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

 

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.

 

 

 

Look, Ma! I’m on TV!!

OK, not quite TV….YouTube.

I was invited to take part in an interview with popular YouTube Podcasters,  Andrea and Andrew Doig from Fruity Knitting.  When I received the email request, I actually had a “Who? Me?” moment. Even asking myself what had I done to deserve this, but after realising that it wasn’t a hoax (since there was no promise of $3million), I was pretty excited about it!

I’m not all that clued up on video podcasts, but having watched a few of the past issues of Fruity Knitting, I am now a fan! The great thing about these podcasts, is that you can pull up a comfy chair, grab your knitting, a cup of tea and a cake of your choice and just enjoy ‘slow TV’. It’s quite enjoyable and very relaxing. You get a lot of knitting done! In fact, I learned a few useful knitting techniques during these episodes – educational too.

Check out Episode 11 – I am featured about 40 minutes into it, but I recommend watching the whole thing because it is so entertaining and professionally formatted.

Fruity Knitting can be found here: http://fruityknitting.com/ Join their Ravelry group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/fruity-knitting-podcast

What is (Was) On My Needles?

I’ve had a wrist injury for the last 2 months, so I’ve been avoiding knitting anything large, but I did go through a moment of cranking out quick projects on the Addi Express, like this one:

Vestival (2 colour)
Vestival in 2 colours. Main body worked on Addi while the rest was hand knitted.

Yarns used: Sock by Hedgehog Fibres in “Carousel” (pink) and Blush by Skein Queen in “Aubergine”. This pattern is available on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/vestival

Although it is officially Autumn here in the UK, it’s difficult for us to give up on Summer, especially when the weather has been so warm lately. It has been known for us to see mild temperatures right up until mid-October! I wasn’t ready to wear thick sweaters just yet, so I made this quick bolero/vest:

Made on the Addi Express using 1 skein of Fingering Weight yarn. All trims were hand knitted.
Made on the Addi Express using 1 skein of Fingering Weight yarn. All trims were hand knitted.

Yarn used: Bleating Velvet 4ply by Ginger’s Hand Dyed in “Bermuda”.

I kept thinking… I should wear more hats! I love knitting hats and I seem to have quite a few of them, but I don’t wear them much because my head over-heats like mad! I decided to go for lighter weight yarns instead:

Slouchy beanie and matching fingerless mitts
Slouchy beanie and matching fingerless mitts

Yarn: Merino DK by Unbelievawool in “Poppy”.

In order to keep off my wrist, I tried to sew instead! I think I have come to terms with my limitations when it comes to creating things – and machine-sewing has got to be it! Don’t look too closely at my wonky stitching, but the construction is pretty much there and there’s little chance of the whole falling apart. Here are my groovy sewing attempts:

Sewing Project Bags
Left to right: Boxy project bag and 2 x Boxy pencil cases/cosmetic bags

As they say.. Practice makes perfect!

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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).

CRW_3197_wm

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! 🙂

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

In Reference to Architecture

In the Designer’s Challenge forum for January, our task was to design full mittens based on the theme of architecture. I just love challenges like that, but I can’t help but stray from ANY, if not all rules of the game!

The result of this challenge became my soon-to-be-released pattern called, “Chrysler Fingerless Mitts“. I think the title and the architectural influence speak for themselves. But it is a lovely way to have lacy gloves that offer extra warmth!

The most interesting thing about this project is that I might have stumbled upon a novel way of incorporating a lace overlay (or second layer) within the knitting. So much so that I had to make an 8-minute YouTube video to demonstrate the technique. I was pretty disturbed to hear the sound of my voice on playback…. I didn’t realise that I squeaked so much!

Chrysler Fingerless Mitts