Monthly Archives: January 2012

Welcome to a new week.

Am I the only one who starts out on a Monday with great intentions that this will be a really productive week? Every Monday I begin with plans to get myself organised for the week; I’m going to be efficient, finish my outstanding patterns, have a sparkling house (right, who am I kidding!?!) and of course I’m never going to run out of the front door 10 minutes too late with a sandwich in the corner of my mouth :) And don’t forget all the exercise that I plan on getting done!

If I’m entirely rational about it I would probably acknowledge that unless I magically managed to double the week length that I am destined for failure. But yet I keep on trying every week. Why?  Perhaps it’s because when you do have a week when everything goes your way it’s actually possible. The week, where you bounce out of bed before the alarm, you don’t spend an hour surfing the internet half asleep before you get working and manage to get the load of laundry and a run done before it even hits 10.

But it’s also not just me – with 6 of us in the house a lot also depends on how everyone else is doing.  We have a big mixture of personalities in our house and it doesn’t take much for someone to throw a spark into the powder keg.  We’ve got high achievers for whom anything less than perfect is unacceptable, we’ve got little messers who just love poking at vulnerable spots trying to make the house of cards fall and we’ve got unpredictable high needs (one was diagnosed with asperger syndrome last year) that isn’t always on the same page as everyone else.

So if we’ve got a morning of tears with irrational arguments that make you want to tear your hair out at 7 in the morning you can end up feeling exhausted by 8.30.  If you’re tired our or stressed as well then your contribution to the morning/evening is negative rather than positive.  But yet every new week you start afresh with good intentions. I will get to bed before midnight, then I’ll have the patience to get through the day calmly, to start work promptly and to take care of myself and everyone around me.

So this week I’m starting in a good place, we negotiated the morning with relative calm, I’m writing this blog post before nine (!), and I will get me to-do list finished this week.

Happy Monday morning everyone, I wish you the courage to start every week anew.

Competition winner and patterns!!

Thanks to the trusty random number generator I have a winner to our competition – it was blog post number 72!  So congratulations to Yvonne, I hope you enjoy it.

I’ve also got some great news for anyone who was waiting for a specific pattern from the booklet, they’re all now available as individual pdfs.  I’ve given the list below with a buy now button for each.  The Haruna hat and gloves are sold together as a set rather than individually.


Ignus

$5.95

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Bakersville

$5.95

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Taupo

$5.95

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Flama

$5.95

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Haruna Hat and Gloves

$5.95

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Vesuvius

$5.95

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Showcase- Ireland’s Creative Expo

Yesterday I took a day trip to Dublin to visit Showcase which is Ireland’s Creative Expo.  I have been meaning to go to this for the last several years but the timing never worked out well for me before.

This year I wanted to drop a few samples and posters to Studio Donegal so I actually planned for the visit.  As well as Studio Donegal both Cushendale and Kerry Woollen Mills had stands there.  There are some new yarns coming out for both Studio Donegal and Cushendale.  Studio Donegal have launched the ’2-ply Merino’ yarn that is just wonderful!  This is the same yarn that was know as ‘Soft Donegal’ that was used in Contemporary Irish Knits to knit Rossbeg.  This yarn has the colored flecks just like the Aran  Tweed but it has the super soft merino as well a 2 ply (rather than singles) structure.  Well worth a try – I know that This Is Knit have lots in stock and I’m sure most other yarn shops will also have it shortly also.

The second new yarn from Irish mills is Cushendale’s lace weight yarn.  You can buy this from The Yarn Room, there are just a few colors right now but it won’t be long before they roll out a bigger range.  It’s not an especially soft yarn but I suspect that just like the other weights once it is washed and blocked it will feel great and wear well.

I’ve got a few little surprises being released in the coming year using all this new yarn, how could I resist :)

It of course wasn’t just yarn at the show, there were quite a few stands that really caught my eye when I was there:

Woolcore has a huge range of products (lots for babies) that use wool fleece.  I saw a few on pieces on the stand that I couldn’t see on the website that use waxed cotton backing and fleece inside.  Everything felt so great and were beautifully made.

I got a kick out of Bog Buddies - definitely an innovative use for peat!!

Fellow Cork business with super soft fleece kid’s clothes- Ba~Goose.

The coolest lampshade ever at Klickity.  And for you Origami lovers there was Japanese Papercraft.

Scrumptious Knits giveaway!

In the last couple of days the printed version of Scrumptious Knits has arrived at Fyberspates in the UK!  If you’ve been waiting to get your hands on a paper copy of this book you can buy it now here – remember if you’ve previously bought the PDF version you have a 20% off voucher to use.

I’m waiting (not so patiently!) for my copies to arrive, which should be any day now.  I’m so very excited to see my little box of books.  To make the wait more exciting I thought I’d have a raffle on my blog for a copy of Scrumptious Knits.  You can let me know whether you’d prefer a hard back copy or a PDF version of the book.  All you have to do is tell me which pattern you are going to knit first from the booklet and why in the comments on this blog post.  I’ll have a random drawing for the winner next Thursday the 26th.

For anyone who already has their copy of the book/ebook and is dying to get knitting please come join me for a KAL at my Stolen Stitches group on ravelry.

In more Scrumptious Knit news the book samples have arrived over in the US with the Fyberspates distributor Lantern Moon.  You can read all about it on their blog here. They’ll be traveling with them this weekend to TNNA in Phoenix so even though I won’t be there in person there will be a little part of me there :)  If you are going to the show this weekend do make sure to call to their stand so you can see the samples in person!

Florence Cardigan

I’ve just had a new pattern published with Knitscene for Spring 2012 (Spring always seems like wishful thinking at this time of year!)   There are some very wearable designs in this issue, I’m really fond of Beulah Cardigan by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark, I love the wonderful color and delicate design of the cardigan.

I worked with a yarn for the Florence Cardigan that was new to me but really works for the pattern.  Its a slubby cotton/linen mix that was knit at a slightly loose gauge.  This allows it to drape and flow which is what the design needs!  It’s a simple pattern with a few little twists to make it unique!  I would love to knit another one for myself, seems like a good all purpose summer cardigan.

You can see more about Florence Cardigan here, you can buy this issue of Knitscene (Spring 2012) here and you can see more details on the ravelry page here.

I try to take a few photos of me wearing the knits before I send them off to magazines.  I think that way you get a chance to see the piece in two different settings and worn different ways.  Here are my photos from last summer of the cardigan:

Novel Knit blog tour

In the summer of 2010 I met Ann Kingstone in Scotland.  We spent a wine soaked evening chatting and I thoroughly enjoyed her company!  Little did I know that over the next 18 months I was again to meet her several more times.  Ann is one of the calmest, most relaxed people I know with truly amazing knitting skills!  She is so calm in fact that she happily knits up to the deadline minute without a care in the world.  Meanwhile Woolly Wormhead and I were both having nervous breakdowns on her behalf :)

Ann has a very unique, elegant design style and she has put together a collection in Novel Knits that really showcase her knitting ability and design talent.  There are a wide variety of knitting techniques and projects in this book with 15 patterns in total.  These patterns range from larger sweaters and shawls projects right down to smaller projects like gloves, hats, socks and bags.  A full range of skills in covered in the book, touching on cables, lace and stranded colourwork.

Here are a few of my favourites, the first is an very elegant hooded scarf with twisted stitches curving up and around the hood organically.

Lanthir Lamath

The next is a beret, Lorien.  I’m always fond of the combination of lace and cables!  I just love the headband of this hat.

Lorien

However, Pemberley (below) is probably my favourite.  I saw this in person at TNNA last summer and it is just superb.  A very clever increase/decrease on the same row created a wandering strand of colour up each side of the front.  My love of this jumper is what prompted me to focus my interview with Ann on stranded colourwork.  It’s something I’m personally becoming increasingly interested in and wanted to hear everything she had to say!

Pemberley

Knowing you in person, I know that you have superb knitting skills! When did you learn to knit and do you remember who taught you?

My Mum taught me to knit when I was so young that I don’t even remember learning! She is ‘true left-handed’ knitter, and as I’m left-handed that’s how she taught me. I really got into knitting as a teenager though, making many jumpers and cardigans from patterns and books. I think that’s when I had my biggest leap in skills. Then, as a young woman I bought ‘Knitting in the Nordic Tradition’, and learned stranded colour-work from that, and many other skills too. That book is very fragile now!

Do you have a favourite knitting technique?

I have many favourites! And yes, I think stranded colour-work is probably top in my heart. ;o)

Has the type of project you enjoy designing and knitting changed over time?

When I started designing, I mostly did small projects, especially socks. Now I find I want to design larger garments, jumpers and coats. I think it’s because I’m a learning junkie; having mastered socks I needed to move onto the next challenge. So now I’m working to perfect my understanding of jumper shaping to achieve a good fit with standard measurements. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time researching armscye options, especially because I’m very keen to create cleverly seamless garments. I think I’ve finally really got the compound raglan, and now I’ve moved onto circular yokes and ‘simultaneous set-in sleeves’. I’m currently working on some designs with significantly scooped necks above a circular yoke, and am loving the challenge of working this out!

There is a wonderful mixture of project types in the book ‘Novel Knits’ I think that the designs that really stand out for me are the stranded colour-work projects, especially ‘Pemberley’ and ‘Lissuin’. Do you have any personal favourites?

The most popular one in Ravelry is Lanthir Lamath, and as this is my favourite too that doesn’t surprise me. I designed it to have an elvish feel, and to evoke a waterfall, and am really pleased with how the cascade on the scarf tails works. It has perfectly circular drops of water arranged near the bottom, and streams of water criss-crossing above in the lattice patterns. And I am so proud of the celtic knot on the back of the hood!

What is it about designing in multiple colours that appeals to you?

Well, you know Carol that I’m very much a colour-loving person! It brings a big grin to my face when I remember how amused you and Woolly were by the riot of colour that my end of the hanging rail sported when we shared a room in Columbus last summer!

So one thing I love about colour-work is that it satisfies my need to play at combining colour. And I love figurative motifs – hearts and flowers are my favourite. I love folk art for the same reasons, and learned to do decorative painting some years ago. Like my stranded colour-work, most of my painting features hearts and flowers too!

Do you have any advice for knitters when choosing colour combinations for the knits, or pitfalls to avoid?

It’s best to approach it with a conscious knowledge of colour theory. That’s why I wrote a tutorial about using the colour wheel to plan yarn combinations for stranded colour-work. Folk can find that in the ‘Knitting School’ at my website. Although I wrote it with stranded colour-work in mind, it is just as relevant to choosing colour for contrast trims, etc…

The most common pitfall is misuse of dark and light shades. If a flower motif is half knitted in a light colour against a dark background, and half knitted in a dark shade against a light background, then the flower will be very difficult to see. Contrast needs using consistently throughout the motif. So if I use dark red, dark green, dark purple, light blue, light orange and light yellow, I need to use the dark shades as for the motif stitches, and the light shades for the background stitches throughout, or vice versa.

For knitters who have not done stranded knitting before, what is the most common difficulty when getting started? (And how can you avoid it!!)

The hardest thing for most people is tensioning the yarn so that the work is neither puckered nor holey! Because yarn is being carried across the back of the work between sets of stitches, if it is pulled too tight when it is brought back into use, then it puckers the work. If it is instead allowed to hang in loops, then the stitches at each end of the loop will work themselves loose. What I do (and with practice this becomes second nature and doesn’t slow things down any) is make sure the stitches the yarn is stranded behind sit on the needle at normal tension (not all bunched up, and not stretched out), then at each colour change I take care not to pull on the yarn excessively as I get it around my needle.

Stranded knitting is often knit at a small gauge, why is this an advantage?

For one thing, stranded knitting is formed of two layers of yarn, so makes heavier fabric than single colour projects knitted in the same yarn weight. In finer yarns however, stranded knitting has a pleasing drape. Also, at finer gauges the individual stitches are less noticeable. They blur together so that the colour-work motifs appear to have smoother edges, a more painted than stitched appearance. And finer gauges provide a bigger stitch ‘canvas’ for knitting more recognisable motifs. It is much easier to chart a good-looking deer over a 50-stitch wide area than over a 20-stitch wide area!

Spud & Chloe Ignus Junior

I’ve been waiting patiently for Christmas when my niece came to visit, I had several little girl patterns waiting for her to model! (She did get to keep some of them!)
She is very fond of pink at the moment so the pretty Watermelon color of this yarn was one of her favorites! The yarn for this project is Spud & Chloe ‘Sweater’ that they kindly provided for the project. This is one of the best yarnd out there for kids, machine washable in great colours with a mixture of wool and cotton. Anyone with kids knows the importance of this, even a hint of a scratch and you won’t get them near it!

This is Ignus Junior knitted in size 4 worn by a child who is 4 1/2 (that 1/2 is important!)

Ignus Junior $5.95

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In the next few weeks I’ll have a couple more little girl patterns available, when I have a model available I want to take full advantage of her!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! I know it’s a week after the fact but as the kids just went back to school today it now feels like the New Year. Has anyone made any New Year’s resolutions? I started the year as always promising myself that I’d actually start exercising (beyond walking) this year :) – I’m assuming I’m not the only person this year promising that to themselves!

However the past few days I was sick again. Not sick enough to go to the doctor, just a runny nose, sore throat and low energy. As I started thinking about the previous few months I realise that this low grade illness has been plaguing me for a while. It seems like nearly every second week I had to stop walking/running due to being sick. I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard the last year and I think it’s starting to wear me down. From mid-November to the end of January I have 8 deadlines. I’m working my way through them without a problem but I haven’t let myself relax in a really long time.

So my new year resolution is to take on a little less outside work and to allow myself to experiment a bit more. I want to play and have fun with yarn and needles again, to spend weeks swatching with different yarns and stitch patterns. My creative juices need a little reviving and perhaps my physical well being will follow?

So does anyone want to join me on this journey? Let’s go play with yarn together!