It's been 1 year since i opened up my new webshop.
It's been 12 years and a day since I started Kantwerk / A Passion for Lace.
Before I did this, back in 2004, I was in garden design. I had a blog about it too, with a matching website. But I wasn't very good at it.
Made long hours behind the desktop computer and failed regularly.
The provider did have templates, but I wasn't even smart enough to know how to use those.
Back then I was also sewing clothes and knitting a bit. In 2006 I started this blog, by that time a lot more was done for dummies like me.
Templates and inserts were highlighted in the symbols, and all I had to do was click, search and paste.
In those years, blogs were hot, are they still? I've neglected mine for a while now. I'm sorry.
Anyway, I did a lot of browsing and reading other blogs, fully unaware of my networking. I had the wednesdays and all fridays to visit blogs, leave a comment. I got to know a lot of people and their crafts.
I called this the Butterfly shawl, but this was the exact moment I got hooked on knitting hearts. I've made plenty.
I was, and still am, part of the local stitch'n'bitch group. We split off and don't go to a café anymore, but, before corona, we met every 2 months. I learned so much, got attention for my lace and other things I made and that resulted in the end that I was asked to give classes.
In Lace and Shetland Lace. I want to thank Janet Vermist for giving me that opportunity: Thank you!
By that time it was 2011.
I had built a new website, and people could order with an email. I again, wasn't smart enough to know how to make a webshop. I wasn't selling any yarns or accessoiries, and sales ran mainly through Ravelry. I was able to keep track of the occassional order, everything I had was on display.
By that time, a lot of fairs were taking place around the country. I was asked to give classes all over the land. I felt great about it! People were interested in my work, wanted to learn, see for themselves and even wanted to keep on doing it! I was asked to knit examples with the latest yarns, had some designs of my own. Got commissions to knit for other people/knitters.
I was so fortunate that people were willing to pay for my knitting. Gifted a cowl and was commissioned another, because the daughter kept stealing it. That was the moment I thought: why not start a business??
I was quite busy knitting a shawl for every female in my family and I had dared to knit a finer shawl in Shetland Lace pattern from Victorian Lace Today.
Shetland Tea shawl from Victorian Lace Today, here with a split so it could be worn as a cape (2009)
I got some more (private) commissions and I scored my first commission for a real yarn webshop!
I made a red shawl, made the deadline and it got to be on display in her store! Thank you Angelique!
Soon, other webshops liked that idea and commissioned me to design something new for them. Often with their latest yarns!
By the end of 2009 I was knitting a dress on commission. I couldn´t believe it all went so well.
My webshop only had patterns, but some were eager to buy projects I had already made. So, the sale of the Orange Tea shawl, led to me designing my very first Shetland Shawl. The lady had gifted me the Heirloom Knitting book and stated that she wanted me to use it to make her a beautiful fine shawl.
She had no idea what she did, doing that. I was smitten! Fine yarn, Fine needles, Fine shawls.
I could have benefited from some lessons in photography, back then we had a camera and had to upload it all. Time consuming. I did have, as you can see, a model to show the work. I was not very eager to show myself.
Via Angelique and her Wolhemel shop (discontinued) I took a class in Estonian lace from Carla Meijsen. I had already made a shawl but still learned a lot on construction. I still only know 1 type of Nupp, although there are plenty of variations.
Because of the commissions, I was able to buy good yarns and books to help me get to know more techniques. But the Shetland and the Estonian lace techniques stuck. So many things to learn, play and knit.
I was SO taken by the Shetland techniques, all knit rows but pattern in every row too, that I decided to (encouraged by some groups on Ravelry and dutch bloggers that had already VISITED Shetland, looking at you Herma en Jan), i wanted to design a square. I plotted away behind my computer and to this day, i still do it the same way.
Using Microsoft Word, making charts, counting, swatching and knitting.
My friend Ammerins (left) travelled with me (center) to Shetland Wool week 2012 and we are showing The One in Voe. This picture was made by Misa Hay and it ended up in all kinds of places. On display in the hub in the Museum. In a book on Textiles History from Shetland, chapter Woolweek and on the website 10 things to do when you are in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland! So proud.
I called it The One. It was highly unlikely that I would do thát ever again. It was February 2011.
Our son got very ill, that month. Hodgkin. At 15. So the focus was not on knitting. But...
I did end up giving for classes for Lace knitting and Knitted Lace, that April!
Only because Chemo was working and there was progress.
I was TOTALLY suprised that the 4 classes were FULLY booked. That meant 60 students in 2 days. A baptism of fire.
Later in that summer, when Chemo was over, the kid was reasonably okay and things turned back to some shape of normal, I was made aware there was to be a Shetland Wool Week. Considering my / our situation, I didn't go.
But, the seed was planted and I started to save my commission money. I asked Herma for inside information on what it is like on Shetland, how to get there and what I could be expecting.
1. I have never been in an airplane before that.
2. I had never travelled like that by myself.
3. Even though I had learned english when I was 4, no guarantees.
4. I had booked my plane ticket before I had a place to stay or how to get there.
In the meantime I was asked to be a part of the Lace Collection by Jamieson and Smith, using their fine cobweb yarn. I was blissfully unaware there would be other designers in this, so i designed the finest shawl i could come up with.
Turned out, I was in VERY good company. A beautiful wide ranged collection and the kits for those are still available on their website.
I was not only part of the Lace Collection but I was asked to part of a trunk show too! In the Jamieson and Smith shop in Lewick. I could hardly sleep the night before. I had brought 5 shawls I still had. They are to the right.
Gudrun Johnston and Mrs. Mary Kay brought their work too. It was bliss. (photo from J&S blog)
The next (?) evening we had a Ravelry meet up, and even though I had a class by Kate Davies earlier, we met again that evening. I showed her my Across the Beach shawlette. Usually, Shetland Cockleshells are in a rectangle and I had (re)designed them in a small silk triangular shape.(photo credit Ammerins Moss).
I bet you can believe that it was a trip of a life time. The LOVE for fine Shetland Lace and Shetland itself grew.
By that time I had been knitting day and night, working as a postie too, being a wife and mother. Social media as it is now, was not in my agenda so much. I had already joined FB but wasn't very active. So, plenty of time to keep on giving classes and knit my heart out.
I had been getting customers from abroad too! Danmark, Belgium, France, America and local. I was very fortunate to have a regular client, so a steady income, and my name got familiar too.
Well... This! Yarns were found everywhere; America, England, Germany and Belgium were the best. Some handdyed yarn from The Gossamer Web (etsy), Silk (above) and wool from England, Germany has amazing handdyed yarns too (Dye For Wool, Etsy) and nothing beats the finest yarns from Bart and Francis in Belgium.
So, in 2014 another trip to Shetland was planned and in 2016 I went again. Not by myself, knitter friends were curious about Shetland too. Carla Meijsen even went (and will be) several times there, also as Artist in Residence!
Then, things slowed down. I got the odd commission, I kept on designing but other techniques were becoming more and more interesting. So classes stopped, I gave some private classes but in the end with covid, it all ended.
Less income meant not being able to travel.
In the meantime, social media went crazy. Mobile phones were getting more sophisticated and I joined Instagram. I like(d) Instagram. Nowadays there is too much advertisement and somethings may have been improved. I could use a lesson in that too! hahaha
In 2015 I got involved in a chat, that was about how to decifer a lace shawl seen in the Outlander series. I hadn't seen the show at all, wasn't aware what it was about, hadn't read the books (still haven't). My friend Belinda helped me out with screen shots, the show didn't air here. Laura supplied the photos and video and if I was able to help. I hadn't planned on another big project but let's try. I like a good puzzle.
In the end it took me a year, a chat with the costume designer of the show and many many hours of charting to complete the shawl. You can read about it HERE.
Below the original authentic Shetland Lace shawl, above my version.
Weird stuff started to happen after it was done. I was in an American magazine for sheep farmers, thank you Cynthia, so they would be aware what was possible with the wool. The shawl was added to the FB group for Outlander patterns and designs. I gave a class on Fine Shetland Lace IN the Jamieson and Smith yarn shop in Lerwick in 2016. It was sold out in no time, and I was planning to go to WoolWeek 2016 'anyway'.. hahaha.
I started a support group on Facebook, expecting a few members. My shawl took nearly 4km of fine Shetland Wool. WHO was going to knit that? Well, apparently, plenty of people. There have been 50 knitters working on it!
Link to the group HERE (opens in a new window) 667 members
Then, I started another group, stumped by the fact that there WASN'T one already.
The Fine Shetland Lace group.
It fills my heart. I'm not alone. ALL AROUND THE WORLD there are people interested in this type of knitting. Not just me and knitters from Shetland. Or some of the knitters that had taken one of my classes!
Some people are brandnew to lace or even Shetland Lace. Few are experienced and VERY VERY skilled. It has grown into a very kind, supportive and enthousiastic group. There are 6000+ of us, but there is a very good atmosphere.
ONLY shetland lace is allowed. NO politics or other knitting techniques. You are welcome to join.
I made some very good friends there! <3
My superfine Blyde. Worked in gossamer cashmere, this is 31 grams and 70" long or 178cm. (2018)
Here the original Blyde, 51gr and same length (2016)
What a set of knitting needles and a bit of yarn can do!!!!
Those set of 2 fine (straight!) needles have brought me SO much. I've met amazing people, incredible friends, headspinning knitting, I've relearned how to spin thanks to Ammerins, my business has been promoted by people that believe(d) in me and I'm forever grateful.
I'm NOT planning to stop anytime soon. Twentytwenty was a difficult year for all of us, around the world.
The thread of covid was tangeable and left us very creative or numb. I've heard many lament their lack of concentration and I was one of them (too).
- The Third One is a rectangle shawl with Shetland Lace patterns, tested as we speak by 6 knitters.
- The Fourth One is on my needles, not ready for testknitting yet.
- Cornelia will be a coloured (lace) hap in memory of my grandmother. She died from covid at 100yo.
- The Crawford Veil is at 65% now, languishing on and off since 2013, makes slow progress. That will be much later in the year.
- A triangular shape in 100% superfine linen, dyed indigo by Habu Textiles (USA).
That's a lot of miles to be worked, so planning and sticking to it is very important.
Today is the first anniversary of my new webshop. You can click, pay and enjoy immediately!
I had to take a risk, back then. I had planned to go to Shetland and wanted to be ready for possible traffic and knitters wanting to knit my designs. Ravelry redesigning their website was a reason too. Still clueless why they won't listen to people have severe issues with that new make over.
I DID go to Shetland, Woolweek was canceled due to covid. I had a great time, like a retreat. Spoke to no-one, walked for miles and finally was smart enough to bring my knitting to Shetland and photographing it at the most amazing locations. Here, my Shetland Stars Square Shawl (outlander) in Nesting, Shetland.
I hope to welcome you in my new webshop, shetland stars support group, fine shetland lace group, instagram, facebook or here. And when covid is done, hopefully in real life!
You made it to the end, thank you.
Event: in my webshop a week long discount of 20% on all patterns. ONLY in THIS webshop, NOT on Ravelry or in my Etsy shop. NO code needed. ENJOY!