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Friday, May 28, 2010

Blocking, knitting and yarn

It's been another busy week. The whole of May has been busy and has gone incredibly fast.

A big parcel of gorgeous Manos Silk Blend arrived a couple of days ago. The yarn is for 6 designs I'm doing for Artesano. I'm so excited about this commission as I love working with Silk Blend. the only sad thing is that I probably won't be knitting many of the samples which is sad as I just love knitting with this yarn and i was looking forward to knitting with it.

I've got 12 designs due before end of July and a couple of commissions due in august. I'll be designing for Let's Knit, Yarn Forward, Simply Knitting (my first design for them), Little Knitting Company as well as Artesano. It's very exciting but I'm kind of panicking a little. I've also got Woolfest in June and a lot of dyeing to do for that. Simon keeps saying he wants to do more dyeing and I tink he will get his wish.

I've been working a lot on a design which I thought was due today but last night realised it's not due for another 2 weeks. which is good as i would have been late. I'm aiming ot finish it next week. But last night I decided to allow myself some time off deadline knitting and did another repeat on my lace shawl. this is how much it's grown:

And here is a close up of the diamond lace pattern and the beads:

And the centre panel:

And this one shows how the centre panel fits in with the rest of the pattern:

I'm quite pleased with the width of this shawl, I was worried it might be too narrow but I tink it will be okay. The edges will be straight when I block it properly using my blockign wires.

Talking about blocking. I've started the huge job of blocking all my shawls ready for display at Woolfest. I'm also re-doing some of my pattern photos as I'm not happy with some of my old photos which were taken outside. So now I'm doing them outside. It was quite windy today so it was a bit of a struggle but I think I got some decent photos.

here's Regatta:

Midnight Stole:

And next on the blocking mat is Blossom:

I've also blocked a new magazine design which I'd love to show you as it's so pretty and so soft and gorgoeus but I can't share anything until the magazine comes out.

I've been swatching for a new design too. The swatch is done in Amazing Cashmere Lace but I want to knit up a little scarf using one skein of Angora Lace, hopefully in time for Woolfest. Not sure i can do that as i'd hoped to finish the beaded shawl in time for Woolfest too.

I slept right through last night which is a rare event these days but I'm still very, very tired  tonight. but I think that's mainly due to dyeing yarn today. I dyed some Pure silk lace, Silky Camel and Ocean Silk and a few skeins of Angora Lace. I love dyeing yarn but it's very exhausting. The next shop update will hopefully be on Monday.

have a lovely weekend x

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sample Knitters needed

I've decided I'd like some new samples knitted up in time for Woolfest next month and I need help. I'm looking for someone who would like to knit up a shawl or sock sample for me please. Unfortunately I can't afford to pay in cash for this but I can pay in yarn. I'll pay 2 skeins of your choice from my website per shawl and one skein of you choice from my website per pair of socks. due to time constraints and postage you'll need to live in the UK or one of the close European countries. I'll need you to knit up the sample and return it to me (so it arrives wiht me) by 15 June for socks and 10 June at the latest for shawls, so I'll have time to block those. Unfortunately I can't let you keep the samples as I'll need those for display at Woolfest.

I'd like 'Two of a Kind' knitted up in my brand new Pure Silk Lace (which arrived yesterday).

 One shawl (a brand new one due to be published in Let's Knit soon) knitted up in my new Silky BFL Lace  (which arrived yesterday too),  a shawl version of the stole I'm working on right now (no pics of that yet, and possibly for someone to testknit the stole version too. and i'd like a shawl knitted up in my new Amazing Cashmere Lace and a scarf knitted up in the new Angora Lace but I haven't decided what yet. Perhaps 'sophia' knitted up in Amazing Cashmere Lace:

I'm also thinking I'd like something knitted up in my new Ocean Silk (seacell/silk) 4ply and Silky Camel 4ply (camel and silk) and was thinking perhaps Ocean Waves,

or Carmen which has been out of circulation for a while and could do with a revival:

 so I have a very easy shawl to display in a 4ply yarn for those new to lace.

I'd also like Regatta knitted up in antoher yarn as the Lusciosu Lace the original was knitted in is now unavailable:

If you think you can do it and you're a fast knitter as i realise the time is short, please contace me. If you'd like to knit something specific tell me and I'll allocate knits on a first come, first serve. And espcially let me know fi you're happy to add beads using a crochet hook as I'm looking for a permanent sample knitter who can knit lace with beads. Either contact me through this link or by leaving a message on the blog. I'll need your e-mail address, skill level (if I've not seen your knits before a link to Ravelry pics of similar things you've knitted would be useful, and address. If you post thse details in a blog comment, then I won't publish that comment so your details will stay private with me.

And perhaps a new version of Fame and Fern hand warmers. I don't even have a pic of Fame as those were lost when my computer crashed a few months ago. I never got any really good photos of those. They're quick though so I oculd do those myself.

The socks i'd particularly like knitted up again are Celtic Cable Heel (toe up), Footloose, Lacy Diamonds, Lacy Leaves (toe up I tink), and Colosseum

A huge thank you to anyone who's willing to volunteer.

On a different note, things have been slightly frustrating for the past 2 weeks, I'm realy struggling to get work done. I've got a lot on but that's not the main problem, the problem is that I've suffered a lot of severe headaches and neck pain, slept extremely badly and I'm tired all the time. Which makes it feel like i'm dragging myself through treacle most of the time. Three steps forward and two steps back would also describe how I feel. I really need to step things up. I've got patterns to finish writing, new yarn arriving any day soon (I hope!) for new designs which need to be graded and written up and knitted (Pixie is probably desperately waiting for me to send her some yarn to get started). I've got tons (okay perhaps just kilos) of yarn to be dyed for Woolfest next month and I need to print off patterns too and I'd like to re-do photos of several of my designs befoer I start priting patterns. I'm also not very happy with the way my patterns print on my printer and I'm not sure if it's our rubish printer or my photos that are not good enough. My first plan of action is to ask a friend with a better printer (I've seen her photos printed out and they look good) if I can print a pattern out on her printer and then compare with mine. I'd lik to make a big thing of my patterns at Woolfest as those shawls I had on display at FibreFest last year sold well, especially when we started pointing out that they all took just one skein. I think a lot of people thought they would take more than that.

Talking about Woolfest, my yarn orders have started arriving. Yesterday I had deliveries of the brand new Silky BFL Lace (silk/BFL), Ocean Silk 4ply, Silky Camel 4ply, Pure Silk 4ply and Pure Silk Lace (now in 100gr hanks). All gorgeous yarns. And I love the natural colour of the Silky Camel, it'll be shame to dye it really, so I may list some natural colours too as it's just gorgeous. I'm also planning a garment for myself in the Ocan Silk 4ply and Pure silk 4ply knitted on the machine and I may see if I can fit in some swatching for that today. Although my first machine garment ought to be Simon's sweater. he might like to wear his super Merino sock sweater for Woolfest.

I'm very late with the Lace Variety Club this month and I'll finally be dyeing the yarn today as the yarn was one of the lots that arrived yesterday.

The Baby Surpise jacket has arrived with it's recipient on California, Laura's new baby Isaiah, so I can show a picture of it now.

 I 'm a little bit worried the cute buttons I chose won't be the easiest for a Mum to get on a wriggly baby but they were so cute.
 Look, at the cute little teddy bear buttons. I left the bottom button hole without a button as i felt it was little bit too close to the bottom edge. the yarn was Auracania Ruca which is 100% sugarcane and a dream ot knit with. So smooth and silky.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

it's here!

ETA: Sorry some photos have been removed because of copyright issues.

Yarn Forward arrived yesterday and I very excitedly tore off the plastic cover to take a look at this (sorry can't show you the front cover with my design on it. Had to remove it due to copyright).

yes, that's my 'Lulu' design. I know it's bright yellow and to be honest I didn't choose the colour but I think the photography is brilliant. I showed it to a friend today and she said she thought it looked great to wear as a cover up to the beach. My idea when I designed it was for it to be worn over leggings, which is a brilliant option for those not so confident about showing off their legs or on chilly days.

Here are some other photos, the first two are the photos of the mag

This is my second front cover for Yarn Forward and i'm very excited. it gives me such a buzz to see my desing on the front.

I must admit I've been struggling to get any work done this week and I had a bad week last week which means I need to get on with it for the rest of this week. There are patterns to be written and e-mails to reply to. I've been really struggling to concentrate and focus lately and my to-do list is getting ever longer. I did manage to tick off two jobs on that list today:  I placed two wholesale yarn orders for Woolfest. Most of the other Woolfest vendors are probably well organised and been dying yarn for weeks, I'm not. I was determiend to be organised but I'm worried I'm getting behind now. But today I've ordered 4 new yarns plus one new yarn yesterday. I've got two new lace yarns coming, a pure silk which has 1000m and a Silky BFL Lace which has 760m and is a replacement for my Supreme Lace which I can't get hold of right now. I've also ordered a silk 4ply, and two yarns I've been desperate to order for ages: Ocean Silk which is a seacell/silk 4ply yarn and is gorgeous. And Silky Camel which is a 4ply silk/baby camel blend which is also gorgeous. I can't wait for these yarns to arrive. I will dye some to put in the shop for those who can't get to Woolfest.

I've listed a few skeins in the shop today.I didn't get much dyeing done last week so there isn't much to list but there are a few skeins of Amazing Cashmere Lace and some of my yarns this week are named after some of my favorite places on Costa Blanca and Costa Calida in Spain. Can you tell I'm longing for our summer holiday?

Cashmere El Palmeral:

Cashmere Playa Flamenca:

Cashmere Pumpkin:

And 3 colours of Super Merino Sock:

From left to right -  Mar Menor, Alicante and Sandstone.

yesterday I skived off work and went to visit Tina Barrett who will be familiar to readers of Let's Knit, Knitting, Knit Today and Yarn Forward. Her gorgeous red dress was on the cover of last month's Yarn Forward. She's a brilliant designer and a lovely person and only lives 10 mins drive from me. We had a great morning eating cake and talking about knitting and designing. It's great to meet up with and talk to someone who understands exactly what you're talking about. I had a browse through some of Tina's fantastic knitting books and borrowed a book by Lily Chin which is called Couture crochet workshop which is a fantastic book adn I may end up buying it. I stayed far too long at Tina's but we had such a great time. Tina also showed me the website she's doing for her husband's hand-made knitting and spinning accessories and tools. They are fantastic.

This morning I had plans to get my act together and do some pattern writing and grading then my friend, Clare, called and asked if i had time to pop over. I didn't have to be asked twice. I always enjoy seeing Clare. We could talk for hours. We spent a couple of hours catching up before I headed home for lunch and to dye some yarn. I didnm't get as much done as I'd hoped but I've dyed a few more skeins of Super Merino (my last 6 skeins in stock) and some Angora Lace. I'd planed to do some Exoctic Cobweb Lace and Cashmere Lace too. From next week I need to devote one or two sessions a week to some serious dyeing to get ready for woolfest. I also need to tidy up my workroom so I'll have room to store all my Woolfest stock. Now I need to do some work before I go to bed. Oh and I have done a little bit of knitting in between adn during all the sosialising I've done. I'm making good progress on my current secret project and this evening I treated myself to an hour of knitting on my beaded lace shawl. I will get an up to date in progress photo soon.

now go and take a look at the shop update.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Front Page

I'm so excited. Just had a text from Pixie to tell me that my next design for Yarn Forward has made the front page. Sub copies should be on their way apparently although my contributors copy hasn't arrived yet but I'm expecting one or two things that should have arrived this week and hasn't yet. You can see the preview here. This is my second front cover for Yarn Forward this year (actually it's my second front cover ever) so I'm very excited. Can't wait for the mag to arrive now.

The new copy of Let's Knit arrived this week too and featured my friend, Tina Barrett's design on the front cover.

 I had 3 designs in this issue, which surprised me. I thought it was 2. Can't keep track.
Here's design no 1 - Katya knitted in Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend.

  I love this design and I'd love to knit one in my size. I loved everythign about it. It was lovely to knit, the yarn is gorgeous, the colour is fab and if someone wants to knit me a present, this would be the one.

the next one is, Bessie knitted in Rowan Lenpur.

 This was my first design using this yarn and I really enjoyed knitting with it although it was a little bit splitty. I'd love a summer sweater knitted in this yarn and I may see if I can use it on my knitting machien as that's the only way I'll get a sweater knitted for myself soon. I love this design too and it would be perfect for teh summer. I can just picture myself in Spain wearing this. It's flatterin for all sizes including mine.

This design is worked in one piece with a circular yoke. No sewing up, jsut a few stitches to graft at the underarm. Pretty eyelets decorate the yoke and the hems.

And last, another design I love and this is one I can make use of when the sample comes back. I'd love to use this bag for my knitting this summer. I'm already planning ot take it as my hand luggage bag when we go to Spain in August (ash cloud permitting). This is Lana:

This felted bag in cheerful stripes is knitted in my favorite yarn for felting, Cascade 220. I haven't used Cascade 220 for years. I used to love knitting felted bags in this yarn and this has made me want to do more. On 7mm needles this knits up quickly in one piece. You knit the base in garter stitch, pick up stitches around the base and knit the body on a circular needle, increasing every few rows. Follow the stripe sequence or make it random. Excellent stash buster as long as all your wool is feltable, ie non-superwash. Do a swatch first if you're using different brands just to make sure they'll felt at the same level.

I've had a bit of a frustrating knitting week this week. Nothing seems to be going to plan. A new design which I need to be getting on the needles is causing me problems. The pattern repeat for the border is rather big and I'm struggling to fit it in. I need to get this sorted and on the needles asap.

I've not done any more on my lace shawl either. I've managed a few rounds on my Fantasy Cables socks. And a few rows on my wrist warmers when I've been out and about. I may finish the 2nd one tomorrow.

I have been successful learning how to use the ribber on my knitting machine though. I knitted this swatch for Simon's sweater yesterday:

I made a tiny mistake in the middle of the rib but I'm happy enough to get started on the sweater. I may get goin on it this weekend. both Simon and Vanessa are waiting for machine knitted sweaters using my Super Merino Sock. I started a tuck stitch jacket for myself last night on the machine. I'm 3/4 through the body which is worked sideways in one piece. I mayde a mistake earlier and I'm hoping I won't have to start again but I left it as I needed a break. Had hoped to go back to it but ran out of time. I may try to finish it quickly before I go to bed tonight.

Tomorrow I'm off to a new yarn shop to teach a workshop, it's the Cornwall Yarn Shop in Launceston. I'm really looking forward to seeing it and teachign in a new venue. I'll try and remember to bring my camera to take some pics of this newly opened yarn shop.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A daring rescue mission!

This particular daring rescue mission took place at 3am on Sunday morning and involved a bit of lace knitting. I've got to the centre panel on my new lace shawl and it was all going swimmingly. I didn't sleep very well on Saturday night and got up about 2am. I sat here knitting quietly and suddenly realised I wasn't happy with what I was knitting. When I'd transitioned into the centre motif, I did mirror the second motif, which I wanted. It's  not a huge differnce and most people probably wouldn't have noticed the difference but I wanted it right. I had put a lifeline in before I started the transitional charts but I didn't want to rip back as far as that. would have taken far too long to re-knit. So I decided to just rip out the actual motif.

here's the before picture: please bear in mind this is taken at 3am which is why the lighting is so bad.

Here's the unravelled bit, about 13 rows:

the first couple of rows of re-knitting were a bit dicy but from there it went very well and before long I had this:

There is a loose bit between the two centre motifs but I'm hoping that will block out.  I'm very pleased with my progress on this shawl. I've got to full width of the shalw now which means less beading and quicker knitting. I'll try to pin it out tomorrow and get a better picture.

I'm in the middle of doing yarn update now. I've got a brand new lace yarn which is utterly gorgeous. It's Angora Lace which comes in the same cute little skeins my Amazing Cashmere Lace comes in (have a few more skeins of that too). It has 400m per 50gr skein but is a little cheaper than the cashmere. It's incredibly soft, light and gorgeous. It's not as 'fuzzy' as most angora yarns either. A lot of angora yarns are a bit like mohair but this is not, it has got a bit of a halo though. I'm hoping to cast on a little lace scarf in this yarn soon.

I've only got a few colours but there will be more, hopefully on Thursday.

Angora Lace Silver:

Angora Lace Oh Baby:

Angora Lace Green Lanes:

Amazing Cashmere lace Steel:

SEe the full update here.

If you sign up for my newsletter (see the sidebar) you'll be amont the first to find out about the shop updates, you'll also get special offers occasionally. I'm workign on sending out my first newsletter tonight or tomorrow and there will be a special offer in there, so sign up now.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Lace Knitting

By the end of the weekend I was ready for some serious lace knitting. I've got one secret project that I need to finish and another one I could do with casting on but neither of them are urgent so I decided to allow myself a few days off from secret knitting and cast on something I've been itching to do for a while.

I sat down with some stitch dictionaries and my squared notebook and a pencil and started charting out some stitch patterns I've been wanting to do for a while. When I was trying to work out how best to combine them, I started charting out some different shapes and ended up wiht something completely different to what I intended to do. As you can see I ended up with a rathr large chart. I'm working on a rectangular version first but I'm thinking I may do a triangular verson or faroese style shawl too.

I cast on for version 1 in stocking stitch and got this far:
Then I had some worries. Was the tension too loose? Did I really want stocking stithc (which this swatch is knitted in) or garter stitch? Would it look better with beads around the edge too? So I ripped out this piece and started again with smaller needles, in garter stitch and with more beads.
I'm much happier. The diamond shapes look more pronounced and I htink the beads around the edging looks better. The sides should be straight but it's not easy to get straight sides when pinning out, I would need my blocking wires for that. So I'm continuing with this swatch, which isn't really a swatch but the beginning of the actual shawl. I'm planning to work it in two identical halves, grafted together in the middle. I'm enjoying this piece but I've got to follow the chart quite closely which is not good for my neck and the beading is slowing me down. Once I reach full width and move into hte main body of the shawl I'll cut down on the beading. I can't cope wiht all these beads throughout the whole shawl. I'm also worried whether or not I'll have enough beads. I bought the bead tube at a bead shop in Totnes, so I may have to make another trip to see if I an get more. We'll see how it goes. This will be long-term project although it would be nice to finish it in time for Wool Fest which is in June.

I finished my second larger Scrolls cowl too on Monday. Here's the small one blocked:
I couldn't get a decent flat picture of the large one so here the two are together:
The colours aren't quite right, they're rich and dark purple with the bottom one being black with  a purple sheen. Looks fab. I need to get proper modelled shots. I'd hoped I may be able to get the new version of the pattern sorted out by this week but that's not giong to happen. maybe next week. I've started a large versionm of the wrist warmers which is my easy knitting at the moment. I'm doing those in the Fantasy sock as I'm not sure i've got enough of the Silky Camel.

Today is election day here. I can't vote unfortunately. I'm not a British citizen and as Norway won't allow dual citizenship and i don't want to give up my Norwegian citizenship I never will be able to vote here. It bugs me quite a bit as I've lived here half my life and I've paid taxes here for most of that time, so I think I should be able to vote. I'm very interested in politics and we watch news every day and quite often watch political shows. Having said that, I'm also kind of relieved I can't vote as I would have no idea who to vote for. there are things i like and don't like about all the main political parties. if you can vote, I encourage you to. Voting is a privilege and a duty as far as I'm concerned and when you're not allowed to vote you appreciate that so much more.

I'm planning to stay up and watch the beginning of the election broadcast though. I think I may watch the comic version on channel 4. I've got some spinnign lined up. some small samples of the Falkland Merino I dyed last week:

I've not spun any of this fibre and it feels gorgeous so want to test some of it. I've only got tiny tear offs so it will only be a test yarn. I may use it to practice my 'navajo plying' which I'm useless at. I have tried before but never get it right. Anyone know of any good tutorial videos online?  I know I could search Utube and there is some good stuff on there but also a lot of rubbish.

For Sock Variety Club members, I'm going to e-mail you all right now but sock yarn still hasn't arrived. I'm hoping it may come today and as soon as it does turn up it will be dyed.

I'm finally getting around to sorting out a YarnAddict newsletter. Sign up in the sidebar of the blog today and be the first to know about shop updates, new products and other news. I won't send more than one newslette per week and it'll probably be much less than that. And you can opt out at anytime. I won't use your e-mail address for anything else or pass it on to anyone else so it's totally safe.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Easy knitting

I think I've gotten over my 'empty needles syndrome' for now. I picked up my Fantasy Cable sock on Friday and finished sock 1 yesterday, I think.

Here's a couple of close ups:

Can you see the way the cable twists down the leg? I just love this cable. I'm hoping this may be the May sock for the Sock Variety Club, which will be severely delayed as the yarn has been delayed again. I'm seriously hoping it'll be here this week and I'll dye it as soon as it turns up. I'll e-mail all the sock club members tomorrow to let them know.

I cast on for sock 2 as well but only did a few rows. My neck and back has been very bad for the last week adn sock knitting is not ideal when I'm in a lot of pain.

I decided I needed a quick and easy knit. I designed a Scrolls cowl a  couple of years ago. I used Luscious Lace which I probably won't stock again, not because I don't like it but because it's too expensive. I was never 100% happy with the original Scrolls cowl. I made it long enough to pull over the head but it had no shaping. Around Christmas time I needed a quick knit to knit up for a friend for christmas, so I decided to do the Scrolls cowl in Fantasy sock yarn. Isn't the purple colour gorgeous. Rich and saturated.

 this time I made it shorter and added shaping to the bottom so it flares out a little. This means it sits on the neck much better. I made some wrist warmers too. I was too busy at the time to write up the pattern. I still have my notes but thought I better knit it up again to make sure it's all correct. I cast on for a cowl in the smallest size last night before we went out for Simon's birthay meal (it's his birthday today!) and when we got home I knitted about half the cowl. Then after lunch today I finished it. Couldn't believe how quick it was. This is the cowl unblocked (the colour is not very good):

it's a little bit small for me, so I decided to do a larger version. I had some camel/silk (which is the same base yarn as my new Silky Camel 4ply which will be in stock soon) in a gorgeous black and purple colourway so I cast on this afternoon before we went out. This is how far I've got:

I've also wound up a skein of Silky Merino Lace in another purple colourway (any guess what my favorite colour is?):

I've not done a serious lace project for some time. I've got plans for two new designs. One I'd like to use my new Angora Lace which should hopefully be arriving this week.

The other one is a bigger rectangular shawl and I wanted to use Silky Merino Lace. I've charted out a few ideas but not pulled it all together yet or swatched. I may get some swatching done tonight.

This afternoon, Simon, Emily and I (Vanessa is at a camp at church till tomorrow) went to Mount Edgecumbe Country Park on the Rame Peninsula. Simon and Emily brought a kite. Here's Simon on the left in the pic, Emily in the blue coat and the little black dog is Sam.

This is how far up the kite went:

What did I do while they were flying the kite?
Knitting on the Silky Camel cowl ofcourse.

After a while we walked around the park. The park is just across the Tamar River from Plymouth and Devonport dock yard. There are frequently Navy ships moored in the Plymouth Sound:

Here's Drake's Island which is in the middle of Plymouth Sound:

Plymouth is not known for being an attractive city. It was heavily bombed during the 2nd world war and some of the re-building was that typical post war concrete jungle which is not attractive. the most attractive part of Plymouth is the waterfront and I think the best way to see Plymouth is from the sea.

Simon and Emily are watching Avatar now, which Simon had for his birthday. I'm not at all interested. I had planned to do some mahcine knitting but my neck is not good and machine knitting is bad for my back so I'm not sure if it's such a good idea. Perhaps i'll just do some more work on my Silky Camel cowl. I'm hoping to re-release the pattern some time this week. The new pattern will contain the new style cowl in two sizes and wrist warmers in two sizes.

Have you noticed how all the knits in this post have been purple? I'm having my purple fix. I've done mainly magazine knits for the past few months and I don't usually get to decide the colour and most of the editors don't seem to share my love of purple, so I'm indulging myself now.