Category Archives: Books

Knit Nation 2011

Back in the middle of a rather wet July I spent a very enjoyable three days up at Imperial College in London for Knit Nation. I had booked a hectic schedule of classes which were all great fun.

On Friday I had an all day class with Anne Hanson on Sweater Fitness. This included taking a full set of body measurements and then looking at how to adapt existing patterns to our measurements. All useful stuff. I have been quite successful in designing garments from scratch using my own measurements, but less successful in adapting already existing patterns, so there were a lot of useful tips to be gleaned. The penny really dropped when we were looking closely at the schematics of our chosen patterns, and I realised that a lot of my problem was not just that I usually need a different size for my chest than for my tummy / hips (this is something I have been aware of for some time and so am used to compensating for), but that my shoulder measurement matches up with a completely different size. I am shaped rather like a pyramid 🙂 So many garments hang from the shoulder line and if you don’t get that right the whole garment looks badly fitting. This was amply demonstrated by the T-shirt I was wearing to class. In order to get a size which was comfortable around my cake-storage areas the shoulders of the T-shirt extend past my own shoulders by a good couple of centimetres and droop in a not terribly flattering manner.

We covered lots of useful tips on how to transition from one size to another at strategic points in an existing pattern. I shall definitely be putting this information into action, and taking a very hard look at the schematics of the future patterns I knit. She also had some very interesting things to say about different ways to reduce the stitches from the bust line to the shoulders, whether you opt to decrease in the armhole area or do darts which go up to the centre of each shoulder. I look forward to doing some experimenting with this to see which works well for my shape.

On Saturday morning I went to a class on Vintage Fit and Finishing with Susan Crawford. It was very interesting to learn how fashions in ease and fit have changed over time. Very valuable information when knitting a vintage pattern. I am not sure I will ever go for the full vintage re-creation garments which seem to be popular, but I can certainly see me using some aspects of vintage patterns as inspiration.

On Saturday afternoon it was The Many Faces of Cashmere with Clara Parkes. Fantastic stuff! She manages to be hilarious and extremely informative and interesting all at the same time, and three hours of cashmere can never be a bad thing 🙂 We had lots of little samples of fibre and yarn to feel and knit with. It is constantly amazing how many different yarns you can make from the same fibre.

Here are all my little samples before washing (click to make huge):

Top row L to R:

  • Schulana Cashmere Moda, 100% cashmere, caged construction (so fibre is blown through a type of thin Icord-type tube), 4mm needles.
  • Knitwitches Seriously Gorgeous Swiss Mountain cashmere / silk lace, 65% cashmere, 35% silk, 3.25mm needles.
  • Habu Cashmere Lace, 100% cashmere, 3.25mm needles.
  • Colourmart 100% cashmere, Cable (or crepe) construction, 6mm needles.

Middle row L to R:

  • Classic Elite Posh, 30% cashmere, 70% silk, S on S cable construction, 5mm needles
  • Laines Du Nord Royal Cashmere, 100% cashmere, knitted tube construction, 4mm needles.
  • The bottom of the sample is Filatura Di Crosa Superior, 65% cashmere, 35% silk, brushed, and I used 3.25mm needles. For the top of the sample I used the same needles and as well as the Superior I added Filatura Di Crosa Nirvana, 100% merino, so the two yarns were knitted together.
  • KFI Textured Cashmere, 100% cashmere, 4mm needles.

Bottom Row L to R:

  • Hemp for Knitting Cashmere Canapa, 10% hemp, 60% cotton, 30% cashmere, 3.75mm needles.
  • Carded cashmere fibre.
  • Combed Mongolian cashmere fibre.
  • Falkland wool fibre.
  • The yellow slightly above is silk fibre.
  • The white below is fake cashmere fibre, I think this is nylon.

Here are the knitted samples after having a wash:

All of the samples fluffed up a bit on washing. Cashmere is often oiled to stop it hairing up the machines when it is processed so you don’t get the full effect until you have given your knitting a wash.

I loved the opportunity to sample all the different blends of cashmere, and different ways of spinning. There are some very inventive manufacturers out there. I am still a bit afraid of spinning cashmere because of the short staple, which is better suited to long draw, which I am not very good at. I am hoping to do some practising soon though so I can overcome that.

After Saturday’s classes I went to see the film about Bohus knitting, not a subject I knew much about before, although I love their patterns and have the kit for the Wild Apple around here somewhere.

Sunday morning was Photographing Your Fibre with Franklin Habit. Again lots of interesting and useful information. Some of it about how to set up your scene for your photography, and some on how to actuallly use the camera. I shall be spending some time with my camera manual soon! I only have a little point and shoot, but even that I don’t really use to its full potential.

As is often the way with these events there was a very tempting market place. I came home with two books:

Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague, and Going Straight by Woolly Wormhead. I am looking forward to finding some time over Christmas to read both of these properly.

I also found a fabulous skein of yarn:

This is merino  / nylon / stellina, 100g,  400m, 4ply weight in colour Mermaid from Krafty Koala. It was green and purple and sparkly, so I could hardly be expected to resist.

I had a great time and it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up with lots of fun knitting people. I was a bit tired by the end and managed to get completely drenched on the way home – you could literally wring the water out of my trousers from the knee down where my umbrella didn’t cover them.

I think there isn’t going to be a Knit Nation next summer because of the Olympics, I am looking forward to one in 2013!


Tiger blanket

For my niece Jenny’s Christmas present I knitted her a blanket. I cut it a bit fine, and actually finished after tea on Christmas Eve, luckily Jenny is still young enough that she didn’t notice I was knitting her present in her presence. The colours were chosen by my sister, Jenny’s mum to coordinate with her pram.

The pattern is by Steve Plummer and Pat Ashforth, and it is done in shadow knitting, a cunning combination of knits and purls which means when you look at the knitting straight on it just looks like stripes, and you only see the pattern when you view it from an oblique angle. It is a bit of a devil to photograph, as you can see I haven’t done terribly well. It is supposed to be a tiger’s head, but you might have to use your imagination.

To get the illusion to show you need to create a fairly firm fabric. So I used 3.5mm needles and DK weight yarn. The yarn is Knit Picks Swish DK, a superwash merino wool yarn, the orange colour is called Persimmon Heather, and the grey is called Marble Heather.

It wasn’t the easiest pattern in the world to knit because it is pictorial so there is no rhythmn to get into and you have to refer to the chart on every row. The pattern is well written and clear though which definitely helps.

Jenny is doing pretty well in the blanket stakes, she also has this lovely one with farmyard animals Swiss-embroidered onto it, made by my mum, Jenny’s grandmother.

Christmas also brought some wonderful new books for me. These are from Anna, a school friend, it was lovely to be able to catch up with her while we were both staying with our parents:

And these from Paul’s parents:

Lots of great inspiration!

Ally Pally

Mummy and I spent two days at the Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally this year. We went on Thursday and Friday, giving us plenty of time to look at everything at our leisure (although we still didn’t have time for a proper look at the exhibitions!) and enough time to be able to chat to everyone without feeling we had to dash on to the next stand.

There seemed to be a lot of knitting stands again this year which is good from my point of view, and all the stand owners we talked to were having a good show, which always bodes well. There were a slightly different collection of stands from last year, I don’t think there were as many indie dyers as there had been last year. I wonder whether they were trying the show out last year, but decided not to come back. I gather that stands for this show are very expensive, and so depending on what you sell, and your target market, some of the dedicated knitting shows like Woolfest, Wonderwool Wales, and Fibrefest might be a better investment of time and money. Get Knitted were another notable absence, but luckily Bev of Knitting 4 Fun had brought a good range of the Knit Pro knitting needles, and were doing a roaring trade.

The Ash knitting group organised a coach up on Thursday although we went independently since the coach pick up points were both a 3/4 hour drive in the wrong direction. It was lovely to see so many people I know as we went round, and to compare notes on good stands to visit, and interesting things to see.

I did find a few nice goodies to come home with me as well. As part of my plan to expand my spinning experience I bought some carded fleece from Jamiesons.


Two lovely shades of green. All the fibre I have tried spinning so far has been combed so I am interested to see how the carded fleece will be different. I have 150g, about half each of each colour. I think I am probably going to make some kind of hat (said she vaguely).

I also bought three shawl patterns from them, two Jamieson’s own patterns, and the Princess Shawl from Sharon Miller.


I have been eyeing the Princess for ages, and thought now would be a good time to buy it. I am saving it up for when I am feeling suitably confident, or barmy, or probably both.

Continuing on the fibre theme, I bought some lovely 70& alpaca, 30% BFL fibre from UK Alpaca.


Two bags of 200g each. Gorgeously soft. I love the colours in this, and am really looking forward to seeing how it will look once it is spun up. It is something I am trying to get the hang of, imagining how a multicoloured fibre will look when it is spun.

And I also got a shade card for their yarns.


Next up a sample pack of 5 colours of shetland combed top from Jamieson and Smith.


I think their sample packs are such a good idea. You can see what the colours are really like and have a play with the fibre before buying huge quantities 🙂

I also bought an up to date version of their shade card, since the one I had was ancient.


I do love shade cards. So much possibility. So many happy hours spent looking at colours and textures.

I found some lovely yarn too. These are all from Art Yarn.

The first is a ball of Admiral Ombré by Schoppel Wolle, colour 1564, 100g, 4ply weight, 75% wool, 25% nylon.


I discovered when I was entering this on Ravelry, that I have obviously had the same idea before that this was a good colour. I thought it looked a bit familiar. Oh well, I shall enjoy it anyway, it is still a nice colour 🙂 I must remember to check my stash before I go on outings so I don’t do this so often.

I have been having the urge recently to knit some textured socks in solid coloured yarns, so I indulged in some Lang Jawoll 4ply weight sock yarn. Each ball is 50g, 75% wool, 18% nylon, 7% acrylic.

A lovely gingery brown, colour 83.0268.


A purple, colour 83.0280.


Bright green, colour 83.0216.


And a dark red, colour 83.0061.


This lot will keep me busy for a while!

One of the things I love about these shows is the variety of things to look at. We had a nice look at all the bead stands and a lot of the other bits and pieces too, and bought some lovely beads from Ilona Biggins.


They are both reformed amber. I love the way the light glints off them. The darker strand on the right is for me, and the paler one is part of Mummy’s Christmas present. Which I have just discovered I have not wrapped and handed over, and I thought I was doing so well. We had our present exchange earlier in the week, and I’m not going to see them again before actual Christmas. I will wrap it up and send it with my sister who is going to see them between Christmas and New Year. I have to hand over some presents to her anyway since a couple of things for her husband are still in the post.

Twisted-Stitch Knitting

I have just finished reading through Twisted-Stitch Knitting by Maria Erlbacher. This is printed by Schoolhouse Press, and was originally published in the 1980s as three booklets in German. The Schoolhouse Press version is in English.

It is a fantastic collection of Austrian twisted stitch patterns, all very delicate and intricate. The first half of the book is a stitch dictionary containing 174 twisted stitch patterns, lots of interesting patterns I haven’t seen anywhere else. The charts require a bit of getting used to since they use different symbols to any chart I have used, but there is definitely a sensible logic to them, and they are easy to work with once you get the hang of it. There are nice clear photos of all the stitch patterns too (all in black and white) so you can check that your knitting is coming out as expected.

The second half of the book is patterns for garments, these do require a bit of initiative as they are guidelines only and usually only in one size, but then the idea of this book is to use the stitch dictionary part to create your own garments, so the garments given are really just ideas of combinations you could use. There are some fabulous knee-high socks with calf shaping all covered in twisted stitches. I haven’t worn knee socks since I was 11 but these look quite tempting! The last section is of cardigans, jumpers, jackets and waistcoats. Some great ideas here, and I am looking forward to having a go.

Sock Innovation

A couple of weeks ago I bought Sock Innovation: Knitting Techniques and Patterns for One-of-a Kind Socks by Cookie A and have just finished reading it.

The book is split into two parts, the first containing information on different cuff, toe and heel options, how to convert stitch patterns from stitch dictionaries so that they can be worked in the round, and how to adapt and place them to make successful socks. The second contains a selection of sock patterns.

I really like the way Cookie’s brain works. I find her explanations sensible and logical and I like her approach to design: a combination of form and function. I have already ear-marked a few of the sock patterns for knitting soon, and will definitely be using the first part of the book even more.