Friday, September 26, 2014

Ready for Yarndale

Who's coming to Yarndale this weekend?  Its been a busy week getting ready. Remind me next time I do a show not to schedule any design deadlines in the 2 weeks before/after the sjow. Its been crazy. But yesterday we headed to Yorkshire.  

The big box of yarn above arrived full of Schoppel and Lang yarns.  Here are a few of my favourites. 

I love this 6 Karat colour combo. There will definitely be a new shawl design in this combo.

New to me is Lang Mille Colori Sock and Lace. Its a beautiful sock yarn with long stripes. Here's a bright colour combo:

And a slightly less bright but very pretty pair:

Lang also do these cute little 25gr balls of lace in some fab colours.  The green and blue ones will definitely become a new design too.

 Of course I had to re-stock the Zauberball yarns. We sold lots of these pretties at Woolfest. 

These are my favourite colours, especially the green above. In fact it nearly became my travel project. 

A big box of colourful goodness.  We will hace our Lotus Yarns as well of course. 

And we'll have beads, crochet hooks, circular needles & a few other knitting accessories & lots of patterns. 

I cast on for a new knitting project which I'll blog more about another time.

We loaded the car. Our car is quite small and it takes careful planning to fit it all in. Tge bike was dropped off at Vanessa's in Bristol on the way.  We had a lovely lunch with her.

Will we see you at Yarndale this weekend? 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Free Pattern Weekend - the Sunshine Scarf

The Sunshine Scarf was originally designed for the Lace Lovers Club. It was the last parcel in July with a skein of yellow Lotus Cashmere Fingering. I designed this as a light summery scarf but as its cashmere it'll be warm enough for autumn/winter without adding bulk.

This scarf takes just one 55gr (365m/400yds) skein of heavy lace weight but you can easily make it wider and longer but you will of course need more yarn. The pattern includes instruction on how to make it wider.

To take advantage of this offer, go to Ravelry, click on 'buy it now' then click on 'buy now'. The pattern will then be added to your Ravelry library and you can download it. It looks like the pattern isn't free as this is set up like a sale. From midnight Sunday 21 UK time the pattern will be £3.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beaded Lace Knitting

I wrote a book this year. I finished it in early August and while we were in Spain I had an e-mail from my editor with a copy of the cover of the book. I was so excited! 

I'm very happy with the cover - my favourite colours! The shawl worn by the model is probably one of the most difficult designs in the book.

So here's the Cover - Tadah:

And I've just discovered this morning that the book is on pre-order on Amazon. The book won't be out until May next year but you can pre-order now (there's an affiliate link in the side bar - top left).

As the title suggests, the book is all about beaded lace knitting. I love knitting lace with beads and working on this book has been a lot of fun and hard work. 

There will be shawls, scarves, cowls, garments and mitts using a variety of yarns including luxury yarns and budget yarns. My knitters were amazing and I couldn't have done this without them. I'll talk more about the individual designs and my wonderful knitters when I'm allowed to share more. A huge thank you to all the yarn companies who supported the book.

I'm very happy with the photos and I'm so grateful to Stackpole Books and my editor for contacting me last year about doing a book. I'm looking forward to sharing more about the book closer to the publishing date

Monday, September 15, 2014

Etherow Shawl by Fyberspates & a Stretchy Cast Off Tutorial

Last week Fyberspates published a collection of patterns for their beautiful Cumulus yarn. Cumulus is an alpaca/silk blend which is in-between a lace weight and 4ply/fingering weight. It's a perfect yarn for shawls. One of my designs in this collection is the Etherow shawl.

Etherow is a big triangular shawl, it's the kind of shawl you can really wrap around you. Because it's knitted in a light weight yarn, it works just as well, bunched up around your neck worn as a scarf or wrapped around you like a shawl. It's worked from the top down with an all over lace pattern. 

I love using the crochet chain cast off on lace shawls. The crochet loops look so elegant with a delicate shawl. A crochet chain cast off is easy to do. All you need is to be able to crochet a chain. If you've never crocheted before, there are lots of online tutorials and videos that'll show you how to crochet a chain. Because I use this cast off for a number of my shawls, I've made a little You Tube video to show you how. You can find it here. If you've never crocheted before it may be an idea to knit a little swatch to practice on.

Some knitters aren't very keen on the crochet chain cast off, so if that's you then don't worry. You can use a normal stretchy cast off instead. My favourite stretchy cast off is the Russian Cast Off. This is my go to cast off for lace shawls.

(Cast off = Bind off).

Here's how to do it: 
1. Knit two stitches.

2. *Put your left needle into the front of those two stitches from the left and knit them together. This is the same as if you slip both stitches back to the left needle and knit them together through the back loop.

You've now got one stitch left on your right needle

 3. Knit the next stitch

Repeat from * until you've cast off all or the required number of stitches. You're left with one stitch on your right needle. Fasten this stitch off as normal.

This will create a cast off edge that's stretchy enough to block into picot edges. There are other stretchy cast offs but this one is so quick and easy to remember. This morning I was casting off a new shawl design with over 520 stitches. I timed myself but didn't knit particularly quickly and I cast off all the stitches in about 34 minutes. 

Etherow is available from Ravelry and it'll also be available from you local Fyberspates stockists. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sitting Knitting's 1st Birthday!

Last year, at Wonderwool Wales, I met Rachel who told me she was planning to open a yarn shop in Sutton Coldfield and she wondered if I'd be interested in teaching once she got up and running. I taught my first workshop at Sitting Knitting earlier this summer and it's a beautiful shop tucked away in a courtyard with a little garden outside.

This weekend, Sitting Knitting celebrate their first birthday. If you live in the Birmingham area, pop in to the shop tomorrow for discounts and cake. One thing that struck me when I was at Sitting Knitting teaching was the lovely community of knitters Rachel has built around her shop. 

Just before we left for Spain Rachel contacted me to ask if I'd like to design a shawl to celebrate the shop's anniversary. She wanted the shawl to be knitted in John Arbon Textile's Knit By Numbers which I love so of course I said yes. While I was in Spain, Nicky knitted up the sample for me and this week we revealed 'Beloved':

'Beloved' is a crescent shawl worked in two skeins of Knit By Numbers which is a soft merino spun in Devon (not all that far from where I live actually). The shawl starts with a very attractive cast on/increase row (more details on that further down). A stocking stitch section is worked while you get used to the shaping. Then it flows into a wide lace section and a scalloped edging.

As you can see from these photos 'Beloved' can be worn as a scarf or as a shawl. The yarn is DK so it knits up fast on 4.5mm and 5mm needles. This will be a great accessory this winter. 'Beloved' is available as a kit from Sitting Knitting. The kit includes the pattern and 2 skeins of Knit by Numbers in a choice of colours. For those who can't get to the shop, Rachel is also offering this kit by mail order with free postage. Contact Rachel through her Facebook page to order.

Last year I came across a blogpost by US designer Corrina Ferguson about a pretty way to start a crescent shawl. After working a long tail cast on, you work double increases in to row 1. I decided to give it a go and it creates a really attractive cast on edge. I used this cast on method for 'Beloved'.

You start with a long tail cast on holding two needles together as seen below (there a lots of video tutorials online for the long tail cast on but here's my favourite from Instead of just casting on onto one needle, you hold two needles together. Be careful that the yarn doesn't go between the two needles. I actually use two needles and the long tail cast on for almost all my knitting.

This is what your stitches look like after casting on. You then pull one needle out and get ready to work row 1. Normally with a long tail cast on the first row is a wrong side row (so it would be row 2 of your pattern) but on this occasion we'll treat row 1 as a right side row.

On row 1 (knit one, yarn over (yarn forward), knit one) into each stitch. This means you're doing a double increase on each stitch and you'll end up with three times as many stitches as you cast on. Here's what it looks like after row 1.

I wondered if using other cast on methods would make a difference so I tried the cable cast on method. I worked a double increase into each stitch then worked a few rows of stocking stitch. Below you can see the bottom swatch is the long tail cast on and the top swatch is the cable cast on. They were worked on the same needles, same yarn, and same number of stitches. I stretched them both as much as I could when I blocked the swatches. The cable cast on is shorter than the long tail cast on edge. Now, in this swatch it's not much but I didn't have that many stitches, it'll make more of a difference with a larger number of stitches.

I've nick-named this method the 'triple cast on' and here's it is used with stocking stitch:

and with a lace pattern:

You can favourite 'Beloved' on Ravelry and link up your projects and order the kit from Sitting Knitting. All you have to do is choose a colour. The pattern is not available separately.

I'd like to congratulate Rachel and Sitting Knitting on their first anniversary. I'll be back at Sitting Knitting in November to teach my Selbu mittens class

Monday, September 08, 2014

Book De-Stash 1

For the past 10 years I've developed a huge library of knitting and crochet books. So much so that I'm running out of space. I've bought a variety of books over the years which I really like but I've not had time to knit anything from. I've only flicked through them from time to time. So I'm having a book de-stash.

I'm listing the name of each book, link to the Amazon UK page, the weight of the book so you can work out postage. UK First Class Small Parcel is £3.20 for up to 1kg (1000gr). Up to 2kg (2000gr) it'll be £5.45. If you live outside the UK you can either contact me and I'll check postage for your country or check the Royal Mail website. If you live in the Liskeard area or are coming to my workshops this term and want to collect the book(s) then let me know. 

To buy any of the books, please leave a comment with the name of the book(s) and a contact e-mail. I won't publish these comments (all blog comments are read by me before they appear on the blog). I'll send you a Paypal invoice. If the Paypal invoice isn't paid within 48 hours then the next purchaser gets it.

The first book is Custom Knits 2 by Wendy Bernard, £8, 950gr. Wendy specialises in top down knits and this book includes patterns and technique stuff. It's an excellent book and it looks brand new. 

SOLD - Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams, £5, 700gr. This book is a basic, easy understand to designing your own knits including garments. Perfect for those wishing to have a go at designing for themselves. Includes useful size charts with lots of measurements for various sizes and ages (ie kids, adults). This book is in good condition.

French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes, £5, 600gr. A beautiful book with innovative and interesting designs with various construction methods.  This book is in very good condition.

Noro Designer Mini Knits by Jenny Watson, £4, 180gr. A collection of small items worked in various Noro yarns. This was the first booklet in the Noro Designer Mini Knits series. and is in very good condition.

SOLD - Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr, £8, 1150gr. This book starts with a stitch dictionary of interesting and unusual reversible stitch patterns and then has 20 designs and a techniques chapter.  Excellent condition.

SOLD - Rowan Bigger Picture by Kim Hargreaves, £5, 250gr. This booklet has 20 designs by Kim Hargreaves using Rowan Big Wool and Biggy Print. This book was published in 2002 and is perfect for Rowan collectors. Very good conditon.

SOLD - Spin to knit by Shannon Okey, £3, 500gr. This book is perfect for spinners who want to spin to knit. It includes spinning techniques and patterns. 

The Yarn Stash Workbook by Laura Militzer Bryant, £5, 600gr. Includes ideas and projects for making the most of your stash including combining yarns.

There will be more books another day. 

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Free Pattern Weekend - Piccadilly

Last weekend's free pattern, Lucille, was so popular that I thought I'd do a free pattern weekend again. This will be a regular feature but it won't be every weekend. This weekend's free pattern is Piccadilly.

Piccadilly was originally designed for Noro lace yarn but earlier this year I had it re-knitted in Zauberball Laceball and when the sample arrived back from my sample knitter and I opened the parcel I was just amazed by how stunning this sample looks. The colours are perfect and I just love it! 

Piccadilly was designed to show off a yarn with long colour repeats but I bet it'll look equally gorgeous in a solid or semi-solid colour or what about an ombre colourway? I'd love to see that.

Zauberball Laceball has 800m per 100gr ball but this shawl doesn't take the full ball. I think it took about 1/2 to 2/3 of the ball. To be on the safe side I'd recommend having 600m available, but you may be okay with 400m. You can of course buy Laceball in my shop. Not keen on fine yarns? Then choose your favourite sock yarn. Piccadilly will work in any yarn weight. Just choose an appropriate needle size and beads that have a big enough hole for your yarn.

Piccadilly has beads scattered throughout the lace sections. The beads are added using the crochet hook method. The shawl is worked from the bottom up in a shallow crescent shape. It starts with a wide lace border which creates the scallloped edging. Then short rows and decreases are worked in stocking stitch to create the crescent shape (no difficult wrap & turns or yarn overs needed for the short rows though). And the shawl is finished off with another lace border at the top of the shawl. 

You can wear it as a shoulder wrap or as a scarf. It's lightweight and warm but without adding bulk. Perfect for those first chilly autumn mornings.

New to lace knitting? Don't forget my Lace Basics pattern bundle which includes my Lace Basics booklet (which will teach you all you need to know to get started with lace knitting) is only £7.50 until 15 Sept (the £2.50 discount comes off automatically when you log into Paypal to pay).

Happy knitting x