Monthly Archives: September 2011

Survey and the blog tour continues!

I want to thank all of you that left a message yesterday to my blog post, I’m finding it really interesting reading. I had a suggestion to set up a survey on Survey Monkey to get a better idea of what people like so I’ve gone and done that! I’ve never set one of these up before so please let me know if it’s not working right. You can find it here, I’d really appreciate all the help you can give me.

I had so much fun yesterday with Marly Bird talking with her on her podcast.  It was my first time doing a podcast so I started off feeling fairly nervous about it but she’s fun to talk to and very relaxing so I soon got into the rhythm.  She also has a chance to win a copy of the book for the podcast listeners.  It’s still available to download and listen to here.

Tomorrow we’ve got the next stop on the blog tour with JC Briar so come check it out!

Anyone who is in the direction of The Yarn Room, I was originally going to run a class there on Sunday the 2nd of October but this has now been cancelled.

So, how do you like your patterns?

Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself trying to figure out the best way to organize my pattern writing and sales.  I was wondering you all like?

Do you prefer paper or pdf?

Single pattern, small book, larger book, mystery KAL?

What about the idea of a pattern subscription (like a yarn club) where you sign up for a set period (say 3 or 6 months) and get a new pattern every month/6 weeks at a discount with an extra surprise along the way?

Or maybe a a club in conjunction with an indi dyer with yarn and pattern together for a 3 or 6 month period?

I’d love to hear your ideas, there are so many ways of doing this that the possibilities can be overwhelming.  Plus there is no point trying a different route if no one is interested in it!

Let me know your thoughts….

Ambroso Mittens & next blog tour stop!

A few months ago I sat looking at a lonely skein of Manos del Uruguay ‘Silk Blend’ on my shelf.  I loved the yarn and the color was one of my favorites but  for some reason it had been sitting there for quite a while.

I took it down and started swatching, I wanted to knit it at a nice tight gauge and experiment with cables.  I started out with a very elaborate cable sketch that morphed into a tulip at the top but it looked really silly when I went to knit it up!  Instead the combination of the single sideways cable that crossed over ribbing really captivated me.  I began working with just that and the zig zag cables began growing out from there. And so the Ambroso mittens were born, they’re available right now on the current Knitty Deep Fall 2o11 issue.

Working these mittens uses several different cable types, to make them very visually easy to pick out I would suggest color coding them so you can see at a glance where you are at, you can just use highlighter pens or markers of different colors for different cables:

Ambroso left mitten colored chartI also got a  lovely surprise in this issue of Knitty, Contemporary Irish Knits made it to the top of ‘Cool Stuff’! I had no idea that Amy had such a soft spot for Ireland (she’s actually going to be teaching a class at This Is Knit in Dublin very shortly!)

My blog tour is now well underway, and you can find the latest review and interview with Shannon Okey (aka knitgrrl).  She had some fun interview questions so it should make for a good read!

Blog tour and review roundup

The second stop on the CIK (Contemporary Irish Knits) blog tour has gone up at Hoxton Handmade here.  If you ever need knitting related audio to listen to while you work you should be sure to check her podcast out, lots of good info and she has such a pleasant voice to listen to!

A few more reviews have gone up around the web, a lovely one from Everything Old here.  Hedgehog Fibres are doing a giveway for a signed copy of the book here and you get to try your hand at yarn naming!

Sinead has been making great progress on her Rossbeg cardigan for her daughter, and she’s blogged about it here.

Here’s her progress, it fits her perfectly!:

We had a lovely class at Crafty Alley yesterday.  It was an all day class so it had a very relaxed feel to it, we could take our time and still get lots of knitting done.  Thanks to all who came along!

Winners and blog tour

Competition Winners!!!

Ok, we’ve got our winners!  I used a random number generator to get my winners, everyone who purchase was entered.   I hope that everyone that has bought patterns in the last few weeks enjoys their knitting!  The two winners have been contacted, I won’t post your names up here on the blog unless you want them here.  Congratulations to both of you.

Blog Tour

For anyone around here who is getting a bit tired of hearing me talk about Contemporary Irish Knits :-)  you’ll now get to here a few more knitters and designers talking about it instead!  I’m delighted to tell you about the blog tour that will be starting tomorrow with Stephen West.  There’s lots of interviews and a few giveaways along the way as well.  It was great fun answering all the interview questions, they actually prompted me to remember details about writing the book that I had completely forgotten about.  The schedule for the tour is below, due to different time zones and schedules there won’t be a set time for the blog posts so keep checking. The only one that is time sensitive is the live podcast with Marly on the 27th of September.  This will be at 10.oo am in Colarado which is 5.00pm gmt.

Tour details:
15/9/2011 Stephen West
17/9/2011 Hoxton Handmade
21/9/2011 Shannon Okey
23/9/2011 Rosemary Hill
25/9/2011 Ann Kingstone
27/9/2011 Marly Bird
29/9/2011 JC Briar
1/10/2011 Woolly Wormhead
3/10/2011 Anne Hanson
7/10/2011 Stephannie Tallent
11/10/2011 Alice Yu
13/10/2011 Michelle Miller
15/10/2011 Deirdre Thornton
17/10/2011 Ilga Leja

Little boys and classes

I wanted to have a range of project in this book. Many current knitting books focus on one area only; women, men, kids or accessories.  I wanted to buck the trend and cover the lot!

Can I introduce you to my little boy projects; Ballinagree and Caherciveen. (modeled by my two youngest sons).


From Contemporary Irish Knits

This raglan for little boys is knit from Cushendale DK in the round from the bottom up.  It is knit at a tighter gauge than normal for this yarn which is a great way to help make cables ‘pop’.  You also get an extra warm garment!

The body and sleeves are worked in the round from the bottom up and joined at the yoke.  You can see from this photo how the raglan shoulder shaping is worked using decresess all the way to the neckline.  The collar is split at the front and worked fairly short to give a standing collar.  As this is at the very end of the garment it would be easy to make modifications here, if you split the front further down you can have a larger opening, and possibly include buttons on the placket (which is knit afterwards).  Another possible variation would be to knit the collar for twice as long so that it fold right over on itself.  Just remember to have extra yarn!

The criss cross cables on the front and back of this jumper/sweater have a bold, medieval quality about them; just right for little boys!  The chest sizes for this piece range from 22.25 -31.5″/56.5 – 80 cm” which will fit approximate 2-10 years.  To figure out the correct size for kids, measure their chest size and then add the number of inches you want for ease.  If you’re unsure how much ease you need take a look at some of the clothes they wear (ideally in a similar weight material) that you like the fit of and measure.  You probably want around 2-4″/5-10 cm but that depends entirely on personal taste (yours and the little person!)


From Contemporary Irish Knits

The second little boy pattern in the book is Caherciveen.  Knit in the round from the bottom up using aran weight Kerry Woollen Mills yarn you’ll find that this top (depending on where you’re from, vest in the US, sleeveless jumper in Ireland/UK!) just flies off the needles.  The cables used are a variation on the staghorn cable.  Generally cables are worked using a reverse st st background, however for this cable I’ve left the background stitch st st which means the cables are not as prominent and it creates a much more subtle effect.  As with Ballinagree above the neck opening can be moved to suit your own personal taste.  I have kept the opening low but you can move it to a higher position if you wanted to without much difficulty.

This garment is knit with more ease than Ballinagree above, the finished chest size is 24.25 – 31.75”/61.5 – 80.5 cm.  I liked how this garment looked with a little more room but you should make your own personal choices about amount of ease.  That is why I’ve given as much sizing information as possible in the patterns, so you can make informed choices.  For each pattern actual finished measurements are given (including a schematic), the suggested chest size this will fit and the approximate age this corresponds to.  I’ve also given the ease shown on the modeled garment so you can decide if you want more or less ease in the garment you’re knitting.

When the body is complete you separate the front and back at the armhole and work them separately.  They are then joined at the shoulder using a three needle bind off (I just love how easy and smooth this join is!)  The hood is continued up from there (with the separated staghorn cable at each side) and joined at the top.  When you are finished the front edging (with the buttonhole) and armhole edging are all finished with my favorite applied I-cord.  It can’t be beat for a good finish.


I’ve got a few upcoming classes in the next few weeks.  You can see the full details of them all here.

Saturday 17th of September I’ll be at Crafty Alley in Killarney.  Class can be booked here.  I’ll be bringing my complete book trunk show so if you want to see the garments in person come along for a look after the class (after 4).  Cathy will also have the book in stock so you can pick up a signed copy on the day!

Sunday October 2nd I’ll be teaching at The Yarn Room in Wicklow.  Class can be booked here. Trunk show will be available to view in the shop on the day.

October 21st-22nd I’ll be at The Glasgow School of Yarn.  Classes can be booked here.  This should be an exciting event, I’ll also have my trunk show with me for this so come along for a look.


On my group at ravelry I’ve been running a raffle for a copy of my signed book (or some Donegal Yarn!).

From the 22nd of August until mid-day (Ireland) on the 14th of September anyone who buys one of my self-published patterns will be entered into a raffle.  I’ll have two prizes (your choice), of either a signed copy of my book or Donegal yarn.  The Donegal yarn I’ve got here is a sweater quantity of a dark grey/black (no. 4582) Aran Tweed or enough for Rossbeg girl’s cardigan in the orange (5530) Soft Donegal.

Launch party recovery!

We made it back home last night after the Contemporary Irish Knits launch party tired but very happy!  It is always such a pleasure to get to visit This Is Knit and the Powerscourt centre, such an elegant building with a lovely atmosphere.  This time my husband, Joe, got to come along as well so I actually have some photographs of the event to share with you!

I want to give a big thank you to all the mills and hand dyers who came along so that knitters got a chance to see the yarn ranges and talk with them.  Donegal Yarns, Cushendale Woollen Mills, Kerry Woollen Mills, Hedgehog Fibres and Dublin Dye Company were all there, and we even have the photo to prove it!

From left to right in the photo there is; Chris Weiniger (Donegal Yarns), Tristan Donaghy (Studio Donegal), Miriam Cushen (Cushendale Woollen Mills), Sean Cannon (Kerry Woollen Mills), Carol Feller, Beata Jezekova (Hedgehog Fibres), Elana Kehoe & Yvonne McSwiney (Dublin Dye Company) .

I got started before the launch signing a big stack of books for knitters who had pre-ordered.

Thanks to all you great knitters out there This Is knit sold out of the book.  Fortunately I had an extra box of books along with me so no one was left short!

I am so looking forward to seeing all of the finished knits as they appear, its so much fun to see all the variations created by different knitters to make the patterns their own.  I love talking with knitters about how the garments are constructed and possible ways of modifying to suit their own body type.

Overlapping with the book launch was the Yarn Tasting event that there were many, many knitters at (as you can see!)

At the event I got to meet the super talented (and so very nice) Kate Davies.  She also had a display of her garments and patterns up and it was lovely to get to see (and fondle) them all in person. Her historical perspective on knitting was really interesting to hear, I’m going to be keeping an eye out for her upcoming articles to read a bit more.

During the yarn tasting both Kate and me (much to our surprise) got to give a speech so attendees got to see a mini-fashion parade of a few garments from the book in action.  Thank you very much to all of the eager models (Lisa, Elana, Eimear and Aoibhe) who did a great job.

And of course there was cake (again from the amazing ‘Pepper Pot’ in the centre)…..

It was so very pretty it was a shame to cut it but it just had to be done!

Siobhan from This Is Knit was also busy snapping the event so keep an eye out on This Is Knit’s blog for some additional lovely photos of the event.  So even if you couldn’t be there you can still get some of the virtual pleasure from it!

Killybegs and Bundoran


Contemporary Irish Knits

This cardigan ‘Killybegs’ was the first design that was knitted for the book.  It was in fact finished when the book was barely an idea, rather than a reality!  The concept for this cardigan centered around creating a seemingly complex garment from the humble honeycomb stitch. The simple stitch pattern forms all the shaping for this cardigan.  Their is no waist shaping added, you can see how the honeycomb pattern (which has a ‘drawing in’ effect, as with all cables) is increased at the waist to form smooth organic waist shaping naturally.  It has the added bonus of creating a really interesting pattern using just the increases and decreases of the honeycomb repetition.

As you move up the body (did I forget to mention that it’s seamless worked from the bottom up!) you join the sleeves and the body together at the yoke.  I spent a really, really long time perfecting the decreases at the yoke.  All of the yoke decreases are worked into the honeycomb pattern to create a seamless honeycomb band around the yoke.  The back of the neck is raised a little at the very end using short rows and a neat, tidy I-cord finishes the neckline.

Speaking of I-cords, the bottom of the body is started using an I-cord cast-on.  This can be tricky to get right so I’d suggest experimenting with a swatch before you begin the garment to get it right.  If you just can’t get the first row to tighten up (this cast-on can create a loose first row) you have a couple of alternatives available.  The easiest to do is to work a provisional cast-on at the hem and then when you are working I-cord edging around the front you can work the I-cord edging along the bottom at the same time.

You can see here at the front I have opted for hook and eye closures.  This give a lovely smooth, clean finish.  If this isn’t your style just work I-cord buttonholes as you work the front edging instead.

The sleeves cuff also uses an I-cord cast-on and the honeycomb stitch to fit the cuff snugly at the wrist.

Once I had finished the Killybegs cardigan I started work on a complementary beret ‘Bundoran’.  This beret is also based on the honeycomb stitch with the crown decreases being worked into the honeycomb pattern.  After a few trial runs I opted to work the first few honeycomb repeats with spaces between, this helps to avoid the beret becoming too cable heavy.  There are two style options given in the book; a fitted style and a more slouchy style (shown here).

Both of these patterns are worked in Donegal Yarns ‘Aran Tweed’.  The texture and colors of this yarn are just a delight to work with and really complement the patterns.

Dalkey Set

Dalkey Set

From Contemporary Irish Knits

Anyone who has been looking at my designing over the last year or two know that I love lace and cables combined.  They complement each other so well, lace by itself can be very insubstantial and cables add bulk to knitted items.  Combine the two together and you’ve got a match made in heaven!

This cowl and fingerless mittens set is a great way of using your extra special skein of sock yarn.  One skein of Dublin Dye Studio Merino Sock was enough for a large size cowl and medium size mittens with just a little extra left.

You can see the stitch pattern in this detail shot of the cowl more easily, cables twist back and forth with lace in between.  The pattern is easy to remember after the first repeat, and the cowl is knit in the round so no wrong side rows!

This version of the cowl is the larger slouchy size.  It will fit loosely around the neck, this is ideal to pull it easily over your hair and it can be neatly folded at the neck and pinned with a brooch as seen in the top photo.

The coordinating fingerless mittens are as light as air.  Everyone should own a set of fingerless mittens in fingering weight yarn!  One repeat of the lace and cable pattern is centered on the top of the mitt for a subtle effect.