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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Woah! What Just Happened there?!

Stuff happened….! 😮

Sorry for the hiatus, but lately there’s been a wildfire of activity in the JimiKnits camp. There is SO much to share with you, sadly some of it is secret, but I’m itching to tell you all about it. Let me see what I can divulge…

Carol Feller collaboration

OK, keep it under your hat, but I’m doing a collaboration with Carol Feller for the launch of her new book that’s coming out later this year (maybe Autumn perhaps?). I’ve been a great admirer of her work for a long time and she asked me to design something using her new yarn collection called Nua Worsted. I must say, this yarn is a dream to knit with, it looks and feels gorgeous and can take a pretty good beating when you block it! I can’t yet show you what I’ve designed with it, but hopefully I can get away with this little teaser…

sneak peek at my new design

The Wool Monty – 15 & 16 June, Sheffield UK

The organizers at The Wool Monty yarn event have kindly invited me to hold a small stand in the ‘Meet The Designer’ area. It’s a place where a few of us can showcase our designs. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’ve been busy sorting out knitted samples to bring with me and working on revamping some of my patterns to be printed. I’m not sure what the general footfall will be like, so I have no idea how many patterns I ought to print. Any thoughts? What should I do if I sell out of copies? I’m not sure that my singing and tap dancing is going to cut it somehow! 😳

The Wool Monty promotional banner

If you’re coming to this event, you’ll get the opportunity to see my first printed pattern booklet. Did you know that I’ve got 54 patterns on Ravelry.com? Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d have that many. It was a hard task trying to choose just 12 for this book. I called it Volume One… purely because I couldn’t think of a clever or witty name for my first book! Anyway, this is the artwork for the front cover:

Front cover of JimiKnits booklet

Yarningham – 13 & 14 July, Birmingham UK

The lovely ladies at Yarningham have asked me to design a pattern that will be featured in the event brochure. I can’t wait for you to see it, but hopefully you’ll get teasers and reveals nearer the time. I’ll be attending the event on the Saturday – a good opportunity to blow my birthday money on yarn and crafts! 😜

I'm going to Yarningham badge

Check out their Instagram feed:
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bx2l6eLBhBD/?igshid=j90qcyoe0xad

MDK March Mayhem Event

Thank you all so much for taking the time to vote for my pattern (see the web page here: https://www.masondixonknitting.com/mdk-march-mayhem-2019-the-bracket/ ! What a blast, eh? I’m enormously grateful to have one of my patterns selected. Pixham made it to Round 2, which to me is awesome! And congratulations to Carol Feller for winning it with her Tabouli cardigan, it is a lovely design.

MDK pixham vote today. voting is over.

JimiKnits out in the wild..

So… there I was, minding my own business when…

1) ..up pops a little notice on Instagram. Basically, it was a little excerpt in a recent edition of Simply Knitting magazine (Issue 184) featuring my Chrysler Fingerless Mitts pattern. Big thanks to Ellinesscrafts for flagging this up for me because I would never have known! See below:

Chrysler Fingerless Mitts in Simply Knitting Magazine

By the way, check out Ellinesscrafts’ YouTube channel and follow her knitting & crocheting journey. It’s nice seeing how other people develop their craft skills.

2) ..a sudden hive of activity surrounding this pattern: Widden. It was all due to the hilarious Grocery Girls! Check out their YouTube episode, Widden is the subject of their discussion at 40:00 minutes in:

3) ..a small article about me in their #diversknitty page of the Edinburgh Yarn Festival program, back in March:
Wool Press clip

And all of this is thanks to Jeannette Sloan, for highlighting the discussion about race, equality and inclusion in the crafting community. If it wasn’t for her, I would still be here, minding my own business and very little else would have changed. If you haven’t read her article, read it here: http://www.jeanettesloandesign.com/black-people-do-knit.html

Just off the needles…

I’ve almost finished writing the pattern to my Capel Cross cardi. I knitted another sample and changed a few (minor) things about the design. I didn’t think that the first sample met with my complete satisfaction, although the yarn was perfect for it, it was just certain elements on it that was concerning me. I’m much happier with this version (see below), but I would definitely recommend the yarn I used for the original sample. The pattern will be available for testing soon.

Phew! Off to have a cup of tea…! 😅
See you soon!

Jx

 

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! 😀

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.

 

 

 

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…! 😅