Category Archives: Books

Gradients Part 2: Stave Gradient Sweater

If you read through my blog post, Gradients Part 1, you’ll know that I’m loving gradients right now!

If you want to learn more about gradients with me over the coming months then read on!

The first type of gradients I want to look at is DIY gradient sets. What I mean by that is a set you’ve put together yourself from stash or combined different colours together. For the contrast between the colours to be obvious you want to use a range of tones, from light to dark. When I talk about ‘tone’ I mean the depth of the colour rather than the colour itself. To see the tones of the colours you have chosen you can take a black and white photo which will will remove the colour and just show you the tone.

Here is a photo with a set of yarns that have got a range of colours – but look at it in black and white, they’re very similar in tone!
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Now take this set –  you can see that in black and white there’s a big variety of tones.
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To demonstrate working with a DIY gradient set I designed a new pattern, Stave Sweater.

This sweater uses Navia Duo yarn that is a nice sticky yarn that is perfect for stranded colourwork.
The colours range from cream, through light grey to dark grey. This colour palette makes it very obvious what I’m talking about when I’m discussing ‘tone’ – it’s effectively like looking at a black and white photo!
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However you can of course use a big variety of colours in this sweater; just watch your tone variation (perhaps check in b&w)! I’m starting a thread on my raverly board here where you can share your colour choices (show us both the colour and b&w photos).

Now that I’ve discussed the colour choices the next step is figuring out how to blend the colours. This sweater uses a textured stranded technique that scatters purl stitches within the work. If you look carefully at the colourwork, when you have a purl stitch on a row that the colour changes it shows both the old and new colour together on that row. This allows for a more subtle blending of the colours rather than a harsh division.

I’ve put a little video together talking through the Stave Sweater; I show the 2 different ways the same texture colourwork pattern is used and I walk through the construction.

I hope you enjoyed the first gradient colourwork installment, check back for more!
If you need some guidance on 2 handed colourwork Lorilee Beltman’s class ‘Knit Faster with Continental Knitting‘ has got some great pointers. (Note that this is an affiliate link.)

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

When I was in school I learned this poem and out of all the poems, novels and plays I studied this one has stuck with me. There are so many times in life where you are presented with options and want to do both. You stand at a crossroads and must choose. This also happens with design work; every step along the way is a decision. Each choice is not necessarily good or bad – just different.
When I spent a year in art college we ended the year with a project. We picked a topic and then spend the next several months examining it from different angles. There were charcoal drawings, pastel drawings, long lost sculptures and paper texture work. I’ve recently rediscover a lot of this in my parents attic and it’s made me a little nostalgic! (And yes, my project was on a prawn…it smelled really, really dreadful after several months even with freezes between uses.)

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Over the coming months I’m starting a new project. I’m gradually piecing together in my head how I want it to work. It will be an exploration of colour combinations and gradients. I want to do more than a single design, it feels like this is a project that needs to take as many forks on the road as possible. There will be swatches, tutorials, patterns and project options. I think an e-book released over a series of weeks or months a chapter at a time that travels on the exploration journey with me would be the most useful for knitters.

Anyone want to join me on this journey?

Selfish knitting

It doesn’t happen very often but I’ve actually knit a sweater that I intend to wear occasionally. It’s the curse of being a knitwear designer; it’s so important to keep samples in good condition that you never wear them! This time I wanted to try a different colour combination for Caelius and make a few little changes.

This version is knit in the colour Chevin with stripes in Coal. This combination is more dramatic than the original Bramley Baths and Yorkstone which is much more subtle. You may notice that the edges are still curling a lot, it was very cold yesterday so I was eager to wear the sweater even though it’s not yet blocked! With a sweater that has rolled edges blocking can be used to reduce the amount of curl, I still leave a little bit but it controls it somewhat.

The stripes on the sleeves are a little different from the original, they start further down the sleeve and the second stripe is narrower. This happened accidentally; I was knitting while traveling and I was so busy talking that I went beyond the stripe position! So I modified and changed the position rather than reknit. It still fits the same way, it just looks a little different.

Are you knitting anything from Dovestone Hills yet?

Work & puppy love

Anyone who has been following my instagram feed is probably fairly aware by now that I’ve got a new puppy. Because when your youngest is 9 and definitely no longer a baby you need a little crazy in the house :-)
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She’s only been with us a few weeks but the joy Lizzie has brought to our house is immeasurable. Every child lights up when they see her and if she comes to collect them from school it might as well be Santa! Even the old man in the house is enjoying his new companion.
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I’ve now got a constant companion; she sits at my feet when I cook or knit….
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sits under my elbow when I’m on the couch in the evening or licks my ear….
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She’s even been helping out with homework…
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As you can probably guess I’m pretty smitten, a big thank you to DAWG who does such an amazing job fostering dogs and puppies and making sure the world knows how special they all are. And also to West Cork Animals where our first dog came from. Please if you are looking for a new dog go to your local dog rescue, there are so many wonderful little animals that need your love and care.

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Short Row Knits Blog Tour

Well everyone the time has come, Short Row Knits has been officially released!
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I’ve been working on this book for nearly 2 years so it’s just wonderful to see it well received. In fact, the book is being printed 24 hours after it was launched :-)
If you’d like to see more about the individual projects you can check the patterns out on ravelry. There’s also lots of discussion about the book on my ravelry forum, with some requests for a Short Row Knits KAL!

If you want to learn more about the book and the patterns in the book then please following along on our blog tour that will begin tomorrow. Each stop on the tour will have a different aspect of the book covered with lots of giveaways and prizes along the way!

Blog Tour Details

Viminal

So we come to the final project from Dovestone Hills; Viminal. This sweater uses one of my all time favourite construction techniques; top down with short row set-in sleeves. In this sweater I wanted to blend two very different but complementary colours as seamlessly as possible to create an ombre effect.

The sweater begins at the shoulders with 2 stripes (one for each shoulder) worked from the neck out to the shoulder. These stitches can be left on a holder to form the top of the sleeve later. The stitches for the back and front are picked up from these strips and the shoulder slope is then worked using short rows at each side. The rest of the armholes are worked on each side increasing as necessary. Finally the body is joined under the armholes and worked in the round to the hem. There are a few little finishing details as well; the hem and cuffs are finished with folded hems but they pick up the second colour giving you a little glimpse at the bottom edge. The neck edge is gently rounded (easy to drop down if you want to) and finished with an I-cord edging.

Once the body is finished we go back to work the sleeves. There are live stitches at the top of the sleeve and we pick up stitches along the edge on either side. Short rows are worked back and forth to form the sleeve cap and then the sleeve is worked in the round to the cuff.

What colour combinations do you think you’d do for your version of Viminal?

Palatino


Palatino, the next pattern from Dovestone Hills was a wonderful surprise to me. It was designed as a hat to match the Esquilino cowl. It is knit from side-to-side with the same ribbed cable pattern as the cowl. However as this is a hat I used short rows at the crown to shape it. As with the cowl you begin with a provisional cast-on. The the hat is knit in a series of wedges that use German Short rows to shape the top (these are very easy to work in both knit and purl) until the correct length and it is grafted together at the end.

The surprise came for me at the end; I had finished the wedges and the grafting was done. I was drawing a needle through the edge stitches in the center of the crown when I saw it; the short rows in the cables created a wonderful star flower at the centre of the crown. It’s my favourite part of the hat and it was a complete surprise :-)

If you need help with German short rows or just want to learn more about Short Rows both my craftsy short row class or my upcoming Short Row book would both be useful to you.

 

Quirinalis

We’re already on the second last garment from Dovestone Hills; Quirinalis. This uses one of my favourite construction techniques, seamless set-in sleeves. The cardigan is knit from the bottom up in one piece to the armhole. From there the front and back are worked separately and armhole decreases are worked. Finally the shoulders are joined together using a 3-needle bind-off. When the body is finished the stitches for the sleeve are picked up around the armhole and the set-in sleeve cap in worked using short rows. The remainder of the sleeve is worked from the top down.

First let’s take a look at the the cables; these are not your standard cables! I wanted this cardigan to have a modern, more geometric feel so the cables I’ve used are zigzag and undulating along the front of the cardigan. I love working cables but when a garment is heavily cabled it can make it a bit dense for everyday wear. These add ‘just enough’ so this can become your favourite everyday cardigan.

You can see here as well that I’ve kept the rest simple; both the back and sleeves are worked in Dot Stitch giving it a nicely textured feel which works really well with a nice woolly yarn.

The folded collar is one of my favourite details; it’s worked to double length and folded inwards, then when you’re doing your bind-off you pick up the cast-on stitches and knit them together. this creates a seamless ‘seam’ that has all the stretch of a knitted finish.

Esquilino

The time has come to take a look at the next accessory from Dovestone Hills; Esquilino. This is a cowl that is knit from side-to-side and uses a repeating ribbed cable pattern. The pattern comes in 2 sizes; small and large. The larger size is shown in the book and it’s a perfect length for wrapping around your neck twice. My absolutely favourite cowl length! It’s got all of the advantages of a scarf but none of the problems of it flying away. (I’ve actually also given directions in the book on how to adapt this pattern to work it as a scarf also).

Last September I was teaching a group of knitters in Ballymaloe and this cowl was actually initially designed for that class. For the class sample I knit a short (neck size) version in Cushendale DK.IMG_5583 IMG_5602

You can see here what the cowl looks like before it’s been grafted; you’ve got the live stitches still on one end and the provisional cast-on at the other. If you’ve never grafted in ribbing before you’ll be delighted to hear that I give step-by-step details in the book! IMG_0995

Caelius

The Caelius sweater from Dovestone Hills, travelled a lot with me; it started on the plane ride to Denver…then it made it to TNNA in Phoenix (being knit on the show floor) and finally it came home to Ireland.

I wanted this sweater to be a nice fast knit that was super wearable. It’s got a few key features that I love in an everyday sweater; a warm, easy to wear neckline, a long body with enough room that I can wear layers underneath but enough shape that it was flattering to wear.

The sweater begins with the neckline, you can knit it for as long or short as you like. It’s allowed to fold down into a cowl shape.

The yoke is shaped using raglan shoulder shaping that is worked on either side of double yarnover seam lines. These yarnovers continue into the body where the a-line shaping happens between them.

All the edges are designed to be allowed to casually roll so it ‘s easy to modify for your own length, adding or removing length for the sleeves and body.

I’m actually knitting a version for myself in green (Chevin) and grey (Coal) and I think I might add a little length for a super long body….if I ever get knitting time for me again!