Category Archives: Books

Cosy up with Cables

When winter starts to draw in around here, we start to look to heavier weight yarns and cables. On Tuesday, Carol posted some cable tutorials along with a blog post on working with cables. I thought it might be nice to talk about three patterns that show off cables quite differently.

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Cables in Accessories
It’s hard sometimes to comprehend knitting a garment with a new technique in it. In times like these I find myself picking up accessory patterns as they are often small, quick, knits that can lead to instant gratification and a feeling of triumph. For the Wrap up Winter KAL, I will be knitting the Stannum gauntlets. These have a dramatic, mirrored cable that runs along the top of the mitt and then on the palms they have beautiful diagonal cables that are more simple and mirrored. If you want to tackle these along with me, you can hop over to the KAL board and there is also an discount offer on the Wrap Up Winter bundle until November 10th.
Hand knit mitts Stannum by Carol Feller in Townhouse yarns grafton 4 ply

Stannum in Townhouse Yarns Grafton 4 ply.

For something that lies between garments and mitts you can try Mason’s Scarf. This pattern from the latest issue of Interweave Knits has beautiful reversible cables that weave in and out of a rib pattern. Men’s accessory patterns are hard to find and I just love the timeless look of this pattern. (Plus reversible is always a bonus in a scarf!)

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Mason’s Scarf from Interweave Knits Holiday Issue

Cables in Garments
 
If you want to jump all in, one of my favourite garment patterns is Ardara from Contemporary Irish Knits. These cables are showcased on a background of reverse stocking stitch and worked vertically to draw the eye down the length of the garment. I just want to cuddle up in this until spring appears. If your new to the blog, you can read all about Carol’s Contemporary Irish Knits launch in the archives here.
ardara knitting pattern by carol feller in studio donegal aran tweed

Ardara from Contemporary Irish Knits in Studio Donegal Aran Tweed

Now that I’ve put the idea of winter and cables in your head, you may want to try a cable garment this is tailored to your fit?  To get some support and back up while you work, you can take a look at Carol’s Craftsy class on Celtic Cables where you can make the below Portulaca cardigan. There is a discount code for 50% off until October 31st when you use this link here.
Portulaca from Celtic Cables Craftsy Class by carol feller in studio donegal soft

Portulaca from Celtic Cables Craftsy Class

I’ve held you up for long enough now, do you have a favourite Carol cable pattern? Are you going to be joining in the KAL? Then leave a comment on the blog and let us know what you will be doing, we would love to hear from you.

As always you can find Carol on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and you can follow the blog using the subscribe button or Bloglovin’.

Until next week, wrap yourself in cables,
Nadia

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Knitting With Rainbows – KAL

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Well everyone Knitting With Rainbows is now out in the world. You can get it either in print (with a download code) or digitally. The first few projects are starting to appear on ravlery so why don’t you join in the fun and potentially win some prizes?

This KAL (knitalong) will start on Friday and run until Monday the 10th of October. The general thread about the KAL is here. I will run it through my group on ravlery, as you progress you can post progress photos and chat in the WIP (work in progress) thread here every Friday until it’s over I’ll pick a random photo from the progress photos that week who’ll receive a code to download a pattern! When the KAL is complete on the 10th of October I’ll pick a winner from the finished photos here – so make sure you get your photos up!

To keep track of it all please tag your projects on Ravelry, and hashtag across social media, with #knittingwithrainbows

Have fun!

Back to school

For everyone with children we’re in the back to school mode here. I had children starting school last week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and on Saturday my oldest went up to college in Dublin. Add to that an envelope packing marathon to get all the Knitting With Rainbows pre-sale orders out last week and it seems strangely calm this morning.

The 2 dogs are snoring on the sofa near me, birds are tweeting outside and there is no one in the house but me. It feels very strange after a summer filled with people. Normally in August I’m counting down the days until I get peace again. But this year feels different. Instead of quiet the house actually feels empty. Perhaps this is because the boys aren’t very young any more so instead of constant demands for my attention they go about their own business a lot of the time. I’m also increasingly aware of how fast time goes – within 8 years my youngest will be finished school so I have to be careful not to wish that time away.

So now that my house is quiet again – what will I get up to?
You may have noticed that Knitting With Rainbows is now available digitally as well as in print (which comes with a download code).

KWR COVER

I’m so happy that this book has been well received. It was a very different book from my usual self-published ones. Instead of just patterns this book has a lot of information on gradient yarn, stitch patterns and suggestions for how to use gradient yarns to full advantage. The print book turned out amazing, the colours are bright and vivid and it’s a pleasure to flick though!
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If you want to see any of the samples in person, get a book signed or chat about yarn options come along from 3 to 5 this Saturday 10th September at This Is Knit.

Over the next few weeks I’ve got a few more big projects that I’m working on that I can’t reveal yet. Keep checking back though as I’ll let you know about them as soon as I can :-)

Knitting With Rainbows presale!

Some of you may have spotted the pre-sale of my newest book, Knitting With Rainbows.
KWR COVER
This is a project that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Several years ago I got a gradient kit from Fiber Optics…
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It looks just beautiful in the little plastic display box but I felt very intimidated. The skeins were so small, and I wasn’t sure how best to use the yarn so that it looks as beautiful in the finished knit as it did in the box. So it sat there for quite a while. However somewhere in the back of my head the idea for a book on gradients was germinating; a book that would explore the gradient types available (there are a lot!), figure out how ways that use them well and offered pattern choices and future suggestions for making the most of gradient yarns (both individual single skeins as well as mini-skein sets).
That was how this book was born. It’s grown in size from what I though it would be but it’s turned out just as I hoped. My son’s girlfriend, Eimear O’Callaghan, has created some very beautiful gradient graphics to illustrate the book, my husband has done an amazing job laying out the book and my son had done a lovely editing job with my rough videos from the photo shoot :-)

The book will be released on the 1st of September but you can now pre-order your print (with complementary digital download code from ravelry) copy before then. All books will be shipped from the 1st of September and you’ll receive your digital download code on the same day. As a pre-sale bonus use code PRERAINBOW to get free shipping before 1st of September :-)

To keep you excited I’m releasing the pattern details of a new pattern on ravelry every day until the launch.

Here are the first 3 patterns that are up:

Shanakiel
Shanakiel

Proby’s
Probys armwarmers
Half Moon Street
Half Moon Street

Working on those gradients

So last weekend we had a wonderful photo shoot for the gradient book – I think it’s going to be called ‘Knitting with Rainbows’. Very fittingly we found some fantastic graffiti downtown in Cork that makes the perfect backdrop for the book. We also found this spot behind the disused Beamish & Crawford brewery. It was across the river so we couldn’t reach it, but so beautiful!
IMG_5921I’ve been working like a crazy person for the last few weeks putting tutorials together and reviewing pattern edits. In my head up to this point I keep saying ‘it’s just going to be a small book‘, just a few patterns and tutorials. Well apparently I can’t do anything small! I’ve got 11 patterns, additional stitch patterns and tutorials and at the very minimum I think this book will be around 80 pages long. It would explain why feeling somewhat overwhelmed, a little bit panicked and exhaused. I haven’t acknowledged what a substantial project I was taking on. It is however going to be an information packed and very pretty book. My son’s girlfriend is a very talented illustrator and next week she is getting started on book illustrations and I can’t wait to see them. I’ll share some with you as she works along.

Just to give you a flavour of the book, 2 patterns have already been produced and are out in the world. The first is Probys Armwarmers which was the last pattern from the Irish Yarn Club 2016. (All patterns are also on ravlery now from that club). This pattern is a great example of how a slip stitch pattern can be used to blend a gradient kit that has big jumps between the colours.

The first version was in Townhouse Yarns:

I’ve also had a sample made using a second yarn to give an idea of what another set of colours would look like.
The second version uses Fyberspates yarn:
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The second pattern that you’ve seen before is Stave Hat. I’ve previously published the child’s sweater version of this chart and the hat has been used in my Textured Colourwork classes. This hat uses textured colourwork (purls worked into a stranded pattern) to blend the colours together. It works really well for either a gradient set that has big colour jumps or for a collection of colours you have put together yourself that you want to blend smoothly.
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(Yes, that really is a giant cockerel mural behind her….)
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So if we keep working at this pace I think the book will be ready to go by the autumn. I hope you’re all getting as excited about this as I am – it’s getting real now :-)

The Book of Haps

There’s a very exciting launch today –  Kate Davies, The Book of Haps! Just in case that wasn’t exciting enough I’m also on the cover :-)

Over the next few days Kate will be revealing the other designs in the book. I haven’t seen them yet so I’m eagerly awaiting them as well! To preorder your copy go to Kate’s website here. And keep an eye out on ravelry for each day’s reveal!

Copyright Tom Barr

Last year Kate Davies asked me to be part of this very special project where she wanted to explore the concept of a Hap as an everyday piece of clothing. Each of us used this as a starting point to design a shawl that we would like to use for everyday wear.

As I started thinking about the concept I began to realise that my surrounds needed to be my inspiration. There is nothing I enjoy more on a daily basis than walking my dogs in the Irish countryside. Kate has put my essay on the topic up on her blog here.

IMG_1444 This is how the colours and shapes of the shawl came together. The cream and green curves across the top of the shawl echo the hills and crazy green countryside during an Irish summer. As I was designing the road outside our house was littered with Monbretia flowers. They grow wild everywhere here along with blackberries. So the orange welts and bobble edging finish the full shawl concept out.

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Fortunately for me one of the most amazing dyers in the world works within 30 minutes of my house, so using yarn from Hedgehog Fibres helped keep the full shawl concept local! I used her Sock Yarn; Silence for the light colour, Swamp for the green and Copper Penny for the bright orange pops. Copper Penny has got some green running through it as well so it blends particularly nicely with the Swamp.

I’m so very honoured to be part of this project, keep watching out for the upcoming shawls and fantastic designers!

Making Lists

So it would appear I’ve got a lot going on. Between family commitments, travel (both me and my husband), teaching, book, magazine and yarn company projects I’m stretched pretty thin.

However, I do appear to be just about holding it together. Certain things (such as regular housework!) aren’t always getting done but I’m staying on top of everything.

The only reason I’m actually still sane is lists and reminders. Every day I write and rewrite lists. I break projects into short lists and cross them off as I go. At the end of the day all unfinished business gets scooped up and rewritten into the next day’s list. That’s the theory at least. Some weeks my head is much more in the game and I go charging through lists, other weeks the list looks the same at the end as it did at the start.

Combining that with calendar/reminder apps means that I don’t forget stuff. If I get a text from school that someone is finished early – pop it into the calendar with a reminder far enough in advance that I can deal with it. Putting all these little things in as automatic reminders has saved me so much mental space. It’s such a relief to not have the worry of forgetting about something hanging over me!

My lists extend into projects as well – my Gradient book list is getting shorter by the minute… just take a look at my growing pile of finished samples. Just a few more left to go and we’re ready for photography :-)

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My biggest job now is expanding on the book text and getting the remainder of the illustrations done. My ‘Painting with Rainbows’ class from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival class has formed the backbone of the book structure. The divisions I’ve used for different types of gradients in the class will form each section of the book with pattern examples of each type. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a really useful, pretty little book!

In other work, I’ve got 2 new published patterns to share with you!

© Nicole Mlakar

The first is from Pom-Pom magazine, issue 17. I was so proud to be part of this magazine, and very flattered to have my pattern, Nouri, on the front cover. It’s a simple but effective design; the great linen yarn is just perfect to get the drape and heaviness that it needed. Knit in the round from the bottom up there is a large lace detail up one side. At the armholes you divide for the front and back, each side is knit separately and short rows shape the sleeves and shoulders before they’re rejoined. The yarn used is Quince & Co, Kertrel – watch out for a giveaway here for some yarn to make your own Nouri sweater very shortly!

The second pattern I’ve had published recently is Parcel.

© Crissy Jarvis

This is a pattern that was first published in the Twist Collective in Winter 2010 using Classic Elite Magnolia yarn.
They have reknit it in Black Trillium Fibre studio Sublime for a completely different look that gives it a great update. This yarn really makes the delicate twisting cables in this sweater pop, plus that scooped neckline is so flattering to wear. To get some inspiration on different yarns and shapes in this sweater take a look at some of the projects that knitters have added to ravelry.

Just in case you think that’s not enough check back here on Thursday for some very exciting news I’ve got to share with you :-)

 

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?