I am a serial caster on-er, regularly seduced by a lovely, shiny new pattern. But it seems to be getting worse since I have started my yarn diet, because I can see so much potential in my beloved stash.
I knew things were getting bad the other day when I couldn’t find any 4mm interchangeable tips. I hadn’t lost them, they were simply all being used. When I dragged all the bags and boxes of projects out I realised I have to focus on finishing some of them before I can allow myself to start anything new.
Here are a few of my favourites.
Kidalton is by Kate Davies from her Inspired by Islay collection which I am knitting in a Merino yarn by Lang Yarns. I have been cabling without a cable needle on this pattern which the wonderful Jen Arnall-Culliford taught me when she joined The Knitter.
Xanadu is a beautiful shawl by Kitman Figueroa. If you haven’t ever tried one of her designs, what are you waiting for? They are as elegantly written as the shawls themselves. This is a pre-blocking image so you can’t see how yummy it will look. The yarn is Yarn Stories Fine Merino 4ply.
Redshift is a Jared Flood design. I think he is one of the nicest people I have ever met in our wonderful world of knitting so I always have a soft spot for his designs. This is a steeked shawl and I am using Gomitolis Lambswool and Wool/Cashmere. As you can see mine is more of a yellowy-green shift.
Stephen West’s Marled Magic Mystery Knit Along was gifted to me by my dear friend Michelle. She is joining me on the yarn diet trail and though this would be a good pattern to eat up a few of the odd balls that we both have. I am trying not to be too regular in the colours I am putting together and I am really pleased with the result so far. Miracle of miracles, I am actually keeping up with the clues.
There are at least another 6 projects that I am willing to admit to on the needles but I am going to try to finish one off every week or so. Gulp!
I am a huuuuuge fan of Kate Davies. Her designs, the articles she writes, her blog – HUGE.
Before Christmas I signed up to her Inspired by Islay club. Each Wednesday a pattern arrives in my Ravelry library for me to lust over. When I took out this subscription I was kind of expecting accessories but, so far, two of the designs have been the most beautiful garments.
The price is such good value. Unbelievable in fact, when you take a closer look at the patterns. Kate and Jen have worked so hard on the actual pattern writing itself. I am about to cast on Finlaggan and had a good read through of the instructions. The first thing that struck me is that Kate doesn’t tell you what size needles to use. This means you have to swatch – something I am very in favour of – both in stocking stitch and the decorative cable.
I tried out two different yarns that I thought might work with quite different results. The first was from Colourmart, a merino yarn that has some size still on it so, to get an accurate swatch you might need to wash it first. Because the pattern calls for Sport weight yarn I started with 3.75mm needles.
I wasn’t completely happy with the results – it just felt a bit thin and the stitch definition wasn’t brilliant, so I tried again using Lang Thema Nuova which is described as Virgin Wool. These swatches worked out much better. This time I dropped down to 3.5mm needles because the first swatches were oversized.
The other thing I noticed about the pattern is the use of numbers to help you orientate yourself as you knit with a brief description of what you are about to do in that section. A simple thing yet so very helpful. I can’t wait to see what else the pattern teaches me!
The club lasts for 12 weeks – that’s another 7 whole patterns for me to get my teeth in to. Thank you Kate and Jen!
At this time of year lots of us have put yarn or pattern clubs on our Christmas list. Either because we really want to try one out but often in desperation because family don’t really know what yummy treats to get us the Christmas-frankly it’s safer if we choose them for ourselves, don’t you think? In my case I often rationalise signing up for another club as research-it is part of my job.
I have had mixed experiences over the years. I love Debbie Abrahams mystery blankets club and have already signed up to the 10th anniversary offering ages ago. I do feel slightly guilty that I still haven’t finished the Norwegian influenced one from a few years ago – I’m going to try my level best to finish it over Christmas. What I particularly like about what Debbie does is the range of techniques and beautiful colour combinations she puts together and the mystery element of not quite knowing how the project will look in the end.
I also did Kate Davies’ Buachaille Seven Skeins club and really enjoyed the patterns being delivered to my inbox. I could choose how to use the yarn from the hanks included in the club. I have just signed up for the Inspired by Islay club which is an exciting mix of patterns and other goodies. Kate’s designs are always so well constructed and beautifully written
All the clubs I have described above offered amazing value for money for the knitter and are a real treat.There is only one club that I have been disappointed with but I am not going to name the designer. The price was very high and I felt more about making money than putting the knitter at the heart of the project but that is just my opinion.
Knitting clubs are huge fun so why not join one to 2017.
I had such a productive week last week that I found myself with a little time on my hands on Friday, so I turned to two of my favourite books for inspiration.
When I worked for Courtaulds, one of my roles was to run the corporate identity programme. I found myself immersed in the world of graphic design and found it completely fascinating. I have never lost my love of fonts and pixels (I’m married to a graphic designer) and this extends to my designs. For me a Fair Isle chart is a graphic feast but I am not only drawn to traditional motifs. There are so many other graphic devices that work well when knitted up.
The two books I reached for were A Handbook of Weaves by G. H. Oelsner and Charted Peasant Designs from Saxon Transylvania by Heinz Edgar Kiewe.
Weaving charts are so very similar to the ones we use in knitting as you can see. I have worked the one on the left in to a hat for my hubby and will write the pattern up soon. I have two hanks of Kate Davies’ Buachaille earmarked for the final design.
And the charted cross stitch designs work really well too. You have to choose your motifs carefully otherwise you might end up doing more Intarsia than Fair Isle knitting – I am so rubbish at Intarsia. I am toying with the idea of a wrap in Kauni Effektgarn Laceweight with an extended steek so I can create some tassels when I cut it. Here is a little test swatch I have been working on.
So if you are looking for inspiration cast your net wide and keep your mind open – you won’t be disappointed.