Monthly Archives: April 2010

Styling Azami

The gently draped material of Azami and delicate lace lends itself to simple styling that allow the lacework to shine.

A sleek charcoal grey turtle neck dress with chunky court shoes and geometric silver jewelry provides a perfect combination with the Azami sweater.

Playing around with styling ideas for Azami made me really think hard about how this sweater would look best.  The open lace panel at the neckline needs to be taken into consideration when wearing this sweater.  By providing a darker turtleneck backdrop the lacework will really pop and you won’t have the neckline of the undergarment draw attention away from your knitting.  The v-neck opening of the sweater lends itself to showcasing an interesting necklace, although it should be kept simple to avoid being too busy.

My previous styled version, Azami in White, has a lighter, summer feel.  Neckline of the top underneath is kept low so it will not detract from the lacework at the neckline.

The sample for this sweater was knit using Valley Yarns Southwick.  This yarn is a blend of Pima Cotton and Bamboo, both fibers have a great deal of drape which complements the style of Azami well.  When working with bamboo I would strongly suggest swatching and washing your swatch as it does tend to grow.  If necessary change your needle size so that you get the required gauge.  A 100% cotton version of Azami would create a similar effect as it will also drape well.

For a cold weather version of Azami it could also be knit in wool.  This will however change the look of the sweater somewhat, you would have to take care when blocking to ensure you had nice open lacework and good drape.

Playing with Azami styling

Thanks to Julia and Kate from Twist Collective I have just discovered the wonderful polyvore.  I will warn you however that this site should come with a health warning.  You may quickly find that your ability to perform other tasks becomes very compromised!  I have managed to spend well over an hour poking around the site and seeing out it works.  You can see below my first attempts at styling  an outfit on the site.  It is very fun to work with, you get to cut and paste images and outfit ideas together and get a feel for it it will work.
Azami in White
This outfit I put together using Azaimi is  very minimal in white, with slim sleek lines. This allows the details of your hand knit to stand out.  For me however this will remain a fantasy outfit, the likelihood of me being able to wear white for a day is pretty much nil!

Teaching at This is Knit

I’m very excited to announce an upcoming class in This Is Knit at the Powerscourt Centre in Dublin on the 16th of May.

This class will teach you how to knit the Centrique shawl or Captiva Wrap. You get to choose which piece you want to learn how to knit with a copy of the pattern included in the class price.

The Centrique shawl can be worked in either a light 4-ply/fingering weight or a heavier dk weight yarn. This pattern is great as a first shawl project. You will learn how to read your lace and create a triangular shawl. I will also show knitters how to adjust the pattern size if they want to work a smaller or larger shawl.

The Captiva wrap is shaped using short rows to create the gentle curve. Worked in garter stitch this project is a great way to learn how short rows work and is designed to hide the wraps well. I will also show how to adjust and modify the size and length of this wrap to suit your needs.

I’m looking forward to seeing all you knitters in Dublin!

Twisted Woolly Toppers blog tour

I have admired Woolly Wormhead’s work for many years and watching her go from strength to strength in the beauty of her designs. In her latest book ‘Twisted Woolly Toppers’ she has produced a superb book with innovative, ‘must-knit’ designs. I love the clean lines, simple layout and huge range of sizes that makes her books a pleasure to work from. These days I don’t seem to have a whole lot of time to knit other people’s designs but there are several in this book that I’m just itching to cast on for!

I have had the good fortune to meet Woolly Wormhead several times in the past year (one of which she just happened to be passing my house!!) and it is always a pleasure to talk with her. In particular I really enjoy talking about the design process. Perhaps you would also like to hear a few answers from her about how that woolly brain of hers works!

In this interview I wanted to focus on just a couple of the designs, the two I have chosen ‘Aeonium’ and ‘Medici’. Both hats are beret style rather than snug fitting but are not overly slouchy. Both hats have delicate, subtle twisted stitches making either hat ideal for everyday use.


Woolly do you think in hats? When inspiration hits is it always in the shape of a hat?

Yes, I think I do think in Hats! I certainly think in 3D, so whenever an idea starts to develop it normally starts with a structure, a 3D form of some sort, and then before I even realise it I’m working out how to make it into a Hat.


Now back to the two hats in question, firstly let’s look at ‘Medici’. Did the idea for this hat come while you were playing around with the yarn or did you begin with a vision of those stitch arches?

This is one design that definitely came from the yarn. Medici is the 10th design, the last design I worked on for TWT and was going to be something else entirely but the yarn and design just weren’t getting along. After searching through my stash, I chanced across the skein of Wollmeise (worsted) and from there Medici quickly took shape.


‘Medici’ is fast becoming very popular, and already has several projects made from it. Do you ever have any idea what is going to end up most knit/popular from your books?

No, no idea at all, but then I think it is impossible to predict which designs will be popular. I usually have my own idea of which designs will be made the most, and I’m usually wrong ;)


I think I am very in love with your hat ‘Aeonium’. Did that wonderful crown work first time or was it trial and error?

It took locking myself away in a quiet room for several hours to get it right! I knew how I wanted it to look and had it pretty much charted out, yet tweaking took a few attempts. I was determined to have the lattice crossing right up until the very end; my partner bet me that I couldn’t do it which was his way of encouraging me!


How difficult is it to translate such a seemingly complex crown pattern into a multi-sized chart?

For designs like Aeonium, where the crown pattern appears quite complicated, I’ve developed a method of working whereby a single chart or repeat works for up to 3 or 4 sizes without additional grading. It would take quite a while to explain how it works technically but planned ahead with a fair bit of maths, it makes the grading for a Hat much, much easier.


How often does a hat turn out perfect first time?

Fewer and fewer designs get abandoned because they don’t work out, but how much work it takes to get it right varies. Some designs work straight off, from my initial idea right through to finishing, yet others take more experimenting to get the effect I’m after. I’ve noticed that the designs that are most likely to fail are those that I’m less passionate for or convinced about, so I tend to follow my instincts. More often than not I’ll have the construction mapped out in my head before I start, which helps with the success rate.


For either of these designs was the yarn the initial inspiration for the design?

The structure for Aeonium was the inspiration – I wanted the challenge of working that crown, and chose the yarn to suit the design. It was completely the other way around for Medici.


I know that your preference is for wool yarn, do other fibers ever inspire you to knit with them?

Rarely do other fibres inspire me, although often a silk or alpaca blend will grab my attention. I love cotton as a fibre to wear but can’t bear to knit with it, likewise with other plant fibres. I’m afraid I am a bit of a fibre snob and tend to avoid man-made fibres as much as is humanly possible. I’ve studied the nature and manufacturing of textiles as well as the creative side, so you could blame that for my preferences ;)


Next week’s stop is at Knit With KT and the complete blog tour calendar is as follows:


My latest design has just been published in the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of the Twist Collective.

I began thinking about this design several months ago and it started with the stitch pattern, an open ‘star’ lace pattern.  In fact when I was working on the design I always called it ‘Starry Night ‘ when I referred to it!  This is one of the original swatches I put together with this lace pattern using Malabrigo Lace in ‘Glazed Carrot’.

You can already see in this swatch how I was working on a decreasing/increasing the width of the lace pattern.  In the final design I used this idea at the sleeve cuffs, along the sides of the hips and also around the neckline.  I love the effect of lace worked across an otherwise simple fabric that moves across the material.

With the hood I wanted to create an allover lace material that expanded to fit the head without having to increase the stitches, by increasing the needle size and creating a more open lace at the top of the hood it fits without interrupting the flow of the lace.

As you can see when I was originally envisioning this piece I was thinking about using a laceweight yarn at a loose gauge.  Although this would have produced a lovely fabric it does take an age to work and Kate from the Twist Collective got me thinking about using different weight yarns.  I loved working with the yarn we finally choose, Southwick from Valley yarns.  It is a dk weight yarn that is a mixture of both cotton and bamboo so creates a super drapy fabric.  Although you do need to make sure to block your swatch to make sure that you take account of any stretch you will get after it is blocked.

This is a sketch of the final design idea, you can see that the end product looks pretty similar (I’m always amazed when that happens!!) please forgive the poorly drawn face, I just can’t resist drawing faces on my sketches – must be the child in me…

As with most of my designs this sweater is made seamlessly.  The body is knit in the round from the bottom up (with the shoulders joined using a 3-needle bind off).  The sleeves are picked up from the armhole and worked down using short rows to create a set-in sleeve.  In Barbara Walkers knitting from the top she suggests not picking up the wraps when you work sleeves like this as the wraps create a neat ‘seam’ at the top of the sleeve.  I’ve been too much of a chicken to try this before but I gave it a shot and it really works beautifully.  It has the added benefit that you don’t have to mess around with picking up any wraps!

There is gentle waist shaping created using dart lines on the front and the back and all edging is kept nice and simple with garter stitch.  It was a pleasure as always to work with the twist collective.  You can see there much nicer photos of the finished garment here and please make sure to check out the full magazine, even their ads deserve a lot of attention.