knitting

New Pattern! The Beauty of the Rain Shawl

It’s taken a while but I’m pleased to say that my new shawl design The Beauty of the Rain is now up on Ravelry 🙂

The Beauty of the Rain Shawl.jpgThis design was born after a visit to The Sheep Shop in Cambridge and the purchase of some Lotus Yarns Tibetan Cloud yarn in the delicate Cornflower Haze colour. The yarn is 100% yak and sooo soft, it’s a dream to knit with.

tibetan_cloud_fingering_medium2

I had recently done a swatch of the Starlight Lace pattern and I thought this would look quite pretty in a shawl.

Starlight Lace.jpgSo in my usual fashion I dropped everything else and cast on!

dsc01873I broke up the lace pattern with sections of stockinette and the lines inbetween became zig zags…

beauty-of-the-rain

And I added some beads 🙂

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Amanda at Dissemiknit for tech editing this pattern for me, and to my lovely test knitters on Ravelry who gave lots of valuable feedback and provided some great photo’s. One of my testers MkatRuby asked if it would be ok to add beads to the picot bind off, and the end result is so pretty I have had to cast on another one so I can do this too!

BoR Picot beads.jpgPhoto by MkatRuby taken from the pattern project page.

borAs for the name of the shawl, it’s named after one of my favourite songs by Dar Williams. I wanted the beads to look like little drops of rain which is why they aren’t on every lace section.

If you fancy a listen, here it is.

Until next time, happy knitting! x

 

knitting

The Great London Yarn Crawl

Last weekend I joined with fellow yarnies and took part in the Great London Yarn Crawl. Organised by Yarn in the City the event has been running for 4 years now and it’s a day for crafters to take a tour of some of the wonderful haberdashery and yarn shops that London has to offer.

There were 12 teams this year, each with a planned route to visit 3 or 4 shops. I was on Team Mosaic, one of the 4 shop routes.

On Saturday morning, my friend Vero and I braved the rain and caught the train to London where we were to meet the others at a coffee shop in Angel and get acquainted over tea and cake, and receive our goodie bags full of yarny treats!

glyc

The first stop on our route was Ray Stitch, a sewing and haberdashery shop in Angel, Islington.

ray-stitch

Full of beautiful fabrics, buttons and books…I was very tempted to buy a pattern and some fabric but I stopped myself as I know it will lead me down a whole other rabbit hole! So I settled for a selection of pretty buttons and scissor charms.

Buttons.jpg

Next up was Loop. I have visited this shop before and already knew it would be where I spent most of my budget for the day…this shop is yarn heaven!

loop

Just look at all these pretties…

loop-yarn-shop

Needless to say I didn’t come out of there empty handed. I bought 2 skeins of Dye for Yarn which I want to match up with some Hedgehog Fibre yarn I already have. And I got a pretty little needle measurer too  🙂

dye-for-yarn

And the one thing I had been lusting after for ages….a Japanese knitting stitch book! I have been trying to find one of these for ages but they are not easy to come by. This was top of my list for the day and I was over the moon to find it!

japanese-knitting-book

We stepped out of Loop, back into the rain and found a pub for lunch.

Fully refreshed we carried on our journey by Bus to Stoke Newington, the home of Knit With Attitude

knit-with-attitude

Part of the shop was also a gallery with interesting art prints, jewellery and gifts. If you ever find yourself in Hackney this is one shop well worth a visit, and the staff were so friendly and helpful too!

The last shop on our route was another 2 bus rides away, across to North London to Fringe.

fringe

A real treasure trove of a store, there was so much to see – and they also had a pop up event with knitwear designer Erika Knight!

fringe-london

As we walked into the shop we were handed gift bags by the staff containing 3 balls of vintage mohair yarn. The lady told us that one day a man came into the store with bags of yarn which belonged to his late wife. She had been a knitwear designer and made some beautiful garments that had appeared in magazines.

fringe-yarn-shop

Just…wow!

fringe-glyc

Her husband wanted her yarn to go to people who would appreciate it, so he donated it to the shop. Isn’t that a lovely gesture? Unfortunately we don’t know the name of the designer but I’ll certainly be putting her yarn to good use at some point in the future.

vintage-yarn

And so, weary but happy we caught a train back to Moorgate where all of the teams came together to wrap up the day, show off our new purchases and have a well deserved drink! There was also a raffle to raise money to the supported charity, Refuge.

It was a brilliant day, very well organised and I met some lovely fellow knitters too. Now to get that lovely new yarn on the needles…

Until next time, happy knitting! x

knitting

Hello! Knit’s Been a While…

…I’ve missed you! Regular readers will know that just one post a month is not unusual for me but in between I do try and keep up with reading your lovely blogs and I’m sorry I have been MIA and not stopping by to say hello. I had every intention of checking in after hols but the longer I left it the more I put it off as I knew how much I had to catch up on…But it’s time to bite the bullet and jump back in!  So I hope you will forgive me if I haven’t stopped by for a while, I hope to rectify some of that over the next few days.

So although I have been out of action in blogland I can assure you my knitting needles have been very much in action. Do you want to see what I have been working on? Yes? Oh good, I hoped you would say that!

First up – holibobs! We had an amazing  2 and a half weeks on the beautiful Greek island of Alonissos. It was pretty much the perfect getaway with lots of sunshine, reading, beach times and of course, knitting 🙂 I got into a lovely routine of getting up each morning and spending an hour or so knitting on the veranda. Bliss…

Morning Knitting

I took 4 projects with me, the Ilene Bag that I didn’t quite manage to get finished before we went away, the Happenstance Shawl, the double knit Kitty Cushion and a new design that I had started working on.

Ilene Bag

The Ilene Bag by Hannah Ingalls is a great pattern, it’s a simple k2tog, yo lace pattern worked in the round and the finished bag was perfect for beach essentials! And it’s a free pattern on Ravelry too 🙂 I just had a few rows at the top and the handle to finish when I got there but that only took a few mornings to do.

Ilene Bag

Knitted Bag

I would have preferred a slightly longer strap, but I ran out of yarn – but it has stretched a bit with use. This is a great pattern, well written and easy to follow. I already have another one on the needles which will be a Christmas present 🙂

Happenstance

This is a lovely pattern by Romi Hill from the Kate Davies Book of Haps. I cast on using Moorfields Alpaca yarn and it was my travel project for the journey to Greece. As soon as we arrived, instead of unpacking we headed out to the veranda to take in the last of the evening sun over a glass of wine – and a few more rows 🙂

Evening KnittingOver the next few days I even managed to knit some of it in the paddling pool!

Pool KnittingUntil disaster struck….and I ran out of yarn!

IMG_0323So then it was onto the next project, and time to learn how to double knit!

Kitty Cushion

As soon as I saw this super cute pattern by Nicky Barfoot I knew it wouldn’t be long before I cast on. The only thing that held me back for a while was the fact that I had never done double knitting before but I figured that holiday would be the perfect time to get to grips with it . Armed with a free Basic Double Knitting Ravelry tutorial by Cassie Castillo I cast on a small swatch to practice on first. It turns out it was nowhere near as complicated as I had built it up to be, so I jumped in and before long this little face began to emerge.

Kitty Cushion progressI I found it helpful to place stitch markers at each colour change, just to keep track. He is now off the needles and ready to be blocked and sewn together this weekend.

As for my new design, that didn’t get very far…it wasn’t going to plan and I didn’t have my laptop to work out the changes so this is now frogged and its back to the drawing board!

IMG_9828So that’s what I have been up to. What about you? It’s time to put the kettle on and find out!

knitting

Knitting Pretty

I’ve had lots of lovely knitting time lately, June has been a quiet month compared to the May madness, so without further ado here is what has been occupying my needles of late 🙂

First up, the Helix socks are FINISHED!! I stayed up late last night to be able to cast them off and block them this weekend. So here they are pre-blocked. I am so happy with how these turned out, it felt like they had been on the needles forever.

Helix Socks.JPG

They weren’t the easiest thing to make as it got quite fiddly with the cable needles and I had to frog them back a few times where I messed up the lace pattern. But for my first attempt at two at a time toe up socks I am over the moon with them 🙂 The yarn is gradient cakes from Rosie’s Moments, specially dyed so that the colour changes are identical for each sock.

Rosies moments sock yarn

One project I haven’t made so much progress with is the double knit Kitty Cushion. I have now finished the back section.

Kitty Cushion

But realise now that I shouldn’t have jumped straight into the front without knowing what the flip I was doing when it comes to double knitting! I have made it this far…

Double Knitting

I’ve got the hang of getting one colour on each side but it’s the colour changes that are foxing me. So I have parked that one for now and downloaded the free Basic Double Knitting Tutorial by Cassie Castillo so I can practice.

So what am I working on now? Well this gorgeous book by Kate Davies Designs and Jen Arnall-Culliford, featuring patterns from a host of different designers arrived last week…

Book of Haps

There are so many beautiful patterns in this book – I want to make them all! But I am starting with Happenstance by Romi Hill. And it just so hap-pens (if you’ll excuse the pun!) that I have the perfect yarn in stash. A while back I won this lovely Moorfields Alpaca yarn on the Bakery Bears podcast.

Alpaca YarnI only cast on this week so haven’t got very far…but just look at that lovely squishy garter stitch, this is going to be one cosy shawl 🙂

Happenstance.PNG

And do you remember my post about the shawl pattern I was trying to write up? Well I am pleased to say that it’s now back from my tech editor and apart from a few amendments I need to make it’s good to go! Here is a sneaky peak at the pattern…I’ll be looking for test knitters in August when I am back from my hols so if you are interested please let me know your Ravelry name.

Beauty of the Rain Shawl.JPGI’ve also had another shawl, a cowl and a hat go for tech editing so I am excited that I will be able to release some new patterns in Autumn.

Oh and I have also been doing some work on my knitting course, C&G module 5 that I have been stuck on for far too long now. I WILL get that done 🙂

So that’s what has been occupying my time and my needles. What about you?

Happy knitting! x

knitting

Note to Self. Remember to Make Notes!

Last year I visited the Sheep Shop in Cambridge and came away with 2 skeins of the most gorgeous Lotus Tibetan Cloud 100% yak laceweight yarn. It’s sooo soft and dreamy I just couldn’t resist!

Tibetan_Cloud_Fingering_medium2.JPG

I knew right away that it wanted to be a pretty little shawl and thought I would have another go at designing a pattern. I decided to make a thin crescent shape shawl, one that increases 4 sts at the beginning and end of each right side row and 2 sts every wrong side row. After looking through some stitch pattern books I was drawn to a diamond design shape ‘Starlight Lace’ from the Barbara Walker – Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns book.

Starlight lace

So armed with charting software, notebook and pen I started to put the pattern together and knit the shawl as I went along, writing everything down as I did it…well I say everything… I kind of wrote things down on various notebooks, on my phone, on scraps of paper and on the computer pattern too and I even remember on a couple of occasions thinking ‘I don’t need to write that down because I’ll remember that’. Of course you will Jem! What was I thinking….and to make matters worse I finished the shawl and then decided to wait another 6 months before attempting to write the pattern up :-/

I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago, after searching high and low for a missing notebook and swatches…I couldn’t put it off any longer or it would never get done!

And it wasn’t that bad once I got back into it, the bits of scribble I had started to make sense and I was eventually able to piece the pattern back together. I did have to cast on quite a few swatches though mainly to keep track of the edge stitches as the stitch count varies on some rows.

BoR Shawl.jpg

But I think I cracked it. It’s now gone for tech editing so fingers crossed it’s all ok….

The beauty of the rain

And here’s a little peek at the final design. Next step is to get some decent photo’s 🙂

Beauty of the Rain

I’m off to buy some more notebooks tomorrow 😉

Happy knitting! x

knitting

Whipping up the WIP’s

With knitting I used to be very much in the mindframe of ‘I’ve started it so I’ll finish’ but recently I have realised the merits of having a number of projects on the needles…

Grab and Go Knitting

Ever since I made my first pair of aran weight socks in January I have been addicted. The pattern is easy to follow and because they are made in aran weight yarn they are quick to whip up! Now I am familiar with the pattern this has become a firm favorite for travel and conversational knitting. The current socks are being made in Old Maiden Aunt yarn in the Hebridean colourway. Here is sock 1 of 2…

Aran sock

I started this sock on a work trip to Manchester a couple of weeks ago. I was on the train for about 3 hours and during that time I managed to drink a hot chocolate and eat a kit kat and a bag of malteasers…it was totally the yarns fault you understand!

And hot on the heels (if you’ll excused the pun…) is 2 of 2…

Aran sock no 2

I’m working few days in London next week so this will be coming with me 🙂

The YouTube / Podcast Knitting

I like to have a project on the kitchen table that I can pick up when watching catch up TV or my favourite YouTube podcasts. Currently on the needles is this super cute Kitty Cushion by the super talented textile designer Nicky Barfoot.

Kitty Cushion

I started the back this weekend…

IMG_7272

Tele / Film Knitting

This project lives on the sofa and a few rows are done each night whilst watching the box with Mr. A. These are the Helix socks from the ‘Two at a Time Toe Up socks’ book by Melissa Morgan-Oakes.

Helix Socks

They are coming on nicely now – although I did have to rip back a few inches after I forgot to do the gusset increases…oopsy!

The Do Not Disturb Knitting

These are the projects that require the concentration. Lately I have been working on a new design, it started as my final piece for the C&G course module 5, but after talking to my tutor on the weekend away in March I realised I hadn’t fulfilled the design brief properly so I need to re-start it. But this design wouldn’t leave me be so I just had to finish it!

Another Story

I finished making it last weekend and now it is blocked. I just love the difference blocking can make to lace knitting, it really opens it out beautifully.

Another Story Lace

I’m nearly done with writing up the pattern now, then it will go for tech editing and test knitting 🙂

The Long Term WIP

Is the C&G course…I really need to get module 5 under my belt now, it’s been over a year! I have set aside some time next weekend to crack on and work on my final design. Wish me luck!

So what about you, how many WIP’s do you have? Do you have different projects for different knitting occasions?

 

knitting, Spinning

Putting a Spin on Knit

I have been interested in learning how to spin on a spindle since I saw the Spin City stall at Festiwool last November and Louise, the owner, was kind enough to give us a quick demonstration.

Spin City SpindesI was tempted to buy one there and then but I held off as I had a lot of other projects to be getting on with that the time. So when my friend (and podcaster extraordinaire) Vero mentioned doing a spinning session at our monthly knit night I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give a go!

Vero kindly put in an order at Spin City for some spindles and luckily they arrived on Wednesday night, just in time for knit night 🙂 This was the spindle I chose.

Spin City SpindleVero also brought along some bags of fibre for us to try with the spindles.

Spindles and fibreWe joined the fibre to the spindle using a piece of scrap yarn…

Spindle

And off we went!

Spinning

This was my very first attempt and as you can see the yarn is varying in thickness…I have a lot of practicing to do!

Today I took the yarn off the spindle and transferred it to the middle of a kitchen roll as I was curious to see how it would knit up. You can see how uneven it is from the stitches on the needle…

Knitted hand spun

…and just look at the cast on stitches too! I kinda like it though 🙂

The drafting and spinning process hasn’t ‘clicked’ for me yet but I am sure it will with more practice. And on that note I’m off to give it another go – wish me luck! 🙂

knitting, Photography

#Beautifying March #Instagram

One of my ‘things to do in 2016’ is to learn more about photography and back in January I signed up to do a ‘Photography for Knitting & Crochet Course’ with Emily Quinton at Makelight. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the course was rescheduled to March and I couldn’t attend as it clashed with the  C&G knitting weekend.

So instead I signed up to take one of the Makelight online courses Beautify your Instagram.

I’ve had an Instagram account for a while but only really used it for taking pictures of the cats or pretty sunsets. But spending time looking through other people’s pictures made me realise that it is actually a great platform to engage with other like-minded knitters and crafters.

The course encourages you to use your iphone or smartphone for taking and editing pictures (this appealed to me very much as my DSLR scares me bit!) And each day for 5 days a video from Emily would drop into my inbox offering lot’s of inspiration and handy tips on how to take beautiful flatlay photographs.

Some of the many topics covered included: using natural light, composition and styling, using hashtags, creating a beautiful gallery and forward planning. There was also a Facebook Group set up for all students on this course so we could discuss the lessons and share ideas.

I couldn’t wait to get started! One of the first things Emily asks you to do is think about what you want to use Instagram for and the audience that you want to attract and engage in. That was easy for me – it’s all about the knitting!

I started by gathering a selection of different backgrounds that I could use in the pictures.

Photograph backgrounds.JPG

I already had a selection of 12″ x 12″ scrapbooking papers, a neutral colour cotton table mat, and peeking through top left is a dark grey slate tile which I bought for a couple of pounds at Homebase, which works surprisingly well as a background. Next time I go I’m going to look out for a marble tile too.

Then I put together a prop box of things that could be used in the photographs such as buttons, stitch markers, pretty little boxes, beads, notebooks etc

Prop Box.JPG

It’s been rather fun to look at things with fresh eyes and think how it could work in a photograph – I’ve dusted off many trinkets and keepsakes hidden in the back of a cupboard that I could include in future photo’s 🙂

Here is the first lot of photo’s taken at the start of the course, playing around with content and composition.

Layouts.jpg

One of the tip’s Emily gives is to make sure you post regular content on Instagram and to that effect I have been posting up 1 photo a day. For me this requires a bit of forward planning as I work during the week so I have to set up my photo’s at the weekends. I am hoping that the more practiced I get the quicker I will become, but at the moment I am spending quite a bit of time thinking about each image – for every one I post there are at least 10 more that didn’t make the cut!

Here are a few that I am really happy with:

Vintage purse

The starting point for this photo was the gorgeous vintage evening bag given to me by my mother-in-law, so I went for a silver theme.

Starting a shawl

This one is of the start of a new project, I noticed that tea features quite a bit in styled Instagram pics so I thought I would give it a go too.

Stitch samples

Knitting and flowers seem to be a winning combination 🙂 (The stitch samples here are the Roman Stripe stitch and the Eiffel Tower Stitch).

And finally….introducing the cat lay!

Cat lay

Er, Mr. Pea!!!

Mr Pea

He does like to ‘help’ with things 🙂

The course has given me so much to think about and I have very much enjoyed the new channel of creativity it has inspired. If you are interested in learning more about the course details can be found on the Makelight Website.

And if you are on Instagram do come and say hello, I am on there as @jemarrowsmithknits

 

C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Knitting Weekend

A couple of weekends ago I spent some time in Portsmouth in the company of some of the other students doing the City & Guilds Hand Knitting Course. The C&G hand knitting courses level 2 and level 3 are run by Fiona Morris at Distance Knitting and they are designed to teach practical knitting and design skills and techniques.

I have been stuck on module 5 for quite some time, having come to a standstill with the final activity – designing a fashion accessory. So I was really looking forward to this weekend to be able to get some guidance from Fiona and get back on track (of course I could have contacted Fiona sooner rather than wait for this weekend, but I decided to procrastinate for a bit longer and busy myself with other projects until then!)

The classes started on Friday so I arrived in Portsmouth for the Thursday evening to avoid travelling early morning. The lady who organised the weekend did an amazing job and together with her husband managed the catering for all of us, including evening dinners at their home. We were well and truly looked after! We even had little sheep name badges made by her daughter.

Sheep name badge

A large part of the course is around designing and learning creative techniques to develop patterns, so Friday was ‘design day’. The objective for the day was to make different types of coloured and textured backgrounds for use in future design work. It was like being back at school again – out came the paints, crayons, stencils, tissue paper, card, paper, glue, glitter, inks, pastels – basically anything you could draw or make a mark with! With no final outcome in mind we just played around with the materials and got creative.

Here a couple of my finished ‘pieces’:

Paper backgrounds (2)

In my mind, the doily on the right lifted off and was supposed to reveal a clean white image underneath but the inks had seeped underneath, but it really didn’t matter – the beauty was there were no rules!

Getting creative

These backgrounds are required for module 6 so I am happy that I am one step ahead in that module already 🙂

Saturday was back to the knitting. We spent some of the morning looking through some of Fiona’s design work and the processes used to develop ideas from a visual source to a finished garment. It was so interesting to look through the sketchbooks and see the techniques used to draw and manipulate images, and ways to explore colour combinations to create a final pattern.

We also learnt how to do continental knitting. I found the knitting part was pretty straightforward and can see how it would be much quicker once you get the hang of it…

Continental knitting

…but purling? Ugh. I just couldn’t get it!

It’s a useful one to learn for knitting though and I will probably use (with a bit more practice) it for future projects worked in the round or fairisle work – anything that doesn’t require purling!

After lunch as it was such a lovely day we took a walk to the local yarn shop, Seeded.

Yarn Shop

Check out their amazing crochet clock!

Crochet Clock

I was quite disciplined in the shop and just bought 1 ball of Louisa Harding Pittura. I’m not sure what it will be yet – I was thinking of a shawl but one of the other ladies on the course has made some socks with it already and they look so pretty!

Louisa HardingOnce back at the hall we got on with our modules and Fiona spent time with each person demonstrating different techniques such as picking up stitches for necklines, armhole shaping, buttonholes or looking at our with module work. Whatever we needed help with really.

I was quite happy with my module work up until the designing a fashion accessory part and when the time came to show my design work I was pretty sheepish. I knew what Fiona was going to say and I was right, I had selected an image for my design source and jumped straight into knitting samples without really exploring the design elements first, apart from a few scrappy drawings. So it’s back to the drawing board – but this time I feel a lot happier and determined as I am much more clear on what I need to do. I have found a new image to work from and am just waiting for the photo’s to come through the post so I can crack on 🙂

Sunday came around all too quickly and I was pleased to conquer the vertical buttonhole, which turned out to be no-where near as difficult as I thought it sounded!

Vertical Buttonhole

It’s still a bit of a kerfuffle though as its worked using 2 balls of yarn.

Fiona also brought in some of her knitting stitch books for us to have a look through. I really liked some of the patterns in the Japanese stitch books but these aren’t so easy to come by so are unlikely to hit my bookshelf any time soon.

Japanese Stitch Books

It was such a great weekend and so nice to spend time with Fiona and the other students. There is already talk of another weekend next March in Birmingham. Hopefully I will have finished module 5 by then 😉

Happy knitting! x

 

knitting

Norrland Hat and Future Socks

I have a FO to show you…

My finished Norrland Hat!

Norrland Hat

I am so pleased with the way this turned out and it was a fun knit too. The pattern is by Sara Huntington Burch and is charted and easy to follow (although I did keep having to frequently stop to untwist the yarns). For the sky I used Knit Pick’s Stroll Fingering weight yarn in the colourway Deep Waters, it varies from a dark plum purple to rich royal blue to navy. And for the trees I used Knit Picks superwash nylon in Bare.

I love it! And it’s a perfect fit too 🙂

…which is more than I can say for Mr. A’s Farm Beanie hat, I am now on my 3rd attempt at getting a good fit on this. I have changed up the yarns and am now using Cascade 220 in a worsted weight and have gone down a pattern size and needle size.

Cascade Yarns

Here is a progress shot taken at the weekend.

Farmers Beanie

I’m pleased to say I am now on the decreases. I tried it on Mr. A last night and it’s looking like a much better fit, fingers crossed it should be off the needles by the time we head for Iceland!

In my last post I showed the Helix socks that I had started, but was having a few problems with the increase method used in the pattern. The pattern wanted me to use half hitch increases but I just couldn’t get on with these and the stitches were coming out too sloppy.

Sock increases

So I frogged them and started again. Thank you to those who kindly suggested different increase methods to use. I did try the increase made by knitting into the stitch below, but because the increases are made on every round for the first few rounds I got confused with which were the ‘real’ stitches when I arrived back at the point of increase and had to pick up. I can see how this would work if there was a knit row between every increase row, it would make it a lot easier! It’s a useful one to know though and I will try it on another pattern.

I ended up reverting back to my usual increase method of kfb and the stitches looked so much neater than they did with the half hitches. I have so far knit up to the beginning of the yarn colour change…

Socks

But this project has been put on the back burner this week while I crack on with the Farm Beanie.

And I know I have only just started with the socks but it hasn’t stopped me planning my next pair from the same Two at a Time Toe Up book by  Melissa Morgan-Oakes…the pattern is called Ballet – aren’t they just beautiful?

Sock pattern

I may get round to them before the year is out!