Friday, October 09, 2015

My Weekend Plans!

This was last Sunday at Sitting Knitting in Sutton Coldfield. I was teaching a Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl class. I'm going back to Sitting Knitting again this weekend to teach the same class on Sunday. That's how popular this class is!

So why am I so keen on teaching knitters to knit the continental way? Because i believe it's a faster and more efficient way to knit! Why is it faster? Because the movements are much smaller. The knit stitch is very easy to learn but the purl stitch (and I teach Norwegian purl) is a little bit trickier but with practice you will get the hang of it.

Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl is one of my most popular classes and I also run it regularly as an online class. As an experiment for the rest of this year I'll be running this class as an on-demand class, rather than for a set period like I've done in the past. I'll be sending out a newsletter next week (on 16 October) and all my newsletter subscribers can sign up at a discounted rate. You can join my list here.

As you can see I took a few photos of Sitting Knitting while I was there. It's such a lovely shop. It's in a lovely building which looks like a cottage from the outside. There's parking right in front of the shop. The shop is large and bright and Rachel has a good selection of yarns, both affordable and more luxurious yarns. She's also got various knitting notions as well as needles, hooks and beads. Make sure you visit Sitting Knitting if you're in the Birmingham area.

What are you doing this weekend? And more importantly what are you knitting? Tell me in the comments. I'll tell you next week what I worked on this weekend. I'm travelling by train so there'll be plenty of knitting time.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Get ready for Christmas!

Yes, I know it's only just October and for me it's too early to talk about Christmas but if you're going to knit something for Christmas, either as a present or to wear yourself, then you got to start now. And the new Let's Knit (issue 98) have lots of Christmas ideas from cheerful decorations to a cheerful, lacy alpaca blend sweater, perfect to wear for family days out over Christmas. And of course, the sweater is my design and it's on the cover.

I was so thrilled when Let's Knit popped through my letter box and I saw that my sweater was on the cover. 'Mulled Wine' is knitted in an affordable yarn, Stylecraft Alpaca DK which is lovely to knit with and it's machine washable and only £3.75 per 100g.

'Mulled Wine' is worked in the round to the underarms. The front and back are then worked separately to the shoulders which are joined using a three needle cast off. Stitches are picked up for the sleeves and the sleeve cap is shaped by working short rows. The sleeves are then worked in the round from the top down which makes it really easy to adjust the length of the sleeves. Just try it on as you go.

Once you've cast off the second sleeve, just weave in your ends, block and you're ready to wear your sweater. No sewing up!

'Mulled Wine' has a beautiful lace panel running up the centre front, waist shaping and a scoop neckline makes it look feminine. The alpaca adds softness and warmth. Don't let new techniques put you off. German short rows are so easy. There's an excellent video tutorial here.

I also had a design in the last issue of Let's Knit (issue 97) but I forgot to share it here. This is proof of how busy September was. I used Woolyknit Bluefaced Leicester DK for this design. Woolyknit is a British yarn and I loved knitting with it. For this asymmetrical cardigan I used a 'tuck' stitch pattern which is very popular with machine knitters. I've been wanting to replicate this stitch for hand knitting for a while and I love the result. It creates a very interesting reverse stocking stitch fabric. This cardigan takes it's lead from the runway with the left front being shorter than the right front. If you prefer the two fronts the same length, just knit the left front to the same length as the right front before adding stitches for the sleeve. The back is the same length as the right front.

Stitches are added for the short batwing sleeves.

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Monday, October 05, 2015

My Current Knitting

Last week all my knitting time was spent on finishing my deadline shawl. It took longer than I'd planned. I had to finish it on Friday evening so I could block it before I went to bed and post it first thing Saturday morning and I did it! I was blocking this shawl at 11pm on Friday evening!

I was travelling this weekend and I'll be travelling again this weekend, both trips are for a Continental Knitting workshop at Sitting Knitting, so I thought I ought to cast on for a sock so I had something easy to knit on. I chose a ball of Regia Arne and Carlos colourway. Arne and Carlos are a Norwegian design duo and they created a series of Norwegian inspired colour ways for Regia. I think I've got three of their colours in my stash. I'm knitting toe up socks for myself, using my basic Creme Caramel pattern but instead of a regular 2x2 rib, I've gone with a 2x2 garter stitch rib. Every other round is regular rib and every other round you knit. Instead of the Creme Caramel heel and gusset, I'm going to do an afterthought heel.

I've only for a few rounds left on my stripy socks, so I'm going to make an effort and try to finish it this week.

I've managed to do a bit more work on my Sweet Georgia poncho. I'm using a gradient set and I'm on the second colour. I couldn't get the colour right in these photos.

I'm really keen to cast on for a new two colour shawl. I've got a few yarn possibilities lined up but I can't decide. I'm putting it on hold for this week.

What are you knitting this week?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Cutting your knitting?

Traditionally steeking is used in fair isle/stranded colour work sweaters like Norwegian ski sweaters. You knit the garment in the round and then cut holes for the sleeves. You can also knit a sweater and cut all the way down the front to turn it into a cardigan.

Why do you need to knit fair isle in the round? Because it's much easier. I find knitting fair isle on purl rows really fiddly and I prefer to work in the round when I knit fair isle garments.

When I design garments worked in the round, whether they're fair isle or not, I have to make decisions about how to handle armholes/sleeves and the yoke. My options are basically working a circular yoke, a raglan yoke, splitting the sweater at the underarm and knitting front and back flat separately or knitting the sweater as a tube to the shoulders and then cutting the holes for the sleeves.

Although cutting holes for sleeves and cutting down the front of a sweater to turn it into a cardigan are mainly used for fair isle sweaters, there's no reason you can't use it for other types of stitch patterns too.

For example, if you knitted a stocking stitch sweater but you decide you prefer cardigans, cut down the front of the sweater, add button bands and you've got a cardigan.

It can also be used to make corrections to a garment, like cutting off excess fabric. Here's how I used it to correct a cardigan for a friend.

I cut off the 'waterfall' fronts on my friend's cardigan and added button bands.

My Mum knitted this beautiful sweater for Simon for Christmas last year. Both Simon and I have lost a lot of weight this year and the sweater is getting too big for him. Once he's finished loosing weight I'm planning to perform a little bit of surgery on this sweater. I'll use the steeking method to cut out a section of the body to make the sweater smaller. Ofcourse I'll share this on the blog when I do it. It won't be for a while yet as there's no point doing it until Simon has finished losing weight.

Intrigued by steeking? Fancy learning more? I'm teaching Steeking in Liskeard on Wednesday 7 October. Get the details and book here.

I'm also teaching a full day combined fair isle and steeking at the Artesano Academy in Berkshire in February 2016. Get more details and book here. I'm teaching a series of classes at the Artesano Academy next year.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015


We're back from a 5 day trip to Yorkshire and we had a fabulous time. Our main purpose for the trip was to attend Yarndale but we always drive up a day early. The drive up went well and we had no hold ups so we decided to stop at an English Heritage property, Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster. 

Walking around the house and gardens was just what we needed after a day of motorway driving. It was sunny and warm and the property was beautiful! We only spent about an hour there but I'll definitely go back if we're in the area again.

On Friday we decided to explore York. We spent a day in York two years ago and I really liked York. Simon wanted to visit the National Railway Museum so that was our first stop. I'm not into trains but I enjoyed it. There are some amazing engines there and a little reminder of home.

We walked around York and visited the Shambles, which is an old narrow street area of York. We found an alpaca on a street corner.

In the afternoon we weren't quite sure what to do so we walked over to Clifford's Tower. It turned out to be another English Heritage property and as we have a membership we went in. The views across York from the top of the walls are amazing.

We walked past York Minster on the way back to the car.

Late afternoon we headed to Skipton and the Yarndale venue which is a cattle/sheep market. This was our empty stall. I find it quite daunting turning up at a show venue and turning this into something nice looking which will invite knitters to browse and shop.

 We emptied the car and covered the walls which took longer than we thought it would.

We took a long time to set up and we ended up leaving on Friday evening and coming back on Saturday morning to put the shawl samples out.

All in all, I'm happy with the result. We had plenty of space for people to browse and tried to display as many shawls and patterns as possible.

Midnight (the blue shawl) and Delphine (the red shawl) were much admired. 

Here's our sock yarn table and shawl pins.

At the back of the stall we set up a table with patterns, books and beads.

And on the other side we put all the lace yarn.

Saturday was frantic! We were busy all day and sales were great. On Sunday morning we arrived early and managed to fit in a walk around the show ground before opening. 

We watched the alpacas having breakfast. They're so cute!

Here are two photos trying to show the scale of the show. It was huge this year! Can you spot our stall? Sunday was much quieter and I managed to run off for a few minutes to get some buttons from Textile Garden and a key ring from Herdy.

On Monday we headed back south. It was our 24th wedding anniversary so we decided to stop in Worcestershire and found a nice country pub where we had lunch then we headed to the nearby Witley Court which is another English Heritage property.

We only spent about an hour here. There were beautiful walks which we didn't really take advantage of. The house is a ruin with only the outside walls intact but it was obviously an impressive house at one time.

The fountain was very impressive and the gardens were beautiful!

Next to the house was a baroque church which is still in use. It was a fairly small church but the ceiling and walls were beautiful.

We got home on Monday evening. I've got a very busy week this week, but I'm hoping to find some time to get the YarnAddict Shop up and running again. I'll be at the 3 Bags Full Wool Market in Liskeard Public Hall on Friday from 4-8pm and this weekend I'm off to Sitting Knitting to teach on Sunday.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal Shawl

One of my favourite Debbie Bliss yarns is Fine Donegal, a tweed 4ply (fingering weight) yarn. In this shawl, which is available as a pattern leaflet from Debbie Bliss stockists, garter stitch stripes and lace is combined for a shawl with a modern, fresh look.

This crescent shawl is worked from the top down and starts with a garter stitch tab. If you have never worked a garter stitch tab before there are lots of tutorials online, just search for 'garter stitch tab'. 

Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal Tweed, 95% wool/5% cashmere, 380m per 100g x 1 skein each of red and grey 
4mm circular needles, 80cm long(120cm long circular needles may be useful for the second half of the shawl)

Wingspan: 210cm
Depth (at centre back): 52cm

15 sts and 32 rows over garter stitch to measure 10x10cm after blocking.

Here's the Ravelry listing so you can queue it. You'll want this shawl for your winter wardrobe.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Introducing Iona

September's Easy Lace Club parcels have recently been sent out. This month the members got a colourful ball of Zauberball and a pattern for a shawl that can be turned into a shrug. I've wanted to do this for months. I like the half hexagon shape because it sits nicely on your shoulders and I wondered how easy it was to turn it into a shrug.

Here's Emily wearing it as a shrug. I've been wearing it a few times over the last week. It hangs on the back of my office chair and if I get chilly while I work, I pop it on. I'm a large size 20 and Emily is a very fit, slim size 10 and the shrug fits us both. 

The best thing about Iona is that it can easily be transformed from a shrug into a shawl into a scarf. Two buttons transforms Iona from a shawl/scarf to a shrug.

Iona is exclusive to the Easy Lace Club members until January 2016. So I'm sorry but unless you're a club member you will have to wait till next year to get the pattern. 

This time of year I'm normally promoting next year's club but due to work I have coming up and projects I know I'll be working on next year I've decided not to do a club next year. Or at least not for the first half of the year. Instead I'm planning exclusive kits every 2-3 months. But more about that later.

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