Monday, June 29, 2015

A Successful Woolfest

Last weekend was Woolfest and, as always, we had a fantastic show. We always travel up to Cumbria a day early and spend Thursday exploring the Lake District before we set up for the show on Thursday evening. Below is the spot by a lake, possibly Loweswater, where we had our breakfast on Thursday morning.


Afterwards we headed to Stott Park Bobbin Mill. We've been once before and really enjoyed it again. We were taken on a tour of the historic mill and shown how the bobbins were made and how life was for the workers. I definitely recommend it! It's a very interesting tour!


When we arrived at the show, this is what greets us - an empty cattle pen and 3 tables.


It took us about 3 hours to transform the stall to this:



We had a slow start on Friday morning but the afternoon and all day Saturday was very busy! We only had time to look around the show before opening on Saturday. There were lots of cute sheep. These were the cutest.


We also came across this fun display:




On Sunday we drove on to Scotland where were spending a few days with my sister in law and her husband. After the 7hour drive we enjoyed a bit of time relaxing and knitting in their garden on Sunday evening.


Thank you to all the lovely regular and new customers who made Woolfest another successful show! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Smoking Needles

This week is manic getting ready for Woolfest next week. I'm in Birmingham this weekend. I'm teaching Professional Finishing Techniques at Sitting Knitting on Sunday. By the way, if you only ever do one class, this is the class every knitter should take. It teaches you so many skills and helps you get over the 'hate finishing/hate sewing up' thing. You'll learn how to sew up using mattress stitch, how to set in a sleeve cap, short row shoulder shaping (wrap & turn short rows and German short rows), three needle cast off, how to pick up stitches for button bands and collars, blocking tips and how to work a one row button hole. So much information in one day. I think there may still be a space or two left. So contact Sitting Knitting if you can make it.

My needles have been on fire this week. I thought it would be a good idea to knit up a few samples from the book in the yarns I'll be selling at Woolfest next week. But I'd left it too late to get help from my sample knitters so on Friday evening I cast on for Macy. 


Macy was one of the samples I used for my book proposal for Beaded Lace Knitting and I knew it would be a quick knit. I chose a lovely magenta pink Navia Duo for the body. The Navia Duo has only 180m per 50g ball and I needed around 400m, so I knew I'd have to break into a third ball, so I decided to use light grey for the edging which matches the silver beads I chose. I cast on Friday evening and finished early Monday evening.  And yes I did do other things over the weekend and I did sleep. It's just a very fast knit. I'm planning a blog post, probably next week, on how I get so much knitting done. It's partly because I'm a fast knitter which is due to being a continental knitter but there are also other reasons.


I was tempted to cast on for another 4ply/sock weight shawl as they're smaller it'll be a quicker knit but I've got some Lang Merino 400 Lace but I don't have any samples knitted in that yarn so I decided to do Gillian. Gillian doesn't have that many beads and the pattern repeat is easy to memorise so I knew once I got into it it would be a quick knit. I took this photo yesterday morning and I've got several more repeats done since.



I'm really enjoying knitting with the Lang Merino 400 Lace and I've ordered a few more colours for Woolfest. I want to design a new shawl using this yarn and I've got some ideas.

I've also ordered some new colours of Zauberball and Lace Ball and especially in the Lace Ball, there were some colours I really liked the look of. So I may be casting on for a new Lace Ball design to knit on while we're away. Having said that I've got four commissions due soon after we get back so I may end up knitting two of those instead.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Daisy

The first version of the Daisy shawl was published in 2011 and became one of my best selling patterns. I also teach the Daisy shawl workshop regularly and over the years I've been teaching this workshop I decided that I wanted to over-haul the pattern slightly. Over the past few years I've learnt a lot about pattern writing through working with some fantastic tech editors (they check all my patterns before they are published). And I've changed the layout and my style of pattern writing.


In addition, I didn't like the bead placement on the original Daisy shawl. In the original version, the beads are placed between yarn overs on three increase rows where there's a yarn over after every stitch. In some of my classes, a few knitters experimented with putting the beads between the daisy chains which I decided I preferred. So for this new pattern the bead placement is different. I've also updated and re-written parts of the pattern to make it fit in with my current pattern writing style. And because of these changes I got the pattern tech edited again.This reduces the chance of any errors creeping in. The original pattern also had a high risk of running out of yarn when knitting the small size, so I've taken out a few rows to reduce the risk that you may run out of yarn. If you purchased this pattern from Ravelry, you will have received an e-mail this morning with a new download link and the new pattern will be added to your Ravelry library.

The photo below shows the new bead placement between the daisy chains (the stitches with yarn wrapped around them in clusters).


The Daisy shawl has a crescent shape which is easy to wear as a shawl or wrapped up around your neck as a scarf. These pictures show the small version but there is a large version too. The small size takes just one skein (400m/100g) of sock yarn and the large version takes 2 skeins (although I think it probably takes closer to 1.5 skeins). The original version was knitted in my own hand-dyed yarn but as that wasn't available anymore, the new version, knitted by Frances, was knitted in Schoppel Admiral Cat Print in colour 2157. This shawl is designed to work with variegated hand-dyed yarns but would also work perfectly with self-striping or solid yarns. I'd like to knit up the large version in Zauberball. The beads used are colour 49 Green in size 6/0 from Debbie Abrahams. I'll have both the pattern, yarn and beads at Woolfest next week.


Here are the important details for the new Daisy pattern:

Materials:
Schoppel Admiral Cat Print (4ply; 75% superwash wool/25% nylon; 420m/459yds per 100g) x 1 (2) skeins. Shown in shade: 2157
4mm (UK 8/US 6) circular needle, 80cm (32in) length
235 (493) Debbie Abrahams seed beads, size 8/0, colour: 49 Green x 1 (2) bags of 500 beads
0.75 mm crochet hook (if using beads)

Tension:
13.5 sts and 20.5 rows over 10cm/4in in stitch pattern after blocking.
Exact tension is not essential but a difference in tension may affect the final size and amount of yarn used.

Size: 
Small:
Depth: 42cm/16½in
Inner crescent: 105cm/41½in
Outer crescent: 270cm/106½in

Large:
Depth: 63.5cm/25in
Inner crescent: 148cm/58½in
Outer crescent: 304.5cm/120in

Difficulty level:
Easy/Intermediate



If you are new to adding beads with a crochet hook, I've got a video demo (click on Knitting with beads). There's also a video demo there on elongated crossed stitches but not specifically on the daisy chain stitch but you may still find that video helpful. The daisy chain stitch is explained very clearly in the pattern.

This year I've gradually been bringing my pattern price up to £3.50. Any new patterns published are £3.50 and older patterns have been increased as they've been updated. I will bring my remaining pattern prices up to £3.50 (apart from a few patterns which still need updating) over the summer. 

If you're active on various Ravelry groups you may have heard about EU VAT. It's been causing a big stir since the beginning of this year. In the past VAT (which is value added tax) was based on where the seller lived and in the UK the VAT treshold is very high and therefore I wasn't liable for VAT so I didn't need to charge it. Now, VAT in EU countries is charged based on where the buyer lives. Therefore, if you live within the EU and I think also EEA countries, you will be charged your local VAT rate. Ravelry is repsonsible for collecting the VAT  and paying it to the various countries. I've chosen to add VAT to my existing pattern prices. So if you live in the EU you will be charged the pattern price of £3.50 (or £3) plus your local VAT. The VAT doesn't go to me, I pay that to Ravelry and they pay the various EU governments. 

The reason I've chosen to add VAT to my existing pattern price is because I can't afford to loose that money on my profit. It costs a lot of money to publish a pattern and because knitting patterns are fairly cheap (just compare them to sewing patterns!) I struggle to re-coup my initial costs, let alone make a profit on my patterns. I'm sorry if you live in the EU and you feel that my patterns are getting too expensive. I'm hoping you feel it's worth it as my patterns are well written and professionally tech edited.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Leona


Leona was first published in The Knitter (issue 71) and the original sample was knitted in Cashmered which is a gorgeous pure cashmere yarn. Now the pattern is available from my Ravelry Pattern Shop and will soon be available from Patternfish and Love Knitting


I had a new sample knitted up in Lotus Forest Dew (above) which is a merino/angora/
cashmere/tencel blend and creates a luscious, luxurious, light weight shawl. Leona has a rounded triangular shape which sits really nicely on the shoulders and is easy to wear around your shoulders or bunched up as a scarf.


The pattern has both charts and written instructions.

Leona is 25% off until the end of June 2015 in my Ravelry Pattern Shop. No coupon code needed.

Monday, June 08, 2015

London

Vanessa and I spent 3 days in London and had a great time. Our trip started in style. For some reason, although I paid for standard class, we were given seat reservations in First Class which was very comfortable. Unfortunately it wasn't all the way to London. We had to change trains at Exeter as it was cheaper than staying on our original train all the way to London.


As long as the train is running on time, I love train rides out of the south west. There's beautiful scenery all the way. Below is the view from the train over the Tamar River which separates Cornwall from Plymouth.

The next beautiful area was the stretch along the Torbay coastline and River Exe estuary in Devon. This coastline is particularly vulnerable to the weather and the track here is frequently damaged by extreme weather.


Below is a photo taken on my journey back home (I think it's near Teighnmouth).The weather was beautiful on both the journey to London and on the way home.


Once we arrived in London on Thursday lunchtime, we headed straight to our hotel in Greenwich. We dumped our luggage, quickly got changed into some lighter clothes and headed out again. Our first stop was Stratford City shopping centre for lunch and a bit of shopping. The shopping centre is right next to the Olympic Park so we went for a walk around there.

This is a statue. It is possible to go to the top but we didn't realise that until we were on our way out of the park.


It was so hot and we were really tired by this time. We'd left Cornwall at 6.30am but I was actually awake at 3am. So after a short walk around the Olympic Park we headed back to the hotel to relax and have an early night.

The next day we tried to leave the hotel early and headed straight to Oxford Circus for a bit of shopping. Vanessa loves Lush products and wanted to visit the Lush store. Three floors of Lush products including many exclusive products apparently. It was certainly colourful.


My favourite London store is Liberty so we headed there next. What I love about Liberty is the fact that you can look up through the centre of the store to the other floors. They had this amazing decoration hanging from the ceiling.


I also love Liberty fabric and this is the first time I've been to Liberty since I started sewing. I had promised myself I'd buy some fabric but it's just so expensive so I made do with this beautiful make up pouch in laminated Liberty fabric. I'm using it for my fauxdori notebook, some pens and other small things I keep in my handbag.


 We also visited some other stores but didn't make any big purchases. This is what I came home with. In addition to my Liberty pouch I got a tote bag and some cute stationery stuff from Waterstones and Tiger plus a Body Shop hand cream.


The main reason for our trip was the Take That concert at the O2 Arena on Friday evening. We had the cheap tickets so we were quite high up but we were actually fairly close to the stage and once the show started it wasn't too bad. We could see fairly well.


I haven't been to a big arena concert since my late teens and shows have changed a lot. There's much more special effects now. The show was great. I quite like Take That music but I'm not a super fan and didn't know the lyrics to many of their songs, unlike most of the women around me. 


On Saturday we decided to do a river cruise as we were aching a bit from all the walking. We got on a boat at Westminster and cruised past many of London's famous landmarks like the London Eye (which we've been on in the past):


Shapespare's Globe Theatre:


 The Tower Of London:


Our cruise ended at the Tower Bridge:


We had lunch near St Paul's Cathedral and had about 1.5 hrs to spare before we had to collect our luggage so decided to head back to Oxford Circus and made a quick stop at Hamley's where we met the Royal Family (in Lego):


Then we headed back to Liverpool Street station where we'd left our luggage. Vanessa headed off to catch the Stansted Express to Stansted Airport and is now in Norway visiting my parents. 


Sadly I had to head back home to Cornwall. I got quite a bit of knitting done on this trip. I'd brought a beaded lace shawl to knit on during the train trips and in our hotel but I ran out of beads on the first day. Turned out I'd brought a spare bag of beads but it was the wrong colour. I was not happy as I really wanted to finish this shawl over the weekend. 

I had brought this skein of colourful Knitting Swede self-striping sock yarn which is beautiful to knit with. 

I'm knitting socks for Vanessa and if my train journey home had been a direct train to Liskeard sock no 1 would have been finished (except for the afterthought heel) but I had to change trains in Plymouth to a small, overcrowded train so didn't get my knitting out again for the 20 minute journey. So I've got about half the toe left to knit.

Here's my sock over-looking the Tower of London on our river cruise.


All in all it was a great trip. Vanessa is 20 years old now and is starting a year's work placement in Cardiff next month. After that she's got a year of university left. Going away with her was so precious and I'm really happy we were able to do this together. I'm quite jealous that she's in Norway now and I'm home getting ready for Woolfest in just over two weeks.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Debbie Bliss Baby Blanket

Last summer I designed this sweet little baby blanket for Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.


This blanket is worked from the centre out in the round as a square. Yarn over increases overy other round create the square shape. If you'd like to make a larger blanket, just work more repeats of pattern B or C but you will need more yarn.

If you prefer a shawl, use Rialto Lace and 3.5mm needles instead. The pattern is available from Debbie Bliss stockists worldwide. 


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Knitter issue 85 - Nereid

Issue 85 of The Knitter is in shops now and I've got a fabulous design in this issue. The Knitter starts their introduction to this design with: 'Anniken Allis has the ability to combine beautiful lace patterns with elegant shapes to create stunning garments'. I'm blushing after reading that.


Nereid combines cables and lace with stocking stitch for an elegant garment with an interesting construction. The sleeves and yoke are worked sideways in two pieces with shaping for the neck. Those two pieces are then seamed and stitches picked up for the body which is worked in the round from the top down with waist shaping. This makes it really easy to make the body longer or shorter.

If you'd like the sleeves longer, then work more repeats before and after the neck shaping.


For 'Nereid' I used Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk 4ply which is a very soft yarn with amazing drape. This top is perfect for summer but can also be worn over a long sleeved t-shirt as a layering garment for the rest of the year.