knitting

A Visit to the Chanel to Westwood Knitwear Exhibition

I had been meaning to go to the Chanel to Westwood Knitwear exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey ever since it opened last September. Nicky Barfoot posted a blog about the exhibition a few weeks ago – do check Nicky’s blog out as the collection inspired her to re-work some beautiful 1940’s vintage patterns and the results are beautiful! So on that reminder I dug out the leaflet and realised it ended on 18th Jan. Eek! Luckily I was working in London last Thursday, which also happens to be late night opening at the museum. I left work a little early and took the 30 min walk to the venue over Tower Bridge. There is something magical about London at dusk…

London at Dusk

On display at the museum was the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield who have a passion for collecting knitted and crocheted garments.

Below are some of my favourite pieces / collections from the exhibition. (Photography was not permitted in the museum so most of the pictures below have been taken from the FashionTextile – Chanel to Westwood Pinterest Board)

 Les Sportives – A collection of knitted swim and leisurewear. The 1920’s brought new freedom to younger people after the first world war. Their lifestyles became more active and knitwear needed to be functional in fit and movement as well as fashionable. My favorite piece from this collection was the fine knit blue and white floral bathing suit at the front.

FTM - Swimwear

Fashionable Folk – The trend of folklore and traditional European themes was strong in the 1930’s and 40’s.

FTM - Folk

Make Do and Mend – During the Second World War the government encouraged the re-use of clothing. This collection showcased sweaters that had been re-made by unravelling old ones and using the yarns to make new multicolored garments. My favourite was second from the left, it had a really interesting stitch pattern but unfortunately you can’t see it from this photo.

FTM - Make do and mend

The Fair Isle collection

Fair Isle - FTM

The Novelty Knits – perhaps my favourite collection from the whole exhibition were these brightly colored, bold sweaters from the 1970’s and 80’s.

FTM - 1970's

The Ice Cream Sundae pullover by Dana Originals was especially striking.

Ice Cream Sundae Jumper

I’m so glad I managed to catch this exhibition before it ended, it was well worth the visit. I also found some inspired items in the gift shop, but will save those for another blog post!

knitting

To Infinity and Beyond!

You may remember at the back end of last year I was busy trying to master the infinity / mobius cast on. You may also remember that I failed spectacularly by casting on about 20 times too many stitches and lost the slightest hint of any kind of twist.

Mobius Fail

Yep. Big fat fail. Oops! So I frogged and I persevered and eventually this happened – it flippin worked!

Mobius Cowl Jem Arrowsmith

The yarn is Fyberspates Scrumptious DK (it’s actually more of a teal colour than the blue in the photo’s) and the stitch pattern is the Roman Stripe. It’s interesting to see what a difference a lighter weight yarn / larger needles makes to this pattern – it’s really opened it out beautifully.

This was the original sample:

Roman Stripe Stitch

vs

Roman Stripe Stitch

I’m really pleased with the end result. It’s the perfect antidote for this grey and miserable weather!

If you want to try the mobius cast on there is an excellent video tutorial by Fiona Morris here – complete with suggested stitch count 😉

knitting

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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knitting

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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Blogging101

Who I am and why I blog

I have decided to take up the Blogging101 challenge currently being run by The Daily Post. The first challenge is to write about yourself and let others know what you are about and why they should grab a cup of tea and start reading your blog.

So… is the kettle on? Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

By way of an introduction – these are a few of my favourite things (please feel free to sing along):

My favourite things

Knitting and yarn shops and books full of patterns
Casting on projects and seeing what happens
Sunshine and friends, cats, cake and wine
Getting hooked on a TV show, forgetting the time
Holidays in Greece or exploring a new place
Benefit make-up to decorate my face
Writing, guitars and trying to sing
These are a few of my favourite things!

And why do I blog? I set up my blog about a year ago, mainly to write about knitting and to connect with like minded, creative people. I enjoy seeing what other people get up to and marveling at some amazing creations that fellow bloggers have made!

My page name is Jem Arrowsmith Designs as I am starting out in the world of writing knitting patterns. So far I have self published 4 patterns  on Ravelry, with another waiting to be written up and a new one on the needles. It’s a slow process for me as I work full time but I flippin’ love it!

Do stop by and say hello!

knitting

New Pattern! Whispering Pines Beret

I am pleased to announce the Whispering Pines Beret pattern is now available on Ravelry!

Whispering Pines Beret

Whispering Pines

 

The beret is worked in the round from the bottom up in a 2 ply laceweight yarn and is made up of a lacy bead stitch and embossed leaf stitch pattern.

Originally inspired by a trip to Paris back in February, the pattern evolved after much swatching and getting to grips with the maths! I used Envisioknit to help with the written instructions and charting. I really do rate Envisioknit, I have been using it for a while now and it is easy to use and has always done everything that I want it to do.

Another great outcome of this design was finding such a great tech editor, thank you Amanda for your help with making the pattern so clear and easy to follow!

And thank you also to Meg, Malena, Sabine and Lisa for test knitting the pattern. This was my first experience of using a test knitting group on Ravelry and your feedback has been really useful.

The pattern is available to purchase here

C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Hand Knit Textiles – Module 3

Module 3 of the course has been marked and returned and aside from my dippy mistake of joining my slip stitch seaming sample the wrong way up the rest was ok. Here is a summary of the work I presented.

Activity 1: Shaping in Knitting

This activity called for a number of samples to demonstrate different methods of increasing and decreasing.

Increase samples (left to right)

  • Yarn Over Increase (eyelet)
  • Make 1 Increase (M1)
  • Bar Increase
  • Row below increase

Increase Samples

Decrease samples (left to right)

  • Knit decrease (ssk & k2tog)
  • Slip decrease
  • Knit 2 together through back loop (K2tog-tbl)
  • Bias decrease

Decrease samples

Double Decrease samples (left to right)

  • K3tog
  • SS1-K2tog-psso (Slip 1, knit 2 together, pass slipped stitch over)
  • S2tog-k1-psso (Slip 2 together, knit 1, pass slipped stitches over)

Double decreases

Activity 2 – Joining Seams

Sample 1 – 3 needle cast off (front and back)

3 needle bind off

Sample 2 – Mattress Stitch (selvedge to selvedge)

Mattress Stitch

Sample 3 – Mattress Stitch (top edge to top edge)#

Mattress St top edge

Sample 4 – Backstitch

Backstitch f&b

Sample 5 – Grafting

Grafting f&b

I struggled to get to grips with this one and need to practice it a bit more. You can see on the back on the sample where I went a bit wrong, although it didn’t show on the front.

Sample 6 – 3 needle i-cord bind off

Icord Bind Off

(Not sure why the photos make it look like 2 completely different colours!)

Activity 3 – Knit & Purl Patterns

Knit and Purl samples (left to right)

  • Broken Rib pattern
  • Ridged rib pattern
  • Checkerboard
  • Inverness Diamonds
  • Oblique Rib
  • 1 x 1 Rib
  • 2 x 2 rib
  • Coloured stripes
  • Moss diamonds
  • Mistake rib
  • Garter / reverse stockinette stitch
  • Moss st / stockinette stitch

Knit & Purls 1Knit & Purls 2

Activity 4 – Crossed / Travelling Stitch Patterns

The first sample I worked was taken from the ‘Tree of Life  Afghan’ by Nicky Epstein

Travelling x st patterns

The second was a traditional lattice pattern.

Activity 5 – Cables

I do love a good cable!

Samples (clockwise)

  • Honeycomb
  • Triple twist cable
  • Ornamental cable

Cables

Activity 6 – Raised & Embossed Patterns

Raised Pattern Samples (clockwise)

  • Popcorn
  • Diagonal bobble
  • Nosegay

Raised Patterns

Embossed Patterns (top to bottom)

  • Puff stitch
  • Leaf pattern

Embossed Patterns

Activity 7 – Yarn File Continued

Following from module 1 this activity explored some of the more unusual yarns available. Samples and information on how the fibre is produced, properties, care etc were required.

Sample 1 – Alpaca

Alpaca

Sample 2 – Angora (responsibly sourced of course)

Angora

Sample 3 – Cashmere

Cashmere

Sample 4 – Camel

Camel

Sample 5 – Yak

Yak

Sample 6 – Possum

I found it impossible to get 100% possum fibre. The yarn I used was 60% merino, 40% possum.

Possum

Activity 8 – Designer Makers

Again, continuing on the underpinning knowledge started in module 1, this activity was to research another designer maker and write a report including samples of their work. I chose to write my report on Kate Davies, one of my favourite designers.

Activity 9 – Storage, Care and Use of Knitting Resources

The final activity was to imagine setting up a knitwear design studio and image what kind of requirements and equipment you would need.

So that was module 3! Now to get cracking on with module 4…

 

knitting

A Post About Knitting!

I realised that whilst I created this blog to talk about knitting, I haven’t actually talked about it for a good few months! So here is an update on what has been occupying my time and my needles of late.

The 3rd module of my C&G course has been marked and returned, all ok apart from one sample in the joining seams activity. I had seamed 2 pieces of garter stitch but I had joined one side upside down – DOH! So I need to re-do that and send it back off with the next module.

In a recent post I mentioned some yarn that I had bought in America, well the skein on the left (Ella Rae Lace Merino) just wouldn’t leave me in peace until I had made something beautiful from it.

Lovely Yarn

I did a Ravelry search for a pattern that would do it justice and came across Holden by Mindy Wilkes. This is a beautiful shawl pattern with the right balance of stockinette to show off the yarn and a lovely lace edging for some fanciness. Here is the result:

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So pleased with it 🙂

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Just look at the pretty stitches…the picot bind off just makes it!

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Whilst making the shawl I signed up for a Craftsy class ‘Lace Shawl Design‘ with Miriam Felton. I found this course really useful in understanding the different ways of constructing shawls, how to chart the patterns and getting to grips with the maths. I have another skein of yarn in my stash – Jilly Bean’s Knot Another Granny Yarn in the Misty Moor colourway which I really want to use to try a fast increasing point up triangular shawl. I don’t think I will have enough for a regular shawl as I only bought 1 skein..anyway, this will be my next project in between the C&G course.

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And in other news, I have finished a pattern design! Ages ago I posted about a design I was working on inspired by a trip to Paris. Well it took many hours of knitting, frogging, re-working, changing design ideas completely and battling with maths to eventually knitting the sample and being happy with it. I have just sent the pattern off for tech editing and then will put a call out on Ravelry for it to be test knit. Here is a sneaky peak!

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It will be available as a Ravelry download once tested so do check back for links to the pattern or follow me on Ravelry – jemarrowsmith

Travel

Boston and Beyond

It’s been a week since we got back from our trip to New York and Boston. While I was able to blog every day in NY  I wasn’t quite so organised on the second leg of our trip and since being back time has just flown, so here is a belated account of what we got up to in Boston.

I was sad to say goodbye to New York – 3 days just wasn’t long enough and while we certainly made the most of our time there thanks to a 3 day city pass there were still things that remained unticked on my list; such as the Guggenheim and the fact that (despite my best plotting-on-a-map efforts) I didn’t happen to stumble upon a NY yarn store. Bah.

On Wednesday morning we picked up our car and headed on a roadtrip to Boston, stopping at a diner for lunch.

After what should have been a 5 hour drive we eventually arrived in Boston late on Weds evening due to complications with the sat nav (not user error at all….honest!)

We had planned to go whale watching on the Thursday morning but when we arrived at the harbour we were told that the the tour was full that day. Instead we took the opportunity to explore the city.

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One of the places we went to visit was the Old South Meeting House, built in 1729, which is famous for being the place where the Boston Tea Party began back in 1773. It was the largest building in colonial Boston and was used for public gatherings, a place of worship and engaging debates.

Some of the comments in the exhibit were quite funny – I would love to know what beef this person has with Queen Latifah?!

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From here we took a stroll around Boston Common and ended up at the Cheers Bar.

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In the afternoon we went to the New England Aquarium which has a magnificent collection of fish, animals and exhibits.

That evening we went to a ‘Quilts and Color’ exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art – some of the pieces on display were absolutely stunning and I am going to do a separate post about these.

On the Friday we drove to Cape Cod where we found the Black Purls Yarn Shop in East Sandwich where I finally got my yarn fix – yay!

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The shop was very well stocked and had some gorgeous yarns to squish and drool over. I need more yarn like I need a hole in the head but I couldn’t resist these 3 skeins (this is not the best picture as the middle one is more of a browny colour and the blue is a lot darker). And I have no idea what I will make from them yet.

Lovely Yarn

 

Happy, happy, happy  🙂

We spent the afternoon at the Plimoth Plantation, a living museum showing how life was in the 17th century. There is a recreation of a small farming town, populated by actors who go about their daily life in full costume and answer any questions you have, all completely in character. It was a fascinating place!

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On Saturday, our last day, we made it onto the Whale Watch. The weather wasn’t great and the water was a bit choppy but once we got out to sea and saw the whales it really was an incredible experience!

We saw about 7 – 8 whales in total, mostly Fin whales and a minky whale.

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That really was the cherry on the top of a brilliant holiday!

Now, what to make with that yarn….

C&G Hand Knit Textiles, knitting

C&G Hand Knit Textiles – Module 2 – The Knitting Bit

Following my previous post on Module 2 of the Hand Knit Textiles course, here are the samples I produced for activity 5. The brief was to produce 3 or 4 samples based on visual sources of line, but I got a bit carried away and did a few more 🙂

Activity 5 – Interpreting Line in Knitting

Sample 1 – Green Vase

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This vase is in the V&A Museum in London and I like the thin white lines painted on the ridges and the way they reflect the light.

The sample is knit in plain green stockinette  and then in first purl row I used a fair isle patterned yarn which sat on the stitches below and above each ridge to give the highlight effect.

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Sample 2 – Grille

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Knit in striped stockinette but the diagonal lines were picked up using purl stitches so at the end I could draw a line of yarn through these and finish with a button for the centre.

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Sample 3 – Egg Dish

Another V&A find – the sample couldn’t be anything else but entrelac!

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Sample 4 – Hexagonal Box

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Sample 5 – V&A Floor

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It was the interlocking squares that I liked about this pattern – originally tried working this one in colour but it got beyond complicated trying to keep track of the intarsia bobbins! So it became knit and purl instead and duplicate stitch over the black squares – but I wasn’t keen on the result,  it works better in one plain colour.

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(By the way, see if you can spot the mistake in the floor mosaic photo!)

Sample’s 6 and 7 – 3D Blocks

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After failing to recreate the V&A floor sample in colour I wanted to try again with a different pattern, this design was on the back of a greetings card.

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I then tried the same design in a linear pattern and used contrasting yarn to pick out other patterns within it. The shapes aren’t very clear from the photo below but they are in yellow, pink and green.

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Sample 8 – Ironworks

I wanted to have a go at creating something using raised stitches and cables and was inspired by this picture of an iron railing.

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This is my least favourite sample and probably would have been a lot more effective in just knit and purl stitches. It just looks a bit messy and not really the result I was after. But hey ho – it was a good lesson in what doesn’t work!

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Sample 9 – Llama

I found this little fellow in the Birmingham museum – isn’t he sweet!

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The sample was a combination of knit, purl, stripes and eyelets for the markings.

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So that was all of the knitted samples based on line – I absolutely loved this activity and could have quite easily carried on making more!

The final part of the module was to produce a ‘resolved piece’. Using the techniques previously explored the aim was to experiment with line patterns and work through a range of ideas to create a decorative design that could be applied to a craft item. The end design could be used as a print on a scarf, indentations around a ceramic pot, an embroidered or stitch pattern on a wall hanging or quilt etc.

Resolved Piece

My resolved piece started life as ripped up pieces of cardboard and thick paper which were then glued onto an A4 piece of card. I overlaid a piece of tracing paper and took a rubbing using a white wax crayon. This rubbing was turned upside down and put back on top of the original with glued on bits of string to mark out some of the lines.

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I took a rubbing and scanned it into the computer.

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Then was the fun bit of matching up the lines and picking out repeat patterns.

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Here are a couple of ideas that were developed further

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But in the end I went with this shape as it made me think of butterflies!

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Once the main pattern was decided on I experimented with colours using watercolours and tissue paper.

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This is the final design in colour.

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Which was scanned and repeated to produce the pattern below.

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The course then requires you to demonstrate how you saw the design being used. I saw this pattern as being a pretty print on a dress, forgive the rubbish drawing, but you get the idea!

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And that was Module 2!

If anyone is interested in doing this course it is run by Fiona Morris at ‘Distance Knitting’ and you can find more details here.