Alison Ellen

IMG_20170515_084337Alison Ellen is one of the most interesting people I have met in hand knitting and her stand at Unravel a couple of years ago was a feast for the imagination. It’s hard for me to put my finger on why.  Her patterns aren’t always to my taste but in a world where designs can feel regurgitated or formulaic, her take on hand knitting is quite unique and very inspiring.

She studied textiles and worked for a while in print before she turned her gaze, and considerable creativity, to hand knits. But far from being satisfied with a two-dimensional take on the knitted medium, she turned her attention to three-dimensions.  The result is a body of intriguing work in yarns that she dyes herself.  Her emphasis is on construction and most of her designs are knitted all in one piece.

IMG_20170515_084535As part of my year of stashbusting, which already seems endless, I am tackling a simple poncho to get to understand her work better.  It is taken from her book called Knitting – Stitch Led Design which I managed to find on Ebay.  I haven’t followed her colour scheme exactly but am using up some Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal and Noro Silk Garden sock yarn.  Garter stitch is a favourite of mine and these mitred squares are like therapy.  I have tinkered with the pattern a little to get them to sit properly.

I have never managed to attend one of Alison’s workshops but she does teach all over the country and you can find out where she will be appearing next here.

Yarn Diet – part 1


In December when I announced I was going on a yarn diet it all felt so easy.  After all I did exactly the same thing a few years ago when I was editing The Knitter.  This time I took a few extra precautions and ordered in some new yarn before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, just in case you understand.  But now reality has started to bite.

I haven’t yet had the nerve to pull out all of my stash and take a long hard look at it but I have started to look at patterns that I think will use up odd balls of yarn.  One of the large wooden trays that house my stash is full of tweedy 4ply yumminess.  It’s mostly Rowan Scottish Tweed (remember that?) and Jamieson’s Spindrift in a rainbow of shades.   I noticed that there was quite a lot of oatmeal among the colours, which screamed blanket to me so off I trotted to Ravelry.

Purl Soho have such stylish patterns but their Optic Blanket really caught my eye.  The design is based on a kind of mitred square, knitted in the round.  Each square is then cast on to the next but I have decided to sew all my squares up at the end.  Partly because I have such a variety of colours I want to see how they turn out first, but also because I want this project to be portable.

img_20170207_095723I absolutely love the way the squares are turning out and can’t wait to piece the finished blanket together.  I just hope I have enough oatmeal to finish the blanket.