Category Archives: Knitting

New Patterns: Shoreline Blanket and Harbour View Mitts

I have two new patterns published in Knit Now (Issue 61) which hits the shops this week.

First, the Shoreline Blanket – modelled here with a baby, but it could work as a lap blanket too:

Shoreline Blanket Knit Now photo

Photo: Dominic Crolla  for Practical Publishing

The Harbour View mitts have cables travelling up the back of the hand and in this lime colourway certainly brightens a dull day!

Harbour View Mitts Knit Now Photo

Photo: Daniel Walmsley for Practical Publishing

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New Pattern – Sebright Hat and Mittens

The new edition of Knit Now magazine (issue 54) is published today and includes my latest patterns – Sebright hat and mittens:

Sebright Set image from KN54 - credit Dan WPhoto: Dan Walmsley, Practical Publishing

It was a relief to see the finished hat being worn by someone – everyone in our house has a particularly large head, so there was no-one who could try on the required sample size!  It was artfully modelled over a few bowls and inflated balloons, but that’s not quite the same as a real live person…

This set uses the broken seed stitch, which creates a really interesting textured pattern, but is very simple to create – a row of knit stitches in one colour and then a row of alternating knit and purl stitches.

Persuading the stitch pattern to decrease for the crown/top of the mittens in a consistent way was a challenge, but I was pleased with the finished effect:

BSS hat and mittens - decreases

Pattern naming also proved to be a challenge.

Originally these patterns had a name that was inspired by the similarity of the stitch pattern to the “laced” feathers on a Wyandotte chicken.  If you need to know more about these chickens, there’s a detailed history here.

silver-laced-wyandotte-hen

Now, how many other people would name patterns after chickens?  Surely not many?  But by some strange coincidence another designer for Knit Now had already used the name Wyandotte – and for a hat and mitten set too.  So, back to the drawing board…

Consulting my book of fancy chicken markings (I’m sure you have a copy on your bookshelf…) I found that the Wyandotte was developed by breeding Sebright bantams with larger birds to obtain the markings in a full sized bird.  So Sebright it is!

New Pattern – Carrot Tops

This week sees the publication of my third pattern for Knit Now magazine.

Issue 51, which should be available in shops this weekend, features a gardening theme, including my boot toppers.   These should jazz up your digging boots but also add some cushioning your ankles:

Carrot Boot Toppers - for self pub pattern

The boot toppers are a good introduction to charted colourwork in the round – each round uses only two colours and there are not too many stitches between each motif, so carrying yarn is easy.

Celebrating small successes

It’s been that time of year again, the Rare Breeds Show at the Weald and Downland came around for its annual festival of all things farming and woolly. More fleece was donated by my friend in Shetland, this time from Katie the Katmoget: IMG_2465 I battled with the mini-combs and managed not to injure myself, which was a success in its own right!  Eventually I came up with a small skein of fairly lightweight yarn, which the judges kindly awarded a red rosette: IMG_2543 Joy, owner of The Knitting Goddess, and Rachel of My Life in Knitwear have recently run a competition to find an image to use as inspiration for colours in a new mini-skein set. I was delighted to be included in the shortlisted photos with this shot of Bognor Pier: IMG_2466 Plotting new designs continues. Now that there are well-established processes in place to deal with VATMoss I hope to finally self publish some patterns as the autumn progresses. Watch this space…

Violent Violet’s socks

Sometimes (OK, quite often) I run before I can walk. I have a good idea, which is overtaken by a better idea, then I tweak it a bit more and see further possibilities. It all gets too complicated, too ambitious and nothing actually comes of it! After a spell of ill health last summer (if you have a kidney stone, make it a small one, having a 3cm one removed is not a great deal of fun…) I thought I had found a fun project, spinning and knitting socks as a gift for someone.

It started so well, we agreed on the pattern and the colour and I set to work. These socks were going to brighten anyone’s day. The fibre became affectionately known as violent violet:

IMG_1179 Worried in case I ran short of yarn, I spun 200g of fibre into a 3 ply – making something for someone else made me feel I needed to do things “properly”, none of that chain plying, what if they felt the bumps??? So far so good.

The knitting started and then life just kept getting in the way. Then the guilt set in, they sat staring at me every time I sat down, still with just the toes completed. Another spell of ill health and more guilt because I was at home all the time and still the wretched things weren’t getting any further along.

Eventually progress was made, and after I gave myself a stiff talking-to I managed to turn the heel at Christmas. I kept thinking ‘if I just did one pattern repeat a day they’d be done by the end of the month’… I kept torturing myself with thoughts that after all the effort they wouldn’t fit – we have the same size feet, but mine are unusually narrow so every time I tried them on they flopped about and it all looked wrong!

Finally, finally they are winging their way to their new home. I hope they are worth the wait!

IMG_1885 The pattern is Coming Together Socks and Violet is not really violent at all, in fact she is generally known as Violet Merino from World of Wool.

New pattern – With a Twist Cowl

My first pattern of 2015 is published today in Knit Now Magazine (Issue 44).

IMG_1865

Photo: Dan Walmsley – Practical Publishing

Ravelry Pattern Page

It’s a neck-hugging cowl, perfect for the snowy weather we are having in the UK at the moment! It features reversible cables, so you can fling it on in a hurry, safe in the knowledge that you won’t be wondering around with it on inside out 🙂

With a Twist Cowl

It can be worn with the top folded down, or as a tube to keep as much of you warm as possible.

The cowl was knitted using Emrys Bluefaced Leicester Aran by Triskelion Yarn and Fibre. The yarn was a delight to knit with, a great colour (Hafren) and very very squishy.

IMG_1181

From the original prototype that I made I thought that it would be touch and go to make the cowl from one skein. There was an awful lot of knitting a round, weighing the cowl, weighing the remaining yarn, crossing fingers etc. When, after all that worry, the finished cowl used 90g of yarn, I was mightily relieved!

Colour Splash Blanket

Today is a bit of a milestone for me, my first magazine pattern has been published 🙂

Knit Now were brave enough to commission my pattern back in the spring and today issue 39 hits the newstands.

The Colour Splash Blanket is knitted entirely in garter stitch, one colourful stripe is expanded upon to form a square, giving a small blanket ideal for a baby.

The blanket used Peter Pan Merino Baby DK and the colours of yarn used certainly provided a vivid splash of colour:

Colour Splash Baby Blanket

The official magazine photos include a rather charming baby:

(Photo credit – Rachel Burgess, Practical Publishing)

Click the photo to go to Ravelry to see more information about the pattern, or, if you feel inspired to rush and order a copy online, the Knit Now website is here.

Squares

I have been involved in knitting squares for various blankets recently, usually a group effort to give a warm hug to someone who is unwell or having a tough time.

It gave me an excuse to try out some different stitch patterns.  No matter what the samples look like in photos from stitch dictionaries they take on a new look when you actually knit them up.

Then I had an idea.  I have a notebook full of pattern ideas and they rarely make it into a knitted version, but this one worked out better than I thought:

Four Cables

An idea, knitted up that actually worked!  I may need to lie down 🙂

Knitting with beads

This could also be titled ‘I’m afraid of those nupps’!  I’ve started knitting Annis, a crescent-shaped shawlette, using yarn spun from this fibre thatI purchased at Unravel:

Annis starts at the bottom, so you cast on 360+ stitches which is a bit of a challenge.  I added lots of stitch markers to ensure I don’t get lost!  I’ve not tried nupps before, but I did have some beads around that were just the right colour (and hopefully, if my maths is right, I will have just enough – I don’t want to think about getting most of the way along the last row of beading and finding that I’ve not got enough).  After a bit of research I found various descriptions on how to add beads when knitting.  Here’s how I have been doing it, in case it helps someone somewhere:

1  The next stitch needs to have a bead on it:

2  The beads are on a thread (I have about 150 beads on there and tied a VERY firm knot around the one on the end so they don’t all explode all over the floor) with a sewing needle that fits through the hole in the beads easily.

3  Thread the sewing needle through the stitch:

4   Remove the stitch from the knitting needle:

5  Then pass the sewing needle back through the bead:

6  Move the bead so it is on the sewing thread:

7  Move it further down so it is on the yarn:

8  Remove the thread from the yarn loop:

9  Put the stitch back on the left-hand needle:

10  Knit the stitch as normal:

11  Repeat as required…

I did read about people using dental floss instead of a needle and thread, but I didn’t have any to hand (sorry Mr Dentist, I may not always tell the truth about my flossing habits…).

From Fibre to FO (a rare event)!

A couple of months ago I purchased some ‘hotchpotch’ packs of fibre from Helen at My Heart Exposed Yarns (www.folksy.com/shops/myheartexposed).  I used one pack to experiment with corespinning and over Christmas I put the other pack of blue shades to good use.

Another rare event happened before Christmas – I won a prize in a raffle!  It was bath goodies and came wrapped in some lovely paper:

I used the paper as inspiration for creating the yarn.  The ‘hotchpotch’ was mainly shades of blue with a bit of plum thrown in – I added some blue merino and some brown mystery fibre that I received in a waste selection from www.worldofwool.co.uk.

Once carded together they looked like this:

and I even remembered to write down the ingredients:

 

It started to go slightly downhill from here…  The fibre was great to spin, I navajo plied it and got an aran weight yarn.  The mix of colours began to get a bit muddy looking for my tastes:

 Again, I remembered to note down some of the vital facts…

I adapted the stitch pattern from the Spiral Mitts I knitted before Christmas and made a squishy cosy cowl:

I’m still not 100% sure about the way this turned out, but hey, I actually finished something!

Stitch markers

Before knitting and spinning took over my life I had a brief spell I spent lots of time fiddling around with beads.  As with all craft hobbies, things like this never really die, there are always bits of this and that still tucked away.

For one of the Christmas parcels I put together I made some stitch markers and, having got the gear out again, I made a couple of other sets over the weekend.  I don’t really do ‘cute’ but these beads did make me smile:

And then there were three…

The third pair of mittens are complete:

These were a scaled down version of this pattern:  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/nalu-mitts.  Now I need to find something else to create, the Christmas projects are at an end!

Knitting with glitter

Yay!  Second pair of mittens is now finished – just one more to do and Christmas knitting is sorted:

Mittens galore

Knitting gifts for Christmas always seems such a good idea – but why does it always end up taking more time than you have?  The snow and ice has returned and it meant a day of going nowhere and an excuse to do nothing but knit.

I’m doing three pairs of mittens and have finally finished one pair, the other needs another three rows per hand and I have finished one of the other pair (which was the pair I started first…).

This pair are for my mother-in-law, a lover of animals.  The yarn is spun from a batt made of merino, alpaca and angora so represents a good selection from the animal kingdom.  I’m not sure I carded it very well, the angora went into little clumps, but it made an interesting tweedy effect so I’m going to claim it’s a design feature.

Warm and toasty

My first project using a batt I created is now finished:

I made three batts of various orange/rust/gold/brown shades of merino blended with some copper coloured trilobal nylon.  Each batt has a slightly different style – one was layered, one was randomly blended and the other graduated from dark to light across the batt.  Each batt became a single and resulted in a worsted-ish three ply yarn. 

The colours lent themselves well to the Candle Flame cowl (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/candle-flame-cowl) – I managed to complete two and a half repeats of the pattern and squish in a couple of purl rows and end up with a yard or two of yarn left over – result!

Cranford Mitts

They are complete…

The thumb construction is deviously clever – instead of increasing to make the extra stitches you just stop decreasing within the pattern.  These are a gift for someone, but I think I’ll make another pair for me!

Pop!

The yarn is now a hat…  After hunting through the pattern pages on Ravelry I found Pop! I kept weighing the hat and the yarn so I could get as many repeats of the pattern done as possible – the pattern suggests 12 and I managed 7 so it’s not as slouchy as the original. 

You can see the colour changes in this picture – I think I will experiment again with graduating colour through the singles, maybe the next four ply project?

Rectangly hat

The response to my pattern being added to the blog took me by surprise!  There have been loads of visits and downloads and it’s now in 50 queues over on Ravelry – I will be so pleased as and when anyone knits one up.  It must be really amazing if you are a proper designer and see people walking around wearing things that you have designed – I wonder if the novelty wears off?  I’d be unbearable if I saw someone wearing one of my hats! 

I can see from the magic stats thingy on here that this blog has started coming up in response to people searching for free patterns.  I could understand people being directed here when they search for ‘free knitting hat pattern’ or ‘free chemo hat pattern’.  I am still trying to understand  what the person (or people?) were truely seeking when they typed in ‘fruit free hat knitting pattern’ though?  A hat free from fruit?  A free pattern for a hat to go on a banana?  There could be a whole new market out there…

Free Knitted Hat Pattern

My first attempt at a written knitting pattern is now available via the FREE PATTERNS link at the top of the blog.

The pattern’s for this very cozy and totally reversible double-knitted ‘Rectangly Hat’.  The concept of double-knitting (knitting two layers at the same time) fascinated me.  This hat was made after knitting a swatch to find out how the technique worked and wanting to experiment with a larger project.

Hopefully I’ll get this pattern set up on Ravelry tomorrow.  If you decide to give it a go, do let me know how it works out!

Liesl – finished at last!

You know how some projects, through no fault of their own, just don’t want to come together?  This was one of them.  I spun some yarn months ago, started knitting and it was the most hideous creation I have ever seen!  The yarn was a multicoloured pink mix which combined with the feather and fan pattern was just way, way too busy.  For a while it stayed on my Ravelry pages headed ‘Barbie and My Little Pony in the blender’…

This version is much calmer.  I managed to use up almost all the yarn I had spun (about 400g of arun/bulky weight) – literally just a couple of yards spare.  I knit the yoke and a fair bit of the body then started wondering when to stop.  I went back and knitted the arms, then kept going on the body until the yarn ran out.

I’d like to knit another one of these – maybe a calm mix of colours, and a slightly lighter-weight yarn (this version is certainly warm and weighty)!

Holiday Knitting and Spinning…

It has been a little quiet on the blog as I haven’t been around for a week or so, having been sunning myself on holiday.  Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I have been self-catering, getting soaked and doing routemarches round places of interest to 9 year olds for  a week.  One day I will get to do as little as possible in the sunshine with someone else doing the cooking…

However, I did take the essentials with me – some fibre and my spindle, my copy of YarnMaker magazine, my Leyburn socks and a Liesl cardigan (if I could have got my wheel in the car I would have done)!

   

Back to reality now, well a mountain of washing and ironing, but I do have another week off work.  Amongst the many things I’d like to do this week is get one of my patterns written up and available via my blog, so watch this space!

Rare Breeds – Handspun Entries 2010

I’m lucky enough to live near the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum which has a Rare Breeds Show every July.  I’d been regularly, but last year it took on a whole new slant as I had been spinning (spindling?) for … at least six weeks!  I didn’t let that put me off, I entered two items in the novice classes and came away with two rosettes.  I guess I better point out that there aren’t too many novices out there, so the competition was not exactly fierce.  I got prize money too – I think a first and third place earned me about £4.50 (so I made a profit – it was £1.5o for each entry)!

I’ve upped my game this year and am entering three classes – Shawl/Stole/Scarf, Natural Skein and Hat/Gloves/Other.  I’ve just put the tags on and am ready to roll in the morning.

I agonised over how to attach the tags.  Is it bad form to use a safety pin?  Would it be showing off to use more handspun yarn – or should it be co-ordinated with the item?  I hope I can’t hear them sniggering as I leave the display tent…

I’m hoping I will manage to buy some lovely spinny things too.  I have my eye on a spindle from IST crafts and there were quite a few other fibre stalls last year so I’m sure that won’t be all that I come away with.

I bought some buttons today and am about to start frantically sewing them onto my newly felted bag (then adding a lining and some sort of closing device).   I couldn’t find any flower shaped buttons, I had a picture in my head but maybe I saw them at the Lewes Guild show in October, not in the shop I went to?   I want to take the finished bag on its first outing tomorrow to a suitably fitting event, so hopefully I can post a picture of the finished project tomorrow morning before I go.

Fear of felting…

So, the fibre I dyed has been spun and plyed and is rapidly turning into a bag.  The handle seems to be taking forever – I wanted it to be strong so it is a tube of seed stitch, but I can’t decide when to stop knitting.  I’m going to felt the bag so the handle will get shorter, but I bet it will stretch with use…

I knitted a Booga Bag a couple of years ago and remember that it got much shorter but not a lot narrower so I’ve tried to take this into account when making this bag.  Hopefully I will finish the handle today and get it in the washing machine – I hate that bit, what if it eats all my hard work and turns it into something the size of a thimble?  Then I’m on a button buying mission tomorrow so I can get it finished and use it on Sunday!

How much yarn can you get on a bobbin?

Lots!  Lots and lots and lots and lots…

This is the purple shetland fibre that I dyed in my second attempt at dyeing, plied with the various blue/purple/teal/green/angelina fibres that I carded together.   This measured up to be around 700 yards of somewhere between lace and fingeringweight yarn.  The purple has dulled down the brighter colours somewhat.

I had ideas of making a lightweight cardigan, knitting a thin yarn on big needles and weighing the cuffs and edges down by adding beads.  I’m not so sure now, this might become a wide stole, maybe based on a feather and fan stitch.  I tried a swatch, just to see how it knit up.

Thick and thin

Not so long ago I ordered this fibre.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but thought I’d have an arty moment and try out spinning thick and thin yarn. 

The fibre just flew onto the bobbin!  I used my new slow speed bobbin and the thick bits turned out lovely and squishy if a little bit overly plumptious and the thin bits were, well, to be honest, rather too thin and twisty.  I wasn’t sure how to set the yarn so just gave it a soak in hot water and swirled it around a bit hoping it might felt a bit.  Picperfic (who sells somes very pretty fibre on http://www.etsy.com/shop/picperfic) suggested alternating between very hot and very cold water, so I will give that a go next time.

This is how the yarn ended up and how it looked when knitted.  I started a hat, but it was a disaster because it was sunny, I was outside and not paying attention at all, so it got frogged!

   

Sock update

My Leyburn socks are coming along now.  I had to rip it back to the start of the patterned section once as I had too many stitches and it was a bit too big.  I’m quite proud that I ripped it – once upon a time I would have blindly carried on and ended up putting a lot of effort in to get something useless out, or just put it on one side.  I’m getting better at admitting mistakes and putting it right.

I’m knitting these two at a time on a circular and I think this technique is growing on me.  I love DPNs, but the idea of finishing knitting and having two socks all done and ready to wear is a winner.

I am overthinking this pattern.  To get the latticework pattern you slip stitches and carry the yarn in front.  So for most of these pattern rows you are not actually knitting any stitches – but you do knit all the way across the sole.  So you are knitting more rows on the sole than on the top…  Am I going to end up with a short top and long sole?  I’m not dwelling on this as I will have enough to worry about when it gets to the heel!

It’s a wrap…

This project seems to have been on the go forever.  It started it’s life back in February, when I purchased some Stoney Shores fibre from www.wheeldalewoolcrafts.co.uk.  I spun this as thinly as I could to try and get somewhere near the finishing line of Ravelry’s LimeGreenJelly group’s 800 yard race (I got just over 500 yards which amazed me, but shows I have a way to go when it comes to spinning fine)!

   

I decided to use this pattern http://shop.sweetgeorgiayarns.com/products/cashsilk-fern.  It took about 5 months of knitting here and there to get it to what I thought was the right length, and yesterday I finally cast off.  This gave me a chance to play with some more new toys – I had bought a foam hopscotch mat and some blocking pins and not had a chance to use them until now.  As you can see, it certainly grew a little:

 

I thought it was all done, then remembered I had ends to weave in – here is the finished article:

Socks with a hug

My daughter’s off to Brownie camp today – she’s been away overnight before, but this time she’s away for three nights.  We’ve packed what feels like most of the house (and they’re in a village hall, not tents, so no camping equipment beyond a sleeping bag)!

I wanted her to have a little something if she felt a bit homesick and was inspired by this project on Ravelry http://www.ravelry.com/projects/batfink/sock-buddies.  Both socks have pockets, one has a bear to hug and the other a little crochet heart tucked inside. 

I’m not sure what it will take Brown Owl and Tawny to get through the next few days – rather more than a pair of socks I suspect!

You win some, you lose some…

Being the grown-up knitter that I am (!) I did the right thing and knitted a swatch to get guage for the Leyburn socks.  Apart from anything else, I wanted to be sure that I could cope with the unusual patterning, which turns out to be quite simple but effective.

The swatch was the good news…

The bad news?  Yet again I have wrecked a pair of wooden Knit Pros.  I bought a starter pack last year and the tip of  a 4mm one split.  I just thought I was unlucky, so got out the sandpaper and blobbed a bit of clear nail varnish over the end and got on with things.  In the last month I’ve had another needle break straight off at the end which joins the cable, then, having done the tricky twisty starting stitches for toe-up-socks-two-at-a-time-on-a-circular-needle, my new 2mm needle split all the way along the grain. 😦

To end on a postive note though, the lovely Val at Woolstack has said I can return my needle for a replacement and I’ve decided to swap it for a Nova metal tipped circular – hopefully I can’t do the same sort of damage to one of those?!  So, these socks are on hold until the new needles arrive.

Sheep in transit

Someone told me that every spinning wheel needs a sheep to look out for it.    I used this pattern:  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sheep-in-sheeps-clothing# to create the sheep on the left of the picture, who sits in the handle of my Ladybug, keeping an eye on things.

The sheep on the right is on a long journey oop north to make sure all is well with a wheel and it’s new family.  It arrived today (so much for first class post, it was posted on Thursday and arrived Tuesday…) and is currently having a name chosen in a very democratic manner!

Update:  Names were drawn from a hat and the sheep is now named….  Corynthia