, and instead, spend our time and energy focusing on the bigger fish for a change?

And can we please acknowledge how much time, energy and expense it takes to get a pattern ready for sale – that most designers will have discounts throughout the year if the full cost is genuinely too much – and maybe be glad that it ONLY costs the price of a couple fancy cups of coffee?

*ftr, by “moderately successful”, I mean I just about break even most months on average. And I am fruuuugal to a fault, let me tell ya.

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Spotlight on hand-dying

For years I have oooh and aaah at the skill and craftsmanshop it takes to hand dyed a skein of yarn in a way that’s pleasing.

I tried it myself some time ago – both with blank hanks of yarn and roving, natural, food-colouring & acid dyes – and I have to say that my respect for the dying process, and the level of knowledge you need to get a good result, is high.

I’ve often, and at some volume, admit to being a dunce when it comes to colour theory.
I cannot match colours up well. There’s a reason I’m almost always in black. Black goes with everything. It does the job I can’t. It’s just not in my make-up to do a good job, so when I find a dyer who can do just that it feels as if I’m in the presence of an elemental god of some kind.

HOW did they know that lime green and that teal would blend so prettily?
HOW did they get that yarn to look exactly like a rusty nail, or a peacok’s tail feather, or a misty rainy day in March?!

So, getting to chat to a dyer and get down and dirty with their dye pots is always a pleasure. This is exactly what I did when I got to chat to Eve Chambers last year at Woollinn.
I used her delicious yarn for my most recent pattern: Manannan.


Here’s how she describes her process:

“I dye a lot of semi solids. In crochet, the stitch definition is vital. I found that commercially dyed yarns lacked a fluidity when I worked with them. A solid was flat. A gradient’s colour shifts took over the story of the stitches.

I was raised by an artist mother, and the alchemy of primary colour work that she used always fascinated me.

In dyeing my semi solids, especially the Pop range – I’m going back to the alchemy. The singles are dry. The semi immersion bath is ready and heat slowly rising. The skeins are added to the bath, and slowly sink beneath the surface as they soak up the bath. It’s a slow process, but by controlling the heat level, the dye strikes with a specific non uniformity on the skein, but with uniformity across the batch. Like all handdyed, there can be variations across batches, however the end effect of the Pop Collection is a watered silk look.

When you knit/crochet with Pops, you can see ripples of colour density, thus lifting or setting back your stitches, but always looking like light is moving in waves over your work.”

It’s safe to say, there’s a LOT more to it than “dying and drying”, as Gamercrafting explains in her latest YouTube Podcast.

Check out both Gamercrafting and Eve Chambers, folks! I love them both, and you will too.