Author Archives: carol

Win some Nua!

I want to have a little giveaway for anyone who has bought Nua Collection Volume 1 (digital or print) or any of the individual patterns; Dangle, Boherboy, Ravi Nua or Finglas. If you have already bought any of these I’ll enter you into a giveaway for 2 skeins of Nua yarn (in your choice of colour) and a project bag.

If you don’t have the Nua Collection Volume 1 yet then go ahead and use code Nua20 for either print or digital to get 20% off the price. This will be valid until the end of March. All knitters who have purchased before the end of March will be entered into the draw for the yarn and bag. I’ll pick the winner on the 4th of April when I come back from Germany.

2 Skeins of yarn are just perfect for either a pair of Finglas mitts or a single colour Boherboy. We’ve had a sudden cold snap of weather here in Ireland. Yesterday it looked like spring with primroses and magnolia trees blooming then today it’s dropped down to freezing with threats of snow! I think the weather might just push me to knit my own version of Finglas mitts although my colour of choice will be Frog on the Wall I think.

What colour will you pick?

Coming to EYF with me

I’m coming in to the last few days preparing for Edinburgh Yarn Festival. My bags are ‘nearly’ packed and I don’t think I can squeeze much more in! I’ve got banners, yarn, bags, plastic stands and a table cloth to hide it all under!
I’ve just put my physical shop here on hold. Once I come back it will be opened again on Monday 13th of March. At that time I’ll also add up any bags and kits that come home from Edinburgh with me.

If you’re coming to the festival here’s a little preview of will be coming with me.

First up there will be lots and lots of Nua yarn….

I’ll also have a big stack of Nua Collection Volume 1 with me.

Both Finglas and Boherboy have been printed so I’ll have kits at the show that will have a special organic cotton drawstring project bag, yarn and a printed pattern. Every printed pattern will come with a download code so you get both the print and digital version of the pattern together. (This is the same for all my self-published books).

Just in case you only want the lovely organic cotton project bag I’ll have extra for sale separately as well!

I’ll have all the samples from Knitting With Rainbows at the show for you to play with as well as a big stack of the books!

I’ve got a huge love for well made project bags. A few months ago I asked Sara (Sweensie Crafts) if she could do some special bags for the show and she did an amazing job! These are Japanese Knot bags. They have one handle longer than the other so they can fold over each other and held in place. This means that they are ideal to hang around your wrist to knit while you move and without any velcro or zips there is nothing to snag your yarn. As an extra special bonus the outside of the bags is made from a felted wool blend so they are sturdy and soft. Most of the bags are small size but there are a few medium ones if you’re fast enough to get them!

If you’re coming to the festival please drop by to say hello! I’m looking forward to meeting you all. Let me know if you want a book signed or would like to chat about yarn :-)

See you all soon!

How the Nua Colours Happened

I spent a lot of last year thinking about colours, colour combinations and colour names. I’ve never moved beyond picking up colours from the shelf before so this was heady stuff! When I think about colours I usually find myself putting them into two catagories; the solid basic colours that work with everything and the brighter contrast colours that give a pop of colour.

Here are more neutral and muted Nua shades:

Here are our 4 pops of colour in Nua:

When I was designing the Nua colours I thought about how I’d be using them in designs; often what you want is primary a neutral background shade and then a few brights that complement the neutral and really contrast nicely with it. So it’s all about the interaction between the colours.

What helped a lot with designing the colours is starting with a darker yarn base.

Bare Necessities

Bare Necessities


Nua’s Bare Necessities is the natural, undyed colour. You can see that it is definitely not a neutral, white base! What this means is that when all of the colours are dyed over this base they influence the final colour of the yarn. I was actually really happy about this. I like subtle, heathered colours so having this dark undertone felt like my kind of colour.

Hatter's Teal Party

Hatter’s Teal Party


Now take a close look at the yarn. You can see lighter, almost white flecks through it. This is the linen showing through. Linen is a plant fibre rather than animal fibre and it has an influence on how they yarn absorbs the dye. The final dyed yarn really show this, and the linen addition naturally creates a heathered yarn.

Now for the names! I’ve got quite a few questions on where they came from. The yarn naming process is a family affair that happened when we were on holidays last summer. We wanted yarn names that were easy to remember and just a little bit fun! My husband, Joe, loves naming things so he just kept throwing names at me until I’d say, ‘yes! That’s the one.’ So Rolling Bales was from an earlier summer memory with all of the kids hopping across bales and rolling them from side to side. My youngest named the red, his choice was ‘Angry Demon Monkey’ but it got shortened to ‘Angry Monkey’ (he wasn’t impressed!). The light grey reminded me of beautiful grey kittens – so ‘Kitten Fluff’. ‘August Storms’ has got a great mixture of grey, dark blue with a hint of purple that perfectly represent angry rolling thunderstorm clouds on a hot summer day. ‘Mosquito Coast’ is a lovely deep olive green that hits of army green, deep lush foliage and so the name came about by free association. The last few are fairly directly word associations with the colours. Capall is Irish for horse (brown); Frog On The Wall, well frog!; Bare Necessities is the bare undyed colour; and finally Hatter’s Teal Party just because it was fun!

So did any of the yarn names make you giggle?

Welcome to Nua!

CollectionCover

Well it’s almost here….Wednesday 1st of March I’m releasing my Nua yarn on the website and Nua Collection Volume 1.

This new yarn has been a while coming, the design process for a yarn is fairly long with lots of shipping back and forth of samples until the colours are exactly right! I’ll tell you a little more about the colour choices in the next few days but right now I want to introduce the new collection to you. It was very important to me to have patterns ready at the same time as the yarn. I don’t think a yarn can be fully appreciated until you see it knitted up. You can see what the colours look like properly and how the yarn behaves with different stitch types. In the collection I wanted to show a variety of project types so you can see how versatile the yarn is. I’m also working on a cabled cardigan and Nua is behaving very nicely with cables as well :-)

Ravi Nua

Ravi Nua in Rolling Bales

The first project I tried in the new yarn was Ravi. This is one of my favourite patterns and fortunately it uses the same weight yarn :-) When I reknit patterns I find it hard not to tweak them and this time was no different so the updated pattern has become Ravi Nua. I changed the short row type to German as this is fantastic for Garter Stitch. In addition I added a few inches of length. This had the knock on effect of making the cardigan hips need some increases which also meant the short row hem had to be adjusted a little. I love the finished end product and I love what a lovely soft halo Nua develops when it’s used with garter stitch!
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After Ravi I wanted to try out the yarn on a smaller project so Finglas was the next pattern. I’ve developed quite a love of biased knitting, just by adding increases and decreases you completely change the direction of the knitting. This means that with these mitts working a biased panel on the front and back creates a sloped edge on the top and the bottom. My youngest son wants to keep these so badly, he even insisted on modelling them :-)
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Next up is a cosy wrap, Dangle. This is an extra long wrap that can easily double up as an oversized scarf. The chevron garter stitch pattern really shows off the interplay of the different colours together. Drop stitch rows of Angry Money (red!) are peppered throughout the wrap to add pops of colour.

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Finally we have Boherboy, a textured cowl that comes in 2 versions; a single colour version that has just knit/purl stitches and a 3 colour version that alternates colours with the knit and purl.

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Boherboy

Boherboy

The soft, bouncy nature of the yarn makes it really perfect for stranded colourwork. I think my next collection is going to have a bit of colourwork going on!

What pattern and colour do you think you’ll try out first?

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Let me tell you a Secret

I’ve been hinting about this for a few months but the time has come to share, I’m doing a brand new yarn, Nua! I’ve spent the last year planning the yarn and colours with Fyberspates and last weekend I went to Birmingham to launch the yarn to shops. So if you want to see it in your local yarn shop tell them to get in contact with Fyberspates.
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If you want to get your hands on the yarn I’ll have a small amount of it up for sale on Wednesday 1st of March here on my website. But the following week (10th and 11th March, 2017) I’ll be at Edinburgh Yarn Festival with as much yarn as I can bring :-)….plus I’ll have kits and the Nua Collection Volume 1.

Bare Necessities

Bare Necessities


So now that you know how to get the yarn I want to tell you a little bit about it. It’s a non-superwash yarn (I prefer this for garments) in a sport weight with 50g skeins. I love this weight of yarn as it’s useful for so many things; garments aren’t too heavy but it still doesn’t take forever to knit and it’s light enough that colourwork looks really good in it. By keeping the skeins smaller it’s much easier to combine colours without ending up with too much leftovers.
The fibre blend of the yarn is 60% merino, 20% yak and 20% linen and it’s spun in south America. The addition of linen and yak create a very unique yarn. Yak is very, very soft and linen as a plant fibre adds some durability. These two additions to the fibre blend also have some very nice side effects. Yak is a darker fibre (the colour, Bare Necessities shown above is the undyed colour) which means that the whole colour palette of the yarn becomes more muted and subtle. Linen fibre absorbs dye differently which means that the lighter specks of linen show through the yarn which creates a natural tweed effect. My friend Evin described the yarn as ‘sophisticated yet rustic’ which I think sums it up nicely.
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Some of you may recognise Ravi above. This is one of 4 patterns in the Nua Collection Volume 1 that will be released next Wednesday at the same time as the yarn. It is a redesigned version of Ravi (Ravi Nua) as I’ve changed the short rows to German, added extra length and due to the extra length added some increases at the bottom of the hip. If you’ve previously purchased Ravi (on my website or Ravelry) you’ll get €3.00 off either Ravi Nua or Nua Collection Volume 1 (digital version only).
Over the coming days I’ll reveal details of the new patterns coming Wednesday. For anyone curious about names the yarn name NUA means ‘new’ in Irish so it seemed like a very appropriate name!
So does this sound like a yarn you’d like to knit with?
Rolling Bales

Rolling Bales

The Art of Simple

Today we’ve got a lovely treat on the blog, a guest post from my friend Woolly Wormhead (and I’ve got a matching blog post up on her blog today as well!)

Circled #2

A few weeks ago Carol and I were chatting about the idea of doing a blog post swap, which seems such a good idea, considering our shared interests in engineering and construction. After chatting through a few ideas, we settled on refinement and simplicity, something we’ve often talked about before.

Muratura

In my former life as an art teacher, I taught design to exam students, and one of the important discussions that used to come up time and time again was the need to refine. To reduce. To know what to take out. One of the key things I remember from my foundation course was exactly this – it’s a mantra within design school that gets passed down.

Putting that into practice though isn’t necessarily a conscious thing – it’s something that progresses; refinement develops with experience. Even knowing what I do and teaching what I did, I’m still evolving and developing, and that’s always a good thing.

Dancette

It’s too easy to over-design. To get excited and put everything into something. There’s also another aspect that crops up from time to time – the idea that a complicated design is cleverer. That by making something challenging, it’s a better design. From my experience I think it’s something a lot those new to design are faced with, yet all it serves is to, well, complicate things.

Armley Beanie

‘Simple’ gets a bad press sometimes. But it’s not the same as basic. Simple is refined. It’s considered. It’s thoughtful. It says that it can stand alone by itself and stand tall. Simple isn’t necessarily easy; it too can be pretty challenging, both in it’s design process, and in it’s execution. A simple knit design can look easy yet have taken an awful lot of work to make it so. A simple knit design can look complicated, but the designer has cleverly worked out how to make it easy to make.

Tucked

Knowing what to take it really is the key, and having a theme helps greatly. Having been designing for variegated yarns for a while and thoroughly enjoying the process, many of my recent designs have become yet more refined. Something as simple as a line can take on a new meaning when that’s all the design is about; taking the rest of the stuff out allows that element to take the stage.

Rosalind

Designing is a never ending journey; ideas follow through and develop and we follow tangents – that’s the joy of being able to design for ourselves. Pattern writing continually develops and changes as styles change, but also as we grow. We learn, we develop, we explore and we refine. It’s a continual journey, and by embracing the art of the simple, we allow ourselves that much more creative freedom.

Thank you so much Woolly for sharing your thoughts, definitely something to strive for!

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New pattern before EYF 2017!

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Last year at Edinburgh Yarn Festival I picked up enough Wollmeise DK yarn for a sweater. As you can see the choice was overwhelming and I spent an awful lot of time trying to decide on colours! It was a colour combination I just loved but it took me until the end of 2016 before I got an opening to knit it! I know I’m not alone in this but I’m delighted that I used it up before the 2017 EYF begins. This was my first time working with this yarn and I loved the deep, saturated colours. As it’s a superwash yarn that has a very high twist it feels tight and dry running through your fingers and doesn’t have a lot of spring. I thought a cardigan that allowed the colours to shine with garter and stockinette would be best as high twist yarns have fantastic stitch definition with simple stitches.

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Welcome to Slateford!
This top down raglan has a few little interesting details. At the top of the shoulder and on each sleeve top there is a little triangle of garter. It’s easy to knit but gives it just a little accent. Also, at the top of the raglan the sleeves aren’t initially increased. This creates a slight saddle shoulder look and makes the front of the neck sit higher.
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As you work down the body I introduced a second colour (I had a single skein of this colour that I couldn’t resist!). I love the effect of gradually increasing one colour while you decrease the second one. It looks good and is flattering to wear a darker colour on the lower half.

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Do you have any stash that you bought in last year’s festival (either EYF or another one) that you want to use before the year is out?

Side-to-Side Seamless Construction

The next type of construction I want to look at is side-to-side garment construction. This method is a little bit different and can be confusing the first time you try it. It is however an awful lot of fun to work!

side-to-side
This method starts the cardigan along one edge of the front, works all the way around the body and finishes at the other side of body. There are many more ways of creating side-to-side garments but this is the method we’ll look at here.

You can see an example of this type of construction in the last individual pattern to be released from Dovestone Hills, Capitoline.
(Remember just a few weeks left to use that 15% off coupon HAPPYDOVES for ALL individual Dovestone Hills patterns or the digital book).
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So how does this type of construction work?
total-body

First Front
The key is to think sideways and do all your shaping with short rows! You start along the front edge of one side of the cardigan. Now you work short row ‘wedges’ that repeat all around the neck. The reason for this is so that the top of your neck is smaller than the bottom of the yoke; you want less rows at the neck than lower down.

First Sleeve
Once you have reached the side of the body you put the body stitches on hold. Now you cast on stitches for the sleeve that are added on to the yoke stitches. You work your sleeve from side-to-side but the whole time you also keep doing the yoke short row wedges so you neck will be shaped correctly. When you’re finished you cast off the sleeve stitches. You can of course also use a provisional cast on and then at the end graft both sides of the sleeve together to keep it totally seamless.

Underarm
Once the sleeve is finished you work the body for a little bit without the yoke. This will create an underarm area that can be attached to the bottom of the sleeve for a better fit.

Back
When the underarm is finished you join the yoke and body together and work all the way across the back exactly the same as for the front.

Second Side
The second side is completed exactly the same as the front, working the second sleeve, underarm area and second front of the cardigan. You end by binding off all of the stitches along the front edge.

Extra Shaping
The cardigan construction I’ve described here is a very basic shape. You can however use short rows to modify it for a bit more sophistication!
To create an a-line swing you can work short row triangles along the bottom edge so that the bottom hem is wider than the bust. You can do these either at the front and back or at either side.
The sleeves as worked are straight, but to create a narrower cuff you work short rows with less rows at the cuff so that it’s smaller.


Variations

Yoke only

ravi-yoke

In the cardigan, Ravi, I use a variation on this construction type. I’ve worked the yoke only from side to side and then from that I picked up stitches for the body and sleeves that are worked down from the yoke. With this type of construction it is very easy to see what you’re trying to achieve with the short rows in the yoke!



Side-to-Side Skills Needed: Short Rows
As you can see, the key skill needed for this type of construction is short rows. I often use garter stitch as it really looks great worked vertically! My favorite method of short rows in Garter is German Short Rows. You can see a small tutorial on that here.

Examples

Spoked Cardigan, Interweave Weekend 2011

Spoked Cardigan, Interweave Weekend 2011

Ravi

Ravi

Capitoline

Capitoline

It has been so much fun discussing the construction techniques of The Dovestone Hills Collection! Which has been your favourite? I
f you are looking for more tutorials you can find them on my YouTube channel here or drop me a comment below if there is a technique you would like to see more of on the blog.

Seamless Saddle Shoulder Construction

Basics

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Saddle shoulder construction at its most basic involves 2 saddles (strips of fabric) at the top of each shoulder that continue on to the sleeves. The body is connected at the front and the back to these saddles.
Obviously saddle shoulder sweaters can be constructed in pieces with the saddle continued from the top of the sleeve and then the front and back seamed on to the saddle at each side. However my preference (as always!) is to construct saddles seamlessly.

Top Down

Viminal

Viminal

Here’s a breakdown of the different steps that you’ll need to work your top down saddle shoulder sweater. This method creates a very polished finish and is fantastic for combining 2 colours. This is the method I uses for Viminal.

…remember you can still get 15% off any of the Dovestone Hills Individual patterns or digital book until the 14th of February if you use code HAPPYDOVES this includes Viminal!

Saddles

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To create top-down saddle shoulders you start by working ‘strips’ of knitting for each saddle. These start at the side of the neck and end at the edge of the shoulder. When they’re finished you put those stitches on waste yarn or holders and they will form the top of the sleeve caps.

Back

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Now we will work on the back and pick up stitches. If you lay the 2 saddles flat you can see how you pick up the stitches; first from the left shoulder, next you cast on neck stitches and then finally pick up stitches from the right shoulder.

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After stitches are picked up we work short rows on each side so that the neck edge is higher than the outer edges. This is to create a shoulder slope as our shoulders are naturally sloped not flat.

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Once that is complete you just work straight down until you reach the point where you want to increase stitches at the underarm. You increase slowly first and then more rapidly to create a nicely curved underarm. These stitches are then held until later.

Front
This is worked in a similar way to the back but you will need to include neck shaping as well. For a sweater you’ll shape the neck with increases and a cast-on but for a cardigan you’ll never join the two sides of the front.

Body
When the back and front are complete to the underarm you will join each side by casting on stitches at the underarm area. From there you work the body straight down to the bottom of the sweater, adding any shaping you might like.

Sleeves
When the body has been complete you go back to work the sleeves. You’ve got live stitches held at the top from the saddle stitches. If you put those on a needle and pick up stitches from each side you’re ready to go. The saddle stitches will form the centre of the top of the sleeve cap and you then work short rows back and forth, adding one extra stitch every time you turn. When the sleeve cap has reached the underarm stitches you join it in the round and work your sleeve all the way down to your cuff, decreasing as you need.

Bottom Up
The bottom up saddle shoulder construction I’ve used before are a little more complex than top-down. Elizabeth Zimmermann created a very interesting method that I used for my Woodburne Cardigan.

Woodburn Cardigan

Woodburne Cardigan

This method involves using a series of alternating decreases for the body and sleeves until you reach the saddle. Then each saddle is worked back and forth, one at a time, using short rows to decrease the stitches at each side of the saddle and create the saddle shoulder. If you’ve every created a standard sock heel where you work back and forth, decreasing on each turn it is a very similar method.

Tips
Picking Up Stitches
There are a few skills you’ll need to master in order to create top down saddle shoulder sweaters. The first is picking up stitches so that the ‘seam’ at each side of your saddle is neat and attractive. You can find a tutorial on that here.

Short Rows
The second skill that’s important for this construction is short rows. These are used in 2 places; the shoulder slopes and the set-in sleeve cap shaping. To create a well-fitted sloped shoulder you work short rows at the front and back of the body after you pick up stitches from the saddles. The second place is at the set-in sleeve cap. Short rows are used to create the curve so the sleeve cap fits the top of your arm correctly. You can use any type of short row you wish. Typically I’ve used standard wrap & turn short rows but leave the ‘wrap’ in place to form a seamline. More recently I’ve been experimenting with German Short Rows and I love how they work! For a full primer on short rows you can take a look at my Craftsy Essential Short Row class here (this is a 50% off coupon, valid for 3 months). For some basic short row tutorials just check out my website here.

Examples

Whistle Stop is a saddle shoulder cardigan that uses a slightly different construction, the saddle is much wider at the top so one half goes all the way across the back behind the neck. This cardigan was started with a provisional cast-on at the centre of the neck so that both sides could be knit towards the shoulders.

Whistle Stop

Whistle Stop

Knockmore is a bottom up sweater that uses the same construction technique as Woodburne Cardigan above.

Knockmore

Knockmore

Have you tried a saddle shoulder construction before? I think its a really fun technique to try out!

Kindness and Honesty

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Well this morning was going to be the next post in my seamless tutorial series but I just have to speak up. As a business owner, woman, mother and human being I’m waking up every morning almost afraid to turn on my phone or computer to see what’s happened overnight in the US. It feels a little like the entire world has been turned upside down right now and has ceased to make any sense.
In theory, sitting cosily here in the south of Ireland, I shouldn’t be impacted by this. BUT you know the world is a very, very small place AND all other 5 members of my family hold duel citizenship with the US. But apart for that, you can’t just stand by while the world crumbles around your ears. I am not political but this is no longer about politics, this is just about being human and wanting a better world.
I felt so proud to be a knitter on Saturday watching all those woman and Pussyhats marching. We will not stand by. We have strength. We will not say that this is ok. Its time for people to make noise and be heard. I have spent the last 19 years trying to drive home basic good behaviours in my children and I expect that at the very least from world leaders. I can’t ignore bad behaviour as a human being in this world any less than I can ignore it in my children.

Love, Kindness & Respect
This is the basis of everything. If you respect and show kindness to other human beings, animals and the world we live in, the rest follows. We all have different backgrounds, viewpoints and perspectives but we need to listen. We need to be tolerant. If you start with kindness and respect the rest will follow.

Equality
Often people think that equality means that everything, for everyone, should be exactly the same. One favourite parenting theories I heard years ago that stuck is “equality does not mean that you give the same to every child you give every child what they need”. This might mean that your 3 year old needs to go to bed at 8 o’clock and your 10 year old goes to bed an hour later. You are giving each of them what then need, it is fair but it is not the same.
For me as a woman equality for me means that I get to pick how I live my life and respected for that choice whatever that may be. The same goes for the rest of the world. I opted to have children but that was my choice. It is not better or worse than the decision not to have children but it was the choice I made.
Having small children was quite frankly the hardest work I have ever done. I thought I had severe depression but in fact it was just chronic sleep deprivation (having a fourth child who doesn’t do longer than 2 hours of sleep for 18 months from illness will do that to you). You don’t get to hand them back or take much of a break. And the whole time you’re trying to figure out if you’re doing it right. The idea that mothering work isn’t valued because you aren’t handed a pay check at the end of the day is insane. Having mothers and caregivers who instil the values we want to see in our future society in our children is invaluable.

Honesty & Truth
Sometimes it’s hard to be honest. It isn’t always easy to tell the truth but it’s important. You cannot make informed decisions on half-truths and lies. Just because a fact is inconvenient or hard to deal with doesn’t change that it is a fact. If you don’t like a fact you don’t get to censor it, you deal with it, debate it, figure out a solution to it and compromise if you need to. You don’t get to delete it.

After that brief interlude it’ll be back to business with the next tutorial later this week. I love what I do and my business but sometimes the personal just won’t take a backseat!