The Luck of The Irish… and the Norwegians

Terrain Shawl detail 1

It’s far from St. Patrick’s Day, but there is a bit of an Irish theme running through this blog today (okay, and a bit of Norwegian)!

New Pattern Launch – Terrain Shawl

The lovely Carol Feller from Cork, Ireland had invited me to design a pattern for her upcoming book called “Cosy Knits“.

As you can imagine, I was ecstatic! To be contacted by a designer of whom I have admired for a long time and have knitted one or two of her patterns, taken one of her workshops and have learned techniques from her video tutorials on Bluprint, it was a dream come true!

Before I designed this shawl, I had been playing with knitting textures and forms in little swatches in the hopes that I could apply them to a future design. At the time, I’d gotten stuck and couldn’t work out a way to put some of these textures to better use. When Carol contacted me, my brain suddenly found its groove and set to work! Then… tadaa!

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Terrain Shawl can be found on page 56 in the Cosy Knits Book. It is a modular knitted shawl, whereby the centre section is knitted first, then the left and right flanks are worked by picking up and knitting off the sides. Lastly, the knitted-on corrugated trim is what gives this unusual shawl its femininity, balance and added swish!

The yarn used was Nua Worsted in Drift Glass (light green) and Sea Veggies (dark green). I enjoyed every minute making the shawl with this yarn! It has that rustic appearance and physical hold, without the prickly feel or the mega-fluff! Gorgeous stuff!

Cosy Knits Book Launch – Dublin

Come and meet me, Carol and other contributors to the book on Saturday 12th October 2019, at This Is Knit yarn shop in Powerscourt Townhouse, William Street South, Dublin.

Oslo Strikkefestival – September 2019

It was my 2nd visit to this festival and to Norway, and of course it didn’t disappoint. The festival was a 3-day extravaganza including pre-show parties/talks, the show itself and then after-show events! Totally packed with things to see and do!

The marketplace was bigger this year and much of it was outside. Sadly it was cold and rainy on occasions, but luckily, not too heavy. This did not seem to deter yarn shoppers who were eager to shop. Vendors like: Garn Surr, Nina Petrina, Stephen & Penelope, Rauma and even our British-based yarn company Garthenor appeared to be doing a roaring trade!

This time, I had the opportunity to shadow the great Stephen West on one of his incredibly popular workshops: Color Play The Westknits Way. Here, I got to observe and learn about taking a workshop and how to make it engaging as well as entertaining to the participants. In addition to that, I got to join in and go out of my comfort zone and explore colour-mashing, something my mother was always known for in her crochet work and I tried to forget! It was a really good workshop, Stephen makes it fun. I hope to achieve that one day!

Here are some pics:

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Silly Names for Patterns!

OK, OK, yes… I know… I’m guilty of this too! But I’m only doing it for uniqueness sake, which helps to make it easy to find my patterns in the Ravelry database! Most other patterns have ‘normal’ names that either describe their shape, pattern or style etc.. There’s also been a trend in unpronounceable pattern names (ugh!). But really, I don’t go out of my way to make my patterns sound idiotic, because in fact there is an actual reason behind their names…!

Tanjobi = Japanese for ‘birthday’.

Tanjobi

I do actually speak Japanese – not super-fluent, but enough to get around the country, ask for directions, order a beer and find a toilet – you know, essential stuff! The reason for calling this pattern Tanjobi, was that I designed it on my birthday. Simple as that! I could have given it a name that best describes the design… yada yada… but really, it would have gotten lost in the database under names such as “Emily” or “Cable Sweater”.

Under Duress

Under Duress

Actually, I was going to call this top ”Ready, Steady, Knit!” (named after a popular British TV cooking challenge show called ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ – see it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/cW4GfQ6L2Oc)* on account that I had a limited amount of yarn in these colours and that I wanted to wear the resulting item for an event coming soon. So, the pressure was on for me to get it done by Christmas and I wasn’t sure if I had enough yarn to even make it. Under Duress felt like a more appropriate name somehow!

*I still think Ready, Steady, Knit! should be a thing – in this case, a knitter is given an amount of yarn (any colours or bases) and their goal is to create something using as much of it as they can! Sounds like a fun challenge to me!

Céri Beret

Céri BeretThis is the story of 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 yellow chunky yarn called Roma by Debbie Bliss. The conversation between myself and the sales assistant went like this:

SA: Ooh, nice choice! What are you thinking of making with this?
Me: A hat, most likely.
SA: Sadly, we don’t store 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 two heads!)
Me: Er, yeah… I usually do.
SA: Blimey!
(shaking her head in disbelief)
SA:
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!

The next day, I showed her my finished hat. She was so amazed by it that she asked me to knit one for her too! And I did. Then I wrote the pattern for it and named it after her! Her name is Kerry, but for database reasons, I changed the spelling to Céri! 😊

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! 😀

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…! 😅

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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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’! 😉