Friesland – a gansey shawl

The coastal path is closed, the car parks are closed – this is the current situation all around our coast lines.

Is your heart yearning to hear the sound of the waves, to walk along the shore, quietly just with your own thoughts?

Sea, sky and wind can free our minds, refresh with the salty lightness of the air and soothing uniformity of the waves. New horizons open up, perspectives for now and later.

In my memory I see the Sea in front of me, smooth as glass or agitated and angry. I see the endless expanse, smell the salty air, feel the wind in my hair and hear cheeky seagulls screech.

In all this uncertainty, one thing is certain: The Sea has always been there and will be there when the current situation has calmed down. The Sea teaches us to switch between chaos and order, between retreat and community.

The ebb and flow, the sea, sand and shore are here, doing what they do – All is quiet.

Today I want to introduce my latest shawl design – Friesland Shawl.

I designed this shawl to coincide with a knitting retreat hosted by my sister ( Buntes Schaf) on the German Island of Norderney before the world shut down due to Covid-19. Eleven knitters from Germany, Belgium and the UK got together for a few days, enjoying beautiful scenery, good food and knitting, broadening their knowledge on traditional Gansey/Fishermen patterns and their history.

We were so lucky to have this special time together before the world shut down. Feeling the wind in our hair, breathing in fresh salty air having a wonderful time with like minded souls learning about the rich history of these amazing patterns.

The shawl is knitted all in one piece from one tip to the other forming a long shallow triangle. A few stitches are cast on and then the body of the shawl is worked in a variety of traditional Gansey/Fishermen patterns found along the shores of the North Sea and Atlantic coasts. Increases on one side create a long triangular shape and a nifty slip stitch technique at the end of each row creates a neat I-cord edge. After the centre pattern is completed, decreases on one side edge shape the shawl into a long flat triangle.

This is a true homage to the rich history and variety of these patterns and has been a total pleasure and labour of love to create. The pattern is available in both English and German from my Ravelry and Lovecrafts stores.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can return and walk along a beach feeling the sand between our toes and the wind in our hair.

Stay safe my friends xo

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.

Going Green – a free pattern

I think it is fair to say that we have all got a pretty good idea on how we are polluting our planet and that each and every one of us needs to wise up and do more to help save it. In today’s throwaway society we all need to start thinking about how we can make a difference in our everyday lives to minimise the pollution of our land and seas by cutting down on landfill rubbish. Everyone can do their bit, there are lots of ways to help and no matter how small, everything counts.

One area that has a huge impact on the amount of rubbish ending up in landfill and our waterways is the personal care industry. Most items are sold in plastic containers that are often non-recyclable and most wipes and cleansing pads contain polyester, polypropylene, wood pulp and a cocktail of plastics, making them non-biodegradable.

Swapping your single-use, disposable wipes and cotton pads for a more sustainable alternative will mean you are making a difference, both to your skin and the planet. Isn’t it time that we cared for the planet as much as we do for our skin. 

You can of course purchase some reusable cleansing pads; they are becoming more and more available at a cost. If you are reading this likelihood is you are a crafter, in which case you can easily make some by following my easy instructions for these crochet pads using organically grown cotton. Of course you would want to store them somewhere too, so why not make the storage pouch at the same time.

All you need is some DK cotton yarn, knitting needles for the pouch, crochet hook for the pads and some of your time. A small amount of your time that will make a big difference to the beautiful planet that we call home.

Enjoy 🙂

Materials:

50g Eco Cotton DK for the bag (I used Nurturing Fibres Eco Cotton DK)

Small amount of cotton fabric for the lining

15cm Zip

4mm knitting needles

Matching size cable needle

Small amounts of Eco Cotton DK for each of the crochet pads (UK terms)

4mm crochet hook

Darning needle

Simple Pad

Ch5, ss to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch1 (does not count as st), 12dc into ring, ss to join.

Rnd 2: Ch2 (counts as htr), htr in same st, 2htr in each st around, ss to join. (24htr)

Rnd 3: Ch2 (counts as htr), htr in same st, *2htr in next st, 1htr in next st; rep. from * around, ss to join. (36htr)

Rnd 4: Ch2 (counts as htr), 1htr in each st around, ss to join. (36htr)

Rnd 5: Ch1 (counts as dc), 1dc in same st, 1dc in each of next 2sts, *2dc in next st, 1dc in each of next 2sts; rep. from * around, ss to join. (48dc)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Puff Pad

Ch5, ss to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch1 (does not count as st), 12dc into ring, ss to join.

Rnd 2: Ch1 (does not count as st), work 1 3tr-puff in each dc around, ss to join. (12 puffs)

Rnd 3: Ch1 (does not count as st), *1dc on top of puff, 1dc in space between puffs; rep. from * around, ss to join. (24dc)

Rnd 4: Ch1 (does not count as st), work 1 3tr-puff in each dc around, ss to join. (24 puffs)

Rnd 5: as rnd 3 (48dc)

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Note: 3tr Puff = (yarn over hook, insert hook into stitch, yarn over hook, pull up a loop) 3 times into same stitch. You have 7 loops on hook. Yarn over hook again and pull through all 7 loops. Ch1 to secure stitch.

Front Post Pad

Ch5, ss to form a ring.

Rnd 1: Ch3 (counts as tr), work 11tr into ring, ss to join. (12tr)

Rnd 2: Ch3 (counts as tr), 1Fptr in same st, work 1tr and 1Fptr into each st around, ss to join. (12tr +12Fptr)

Rnd 3: Ch3 (counts as tr), 1tr in same st, 1Fptr around Fptr from prev rnd, *2tr in next st, 1Fptr around Fptr from prev rnd; rep. from * around, ss to join. (24tr + 12Fptr)

Rnd 4: Ch1 (counts as dc), 1dc in next st, 2dc in next st, *1dc in each of next 2sts, 2dc in next st; rep. from * around, ss to join.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

The Bag

Cast on 41 stitches and work in Moss stitch for approx. 14cm – incr. 1 stitch in last row.

Next: Work 13sts in moss stitch, 16sts in stocking stitch, 13sts in moss stitch for 8 rows.

Next row cable row (RS): Work 13sts moss stitch, slip 4sts to cable needle (cn) to front, k4, k4 from cn, slip 4sts to cn to back, k4, k4 from cn, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next row: Work 13sts in moss stitch, P16, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next: Work 13sts in moss stitch, 16sts in stocking stitch, 13sts in moss stitch for 10 rows.

Next row cable row (RS): Work 13sts in moss stitch, K4, slip 2sts to cn to back, k2, k2 from cn, slip 2sts to cn to front, k2, k2 from cn, k4, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next row: Work 13sts in moss stitch, P16, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next: Work 13sts in moss stitch, 16sts in stocking stitch, 13sts in moss stitch for 8 rows.

Next row cable row (RS): Work 13sts in moss stitch, K4, slip 2sts to cn to front, k2, k2 from cn, slip 2sts to cn to back, k2, k2 from cn, k4, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next row: Work 13sts in moss stitch, P16, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next: Work 13sts in moss stitch, 16sts in stocking stitch, 13sts in moss stitch for 10 rows.

Next row cable row (RS): Work 13sts in moss stitch, slip 4sts to cn to back, k4, k4 from cn, slip 4sts to cn to front, k4, k4 from cn, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next row: Work 13sts in moss stitch, P16, work 13sts in moss stitch.

Next: Work 13sts in moss stitch, 16sts in stocking stitch, 13sts in moss stitch for 7 rows.

Next row (WS): Cast off.

Weave in all ends. Sew in the lining and the zip.

If you prefer to print a PDF document containing all these patterns you can do so. For a small fee to cover the cost of my time writing out the pattern it is available in my Ravelry store HERE.

Happy making! 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