Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Finishes & Beginnings

I'm so excited that my big purple cashmere project is one step closer to being revealed. I blocked it last week and knitted the button bands on Monday. As I was trying to choose buttons I realised I had to order more as I didn't have enough of the ones I'd chosen. My plan was to use the green ones in the picture below. But when I was ordering I added another pretty set of buttons to my cart (the pink ones in the photo) and now I'm tempted to use those instead. The buttons are from Textile Garden who's my favourite button supplier. My plan is to add the buttons today so I can wear this to my Beaded Lace Knitting workshop at Spin A Yarn on Friday. Some of my classes at Spin A Yarn still have spaces. Contact them for details. I'm also planning to wear it to my Lace Knitting workshop at Stitch Fest on Sunday 6 November. There are still spaces in my Stitch Fest workshop. Click here for details and to book. We also added two more spaces to my sold out Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl workshop. I'm going to be modelling this design myself and I'm hoping to do a photoshoot this weekend. 

Pattern is currently being tech edited and as soon as it's ready it'll be added to the Lace Wear Volume Two collection. If you've already purchased the collection, you will receive this pattern when it's released. If you haven't purchased the collection yet, I recommend you do it now. Once this pattern is released the price for the full collection will increase. Every time a new pattern is released the price goes up. If you purchase the collection before all the patterns have been released, you get immediate access to all the patterns that have already been published and all the future patterns as they're published. Purchase the Lace Wear Volume Two collection here.

Sunday was all about sock knitting. I cast on for Simon's second sock before church on Sunday and knitted most of the above in church. In the evening we went to the cinema and I cast on for a new sock with the beautiful sock yarn I got from Sitting Knitting (which goes towards Rachel's son James (who also dyes the yarn) World Challenge trip to India next year). I manged to get over half the leg done during the film We saw 'The girls on the train' which was brilliant but very violent at times.

Last week I decided I needed a new pair of hand warmers. So I designed a new pair and knitted them up in two days. I've been wearing them every day since. I still haven't had time to get proper photos done and yesterday when I walked the dog in the park, I accidentally stepped into a hole in the grass and fell. Now my hand warmers are dirty and I need to wash them before I can photograph them. I'm planning to change the bead placement slightly, so I'm going to have to knit up another pair for the photos. This pattern will hopefully be released in early December.

I've been working on my Lang Stole too. I'm on the final quarter now and it's getting big. I'm still enjoying knitting on this and looking forward to being able to wear it when it's finished.

This morning I cast on for a new project for my book. This beautiful Sweet Georgia Party of Five gradient set arrived on Monday and I'm in love with these colours. I'm so excited to work on this design. I will share little sneak peeks on Instgram but I can't show too many details as this design will be in my new book.

I've also been knitting up several big swatches for a design submission but I can't share those. I enjoyed knitting them though so I'm hoping the designs get commissioned.

What's on your needles this week? Do share in the comments below.

Would you like weekly news from the YarnAddict Studio
as well as exclusive subscriber offers?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday Mini Tip: 4 tips to help you knit faster

As many of you know I'm a continental knitter and I firmly believe that for most people continental kitting is the fastest method. I know there are English style knitters who knit very fast but for the average knitter, I believe continental knitting is faster.

But I know many people struggle with learning a different style of knitting. It is possible to change from English style knitting to continental knitting but it takes a lot of dedicated practice. For knitters who do my Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl classes, I recommend casting on a practice project and practice continental knitting at least 10 minutes a day. Little and often is key to learning a new technique. 10 minutes a day is better than an hour once a week.

But many people don't want to change how they knit but they'd still like to knit faster. So in today's Monday Mini Tip, I thought I'd share two tips that will make you knit faster whatever knitting style you use.

1. The main reason continental knitting is faster is because the movements are smaller. So if you want to knit faster work out how to make your movements smaller. Are there things you can do to make your knitting technique more efficient and make movements smaller or even make fewer movements? Watch the video below to see how small my movements are.

2. Keep your stitches pushed up on your left hand needle so they're ready to jump off the needles as you knit them. I bunch up the stitches on my left needle under my left hand and I use my left thumb to stop them jumping off the needle too quickly. When I knit a stitch, instead of pushing the left hand needle tip to get the stitch off, I just do a tiny tug with the right hand needle and the stitch slides off the left needle. 

3. Pull plenty of yarn off the ball. It's annoying to have to stop all the time to pull more yarn off the ball so I pull a fairly long length off the ball in one go. This means I don't have to stop as often. Don't pull so much  yarn off that you end up with the yarn in a tangle though.

4. Keep your fingers as close to the needle tip as possible. This is probably easier for continental knitter than English style knitters. I keep my needles as close to the needle tips as I can. I also keep both hands on top of my needles and have a fairly firm hold on my needles. This gives me a lot more control of my needles and makes working certain stitches, like decreases, easier.

In the video below I show you how fast I knit (and I can knit faster than I do in the video but to film myself, I hold my arms around a table top tripod  and look at my knitting through my phone screen. It's not the easiest knitting position. I also demonstrate my tips for faster knitting.

You can also watch the video here.

Of course it's not all about speed. The main thing is that you enjoy your knitting but knitting fast is an advantage as you can knit more.

If you are interested in learning how to knit continental (I teach Norwegian purl instead of the regular continental purl), I teach 'Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl' in yarn shops regularly. See my Workshop page for up to date listings. You can also take this class online and work through the material at your own pace and when it suits you. You keep indefinite access to the class material and can e-mail me for help. Get more details and sign up here.

Please ask any questions you have in the comments below. You can see all the previous Monday Mini Tips and other tutorials on my Tutorials page.

Would you like weekly news from the YarnAddict Studio
as well as exclusive subscriber offers?

Friday, October 21, 2016

October is for Socktober

I love knitting socks and these days I always have a pair on the go. I wear my hand-knitted socks almost daily in the colder months of the year. I also love sharing my love for sock knitting through my sock workshops. But not everyone can make it to one of my workshops, so I wrote two basic sock patterns to enable everyone to benefit from my sock expertise.

To celebrate Socktober, I'm offering 30% off my sock patterns, Creme Brulee and Creme Caramel, until end of October 2016. Use coupon code: socktober. 

Creme Brulee is a basic sock worked from the top down on double pointed needles with a standard heel flap, heel turn and wedge toe. The pattern includes extra information and commentary throughout which makes it perfect for new sock knitters. 

Creme Caramel is my basic toe up sock pattern. These socks are worked in the round using circular needles and the magic loop technique. Again, the pattern is written with extra information and commentary to help you if you are new to this way of knitting socks.

Both patterns include three sizes for ankle circumference. The pattern will tell you how to customise the foot length to the length you need.

So if you're new to socks, why not give one of these patterns a go? Or if you're an experienced sock knitter but want a basic pattern you can use again and again, these two patterns are perfect for you too. They're my go-to standard sock patterns which I use when I knit socks for myself and my family.

To celebrate Socktober, I'm offering 30% off both patterns until end of October 2016. Use coupon code: socktober.

If you're interested in my sock knitting classes, please visit my Workshop page. I will be adding workshops for 2017 soon.

On 15 November, I'm teaching a 'Two Socks At A Time - Top Down' workshop at Spin A Yarn where I'll be teaching knitters who are already familiar with knitting socks from the top down, how to do it two at a time. You'll learn how to knit on circular needles using the magic loop technique and how to cast on for two socks and work all the different elements of a sock including heel flap, heel turn, gusset and toes. Contact Spin A Yarn to book.

Do you like knitting socks? Do you prefer to knit socks from the toe up or top down? Tell me in the comments.

Would you like weekly news from the YarnAddict Studio
as well as exclusive subscriber offers?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Monogamous knitting?

I used to have lots of projects on the go at any one time but these days I'm much more monogamous. Or if not completely monogamous, I'm focusing on two or three projects at a time. For the last few weeks my two main projects have been a lace garment in purple cashmere and a shawl in Lang (on the left below).


I was desperate to finish the purple cashmere garment by last weekend as the girls were both home for the weekend and I was planning to get one of them to model for me. Unfortunately I failed and finished on Monday. Last week, except for some swatching for new designs and sewing up and doing all the finishing details on a new sweater design, I only worked on the cashmere garment when I was at home. Had I been more monogamous in the weeks prior to last week, I may have reached my goal of finishing this by last weekend. I get easily bored so I like to have variety in my current projects. I tend to have an easy project and a more complex project on the go as well as a pair of socks for portable knitting.

Anyway, the cashmere garment is done. It's a big thing and I ended up with more than 1000 stitches. Now I need to find another solution re having it photographed. I may even model it myself as I won't see the girls till late in November. I did knit this sample for myself. I will have a smaller version knitted up to use as my official sample for shows. The pattern will include two sizes.

I completely ignored my Lang shawl last week and I've been excited about getting back to it. I'm nearly halfway through and I'm looking forward to finishing it so I can wear it. It's going to be so cozy and warm.

It's starting to get quite chilly here and my hands are always cold. I love wearing fingerless gloves in the autumn and winter. I had a lovely pair last winter but I lost them. So I decided I needed a new pair and I thought I may as well design a new pattern. I cast on yesterday and finished the first glove in the evening (except for the thumb which I need to add later). Last night I cast on for the second one and I've nearly finished that one now. Hopefully I can finish the pair tonight so I can wear them when I travel to my Norwegian Selbu Mittens workshop at Spin A Yarn tomorrow. The pattern will be out in November/December.

I do have an idea for another pair too. I'd like a longer pair and I'm thinking I may cast on for it this weekend.

Earlier this year, I treated myself to a bright yellow Field Bag which is made by the Fringe Supply Co exclusively for La Bien Aimee & L'Oisive The. The Fringe Supply Co sell these bags in several more neutral colours but I was thinking it would be perfect in a bright pink. So a few weeks ago when I saw that they'd made a pink Field Bag exclusively for The Plucky Knitter, I immediately ordered one.  My cashmere garment has been living in it lately. I love that I can keep it on the floor by my knitting chair and the ball of yarn stays in the bag as I knit (rather than roll around on the floor) and there's plenty of room for my knitting, yarn and any notions I need for the project.

I'm increasingly getting into pink as witnessed by this photo I took a few weeks ago. I was wearing a pink dress, pink shoes, pink poncho (Portofino) and using my pink Field Bag and there was some pink in the cheerful flowers Simon got me for our anniversary a few weeks ago.

Are you a monogamous knitter? Or do you like to have several projects on the go? Tell me in the comments!

Would you like weekly news from the YarnAddict Studio
as well as exclusive subscriber offers?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Additions to Stitch Fest South West

It's just over two weeks to Stitch Fest in Totnes, Devon. I blogged about the event recently. I'm not having a stall at this event but I am teaching three workshops.

My Professional Finishing Techniques class on Saturday is sold out but (at the time of writing this) both my Sunday classes have spaces. 

We decided to add a Continental Knitting with Norwegian Purl on the Sunday afternoon after the Cream Tea Talk got cancelled. I love teaching Continental Knitting so I'm quite happy with that. If you'd like to learn this increasingly popular way of knitting, then join me. If the class sells out or if you can't make it, do keep an eye on my workshop page as this is a class I teach regularly.

On Sunday morning, I'm teaching Lace Knitting which is perfect for anyone who would love to learn lace knitting and join the ever popular lace shawl knitting trend. In this class you'll learn how to read lace charts, work the yarn overs and decreases used in lace knitting, add beads using the crochet hook method and more. You'll be confident enough to tackle lace shawls and simple lace garments after this class.

Will I see you at Stitch Fest? I'm looking forward to browsing the stalls on Saturday morning. Don't miss out, book now!

Would you like weekly news from the YarnAddict Studio
as well as exclusive subscriber offers?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Mini Tip - No Stitch & Varying Stitch Counts

In today's Mini Tip I'm going to talk about balancing lace patterns, 'no stitch' areas in lace patterns and varying stitch counts as these are all linked. 

In lace patterns yarn over, yarn forward, yarn over the needles and yarn around the needle are all increases. I will call them all yarn overs from now on (read this Mini Tip if these terms are confusing). When you work a yarn over, you increase a stitch. Unless you're increasing your total stitch count, you need to work a decrease to keep the stitch count the same. 

Decreases are often placed next to or close to the yarn over it 'belongs to'. But sometimes the decrease can be placed several stitches away from the corresponding yarn over, or even on a different row. In cases like this, a 'no stitch' symbol is usually inserted into the chart as a place holder (I talk about 'no stitch' symbols in this Mini Tip about reading charts). 

In the lace pattern above I cast on 32 stitches and worked the pattern repeat (inside the red box in the chart below) three times, but if you look at row 1 of the chart (or written instructions below), you'll see that once you've worked row 1, you'll have 35 stitches. Many knitters will look at the cast on number and then at row 1 and assume that you'll need 35 stitches before you knit row 1 (11 stitches per pattern rep x3 =33 + 2 = 35 stitches). But a chart shows you what the row will look like after you've worked it. If you cast on 35 stitches, row 1 won't work.

If you look at the pattern repeat (inside read border on the chart or inside [ ] in the written instructions, you'll notice that on row 1 there are two yarn overs and one decrease. This means that for each 10 stitch pattern repeat, you will increase two stitches and decrease one stitch. On row 2, there's a decrease which means you'll decrease the second stitch you increased in row 1. As a result once you finish row 1, you have 11 stitches in each pattern repeat, and after row 2, you'll have 10 stitches in each pattern repeat. That stitch you loose on row 2, needs to be shown in the chart somewhere so we put a 'no stitch' symbol (a grey square in my charts) as a stitch holder. This is a lot less confusing in the written instructions for the chart as the written instructions just tell you which stitch you'll be working and ignores 'no stitch' stitches. Compare the written instructions with the chart below.

Chart - Written Instructions:
Row 1 (RS): P1, [p1, yo, k tbl, yo, ssk, k5, p1] to last st, p1.
Row 2 (WS): K1, [k1, p4, p2tog tbl, p3, k1] to last st, k2.
Row 3: P1, [p1, yo, k tbl, yo, k2, ssk, k3, p1] to last st, p1.
Row 4: K1, [k1, p2, p2tog tbl, p5, k1] to last st, k2.
Row 5: P1, [p1, k tbl, yo, k4, ssk, k1, yo, p1] to last st, p1.
Row 6: K1, [k1, p1, p2tog tbl, p6, k1] to last st, k2.
Row 7: K1, [k1, p1, k5, k2tog, yo, k tbl, yo, p1] to last st, p1.
Row 8: P2, [p3, p2tog, p4, k1] to last st, k2.
Row 9: K1, [k1, p1, k3, k2tog, k2, yo, k tbl, yo, p1] to last st, p1.
Row 10: P2, [p5, p2tog, p2, k1] to last st, k2.
Row 11: K1, [k1, p1, k2, k2tog, k4, yo, k tbl, p1] to last st, p1.
Row 12: P2, [p6, p2tog, p1, k1] to last st, k2.

In lace patterns where the stitch count in the pattern repeat varies from row to row, I usually make a note of it to draw knitters attention to it. So for the lace pattern above I would put a note in the pattern to say: Stitch count increases on right side rows (by 1 stitch per pattern repeat) and returns to normal on every wrong side row. You will then know that if you cast on 32 stitches and count your stitches after row 1, you will have more stitches. 

Above is a shawl I'm working on at the moment. And below is the chart and written instructions for the lace pattern (the chart key is the same as for the first example). You can see that in this chart there are lots of grey stitches and it all looks a bit confusing. Each pattern repeat is 19 stitches and I have four stitches extra. So if I work the pattern repeat twice, I will cast on 42 stitches. On row 1, I work two yarn overs and two decreases so the stitch count stays the same. But I've still got grey squares on row 1. In this lace pattern, the grey squares are to allow for different stitch counts on various rows and also to show how the stitches line up against those in the rows below and above. 

On row 2, I work two decreases but no increases (yarn overs). I therefore finish row 2 with two stitches less per pattern repeat - 38 stitches. On row 3, I work two decreases but four yarn overs. I have two stitches in hand from row 2, so that means that after row 3 my stitch count is back to normal - 42 stitches. On row 4, I decrease two stitches per pattern repeat so I have two stitches less again. On row 5, I work two decreases plus eight yarn overs. I have two decreases in hand from row 4 plus two decreases from row 5 which makes it a total of four stitches but I've increased eight. So after row 5, I have four stitches extra per pattern repeat, ie a total of 50 stitches. On rows 6 and 7, I decrease two stitches per pattern repeat per row. Those four stitches I've decreased per pattern repeat on these two rows, make up for the four extra yarn overs I worked on row 5. So now my stitch count is back to normal.

Chart  - Written Instructions:
Row 1 (RS): K2, (k1, k2tog, k6, yo, k1, yo, k6, ssk, k1) to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 2 (WS): P2, (p1, p2tog tbl, p13, p2tog, p1) to last 2 sts, p2.
Row 3: K2, (k1, k2tog, k4, yo, k tbl, yo, k1, yo, k tbl, yo, k4, ssk, k1) to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 4: Repeat row 2.
Row 5: K2, (k1, k2tog, k2, (yo, k1 tbl, yo, k1) three times, yo, k tbl, yo, k2, ssk, k1) to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 6: P2, (p1, p2tog tbl, p17, p2tog, p1) to last 2 sts, p2.
Row 7: K2, (k1, k2tog, (k tbl, k1) seven times, k tbl, ssk, k1) to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 8: P to end.
Row 9: K to end.
Row 10: P, k22.
Row 11: K2, ((k2tog, yo) nine times, k1) to last 2 sts, k2.
Row 12: K to end.
Row 13: K to end.

Row 14: P to end.

Does that all make sense? Don't worry if it doesn't yet, the more experience you get in lace patterns, the more these things will make sense. All you need to worry about when knitting a pattern like this is to knit the stitches shown in the chart and ignore the 'no stitch' stitches. Also, be careful when checking your stitch counts. Do check the chart to see if there are the same number of decreases and yarn overs in each pattern repeat on each row.

So why can't we just put the decreases and yarn overs on the same row and save ourselves a lot of trouble. The placement of decreases and increases in conjunction with each other is what makes the lace pattern look like it does. So by putting the decreases on the same row as the yarn overs, the lace pattern would look completely different.

Please ask any questions you have in the comments below. You can see all the previous Monday Mini Tips and other tutorials on my Tutorials page.

Would you like weekly news from the YarnAddict Studio
as well as exclusive subscriber offers?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wool Week

There's a discount for you at the end of the post.

Autumn has definitely arrived here in Cornwall. Although we've had some beautiful sunny days, the temperatures have dropped a lot. I do miss summer already, but I'm enjoying being able to wear my shawls and scarves again. I knit a lot of shawls and I do try to wear as many of them as I can. Do you wear what you knit? 

A couple of weeks ago the shawl choice of the day was St Aubin's Bay because it matched my t-shirt and cardigan. It's also a really nice shawl to wear as a scarf. By the way, I'm teaching St Aubin's Bay as a project workshop at La Mercerie, Wales, in November. If you're interested in joining me, contact the shop for full details and to book.

A couple of days ago, I wore my Portofino poncho when I walked the dog. I did wear a rather colourful pair of handwarmers as well. You can just about spot a glimps of them in the bottom right hand corner. They didn't quite match my poncho but my hands were cold so I didn't care.

Yesterday, I wore my Carlyon Bay in the morning when I ran errands in town and went to the knitting group. And in the afternoon I changed to Capri which is a large shawl but I bunched it up around my neck to keep warm. There was a particularly chilly wind yesterday.

This week is Woolweek in the UK, and to celebrate I'm offering 3 for 2 on all my patterns. All you need to do is to choose 3 patterns from my Ravelry Pattern Shop (you don't need to be a member to purchase) and add the code: woolweek and the cheapest pattern will be free. The discount ends on Sunday 16 October.

Would you like weekly news from the YarnAddict Studio
as well as exclusive subscriber offers?