C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Knitting Weekend

This weekend was spent in the beautiful setting of the Ammerdown Centre in Somerset with Fiona Morris and 4 other students on the City & Guilds Hand Knit Textiles course. And what a brilliant weekend it was!

We started on Thursday evening and got to know each other over dinner before heading to our work room. Fiona then spent a couple of hours talking about how to put together design submissions for magazines and shared lots of examples of her designs and swatches. Inspiring stuff!

On Friday morning we gathered after breakfast and the exercise set for the morning was all about colour matching. This was perfect for me as my current module is all about colour and yarn wrapping. Fiona introduced us to a couple of websites Design Seeds and Colour Lovers, which offer inspiration and ideas for colour palettes. We were each asked to select an image and recreate the colour palette by mixing up gouache paints. Here are my finished stripes, I was quite pleased with the results although the dark brown / purple colour was the trickiest to achieve.

Colour matching

In the afternoon we all got on with our C&G coursework. For me this involved painting more stripes based on yarn wrappings. Module 4 is more design based than knitting so I was quite envious of those who were able to whip out their needles and work on samples. The good thing was though that one of the other ladies is a module ahead of me so I was able to look at what she had done and also see what was in store for module 5. It definitely gave me the kick I needed to crack on! All in all it was a productive day and it was nice to end it with a knit and a natter over a glass of wine in the evening.

On Saturday we looked at Fair Isle knitting and Fiona showed us lot’s of examples of fair isle swatches and explained how to choose contrasting colours that would work together. We also looked at examples of  Fair Isle ‘purl when you can’ which adds texture to the pattern. The technique is to purl instead of knit a stitch if the colour of the stitch about to be knit is the same as the one below.

Fair isle talk then turned to steeking. A couple of us had never steeked before and I have to admit the thought of taking a pair of scissors to my knitting filled me with horror! However, Fiona had the perfect little mug hug project for us to practice the technique. I neglected to pack my dpn’s but did have a long circular needle so was also able to learn the magic loop method of knitting in the round.

Magic loop

Below shows the crocheted edge that protects the stitches of the line to be cut. Then it was time to take a deep breath….

Crochet edge for steek

….snip, snip and voila – it’s flat!

Fair Isle tension

As someone who has always pulled the fair isle floats too tightly, the handy tip of pulling the stitches in between the floats down the needle before working the contrasting colour stitch worked wonders! It’s not perfect but I am happy 🙂

Sunday came around far too quickly, and whilst a couple of ladies carried on with their C&G work there were a few of us keen to learn the Mobius Strip cast on which used for making a figure of 8 scarf or cowl that knits out from the centre outwards. I really couldn’t get the hang of how to wrap the yarn at first, but finally got there!

Mobius cast on

Over the weekend I had worked a Ribbon lace swatch from one of Barbara Walkers books so before we went for lunch on Sunday we blocked it using a hand steamer. I so need to invest in one of those, it opened up the lace beautifully!

Lace blocking

Before hitting the road on Sunday Fiona was kind enough to help me with a pattern chart for a shawl that I have been stalling on for ages. I wasn’t sure how to split out the different sections to make it clear and she gave me some suggestions so I am hoping to get it finally written up this week.

All in all it was a really inspiring and motivating weekend at Ammerdown. Our group was lovely and it was so nice to spend some time with like minded people who are as mad about knitting as I am! I really do hope we can do it again next year.

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Knitting Pretty

I am a little bit addicted to lace knitting at the moment, especially lacy shawls. I have lost hours to Ravelry over the past few months drooling over some beautiful designs and wishing there were more hours in the day I could devote to knitting pretty things.

One design that I just had to drop everything for and cast on was Sweet Dreams by Boo Knits. It just so happened I had the perfect yarn in my stash too – Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace is a dusky pink colour.

I need to take some better pictures, but this is how it turned out.

Sweet Dreams Boo Knits

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I chose to make a small size as I wanted it to be more of a scarf than a big shawl and I am really pleased with the results. I used 4mm needles on a laceweight yarn so it is really light and has a lovely drape when worn. I didn’t make it with the beads, but in hindsight I wish I had included them.

Speaking of beads, I have been working on a shawl design for the past 5 weeks or so. There are only 4 more rows to go but I haven’t been able to finish it this weekend as the most annoying thing happened – I ran out of beads! I need about 10 to complete the final row before I start the edging. I ordered them on Thursday so really hoping they arrive tomorrow so I can get this one off the needles this week.

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My next project is going to be a lacy scarf in the teal yarn purchased at Ally Pally last week, The gauge swatch is done and the initial design charted on Envisioknit.

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The rest of this weekend has been taken up with working on the C&G coursework. I have been procrastinating on Module 4 for ages, but am really excited as on Thursday I am going on a residential weekend with some of the other students. Here is my project box, full of promise and ready to go!

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A Marvellous Day at Ally Pally

A lovely day was had yesterday at the annual Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace. The show is the largest textiles and craft event in the UK and as well as being a chance to stock up on ‘essential’ supplies, there are many exhibitions, workshops, fashion shows, demonstrations and lectures on offer.

On walking into the main entrance hall you see the ‘PicKnit in the Pergola’, an amazing display of hand knitted flowers, birds, butterflies and a pond! It is a project by the UK Hand Knitting Association and each wildlife item has been made and donated by volunteers. The Pergola is touring the country in order to raise awareness and funding for the Livability Home Design Appeal, a charity that provides support and opportunities for disabled people in the UK.

Picknit in the Pergola

I went through to the main exhibition area to the the knitted Textile Awards exhibition which showcases knitted work in 2 categories – graduate and open.

One of my favourite showcases was of mounted dogs heads, a playful take on taxidermy by Nicky Barfoot. Here is ‘Pickle’.

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And here is ‘Willoughby Brown’ by Heather Drage – a knitting shop owner from Salisbury.

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I also managed to catch one of the fashion shows and fell in love with this orange ladies cable coat by Patons. Isn’t it stunning!

Patons ladies cable coat

Moving on from the exhibitions to the stalls…and here is a selection of the days purchases…

Ally Pally purchases

Top left – Copperfield Yarns, hand dyed by Oliver Twists, silk and baby camel. My most extravagant purchase of the day but if you felt the softness you would totally understand

Middle left – Scrumptious 4 ply / sport superwash by Fyberspates. I had to buy this as I have a handbag and gloves in the same colour. This is going to be a matching scarf.

Right – a selection of buttons by Cool Crafting – just look at them, need I say anything more?!

Bottom – Rowan Creative Linen. A beautiful colour for Halloween

I also purchased a 10 ball bag of Rowan Pure wool, in a dusky pink shade. No idea what I will make from it yet though…

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And finally, a book – ‘A Handknit Romance’ by Jennie Atkinson. A gorgeous book full of vintage inspired knitting patterns. I can’t wait to have a proper look through this but what immediately struck me when browsing though it at the stand was the beautiful photography and presentation of this book. Each pattern is accompanied by a note about where the inspiration for the design came from. And I was lucky enough to have Jennie sign it for me too!

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Speaking of autographs, guess who else I met – none other than the textile queen Zhandra Rhodes! What a lovely way to end the day 🙂

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