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…! 😅

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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:

Up to My Neck!

For the past 3 months I’ve been cranking them out…well, quite literally in most cases. I can get so deep into my design ideas that I don’t ever come up for air – almost like I forget to breathe!

There isn’t a single design that I have made that I don’t spend days… perhaps weeks… or even months, mulling it over. In art college, our lecturer would say that “Art is never finished, but simply comes to a conclusion”. So during my mulling over, the question I ask of myself is “Have I resolved this?” “Can this design go no further?”

I’m slow at what I do – I know this. I can make quick and firm decisions about anything in life except for things that I produce. So for me, design ideas take a while to go from a concept in my head to the final written pattern. For example, if after having interrogated my designs at different angles and I am happy with the conclusion; or perhaps if I’m happy with how it wears after knitting it, only then will it go to the next stage for writing up. Size grading  can depend on the method I choose to construct the garment in, so this can take a long time to write – the maths alone can put people off knitwear design as a job, let alone a hobby! But I see it as exercising the brain, so I don’t mind it really.

A few projects that have been keeping me busy lately:

JimiKnits Montage

Above pictureclockwise from top left: Sporty Gilet Vest (coming soon), LBW sock, Choob (coming soon, really!), Eventina – a cardi for my sister (still mulling it over), Massive Attack! Blanket (chunky version), Céri Beret, Massive Attack! Blanket (super chunky version), Refraction Shawl (gradient yarn), Refraction Shawl (variegated yarn), Bourbon Chaser (mulling-it-over is almost over!), Rupert Plaid Hat and Matterhorn Ridge Jumper.

Follow me on Instagram – help me speed up my ‘mulling-overs’! 😉

Odd Ball Recycling

As the song goes..”Another One Bites The Dust“, it should be my regular tune after I complete a knitting project. It was when I tossed yet another small ball of yarn into the ‘Odd Ball’ basket that I realised that this basket was overloading….!

CRW_5884

The basket contained silly amounts of yarn, not enough that could really be made into anything significant – OK, not unless you’re into making dolls clothes, that is! It would appear that the types of yarn that I tended to ‘waste’ were fingering (4ply) weight yarns. This is mostly because 100g skein yarns that I work with are either used for socks or for shawls. Since socks never use the entire skein of yarn (usually having about 30g left over) and shawls tend to have a small amount left over (10g or more), all this was building into a huge pile of…. what exactly??

So, by grabbing 3 strands of various colours, I made new yarns….

CRW_5889

I won’t get into what yarn strands are in each, but once plied, they became equivalent to Aran weight yarns. I knitted each sample using 6mm Needles. The fabric is firm, but not too stiff and binds the strands well, offering a good mix with the colours. The back row of yarns weigh between 100g – 130g. The front row of yarns weigh between 70g – 78g. In all cases, there’s enough in each yarn cake to get a hat out of it, or a pair of fingerless gloves (both, for the back row yarns).

CRW_5899
Caribbean Sea
CRW_5898
Tuscany
CRW_5896
Molten Lava
CRW_5895
Lemon Fizz Bomb
CRW_5894
Brighton Fair
CRW_5892
Greek Mosaics
Farmyard Haystack

By plying some odd ball Grey lace weight merino yarn with leftover DK weight Alpaca I had lying around, I made this hat and matching mitts:

Side Buttoned Hat – Moorside Alpaca DK combined with Grey Merino Lace.

Quite a satisfying exercise!

Picture Ref: Buttons are ceramic single samples from Buttonalia https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/buttonalia

Yarn Whispering

Light Hearted by JimiKnits Before I start a design project, it’s often the case that a dialogue will happen between myself and the yarn in question. While talking to yarn, I would listen carefully to what it’s telling me. Mad? Yes, but it’s not uncommon to find me staring intently at a skein of yarn having some kind of telepathic conversation with it (you ought to see it in action – it’s quite a picture!).

Yeavering Bell 4ply by Whistelbare Yarns is a Mohair/Wensleydale yarn that is fluffy, shiny and comes in a lovely collection of subtle colours. It was difficult to pick just one when I bought it at the iKnit Fandango in May 2015. Generally, I’m not used to working with fibrous yarns like this, so the conversation with it was a little unclear – I couldn’t quite understand the language of this yarn. Things seemed to get lost in fluffy translation!

So here I was, with no idea what I was going to do. I worked some quick numbers and drew up a provisional format for the construction, then dived in. It was going to be a jumper… but how?

Light Hearted by Jimenez Joseph

I found a cute heart motif stitch pattern in Wendy Bernard’s book “Dictionary of stitches – up, down and around” and I thought it would be great to use it in this sweater. The yarn however, was proving to be quite interesting. While knitting, the subtle sheen and the halo of fluff appeared to open up nicely, giving the knitted fabric a ‘fairy’ dress look. After a while, the mohair began to fly off in all directions, like microscopic fairies and attach themselves to clothing on contact. But despite that, the softness and sheen was giving the piece a lovely appearance, so I carried on.

Verdict

It was a Love/Hate relationship with this yarn.

I hated it because the fibres flew everywhere! It stuck to furniture, it stuck to clothing and it also got stuck down my throat – many times! On occasions, I’d find myself hacking and retching in an effort to cough up a hair ball like a cat!

I loved it because I loved the look of the yarn, the halo of the mohair and the sheen of the Wensleydale. It gave the fabric a luxurious quality. It’s different from what I am used to knitting with – an alternative look and feel perhaps. In some ways it was almost worth the respiratory upset just to get a result like this.

Light Hearted by Jimenez Joseph

If I were to do it again, I’d opt for a yarn with less quantity of mohair. And so the hunt begins…! ♥