OMFSocks!!!

Socks…. It was the main reason why I wanted to learn how to knit, I think. I remember, wearing my favourite pair of multi-coloured pop socks and wishing to goodness that they would just bloody-well stay up and not keep falling down to my ankles!!!  You can imagine, me, having to suddenly stop in the middle of the street to pull them up every five strides (underneath my jeans, even!). Annoying! I wished back then that I could make myself a pair of socks where I could dictate the cuff size and not have this problem.

As early as I could, I wanted to get in there and learn how to knit in the round. It was my main ambition. I was determined to make myself a pair of socks. This was my first project:

knitted shitkickers
Knitted Shitkickers in Green Tea and Rose Self-Striping yarn

Oh, I do have fond memories of these babies! I remember searching all over Ravelry for the easiest beginner sock pattern/recipe that I could find. I found this pattern: Knitted Shitkickers by Laurel Lancaster – I reckon I was drawn to the name! The funny thing about this pattern is that it shows you, step-by-step how to construct a sock using 2 circular needles, but at the time, I was working with DPNs and had never used circulars before, so I had to mentally transpose the instructions in accordance to DPNs as opposed to circulars. I’m amazed that I even managed to figure that out!!

Of course the love affair with socks still goes on. I keep a sock project in my car so that I can whip it out if I have to wait around during the school run, or if I’ve got a doctor’s appointment etc.

Some of my sock yarn choices are a little outrageous, I mean, I wouldn’t actually wear them as a focal piece of my outfit. I would wear them under boots or jeans mostly. They’re my secret pleasure and I really don’t mind if people cannot see my socks!

Here’s a few of my favourites:

Blue & grey stripe socks
Simple Tube Socks with afterthought heel in blue and grey yarn.
Sakana sock
Sakana by Jimiknits. My very first ever published pattern!
bitter & twisted sock
Bitter & Twisted Socks by JimiKnits. Made using Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn in Sour Cherry
Jelly Roll socks
Jelly Rolls by M Bryner. Yarn: Unbelievawool sock in Purple & Hedgehog Fibre sock in Monet.
LBW socks
LBW by JimiKnits. Yarn: Plucky Sweater in Breakfast on Fifth et. al
Dancing Bamboo Socks by Holly Daymude. Yarn: Kells Sport by Three Irish Girls in Maidenhair.
Booty-Licious Socks with Matching Pants! Socks were made with yarn from the Pants and Socks club from Jo.Knit.Sew. The socks were made on the Addi Express 22 pin.

 

 

 

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Welcome To My Creative Palace

It all started when Hubby hinted that maybe I have “too much yarn” and that my knitting business is “taking over the house” (notice that he hinted it rather than tell it directly. He’s not stupid – I’m sure he can imagine how painful a knitting needle in the ribs must be!).

In truth, I really needed a space to work – a place that was separate from home life, a place to go to when I’m in ‘Knitty Mode’ and a place that I can leave behind when I just want to be myself. Balancing home/work life in the same space is problematic.

He had the brainwave of talking me into moving out when an office space had become available nearby. However, this office space needed some imagination…

See the sloping ceilings, the magnolia walls, the brown features and the lack of natural light….? Ugh! What you don’t get a sense of in these pictures is the size of the place. It’s quite small, about 16m2 split into 2 ‘rooms’ as such. Normally, that would be an adequate space for up to 3 people if all the floor space was accessible, but the slope in certain areas cut out that accessibility. The ceiling height in some parts can be dangerous to those over 5ft 10″ (you know how it goes: ha ha BONK!). Despite this, I felt like I could make this work.

I love a challenge and my challenge was to bring light to a dark room, plus make it into a creative palace!

One way to boost the lighting in a gloomy space is to install numerous spotlights with daylight bulbs in. The other way is to paint everything white – that’s what I did, much cheaper. The sloping ceiling was going to be a problem for my yarn cupboards, as they would not fit in.

I searched online and found a very useful metal-framed, plastic 16-cube modular unit. It’s lightweight, sturdy and easy to assemble. Click here: 16-cube unit. It’s a great little storage unit for keeping yarn. It’s surprisingly strong too, not that yarn is heavy, but they do rack up some weight when there is a large amount of it.

CRW_8491

The ceiling height was an issue again, so this meant that I could only set up the modular unit 4-cubes wide by 3-cubes high. With the remaining pieces I managed to build a 3-up standalone unit, but I was 2 connectors short. This wasn’t a problem, I contacted the vendor and asked them for it and they shipped it to me.

After a week of painting the walls, window frames and assembling stuff, the studio is now ready and looks marvellous! Bright and airy, with all the comforts a knitter would need. ☺️

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OPP: Other People’s Patterns – What’s just come off my needles

Jimiknits in Garri (modified)

Typical! I’ve always been late to the newest ‘knitting craze’, be it for double-knitting, for fair-isle, for brioche stitch (which I still have yet to master), for modular knitting… and for the love of Stephen West designs!

In this case, I was late to the Lopi party! More importantly, Icelandic sweaters. Lopi by Istex is the standard yarn used for such projects and my local yarn store: www.gilliangladrag.co.uk has been stocking various Lopi yarns in a beautiful range of colours!

I found this pattern in the Lopi Book No. 34 – called “Garri” by Védís Jónsdóttir.

Garri Sweater and Lopi Yarn

I wanted to turn this sweater into a zip-up cardi and the only way to do that would be to work it in the round then steek it down the middle. Most Icelandic yoke sweaters are worked in the round anyway, but from the bottom-up – a new experience for me. I always choose top-down, if I can help it.

My Colours:

A – 86 Beige (main colour)
A (alt) – 0051 White – to be used as flashes of colour in the colourwork.
B – 9964 Yellow
C – 9972 Ecru

February 10, 2017: Quit stalling and get on wivvit!!

OK…, having studied the pattern extensively, having swatched and then re-swatched a few test pieces, I came to the conclusion that this sweater pattern was not going to work for me. It is a man’s sweater after all and for some reason the hem measurement is unbelievably narrow, I wondered if it would even fit my husband!

I didn’t trust the pattern’s tension either. My gauge was way off! This meant that I would not only have to go up 2 needle sizes, but I’d have to follow size XL to make sense of the numbers. I was not comfortable with following the pattern like this, but I really did like the design. I took the decision to reverse-engineer it by working it from the top down. I was going to modify it by making it into a zip-up cardi anyway, but there was going to be some obvious changes to the Icelandic yoke design.

Gah! I’ll just make it up as I go along!

February 20, 2017: I’m on the right track – yay!

Well, who’d have thought that reversing an Icelandic yoke chart would be so easy? I measured my neck circumference and added about 2” of ease. This gave me approx. 65 sts. A great deal of jiggery-pokery was required to make sure the repeat patterns started and ended at the right place – plus, I had to remember that I’d allowed an extra 5 sts in the centre front as my steeking strip.

Garri in progress - yoke view

Where the pattern showed decreases, I replaced them with increases using KFB. By getting the difficult part of the construction nailed down first, it means that the rest will be so much easier. Somehow, by doing it this way, it all made sense. I can’t see why more Icelandic sweaters are not made this way.

March 1, 2017: Looking OK so far, but…

…my tension had gone into ‘ultra-murderous’ mode! The plain stockinette body is looking a little bit small for my liking. This was fine if I wanted it to be more fitted at the waist, but I’ve got no ‘waist’ to speak of, so accentuating a flat panel was not going to work for me! I was thinking I could expand this area when I come to block it. But if not, then I’d have to cut out the stockinette portion and re-knit it, then graft the bottom bit to the colourwork section…. bleh?! (sigh!) Yes, sometimes it seems like I do like to make my life difficult!

garri with body

March 5, 2017: Gulp!

I can see why many people don’t bother knitting ‘on the hoof’ like this because it can be a minefield of errors and pitfalls! In this case my extremely tight tension had lost me about 1.25 inches in the body circumference. In addition to that, I was a little too generous with the sleeve allowance, which may be the main reason why the body circ was tighter than expected.

I am an inventor if nothing else, so I’m bound to find a solution… and this was it: Thankfully the sleeve allowance was not a major problem, so I would simply do a few rapid decreases to get around that. To make up for the loss in body circ however, I picked up and knitted stitches for the front band ribbing and made them a bit longer than I had planned to. The zip would be attached to that, so I would have made up for the lost circ at the front of the body… phew!

garri yoke with ribbing

March 8, 2017: The home straight

My sleeves (at upper arm) were going to be larger than expected so I ripped back and tackled this by doing a few rapid decreases and used 6.5mm needles instead of 7mm as planned. This seemed to work out well. For the lower sleeve, I mirrored the same zigzag design.

garri blocking

Blocking: After weaving in all the ends, I put it in a lukewarm bath to soak. I added a bit of woolwash and hair conditioner, a protein-rich type that should only be used for treatments and should only be used sparingly…. I may have poured in a little too much because the fibres were blooming all over the place! Got to admit it though, the fabric is REALLY SOFT now! I left it to dry directly on the mannequin so that if it DID shrink, it wouldn’t get any smaller.

March 13, 2017: Let’s cut that sh!t up!!

Cutting the steek wasn’t as scary as it seemed. I didn’t need to reinforce the steek first either, because the yarn bloomed like a crazy thing, there’s no chance in the world of any of those stitches coming loose!

garri steeking

After steeking I hand sewed the flaps to the inside using a tapestry needle and the main colour yarn. The zip was hand sewn to the ribbing – a slow process, but much better and neater than machine-stitching it in place.

Jimiknits in Garri

The Fit

I love it! It fits my frame surprisingly well. I suspect that having dried it directly on the mannequin helped to create the perfect fit. I even expected the yarn to itch me madly, but it doesn’t irritate me at all. The fabric is warm and firm… perhaps a bit too fluffy (due to my over-zealous handling of hair conditioner!), but I’m sure that it will calm down once I’ve worn it a few times.

jimiknits in Garri

Where you goin’, you SuperChunky thing?!!

Well… it’s certainly cold enough to warrant getting out those chunky weight yarns from my stash cupboard – but wait a minute– I don’t have enough chunky yarn to make a sweater!! Oops! 😳

Ha! I’m Just ‘Plying’ with You!

No worries, because I managed to get some help from a fellow Ravster (or ‘Rav-buddy’, ‘Rav-chum’ = a friend on Ravelry.com) called KayGirlsKnitter. He makes these amazing MEGA-chunky sweaters and coats and he does this by plying many strands of yarns of differing weights and fibres together. The result of this is a super-thick strand of knitting that is worked up with needle sizes starting from 10mm upwards.

Taking his techniques on board, I rustled up a quick ‘n’ thick jacket of my own. It doesn’t get nearly cold enough in the UK to need anything as thick as KayGirlsKnitter’s jackets (having said that, it is -3ºc here today, brrr!), so I made my jacket with 9 strands of various yarns using 12mm needles. The fabric composition was a mixture of (in order of quantity): merino, camel, mohair, alpaca, silk and acrylic. Plying yarns like this is a good way to use up your ever-encroaching stash and it creates some beautiful textures and colours. This jacket is so lovely and warm, yet it’s surprisingly light in weight too. I love how it came out – I wear it a lot! 😃

compost jacket by jimiknits

New Pattern Release

Veza = ‘Reveal’ or ‘Show’ in Zulu. I loved knitting this sweater! For me, it was so easy to knit, but I don’t mind telling you it was a b!tch to write the pattern! Size grading maths…Ugh! Anyway, I’m so glad that the pattern and the sweater came out good in the end. My test knitters did a fantastic job on theirs, check them out on the pattern page here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/veza

Veza sweater by jimiknits

veza in blue by jimiknits

On a Lighter Note…

This was a little project I had been working on in the background while I was writing Veza. This is ByeLine… or at least a modified version of it. I’ve simply taken the original design and added a diamond lace pattern to the lower half of it. This modification is so easy to implement, that it doesn’t need another written addendum to the pattern. Just find a lace pattern you like and add it in! I can’t wait to wear it.

byeline in lace by jimiknits

What’s next…?

I’ve been hampered with tendonitis in my wrist since August and it doesn’t look like I’ll be doing much heavy-duty knitting for Christmas. If anything, I’m going to have to do something inventive with my Addi Circular Knitting Machines! Projects like this:

pj monster muncher by jimiknits

This little monster is a Pyjama Muncher! A 30cm x 30cm plump cushion with a zip-opening to stow away your PJ’s! I made him using both Addi Prof (22) and Addi King (46) machines, a sewing machine and a pompom maker (all the tools, man!). There’s been quite a few requests for these… particularly from adults, hmm…! 😅

Look, Ma! I’m on TV!!

OK, not quite TV….YouTube.

I was invited to take part in an interview with popular YouTube Podcasters,  Andrea and Andrew Doig from Fruity Knitting.  When I received the email request, I actually had a “Who? Me?” moment. Even asking myself what had I done to deserve this, but after realising that it wasn’t a hoax (since there was no promise of $3million), I was pretty excited about it!

I’m not all that clued up on video podcasts, but having watched a few of the past issues of Fruity Knitting, I am now a fan! The great thing about these podcasts, is that you can pull up a comfy chair, grab your knitting, a cup of tea and a cake of your choice and just enjoy ‘slow TV’. It’s quite enjoyable and very relaxing. You get a lot of knitting done! In fact, I learned a few useful knitting techniques during these episodes – educational too.

Check out Episode 11 – I am featured about 40 minutes into it, but I recommend watching the whole thing because it is so entertaining and professionally formatted.

Fruity Knitting can be found here: http://fruityknitting.com/ Join their Ravelry group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/fruity-knitting-podcast

What is (Was) On My Needles?

I’ve had a wrist injury for the last 2 months, so I’ve been avoiding knitting anything large, but I did go through a moment of cranking out quick projects on the Addi Express, like this one:

Vestival (2 colour)
Vestival in 2 colours. Main body worked on Addi while the rest was hand knitted.

Yarns used: Sock by Hedgehog Fibres in “Carousel” (pink) and Blush by Skein Queen in “Aubergine”. This pattern is available on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/vestival

Although it is officially Autumn here in the UK, it’s difficult for us to give up on Summer, especially when the weather has been so warm lately. It has been known for us to see mild temperatures right up until mid-October! I wasn’t ready to wear thick sweaters just yet, so I made this quick bolero/vest:

Made on the Addi Express using 1 skein of Fingering Weight yarn. All trims were hand knitted.
Made on the Addi Express using 1 skein of Fingering Weight yarn. All trims were hand knitted.

Yarn used: Bleating Velvet 4ply by Ginger’s Hand Dyed in “Bermuda”.

I kept thinking… I should wear more hats! I love knitting hats and I seem to have quite a few of them, but I don’t wear them much because my head over-heats like mad! I decided to go for lighter weight yarns instead:

Slouchy beanie and matching fingerless mitts
Slouchy beanie and matching fingerless mitts

Yarn: Merino DK by Unbelievawool in “Poppy”.

In order to keep off my wrist, I tried to sew instead! I think I have come to terms with my limitations when it comes to creating things – and machine-sewing has got to be it! Don’t look too closely at my wonky stitching, but the construction is pretty much there and there’s little chance of the whole falling apart. Here are my groovy sewing attempts:

Sewing Project Bags
Left to right: Boxy project bag and 2 x Boxy pencil cases/cosmetic bags

As they say.. Practice makes perfect!

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My summer: Music festivals, Interviews… and playing tennis?

It’s July… Is it that it’s just too hot to knit, or is it that I’ve got nothing but a ton of heavy weight yarns?! I think the answer is BOTH!

My latest pattern release is in-keeping with the weather at least! VESTival was inspired by the bohemian fashionistas at music festivals. I recently went to the Love Supreme Jazz Festival this summer and I needed something warm, yet light and airy to wear. The weather was rubbish for the time of year – in fact. it was so bloody cold I kept my jacket on! I even thanked the stars that I brought my long-arm fingerless gloves with me… it was THAT cold!

Anyway, 3 days prior to that event, I couldn’t decide on what to wear. The weather had been changeable (changing between cold/windy and cold/rainy) along with sudden bursts of sunshine. So, I quickly ran up a vest using 2 skeins of ToshMo Light by Madelinetosh. This yarn offers generous yardage, beautiful colour and great tonal depth. The small percentage of mohair also gives it that extra fluff to trap air.

VESTival VESTival

The whole pattern is written for hand knitting, although I did crank out the bottom section using the Addi Express King Size (purely for speed!), but the rest of the construction is hand knitted. I’ve got my eye on making another one using Hedgehog Fibres’ ‘speckly’ coloured yarns – Super fun!

Pattern Launch Discount: Get 20% OFF VESTival! – no coupon necessary. Offer ends midnight GMT, 7th August 2016.

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I took part in an interview with pattern designer/author, Robin Hunter on her “How to become a Professional Knitter” blog, and it was so much fun to do! It was the first time I’d ever been asked questions about my work. I don’t think I’d ever really taken my knitting design work seriously until that interview. See it here: http://knittingrobin.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/an-interview-withjimenez-joseph.html

I also took part in a video interview for Fruity Knitting’s YouTube Podcast. Having to talk directly to a camera was pretty daunting at first, but hopefully it won’t be too bad after they edit it! My interview should be live in the next podcast in a few weeks’ time. I’ll add a link as soon as it is released. In the meantime, I cannot stress how enjoyable Andrea and Andrew are to watch and listen to, so check them out here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCry9BOQv1BhE5k9c9oHnxTw

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Much of my spare time is spent playing tennis! As you know, I used to be a track and field athlete until a serious injury put a stop to that. Luckily, I was able to fix myself up enough to return to a sport that is less damaging to my body. I love tennis so much, I wonder sometimes why I never even considered playing it properly in my youth!

tennis shoes

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Project Balancing

Oops! Has it really been 8 weeks since my last confession- I mean, news update?
…where to start… OK, since working so hard on Jimi Cricket (see pic below), it knocked me for six, but I was bowled over by the result (excuse the cricketing terms)! I needed to take some time off from writing sweater patterns for a while. Much as I love doing them, they are HARD WORK!


Pattern link: Jimi Cricket

In order to not give up on everything, I revisited some of my old design sketches and doodles to see if I can make knitted sense out of them. Take Refraction Shawl for instance, can you believe that that design started off like this?:

…and then finally become this?: 

Pattern link: Refraction Shawl

Sometimes, I don’t even go as far as sketching anything down. Instead, I would just grab some yarn, needles, then cast on and end up with something like this: 

Literally, this is how it went… I was at my local yarn store when I spotted this gorgeous grey/black pompom. Next to that was a large ball of chunky yarn called Roma by Debbie Bliss. The conversation between myself and the sales assistant went like this:

SA: Ooh, lovely! What are you thinking of making with this?

Me: A hat, most likely.

SA: Sadly, we don’t have any patterns here for that yarn…

Me: Oh, don’t worry about me, I’ll think of something.

SA: What? You’re going to make something up? (now, she’s looking at me like I’ve grown 2 heads!)

Me: Er, yeah… I usually do.

SA: Blimey! (shaking her head in disbelief) I can’t imagine working without a pattern. You will show me what you make with it, won’t you?

Me: Yes, sure, no problem! 

So the next day, I showed her my hat. She was so amazed by it that she asked me to knit one for her too! I did. Then I wrote the pattern for it and named it after her!

Pattern link: Céri Beret

I’ve been exploring the possibilities of faster projects using the Addi Express circular knitting machines. I’m sure, the older I get, the more impatient I become and I want it NOW! Not to mention that I’ve had a recurring shoulder/lower arm issue from knitting so much. If you haven’t had a chance to play with an Addi Express (large or small), you really should! It will never replace good quality hand knitting, but it is a quick and less laborious method of hand crafting a wearable, unique article of clothing.

Below is the Addi Express Professional (22 pin):
They are amazing machines – however, they do have their quirks and each machine seems to have its own ‘personality’, so to speak. I have both the 46 pin and 22 pin machines and both of mine refuse to work with Linen or certain types of bulky yarn. The large machine can drop stitches sometimes, which can have me dropping F-bombs all over the place (quite hilarious, actually!). The more I work with it the better my technique, then the quirks become less and less.

There doesn’t appear to be a lot of pattern support out there for these machines at the moment, but in time, there will be. I’m not sure if Addi are trying to market these machines for the non-knitter, or for the hand knitter who can combine both skills. Any help that is currently out there is on YouTube.

Basically, if you CAN knit, all the better for it. Then you will have an enormous scope of project ideas by combining both hand knitting and machine knitting skills. If you cannot knit, then your project options will be limited. In the meantime, I’m having fun combining both skills to make various projects. This cuts down the time to make a sweater by over 75% in most cases. I made this sweater for my sister in just over a week: