Mutti’s Cushion

Exactly a year ago today another Angel joint the heavenly realms – my Mum.

Fondly called Mutti by me and my siblings and Mimi by my daughter, she now spreads her wings over the sky looking down on us.

Around the time of her passing, I received a package from South Africa containing beautiful yarn sent by Carle (the owner of Nurturing Fibres Yarns) for me to try out.

As a professional player with yarns working from my studio in North Wales, I love trying out new yarns and cooking up new things for you to make. Every day when I work in my studio I can feel Mutti’s presence by my side, her voice speaking softly to me, sometimes telling me to stop dreaming and getting on with the job in hand.

Mutti was a lifelong lover of crafts of all kinds and I can’t ever remember a time when her hands weren’t busy making something. When she was young she made her own clothes and then, when my sister and I where little, she would spent hours making beautiful clothes for our dolls, sitting up late into the night before Christmas, putting finishing touches to little doll’s dresses. However, knitting was her real passion and she created many beautiful things with a pair of sticks and some string.

With that in mind, being able to cope with my overwhelming grief and the knowledge that my hands needed to make something in memory of her, I decided to use the beautiful yarn from South Africa and Mutti’s cushion was born. She had always wanted to visit that amazing country, but in the end she ran out of time.

Using two shades of the super soft Nurturing Fibres Super Twist DK, a 100% Merino Yarn, I decided that I wanted to do some stranded colour work for the cushion and living in the British Isles, what better than using traditional Fair Isle patterns. Traditionally Fair Isle patterns use only two colours per row or round and limit the length of a run of any particular colour. Even though many use the term Fair Isle for any stranded knitting, it is actually reserved for the characteristic patterns of the Shetland Islands.

Initially when I showed Carle photos of the finished cushion she liked it very much and suggested to offer the pattern as a KAL (knit along), unfortunately this never happened.

Today is the first anniversary of Mutti’s passing and I need to commemorate this day with something special.

I have decided this is the perfect day to release the pattern for the cushion for free and offer it as a download PDF via my Ravelry Store https://www.ravelry.com/designers/heike-gittins .

It would make me so happy to see many cushions being made around the world helping me to spread my Mutti’s shining light across the globe. I ask you to please share your photos by tagging #muttiscushion on social media.

Please stay safe and well during this difficult time 🙂

Sending love, Heike xo

Spring Fling Shawl

I don’t know about you, but I am so ready for Spring! January and now February seem to drag their feet and with the amount of rain and storms we have recently had, brighter days are eagerly awaited.

To put a little Spring into my step I designed this pretty shawl in the most delicious cheerful colours.

This is a lovely large, yet light and airy shawl. Using a garter tab cast on and a mix of garter and stocking stitch sections, all finished with a Daisy Flower border. The top line of the shawl has a slight curve which makes it sit very well on shoulders, stopping it from slipping off.

My colour inspiration will come as no surprise to you! You know how much I like to take my inspiration from nature and the spring colours of first blooms inspired my new design.

Using The Grey Sheep Co. Stein Fine Wool Sock Yarn and keeping it simple, this traditional triangular shawl is the perfect showcase for Emma’s ability to dye the most scrumptious colours (www.thegreysheep.co.uk).

As many of you already know, the Team at Well Manor Farm is whole-heartedly committed to producing the best British wool available. Through managed grazing and the reversion of agricultural land to traditional pastures, the wool comes from their very own flocks that is exclusively bred and nurtured for their quality fibre.

For this shawl I chose Stein Fine Wool Sock for its light and airy feel, making it the perfect companion for the first days of spring, when days are beginning to feel warm but can at times have a chill in the air.

The pattern is now available to purchase and download from my Ravelry Store and a discount of 10% will be automatically applied until midnight on Sunday 23 February 2020.

I hope it put’s a little Spring in your step too.

Heike xo.

Bandana Cowl – A free pattern

Two weeks ago, when teaching at Emma’s Christmas Market, I discovered that her youngest daughter Polly had started to dye her own yarn. I was immediately taken by Polly’s eye for colour and could not resist purchasing a couple of hanks for a project.

Polly’s yarn can be found as part of The Little Grey Sheep website and is called Fluff & Stuff – Please take a look, I promise you, you will fall in love with her colours.

As soon as I got home from the weekend I wound my yarn and started knitting and here is what I made:

My Bandana Cowl 🙂 A soft and warm cowl which is the perfect last minute Christmas gift for a friend or make one for yourself during the festive days.

  • You will need:
  • 1 x Fluff & Stuff Cambric Wool – 100% British Wool – 60g/240m (I used colour Purple Rain)
  • 1 x Fluff & Stuff Fairy Way – 72% Kid Mohair/28% Silk – 50g/400m (I used colour Baby it’s cold outside)
  • 5mm Circular Needle – 80cm and 2 stitch markers
  • Hold Yarn double throughout

The Pattern:

Cast on 2sts and then knit these sts.

  • Row 1 (RS): Kf+b, sl1wyif
  • Row 2 (WS): K1, p1, sl1wyif
  • Row 3: Kf+b, k1, sl1wyif
  • Row 4: K1, p2, sl1wyif
  • Row 5: Kf+b, k2, sl1wyif (5sts)
  • Row 6: K1, p3, sl1wyif
  • Row 7: Kf+b, k to last st, sl1wyif
  • Row 8: K1, p to last st, sl1wyif
  • Repeat rows 7 and 8 until you have 65sts on your needle
  • Next row (RS): K to last st, place marker, kf+b, rotate work by 90 degrees and pick up + knit in the front loop only of each slipped 62sts (128sts total)
  • Join for knitting in the round, place a marker and continue:
  • Rnd 1: P to first marker, sm, p to end
  • Rnd 2: K2tog, k to 1st before next marker, kf+b, sm, kf+b, k to last 2sts, k2tog
  • Repeat rnds 1 and 2 another 11 times (12 ridges in total)
  • Work I-cord cast off as follows: Cast on 2sts, *k2, k2togtbl, move 3sts back from right needle to left needle; rep. from * until all sts have been cast off.
  • Fasten off and weave in all ends.

Enjoy the pattern and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for being with me another year, all your support is greatly appreciated and never taken for granted.

Until soon, Heike xo

Swatches, swatches, swatches

Hello friends,

Piling up around me are many little “Pröbchen” or Swatches as I find myself in a bit of an inspirational cloud. I have a project in my head but somehow I cannot find the right stitch/pattern, and even though I have done quite a few samples, the right thing has not yet evolved.

Swatching does however prepare me for upcoming and future projects, it’s the sort of process that makes you really stop and remind you that actually, you really love knitting. These little squares of wool might not mean that much at the moment, in time they will almost all grow into something beautiful and swatches really do play a big part in getting not only the stitch right in the design process, they are an absolute must for checking gauge, as that ultimately means a good fit will be achieved.

It can be tempting to skip knitting a tension (gauge) square and rush on into a project, but it is much safer to spend some time knitting the square than having to frog everything later on.

There is not set-in-stone way to do a tension swatch, but here is what I do:

Using the yarn and needles given in the instruction of the pattern you are going to knit, or if not sure yet, the instructions on the ball band, cast on at least 10 stitches more than you need to achieve. Work about 4 rows in moss stitch and then keeping the first and last 5 stitches in moss stitch work the remaining stitches in the stitch pattern you are going to use. Work like this until your little swatch measures about 5-6 inches and then finish off by working 4 rows in moss stitch. Cast off.

Alternatively you can go straight into working the stitch or colour pattern you are going to use, omitting the moss stitch border.

Wash, pin and then dry the swatch. Now measure the sample with the ruler centred on the fabric rather than touching the edges.

  1. Lay the knitting flat, without stretching it. Lay the ruler across the centre stitches and put a pin in the knitting at the start of the ruler and at the 10cm (4in) mark. Now count the number of stitches between the pins (including a half stitch if there is one).

2. Measure 10cm (4in) across the rows in the same way and count the number of rows between the pins.

If you have too few stitches to the 10cm (4in), then you can go down half a needle size to try and fix it, or if you have too many stitches try and go up half a needle size as this might give you the correct number of stitches.

The general rule is that one difference in needle size will create a difference of one stitch in the tension (gauge). If you are out by two stitches, you would need to alter the needles by two sizes up or down. This is an approximate rule and it is best to pay attention to what the designer asks for in the pattern you are knitting.

The most important thing to remember is how vital it is to knit a tension swatch if you are making something that really needs to fit you or the person you are making it for as otherwise the item could turn out too large or too small and all your time knitting could be wasted.

If swatches could talk, I bet they’d tell us all to chill out!

Until soon, Heike xo

Incantation – Colours of Skye

A couple of weeks ago I finally went to the Isle of Skye, a long dream come true. It is a very long way from where I live (11 hours drive) and October might not be the best time to choose for a visit because of the weather, but I did not care about any of this. I was smiling the whole way there, the scenery is breath taking, and I was smiling all the time during our stay. What is not to like when, as a yarn-lover, you are staying at a place where there is “access all hours” to beautiful yarn – Glenview B&b, the home of Shilasdair Yarns.

Glenview is the home of Kirsty, Simon and their two wonderful boys. This is where you can stay in comfortable, beautiful vintage inspired surroundings, have yoga sessions with Simon and sample his delicious food and most importantly, this is where Kirsty dyes up a storm in her dyeing shed and you can purchase her naturally dyed yarn. Be prepared to be dazzled by all the gorgeous shades making it difficult to choose.

During our days out on the Island I had totally fallen in love with the colours of Skye and finally settled on three shades for a shawl design I had been thinking of. Inspired by a photo I took I decided to make the shawl using Shilasdair Coara Sport/DK in shades Indigo & Madder, Madder and Birch.

What a joy it is to knit with this lofty squishy yarn! I found it hard to put down and in no time at all my vision of the design became reality and today I can introduce you to my finished Shawl.

I am calling it Incantation – a series of magic spells that the Isle of Skye bestowed onto me.

The shawl shape is reminiscent of wide open Glen’s and is achieved by working short rows, while simple eyelet detail remind of thousand droplets of the many Waterfalls on the Island. The I-cord finish keeps everything safe and in shape.

The pattern is available as an instant PDF download from my Ravelry store to which you can find a link on the right hand side of this page, or go straight there by clicking HERE. A 15% launch discount is available until midnight on Sunday 10th November (GMT) and will be automatically applied at the check-out.

I hope you like it as much as I have loved creating it.

xo.

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