Sunday, 28 December 2014


November 2014

The yarn I used for this project first made it into my stash five years ago, and since then I’ve planned about five different projects for it. Some of my favourite hand knitted sweaters are in kidsilk haze (particularly Shirley and Lucetta) and I have a copy of Rowan Studio 12 in my library, which has some lovely kidsilk haze patterns in it. Then I stumbled upon Parisian Nights, dithered between this and Sauvingnon for a while, but then finally cast on Chablis about a year ago.

I chose the second size up - which gives me a little bit less positive ease than the design perhaps intended - because I’ve noticed a tendency among my mohair hand knits to hang a little loose after a couple of wears, and they seem to resist blocking back into shape. I’m pretty happy with the way this fits, though. I think any baggier would be less flattering.

I made this in one piece to the armholes and knitted the sleeves in the round on a small circular. It was lucky that they were wide enough to allow this, because sewing up with mohair isn’t much fun. For the little bit of seaming I did do, I found a bit of cotton in a similar colour to the mohair and used that instead.

This was my first attempt at beading, and I was dreading the stringing the beads onto the yarn part. Turns out that it doesn’t take all that long after all, and knitting them into the lace panels was really good fun. I’m definitely planning on knitting more beaded stuff soon.

There was something of a delay to this project, because my first attempt came out a little too short in the body. In the end I just cut into it (just above the moss stitch band which trims the bottom hem) and unravelled a bit to get live stitches back onto the needle. It was an enormous faff, because the mohair is so very keen on gripping to itself, but it did mean that I could just knit downwards until I had the length I wanted. Next time I make something bottom-up I’m going to use a provisional cast on and save myself the bother. If I remember.

Pattern: Chablis by Marie Wallin from Rowan Parisian Nights
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in 582 Trance and Rowan Fine Lace in Cream
Amount: 6 Skeins of main colour, about 0.25 skeins of contrast colour
Needles: 2.25mm
Size: Small
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 21 December 2014


October 2014

My little boy loves tractors. He's not the first, and he won't be the last. But as I prefer to make my knitwear as appealing to him as possible so that we don't fall out, I've been scouring ravelry for this sort of thing for quite some time. If he's still into that sort of thing next year, then I might have a go at this one. I'm sort of hoping he will have moved on to dinosaurs, though. Or pirates. Or space.

The tractor chart used in this jumper is from this Finnish website, but I preferred the way it had been deployed in nupsi’s version, and so I copied that. This project was improvised, save for her notes and the chart from Novita.

This is a 4-ply jumper knitted on 2.75mm needles (and 2.25mm for the ribbing) so my gauge was probably roughly about where it should be.

George is nearly 3 in this picture, and this will fit him until he is nearly 4, I think. Based on a nicely fitting jumper of his, I was aiming for something measuring roughly: chest 27”, length 16”, sleeve seam 10”.

In my gauge, that was 104 stitches. I worked 2x2 rib for 6 grey rows, 2 red rows and then 6 more grey rows. I started the first tractor 10 stocking stitch rows up from the end of the ribbing and 35 stitches into the row. The second tractor is on row 92, and I started armhole shaping on row 105.

To make the armholes, I cast off 6 stitches twice then 2 stitches four times.

I made the neckline on row 128, by casting off the middle 35 stitches and then decreasing 5 stitches at neckline side on the next 2 rows. I wouldn't recommend that, though - I didn’t like the shape this gave me, and tidied it up a bit with short row shaping in the neckline rib. Even then, I still don't like it much, but it's wearable. I Must make something less wide next time.

The shoulder shaping started on row 148.

For the sleeves, I cast on 56 and worked in rib as for body. Then I worked even in stocking stitch, increasing 2 stitches on the 3rd and every following 8th row to 10”. I shaped the arm cap by casting off 6 stitches twice then 2 stitches four times and then 1 stitch at the start of every row until there were about 36 stitches left. At that point I decided that the arm cap looked a bit big, so speeded up by decreasing 1 stitch at each end of every row until 18 stitches were left. They seemed to fit into the armscye pretty well.

Pattern: 71. Traktorineule by Minna Metsänen / improvised
Yarn: King Cole Zig Zag in 49 Clerical (gray) and 761 Ruby (red)
Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply in Avocado 419 (green) and 454 Gerbera (yellow)
Rowan Wool Cotton 4-ply in 495 Marine
Amount: 2 Skeins of main colours, scraps of others
Needles: 2.25mm and 2.75mm
Size: 3 - 4 years
On ravelry: here

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Pair of Stockings

September 2014

These were long overdue. As an avid knitter, it was beginning to feel a bit wrong that my little boy didn't have a Christmas Stocking. As George was to have one, his cousin needed one too, as they are to spend Christmas together. Besides, I wanted to practise fair isle, play with colours and have an excuse to collect loads of Felted Tweed.

These are a knithack/mismatch of several patterns - primarily Spindleknitter's Stockings and Ho Ho Ho along with a couple of charts from The Tapdancing Lizard by Catherine Cartwright-Jones and Roy Jones and 150 Scandinavian Motifs by Mary Jane Mucklestone. A full list of what came from where is set out below.

From bottom to top: 

  • Red hearts on blue - improvised
  • Yellow bells on brown - from Spindleknitters Stockings
  • Holly on green - from Spindleknitters Stockings
  • White snowflakes on purple - from DROPS b21-32
  • Brown reindeer on blue - from 150 Scandinavian Motifs 
  • Yellow stars on navy - from The Tapdancing Lizard 
  • Green trees on white - from 150 Scandinavian Motifs
  • White snowmen on red - from DROPS 0-792

  • Train - from The Tapdancing Lizard
  • Green chevrons - improvised
  • Yellow and blue squares - improvised
  • Trees - from Spindleknitters Stockings
  • Yellow stars on navy - from 150 Scandinavian Motifs
  • Brown reindeer on white - from DROPS 122-1
  • Paper dolls - from 150 Scandinavian Motifs
  • Snowmen on blue - improvised

Worked heel as per Spindleknitters Stockings. Worked in dk over roughly 72 stitches increasing and decreasing as needed to make charts fit.

Lessons I learned from making these - three colour colour work is faffy and tight and needs a lot of untangling, colour work is so addictive that it's easy to end up making a stocking so massive it'll take you forever to fill it, a stocking tapering out upwards from the heel is the shape I like best and felted tweed has the most gorgeous palate of colours ever.

Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed dk in Scree, Sigh, Seafarer, Paisley, Rage, Mineral, Treacle, Clay, Pine and Herb
Needle: 3.25 mm
On ravelry here.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


August 2014

I have a rather large stash. And a rather long list of favourite patterns on ravelry. They have both reached the point at which it's impossible to keep track of everything. But every once on a while the list of patterns I want to make and the pool of yarns in my available stash mysteriously intersect, and so it was with Olive.

Olive is available in long sleeve and short sleeve options, and has interesting construction in that the yoke is made first and then stitches are picked up around the edge and knitted downwards to make the body and sleeves.

I knitted the yoke flat and seamed it, since garter stitch is more fun flat that in the round (no purling). Other than that I followed the pattern as written but made a size which would give me less positive ease than was intended, as I thought it would be more flattering that way.

The main colour yarn is some very very gorgeous super wash 4-ply by Old Maiden Aunt in a colour way called Lon-dubh which is gaelic for blackbird. The contrast colours came from one ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock. As always seems to be the case with Noro, there were stretches of unappealing colour which I cut out, and if I'm honest all those bright yellows and oranges aren't really my cup of tea either. Used sparingly in such a pretty design feature though I think they look great.

If I was to make this again I think I would probably take a bit of volume out of the sleeves, as I think they would look better if they sat slightly closer to the body. Even so, I'm really happy with how this one turned out, and chuffed that I've got another handkint specifically for the warmer weather. There's nothing like wearing your own work all year round.

Pattern: Olive by Helga Isager
Main colour: Old Maiden Aunt Superwash 4-ply in Lon-dubh
Contrast Colour: Noro Silk Garden Sock in 341
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Copycat Gnomes

August 2014

Very much not my idea. Very much inspired by this and by these.

Here’s as much detail of my reverse engineering as I scribbled down.

Knitting with dk weight yarn on 3.5mm and a gauge of 21.3 sts to 4”.

First attempt (with red flowers at the top) gave a yoke which was much too deep, so ripped back and started again with gnomes placed higher in yoke.

Worked top-down. Started with 65 (plus 6 and 6 for button band). Increased over yoke up to gnome pattern to 128 (plus button band).

Placed markers for 16 gnomes. Worked gnome chart with two sets of increases to 160 (+BB). After last row of chart, divided for sleeves | 20(+6) | 37 | 46 | 37 | 20(+6). Cast on 4 at each armhole when separating.

Worked down from armhole for about 5.5” with increases (m1 x 4) each side of side seam marker every 10 rows to make a-line shape, inspired by Bláithín.

Sleeves worked in the round on DPNs, decreasing on first and every following 10th row 3 times in all. About 6” long from armhole.
Used schematic from Welcome to the Flock as a rough guide.

Neck, waist, cuffs and button band worked in garter stitch.

Messed up buttonhole placing. Fixed it with afterthought buttonholes (method in Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting without Tears).

Was also tempted to try this to tidy up edging of garter stitch button bands.

I used the free gnome hat pattern here.

Main colour: Hobbycraft Valuecrafts Women's Institute Premium Acrylic in 24253 Navy
Hats: Stylecraft Special dk in 1246 Lipstick (red)
Faces: King Cole Big Value Baby dk 221 beige
Beards: King Cole Pricewise Double Knitting 46 Cream
Coats: Patons Fab dk 2358 Iris (blue)
Boots: Hayfield Bonus dk 927 in Walnut (Brown)
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: 3 months
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Giftwrap set

July 2014

I recently spent a very pleasant week at Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest. Practical as ever, I decided that the best project to take away with me on holiday would be one which required me to carry 8 balls of yarn around with me in what can really only be described as a sack…

But there were babies to knit for, and babies don't hang around. I won a boxful of Stylecraft dk in a competition last year, and had been meaning to make something colourful with it for a while.

I love this little set, but I do wish I'd done something to test out the palate first, if that makes sense. All of the colours are very pretty, and they mostly do combine very well, but the pale purple does tend to blend into the grey a little too much for my liking, and if I was to make this again, I would leave it out or use a different shade.

A word of warning to anyone thinking of embarking on a project like this - every stripe means two loose ends to sew in. I was very grateful this wasn't an adult sized project - I think if it was it might still be hanging around half-finished. Having said that, being topdown and seamless there is very little finishing with this project other than sewing in the ends, so I shouldn't really complain.

Giftwrap is available as an e-book with a onesie pattern as well as this bonnet and cardigan. 

Pattern: Giftwrap sweater and bonnet by Carina Spencer
Yarn: Stylecraft special dk in 1246 Lipstick (red), 1711 Spice (orange), 1114 Sunshine (yellow), 1316 Spring Green (green), 1003 Aster (blue) and 1188 Lavender (pale purple)
Hayfield bonus dk in Velvet Plum (dark purple) and Light Grey Mix (grey)
Amount: Less than one ball of each
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Wednesday, 6 August 2014


May 2014

I love Kate Davies, and I'm starting to love how yoked sweaters look on me. When my husband finally agree to let me recycle the Appersett he just didn't quite seem to be getting enough wear from, there was only one thing I wanted to make. Actually, make that two because I did briefly flirt with the idea of DownEast, but only very very briefly.

Owls is a flattering-even-though-it-shouldn't-be slice of chunky loveliness, which can easily be whipped up in a week or so. I totally made it at the wrong time of year, but come the winter time it's going to be getting a lot of wear (especially if I manage to drop that half-stone or so I've been meaning to do something about since forever).

This seems to be one of the most knitted patterns ever if ravelry is anything to go by, and so there probably isn't a great deal useful left to say about it. I made a size small, but added bust darts a couple of inches below the yoke.

The finished fit was a little on the snug side, but I think that's what makes it so flattering. I also worked mine top-down so that I could make sure I was happy with the length. It feels like length is the one thing I'm most likely to be fussy about in any of the projects I made for myself at the moment. Thinking about it, though, I could just have easily worked the pattern bottom-up as written with a provisional cast on to mess about with at the end. Must try that next time.

I'd already had a go at making the child's version of this when I embarked upon mine, and now of course I'm kicking myself about not making this sooner, before my son grew out of his. Perhaps it's time to think about making him another one!

Pattern: Owls by Kate Davies
Yarn: Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky
Amount: Recycled, so who knows?
Colourway: Dark Gray Welsh
Needles: 6.00mm
Size: Smallest, but with bust darts
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Winter is Coming Scarf

June 2014

This scarf tends to either leave people slightly non-plussed or make them squeal with excitement, depending on how familiar they are with the work of James R.R. Martin. My husband is a huge fan, and this was his Father's Day present this year.

There are several Game of Thrones inspired knitting patterns, including this one which is was initially tempted by. But looking at official merchandise - including my husband's house Stark t-shirt with this motto and a dire wolf head on it - I thought that this version was closer in spirit to the real thing.

This was my first attempt at double knitting, but as I seem to say every time I try a new knitting technique, it's not as difficult as it looks. It is pretty time consuming, because you tend to have to knit and purl alternate stitches the entire time. Still, with something as small as a scarf I could live with that. The only slightly fiddly part was making sure the cast-on, cast-off and edging were neat, and there are some great resources for that. 
Although this pattern was written for a worsted weight yarn, my version was done with 4-ply. It came out JUST long enough, but a very nice width. I also modified it by tweaking the chart slightly so that all the letters in "inter" and "oming" were the same height. It would have bugged me otherwise.

The other thing worth knowing about double-knitting is that the two sides of the fabric are like positive and negative images of each other. This means that if the motif includes writing, it will only read correctly on one side, and be reversed on the other. Somehow it is possible to make it read correctly on both sides, as has been done with the other Winter is Coming scarf I linked to, but as far as I know noone has adapted this chart like that as yet. 

Now all I need to do it make him a pair of these for Christmas.

I'm a little bit tempted by these double knit projects too: one ring scarf, corvus scarf and chugga-chugga.

Pattern: Winter is Coming Scarf by Julie Chen
Yarn: Regia Color 4-ply / King Cole Zig Zag
Colour: Grey / Cream
Amount: 2 skeins of grey, one of cream
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 31 May 2014


May 2014

This is a record breaker of a project. It took me about three years to complete, but it's done! And now I can remember so little about it, that there's not very much of use I can say…

Kemps had Bamboo tape on sale. I'd used it once before, for Haru, and despite finding ribbon/tape yarns not much fun to work with, I couldn't resist the cheapness. And it does generally have beautiful drape.

I wasn't blown away by the pattern support Rowan had managed to produce with this yarn, but a bit of searching about on rav found me Anhinga, and I loved Norah Gaughan anyway AND I was pregnant (and thought this shape would work well as maternity wear) so it was a no-brainer.

I modified the neckline because v-necks flatter my shape better than cowls. Other than that I think I pretty much followed the pattern as written.

Tape yarn is a terrible chore to sew up with, being so prone to splitting. I think this would be impossible to frog because of that. If I ever use it again, I'll definitely find a matching cotton thread to do the sewing up with.

Pattern: Anhinga by Norah Gaughan
Yarn: Rowan Bamboo Tape
Colour: Wedgewood
Amount: 8 Skeins
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


April 2014

One of the very few downsides of a website like ravelry is that it exposes you to how the other half live. The UK has some very lovely locally produced yarns, but even so it's impossible not to look at some of the yarns available overseas and feel a little bit jealous. I NEEDED some Dream in Color Smooshy.

Having sweet-talked a friend of mine to spend a small part of his holiday as my yarn-shopping gopher (I let him choose the colour though - I'm good like that), all I then needed to do was find the ideal pattern. Having toyed with Henley Perfected and Hitofude - both of which I'll probably come back to - I settled on this. Not least because I've had it queued since 2011.

But it's one of those patterns which, if ravelry given a true representation, hasn't been knitted up by as many people as it deserves to be. I don't understand why. It's so so pretty, and one of those top-down seamless patterns which anyone with any sense prefers, construction-wise. Plus it's an endlessly wearable summer project, and heaven knows there isn't an endless supply of those.

I think the pattern and yarn combination works very well in this instance, particularly as I happened to hit upon a nice dark stretch when I was doing the finishing on the key-hole back, neckline and sleeves. I love that the variegation in the yarn doesn't drown out the lace or vice versa too, though.

This does feel like a project which is going to need to be washed and cared for VERY carefully, but that's the only reservation I have. I'm sure I can handle it!

Pattern: Clara by Ashley Fey
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy
Colour: It's a Cracker
Amount: 1.75 Skeins
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Baby Cables and Big Ones Too

March 2014

I've spent a huge chunk of my knitting time this year on a project which seems to be cursed. It's a 4-ply grey dress with a fair-isle hem in white, featuring a skull and crossbones motif. The first attempt was finished, but shrank beyond redemption the minute I tried to wash it. The second attempt was going fine untilI accidentally dipped it in someone's coffee and permanently dyed one of the skulls brown. I'm trying to be stoical about it, but the truth is I can't bring myself to cast it on again for the time being. Perhaps in time for next Christmas, though.

And so to focus on the good news in the world of my knitting. Last year I won a competition run by Stylecraft, and in a very generous prize stash were the following highlights:

Some Special dk in virtually every colour imaginable (watch this space regarding what will become of that) and 8 balls of Alpaca dk in a beautiful shade of blue with navy and turquoise flecks called Mistral.
4.5 balls of which have now been successfully transformed into Suvi Simola's Baby Cables and Big Ones Too.

It's a pattern which is 6 years old, and which I have made before. Somehow, though, that version doesn't seem to fit any more - time, and my unsympathetic washing machine have rendered it too short in the body and too long in the sleeves. When it did fit it was a total wardrobe staple and so I felt it was high time I revisited the pattern.

I love this yarn. It's pretty, soft, warm and washable in the machine which is always a plus. The yardage is amazing and it's really brilliant value for money.

I reworked the shaping by adding bust darts just under the end of the yoke, by shortening the sleeves a little, and by only working about half of the waist increases and decreases. I'm pretty happy with the fit I got that way. 

I'm part of a group on ravelry with has signed up to the challenge of making 12 sweaters in 2014. This is number 4. I'm running out of yarn and drawer space already, but I'm far too committed a knitter to let a little thing like that stop me. 

Pattern: Baby Cables and Big Ones Too by Suvi Simola
Yarn: Alpaca dk by Stylecraft
Colour: Mistral
Amount: 4.5 Skeins
On ravelry: here

Monday, 3 February 2014


January 2014

I've wanted to try some West Yorkshire Spinners yarn for a long time, what with them being a local company and all. When I looked into it and discovered that it would cost me about £20 - £25 to make this sweater I was very pleasantly surprised.

This sweater by the way, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a test knit of the just-released masterpiece by Svetlana Volkova, Anemone. It is just perfect.

See my project page on ravelry for all the useful things I spotted during the process of making it. I was initially worried that a straight up and down sweater might not be too flattering on me, being a little bit on the top-heavy side. Thanks to the fact that I worked some of the increases incorrectly, and ended up with a tighter fabric than intended, my size medium came out closer to small. This means a fairly clingy fit on me (about 5/6" negative ease) and so waist shaping wouldn't have added anything.

I love test-knitting. Being part of a group all working on the same thing is great motivation, and I always learn new things. I felt very lucky to have spotted Svetlana's request for testers in time to get involved with this one. If I hadn't, I would have been buying this pattern now for sure.

Pattern: Anemone by Svetlana Volkova
Yarn: West Yorkshire Spinners Airedale Aran
Colour: Light Brown
Amount: 4.25 Skeins
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 2 February 2014


January 2014

Sometimes you see the name of a traditionally inexpensive yarn company slapped on the side of a ball of something of such quality that something in your brain short circuits and you shout "bargain" and buy a bagful. So it was with James C Brett and his pure merino dk.

So then, I needed a dk pattern which called for roughly 1,200m. I considered this top-down cardigan, but that called for a dk yarn to be knitted at a gauge of 18 sts to 10 cm, which is very loose, and I'm a bit wary of doing that.

How I settled on Frances, I can't recall. I must have been going through a bit of a cable phase, because shortly beforehand I embarked on Aidez, and there was a certain logic to making a transitional-weather garment with this merino, given that it just begs to be worn next to the skin.

If I appear to be regretting my choices, it's for one simple reason: this pattern is written so as to make it as unnecessarily-labour-intenstive as it could possibly get. Not only should it apparently be knitted flat and then seamed, but the cowl is then also knitted separately, and then sewn on (rather than picking up stitches around the neckline like any sensible person would do).

It made me cross, and I put it into hibernation for a long time. Thank goodness for International Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecation, or I might never have got it finished. I hate sewing.

Pattern: Frances by Debbie Bliss
Yarn: James C. Brett Pure Merino dk
Colour: PM8 Plum
Amount: 9 Skeins
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


January 2013

In 2009 I joined a ravelry group called "International Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecathlon" and over the course of the following year went on to complete 21 sweaters. Partly because I'm fairly obsessed with knitting anyway, but mostly because of the motivation, support and encouragement I got from the other members.

In 2010 and 2011 I did the dodecathlon all over again, and now, after two years of mostly knitting for babies and other people, I'm back. And I had to start with Lempster. It's a free Norah Gaughan pattern for heavens' sake. And whilst I was giving the pattern a first read through, my two year old looked at the model on the knitty website, and said “Mummy”. WIN.

This is a top-down, seamless knit, with some very unusual construction in order to give it set-in sleeve style sleeve caps, rather than the usual raglans. I got off to a slow start - it took me ages to work out how all the neck line and sleeve cap pieces fitted together, but then I always was a bit rubbish at thinking in 3D.

The pattern as written doesn't feature any waist shaping, but I went up to 5.00mm needles around the bust and added a few decreases and increases to make a waist line. Actually this ended up a bit baggy, and so I’m not sure I need have bothered. I'm toying with the idea of ripping back a few inches and re-doing the bit around the hips to make it more fitted. Probably won’t.

At the moment, the remaining 11 sweaters I have planned are: Dahlia (WIP), Frances (WIP), Poolside, Clara, Hitofude, Sassymetrical, Candy Stripes Raglan, Dorflinger, Baby Cables and Big Ones tooHabanera and Henley Perfected. I did have a bit of a habit of changing my mind rather a lot in previous years, mind you.

Pattern: Lempster by Norah Gaughan from Knitty Winter 2013
Yarn: Patons UK Wool Blend Aran
Colour: Airforce Blue Tweed
Amount: 7 Skeins
On ravelry: here