Posted on Leave a comment

Buzz – draft

Yarn: Dazzle 8 ply yellow, black and white

Needles: 3mm double pointed needles


With black yarn Cast on 4 sts join in the round ( I worked as Icord)

Knit 2 rounds

Round 3 (k1, Kfb) around (6sts) – (i now worked with all 4 DPNS)

Round 4 knit

Round 5 change to yellow yarn Knit 

Round 6 (kfb) around (12sts)

Round 7 knit

Round  8 change to black yarn knit

Round 9 knit

Round 10 (k1, kfb) around (18sts)

Round 11 – 13 change to yellow, knit

Round 14 – 16 change to black, knit

Round 17 – 19 change to yellow,  knit

Round 20 -29 change to black knit


Stuff bee

Round 30 (k2tog) around (9sts)

Round 31 knit

Break yarn and thread through stitches, finish stuffing bee and gather to close.

Shape body by gathering around at the start of the head in black yarn.

Wings – make 2

Cast on 5  sts leaving a tail to sew wing to body

Knit 4 rows

Row 5 p2tog k1, k2tog

Cast off

Eyes are embroidered on

Antenna are added by sewing a length of yarn through head and knotting the end.

Posted on Leave a comment

Simple Fingerless Mitts

Today at the Sock Sessions, Charlie a very new knitter, finished her first project a large garter stitch square for a cushion. She had some Patons Super Quick left so I suggested she make some simple mitts. With her 10mm needles and Patons Super Quick, Charlie casted on 12 sts and made herself a pair of mitts in less than 2 hours! Not bad for a new knitter. This is my ‘recipe’ for these super quick and easy first project for the new knitter.

I wrote this recipe/pattern up in 2013 and it is available on Ravelry as a PDF download HERE 

The basic shape of these mitts is a rectangle. The design could be knit in many weights of yarn by recalculating the cast on stitches and rows knitted and changing the needle size to match.

The simplicity of this design makes the most of hand spun yarn. 

The perfect first knitting project, a pair of mitts takes less than 50 gms of 8ply yarn to complete.

An experienced knitter can make many pairs in a day. They are a great fundraising item. I used to sell these, knitted in my hand spun, at the craft shop in Wirrabarra.

Jazz them up by using lots of scraps of yarn or knit them plain and simple. 


50 grams of DK or worsted weight wool yarn. 

4mm straight knitting needles

Wool needle for seaming


My gauge was 20 stitches X 26 rows to 10cm over stocking stitch.

The mitts are small enough to be their own gauge swatch.  A firm fabric will take the wear that mitts get. If fabric is too loose, decrease needle size; too firm, increase needle size.


Knit a mitt, then examine it for fit. The mitt needs some negative ease for a firm fit.

If the fit is too tight add rows to the pattern or too big decrease the number of rows.  

If the mitt is too short – add stitches, too long – decrease stitches.

Pattern – make 2

Size Cast on sts Width to knit
Extra Small (Toddler) 20 12 cm
Small (child) 25 14 cm
Medium (women) 30 16 cm
Large (men) 40 18 cm
Extra Large  45 20 cm

Cast on the number of stitches for size required. (The length of the mitt)

Knit in garter stitch for the size required.(The width of the mitt)

Bind off.


Fold fabric matching cast on edge to bind off edge.

Using a whip stitch sew up from the bottom until where the base of the thumb hole will be. Sew from the top to where the top of the thumb hole will be. Sew in ends and trim.

Posted on Leave a comment

Temperature Wrap CAL

For the last few years I have been seeing Temperature blankets popping up in my social media feeds. Although I have been tempted, I also know I’m not the greatest at sticking to long term projects. As the many UnFinished Objects hidden around the shop in the boxes under the shelves attest too. (and you thought they were just for hiding all the extra stock from Peter.)

This year is the year I am committing to a Temperature project. I was inspired by the Scheepjes Instagram post of It’s All In a Nutshell’s Temperature wrap for 2019. 

Having committed publicly and now having a group of us working on it, in the Knit Spin Weave Brains Trust Group. I am pretty confident this year I will keep to the plan.

I ordered in Scheepjes Cotton 8 in the colours suggested by Esther and put starter kits together, available in the webstore here. If the colours aren’t to your taste I am happy to order in other colours of Cotton 8, it would take less than a month to come into stock. The other colours of Cotton 8 can be viewed on the Scheepjes Website. Send me a message on Facebook or leaving a comment here, with the colours you would prefer.

I have started my wrap. I started by making each row a different day and wasn’t happy with the result, as the ends being sewn in on such short rows was bulky and unattractive. I made a second start and did 10 rows in the Day 1 colour (orange for me) to start. I will now be working one row for each day.

If you would like to join along it’s not too late and past temperatures can be found on the BOM Website. I am using the temperatures for Clare on the BOM website. 

Posted on 6 Comments

How (not) to run a yarn shop

Knit Spin Weave reached it’s third birthday in October. A real milestone in terms of survival for start ups. Although now in the fourth year I am in no way profitable. We are so conditioned not to talk about money, particularly so for women of my age group, so this might be a little uncomfortable for many to read and many will feel it’s TMI, for us over 50’s that stands for Too Much Information.

I often get asked, “How is it going?” The motivation for asking this is often hard to judge. Are they asking out of genuine concern as they don’t want to loss their favourite shop, are they asking out of curiosity, is owning a yarn shop their dream too and they want to know if I’m raking it in.

Well, Tracy, how is it going? How is the shop of your dreams measuring up? Has it turned into the money hungry monster that many start up businesses become, gobbling up every cent that comes through the door and leaving nothing for the owner/mother. Well to put it simply, it has done that. Which isn’t unheard of for most retail start ups. We start with limited capital, many too limited and that tends to be the downfall of those who don’t make it to the end of that first year. They run out of capital and the business isn’t generating income and they can’t eat what is sitting on the shelves. Making it past the first year is tough but not as tough as making it to the third year.

So here is the rough numbers that no one ever discloses, because we don’t talk about money you know. so I will fudge and round things up and down and these figures aren’t truely exact but will give you the idea..

Year One.

I started with a capital investment of $40,000. $20,000 went into stock $15,000 in set up costs and $5000 in reserve. By the end of the first nine months of trading I had generated a turnover of around $45K and expenditure of $80K! With those figures I had managed to make a profit of about $1,000, I had not paid myself and every cent coming in the doors was going back onto the shelves. I had grown stock to about $30,000. The bank account was almost empty and we were living off Peter’s wage and family payments. It was costing about three tanks of petrol a week to get to the shop a week, being paid out of the family income. My friendly accountant happily informed me I was actually doing really well as most start-ups make a loss in the first year. I had at least made $1,000 for 9 months.

Year Two

The end of year two came with the challenge of moving after the landlord wanted a higher return on his investment and being left with no extra money to pay for new signage. At the time it almost brought the dream to an end, but like all good stories the challenge made it interesting. It forced me to grow. It established and cemented my friendships with customers/friends and built community. I ended up in a better location and had a fabulous moving experience enjoyed by all involved. Moving to the Edwards Mall has made me more accessible to many, plus given me a community of fellow retailers.

Income for year two increased to just under the threshold for GST registration! I missed it by about $200! A bit of a relief as I was dreading having to manage GST. I managed to spend $80K on expenses once more!

Remember turnover isn’t profit and my profit margins aren’t 100% like many industries, mine are more like 60% over the full range. A turnover of $75,000 so roughly a gross profit of $25,000 for the second year out of which my lease expenses of around $20,000, insurance about $1,000, electricity and other overheads needed to be paid.

Year two saw Knit Spin Weave make a profit of $2,000! I had doubled my profit from the previous year. Still no drawings and the hungry toddler of a yarn shop was still gobbling onto the shelves all the money, with me still having not learned to be disciplined with limiting the expenses. I had also managed to grow the stock by another $7,000.

Year Three

Came with extra challenges, more competition saw my USP (Unique Selling Point) evaporate. No longer was I a destination store as many of my unique offerings were no longer unique. That is business and although very upsetting, at the time, the competition in the long run, like the landlord increasing the lease on my old shop became a positive not a negative. It forced me again to grow, to look around again at what isn’t being offered and after a visit from Amanda of The Calm Nook Crafts I became South Australia’s Scheepjes dealer. I once more was a destination shop, plus my turnover boomed and I well and truely hit that $75,000 required for GST registration! Something I had dreaded, but I’m so far finding surprisingly easy. I certainly have to keep my books up to date, also a positive side effect. The bank must of also had great faith in me ( or knew we owned our home and they could sell it for more than the overdraft) and gave me an overdraft to bring in the new stock, so for the first time I was in debt!

So figures for Year 3. Turnover was increased to about $95,000 and expenditure also increased due mostly to bringing in the new stock , a new phone plan and electricity through the roof to $105,000! And once again I made an increase in the profit to $2,500! still no drawings and now with an overdraft debt. Stock increased by $20,000 and Peter and I are still talking. Although the joking about stock levels has become more serious and accompanied with a frown.

Year Four

Hard to believe Knit Spin Weave is now in it’s fourth year! I am starting to wonder if the dream may be more of a nightmare at times. Four years of doing it tough in the hope that eventually I will have a viable business that will pay me a wage. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it may never pay me a wage. Although my lovely suppliers and gurus do tell me it takes five years to be paying yourself, so I’m almost there, if that is the case. I’m also desperate enough to do what I was told to do four years ago and be serious about the webstore and site. The local market, even with my lovely customers from as far as Whyalla and Adelaide, is just not large enough to generate the turnover needed to produce a profitable retail business. So here I am writing a blog to generate traffic to a website, so it gets picked up by search engines and gets ranked higher in the searches! I’m enrolled in SEO and WordPress courses to try and get my head around it all. I’ve implemented a POS (Point Of Sale) system to manage my inventory. Selena Knight would be proud. I’m sure she would also be rolling her eyes as from day one she was trying to tell me. But l’m a pretty slow learner at times, especially when my dream of having a yarn shop involved me sitting knitting most of the day.

So will Knit Spin Weave make it to Five Years?

Who knows, I like to think it will but it’s going to take a lot more listening and work by me. I do love what I do and do what I love and even if Knit Spin Weave doesn’t make it, I will never have any regrets about trying to live my dream. But the dream is changing, it no longer has me sitting all day knitting. It has me planning, learning and working. Although I will of course be sneaking in that occasional bit of knitting out the front and justify it by calling it marketing.

Posted on 2 Comments

I want to teach crochet….

I was recently on a forum where someone wrote a post asking what they needed to know to teach a crochet class.

Rather than give a short answer on the forum, I thought I would write a post on what I feel is important to know about teaching a craft. This won’t contain all I have learned from my many years of teaching in schools, to groups or in my shop. This is a little guideline for the things I feel are most important to know.

Understand we are all different.

You don’t have to be a qualified teacher, it certainly helps, but it’s not a necessity. What is a necessity is for you to understand how people learn.  Not all of us learn in the same way. Some of us need just to be told, others need to be shown, others need to do. Each of us is unique and we all learn in unique ways. As a teacher there will be students who will not understand  what you are teaching, so you need to find other ways to help them. Enlisting others in your group to peer teach is often very effective. Someone, who has just learned a skill, will sometimes have more insight into why another may be struggling to understand.

People first.

Don’t focus on what you teach, focus on who you teach. Your students deserve your patience, respect and kindness. If the lesson isn’t going the way you want it to, that’s ok, change direction. If it takes 20 minutes to do 10 chains, then it takes that long. Don’t teach unless you love it!

Be Kind

Don’t be a teacher if you can’t drop your ego, if you can’t let others help you teach. Don’t teach if you believe there is only one way to do something. There have been a number of students who have come to me with stories of how they failed, because they didn’t hold the hook or yarn in the way their previous teacher had instructed. I’ve had stories of hands being smacked! Children in many ways are a lot more resilient to failure than adults and as a teacher you need to be gentle, encouraging and flexible.

Be patient.

There a huge amount of frustration being a learner and a teacher. You need to manage your own frustration and try not to communicate it to your students. Be assured the peak of frustration happens just before the “AhHa” moment for most. When 10 minutes into your hat class and 3 of your 5 studenst tell you, they are never going to ‘get it’. Take a deep breath, be reassuring and try another approach. Don’t throw up your hands or express your own frustration. Whether they are adults or children they need the assurance that their teacher is calm and knows what they are doing and has faith that they will learn. As a teacher you are guiding them on their path, not leading them on a chain.

Start at the beginning.

If you’ve been crocheting for years, you may no longer realise what you do to crochet, it has become a muscle memory and you will need to break down the steps for a beginner. Research is your best friend. Get on YouTube and watch others teach crochet. Yes, you know it all already, but you might be surprised with what you pick up.

Study how you yourself crochet. Do you turn the hook down? How do you hold the hook? How do you hold the yarn? Do others hold it differently? What are the advantages to how you do it? Are there disadvantages? I hold my hook from underneath, many of my students are more comfortable holding above the hook. Neither is wrong. Tensioning yarn is incredibly hard to do as a beginner and explaining how you do it won’t help many. Insisting people do as you do, may slow a learners progress down. I never focus on tension when I start new crocheters. I focus on making the stitches. Tension is something that is unique to the individual and something that is developed with time and practice.

Be prepared to demonstrate diferent ways of working. Learn to crochet with your left hand. It’s amazing how it makes you focus on the basics and will mean you are able to work with left hand students successfully.

When demonstrating change your position often, move around the students. Demonstrate from behind the student, in front of the student, beside the student, from as many different angles as possible. Be consistent in the language you use. Be repetitive. Say each step as you do it. Have diagrams of the stitches available, some learn better from iconic representations than seeing the stitch worked.

if you need to pull out a students work, ask first. Be encouraging and quickly work them back to where they were. Try to avoid adding to the frustration by making them repeat more than they need to.

Skills over Projects.

Focus on teaching skills. ‘What will I make?’ is the first question that gets asked in many of my beginner classes and we all like to have something to show our achievements. Try to stay focused on the skills. A simple chain can be a nice hair tie or used to decorate a gift. A cute little hair band can be a simple project of double crochet around a hair elastic with chain loops added. Dishcloths make great first projects, even if stitches are a little wonky they are still usable.

A class should be sequential in skills, one skill built upon another.

I teach a crochet hat workshop which I have taught to people who have never crocheted before!  The skills to make the hat are chains, slip stitches, lots of trebles and working in the round, It can be a challenging class to teach but the product at the end is well worth the frustration level.

BE ORGANISED. – yes I am shouting this one!

I was once the project officer for Territory Craft and after working with many artists this would be the most important thing I can stress to you

Write a lesson plan, practice it. Find a guinea pig to practice on before you go and teach a class. Ensure your lesson plans are flexible and allow ample time to complete each step.  If you are accepting payment to teach, you are a professional and you need to be professional.

  • Be on time
  • Have all materials to hand.
  • Supply notes.
  • Look professional
  • When working for a third party ensure you tell them what you require, do not leave it to the last minute to tell them you need rulers for each student. ( Can you tell this happened to me as an organiser?)
  • Be approachable, allow students to contact you.
  • Follow up on anything asked or needed.
  • if you say you will do it, do it.

Student management

  • Be mindful of working with each student, don’t leave someone out.
  • When you demonstrate ensure students are looking at you and have nothing in their hands, that will distract them.
  • Try not to let one student dominant.
  • Have more able students reinforce they’re skills by helping those who struggle.
  • Praise, reassure.
  • Revise
  • Check the quiet students, adults can be shy to ask for help
  • Keep an eye on the over confident, they tend to speed ahead, its sad when you have to pull out half their work.
  • Keep positive and calm.


Hopefully this has been helpful for you.