Category Archives: Design work

Spritz Stripes Redo

It feels like a little luxury to reknit a pattern. Promoting my Nua yarn as well as a pattern opened up this possibility for me and I’m really enjoying the relaxing effect of reknitting a pattern. Designing is not always relaxing knitting time; especially at the early stages when you’re trying to figure out if a design is going to work. It’s rather soul destroying and humbling and you’ve got a constant hum in the back of your mind ‘this is never going to work’. Fortunately they work out more often than not, but it’s not very relaxing!

This is the original version of Spirtz Stripes that I knit in Madelinetosh Tosh Light. This is a fingering weight yarn rather than sport weight so to reknit the pattern in Nua was going to take a bit of recalculation.

I thought I’d give a little bit of an insight into the process of redesigning a pattern for a different gauge. If you ever need to make gauge adjustment to a pattern the process might be of use to you.

The first job was a gauge swatch. This is going to tell me how much change I’ll need in the pattern. I discovered that the lace stitch gauge changed quite a bit from 16 stitches to 14 stitches per 4″ / 10 cm. The row gauge though had a much smaller change. This means that I recalculated the stitch count I would need to get close to the same finished sizes for every size in the pattern. I needed to be careful as well that I had the correct stitch count number for when I divided the body into the front and back at the armholes as well.
I decided to leave the row count for the body the same (which made the body longer) but to shorten the armhole depth. This made the sweater a bit longer overall.

Now to get started with the knitting (you may notice that I kept it in red, which I loved, this time using Angry Monkey colour). With this sweater the lace stretches a HUGE amount so I was reminded again of how important Jeny’s Stretchy Cast-On is for the success of the sweater. If it can’t stretch it won’t fit.

Once the body is finished you divide into the front and back, working straight until the shoulder shaping that’s done with short rows. I’ve put in lots of details on how to do the short row shaping in the lace pattern. It requires some concentration but as every turn is at a complete lace repeat it is manageable (plus it’s just for a few rows).

Now the last stage is doing a 3-needle bind-off for the shoulders (I developed a stretchy version for this as the standard one just doesn’t stretch enough) and the sleeves are plain stockinette knit from the top down.

Now for the best part – the blocking! I always love this stage as it means I’m almost finished. I used a combination of blocking wires, pins and bars to get a nice stretch to open the lace and keep the edges straight. You can really see here why you need stretchy cast-ons and bind-offs.

I’m going to get an awful lot of use out of this sweater at shows and classes. My favourite way to wear it is with a long tank top/dress with leggings. It’s comfortable and feels a little dressed up.
What colour would you love to knit it in?

How to Pick Your Cast-On

I’m continuing the huge job of updating my tutorials and this week I’m focusing on cast-ons. I’ve uploaded 3 new videos (Provisional Cast-on-Crochet Method, Knitted Cast-On and Long Tail Cast-On). When I write a pattern I want to make sure even the newest knitter can find all the information and links they need in the pattern. I really believe that if you have access to the information and you’ve got enough time and patience then any knitting skill can be mastered!

I’ve listed all the cast-ons I’ve now got videos for on this page here.
It’s very useful to have a good range of cast-ons available so when you want to create a different edge effect so you know exactly how to do it!

I’ll give you a few examples here of patterns that I use different types of cast-ons for.

Let’s start with the Long Tail Cast-On. This is my standard go-to cast on. If a pattern doesn’t call out for a specific cast-on this is usually the method that I have used. I’ve done videos for 2 different types of ways to work this cast-on; the standard method and the thumb method. As a knitter that holds their yarn in the right hand I’ve always used the thumb method as it’s just a natural extension of this knitting style. However both techniques produce the same end result so you should use the method that you like best!

For top down patterns I generally don’t call for a cast-on at the neck edge but I generally use the Long Tail Method.

My biggest use of Cable Cast-On would be at the underarm cast-on stitches for top down patterns. This cast-on creates a nice firm set of stitches here and can really help prevent it from stretching out.

If you want to create a very slick, seamless finish you can even use the Alternate cable Cast-On which alternates between knit and purl stitches so the cast-on flows seamlessly into the knitting. This was used for the body and sleeve cast-on method in Portulaca Cardigan. (If you want help knitting this cardigan you can get the full construction video in my Celtic Cables Craftsy class).

One of the most amazing cast-on techniques out there is the Provisional Cast-On (Invisible and crochet methods). This is a very fun cast-on as it opens up a world of possibilities. With this cast-on type you use waste yarn (or even a second circular needle) to cast on with. Then using your working yarn you knit until you reach the finish point for that side. Now you can undo the waste yarn from the cast-on point and begin working in the other direction. This is really useful if you want to create seamless knits that start from the middle that are exactly mirrored on each side. I’ve used this technique in my patterns Taupo and Dragon Flames.

You can find some more of my side-to-side knits here, many of which use a provisional cast-on. With this type of cast-on you need to be careful of one thing, the half-stitch ‘jog’. When you start working in the second direction you will find that your work is ½ a stitch over from the other side. This means that you’ll need to pick up a ‘loop’ at one end or otherwise you’ll be a stitch short. For sockinette stitch the jog doesn’t have an impact but if you’ve got ribbing or a very definite stitch pattern it can be noticeable. Ideally if you’ve got a transition at the middle it can help to hid the jog.
I generally use the crochet method for my provisional cast-on but it’s handy to know the invisible method as well as it is faster and you can even use a circular needle to cast directly on to.
Summer Affair has a long cast-on so I used the Invisible method for that pattern.

For Taupo I used the crochet method.

This is just a taster of different cast-on techniques. I’ve shared some of my favourites but I continue to learn new methods every day. Do you have a favourite?

Short Row Love

It probably isn’t much of a surprise to anyone that I love short rows! (See the end of the post for some discount codes for short row patterns and classes). I’ve now done 2 Craftsy classes on Short Rows, written Short Row Knits and used them in many, many patterns. However I still remember learning about short rows for the first time.


The first introduction I had to them was through Barbara Walker’s book ‘Knitting From The Top’. In this book they’re used primarily to shape the neck and shoulder areas for a lot of the different construction techniques that she demonstrates. When I started practicing the basic wrap & turn method for short rows I found online I wasn’t 100% happy with the result. The actual wrapping was fine but when I came to pick up the wraps, especially from the right side it often left a visibly slated stitch that didn’t look the same as the other stitches. I kept experimenting until I created the ‘unwrapping’ method that I original used for short rows.

However that was just the starting point, as I began teaching short rows I looked more deeply into the various method that were out there (and are constantly being re-invented!). Most methods use the same idea of creating a ‘loop’ of yarn that you hold in some way and then knit together with the next stitch when you join the gap. German short rows are interesting as you are effectively ‘pulling up’ the stitch from the row below when you turn to remove the gap between the rows. Shadow wraps appeared in the last few years and with them you’re pulling the wrap from the next stitch on the row below to close the gap.

Short Row Tutorials

While my Craftsy class goes in depth into short rows I’ve also just redone a few smaller video clips showing short row methods that I use frequently in my patterns. That way if you just want a short overview of the technique you can find it quickly. This week I’ve redone videos for German Short Rows in Garter Stitch, Finishing German Short Rows in the Round and Japanese short rows. I’ve previously recorded a few these videos but the quality of the recording was very poor so a redo was in order! Over the next month or so I’m working in the background doing a huge overhaul of my tutorial section and moving it eventually onto the new Stolen Stitches shop.


Ideas for Using Short Rows

It’s important to remember though that knitting techniques are only useful if you use them! Once you put it into practice within a pattern it will stick with you. So what kind of things can you do with short rows?

Try out some short row shaping in shawls such as Penrose Tile.

Or how about shawl collar shaping in the Sugarcane Cardigan KAL starting next week.

Maybe even some yoke shaping in Ravi Nua?

Discounts!
This week I’ve put together a pattern collection that uses Short Rows. Until the 10th of May use code SHORTROWLOVE to get 20% off the patterns in the collection.

A couple of years ago I did a class for Craftsy called Essential Short Row Techniques that details some of the more complex short rows ideas; how to work short rows in the round, how to use short rows for heels, working short rows into a lace or cable pattern and how to create complex shapes with short rows. Get 33% off this class using this link.

Have you used Short Rows in a pattern before? What do you think they are most useful for?

I-Cord Love

When I design there are a few techniques that I return to over and over again; one is short rows and the other one is I-Cord edging. I think by now most people know how much I love Short Rows but I often don’t sing the praises of I-Cord edging! Several years ago I did a few I-Cord video tutorials however at the time my camera only recorded in very low res. This prompted me to redo the videos over the last few days and as a bonus I’ve added one more on I-Cord buttonholes.
For such a simple idea I-Cord edging creates a flexible and very polished, professional finish for knits. At it’s most basic you can use I-Cord on it’s own to create cords that can be used as ties or braided. You can see it used in a braid in the pattern Dalchini.

A basic I-Cord loop can also be used to create a bottonhole, just work the cord and sew it on! It is however going to only be useful for larger buttons as the loop won’t be small enough for little ones.

You can see how to work a basic I-Cord in my video tutorial here.
Now that you’ve got the basics of what an I-Cord is it’s time to move on to the really useful techniques; I-Cord bind-off and applied I-Cord.
You can see the I-Cord Edging used around the neck here for Nishibi.

When worked as and edging, you are working the I-Cord along the edge of the work while at the same time decreasing the stitches in your work. It just means that the last stitch of the I-Cord is worked with the next stitch of your bind off.
Take a look at it in action in this video here.

The final I-Cord technique that I’ve done a video for is the I-Cord buttonhole. This is actually a combination of the previous 2, as you are working an applied I-Cord you create I-Cord loops that act as buttonholes. You can watch the video here.
I’ve used these I-Cord buttonholes on my newest KAL, Sugarcane Cardigan. The front Garter Stitch cardigan edging is finished using and I-Cord edging and the integrated buttonholes are worked along the bind-off.

Now that you fully understand how special and wonderful I-Cords are come join me to celebrate them! I’ve put a full collection of my I-Cord patterns here. If you use code ICORDMAGIC you’ll get 20% off all the patterns until the 2nd of May. Go enjoy!

Tribeca Tunic

Copyright Harper Point Photography

This is Tribeca Tunic my latest published pattern for knit.wear Spring/Summer 2017. Sometimes designs go through a few changes before they reach their final end form. I often find that I fall in love with a stitch pattern but it takes a few sketches and swatches before it finally settles on what it’s going to become.
When I began swatching this stitch pattern originally I tried it out on a much heavier yarn. One benefit of testing on thicker yarn is that you can get a nice big swatch very quickly!

 
Swatch

When the idea went ahead it had changed to a much finer, light sport weight yarn, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport.

You can see how dramatically different the stitch pattern looks in the lighter yarn. It was however ideal for the final sweater, the lighter yarn gave great drape to the tunic which meant that even though it is oversize it flows very naturally on the body.

This top is knit in the round from the bottom up. It’s oversized so you rely on the drape of the fabric to create flow and shape. At the armhole the front and back of the sweater are separated and worked separately. At the shoulder short rows are used to create a slope and then they are joined with a 3-needle bind-off.  You can see the shoulders are drop shoulders and create a relaxed garment shape.

When the body is finished stitches are picked up around the neck and a deep cowl neck is worked. If you want an open neck instead just finish off here with a narrow edging.

The sleeves are picked up from around the armholes and worked down in the round. I’ve opted to leave them as 3/4 length but it would again be an easy change to make them longer, just try it on as you go and add any decreases necessary!

At the moment I find myself drawn to looser, more flowing tops with lots of drape. Do you have a favourite garment shape that you like to wear?

Save

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!
IMG_8628
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 :-)
IMG_8496

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.

IMG_8854

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.

IMG_8824

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?

Save

Save

Save

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.
20170218_145758
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.
IMG_8582
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!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Introducing The Elegant Wickford Wrap

Interweave Knits, Spring 2017 issue has burst onto the scene with a beautiful collection of Spring themed knits. Nestled within these pages is the elegant Wickford Wrap.

The Wickford Wrap hand knitting pattern by Carol Feller

The Wickford Wrap

The Wickford Wrap is the perfect accessory for having in your handbag, ready to pop on when those cooler Spring breezes appear. Its unique shape allows you to wrap it around your neck or to drape over your shoulders and tie at the front.

.20160323_141936-1

Construction

The unique shape of the wrap is what makes this so intriguing to knit. You start at the bottom tip of the triangle and the cables cross and flow along each side as you are increasing at the edges. When the triangle is completed the wrap is divided into 3 sections, the right and left wings and the centre stitches.  The centre stitches are bound off and the beautiful interlocking cable motifs are worked in turn along the right and left wings. To complete the wrap a moss stitch border is added to frame the wrap and allow the cables to shine.

The Interweave Knits sample is worked in the fabulous Jo Sharp Silken Road Aran Tweed which is 85% Wool, 10% Silk, 5% Goat – Cashmere goat with a beautiful tweedy look. Which means that this wrap is beautifully soft to wear and won’t take you too long to knit on 5mm needles.

If you’re a little apprehensive about taking on these cables, Carol has some fabulous tutorial videos here along with other tutorials you might need to complete the wrap like cast on methods, bind offs, increasing and joining in those extra balls of yarn.

If you want to get started right now, you can pick up a digital copy of Interweave Knits here and you can peruse all of the Spring knits in this collection here. You can, of course, find more information on the Wickford Wrap here on Ravelry.

What are your favourite Spring Knits? Wraps, shawls, sweaters or long cardigans? Let us know in the comments. 

Bloomsbury DK

I’ve been hinting over the last few months about some secret projects I was working on. Well now at last the time has come to reveal one of those secrets to you – Bloomsbury DK!

A few months ago Love Knitting asked if I’d like to be involved with a new project with some other designers; the creation of a new yarn line, The Yarn Collective. This venture was completely new to me, I’ve been on the other end of the process, working on finished yarns only before now. This time I was able to be involved from the start, trying out the yarn and picking the colours. The Yarn Collective involves several designers, each getting their own yarn to design the colours for. The first to launch was Melanie Berg last week with the Portland Lace and her lovely SecretKeeper shawl.
It’s my turn this week and I want to introduce you to Bloomsbury DK and the 3 patterns I designed for the yarn. When I started designing the yarns I had a few different things in mind; first I wanted each colour to be one I loved that could stand alone but I also wanted the colours to work together in harmony. To do this I began with a visual inspiration for each set of colours that I worked around.

img_4389

Violet, Dango in Fuchsia and Soot

The first set was inspired by the Fuchsia flower. Fuchsias grow wild in west Cork and in fact are often uses as the west Cork symbol. I love the mix of pinks, purples and greys. In the photos you can see a version of the Dango hat in Fuschia that hasn’t been photographed yet. You can see the different colour tones much more easily in the knitted fabric than in the skein.

img_4395

Moss, Oz, Indigo and Surf

The next set was based on the deep blues and greens of the sea, especially the deep colours you get when it’s at full swell with huge surfing waves. These are the colours I’m always drawn to; greens and blues.

img_4391

Russet, Sand and Copper

The final set is probably knitters (and my!) favourite season, Autumn. Browns, golds and coppers with some subtle dusty beiges. I love how the tones in these three colours just lead into each other.

So that gives you an outline on how I started the colour design process. From there I also wanted to make sure that each individual set related to the others so the neutral tones from each form almost a bridge between them.

Do you have a colour favourite?

Indigo

Indigo

I didn’t expect to love this deep Indigo blue from Dango so much. Knitted up it feels like a gently faded denim jacket, just lovely subtle variations in the navy blue. It’s got so much depth.

Now we can take a look at the patterns I designed for the yarn. There’s no better way to see how  yarn colour behaves then by knitting so I’d suggest giving them a try!


Russler
feller-russler-7687
First we have Russler, an oversized, side-to-side shawl that is super warm and generously sized. The chevron stitch pattern is great for showing off the interaction between the three different colours – so it’s a bit like wearing Autumn wrapped around your shoulders!


Lignite
feller-lignite-7801
Next we have Lignite.  This is a top-down raglan tunic, with a gentle v-neck. Designed to fit loosely the stripes of grey lace combine with a gentle a-line shape and an asymmetrical short row hem slope. This creates an easy-to-wear top that can be modified for different sizes.


Dango
feller-dango-8035
Dango is a great uni-sex hat that combines a very subtle spiral cable with a dramatic central focal cable. I can see one of the boys robbing the sample over Christmas!

Yarn for all these patterns is available exclusively through Love Knitting. Keep an eye on the Yarn Collective over the coming days for some more revelations!

Save

Save

Save

Save