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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Hello Luvvies!

Capel Cross cardigan

How are you all? I hope fine. The weather has been pretty mixed here in the UK – first it was insufferable heat, then came the humidity which left many of us looking like alpacas, after that we had relentless rain and now… it’s surprisingly mild out there this week!

Weather has an effect on ‘*weather*’ or not I should take photos outside [groan]! 😅 I end up opting for inside most of the time.

Capel Cross Cardi – update

Having been hit with a run of bad luck with this project: a combination of poor yarn choice for the wear-ability factor, plus the fragility of certain yarns. This then was followed by a further two re-knits. The final knitting attempt was the winner! Because if it wasn’t, I was quite prepared to perform a ceremonial burn!!! Then came the grading exercise…ugh! Anyway, call-outs for testing has begun and we can crack on with that around the middle of September.

Despite my headaches, it was actually a really EASY knit! It flowed beautifully and I didn’t mind knitting 3 of these – in fact, I’m looking forward to knitting a 4th. I found a lovely Sport Weight yarn called Currel | Sport by Meadowyarn. It has the perfect characteristics for this type of project.

Capel Cross cardigan

JimiKnits Volume One Book
Front cover of JimiKnits booklet

My first pattern book is now available on my website: www.jimiknits.com. It contains 12 patterns that are already available on Ravelry, but contained in a nice and shiny new book!

What I’m currently reading
Books: A Year of Techniques / Something New to Learn About

I often like to swot up on knitting techniques because it always seems to me that I don’t know everything about knitting – and really, I WANT to know everything! The lovely Jen from Arnall Culliford Knitwear gave me some books from her Something New To Learn About series: Cables and Lace and A Year Of Techniques. I must say, after reading these, I reckon that I will no longer be making a feature out of the mistakes in my knitting! Check out her latest book called Boost Your Knitting. Imagine, a whole year of projects that covers an enormous array of knitting techniques that you were too scared to do – but here, you’re taken through each step carefully with photos and later on, with video tutorials. I’ll certainly be following this carefully.

OPP – Other People’s Patterns

My hand dyed yarns x 3

Riley Stripe by Jeanette Sloan.
It happens very rarely, but I do knit other designer’s patterns. No point in re-inventing the wheel when it’s right there, huh? I’ve got yarn that I hand dyed many years ago wound into cakes, raring to go for a Riley Stripe. I love the texture and patterning – it’s a 2-colour project, but I might see if I can turn it into a 3-colour, so that I can make use of all the yarns I have here.

Solvik Shirt by Skeindeer Knits
© Skeindeer Knits

Solvik Shirt by Skeindeer Knits.
I’m also keen to knit this – it calls for a worsted weight yarn, so I’m tempted to use a strand of linen and a strand of mohair for it. I’m hoping the detail won’t get lost in all that fluff! I love that top though!

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! 😀

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

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

It’s Oh, So Quiet…!

Apart from taking vacations and the odd day-trip with the family, I use the school summer holidays to do what I like!

Lately I have been working out my ‘queuing’ system for knitting projects. My Ravelry queue contains patterns from designers whom I admire and would like to knit some day.

My other queue is currently on my projects gallery page. These projects appear as WIPs (work in progress), but mostly haven’t been started yet because the idea is either not quite ‘firm enough’ in my mind, or it is primed and ready to go (once I finish the current project). In all cases, I am likely to jump this queue if a design idea hits me and I am rearing to go! And this happens often.

Luckily for me, I don’t get Cast-on-itis. I’m too much of a control freak to want to start a new project when I haven’t concluded the last one. It does frustrate me, though. I am SO keen to cast on with a new design idea, or existing pattern, that I feel like I am knitting too slowly! Come on woman, work FASTER!!

But sadly, I’ve got knock these babies down first…:

Jimiknits sock
Playing around with a toe-up sock design. I’m using yarn from a frogged project: Old Maiden Aunt Merino 4ply in “Gothic”.
Pebble Beach Shawl
Pattern: Pebble Beach by Helen Stewart. I’m using 3 colours of Alpaca Supreme by John Arbon Textiles. I am extending the pattern by repeating certain blocks. It will end up quite large. The tedium is setting in…!

What’s on my Needles: Follow Your Arrow MKAL

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If you’re not familiar with MKALs (Mystery Knit-alongs), then you’ll be forgiven for not understanding the excitement and buzz it brings around the knitting groups on Ravelry. All I can say is, have a go and see for yourself!

Let me explain…A mystery knit along is exactly what it is, a mystery. In short, you enter into a project without knowing what the end result will be. You do, however, know WHAT you are knitting, you just won’t know the outcome. It is more fun than it sounds, really!

The designer, in this case, Ysolda issues the first clue with tools and material requirements to set you up, then week by week a new clue is issued giving you instructions to follow. In the Follow Your Arrow MKAL, there were 5 clues in all and each of them gave options to choose direction A or B. This gave up to 32 design possibilities for the shawl.

IMG_9933_medium2The MKAL journey from start to finish

13 Jan – CLUE 1B: 1B sounded more challenging than 1A (and I must be a sucker for ‘suffering for one’s art’!). C1: Blue – “Rittersporn”, C2: Yellow -“Daisy”.

16 Jan: Bah! It turned out shit! The Yellow “Daisy” yarn was just so wrong for this project. I’d been advised to find better matched yarns, so I did some more stash-diving. I must admit, I wasn’t too happy about having to start again. By this time, I’d lost the enthusiasm for it. 😦

17 Jan: OK, I didn’t fancy doing everything all over again with the old version, so I decided to cast on for Option 1A. This option was SO much more enjoyable to knit! I lassoed in the “Lounge Lizard” and kicked out the “Daisy” and what an improvement! Much happier with this one! 🙂

New arrangement: C1= Green – The Plucky Knitter Feet in “Lounge Lizard”, C2= Blue – Wollmeise Pure 4ply in “Rittersporn”.

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21 Jan – Clue 2B: It took a bit of head scratching to understand the instructions. Looked like others had the same issue too. Anyway I completed it, but realised my small mistake in that I should have done Stst on the top section using C2, but instead did garter st. Too late to rip – not sure that I was all that bothered about it. We’ll see how it affects clue 3.

giraffe_shawlSo far the shawl has taken on a shape that is quite….alien!

…and the giraffe? Hmm, yes, I’ve got a funny story about him! Well, on the group forum, it was discussed that we should try to photograph our progress shawls accompanied by cute pets (there were lots of cats, dogs, bunnies, chickens etc. posted at this point). Since I don’t have any pets, I thought “well, this guy owes me a favour, why not?” I hope to win the pet competition! 😉

29 Jan – Clue 3A: For what appeared to be a simple and short lace pattern, it was devilishly hard to line up with my existing stitches! Done it, but not without bodging it up along the way. Well, it gives it character, doesn’t it?

03 Feb – Clue 4A: In the words of Penelope Pitstop: “Hayulp!” I just couldn’t seem to line up the pattern correctly. Checked the spoilers to see an example beforehand, in order to proceed. Found one. Ripped back. Fixed it! Uh, oh!…but then again….oh dear! My stitches have grown legs and walked out on me!! But How??? 😦

10 Feb – Clue 5B: Yep! I’ve created work for myself. For this clue, it’s an edging that’s knitted sideways along the live sts, so it is essential that the stitch counts are accurate…which they’re not! Fun, fun fun!!

16 Feb: …and fun it was! Luckily, I had about 85g of C2 left, so I modified the 5B edging by slowing down the rate of decrease. In the pattern, each repeat is decreased by 1 st. So instead of decreasing at the given rate, I would ignore those decreases for 3 repeats. My version begins with 30 sts for the first repeat, then I stayed with pattern until I had 26 sts – from then on, each rep went down as follows: 26, 26, 26, 25, 25, 25, 24, 24, 24 etc. until it ended with 20 sts at the final few repeats. And I still had yarn left over.

IMG_031117 Feb: It had an overnight blocking that took over the entire room! The shape is tricky to block, so I based it on the Nike ‘tick’ logo and followed the contours in that direction. Blocked measurements: 185cm x 75cm It’s a biggie!

To summarize:

A truly fabulous journey! It was fun, intriguing, baffling and a learning experience. This MKAL introduced some of the most technical knitting I had ever encountered. Ysolda’s video support really helped to visualize certain aspects and techniques, which enabled me to successfully put them into practice.

So yes, the end result is a shawl that looks confusing, charming, or maybe a little odd perhaps, but you CAN see arrows! Plus, it will not in any way look like anyone else’s shawl! A unique piece that will be a talking point amongst my friends! 🙂

I love the colours and I’m so glad I settled for these two instead of my first choice.