Category Archives: City and Guilds

Swirling Petals Shawl

I realised that I hadn’t actually blogged about my final project for the City and Guilds Certificate, so time to rectify that!

I actually finished this back in October!

In the end for the real thing I used 3mm needles and 75% merino, 25% angora lace weight yarn from Uppingham Yarns.

I am very pleased with the way it has come out 🙂

As with all of my City and Guilds projects this one also did not escape the epic sampling. As you can probably tell from the picture with me in it above, the finished shawl has a diameter of about 1.5m. My first sample where I was trying out different ways of making the segments, and trying out different edgings, was nearly as big (though it did use thicker yarn):

The second and third samples were only a metre across each, so clearly I am becoming more reasonable in my old age (!?)

The second sample explored ways of doing the increases to create the petals, and also possible patterns for inside the petals. And also shows my chosen edging (a combination of two of the edgings I tried on sample one):

By the third sample I had cracked the edging, so this one doesn’t include a lace edging, but was testing out possible patterns for inside the petals, and for the segments between the petals before the edging.

At first I thought I was going to make the real thing out of a lovely 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk lace weight yarn that I had bought from KnitPicks, in colour spice. At first it seemed to be going ok, but as I got onto the larger petals containing the field of flowers pattern, the multicoloured yarn totally obscured the lace pattern:

So I went back to the drawing board and chose a completely solid coloured yarn. Multi-coloured yarn and lace can be a tricky combination. I think it works with a yarn which is not too jazzy, and with a lace pattern which is very simple, but when one or the other get more complicated you tend to lose the pattern completely.

Luckily after all that, the project passed, and I have passed the whole course! I haven’t got my actual certificate yet, but hopefully I shall do at the next class.

Burnt Bark Cushion

Another bit of catching up. This was my third project (out of four) for the City and Guilds Certificate.

This is the front:

And this the back:

My original inspiration were some photographs of burnt tree bark I took down at the Eden Project a couple of years ago.

For the back of the cushion I came up with a pattern inspired by the geometrical fracturing of the bark when it burnt. Here is my test sample, done in different yarn to the stuff I finally used, and with a different number of stitches and rows in each section, but I did end up using the same basic idea.

For the front I started by sketching one of the knots on the bark, and then manipulated this until I got a kind of flower shape. I knew that I wanted the flower shape to be worked in a textured stitch against a stocking stitch background, so I swatched several different textured stitches, and different yarns until I settled on k1,p1 moss stitch as the most effective.

Out of all the yarns I tried I decided I liked cotton best, but a soft cotton, not mercerised. I experimented with holding several strands of 2ply machine knitting cotton from Uppingham Yarns together, and knitting with 8 of them at the same time on 5mm needles. I tried one sample with all strands the same colour (brown):

one with 6 strands of blue and 2 of purple:

and one with 4 strands each of brown and red, which was the one I finally decided on:

For one project out of the four we also have to produce a mood board / display board, so I thought that this project would lend itself well to that.

Fiona has marked it and it is all OK (whew!). I had better get a move on with the last project!


Things have been a bit quiet on the blog because I have been knitting like a maniac to get my Autumn in Anatolia jumper finished. I made it! and handed it in to Fiona to mark on Sunday. I shall now be catching up on everything I haven’t done over the last week or so, when it has been definitely knitting every minute that I could find to finish on time. I managed a row in the hairdresser, and a row at my Uncle and Auntie’s house when we went to see them last week. I am definitely getting better at time management though, because this time I had packed my bag and finished everything at 8pm the night before, rather than still printing charts at 5am like I was with my Keble Cardigan.

Anyway, back to the important stuff: here is the jumper:

And the back:

And another one of the front:

And lying flat:

As you can see the sleeves are looking a bit long because I had a moment of stupidity with the blocking. I laid it out on a towel and kept adjusting the shoulders to make sure they were even, not realising that I was stretching everything vertically. By the time I realised what I had done it had dried and there wasn’t enough time to wet and reblock. I will be doing that when it is back from marking.

Apart from that little hiccup I am very pleased and proud of it. I love the way the colours and patterns have come out and I think it is going to be very wearable. Although in typical fashion we are now having a week of warmish weather 🙂

Joining in the sleeves

The day before I headed off for Skip North I finally got to the point where I joined in the sleeves for Autumn in Anatolia. (feel free to imagine the dance of great achievement I am now doing)

I also ended up having a bit of a late night despite the next day’s early start because I wanted to knit at least 4 rows and make sure I hadn’t accidentally twisted one of the sleeves or anything similarly awful.

The sleeves are set-in style but I am knitting them in the round in one piece with the body (there was much calculating that went into that one!). After a week and a half of manic knitting I have now finished the decreases on the body for the bottom of the armhole, and am now back to only two pages of charts rather than the previous three, which was rather unwiedly. Although it does mean that I am now doing four decreases per round rather than the previous eight, so progress is slowing up a bit.

I put the underarm stitches for both the body and the sleeves onto holders initially, but was getting a bit worried that with all the taking it in and out of my knitting bag that the stitches were getting stretched. So on Sunday I had a big session and sewed in a lot of the loose ends from when I had changed colour, and also grafted the underarms. IN FAIRISLE! I can’t sufficiently convey how pleased I am that this has come out well. I am very proud. There was much jumping round the living room with glee.

I even showed it to Mummy on skype, but I think it is hard to appreciate the marvelousness with only a grainy webcam picture.

The graft is the final row of the stripes. I am hoping it will look a bit more even after I have blocked the whole jumper.

Second sleeve

The second sleeve is now finished to the armhole.

Here is the view along the top of the sleeve.

And the underneath.

Back to the body now. There are only about 30 rows to go before I join the sleeves into the body and start working on the yoke!

I have a stinking cold today so am hoping that nice bright knitting will be a good antidote.

First sleeve

I have been knitting like a maniac for the last week, and have now finished the first sleeve to the underarm!

Here is the top of the sleeve.

And here is the underneath, where you can see the shaping.

I am really pleased with how it is coming along. The sleeve has been gratifyingly speedy in comparison to the body too 🙂

I have cast on for the second sleeve, but this week is a bit more busy so my progress will be a little slower.

Nearly at the armholes

We have had a quiet weekend here after the excitement of last week. My sister, Annie, and her husband, Andy, came to stay with us from Wednesday til Friday which was lovely. They have lived up the road from us for about 8 years, but moved to New York on Friday for 2 years with Andy’s job. The packers came and took all their stuff (including anything to sit on or sleep in) on Wednesday so it made sense for them to come and stay in our spare room while they sorted out the last of the cleaning and tidying up before their new tenants arrived. It was a lovely opportunity to see a bit more of them too without them having to take out too much time from their hectic list of things which needed to be done. I have had a check round and don’t think they have left anything behind, except for one blank CD, and I think they can probably live without that 🙂

It has made a rather symmetrical bookend to their time in Surrey. When they first moved down here, about a year after we moved in, they came and lived with us for several months while they settled into their new jobs and worked out where they wanted to live.

Over the quiet weekend (why is it the house always seems quieter just after visitors have left, even though it is exactly the same as it was before they arrived?), I have been jogging along with my jumper. It is very addictive, just one more round to see how the colours will look, just another couple of rounds to the next decrease.

I am very pleased with the results so far. Apologies for the not particularly good photo, you can click to enlarge it which makes it a bit better. It is rather grey and gloomy again here, though definitely warmer and drier than last week. A nice brightly coloured bit of knitting is definitely a good antidote to the weather 🙂

I am now about 30 rounds from the underarm, but am going to put the body on hold for a bit while I knit the sleeves. Then come back and finish up the body and then attach the sleeves. This seems to make sense, at least in my head. It seems a good moment to have a pause from the body as I have just finished my first ball of dark green yarn. I am pretty impressed at how much I have managed to knit with only 100g! I think that is about 105 rounds. I dyed 500g of the dark green just to be on the safe side, but I think at this rate I will probably end up using somewhere between 300g and 400g. Better to have too much than not enough, I am glad I have some extra to play with.


I finally finished fiddling around with swatches, and cast on for the real thing for my Autumn in Anatolia jumper in October. Then in November I undid it and cast on again, after discovering I had made a miscalculation and cast on too many stitches the first time (that will teach me not to knit the border before I have finished the charts for the main jumper). Here is the progress so far:

I timed myself and it takes me about an hour a row at the moment. I have set myself a target of two rows a day and am managing to keep it up at the moment. I love how the pattern is coming out, and the colours are looking good so far.

Yet another shade of orange (and another green)

I have been playing with the dyes again for my stranded knitting project. One more orange and one more green.


This is the new orange between its two immediate neighbours.


The Kemtex Acid Dye in Yellow is definitely not as bright as the Jacquard Bright Yellow. They do have another range called Kenanthrol acid dyes, which have a variety of shades of yellow. I’m not sure what is the difference between them and the Kemtex acid dyes, but they might be worth investigating in future.

I think I have got the 12 colours for the background sorted now.


The new green was another experiment for a foreground colour. I think this one is very pretty but is too yellow for this project.

Here is the new green in the middle, with last experimental green on the left, and the original green I used for the knitted sample on the right.


I think I am going to have another attempt at dyeing a green which is more similar in colour to the one on the right, but more solid than I have so far managed with the Jacquard acid dyes. I do rather like the bluer one on the left though, it makes a good contrast with all the oranges and I think it is a definite contender.

I have now measured my tension from my sample, and started working out the charts – I think this will be quite a long process! I have a rough idea of how the patterns should fit in, and have worked out most of the logistics on my rough sketch. The charts themselves will take a while though, I am using excel and am not particularly fast. Have any of you used any of the knitting charting programs out there? If so what do you think of them? I have been looking at Knit Visualizer and have just downloaded the demo to have a play with. The details of how I am going to do the shaping will take some working out too! Hopefully I will actually be able to cast on for the real thing fairly soon.

More shades of orange

On Monday last week I had another play with the dyes to see if I could make another pale orange and another mid orange for my Autumn in Anatolia jumper. While I was at it I also had another go at a green for the foreground.

These were the three colours I dyed. I am having a lot of trouble photographing them accurately, but this is fairly close.


The mid orange is good I think. I am a little concerned that the palest orange is actually nigh-on indistinguishable from yellow. The green is a beautiful colour, but I think still too blue.

Here is the new pale orange with the other colours it will be with in the sequence (the new colour is in the middle).


And here are the mid oranges. Again the new colour is in the middle.


Here is the new green on the right along with the last green I attempted on the left, which is 400ml of 1% stock solution of Kemtex acid dye in green, and which as you can see is a very bluey green. Then at the bottom is Jacquard Emerald Green, which is a lovely colour, but I had trouble with it being a bit blotchy. The Kemtex does dye very evenly and exhausts very well (which is very satisfying 🙂 ). The new green is 300ml of green and 100ml of yellow. For my next trick I think I shall try 200ml of green and 200ml of yellow.


Just for fun, here is the sequence of colours laid out on our dining table. As you can tell we don’t eat on the table often 🙂


I think I shall have another go at dyeing a pale orange since I think that step is still a bit big. I think the mid orange is ok, and I shall try to get a slightly yellower green.

While I had the dyes out I had a go at semi-solid dyeing my Dorset/BFL sock yarn I spun during the Tour de Fleece. I did this using a variation on the dyeing in a bag method Fiona showed us at her workshop. Her method was a cold dyeing method, but it adapted easily enough for hot dyeing. Boil in the bag yarn! I put the dye and the yarn in the bag and squished around, then left for about an hour and then steamed it as usual.

There was 250g altogether of yarn which I think was a bit much for my bag. I couldn’t mash the yarn round as much as I would like, so some of the skeins are more evenly dyed than others. The two smaller skeins dyed much more evenly, with the biggest skein being the most mottled. I like the effect though.


It was also interesting to see how the Dorset took the dye in comparison to the BFL. As you can see from this picture, the Dorset has taken the dye a bit (both the grey and the white) but not nearly as strongly as the BFL.


I am looking forward to knitting this up and seeing how it comes out.