With Advent season in full swing and Christmas just around the corner, I have been busy getting ready, just like most of you.
Earlier in September my good friend Emma of The Little Grey Sheep invited me to take part in her Christmas open weekend from 6th to 8th December at her Farm in Hampshire. As many of you know, Emma and I have worked on a number of collaborations together and it’s is always a pleasure to visit the farm, so when Emma asked me to teach some crochet, I said yes immediately.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on some workshop preparation using Emma’s beautiful Hampshire 4ply yarn and I am looking forward to teaching this weekend, having fun meeting lots of yarn-lovers, eating delicious cake and getting into the festive spirit.
There is the option of learning how to crochet a traditional granny square or my variation on the African Square, as well as hearts and snowflakes.
I have also designed these wrist-warmers ready for the cold season. This is my little Christmas gift to you for being such lovely and loyal followers of my blog and other social media channels.
Keeping your wrists warm gives you warm hands and I hope you enjoy making them 🙂
They take not much yarn and can easily be made during a weekend. You can download the FREE PDF pattern by clicking this link HERE.
Wishing you all a very calm and relaxing advent season.
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.
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!
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 “accessall 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.
The time of year when life slows down a bit and we like to sit in front of the fireplace on wet and cold days, sipping tea relaxing without feeling too guilty. Just taking a break from everyday life, doing something we love, enjoying, experiencing the moment.
It is a pity that we often do this only in the cold months, when there is less self-inflicted pressure of other work to be done.
As Yarn lovers we can spend many cosy hours in peace and relaxed concentration with a woolly project in our lap. Hygge time has arrived in full and we can look forward to taking it easy without a guilty conscience, just taking a little more time for ourselves, a good book, a lovely cup of tea and of course our beautiful projects.
Recently I was gifted some lovely yarn by Wool and the Gang, their new Glitterball Sock Yarn. This is a 95% Blueface Leicester/5% Lurex Yarn and like most other sock yarns, can be used for a multitude of projects.
With colder mornings on the horizon I decided to make a pair of fingerless mittens, perfect for walking the dog and it’s never too early to wear a bit of sparkle!
I used a variation of my favourite sock pattern for these – here is what I did:
100g Wool and the Gang Glitterball Sock Yarn (390m)
2.5mm Double pointed needles
2 Stitch Markers
Cast on 64sts and divide between 4 needles
Work *K6, P2; rep. from *around until work measures
10cm from cast on.
Start Thumb shaping
Rnd 1: K3, yo, k3, *p2, k6; rep. from *to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 2: K3, k1tbl, k3, *p2, k6; rep. from * to last
Rnd 3: K7, *p2, k6; rep. from *to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 4: K3, place marker, yo, k1, yo, place marker,
k3, *p2, k6; rep. from to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 5: K3, slip marker (sm), k1tbl, k1, k1tbl, sm, k3,
*p2, k6; rep. from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 6: K9, *p2, k6; rep. from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 7: K3, sm, yo, k to next marker, yo, sm, k3,
*p2, k6; rep. from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 8: K3, sm, k1tbl, k to yo, k1tbl, sm, k3, *p2,
k6; rep. from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 9: K3, sm, k to next marker, sm, k3, *p2, k6;
rep. from * to last 2sts, p2
Rep. rnds 7-9 until there are 15sts between markers. End with a rnd. 9.
Next Rnd: K3, slip15sts from between markers on to
scrap yarn, cast on 5 new stitches, k3, *p2, k6; rep. from * to last 2sts, p2.
Work one rnd in pattern and then:
Rnd 1: K2, k2togtbl, k3, k2tog, k2, *p2, k6; rep.
from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 2: K9, *p2, k6; rep. from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 3: K2, k2togtbl, k1, k2tog, k2, *p2, k6; rep.
from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 4: K7, *p2, k6; rep. from * to last 2sts, p2
Rnd 5: K2, k2togtbl, k3, *p2, k6; rep. from * to
last 2sts, p2
Now work *k6, p2 pattern for 4cm and then work 5
rnds of k2/p2 rib.
Slip 15sts from scrap yarn back onto needle and
pick up and knit 1st from left side, 5sts from cast on edge, 1st from right side.
Divide onto 3 needles and knit 1 rnd.
Rnd 2: K15, k2togtbl, k3, k2tog
Rnd 3: Knit
Rnd 4: K15, k2togtbl, k1, k2tog
Rnd 5: Knit
Rnd 6: K15, k3togtbl (16sts)
Work 5 rnds of k2/p2 rib.
Cast off. Weave in all ends and work second mitten the same.
I hope you have fun making your own pair with whatever sock yarn you can find in your stash.
You may have noticed a distinct absence of mine here over the last few weeks and I am not going to dwell too long on the reasons why. Let me just say that, even at my ripe old golden age, I still question my ability to judge people’s character. I believe I go the extra mile for anyone in my family and circle of friends, as well as putting in extra hours and hard work for anyone I collaborate with in my working environment. Being let down by people I thought very highly of feels twice as bad and like a huge kick in the stomach. Having taken a step back for a while I think that the best way forward is to scale back and concentrate on what is good for me and if that means going it alone…so be it.
Please do not think that it has been all doom and gloom here as I have also had some wonderful times exploring new places.
At the beginning of September we visited the beautiful West Wales Coast. These places had been on my wish list for so long and I am so grateful that I was able to visit at long last. The incredible and awe inspiring Cathedral at St. David, traditional Welsh weaving at Melin Tregwynt Woollen Mill, Tenby with its colourful houses and glorious beaches and, as special treat, The Boathouse and Writing shed at Laugharne, where one of my favourite writers, Dylan Thomas, penned many of is well known and loved words.
I feel so blessed that I was also able to visit the island of Fanø in Denmark for this years Strikkefestival. My friends and I had a stop-over in Copenhagen before going on to Fanø, visiting the wonderful Tante Groen shop in Odense on the way. The festival can only be described as an amazing place of friendship and Christel Seyfarth, the organiser, gave us three days of exuberant exhibitions full of colour, texture, music and much laughter. It was evident at every corner how much hard work had been put into this to make it a happy experience for everyone.
My hands have not been idle either and I managed to fit in quite a bit of knitting and crochet. The Nightshift Shawl by Andrea Mowry turned out better than I imagined and I am quietly in love with my Penguono, another super clever construction by Stephen West. I have also finished the Gwyrdd Jumper since this photo was taken, but more about that in another post.
Autumn has arrived here in Wales, with leaves slowly turning in colour and the air filled with chill first and last thing of the day. Evenings are drawing in earlier every day, the air is crisp and the light is golden.