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New designs in Simply Knitting

7 Aug

 

Oh hello there! I’ve been a bit busy of late, hence the tumbleweed blowing across your screen for the last little while.

Here’s why…

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The new issue of Simply Knitting is out this week and I’ve got three patterns in it. Huzzah!

First up is Zest, an ombre cushion, with a flash of colour just for fun.

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It’s knitted in Rowan Big Wool on 10mm needles, so it goes super fast – the whole thing took just a couple of evenings to knit. You start from one corner with just 3 stitches and increase out to the widest point, before decreasing again.

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The back is envelope style, which means no sewing on buttons or any faffing at all really.

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If you want to make the whole thing in one colour it takes less than three balls.

Also in this issue is Play Time, a dress for little girls, modelled by a familiar face, if you’re a ‘regular’ here at Nana Taught Me How…

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I used PeterPan Sweetheart DK, which is machine washable (hurrah!) and super-soft against young sensitive skin.

It’s sized from 9 months to 6 years, and the smallest size is quite a bit shorter than the others so your crawling tot won’t get tangled up in a long skirt.

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I bought dresses for Storm she never got to wear because she was a late walker – crawling and long skirts do NOT mix.

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Thanks to Frances Jago for her sterling knitting, Phil Sowels for the lovely photography of lil’ Storm, and Sarah Clark and Al for helping me wrangle her on the shoot. That lollipop was the only thing keeping her from escaping!

Last, but not least is Happy Days, a cheerful polka dot cardigan with cute picot edgings.

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The magazine has helpfully included a step-by-step tutorial for Fair Isle knitting in case you’re new to it.

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And it’s on the cover. Whoop!

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So, a busy month!

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I’ll have more design news very soon. Ttfn!

Isla dress: New child’s dress pattern in The Knitter

15 Jun

Word up peeps. Just dropping in to say I’ve got a new pattern out this week in issue 46 of The Knitter, whatevs.

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Isla is a kiddo’s dress in Rowan’s lovely new Wool Cotton 4 ply, which is a fantastic yarn for spring/ summer, and most importantly for the Head Laundryperson in your house if you have a nipper, it’s machine washable.

It’s sized from age 2 to 10 and doesn’t take much yarn – even the largest size is 5 balls of the main colour, with tiny amounts for the colourwork.

Storm was kind enough to lend her modelling skills to the shoot…

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With hindsight, I should have added extra length to her ‘sample size’ as she is way taller than an average 3 to 4 year old – so it look super short. But it’s easy to lengthen if, like me, you’re the proud parent of a baby giraffe!

Look, matchy matchy!

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The bottom section is knit in the round and there’s hardly any shaping so it’s a great first Fair Isle project too.

Most exciting for me, this pattern is now available online to buy from The Making Spot, along with some of my old designs. Welcome to the 21st century peeps! Not that I’m saying don’t buy the mag, but, if you want to cast on, like NOW, you can – hurrah!

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More design news coming up really soon…

PS. Thanks to Al, James and Sarah for helping Storm have a great time on the shoot, Frances, for her amazing knitting, and Phil for taking such lovely pix.

Buttons. And a Lisette pattern review (Simplicity 2211)

2 Apr

Do you like buttons? Me, I LOVE me some buttons.

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I am quite restrained when it comes to collecting them. For ages my button collection fitted in an old Altoids tin. There are a few too many now to get in the tin, but I try to keep it reined in.

This week though, was time for a button splurge. After much procrastinating (waaaaaay too much stocking stitch for my liking) I finished my Chickadee cardigan this weekend.

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I’d already lined up some stunning buttons from The Makery Emporium, which has become my go to place for pretty Japanese painted wooden buttons. I bought nine of these large chintzy ones..

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…and also, some tiny ones with tropical looking orange flowers, to decorate a blouse I just finished in time for our mini heatwave.

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The blouse is by Lisette for Simplicity (pattern 2211, view E) and this was a dry run for some Liberty Tana Lawn which was too perfect to risk on a first attempt. It’s just as well I did the dry run – I managed to sew the collar on inside out (duh) and had to cut it off and bodge the neckline.

And then the sleeves turned out to be smaller than the armholes, which made it kind of hard to gather them in, as per the pattern – definitely a grading error as I followed all the seam allowances exactly. Luckily my lovely repro feedsack fabric was 130cm wide, not the standard 115cm, which meant I had a little spare, so I recut a new pair of sleeves two sizes larger and used those.

Voila…

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Shame about the ‘wasted’ fabric. It’ll go into a quilt one day. The blouse only needs a metre of 150cm wide fabric if you fancy making it (a little more if you use quilting width).

I do have some glorious vintage glass buttons, which I bought at the first Knit Nation. They are from L Nichols, a company set up by the daughter of buttonmaker Lionel Nichols to sell off her huge collection of buttons he made in his lifetime. She releases them in collections a couple of times a year. Each set is totally unique and priced accordingly. Ahem.

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Nearly two years on, they still haven’t found their perfect project. They nearly went on the feedsack shirt, but it just wasn’t quite right.

Their time will come…

Hello Mollie! Crochet flowers and egg cosies galore

10 Mar

Happy weekend! After a morning spent beavering away in the garden, getting ready for spring (hurrah!) I gave myself permission to tear open the wrapper on my yummy new issue of Mollie Makes. Thanks Mr Postman!

Even better, there are several patterns in this issue that I lent a helping hand with on the tech editing front.

First up is this month’s star project …

These lovely egg cosies by Suzie Johnson of The Wool Sanctuary, are lickitysplit quick to knit up, and will give you a nicely sample sized challenge, with a little bit of Fair Isle and intarsia knitting needed to make them up.

I also provided a little assistance with the adorbs (as Mollie would say) cover gift – a pretty crochet flower brooch in pink cotton yarn, designed by Anna Rakoniewska, who has a super-cute Etsy shop.

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You only need to be able to do double and treble crochet (single and double in US speak) to put this together. It really is very simple – don’t be scared!

The garden is waking up to spring, so I spent a lovely hour outside after I’d finished digging, weeding and re-potting, sat in the warm(ish) sun with Mollie and a nice cool drink.

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Ooo, look, buds! Hooray for sunny days! Ttfn xx

Reading List: My favourite blogs

22 Feb

Mmmmm, pondering what to write today, it occurred that there are a gazillion great blogs out there, but tracking them down can be tricky.

Some of the ones I like are well known, some not so much, but all are worth a peek, I hope you’ll agree.

So, here we go!

1. Posie Gets Cozy

Portland designer Alicia Paulson has an impossibly beautiful home, an incredible collection of sweet felt, cross stitch, embroidery and crochet patterns, and takes truly beautiful pictures. I’ve made A LOT of her designs. Go Alicia!

2. Yarnstorm

Quilting, baking, knitting, crochet, art and gardening, with Jane Brocket, who has a spectacular eye for colour and a ‘can do’ take on life.

She started me on my quilting journey. And hurrah for that! (More quilting here this weekend if that’s your bag)
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3. Brooklyn Tweed

Jared Flood has superstar status in the knitting world, but is also an accomplished photographer, and now has his own yarn range. If any designer will persuade you to get into knitting, he is it.

Here’s his Rock Island shawl. Not one for beginners but totally GAWJUS.

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Photo (c) Jared Flood.

4. Craftiness Is Not Optional

Mum of two and sewing genius Jess posts daily about clothes, with regular free tutorials on kid’s and women’s clothes and accessories. Great for last minute presents. I love her ric-rac flowers.

5. Feminist Ryan Gosling

This blog exploded just a few months ago, and riffs with exceptional humour on the whole F*ckYeah web meme that won’t go away. Succinct feminist theory and hot pictures of Ryan Gosling. What’s not to like?! This is my favourite post.

6. The Sartorialist

I love Scott Schuman for his coverage of the shows, but his street snaps are second to none. A superstar fashion blogger who deserves to be so.

7. Needled

Scottish knitwear designer Kate Davies takes you on adventures through the Highlands, and regularly reveals her latest, exceptional design. She has a penchant for ‘woolly wool’ and Fair Isle and great taste in dogs and hats.

Like this one…
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8. Cotton and Cloud

Kyoko Nakayoshi is a talented Japanese knitwear designer, who I feel privileged to have worked with regularly over the past year. Her blog is full of useful knitting tips and techniques, as well as links to lovely products like these fab knitting needles. Knitscene recently named her one of the top 8 knitwear designers to watch in 2012, and deservedly so!

9. Birdface

Helen Ward is a graphic designer with a sideline in amazing paper art. She has occasional tutorials for everything from pretty Christmas decorations, to  leg warmers and is always inspirational. She rocks!

Here’s Helen with her fabulous knitted gate, which she created during Totterdown’s Woolly Wonderland
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10. Jen Arnall-Culliford Knitwear

Jen AC is a widely respected technical editor with a sideline in just-so designs. She’s also my friend, and the person who encouraged me to go for my job on The Knitter. Thanks Jen!  Her blog is a lovely mix of knitting, stitching, foodie loveliness and good old common sense.

Enough from me. I’d love to hear about your favourite blog, so leave me a comment!

Peerie Flooers finished! And a little colouring in

6 Oct

It took me six days in the end to knit my Peerie Flooers (Rav link) hat. I was, as I said earlier, pretty obsessed!

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The thing about colourwork is that it’s addictive. As the pattern unfolds with every row, you get hooked on seeing what’s going to happen next.

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Making this hat (designed by the very talented Kate Davies) has got me thinking even more about colour than usual.

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I recently had the pleasure of swatching some Fair Isle style motifs in John Arbon‘s new yarn with vintage knitwear expert Susan Crawford, Excelana.

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It’s a beautiful yarn, perfect for colourwork. The challenge for a designer lies in making a relatively limited palette (there are eight colours in Excelana so far) work in harmony.

When working with a limited colour range, or in fact, any colour range, there is a great trick for making it easier. I think I first read about it in Alice Starmore‘s seminal Book of Fair Isle Knitting, but it’s a widely used technique.

Simply take your colour range and put it into black and white.

The easiest way is to take a picture using the black and white setting on your digital camera, but I prefer to take it in colour and then desaturate it in Photoshop, so that I can refer back to it.

This allows you to see the relative light or dark values of the colours. By having this extra info, you can then easily avoid putting colours which are of the same light/dark value next to each other, where a lack of contrast would make the patterning hard to see.

After that, despite all the colour ‘rules’ you may have heard of, everything else is just a matter of taste.

Having knitted Peerie Flooers in a combination of Jamieson and Smith 2 ply and Rowan Fine Tweed, I’m now looking at a new design using the Rowan yarn.

Here’s what happens when you take the colours away…

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Time to play!

Peerie Flooers: Hat obsession

30 Sep

It’s 1am and I should be in bed. But I can’t sleep. Because I have to knit my hat.

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Yes, I realise it’s too hot to wear it, but that’s not the point. Last week I finally managed to find the time to write about Kate Davies marvellous Peerie Flooers hat for Fabulous Pattern Friday on The Knitter blog.

Then, having hit my design submission deadline for next season (more Fair Isle for next spring – hurrah!) and having also written a feature for the brand-new redesigned Simply Knitting magazine, I sat down, took a breath and cast on.

I started my version of Peerie Flooers on Monday night. Having been up to my eyeballs with work for some time, I’ve given myself the week off to knit it. Happily, if I keep going like this, I’ll be weaving in the ends by the weekend.

This hat has me OBSESSED. Kate previewed the design on her blog so I already knew I wanted to make it before she released the pattern a (thankfully) short while later.

I raided my stash of Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight yarn, bought three balls of the delicious Rowan Fine Tweed the pattern calls for (3 quid each, last of the big spenders), and dived in. Happily I’ve been able to share out what I don’t need with some other knitting friends, so at last count there are 5 of us, all in the various stages of making it.

I’ve modified the pattern, by using cream instead of oatmeal for one of the background colours and working the red and blue flowers in two, tonal, shades to give them a bit more depth.

Meanwhile  61 other people are already knitting it on Ravelry, and more of my knitting friends are casting on as I type. Obsessed? I’m not the only one…