Currently working with some wonderful gradient yarn from The Wool Kitchen. Sometimes the yarn is the star of the show. I'm making a crescent shawl with a very simple pattern and the ends really are pointy! I absolutely hate crescent shawls with a pelmet hanging off them.
Today, this site is the final stop on the blog tour of Holla Knits Accessories 2015 issue before it returns home tomorrow to the Sweatshop of Love for a pattern giveaway. It's been such a pleasure working with Allyson and with Artesano yarns on this pattern, and such a pleasurable surprise to be published so soon in my designing career. I keep getting asked how I think up my ideas, so I thought I'd talk a little about how this design came about.
In Spring I started playing with the possibilities of argyle patterns. My favourite shop-bought sweater at the moment is an argyle pattern from the menswear department, but I wanted to create something that was unmistakably girly.
I started out with the basic diamonds and triangles - which are the easy bits to smack down into an Excel spreadsheet - and then I tackled the diagonal stripes. I quickly ran into difficulties as I didn't like the jagged lines that you get as soon as your stitches are made in handknitting weight yarn. I wanted the lines to be smooth like cables. OK, let's try cables. That worked as a look, provided I had some texture and body to the underlying fabric. Yet more swatching showed that rib worked best as a background.
The next challenge was to find an attractive way for the cables to cross. I tried single twists, double twists and nothing looked right. Then I tried stitching on a button to hide each cable cross and for some reason I tied the yarn tails into a bow. Oh, I thought, bows could work, but they need to be chunky i-cord. After that, it all came together quite quickly.
I had already made it up in cream, grey and yellow Aran yarn when I saw the call for submissions from Holla Knits. When Allyson accepted it, I reworked the pattern for worsted weight yarn as that is a lot easier to find in the USA. My version is made in Artesano DK Superwash Merino, which is a perfect substitute for worsted weight, especially for European knitters.
I've loved the whole process, from putting together the initial submission, to seeing the gorgeous photos taken for the magazine.
30 September, 2015
I just got back from a week in Iceland, with rather a lot of yarn in my bags. I visited the Handknitting Association of Iceland's shop which sells mostly sweaters made by their members, but also yarns. The most interesting yarn they stocked came in cakes and sold for only EUR38 per kilo. It is only semi-processed, still smells of lanolin and has not even been spun - just combed into an even yarn of parallel fibres. It has to be handled gently as with too tight a tension it comes apart in your hand, but once knit it makes a very strong fabric. I bought every shade of natural grey, between almost black and almost white, enough for a sweater. I'm attempting a version of a traditional sweater, but with more shaping for the sleeves and with the patterned yoke only going as far as the shoulder line.
At the volcano museum I was taught a traditional cast on by the woman in charge of the till and we each did a show and tell of what was on our needles.
September 20, 2015
Is it morning yet in chicago?
You could sell that, they said. So I sent a picture to Holla Knits, and Allyson said straightaway that it was adorable. And then I waited and waited for decision day - which began a lot later in Chicago than it did in London. And finally, in the middle of my day, she said yes!
So now I'm sitting here on publication day waiting for the Accessories 2015 issue of HollaKnits! to go live, my first ever magazine pattern to appear on Ravelry, and to press the upload button to publish a proper picture of Wrap Me Up in Kisses on my website. Is it morning yet in Chicago?
September 14, 2015
The 2015 Great London Yarn Crawl
Update 18 September - just heard that we raised £1302 for Refuge. Yay!!!
On Saturday I was a yarn guide for the Bamboo group in the GLYC2015. We had an absolute blast starting out with early entry to the pop up marketplace where Loop had sponsored our breakfast, then exploring three very different yarn shops in and around hipster-Hackney:
Knit With Attitude was our first stop, with so much colour and texture and texture to choose from. Maya has built up a truly beautiful shop. Of all three places we stopped this one probably had the largest variety of yarn imported from smaller independent dyers. I blew most of my shop budget on just two skeins of a very special yarn: Sweet Georgia Yarns Silk Fog in Peony. I was torn between the pink and the lavender - both intense shiny pure colours and finally chose the pink.
Fabrications was next, where Barley gave us a mini-workshop on making a rosette out of upcycled scrap textiles during our lunch-break. She sells mostly British yarns including some independent brands and has a large stock of vintage buttons. Must-have purchase(s): a drop spindle to ply some reclaimed cashmere yarn and some gorgeous vintage amethyst crystal buttons in an early plastic. (Oh no! should have chosen the lavender silk and mohair earlier.)
Wild and Woolly was our last stop, where Anna had already put the kettle on for afternoon coffee and home-made cake. We walked into another explosion of colour and I tried to match my buttons. I chose a gorgeous grey-with-hints-of-lavender Kettle Yarns blend of silk and wool fingering. That took care of most of the budget. Some Noro Kureyon in a shade I had never seen before and some pink Aran for a second version of my Gemini cowl took care of the rest.
It was a great day. Londonders tend to stick to their own patch, so it was exciting to find out about three very different shops in an area I hadn't been to for years. I know I'll be visiting them all again.
Best purchase of the day? Easily the vintage buttons from Fabrications
September 6, 2015
in our grandmothers' footsteps
My grandmother taught me to knit, and I started out doing everything her way and after she died knitting was a way I still felt connected to her. The first time I came across an instruction to do something differently from the way she taught me, I was genuinely outraged: That can't be right!
When I made the prototype for Wrap Me Up In Kisses (pub date Sept 14th) I seamed the 1x1rib in the way that she taught me: knit columns adjoining so that the bars of the slightly loose mattress stitch become a pretend purl column. And it looked OK. Not great, but certainly OK.
When Kisses was accepted for publication, I thought I had better check how American knitters are taught to seam rib. Apparently, you like to start out with an even number of stitches so that a knit column adjoins a purl column and the seaming disappears. Nah, that'll never work, I thought. But it did. The sample turned out beautifully, and I felt like a traitor.
OTOH, I also came across an article mentioning a "little known" method to improve the look of a ribbed hem, by slipping every other stitch on the first row after the rib. But everyone does that anyway, I thought.
No - just my lovely, clever, amazing and talented Nan.
August 23, 2015
wrap me up in kisses