Category Archives: Design work

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 :-)

 

Winner & new pattern!

Announcing the winner – Whistle Stop – thank you Jennifer, there’s a pattern winging it’s way to you :-)

If you want to get your own copy of the pattern you can find it’s pattern page on my website here or on ravlery here.

It’s time to give you a few details on the construction now. The cardigan begins at the center of the saddle on the back with a provisional cast-on. First you knit the saddle for the right side and hold the edge/sleeve sts and then you go back the the cast-on and work the left saddle out the other way. If you check your skeins at the start you can find 2 that are fairly close together in color and use one of each to work the saddle for each side. This will help give as close a match there as possible.

Now each of the saddles are held to be worked with the sleeves at the end. I marked each of the saddle skeins as right and left and kept them to work the sleeves when the body was finished. That way I could ensure that the color from the saddle would match up when I began the sleeve.

Once the saddle is finished you begin work on the back – stitches are picked up along the saddle and rows are worked (with increases) all the way to the underarm. When this is finished you will do the same for both the right and left front sides. Once they are all complete to the armhole you will join them with underarm stitches and work the whole body together flat. The yarn from the left front will be used to work the full row – but it can be a bit tricky for all 3 sections to be at the same place with the color run!

Dyeshavi on Ravelry:

I wound off some yarn to try color-matching the fronts to the backs. It didn’t quite work, because of the long color repeats and the fronts using less yardage than the back. But I also don’t mind that they’re not an exact match and love that long stretch of acid green on the back.

Groundhog67:

The pattern was such a fun knit and I really liked the construction. The yarn/color I chose turned out a little different from what I expected – less muted, more color variations, and more regularly striped – but worked well with the pattern in the end! Because the yarn had so many different transitioning colors, the only color management I did was continuing the arms with the skeins I had used for the saddles (I had 4 x 100g skeins to be on the safe side – used only about half but from all 4 skeins).Cardigan](http://www.ravelry.com/projects/groundhog67/cardigan)

New April patterns

So even though it’s only 11 days into April I’ve already got 2 patterns to share with you :-)

The first pattern, Kompeito, is the April installment of the Irish Yarn Club 2016.

I wanted a bright, speckled yarn from Hedgehog Fibres and she delivered a fantastic yarn with pops of colour. The challenge for me now was to design a pattern that enhanced the yarn.

I decided on a drop stitch pattern as that works really nicely to distribute and break up the colour. I started at one tip, increasing slowly to the back width. Here I’ve included an optional armhole before working the back. There are a few short row wedges worked across the back to give it a little width at the bottom and then the other side is decreased at the end. A few width options are given so it’ll fit a wide range of shoulder widths. If you work the armholes and want to wear it as a shawl/scarf just turn it around and use the opening as a spot to hold the shawl tails!

The next pattern is a tank top, Jessica Tank, from Knit.wear Spring/Summer 2016.

I just love the photos of this top, I think they’re just stunning!

This tank uses a simple cable wave up each side to create a slinky hourglass shape by working waist shaping inside it. The clean lines would make this a great top for workwear under a jacket. The sample is knit in MillaMia merino but if you wanted a lighter weight top you could swap to a cotton or linen yarn for a very different look.

 

 

 

Summer Knits

I love knitting for the summer. Light cottons, linen and silk yarn with openwork patterns that let the breeze through. Over the years I’ve designed quite a few patterns that make great summer knits so here’s a run through some of my favourites!

To get your summer knitting off to a good start take 25% off all these patterns from today (April 3rd) until the end of day 7th of April (GMT), just use code SPRINGBREAK for your discount. (Use add to cart, and then click ‘use coupon code’ before you checkout). If you want to purchase directly on raverly see all the patterns here.


Summer Affair


Adrift


Spritz Stripes


Huevos


Gilligan


Meves


Isidro

Sandy Cove

Isidro for the spring

Isidro was a slow burning project for me. I had never tried Silky Tweed before but I was very curious. I loved the feel of knitting with it when I got it in my hands; it’s got a dry crisp feel but still flows smoothly enough to be enjoyable to knit with.
When I swatched the clustered star stitch it looked just perfect in this yarn and soon the sweater idea grew up around the stitch!
This became my travel sweater last summer. My swatch and design notebook travelled with me to Ohio for the initial design stage and then by the time we went to Costa Rica I was ready to start knitting the textured stitch. This sweater went up and down over mountains, sat in many airports as well as in my sister-in-laws garden :-)

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In fact Isidro was finished before we left Costa Rica so the modelled shots were done with a family friend who was knock dead gorgeous! Now every time I look at the photos I feel a little nostalgic for the magic of last summer. Even though the editing and testing stage was finished last autumn it felt like such a spring/summer sweater that I decided to wait until the right season to release it.

Now lets take a look at Isidro’s construction. It starts in the round at the bottom, working a wide folded hem. From here you work the body up to the armholes with waist shaping within the side panels.

Once you reach the underarms the body is divided into front and back, with each knit separately. The sleeve stitches are cast on and you work each side of the upper body together with the sleeves. Short rows are used to shape both the sleeves and the shoulders. Finally there is a shallow curved neckline (not quite as wide as a boatneck) that is finished with an I-cord bind-off.

The sweater as work has around 1” of positive ease but it would also look great a little more oversized. If you want to change the waist shaping (move it up/down or even remove it) you can do so easily as it all happens along the sides.

I hope you enjoy knitting your version as much as I did, and that it will also hold lots of happy memories for 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.)

Lots of new patterns

I’ve somehow ended up with 4 new patterns released in the last week or so. That took me a little by surprise :-) One was a self-published pattern (Genip), the next is the first pattern for the Irish Yarn Club 2016 (Sheephaven) and 2 are from the new Interweave Knits Spring 2016 (Orangery Shawl and Yorkshire Capelet).

First up I’ll tell you a little about my new self-published hat, Genip

A few months ago when Stephen West was visiting Hedgehog Fibres I went down to say hi at the trunk show. Luckily for me they’re only a short drive from me! I completely fell for the neon bright Envy in Merino Aran. It’s insanely intense and super soft. I spend a lot of December traveling and this yarn came along with me. It got knit and ripped a few times before I settled on the final product. However it did end up exactly right, gently curving short row ear flaps, and a fast to knit but interesting texture. It’s proving popular and the first knitter was finished her hat within 24 hours!

Next up are the 2 Interweave Knit Spring design
Interweave Knits Spring 2016 Digital Edition
Interweave Knits Spring 2016
First is the Orangery Shawl

I love the simple effectiveness of this shawl. It combines 3 different greens, and the first section is just a semi-circle pi shawl with alternating colours. It finishes with a biased garter edging that works through all the colours. How great would this be in gradients?

The second from Interweave Knit Spring is the  Yorkshire Capelet

This capelet is knit in the wonderful Dovestone DK. It’s knit from the top down with simple lace and garter stitch raglan panels. It finishes with garter stitch short rows designed to lie over one shoulder.
(A little bonus……Save 30% at Interweave with Offer Code 30SWEET until February 14th!)

The final new pattern I’ve got is the first Irish Yarn Club 2016 pattern, Sheephaven.

IMG_2899I’m really excited about this first club installment. It’s the first time we’ve had a yarn that was both produced in Ireland AND hand-dyed in Ireland. The yarn is produced in Donegal by the Donegal Wool Spinning Company and was then dyed by the Dublin Dye Company. The hand dyeing process had the added bonus of softening the yarn with washing and really letting it bloom!

The hat used a diagonal cable pattern that becomes a series of single cables at the crown. The double rib means that every ounce of this skein is used up. Only yarn left for a tiny pom-pom :-)

IMG_2892As with the other hat Sheephaven has got loads of finished hats in just a few days. Everyone seems to be loving the yarn/pattern combo :-)

 

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?