This was quite a year.
In fact, so much happened this year that I almost feel like it was 2 years rolled into one! This is across the board, from business through to personal.
But it was a wonderful year.
I’ve grown as a designer and as a business owner plus as a bonus we had our first long distance family holiday in several years. More than anything else, I feel as though I’m reclaiming some space.
Space to think, plan, and review.
One of the biggest changes this year for us as a business was the growth of our team. If you are curious about who everyone is, and what everyone does, come check out our new ‘About Us‘ page! Last January, Hannah began working with us as our digital marketer, which was a big job to step into. What we do is more complex than it appears from the outside. Learning how our business fits together is a steep learning curve, and she’s been up for the challenge!
Over the year, I think we’re all figuring out how we fit together and support each other’s strengths. As with everything in life, it’s a constant work in progress, but I’m so proud of our whole team, Laura, Nadia, Hannah, Magalie, Eimear, Eve, and Talia. The support everyone gives each other makes it a joy to work with you all. When someone needs extra help or is struggling, it is noticed, and everyone steps up to get them through. I’m very proud of the company you’ve built with me!
Galway Blanket Project
The biggest new project we undertook in 2023 was the Galway Blanket Project. This is a project that started as a small idea and grew into something much bigger!
It all started with the discovery of the Galway Wool Co-Op through Donegal Yarns and their quest to revive this native breed. We were very excited about what they were doing and spent several months trying to figure out how best to design and knit with this wool.
The Galway wool is a bouncy, robust, rustic wool. For most, it would not be next-to-the-skin comfortable, but it’s perfect for cables and a blanket. This was the first time we also incorporated a charity element with one of our projects. For each club membership we sold, we donated €5 to Jigsaw. We also held a raffle of our sample blanket that was worked on by Laura, Eimear, and me. In total we raised €3400, which is just incredible!
Your love of the Galway sheep story, and your desire to help with the revival, was just amazing. The response to the wool was fantastic. So much so we had to try and source more and had a second round of our blanket club!
The whole Galway wool project really highlighted the importance of following our heart with projects and ideas that are important to us.
The blanket above was designed by me, Laura Perrem and Eimear Earley. It contained a combination of cable stitches and textured squares. It ended up becoming a really substantial design project, but as you can see, it was well worth it! And if you happen to want to pick up a pattern or workshop on it, you can do that here.
We continued the first quarter of our year with the first mystery shawl knit-along; Campo Nights. This was a top-down triangular shawl combining 3 colours; two in a fingering weight yarn, and one in a lighter fluffy mohair. The stitch pattern was a satisfying slip stitch pattern that really allowed you to blend the colours beautifully together.
Our next knit-along was Holly Blue Cardigan in Nua Sport colour Hatter’s Teal Party. This is one of my favourite cardigans. I just love how the lace pattern flows down the circular yoke. It blends so nicely you can’t even tell where the increases are! The gentle a-line waist shaping gives it a bit of a swing and allows it to fit over most outfits well.
In the autumn we did something new to us, our knit-along, Galanta, featured both a sweater AND a vest version of the pattern. Plus, we did samples in both our Blasta and Nua Worsted yarn. I had never really considered wearing vests much before this, but they are so useful. For those in-between days, where you’d like to dress up a plain shirt, they are just perfect!
Galanta was knit from the bottom up seamlessly and the sweater features set-in sleeves from the top down with short rows. I used a faux cable for details at the hem and upper body that is much faster to work than a real cable and provides a lovely texture. It was a lot of fun seeing all the finished garments from all of you!
Working backwards, the last trip of the year that I made was to Barcelona in November. This was for the Barcelona Knits festival where I was teaching with a KnittingTours.com tour. This was the first year that they have done a tour to Barcelona and there are a LOT of fun places to visit!
It was my first time there, so I took full advantage of the tour and went along for all the destinations. If you want to read more about the tour, you can check out my Barcelona blog post here.
In October, I made my second ever trip to Rhinebeck. It may have been a bit damp, but it was just as much fun as always. Traveling with my friend Sue was great, as it was her first time there. I think her favourites may have been the sheepdogs. She has a border collie, and she was checking out the competition!
As you can see from above, we also had a big meet-up at Rhinebeck with a gang of other designers, some I knew well, while others I got to meet for the first time. Do you know everyone? I meet with Carson Demers, Miela John, Patty Lyons, Lauren McElroy, Laura Nelkin and Xandy Peters!
It’s been a very long time but this summer our now reduced family got to go to Costa Rica for the first time in ages. This is where my sister-in-law lives and it’s such a wonderful place to visit. They live in the mountains, so we avoided most of the intense summer humidity except for our short visit to the south of the county. It was so lovely to disconnect from everyday life and spend time with family. It’s rare that I have downtime from Stolen Stitches, so this was really special to me.
And the first trip of 2024 was of course Cologne! It was also my second time over here to the H&H trade show. It was fun watching Laura experience her first yarn trade show. It’s a fairly intense experience. So. much. yarn. It’s where we found these gorgeous leather bags.
This year our Seasons Club got a bit of a makeover. While the basics stayed the same, we wanted to create a more in-depth experience for our subscribers. Each season is technique focused, so when you join a particular season, you know exactly what the knitting focus will be and what you’re going to be working on. It makes it a really excellent way of learning (or improving) knitting skills. Plus, as a designer, it gives you a very clear direction to work.
Deas Launch & CKC
For our Celtic Knits Club 2023, we launched a brand new year, Deas. This tempting mix of merino and mohair is just a dream to knit cables with (or colourwork like in Yew Mor!). We discovered that this yarn just loves big cables. The chunkier the better! This meant that all our Celtic Knits Club 2023 patterns favoured larger cables that really allowed this yarn to shine.
This was something completely new this year, we took a dive more into the business world! We were picked by the Cork Local Enterprise office (LEO) as the Cork entrant for the national enterprise awards. It was such an overwhelming honor to be chosen, and it really made us realise our team is doing amazing work that is standing out and making an impact.
Cape Clear Vlog
The final part of 2023 that really stands out for me was our trip to Cape Clear island and our discovery of the gansey project that Jean Long was working on. It opened up a whole new window on historical knitting in Ireland and made us realise that there was a lot going on! This lead onto a fascinating zoom chat with Di Gilpin and Sheila Greenwell who gave us a deeper understanding about the history of the gansey.
Holiday Knit & Chat
And this leads us to the end of 2023 and our Holiday Knit-together.
It was really important to us that we ended our year with our wonderful community and while myself and Mags were chatting through our Yew Mor sweater live on YouTube, we were excited to hear what all of you were working on in December. We chatted through colourwork tips and techniques, cast-ons and sizing, colour dominance and more. So do go grab a cuppa and check out our live replays if you’re interested!
We knew it was a busy year, but seeing all in one blog post really brings it home!
I’m so proud of all the knitters’ lives we’ve touched this year, in whatever capacity that was. We read every email, comment, post and contact form. You’ve made us laugh, brought tears to our eyes in the best of ways and truly kept us motivated during some chaotic weeks. I’m so grateful for all of you and for a fantastic team that has made all of this possible.
Thank you for joining us on this incredible journey and from all the Stolen Stitches team, we wish you the best for 2024!