Craftsy Sold to Comcast NBCUniversal

Craftsy, the online video tutorial and supplies marketplace launched in 2011, has just announced its sale to media giant Comcast NBCUniversal.

Craftsy (PRNewsFoto/Craftsy)

Like many similar buyouts the official line is that the company will continue to operate mostly independently. The purchase appears to be part of Comcast NBCUniversal’s (wow that’s a mouthful of a name, I’m just calling them Comcast from here on out) attempt to compete with Youtube and Netflix in the “edutainment” space.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out over the next four years. Craftsy, which has raised over 100 million in venture capital, has a staff of 190 employees. Generally tech company buyouts come with massive employee turnover, and it will be especially interesting to see if Craftsy CEO John Levisay makes it through all four years of his “golden handcuffs.”

Although financial details of the transaction are not immediately available, more information about the two companies can be found on the Denver Post.

Round Mountain Fibers Studio Expansion

Round Mountain Fibers, an indie dyer located in Vermont, is expanding their studio space! They currently operate out of an incredibly adorable shed + “annex” shipping container, but are looking to move into a space that is 3x larger and has amenities like running water.

ok but seriously, water or not, how cute is this?

Round Mountain Fibers caught my eye because they use 100% US grown wool. The yarn base is spun in Pennsylvania and dyed at their studio in Vermont. They have a beautiful line of acid-dyed wool yarns inspired by the bright colors of nature.

Cecropia Caterpillar by Round Mountain Fibers

What rewards are available?

Backer rewards for this Kickstarter are fairly straightforward. They’re releasing a special Kickstarter colorway (see below), with reward skeins starting at $10 for a 50 gram hank of fingering weight yarn. For hand dyed domestically produced yarn that is a very competitive price.

Round Mountain Fibers’ Kickstarter colorway

Higher backer tiers include gradient sets in both mini skeins ($30) and full 100g skeins ($60) and larger quantities. The price per skein is consistent throughout the backer tiers.

What are the risks for this project? Should I back this project?

Round Mountain Fibers is an established company with over 50 existing wholesale clients, so fulfilling the rewards for this campaign should go fairly smoothly for them. I think limiting the rewards to one colorway was extremely smart of them and will make shipping orders go fairly smoothly.

There is a risk the project will ship late. The ultimate goal of this campaign is to fund a construction project, and construction projects are notorious for running late. That said, this is not the company’s first renovation project. With the experience gained from building out the current space it’s more likely they their time estimates are realistic.

The risks for this campaign are fairly low, and the entry price point of $10 is very reasonable. If you like the Kickstarter colorway you should go for it!

Back “Love Yarn? Help Round Mountain Fibers Build a New Studio!” on Kickstarter.

Full disclosure: I backed this campaign! Aside from that I have no affiliation with Round Mountain Fibers whatsoever.

Everyone is Getting Socks for Christmas

The sock bug has bit me. One minute I was totally fine, thinking about how I should really get around to starting my Rhinebeck sweater. Then one quick trip through the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival later I find myself surrounded by sock yarn.

It started with regret. At Rhinebeck I fell in love with some kettle dyed sock yarn by Into the Whirled. By the time I was ready to purchase it they were sold out of the colorway. No worries, I thought. I’ll just buy it online later. Friends, let me tell you: at no point in the last seven months has that colorway appeared on the website. I stalked every update. I hunted. I cruised the Ravelry forums for folks who might be offloading theirs. No luck.

As I entered the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival I had one goal in mind: get my hands on this yarn. With a budget of $100 I knew I had to stay focused. It is very, very easy to spend $100 at a fiber festival. It is not particularly difficult to spend $200. At least I didn’t buy a sheep, right? Imagine how many socks I could make if I had my own sheep!

When we reached the booth I was ready. I found my colorway, and a few others to go with it. I was under budget, and feeling very good about myself.

It was shortly after this moment that I made a huge mistake. I went back to a booth I’d lingered at earlier (The Fold, in case you were wondering). They had some Socks that Rock in a lovely pink and black colorway. I held it and said to a friend “I can’t decide if I should get this or not.” My friend looked at it and said “well the colorway is called Buffy, so you have to.”

It turns out that Blue Moon Fibers knows their audience very well, and released twelve Buffy themed colorways in honor of the 20th anniversary. I somehow managed to resist the urge to buy all of them.

Now I’m looking at sock patterns on Ravelry. I’m trying to keep it simple – I knit a pair of colorwork socks followed by cabled socks and refused to knit any socks for a while after that. Hermione’s Every Day Socks are about as fancy as I’m going to get this time around.

Socks are addictive. Sock yarn is an easy impluse buy. In many ways they are the perfect project: they’re portable, they’re fairly simple, they only take one skein of yarn, and people are always impressed you know how to make them. Buying a sweater quantity of yarn is a commitment. Buying a skein of sock yarn is like a fling. You can try something new without breaking the bank. And if it doesn’t work out like you’d hoped that’s fine, you won’t really see them once you put your shoes on anyway.

The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is an annual fiber festival at the Howard Country Fairgrounds in Maryland. Below are some of photos of the event found on Instagram (I was too busy buying yarn to take any pictures).

 

Anchor Rainbow Throw Pillow

Have I mentioned that I love, love, love throw pillows? I do. It’s such an easy way to change up the feeling of a room and I am particularly loving this crochet throw pillow pattern by Kirsten Ballering.

The base is crochet in cray yarn and then a chain stitch grid is sewn on top. It’s a lovely way to use up odds and ends of beautiful hand dyed yarns.

 

Let’s talk about choosing a yarn for this project. It’s written for sport weight, which depending on where you live can sometimes be tough to come by. Which is why I’ve found this beautiful natural alpaca yarn that would just be absolutely lovely:

665 yards of alpaca yarn

and oh my look at this incredible set of 8 sport weight mini-skeins in delicious Easter egg colors

Bet you can’t squish just one of these yarns

Pretty soon I’m going to have more throw pillows on my bed than there is bed. And that suits me just fine.

Nee

To make this pillow you will need:

Ready to get started? Buy the pattern on Etsy!

Big Bobble Texture Summer Handbag Crochet Pattern

In the summer I usually need a big bag to put all my stuff in, and this bag is perfect for a trip to the park or beach. It’s wide (16 inches) and deep (5 inches) making it good for carrying the awkward sized objects I inevitably end up lugging around.

The pattern uses the bobble stitch as an all over texture to create a fabric that is strong enough to withstand daily use. What I really love about this bag though is the finishing, the handles in particular look lovely.

To crochet this bag you’ll need:

Get the PDF pattern

TINK Wearable Notions Bracelet on Kickstarter

.It’s Kickstarter time! I’m a huge fan of Kickstarter and crowdfunding for creative endeavors, and I hope that eventually the knitting & yarn community can be as rich and fruitful as it has been for folks who like fancy pens and papers. So following on the heels of the knitting machine kickstarter review I’m diving into another crowdfunding drive, the TINK Wearable Notions Bracelet.

The TINK wearable notions bracelet is a metal bracelet featuring a ruler, tapestry needle, stitch saver (aka mini crochet hook), needle gauge, yarn cutter, and row counter all packed into a tidy form factor. It also features slots for holding stitch markers and a set of stitch markers are included with the Kickstarter reward. It comes in a fabric “Needle Nest” needle holder by Undercover Otter.

From the TINK campaign page

What is the TINK bracelet, exactly?

TINK is a six-segment aluminum bracelet which features a number of different tools useful for knitters and crocheters. While some of the tools might only get used occasionally (like the needle gauge) others like the yarn cutter will undoubtedly come in handy every day. The ruler is even a nice thing to have in a variety of non-crafting situations.

The bracelet is on the larger side, approximately 1″ wide and 6″ long (around). The thickness isn’t specified in their campaign but it looks at least a quarter inch thick in the photos. While the machined aluminum keeps it light it’s still a pretty bulky bracelet, probably not one most people could use for everyday wear. It’s definitely a tool first and a fashion statement second.

Fashion aside they’ve managed to cram an impressive amount of tools into a small space, I almost wish it wasn’t a bracelet at all. Keeping all my knitting notions together in my bag is a pretty serious challenge and having a bar-o-notions would be great.

What are the risks for this project? Should I back this project?

Maybe!

Manufacturing is a complicated business, and this project has a few unusual hurdles.Each bracelet piece has to be individually machined from aluminum stock. This means that there isn’t much of an economy of scale when it comes to producing them. In fact, a large number of orders could actually be a problem. Bracelet segments are milled one at a time, so piece takes a fairly long time to make. If the number of bracelets ordered is high there may be significant delays in delivery of your reward.

There are a large number of custom manufactured pieces for each bracelet. The 6 individual segments, the custom crochet hook, and tapestry needles are custom made individually. All of this leads to a pretty expensive manufacturing process. The designer may only be breaking even on this project.

On the flip side, the fact that each bracelet is milled individually means there’s a better chance of fulfillment (even if it runs late, it’ll probably show up). The process for making one bracelet is about the same as the process for making 1000, and there’s not a lot of risk that they’ll run out of money just getting their tooling set up.

The biggest barrier to the success of this campaign is its price point: $150 is just a lot of money for an aluminum bracelet. Sure, it replaces 7 other notions, but even purchased individually it’d be hard to spend more than $50 on them. You may not really need wearable notions if you’re already carrying a project bag. The campaign is a little over 50% funded with a month to go.

The campaign looks well planned and thought out. If a nice aluminum notions bracelet is just what you’re looking for, go for it!

White Textured Baby Blanket Pattern

Can I make a confession? I often knit baby items for no one in particular, on the assumption that eventually a baby will be announced. Baby items are just so satisfying to knit. This textured diamond blanket pattern by Rocket Clothing London has made its way onto my queue.

 White textured baby blanket knitting pattern

White textured baby blanket knitting pattern

The pattern uses basic knit/purl stitches along with a few mini cable stitches. The pattern includes instructions for increasing the size of the blanket to fit your needs. It’s knit in DK weight yarn on US 6 / 4 mm needles. When choosing yarn for a baby blanket look for something that can withstand frequent washing, such as 100% cotton, a cotton / acrylic blend, or a wool blend marked as machine-safe.

Ready to get started? You’ll need:

Get the PDF pattern now

Chunky Cable Knit Scarf Pattern

This scarf pattern by Mama In A Stitch uses super bulky yarn to make an oversized cable that makes up nearly the whole width of this scarf!

Super chunky knit scarf with cables

One of the advantages of using thick wool like this is that it makes for a super quick knit. The scarf is made with jumbo yarn (6 stitches per 4 inches!) on US 19 needles.

To make this scarf you’ll need:

Ready to get started? Get the PDF pattern now!

Kniterate Knitting Machine on Kickstarter

I’ve seen this project flutter by enough times that I think it’s time to talk about it: the Kniterate Knitting Machine.

The Kniterate knitting machine in action

The Kniterate knitting machine in action

What is the Kniterate knitting machine?

Let’s talk about what this project is: It’s a knitting machine that aims to hit a sweet spot between the hobbyist machines and serious industrial production machines. Hobby machines, like the Passap 6000E or [discontinued] Brother KH930E, start around $1000. While they’re not as popular as they once were there is still a fairly active community for using and maintaining them. The Kniterate’s feature set matches or surpasses even the most expensive hobby machine setup. On the flip side, an industrial knitting machine starts around $20,000, so even at the full retail price of $7,500 this machine is going to be a serious knitwear designer’s cheapest entry into the market.

The biggest thing that sets this machine apart from a hobby machine is it’s ability to transfer stitches between needles automatically. Most hobby machines require you to painstakingly transfer stitches by hand between the ribber and main bed, or for decreasing stitches (like at the top of a hat). For this reason there are many projects that are more time consuming to do on the machine than by hand. The Kniterate knitting machine’s carriages transfer stitches for you, meaning you’re not spending hours hunched over moving stitches around.

Support for up to six colors is impressive for a machine this cheap

The software for the machine is entirely custom, and it’s not clear from the Kickstarter documentation whether the Kniterate knitting machine will support existing software like DesignAKnit. Their machine-level instructions are a custom language called K-Code, and they have helpfully published the specifications online. This is great for the longevity of the project – it means that people outside the company can write software to use on the machine.

Who is behind the Kniterate project?

According to the Kniterate about page, Gerard Rubio is a design school graduate who started the OpenKnit project after seeing the sad state of knitting machines available to design students. OpenKnit eventually morphed into Kniterate. This project is the culmination of about 4 years of research and development.

In addition to Rubio the Kniterate team consists of 5 other members with backgrounds in fashion, hardware design and manufacturing.

Should I back the Kniterate knitting machine?

Maybe. Assuming you’ve got a spare $5k lying around, there are some additional things to consider before plunking down your credit card number:

Hardware manufacturing is hard, expect delays.

Kickstarter hardware projects have a history of running late or never shipping. The reasons for this are many but the short answer is that manufacturing is complicated. And while Kniterate has raised over $350,000, that’s actually not much money for a hardware startup. They may face issues with the production run not coming out at the same quality as their prototype, or other manufacturing delays. The fact that Kniterate was incubated at HAX means they may have a better chance of success than most, since they’re already in a network of hardware manufacturers. If the project, which is currently slated for April ’18 delivery, runs late they’ may end up scrambling to pay their staff in the interim. In short: delivery of this or any Kickstarter product is not a given. Most projects do eventually fulfill their promises or refund money, but are you prepared for the chance you might be left with nothing?

Ongoing support is a serious concern.

Kniterate is a new company. I have a number of Kickstarter’d gadgets whose maker has long since disappeared. For a $10 watch band or even a $100 hydroponics system this is an inconvenience. But for a $5000 piece of semi-industrial equipment this is a serious risk. Running a hardware company isn’t easy, I’ve watched plenty of promising companies fold in the last few years. If Kniterate goes under in a few years do you have the technical skill and desire to tinker with your machine and keep it running?

That said, the project looks great.

The Kniterate team already has a great looking prototype and tons of video of it actually working, so at the very least they have a solid proof of concept. This is clearly the fourth or fifth iteration of the machine over many years, so I’d expect the final product to be pretty smooth and polished. And there’s really nothing else like it, with the tools & features of an industrial machine but much easier to use, at a much lower price point, and smaller size. The team behind Kniterate has a great blend of expertise and interest – you don’t spend a year working on an open source knitting machine unless you’re really into machine knitting.

The market for the Kniterate knitting machine isn’t huge, not a lot of people have $5,000 to spend on something that will probably ship next year and hopefully meet all their requirements. But for independent knitwear designers who just can’t quite swing the cost of a serious industrial machine this may be just the thing they need. And if you’re a hobbyist with 5 grand burning a hole in your pocket it looks like a lot of fun!

 

Adorable Fox Hood for Babies and Adults

Are you ready for the cutest, most adorable thing you have ever seen in your life? Seriously, if you are of childbearing age make sure your ovaries are in their upright and locked position before continuing.

Before we look at this completely adorable fox hood pattern I want to talk to you about babies, and hats. Babies don’t like hats. The second a baby figures out how to touch his or her head, all hats are forfeit. I have never made it more than a block without my daughter reaching up, grabbing her hat, and throwing it on the ground to get run over by the stroller. Immediately after this happens some well-meaning-I’m-sure stranger comes up to me and interrogates me about why my baby is not wearing a hat and what kind of mother lets her baby go without a hat in this weather. At this point keeping my baby hatted is less about her comfort and more about me avoiding nosy neighbors. Which is why this pattern by Muki Crafts is such a great one: it’s a cowl and hat in one, and oh my gee is it adorable.

Are you not squealing with delight?

It’s a hat! It’s a cowl! It’s kind of like a balaclava, but without looking like you’re about to rob a bank! Not only that but the pattern is available in four different languages – English, Spanish, Italian, and French. It’s available in sizes baby through adult, so you can have a whole family of foxes. All the techniques used are fairly basic, making this a good project for an advanced beginner. You’ll need to know how to knit in the round, increase, decrease, knit, and purl. There is also some hand embroidery needed for the nose and whiskers.

Ready to make yours? Here’s what you’ll need:

Get the PDF pattern now!