Work(s) In Progress

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.

XanaduXanadu 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.

RedshiftRedshift 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.

marled magicStephen 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!

Inspiration – 2

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.


Just a quick post this week because my youngest son is still on holiday and I intend to spend some time with in between his revision. Lucky me!

I have been working on my design for the Faroe Island holiday I am teaching on for Arena Travel later in the year. I have designed a tea cosy and mug cosies so we can practise continental knitting, two-handed Fair Isle and Steeking.  I am using Debbie Bliss’ Fine Donegal Tweed which is a lovely yarn which blooms beautifully when it has been steamed.

Here is a sneak preview for you.

Bohus Stickning – The Beginning of a Love Affair


I recently finished an article for the Knitter about Bohus Stickning, which is in the latest issue, and it has left such an impression on me.
More eloquent writers than me, such as Kate Davies in her Yokes book, have written about this movement/Brand/Iconic design house, but the more I researched, the more I was drawn in to the story. Originally a social enterprise, Bohus Stickning became loved by movie stars and wealth Fashionistas all over the world.  I am not going to giveaway too much about my article but if you want to know more and can’t wait can I recommend this book to you – Bohus Stickning, The Revival by Viveka Overland.

I had been given some money for my Birthday in February and decided to invest in a jumper kit from Angoragarnet, who are now producing the official Bohus Stickning knitting kits.  You may know that I love graphic, strong designs and even though the delicacy and colour blends in design like Blue Shimmer and Wild Apple are so mouth-watering, it was Red Grillwork that really captured my imagination.


The kit arrived really quickly and I was so excited to actually get my hands on the yarns that Pernille from Angoragarnet supplies.  Just look at the colours!  The shades are so beautifully dyed and the hues chosen so that they blend perfectly in the pattern.  The yarn is a mix of Pernille’s much prized angora rabbits and lambswool which is so soft and has a delicate halo.  The rabbits are carefully clipped and very well looked after.

The design will be knitted on 2 and 2.5mm needles which should keep me quiet for a while and I think it will be the perfect holiday project for me later in the year.

A Matter of Tension

I’m not a trained designer as I’m sure you know but I am fascinated by graphics and the maths of knitting.  I am really not up to grading patterns, which is probably why my humble attempts are limited to hats, gloves and geometric accessories.  But as I go through the process of designing a special project for my trip with Stitchtopia to the Faroe Islands in July (more on this later) I suddenly realised something.  Doing a tension square is now less of a chore for me and has become a necessary way of accessing my creativity and feeling my way in to a design.


I don’t like doing tensions squares when I am knitting someone else’s design.  It feels like a waste of time when I just want to get into the pattern and find out it’s intricacies and it’s rhythm. No wonder then that I have had some spectacular disasters along the way . And when I have begrudgingly decided to check my tension,  I have been guilty of only doing a 5 cm square just to get it out of the way – what a cop out. On a DK yarn if my small tension square is hiding a discrepancy of 1-2 stitches and the bust of the garment is 90cm I could be up to 18 stitches out – that’s up to 8cm difference in the garment – HUGE!

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If you think of your garment as a building then tension squares are your bricks.  You need to know your bricks are the right size to build your house to the architect’s spec.  Am I labouring the point – probably.

So these days I will knit a tension square that is more than 10cm to give me the best chance of getting used to the yarn and the pattern before I commit all my time and effort to an entire project – almost sounds like a New Year’s resolution (gulp)

Maybe we should ban the term ‘tension square’ and call it swatching.  It sound so much more creative and worthwhile.

Artesano 4ply Alpaca Silk review

A quick little yarn review for you this week.

My eldest son turned 21 recently .  He’s studying 3D Design at Manchester Metropolitan University, so I wanted to knit him a really special hat for his Birthday.

He has always loved the artist Escher and the way he repeats patterns so I hunted high and low on Ravelry and found this cracking pattern called Metallic Tessallation.

Then came the question of which yarn to use.  I wanted one that was luxurious and made of very special fibres but which also had a palette of equally rich colours that would work for a men’s hat.I chose Artesano’s delicious, buttery 4ply Alpaca Silk in shades Merlot and Celadon.  The colour saturation is a feast for your eyes.

When the yarn arrived it was so soft on the hank I was worried that the hat would be too floppy so I dropped a needle size form the original pattern to give a slightly denser fabric. Because of the quality of the silk and alpaca used, they do have a long staple length so you might think the yarn looks a bit thin but it is the nature of a yarn as luxurious as this and it does plump up a bit after blocking. Incidentally I knitted the hat while in Australia and it was a pleasure to work with despite the 30C temperature outside so you may want to consider this yarn for summer holiday projects.

4ply alpaca silk

As you can see from the swatch this yarn gives a nice even fabric in both stocking and moss stitch.  I’m not sure it has enough density for cables but that is just my personal preference – I like nice dense cables.

The drape of this yarn when knitted up is quite outstanding so my next project is going to be a woven scarf for my dear mum in Creme Caramel and Chartreuse – I’m really interested to see how it performs on the loom. Any project that sits close to the skin would be perfect.

I have had to rely on my son taking a picture of the hat on his phone so that you can see the finished article – he loved it so much I didn’t have a chance to  shoot it properly – so sorry about the quality but you get the idea.