Stripes and Swirls

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I’m a sucker for a sale.

Well, actually, let’s rephrase that. I’m a sucker for a YARN sale.

And I’ve been bombarded with emails telling me how much cheaper it all is since Christmas, so when this stuff – Sublime Luxurious Aran Tweed, 40% wool, 40% cotton, 20% llama –ย  was about half price, it was obviously irresistible.

Even though… erm… I didn’t exactly have a plan.

But I’ve been completely bonkers about stripes lately. So, obviously, there had to be stripes.

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And nothing is complete these days without a bit of a motif… When I told my beloved husband my plan to mix ’em up he looked, let’s say, a little skeptical. But he did have the good grace to follow the look with “But what do I know?”

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One of the most positive side-effects of this journey through my woollen world is this: for many years, an expression of doubt or uncertainty would have put me off continuing along my trajectory but at this grand old age and with the experiences I have under my belt (which I hesitate to label ‘good’ or ‘bad’ since they all led me here, after all) I don’t care. I have the courage of my conviction, and I’m going to do it anyway. Sometimes, of course, it doesn’t work.

This time, I’m relieved to report, I believe it did.

So, the Stripes and Swirls Sweater was born and I love it:

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If you fancy a crack at it, you can find the pattern here.

And beloved husband?

“I think it’s your best yet.”

See?

Happy knitting!

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Getting all your cats in a row

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I’ve used Millamia naturally soft merino quite a bit of late, so it seemed the natural choice when I wanted to design a jumper for my youngest, little Teddy. He’s quite a sweaty little beast so I didn’t want anything too chunky, after all.

I have begun to love developing charts for intarsia and fairisle. I consider myself a relative novice, but a very enthusiastic one, and I was especially pleased with the rows of stripy cats.

With raglan sleeves and a rolling edge neck, the ‘Kitty Cat’ pattern is now available over on loveknitting.com AND if you’re quick, the Kitten Mitten pattern is free for the rest of this month.

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Yarndale 2016 – lucky me!!

Yesterday, one of my dreams came true.

And, my life the way it is, it really was a stretch that I might actually make it. But the stars aligned ๐Ÿ˜‰ and the world rolled out the red carpet. I mean, hey! Look at my journey:

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To top it all off, I met up with the loveliest friend – a friend for a couple of years now, but geographical distance has made meeting up in person an impossibility until yesterday. Perfection.

Now, keeping that in mind – you know, the meeting-friend-for-first-time-in-real-life – AND bearing in mind the fact that I was quite seriously and completely surrounded by scrumptious squishy wool of pretty much every conceivable blend, variety, hue and weight, you’ll understand that I didn’t get too many pictures. When I wasn’t fondling skeins and oohing at colourways, I was catching up on real, proper conversation with the lovely.

I did manage to get a shot of CoopKnits’ beautiful Socks Yeah! range and managed to meet Rachel in person for the first time.

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I was recently asked to review this very yarn, and her book of sock patterns, which you can find here and which looked like this:

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And I WISH I had jotted down who it was displaying this beautiful miniature clothes line, including mermaid’s tail (if any of you recognise it, please do let me know in the comments) :

And boy, but it flew. A day was not enough. Since returning, I have discovered that there were at least a couple of stalls there that I would have loved to have visited but somehow managed not to see at all (though I did manage to catch up with old friends The Knitting Gift Shop and their new and silkily beautiful yarn range). Mind you, it was heaving. Predominantly ladies, a small number of whom trailed husbands (I’m thinking – possibly stereotyping and horrendously sexist –ย  probably in the guise of packhorse: you can not go to such a place and return empty-handed), many of whom sported the most beautifully assembled handmade garments of the ‘Ooh-do-you-mind-if-I-just-touch-it’ variety. Where else can you go where someone knows the precise yarn from which you knitted your tunic?

Fairly early on I visited the Midwinter Yarns stall. Well, it would be more accurate to say I was pretty much engrossed in conversation when a basket (I love baskets. Don’t you love baskets? I would HOARD baskets if I had the space) of pure loveliness caught my eye. Pure in every sense. Pure wool. From Greenland. In… *gasp*… greys. Man, I love greys.

“Too rich for my blood. I mean, there isn’t even a price on it. It must be beyond my purse” I sighed, already defeated.
“Do you think?” my lovely companion challenged. “It’s in a basket after all, is there not a price?”
Lo and behold, there was! And these fabulous, gorgeous, hulking great 100g hanks of scratchy grey wool (the very BEST kind) were only a fiver apiece.

Six skeins and a plastic bag later, I had my fix for the rest of the day, every so often caught in the act of burying my face in the bag and inhaling the fabulous, authentic sheepy smell, only to be met with a conspiratorial wink, or a knowing look, from people who knew what it was about. Oh, the joy of being amongst your own kind ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Needless to say, in spite of the million and one WIPs I already need to finish, I had to cast on, just, you know, to see? You know? I know you know.

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It’s beyond beautiful.

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Oh, and it was definitely a day for making friends:

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Now, where did I put my knitting?

 

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Dog jumpers – the story

Would you believe, I have FOUR to choose from now?

I find it hard to resist, not because I think animals look cute in clothing (though, obviously, I do) but because on a far more practical level, it gets prettyย  blooming cold up here in the North of England when winter rolls around.

Juno, our little Jack Russell Princess:

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Well, she gets a bit chilly out there. She’s teeny, wiry, fierce as a T-Rex… but chilly. Her natural state is curled up in a beam of sunlight. Sometimes, I am led to suspect she believes herself a cat. She pokes her nose outside the door and, if it’s too cold, wet, snowy, a flat refusal usually follows: a swift 180, nose in the air, and a trot back to the sofa.

So, in an attempt to coax her dainty paws into the fresh air, I designed her a little sweater, little knowing how popular it would prove to be. I’ve had so much lovely feedback telling me how much people have loved making it. The Juno Jumper was born (click here for link to pattern):

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Hot on the heels of her little sweater, I was thrilled to be asked to design some Christmas sweaters for Simon Cowell’s Yorkies for ITV’s Text Santa (click here for a link to the pattern):

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But… you know? I started to feel a bit guilty. Juno is not, after all, an only dog. She has a much bigger and (to her) unbearably, overwhelmingly cheerful enforced companion, Aphrodite:

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OK, OK, she’s MUCH bigger now, but loooook. Man. Her tag looks like an enormous medallion!

It was time Aphy got a jumper too.ย  She provided a goodly challenge though. She has the most ridiculously long and gangly legs. There is no way on God’s green earth we’re hooking those babies through leg holes. So…. some woolly engineering was called for. Buttons, and flaps, and ribbing. Oooh, it was fun! And look – here it is! (click here for link to pattern):

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Oh, but THEN…. I thought wouldn’t it be gorgeous to have a mini one of these, perhaps reversing the colours, for Juno…? How unutterably adorable would that be, on our wintry walks? So….

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(click here for link to pattern).

You will not believe what’s coming next… I’m giggling as I type.

Off to clack some needles!

To bare or not to bare…

… *snigger*

I have two patterns for you.

That’s rather the point.

One, I hinted at at the end of my last post and I cannot tell you how thrilled I was with the way it turned out.

Knitted in stunning Louisa Harding Amitola, with its shiny silken sheen and delicately changing colours, and Millamia naturally soft merino which holds a stitch like no yarn I’ve used before, the stripes kept me hooked throughout the working of this piece. I was forever impatient as to how the next colour would look blended into the rest.

Here, you can see what I mean:

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For the body, I used Millamia naturally soft merino in Putty Grey and Louisa Harding Amitola in Dark Rose.

The ribbing on the cuffs, neck and button band are in the same Millamia wool, in the shade Storm.

It is knitted in the round, top down, with a circular yoke and I blooming LOVE it. It’s light enough to grab as you run out of the door, and warm enough for a snuggly extra layer. I used mother of pearl buttons BUT whilst I think they look beautiful, I have already had to replace 3 broken ones. They are terribly fragile ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Anyway, here it is, in all its glory:

If you fancy having a crack at it yourself, you can find the pattern here.

 

The second piece…

…is all together more risquรฉ. But it was equally fun to create.

Knittedย and crocheted in Cascade Yarns Ultrapima 100% cotton in sand and taupe, which look to me like a dull gold and silver, it produces a really lovely, airy but sturdy fabric. Perfect for super-hot days / evenings. I would recommend a little dress tape, though – no running after the kids in this one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, you’ll need basic knitting and crochet skills for this one and you can find the pattern over here if you fancy giving it a go.

In other news...

This King Cole Galaxy with integral silver sequins became another piece of knitting / crochet fusion which I may well get around to writing up. It’s light and airy and perfect either on its own or as an off-the-shoulder top layer.

 

And, this jumper in Drops Karisma will be written into a pattern soon, too.

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And this cardi, knitted in Drops Karisma and a beautiful hand-dyed yarn all the way from The Flying Kettle in the ol’ U S of A (look her up on Instagram, her stuff is gorgeous!)

Oh, oh, AND, this sweater:

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I have an AWFUL LOT of pattern writing to do ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, do you like my t-shirt?

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Right, I’d best get on and start writing, then! TTFN โค

 

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A catch-up in beautiful yarns…

I’ve been playing with some serious beauties recently.

The first two I’m going to show you I have just finished writing up the patterns for, and they’ll be available on the loveknitting.com website, and in my Etsy shop very shortly.

The first I call In the Shade since the fairisle pattern is a row of trees with their shadows beneath them. It is knitted in Drops Karisma, in light and dark grey, on 4.5mm circulars. And I’m wearing it as I type ๐Ÿ˜‰ Click here for the pattern

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The second is Drops Bomull-Lin, a lovely mix of cotton and linen, in brown and beige (the beige being more like pale gold with its lovely linen sheen). This is my Spring Tunic, knitted in the round on 6mm needles, with eyelet lace details. Click here for the pattern

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Also, I got a surprise parcel in the post: a parcel of beauty I would probably not have bought for myself. And I LOVED the challenge of coming up with something to make from it. It is a combination of Millamia 100% merino and Louisa Harding Amitola, which contains silk, shimmers stunningly, and changes colour gradually throughout the piece. Here it is in progress, but on 3mm needles, it’s a slow process – a cardigan in the making (now finished, click here for the pattern):

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And finally ๐Ÿ™‚

Fancy making this?

Here’s how (in UK terms)

1. Using Drops Bomull-Lin in beige (pale gold) and a 4.5mm hook, chain 30.

2. Make a double crochet (dc) into the 2nd chain from hook, and into the next 5 chains. Then chain 16, and make a dc into each of the last 6 chains.

3. Turn, chain 1, insert hook into first dc in row and make a dc into this and the next 5 chains. Then chain 16, and make a dc into each of the last 6 chains.

4. Turn, chain 1, insert hook into first dc in row and make a dc into this and the next. To make the button hole chain 2 and skip the next 2 dc. Make a dc into the next 2 dc. Chain 16, and make a dc into each of the last 6 chains.

5. Turn, chain 1, insert hook into first dc in row and make a dc into this and the next 5 chains. Then chain 16, and make a dc into the first 2 of the last 6, 2 dc into the 2-chain gap, and a dc into each of the last w dc.

Repeat step 3. three more times. You will have 8 rows in all. Sew a button onto the opposite cuff part from the button hole and voila!

Hasta la proxima, peeps. โค

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A Fairisle Frenzy

Can’t stay away from it.

So, top down, in the round, circular yoke experiment #1

I am, suffice to say, chuffed to bits.

Knitted on 4mm circular needles, except for the last half of the bottom ribbing where I switched to 3.5mm for a snugger fit. In Drops Nepal for the body and Karisma for the sleeves, and using some of the beautiful stash of Finnish Riihivilla hand-dyed wool given to me last Christmas by my rather clever husband.

Here it is, in picture story form:

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This is the absolutely delicious Finnish wool I used for the motifs.

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This is the swatch I knitted to ascertain whether the Drops would provide the right match with the Riihivilla.

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And thus it began.

Confession: I didn’t really leave enough of a margin before starting the first motif – the little owls. So, when it came to finishing off, I had to find a way to deal with the neck. In the end, I folded it back on itself and sewed the top down, creating a funnel neck, rather than the little roll I had originally intended. I’m very relieved it turned out ok!

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A little one for Ted next, I think ๐Ÿ™‚

Some much-photographed pups

So things went a little bit bonkers this month.

Do you remember the Juno Jumper?

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Our little Juno gets a bit chilly in the winter. The little Princess pops one paw out of the front door and onto the pavement, shakes her head in a decisive “na-uh!” and backs into the house once more.

So, I decided to make her a jumper. She’s honoured: my husband’s been asking for years! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The pattern is here, if you fancy giving it a go.

Anyway!

In a game of woolly Chinese whispers, ITV asked Loveknitting.com, who asked me to make some little Christmas jumpers for their Text Santa show to be presented to Simon Cowell for his three little Yorkies. And the Yorkie Christmas jumper was born:

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But you don’t want to see it like that, do you? You want to see it on those little dogs!

Well, here’s a teaser first: Diddly, Squiddly and Freddy’s finished and personalised jumpers:

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And here they are in person. Well, on canine, in any event ๐Ÿ˜‰
I was thrilled to see them fitting so well.

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You can read about the process over here, if you fancy it.

And you can find the Yorkie Christmas Jumper pattern here.

It is, indeed, beginning to feel just a tad like Christmas โค

(And I promise many fewer links next time around!)

 

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