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….!

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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….

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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).

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Caribbean Sea
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Tuscany
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Molten Lava
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Lemon Fizz Bomb
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Brighton Fair
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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…! ♥

ByeLine – The Cardigan Version

This is one of my recent designs, “ByeLine“. It’s a tunic length Henley-style top, with buttoned front and curved hemline. It’s made from the top down in one seamless piece.

ByelIne (original)
ByelIne (original)

Someone asked me if this could be turned into a cardigan. It was an interesting thought and it got my mind racing… So, a cardi version… Can it be done? I’m sure it can!

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Note to self:
• Stripes – 4×2 (CC/MC)
• Length from shoulder to split – 52cm
• If there is enough yarn… make sleeves longer?

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Verdict

Pretty good! Despite what I wrote as a note to myself, it would seem that I disregarded most of it!! But here is the result anyway:

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I had intended to make the cardi shorter, so that the split would fall at belt level (just below high hip), but I couldn’t seem to stop knitting! Then, I confused myself at some point by mistaking my contrast colour yarn with my main colour yarn (such was the closeness between them in tonal value).

So overall, it had turned out longer in the body than I’d planned, but in some ways this was a blessing. The fabric is very soft and floppy, so it would have needed the length to accommodate for the waft and flow around the hem.

Modifications

Apart from obviously turning it from a sweater to a cardigan, I lengthened the curved hem by 8 rows. No particular reason really, I just wanted to see what it would look like. I’m happy with how it turned out. It’s easy to turn this into a cardigan. Just follow the pattern as instructed, instead of joining in the round just keep going, working flat down to the split hem.

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The Yarn

It was the first time I’d ever worked with Bello Worsted. It was lovely and dreamy to knit with (yeah, and you’ll forget to stop knitting too!). It has a generous amount of cashmere, so it blooms pretty quickly, particularly after much handling (the shoulders are full with activity!).

This yarn is ideal for lightweight sweaters. It provides warmth and comfort in all kinds of weather conditions, without the heaviness in weight. Oh, but it is a grower! Gravity and cashmere based yarns are great partners! So be mindful when you are gauging for length… yes Jimi, why don’t you act on your own advice in future, eh?!  😉

The Buttons were from: http://www.textilegarden.com
Ref: TGB1983 – 5 x brown wooden buttons with starburst design. Size 18 mm – £2.00

Gettin’ Crunked!

OK, not the best title to describe what I’m doing, but this crank knitting lark is getting me excited (yes I know, I need to get out more)!

Well, I’ve had my Addi Express knitting machines for about 6 months now and I’ve discovered a wealth of possibilities for a variety of knitted projects. This means that you don’t have to stick with making hats and scarves all the time! With a combination of hand-knitting and machine cranking, you can create a LOT of different projects.

See below for my simple pattern for an Infinity Scarf or Cowl.

My Addi machines

Handy Tools

I’ve put together a set of essential tools that I use specifically for crank knitting. Tools such as:

  • 6mm circular needles – two of these
  • 5mm, 5.5mm and 4mm crochet hooks
  • Loom hook (or use a dental hook) – ideal for retrieving a dropped stitch from the machine.
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle
  • Stitch holders
  • Scrap yarn – about 25g or more of smooth yarn to use for the casting on and/or off. Can be re-used for many projects. Note: It is not essential to use this method as the stitches are large enough to pick up and knit directly from. But having said that, it cuts out the guessing game when it comes to identifying a live (workable) stitch.
  • Handheld counter – in case your Addi digital counter has gone bananas, like mine has!

handy tools

Yarn Choice

What I have found is that not every yarn in my possession will work with the Addi. This is a big problem for yarn stash that I would SO love to use for a cranked project. For example, I have a pure linen aran weight yarn that I bought in France. Beautiful stuff, but would the bugger play ball and work for me? No! It kept getting caught on the needles, nearly breaking them off. The same thing also happened with a cotton ribbon yarn that I have.

So, given my experience, the yarn types I’ve had to avoid so far are:

  • Linen (of any kind) – it appears that its lack of elasticity makes it impossible to loop around the needles properly.
  • Cotton in Worsted weight or heavier – for the same reason as Linen.
  • Flat (ribbon) yarns – it just gets caught! It’s infuriating!
  • Super Chunky (Super Bulky) yarns – hard to crank. Too fat, I guess.

PATTERN: Crank-it! Infinity Scarf/Cowl – a bit more interesting than a regular scarf.

Made with the Addi Professional (22-pin) only. It is made out of 3 tubes of knitting which are later sewn together side by side. The ends are seamed by knitting the live sts together (or grafting).

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Blue version: Cowl using worsted weight yarn.

Infinity scarf

Materials

For the Infinity Scarf: 180g total of any wool-based DK or Worsted weight yarn (approx. 2 skeins).
Sample shown uses Alpaca Supreme by John Arbon (alpaca/merino/silk) fingering weight, held double with Royd Moor Cashmere 4ply (100% cashmere).

For the Cowl: 115g total of any wool-based DK or Worsted weight yarn (approx. 1-2 skeins).
Sample shown uses Galenas Merino by Three Irish Girls (100% merino) worsted weight.

How to Make

(Don’t forget to check the Handy Tools list in article above)

For the first tube, with scrap yarn, cast on and work 4 rounds on the Addi 22-pin. Break off scrap yarn.

Change to your chosen yarn and crank a tube about 120cm (47″) long*. Cut off yarn.

*Depending on yarn weight, this can be anything between 150-190 rounds for the Infinity Scarf and about 85-100 rounds for the Cowl. Keep a row count record of the first tube, then duplicate this count for the other tubes.

Change to scrap yarn and cast off for about 4 rounds. Remove work from machine.

Repeat for the other 2 tubes. Once all 3 tubes are done, pull the tubes at various angles to kick the stitches into line then lay them flat, allowing a little time (say 20 minutes) for the stitches to relax back into position (press if necessary). Later on, using mattress stitch, sew the sides together along the vertical column of stitches (not including the cast on/off sts).

Mattress stitch in action
Mattress stitch in action

Undo the cast on scrap yarn stitches on all 3 tubes – you should be left with a total of 33 (3 x 11) live sts on front side (whichever side is facing you) and the same number of sts on the back of the piece.

[Transfer the 3 sets of Front sts onto a 6mm needle*, then repeat the same for the Back sts. Make sure both needles are pointing to the right ready for knitting. Similar to working a 3-needle-bind-off, using a spare needle (or the other end of a circular needle) KNIT together the front sts with the back sts. From here you will have 33 single row of sts.]

*This needle size closely matches the Addi tension, for me anyway!

Put these sts on hold for later. For the other end of the piece, undo the cast off scrap yarn, then repeat [ ] once more. Leave sts on needle.

Combine Stitches

There are 2 ways you can combine both ends of live sts:
1) 3-needle bind off: With WS (wrong side) facing and right sides together, knit the 2 rows of sts together and bind off at the same time. Result: This will leave a visible seam line. The seam edges will be set inside the scarf/cowl and not visible on the outside.

or

2) Grafting (Kitchener Stitch): Thread a needle with yarn about 3 times the width of the piece. With RS (right side) facing and wrong sides together, graft the front set of sts together with the back set. Result: This will leave a seamless fabric.

Weave in ends, block if necessary…. and tadaa! Wear with pride!

Please share your projects pictures or tips. I’d love to see them! 🙂