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’! 😉

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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! 🙂

Aye! ’tis a Bonnie Wee Shoorp! (as the Scots might say?!)

We went to Scotland for the Easter break and what a beautiful country it is, with its picturesque countryside and amazing historical architecture in the cities!

Expecting ‘Scottish weather’, the whole family packed enough woollens to make another sheep! But in the end, the weather was so mild we ended up being roasted in our shoes! The Scots too were wondering if we had somehow expected arctic conditions (which we did of course!) that they were not aware of. In any case, while we were busy being boiled alive, we enjoyed the delights of Edinburgh City, St. Andrews, Dundee and St. Monans.

Edinburgh City
Edinburgh City

When on holiday, it is customary for me to seek out local yarn shops or wool mills in the area, so my particular request was to check out Ginger Twist Studio. And what a gem it was!

Situated north-east of Edinburgh’s Royal Terrace Gardens, in the centre of a busy intersection of London Road and Easter Road, this wee little shop… (and I mean wee) stands out brightly between the row of regular shops in the street.

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Inside, is a charming little store packed full with beautiful colour yarn skeins, yarn balls, knitted samples and fun accessories. Suddenly, and expertly camouflaged I must say, did a bounce of wild ginger hair bob straight up and greeted me with a big smile and a “Hello!” – I nearly jumped out of my skin!

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Jessica James, the owner of this cute store was pretty and charming. After I teased her about her name and got that out of my system, we chatted in yarn. Now, ‘Yarn’ is another language according to my Husband and daughter, who looked on quizzically as Jessie and I chatted fluent yarn the whole time. Paul cannot speak yarn yet but he understands a great deal of it, while Madison is not interested in speaking yarn at all!

Jessica

Surprisingly, this tiny shop can not only hold stock, but it also has tea making facilities, a skein winding service and a pattern book library. I half expected there to be a secret panel that opens up to reveal a pool room or something!

Among my purchases, I bought: 1 skein of Ginger’s Hand Dyed Sheepish DK in “Gorblimey” – an electric yellow/green in Bluefaced Leicester; and 1 skein of Masham Mayhem DK in “On The Prowl” – a mix of blue/navy/purple in 50/50 BFL & Masham. Immediately, I knew what these babies were going to be. So this is what I made with them:

Aggregate

Aggregate

Pattern: Aggregate – my project title: “Aggie Lime with a Ginger Twist”. The yarns are so soft and fluffy and the colours are amazing! I really love the result.

Check out Ginger Twist Studio website: www.gingertwiststudio.com

Getting Cranky (in a Happy way)!

Well, I’m not sure that I consider it cheating. Although, some might. I call it “A means to beat down my encroaching yarn stash”, or my “RSI* avoidance plan”!

I’m talking about knitting machines! They can come in various styles, but the one that I was really keen to acquire was the Addi Express (22 pin). I was given one for Christmas recently (OK, I bought it for myself as a Christmas gift, because NOBODY knows what to buy me, and why bother anyway? Especially when I buy what I want, when I want it!!), so with all these bundles of left-overs and odd-ball yarns, I wanted to explore the possibilities with this machine.

Searching YouTube

I found this wonderful lady called Margaret Olander, who makes regular yarn-related video blogs called “Sheepishly Sharing“. She too has an Addi Express as well as the Addi Maxi (larger version) and I’ve learned a lot from her! She shares tips and tricks, pitfalls and remedies, while she explores all the possibilities with these machines.

My Projects So Far…

I’ve been having so much fun with this machine, but my first ambition was to ‘knit’ a pair of socks. As you may be aware, I can already knit socks, no problem, but sometimes it would be great to make a quick pair of socks as a gift, or just for fun. So, here are a few that I’ve done:

Pink/Teal socks

This one uses 2 different colour strands of fingering weight yarn, held together. The funny thing about holding 2 colour strands is that their appearance is not always even. I found myself turning my tension hand a few times so that the pink yarn doesn’t sit in the same place while cranking the machine. In the end, I think the machine decides.
Yarn: Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon by Old Maiden Aunt in “Twu Wuv” (pink) & “Jaded” (teal blue)

Pink/Teal Socks

Daisy socks

Made from an unloved fingering weight yarn on the shelf marked “What Was I Thinking???”. This yarn is quite thin, so I held it triple to get the best out of it. It becomes super-stretchy, but it is a firm yarn, therefore it is not fluffy. When worn, it gives the appearance of an open-gauge sock – a bit draughty-looking maybe. As I am writing this, and having worn it all day, I can’t say that I’ve noticed this.
Yarn: Pure 4ply by Wollmeise in “Daisy”

Daisy Socks

How I Made Socks on the Addi Express

After casting on, I made a long tube of about 36 rows, broke off yarn, inserted some waste yarn and knit for half of the stitches (11), reconnected yarn then resumed for a further 40 rows and bound off. Once off the machine, using 6mm circular needles, I removed the waste yarn and picked up the 22 live stitches and knitted them in the round by forming a heel and decreasing 1 stitch at each end of the 11 stitches (-2 sts) every alternate round until a total of 12 stitches remained (6 back and 6 front). I broke off yarn leaving a 6″ (15cm) tail, threaded a yarn needle and grafted (kitchener stitch) the heel. For the toe, I repeated the same process as the heel. For the cuff, I picked up 22 stitches and worked a 1×1 rib (k1, p1) for about 5 rounds then BO loosely.

Super Insulated Socks

Here, I was trying to achieve a fabric that I would be happy to wear on my feet. In this version, the yarn is held double, but the length of the foot and leg section is twice as long. The ‘tube’ is folded in on itself to create a double layer. For this, you have to be mindful to create a gap for the heel in both layers. It’s pretty simple to work out, but the tricky part is to combine all 44 sts into 22 so that you can work the heel and toe using the method I mentioned above. A more time-consuming (but perhaps more insulating) method is to work the heel and toes for EACH layer, then sew them briefly together so that they don’t slip and slide. I might try that and see how it goes.

My conclusion for these socks is that they became too thick. You’d never be able to get any shoes on. In fact, scrap the idea of shoes altogether!

Yarn: Sock yarn from Tiger Stores (75/25 wool/nylon) – 2 strands, & Excelite by John Arbon Textiles (Exmoor Blueface/nylon) – 1 strand.

Super Insulated Sock

Ideal Fabric for Socks

Sock yarns are the best in my opinion because they usually come in Superwash form and/or have enough nylon content to make them strong, but you need something more. You need extra ‘fluff’ to make it warm and to fill in those holes in the outstretched fabric. So to create a good workable sock, you need 3 strands of fingering weight yarn comprising the following:

Strands 1 & 2 = wool/nylon mix (or acrylic) – for warmth and strength
Strand 3 = fluff! some kind of wooly or rustic yarn (i.e. Blueface Leicester, Jacob, organic Merino etc.)

More coming soon!

As you can see, I am still exploring this. But I’ve got quite a few more projects to show you as well, so I will post them soon! And the great thing about all of this is, I am actually using up all my left-over yarn!! Yay! 🙂

Better get cranking!!

*Repetitive Strain Injury