Slooooow….!!!

It’s been a slow few months… battling with menopausal symptoms, I haven’t slept properly since November, I can’t seem to think straight and my body thermostat wants to play games with me!!! Grrr!! Anyway, I’m soldiering on. 😳 🔥❄😰

To keep me from going completely mad, I’ve been revisiting past patterns that I felt could be improved upon. Friday Street Shawl has just recently had a relaunch. I love this pattern and I’ve always wanted to explore the idea of having extra colours on it – and now I have! Check out the recent test knits too, they’re fab! ❤

Friday Street Shawl – 5 colour version

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that I don’t only knit, but I also play tennis! I started playing regularly when I was 40, but it was a steep learning curve. Things like: hand/eye coordination, muscle reflex and ball trajectory skills were not in my original training as a track and field athlete. Simply keeping the ball in court is quite an achievement, y’know! 😅


…and then there’s the weather conditions to contend with!

Can you be-weave it?!

Since the Scandinavian weaving workshop last year, I’ve been dabbling with proper weaving, using a rigid heddle loom. I’m still trying to figure out the terminology and finding useful ways to use weaving fabric, but at least it is helping me to beat down my yarn stash a lot faster than I could if I was just only knitting!

My first woven scarf (with mistakes galore!)

My second woven scarf (with fewer mistakes in it!)

My cushion cover

Design Process

Now and then, an idea for a design comes to my mind, and if I bother to sketch it out it will eventually come out just like I imagined it. If I don’t sketch it, this means that it is either a simple construction and is easy to knit (therefore why bother getting the crayons out), or it is a complex design and I have no sodding idea how this thing is going to look!! Here’s some examples:

Sketch it, yay!:

The finished result – Polesden Lacy:

No sketch- uh, oh! But here’s the finished result anyway! Pattern: Massive Attack blanket.

Some are designed directly on the needles – don’t ask me how, usually I just cast on and see where it takes me…!

Below is one of two versions, I’m going to write up both:

Upcoming designs

Widden (shown above) – is the wide cropped, sideways knit top. Pattern is almost complete and will go for tech editing soon.
Kirkbymoorside (the name comes from a town in North Yorkshire where I originally bought the yarn!) – a textured, squishy throw using Heavy worsted/Aran weight yarn. I can’t wait to start knitting this! 😀

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New Year, New Craft Skills

I’m hoping to set off the New Year with a new craft skill, Weaving! Among all the textile crafts that I have yet to explore, weaving was somehow never  considered before, that was until August last year. It was then that I had the chance to pre-order a rigid heddle loom from an independent artisan, with a promise that it would be ready to ship in a few weeks.

For various reasons, the seller could not achieve this, but I remained patient… that was until I took part in a Scandinavian Weaving Workshop in Oslo last October. After that, I could not wait to get my hands on this new loom so that I could knock out scarves, cushion covers, bags and all sorts!

While waiting patiently, I was using the frame loom from that I got from the workshop. It’s a cool little gadget, but it only does small projects. I could, if I knew what I was doing, make a number of small squares and stitch them together to make a bigger cloth – but that would require planning and patience, of which are in short supply at the moment!

In the meantime, I’ve been making all sorts of samples on my frame loom. I’ve been mostly using DK merino yarns, which seem to have the right thickness and strength to act as warp thread (lengthwise) and weft thread (widthwise) on the loom. Depending on how hard you beat the work, the fabric’s tension can be loose and airy (light beat), or thick and dense (hard beat). I must have been beating these suckers to death because a number of my samples are thick like carpet!

Does anyone need a mug rug??

Weaving on a frame loom is surprisingly calming and enjoyable. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and you can watch TV while you work (great Netflix bingeing accompaniment!). You can do a small project quite quickly. Within about 20 minutes (I’m not properly timing myself, but I know it’s a short time), I could create a 16cm x 16cm (6.25” x 6.25”) square of fabric. Below are some of my samples where I’ve been playing around with pattern formations and tension.

Well, there’s no point just making squares and not knowing what to do with them, is there? So, why not attach them as feature pockets to my handmade project bags!

Knitting project bags with weaving as a feature pocket.

Hej, hej!

That, my friend, is the extent to which my fluency in Norwegian will go. That and perhaps, ‘Tak’. It’s embarrassing really, when I can already speak French and Japanese, it’s a wonder why I didn’t make more of an effort to speak Norwegian while I was in Oslo. I think it was mostly to do with the fact that the Norwegians already speak excellent English, therefore why should I insult/bore/inflict upon them my poor attempt at Norwegian?!

Oslo Strikke Festival 2017

A festival of yarn and crafts, was held in October at the famous Norwegian Folk Museum. An excellent venue for holding such an event. Not too large, but adequate enough to hold a fair number of stalls. Classes and workshops took place in outbuildings a short walk away from the main hall. And when you want to take a breather from all that yarn (not possible, I know), you can go out and visit the exhibitions and its real-life historical villages, buildings and homes.

I made the most of it and took a Scandinavian Weaving Workshop held by the lovely Gunn Kristin Halvorsen from www.scandinavianweaving.etsy.com. Although the whole workshop was being taught purely in Norwegian, I didn’t have any trouble following the instructions – after all, craft in any language is still craft!

I noticed how considerably colder it was compared to London. This meant that I needed something more substantial than the merino hat and mitts I was wearing. So, I bought some yarn and quickly knitted a hat and mitts combo – you know, like you do!

I went with a view to experiencing Scandinavian yarn and culture in the 5 short days I was there and I was particularly impressed by their transport systems! Norwegian yarns are very similar to our Scottish breed yarns – they appear scratchy, but are very light in weight. I was told that they soften up considerably once washed too, so I am really looking forward to diving into these beauties (below)!

Here’s a pic of my entire haul:

On The Subject of Mitts…

Newly launched is my Kitty Whiskers fingerless mitts pattern, written for the Addi Express 22-pin. This is a fun pattern that enlists the use of 2 colour yarns where one overlays the other and features a cute ‘braiding’ technique that look almost like kitty whiskers! 😻

Coupon code

Get 25% OFF – use coupon code: kitty. Offer ends 30th November 2017, midnight GMT. Buy it here: https://www.ravelry.com/redeem/jimiknits?code=kitty

New Pattern Release: Galliatt

After months of tweaking, testing and mucking around… I have finally published “Galliatt“. It is a turtle neck lacy poncho-style tunic, comprising 3 colours of worsted weight yarn (or any colour configuration you like!).

It is worked flat in two pieces. The sides are fixed together with your choice of fashionable buttons, facing back-to-back, therefore no button holes are required. It is designed to be roomy, so that you can wear a light sweater underneath. A practical piece for everyday wear.

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Get 20% OFF ALL MY PATTERNS on Ravelry – use code: jimi20 Expires 11th Oct 2017 – GMT. Link: https://www.ravelry.com/designers/jimenez-joseph

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Galliatt is a funny name, I agree, but really it was just a respectful nod to the yarn that inspired the design in the first place. De Rerum Natura’s Gilliatt is a worsted weight, semi-woolen spun, French and European sourced merino yarn, produced in France in an ethical and ecological way. It is available in natural and dyed colours.

© photo source: De Rerum Natura

October Events

Oslo Strikkfestival – Friday 20 October to Sunday 22nd October 2017. Oslo Strikkefestival is a fest for fiber-lovers and yarnaholics in the heart of Oslo! This years’ festival is over three days, from Friday, October 20th to Sunday, October 22nd. For even more fun this year, the festival is taking place in two different venues; Deichmanske Hovedbibliotek and Norsk Folkemuseum.

Friday October 20th: Opening Party! – Knitting lounge, Live Entertainment, Drinks, Snacks and Debates and Movies! Address: Deichmanske Hovedbibliotek, Arne Garborgs plass 4, 0179 Oslo.

Saturday and Sunday October 21st and 22nd – Marketplace, Workshops, Talks, Entertainment, Festival Knitting Lounge and After Party! Address: Norsk Folkemuseum, Museumsveien 10, Bygdøy, 0287 Oslo.

See you there! 😃

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.

 

 

 

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