Friday, 31 December 2010

Photoshoot part 2

Following on from the photos I posted last week, of the t-shirt and hotpants combo and the leggings, here are some of the other shots that were taken.

Firstly, we have some socks photos:

Photo by Teddy Hla, Modeled by Amy
Photo by Slobodan Radosavljevic, Modeled by Amy
The top pair are the Reversing Leaves Socks, by Cat Bordhi, from Clara Parkes' Knitters Book of Wool, in Wollmeise 100% Superwash, colourway Golden Pear. I love this colourway, it's one of my favourite Wollmeise colours, and I think it works well with this pattern. They are a little tight over the heel, which is a pain, and I haven't yet had a fitting with my model for the show for these socks, so I'm hoping she has small feet!

The second pair were finished a while back, I posted some photos of them from the pre-show party a while back, but it's always nice to get some extra photos! These are the Twinkle Twinkle Little Socks, by Aimee Skeers, in Wollmeise 100% Superwash colourway Versuchskaninchen. They are paired with a second pair of hotpants (just seen), based around the same pattern I used for the other pair in the previous post, and a jumper I made when I was 18, that I just happened to have with me on the day of the photoshoot.

Following on from these lovely shots were some photos of the brown yoked jumper of my own design that was also shown at the pre-show party. I've saved these until last because I think that they're my favourite from the whole shoot so far.

Photo by Alex Wakeman, Modeled by Holly
Photo by Alex Wakeman, Modeled by Holly
As I've said before, the pattern will be released as soon as I have time to write it up, once the show is over at the beginning of March, I'll be making another one for myself. I managed to score 10 skeins of Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK for almost nothing in the post-Christmas sales in a lovely very pale baby pink. I'm not sure what I'll use for the yoke just yet though, but I'm sure I'll find something fitting.

Speaking of Christmas, a couple of photos from the big day;

Note the Yorkshire puddings, by far the best I've ever made!

Andrew (left) and Sam (right), full of Festive Spirit
All in all, it was a wonderful day, especially as it was mine and Andrew's first Christmas away from our parents.

I hope that you all had a wonderful day too, and I wish all a Happy New Year!

Friday, 24 December 2010


One of the best things about being a student is the amazing opportunities that present themselves. At UCL we have our very own Photography Society, and last week I was very fortunate to be invited to one of their small photoshoots. Ok, so invited may be a stretch, but you don't ask, you don't get! The opportunity to have my knitwear photographed by these awesome people is something that would be completely impossible were it not for the awesome society structure that UCL presents and for which I am very grateful.

The shoot was organized by Tori (remember her, one of my wonderful models from the pre-show and a very good friend of mine), and featured 4 lovely models. All in all, it was a very exciting afternoon. Everything you see in the following photos will be featured in my show in March.

Firstly, a t-shirt of my own design in Wollmeise 100% Merino, colourway Versuchskaninchen, paired with the Assets of Evo hotpants by Marnie McLean (Ravelry link here), in Sirdar Wash 'n' Wear in black. This yarn is surprisingly a favourite of mine, it's a cheap, acrylic/nylon blend and pretty hot to wear, but I think it's fantastic for this sort of garment. It will wear well, which is what you need on the seat, and knits up quickly with excellent stitch definition.

Photo by Teddy Hla, Modeled by Katie

This t-shirt has been causing me no-end of stress over the last couple of months, I'm still unsure whether or not I like it. It's a little frustrating that the front has pooled and the back has not, and I remain dubious about the shape. You can see in this photo that it pulls at the side of the breast, which is less of a problem on a tiny model like Katie, but looks ridiculous on me. But then, looking at this photo, I can't help but like how it's turned out. Maybe after the show I'll make another one, work out the kinks, and you'll then see a pattern.

Next comes a photo of the Leggings with Mesh Sides by Joan McGowan-Michael, published in Knitting Lingerie Style (Ravelry link here), with a number of modifications. These have continued to grow to epic proportions (bloody cotton yarn, why do I insist in swapping fibre contents!), and will almost certainly need a complete re-knit before show day, which is frustrating to say the least. But despite myself I can't help but see some potential in them.

Photo by Teddy Hla, Modeled by Badia
That's all for today, there's more photos to come from this shoot, but it's Christmas Eve (and yes, I know I promised you a pattern for a tree decoration, but it turns out it's pretty crap, maybe next year?), and I have to prep the vegetables for tomorrow. As it's mine and Andrew's first Christmas just the two of us, and as such my first Christmas away from my parents, the pressure is well and truly on! We're vegetarians, which does eliminate any turkey related stress, but creates new stress in filling that gap in the plate. I'm planning to make mushroom tartlets, with an alternative of tomato and sweet pepper tartlets too.

Yesterday was the day for preparing the sweet stuff, and I was very productive.

Firstly I iced the cake;

Cake recipe from Nigella's "How to be a Domestic Goddess", Marzipan and Icing from Sainsbury's
Then I made the mince pies (including the pastry, although the mincemeat was bought), some plum fairy cakes with fresh plum baked into the base, and some Christmas cupcakes. I won't ice them as they're sweet enough already, and Andrew and I aren't the biggest fans of icing.

Front: Mince pies, Left: Plum Cakes, Right: Christmas cupcakes, also from Nigella
See the Christmas cupcakes - look at how much they've risen! I tweaked the recipe slightly and didn't add any sour cream, admittedly I haven't tried one yet, but even if they taste awful I'm still chuffed.

Lastly I used the leftover marzipan and icing from the Christmas cake to make some sweets.

Currently in the fridge. Anyone with half a brain (ie. not me) will have noticed that in putting them chocolate side down I've kind of scuppered them, all of the chocolate has run down and stuck to the baking sheet, not so much the sweets. But it's the thought that counts, not necessarily the appearance!

Merry Christmas to all,

Mich xx

Sunday, 12 December 2010


Swatching is not an entirely new concept for me, but I'll admit I'm not as good at remembering to do it as I should be. I'm in the final stages of designing my collection for this year at the moment, and I want at least a few pieces to be designed and planned properly, swatches included!

I'm experimenting with a new stitch pattern at the moment, and a new yarn, Patons Shadow Tweed. I searched what feels like all of London for a reddy brown chunky yarn to no avail, until a trip to John Lewis brought this to me. Normally I'd avoid something 44% synthetic, not least because I'll still probably overdye this, but it fits the bill for what I was after very well.

The top left swatch was knitted on 6mm needles, the top right one on 5.5mm needles, and the bottom one on 5mm needles. The ball band recommends 6.5mm needles, but I knew I wanted a stiffer fabric. In the end I decided that I liked the 5.5mm swatch the most, the stitch definition was still clear, but the fabric had gained some of the rigitity that I wanted.

I then proceeded to do the maths.

Considering "doing the maths" makes up the majority of what I do for a living, you think I'd be pretty good at it. Turns out I'm not so good, although I did get there in the end! How anyone manages to do knitwear design without a good grasp of geometry and algebra is suddenly beyond me. Now that the maths is done, and the pattern is written in advance, the knitting has begun, and on 5.5mm needles, is coming along very nicely!

In other news, something is blocking.....

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas Surprises

Sorry for the absence of a post in the last week, we've got a couple of new arrivals to our household.

Joey (top) and Elmo have come to live with Andrew and me from a rescue centre in East London. We believe they are  6-7 years old and are probably/possibly brothers. Joey is pretty nervy at the moment, he likes lots of cuddles but gets irritable if you leave him alone for a long time. Elmo is also a big fan of cuddles, but is a lot more independent. He's pretty podgy, although Joey is the only one who's been begging for food. We pretty much love them already!

In other news, I received a Christmas parcel from my Mammy the other day, inside was a knitted Christmas bauble pattern collection, with two lovely hand knitted decorations for our (yet to be put up) tree.

And a wonderful knitted wire tree decoration;

Note the lovely beads;

I'm a very lucky girl!

The parcel was sent in order to help with a class I was running on Tuesday, although unfortunately it didn't arrive until after I had left on Tuesday morning. The class was another class for MODO, UCL's Fashion Society with whom I am very much involved. I really wanted us to have a nice Christmas party/craft circle this year, and thus arranged "Merry MODO Christmas". We made one or more of a selection of 4 different tree decorations. The parcel from my Mam was a total surprise, so I used 4 decoration ideas of my own. I think it probably says quite a lot about how close my Mam and I are, as one of the decorations we made was;

That's right, wire Christmas trees! These were made with some jewellary wire I found in the MODO cupboard, but I think the similarity between these and the knitted tree my mam made was uncanny! I made them by wrapping the wire around a 6mm knitting needle, easing it into the zig-zag shape of the tree, and then re-wrapping around the knitting needle. I passed a bit of festive ribbon through the loop to make a tie for the tree.

I also ended up teaching another two people how to knit during the class, which I think means I've now taught more than 20 people this year alone - good karma I think! As part of this, I prepped a super easy beginner's tree decoration pattern, which will be coming to you on Monday, once I'm back in the office where the pattern is saved on my computer there. I think I'll call it my "10-minute Tree Decoration"!

It's not going to change the Christmas decoration world (if such a world exists), but it really is that quick, and in being simply garter stitch, really is very easy. I think I'll make another one in wool (this one is acrylic), so that I can block it out flatter, and I'll also build the crochet chain with a crochet hook, and not just my fingers (poor form I know) so the tension is better. Hopefully pictures of this new version will come with the pattern on Monday!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Snowy collection updates!

Ok, so the title of this post is a bit misleading, as today I bring you another item from my collection for MODO this year, and also more pictures of snow, but unfortunately not the two together (maybe next week?)

When I posted the pictures of my new jumper/leggings combo on Tuesday, I completely forgot to mention the other knitting that got displayed that night! It may only be a pair of socks, but they're Wollmeise socks, and I'm very pleased with them!

Again, this isn't the worlds best picture, but these, that stay up all day on my chunky calves, still stay up on the very tiny Tori, so will be perfect for the MODO show this March. They are the Twinkle Twinkle Little Socks, free to download on Ravelry. They are knitted from the toe up on 2.25mm needles. I worked them one sock at a time until the large amount of black pooling you can see above (not my fault, a result of the calf increases), and then two at a time to maximize the yarn. In total they took about 1.5 skeins, which as Wollmeise works out at 150g a skein, is about 225g.

Some other pictures have gone up from the other (better!) photographers in attendance I thought you may like to see these from UCL student Daniel Soh.

I love that last photo of the newly designed jumper I blogged about on Tuesday. In the background you can see another of my designs - the Cell Dress. This was shown at the MODO show last year (see here for more pictures and info). I've yet to publish the pattern because I need some decent pictures of the back of the dress, and although this isn't one, I love this photo too.

This dress is so wearable, despite first appearances! It's flattering, sleek, sexy, and yet totally comfortable. The dress itself is sheer, and as such is paired with a nude slip underneath. In this photo it is modeled by the lovely Annagiulia, whereas Rosa modeled this for me in the show. These girls have very different body types, and it looks great on both of them, I like to think it looks pretty good on me too, and I'm at least 2 dress sizes larger!

In other news, it's still snowing!

It's quite deep now!

And I spotted this guy eating a nut!

Speak soon!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Various Bits

Sorry for the delay in posting, I've been very busy - I have lots to tell you about!

First things first - it's FINALLY snowing! I'm so excited! My mam has been ringing me from Newcastle every day this week to tell me that they have 11 inches of snow(!!) whereas it's been clear here. I decided to go out for a walk this morning to enjoy it, and I took these photos in Mile End Park;

I really did like how at 9.20 this morning there were already 3 snowmen dotted about the park!

Yet it still surprised me that there was a completely clear, untrodden path at this time.

I took some pictures to celebrate the changing season a few weeks ago as part of my research for my collection, and I couldn't help but notice the difference between those lovely warm autumn colours, and this crisp and cold leaf litter;

What's surprised me in all of this research is how green everything still is!

Except of course this little bush, that just looked so incredibly sad.

You're bound to have noticed that all of this excitement is over what many would describe as a rather feeble amount of snow. I seem to have snow repelling qualities, the whole time I was in Edinburgh (3 years) we had 2 decent days of snow - look at it now! The last year I was in Edinburgh was 2 years ago, when London was brought to a total standstill by it. Maybe this is some higher power telling me I am destined to die by snow, and it's probably best I avoid it!

In other, less snow related news (but equally exciting), last night was the Christmas party of my knitting group. This was a truly wonderful affair filled with good food (50% off no less), good gossip, and the receipt of my first ever swap gift! My knitting group has a long and exciting history before my arrival, and every year hosts a Secret Santa amongst it's many varied members. My gift has not yet arrived at it's recipient, so I won't say where it went (far!),  but I was fortunate to receive from a friend of mine, Trisha! She was incredibly generous and I was so excited to open all of my wonderful gifts at the party!

Yes - Wollmeise!

The cheeky thing had feined that she was helping me when I was trying to narrow down my choices the other week, but was in fact sneaking for information! It couldn't be better! This is in addition to sheepy post-its, a sheepy magnetic jigsaw (now on my fridge), a very useful bookmark (that may be used for chart reading too), needles, mini Daim bars (I love Daim bars SO much!) and a little sheepy to act as my new mascot on my desk at work! The pattern should be popping into my Ravelry inbox later today, so another surprise awaits!

Finally, some completed knitting related news!

Thursday saw the MODO pre-show party! MODO is a Univesity College London society of students (sciences, humanities, etc) who have an interest in fashion and textiles and every year we put on a huge fashion show to great acclaim. This year I'm rather heavily involved (check out the MODODiva blog for more info), and I'm planning to create an 8 piece collection inspired by the autumn season.

As a knitter, I had to start making all of this back in June, and so far have completed 2 of my 8 looks. As a pre-show party isn't really a pre-show without some sneak peaks, I was able to show one of these outfits off, modeled by the ever lovely Helen.

Are you ready?

This is the Leggings with Mesh Sides from Judith McGowan Michael's Knitting Lingerie Style (I love this book) without the mesh sides and with stripes (and a few other minor alterations), and a sweater of my own design, knitted in the round from the bottom up.

Aren't they fun! The mattress stitch has distorted the stripes by half a stitch, so if I were to make these again I'd probably use a back stitch instead, but it's the inside leg so it's not too noticeable.

Sorry for the blurriness in this photo (the lighting in the venue was rubbish), but I really think this image conveys what we try to do at MODO, and shows off the silhouette I was aiming for to it's fullest. In this collection I'm trying to use the thigh as a focal point, and I think the striped leggings really show that off.

The jumper will be written up, test knit and then the pattern will be coming out to you. It has 3/4 length  sleeves with negative ease, and a looser body shape, which flares out in the back to create a series of mini pleats around the yoke decreases. The yoke is worked using Sirdar Crofter, to provide a fair-isle effect with none of the necessary technical concerns, and with the additional use of Artesano Superwash Merino DK this jumper is easy to care for and easy to wear.  It requires an 80cm 4mm circular needle to complete.

Thanks for reading this rather epic post!

Speak soon!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Beginner's Knitting Pack with 2 New Patterns!

Hello all,

As you may or may not know, in my other life as a humble PhD student I also help out a lot with the University's Fashion Society. One of the events that I hosted this year was a Beginner's Knitting Class. I spent a long time putting together an instruction pack, and a couple of very simple patterns for my students to try when they got home. Today I bring the pack (and patterns) to you!

The pack can be found here - MODO Beginners Knitting Pack

It contains two patterns,

Super Easy Fingerless Mittens;

And Super Easy Airy Beret (which is really more of a beanie, but as many beginner knitters struggle with a loose tension in many cases it may well look like a beret);

Modeled by me in the stunning Victoria Park, in Hackney, London, photos by the ever handsome boyfriend.

The yarn used for both patterns was some acrylic I picked up at Whitechapel Market for £1.80. Regular readers of this blog will no doubt already be aware of my yarn-snobbery, but I must say I was very pleased with this stuff (unfortunately it came without a label, so I can't really recommend anything in particular). The colour in particular is fantastic, just the sort of thing I want to be knitting in this glorious autumn weather.

Patterns can be downloaded from Ravelry too, here (Fingerless Mittens) and here (Airy Hat), and the pack will be linked to permanently from the side bar of this blog too, for any future followers.

I warned you there were things coming this week!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Bothered Owl Christmas Party

Always one to enjoy a local London knitting event, I have recently bought a ticket to attend the first Bothered Owl Christmas Party. This new event will be a mulled wine and mince pie filled affair with lots of yarn related fun. I'm particularly excited as my friend Pippa of Sweet Clement Yarns is making one of her very first forays into yarn sales, and I'm very excited to see Tilly Flop Designs (who made the button below) in person. The event is on the 6th of December from 6.30pm, click on the Christmas Tree for more info!

ps. Sorry for the short post, there are a couple of beginner patterns coming up this week, and a new sock (just one mind)!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Wollmeise at Loop

As I am aware that some non-knitters read this blog, I feel I should probably explain in advance some of the craziness that is about to commence. Wollmeise is a German yarn brand widely believed to have the best colours in the world. Until Saturday, it had only been previously available out of one shop deep in Bavaria, and in online updates well known for their ability to crash servers. I was fortunate to be able to get hold of a few skeins at Knit Nation this year (see here for the related post) and was completely hooked.

Following the announcement on Ravelry that Loop would become their first stockist, near hysteria resulted, and we were expecting the masses to descend on Islington on Saturday. It turns out that this anticipation may have worked in our favour, as even though myself and my friend Lucy were there before 10 o'clock (for the 11 o'clock opening, and Lucy still managed to beat me by half an hour!), the day passed in a very civilized manner. While we waited for the shop to open we were treated with biscuits and given permission to use the loo - perhaps a sign they appreciated how excited we were! At 10 to 11 there were about 20 people milling around and the doors were opened.

The queue (not including me - I took the photo!)

Lace weight was kept on the ground floor, and sock weight upstairs. I didn't need any lace (although I was tempted) but had a list of sock colours in my head to buy. We fought past each other up the stairs and were greeted with mountains of yarn.

Call me weird (you won't be the first) but I just go giddy over those browns.

Some of us got very excited - Trish is underneath all of this yarn!

The budget was blown rather spectacularly, and I went home with these beauties.

Golden Pear, Spice Schwammerl, Schwammerl, Olio vergine and Daisy, for those Wollmeiseaholics out there. I've already treated myself to winding the Daisy (what? I have to show something off at knit night tonight!), and have very grand plans for the rest!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sneak peek

Ok, so it's been a couple of weeks without a post, and I apologize, but I must say there hasn't exactly been much to report! I've been pretty tied up with MODO stuff (see here for details), the Fashion Society at UCL that I help run, and have been making a lot of things I want to keep a little bit secret.

The reason for this secrecy is that on the 4th and 5th of March next year I will be presenting a mini-collection on the catwalk as part of the MODO Fashion Show. I am currently planning 8 looks (that's fashion speak for "outfits"), and as such a large amount of my available knitting hours are inevitably dedicated to producing the garments I want to show. This is a massive opportunity, not only for the fun involved, or for getting my name spread around London universities, but for me to get some professionally shot photographs of my designs.

But, because I'm not completely heartless, I'm going to provide a sneak peak on this blog into some of the things I'm doing.

Yes, I am experimenting with reverse stockinette.

And ordinary stockinette. In black....


And creamy-green. You may remember this as the yarn I dyed back in September, now knitted up to produce a speckled effect. 

I'm pleased as punch with how that's turned out!

There's also some colour changes.....

And some texture changes.

That's all for now, and will be most of the plainer textures included in the collection. Understandably, it's much quicker to knit up these plainer pieces, so hopefully a few more bits will be finished soon. If you're very good, I may provide a quick glimpse at some lacework next week.