Category Archives: Techniques

Knitsonik Quotidien Colourwork Workshop

Back in February I went to a very fun workshop with Felix held at Purlescence in Wantage. The theme was using our favourite everyday objects or views as inspiration for stranded colourwork knitting.

I took along a Williamson tea caddy that was a present from my mum. I love the shape, the colours and the patterns on it, and I love a good cup of tea. I was keen to see how to go about using it for knitting inspiration.

We were each given a book of squared paper for our experiments and a very helpful handout, and then let loose on an enormous selection of different colours of Jamieson and Smith Shetland 2ply Jumper Weight. Felix gave us very good advice on tweaking our colour choices and pattern designs so that they would work well in stranded knitting. She was also incredibly helpful in getting me to actually see the many many colours that were in my tin, and to encourage me to play with colours I don’t usually go for.

Here is the tin and what I knitted on the day.

P1000160Β It was very liberating just playing with colour and pattern, and with no constraints that it had to actually be suitable for a garment or be anything I would actually wear.

It was very addictive stuff and after a week or playing I ran out of yarn and so decided to declare my swatch finished πŸ™‚

P1000184As you can see I have gone with the more is more school of colour selection πŸ™‚

I really enjoyed playing around with colours and different patterns. I’m not sure yet that this swatch is going to lead into anything directly, but it was good fun and I may well come back to it at some point.

It was also really interesting to see the variety of different inspiration sources the other participants had brought, and the lovely colourwork that they created. Lots of great ideas.

Stranded Knitting

Today has been a whole day of knitting in the workshop. We have been doing stranded knitting with a yarn in each hand, and steeking, and some people have been continuing with their lace from yesterday.

These are two variations of the coffee pot cover Fiona has designed. It is the same pattern but one uses the multicolour yarn for the background and the other for the foreground.



For those who preferred to start on something a little smaller, Fiona also designed some mug hugs for people to try.



And a beret pattern, for those who wanted to make something with shaping in, but without the steeks. These three berets are from the same pattern, but with different yarns. The first two have been blocked over plates, but the third left to dry to its unstretched shape, for if you prefer a more casual look.




Sandra as completed our first finished project of the week with her mug hug!


Swiftly followed by Elisabeth with hers.


I am making progress with my rather fluorescent coffee pot cover:


And I have done a bit more of my lace.


Everybody has been doing really well, and learning lots.

Lace and Cognac

Today we got down to some serious knitting! This morning was lace.

Here is my whole goody bag for the week, the bright multicolour is 4ply weight, and we are using this to make a lace shawl. You can make a reasonable sized shawl from only one ball.


This is Fiona’s sample showing the finished shawl:


And another of her samples showing a variation using slightly different lace patterns and also adding beads:


This is my progress so far!


Everyone is progressing really well, especially considering that for some this is their first experience of lace or charts.

In the afternoon we gave our brains a little rest and went for a trip to Cognac, and had a really interesting tour of the Baron Otard distillery. They are in a building in which Francis I was born, and which has connections to Richard the Lionheart.


And also happened to have some fantastic doorways.


It was probably best that the Cognac testing came after the lace knitting!

Escadaria socks

The Great Sort Out is still coming along. I am definitely making inroads, but there is a long way to go still. I am looking forward to getting to the City and Guilds work currently buried on the dining table and making another good stab at that, it has been on pause for too long.

In amongst the sorting I have managed a little bit of slow knitting, a couple of rows here and there. It is surprising what can be accomplished with a few sessions of waiting for appointments, the odd 20 bars rest at band, and a bit of skyping to my sister in New York – ah the delights of hands-free phoning – and with the web-cam I can bore her rigid with my knitting too πŸ™‚ Their weather sounds even more horrid than ours, the hats I knitted for my niece and nephew for Christmas are getting a good work-out πŸ™‚

Anyway, I have actually finished some socks (shock horror!). I am finding socks to be a conveniently achievable size of project at the moment, and have the added bonus of being very portable, hence I do actually work on them.


The pattern is called Escadaria (I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce it), and came from Sockupied, Spring 2011, one of the eMags from Interweave. I made the middle size (9in circumference), used 2.25mm needles and the yarn is some 75% superwash merino, 25% seacell fibre dyed by Fluff n Stuff and spun into a 3ply by me. Conveniently I used almost exactly the whole skein – only a couple of metres were left at the end.


The pale flashes are bits of the seacell which I didn’t manage to distribute evenly when I was spinning.

The yarn has come out rather hard and somewhat inelastic, although it is mostly wool it feels and looks like a mercerized cotton. This is something I am keen to work on with my spinning in the coming months. I would like to be able to spin a more elastic, squashier yarn. I am looking forward to some practising!

Hopefully in this case the fact that the yarn is quite strong should be a help rather than a hinderance, and will hopefully make the socks wear better. Also the very smooth solid nature of the yarn shows up the lace pattern well. I enjoyed knitting these, although I wasn’t that keen on the little pretend-cable pattern on the leg, and I didn’t really like the way the heel was done – the joins seemed a bit messy. It is fun trying out some different patterns, and different ways of working heels and toes. I am getting a feel for which I like to work, and how well different shapes fit my feet.

Back to the sorting I think. This week hopefully should see me finish cataloguing the rest of my knitting books.

Christmas knitting

In a moment of over-optimism at the end of November about the speed of my knitting I decided that I would knit a little something for both my parents for their Christmas presents. I had had the yarn for both for absolutely ages, and had been meaning to knit them for a while so this seemed the ideal moment!

For Mummy I made the Eleanor cowl from Knitty, in Posh Yarn Marguerite, which is a 4ply weight, 50% cashmere, 50% silk. The colour is called celery.


I orginally bought the yarn thinking I would make socks, but the mixture of cashmere and silk is completely inelastic and would have made not terribly good socks. However I think it does make lovely lace.

For Daddy I made Ann’s Go-To Socks from the Simply Socks eMag from Interweave Press. They are a fairly standard sock pattern. I had to create an extra size two sizes larger than the largest one written because Daddy (like me) has rather wide feet. I used some Schoppel-wolle sock yarn for these.


The picture was a rather rushed affair because I finished knitting these on the day before they left after their pre-Christmas visit, while they were out visiting my Nanny. The picture was taken in the 5 minutes between casting off and wrapping them up πŸ™‚

Luckily both presents fit (whew!).

A Christmas stocking for my nephew Aaron

This year will be my nephew Aaron’s first Christmas, so I thought I had better make him a Christmas stocking, similar to the one I made for his big sister Jenny a couple of years ago:

and the other side:

I used Cascade 220, and 3mm needles so it makes a very firm fabric.

I also wove in the un-used colour every other stitch so that little fingers and little presents wouldn’t get caught up in the floats on the inside.


A quartet of hats

After our trip to the Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitching show in October I came down with a monster three-week cold, and spent some time drifting round the house sniffing, coughing, and feeling sorry for myself. The one good productive side of this is that I knitted up 4 hats, which have now had a good wash to remove any lingering germs πŸ™‚

First was an Icelandic inspired hat, I started knitting this at a workshop with an Icelandic knitter organised by Janine at Ash:

The yarn is Istex Lett-Lopi, and I used 5mm needles.

The snowflake pattern is based on one from one of the Lopi books though I fiddled around with it a little, Sue suggested the Vikkel braid, and I made the rest up. The yarn is rather hairy and I was a bit worried that I would find it scratchy, but I think it is going to be ok. Even though this is the thinner of the Lopi yarns it still makes quite a nice warm hat, and I predict it will see lots of use in the coming months.

The second hat is a bit cheaty because it is only baby size, but it is very cute. This is for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s first baby (a girl) who is due to be born around Christmas.

The pattern is Beamish by Woolly Wormhead, the yarn is KnitPicks Swish DK (100% superwash merino) in Hollyberry, I used 3.75mm needles, and made the 16in size. This was a quick and fun knit, and I enjoyed the squiggles on the top.

My third hat was also a kiddie pattern by Woolly Wormhead, this time Queenie, but I sized it up to fit me.

I used Artesano Superwash Merino, and 3.75mm and 4mm needles.

The yarn was lovely to knit with, but is quite drapey. I think a slighly more substantial yarn might have been better for this style.

Towards the end of our photoshoot of this one, my Director of Photography said “try not to smile quite so widely”:

I think my modelling career may be on hold. This does rather remind me of the old maltesers advert with the crocodile and the wide-mouthed frog.

The last hat is yet another Woolly Wormhead one, though this time one designed for adults. This is Meret:

I used Cascade 220 which I bought at Ally Pally, 4.5mm needles, and knitted the 22in size.

Another fun knit. It has been rather gratifying to knit some smaller projects where you can actually see your progress and have a finished item in a reasonable time. I shall be all kitted out for the winter too now πŸ™‚

Sleeves in my Pi

Another finished project! I know it is really quite shocking. Don’t expect too many more of them before Christmas!

We had a little photoshoot yesterday at my in-laws, and I proved once again that I am the least photogenic person on the planet.

I seem to be pulling a strange face and / or doing something a little odd with my arms in almost all the pictures (and we took several! ) My photographer / stylist did what he could with a difficult model, but the cardigan is lovely at least πŸ™‚

The pattern is Sleeves in your Pi by Gayle Roehm, and was originally published in Issue 61 of Knitter’s magazine, then was also included in their collection book called Ponchos and Wraps, a Knitter’s Dozen. It is basically a big circular shawl with sleeves in.

I used 6mm needles and the yarn is my handspun, 70% alpaca, 30% merino in Cappuccino from John Arbon. After all the stressing about whether I would have enough yarn I actually used way less than the pattern called for. In the end I used about 480g which was about 915m (it is about a DK weight), even though I added an extra eight rounds to the main circle before the edging to make it a bit wider.

The cardigan is lovely and cosy without being too warm, and I am looking forward to getting a lot of wear out of it. The yarn is shedding a bit which I am a little worried about. I think I shall take it along to the next Show and Tell session at spinning group and see if anyone has any tips for how I could have spun it differently. Hopefully the shedding might stop after the first couple of times I wash it.

A nephew, a workshop, a conference, and some mittens

I do still exist! As you have probably already guessed August and September have been rather busy, so time for a bit of a catch up with what has been happening.

First and most excitingly, we have a new nephew! Aaron is now 6 weeks old and we have waved to him on the skype several times, and he has made the grumpy face back at us. I had better get a move on with designing his Christmas stocking, especially given the speed of my knitting.

At the beginning of August I helped Jill Brownjohn to run another Patchwork knitting get together. Here we all are getting a bit of direction from Jill:

This year we went for a more relaxed get-together rather than a formal workshop. We had a discussion about joining techniques for pre-knitted shapes, and those who wanted to had a go at the methods that interested them most. It was lovely to catch up with everyone and see what they had been making over the last year, and I think the format seemed to go down well. We are not sure what will happen in 2013 since the hall we have been using for the last several years in Marlow Bottom may be closed for renovation.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the In The Loop 3 conference at Winchester. A wonderful three days, full of interesting and varied speakers and a lot of cake πŸ™‚ I completely failed to take any photos at all πŸ™ I am looking forward to having some time soon to see if I can decipher any of the notes I made. Over-excitement and terrible handwriting are not a good combination. It is a good job there is the conference programme to at least tell me who was speaking so I can always google them when my writing of their websites is incomprehensible. I really hope they will run another conference in a couple of years. I thought the programme was very well thought-out and included a lot of different angles on knitting. Lots of food for thought.

And finally I have finished some fingerless mittens:

The pattern is Wrought Mitts, and I used 2.25mm needles and some orange merino/silk handspun that I had left over from making a couple of pairs of socks. In the end I used about 37g which is about 142m. I still have a tiny amount of the yarn left over which I think will be going in the bag for making City and Guilds samples.

My hands are right at the top of the size range of what the mittens would fit. They are ok, but I think if there had been a larger size I would have knitted that. Over all I am very pleased with them, and think they will come in handy now that the weather has turned a bit cooler.

As well as everything else we have been having a bit of a go at tidying up the garden. It has been biting back, in some cases literally, but luckily the latest batch of nasty insect bites are getting much better. I think I need to find a way to make me taste less nice, I manage to get bitten even when I am covered in insect repellant! Today I had a bit of a go at the pond, clearing out some of the mass of weeds. I managed not to fall in but did get covered in smelly black mud. The poor washing machine will be on overdrive tomorrow.

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 πŸ™‚

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.