Wednesday, 30 November 2011

You Win Some You Lose Some!

Life is full of successes and failures, in this case it's your success and my failure (more on that later).

But first, success!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Ropery Pattern giveaway, both here and on Twitter, the winner was commenter number one, Kaz! Well done Kaz! I've found you on Ravelry and sent you the pattern as a gift already (consistent usernames & pics is really useful!) Thanks so much for entering! The winning answer was of course Buckingham Palace, who could resist the joys of St. James' Park on a gorgeous November day!

For those of you who didn't win you can still knit Ropery - the pattern is available via my Ravelry store: pattern page here.

Or read below for another chance to win ;)



Now onto the failure. A few weeks ago I blogged, all full of enthusiasm and promise, about my desire to design, knit and publish new sweater pattern, Clematis.  At this point (12.44pm on the 30th of November) I can safely say that this will not be happening before the month is out. The pattern is languishing in armhole hell, waiting for me to grade the armholes and check the maths before continuing. It has been in this position for about 3 weeks now, what with computer viruses and other knitting work taking priority over my time. Not that I'm complaining too much about having too much work to do! :)



So yeah, I suck.


However, if you do not suck and have completed your NaKniSweMo sweater, don't forget to post about it in the NaKniSweMo Ravelry group. There's some fantastic prizes available for completers, from books from Cooperative Press, to a multitude of pattern downloads, to yarn and fibre from Ms. Gusset and Indigodragonfly. I will be giving away 2 sets of my complete Ravelry downloads - two lucky winners will win Hampstead, Koho, Tumbledown Wristies & Scarf, Roots AND Ropery! Enough to keep any knitter going throughout the winter! As an added kindness (because I'm wonderful like that), the winners will also be allowed to have their patterns gifted to their friends instead of keeping them for themselves if they prefer - a great way to give out knitterly Christmas cheer!

Monday, 21 November 2011

New Pattern: Ropery and a giveaway!

Today I am proud to finally be able to publish Ropery, a new pullover design.


Knit using Easyknits.co.uk's Cherish yarn, a luscious Merino Cashmere Nylon blend, in a modern, on trend colour (Gun Metal), this knit is truly wearable, suitable for anything from work to stylish evenings out.

Featuring a deep soft cowl generated by knitting this sock yarn at a loose gauge, this pattern is great for ladies of all shapes as it disguises rounder tummies and accommodates even the most rubenesque of busts. Sized for 28-46in/71-117cm busts, the key point of fit is the hip, which accommodates a range of 30-48in/76-122cm. This allows busty girls like me with smaller bottoms to knit a size down (always a nice thing!)

The back uses slightly exaggerated waist shaping to accommodate the lack of shaping in the front, and this generates a smooth and feminine curve about the waist that, when coupled with the bias fabric of the front, adds a clever point of interest to the design.

The hems of the front and back are scooped using Shadow Wrap short rows, which are almost completely invisible as they contrast against the reverse stockinette border.


The shoulders are set in, and form smooth lines with the straight knit back and the bias knit front for a really unusual aspect.
The cowl itself is generated, as I've said, by knitting on the bias. The piece begins by knitting straight, however the sides A-line outwards shortly after the hem. As the sides are tipped into the upright position, the cowl is formed. The neck is shaped by further short rows, as are the shoulders.

Being knit in stockinette, the floating of the fabric is enhanced, and also makes this a quicker knit than you may imagine. Perfect for the winter party season, or for anyone needing a light extra layer of warmth, this soft and practical pullover is for you. Currently available for £4.50 via Ravelry you can buy now or enter the giveaway! (Or both, I'm not going to complain!) Every correct answer to the following question in the comments (or tweet me @MichaelaKnits) will be entered into the draw for a free PDF copy of Ropery. Ready?

What is the name of the building featured in this picture?


One entry per person, pattern will be emailed to winner or sent as a Ravelry gift to them or a person of their choosing, pattern for personal use only. Contest will end at 9am Wednesday morning (23rd Nov) UK time.

Friday, 18 November 2011

New Pattern: Aeon

I know, I know, two new patterns in a week - I feel so productive!

Aeon is my second pattern for new UK magazine Knit Now. Having now seen two issues of this magazine I feel I can say with some security that this is shaping up to be a really nice contender in the UK magazines market, and not just because they keep accepting my patterns! The key point of difference with Knit Now is the complete focus on smaller projects, accessories and home knits designed for the modern knitter, with her appreciable stash of odd balls of gorgeous yarns.

Although, to call this magazine a collection of "stashbuster" projects is to do it a disservice, there are some really interesting and unusual ideas, and it's to editor Kate's credit that she has so far found such an array of interesting ideas. For example, from the current issue, we have Christmas Decorations from Julie Ferguson, Notebook Covers from Erika Knight (I am SO making some of these!), Hats knit both flat and in the round, cowls, cushions, gloves, socks, and these wonderful baby booties by Amy Gunderson perfect for mini Christmas elves.


My contribution this issue is the Aeon Cowl. Designed in response to this issue's designer challenge, to knit a small project using one skein of Artsano Aran and a cable needle, this cowl, knit flat, features a blend of dropped stitches twisted about one another (using the cable needle) and layers of garter stitch.

Photograph Copyright Knit Now Magazine
The magazine *even* comes with 3 free cable needles this issue - so no excuses!

On the Ravelry page for this pattern someone posted a question about international subscriptions for Knit Now Magazine. At present it is possible to order subs internationally via this page, and they will be posted to you. Online subscriptions are still being worked out, but if you are interested, please let the team know by posting on this Ravelry thread. Of course, UK subscriptions can be bought from Practical Publishing's website.

Monday, 14 November 2011

New FREE Pattern: Poppins

Way back earlier in the summer, I was surprised and delighted to find an email in my inbox:

"Hi Michaela,

Thanks again for your submission to Tangled! We would like to accept your design for the Mary Poppins scarf for publication in our Fall issue."

This was my very first pattern acceptance to a third party publication - I was so excited! It seems like so long ago now that things have moved on so much, and it's so lovely to see this pattern published!

The magazine is Tangled, an online mag whose message is clear - "Proud to be Bicraftual". The magazine contains patterns for both knitters and crocheters, and often has patterns including both! I was inspired by this strength of conviction in the magazine, and their Movie Knits theme to design the Poppins Scarf, my knitted take on Mary Poppins classic orange crocheted scarf:

Photo slurped from disney.wikia.com
Photo from Tangled
Knit using Rowan Kidsilk Haze, this scarf is both incredibly warm and incredibly light. The "stickiness" of the mohair allows a really rather delicate openwork stitch pattern to grow with the security of knowing it is not likely to snag and pull at every opportunity.

Photo from Tangled
The pattern features a simple 4 row repeat, using double yarn overs and purlwise twisted stitches (don't worry, it's much easier than it sounds). It knits up very quickly, and adding tassels is always good fun.

Photo from Tangled
I really appreciate the effort  Team Tangled went to in photographing and styling the scarf. The vintage hat, carpet bag and purple coat all fulfil the old British look I was aiming for, and the colours work so well with the blues of the scarf. I'd been fortunate enough to preview these a little while ago, however this one was a treat for me this morning:

Photo from Tangled
That's right, Mary Poppins flying across London on her umbrella! Genius!

You can check out Tangled at www.tangledness.com and see their fab collection of Movie Knits patterns. The Poppins scarf is available for free on their website (and will remain free indefinitely) and you can download it here: Poppins Scarf. If you do knit this pattern (and please do!) why not share your knitting on Ravelry, and link your project to the pattern page?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Socks, viruses and dinosaurs

This last week has been primarily dominated by a super nasty computer virus that has mostly kept me offline (all my emails have come from my phone, so sorry for any typos) and completely prevented me from accessing any of my pattern files! Eeep!

So I'd just like to thank all of my wonderful pattern testers who have been so patient - even completing a whole test with a dodgy chart - geniuses!

In the interim, whilst waiting for the million and one anti-spyware scans to complete, I've managed to knit to the armholes on my Clematis. I wasn't able to go any further without access to the pattern which is a bit of a pain as it does put me WAY behind schedule for publishing by the end of November. However, I really like how it's coming out so far, the bust darts are fitting better than expected, and the drape is lovely.

I've also been able to finish Andrew's second pair of Christmas socks from last year, hooray! Don't worry, Andrew doesn't mind them coming this late in the year, I'm still waiting on a pair of trousers from my last birthday 14 months ago! I made him a pair of Father's New Socks from Vintage Gifts to Knit by Susan Crawford and Jame Waller in 2 shades of Wollmeise (Zenzi and Eberholtz). I made a lot of mods as the pattern was a bit fussy for my tastes, knitting the top and bottom of the foot separately, and I just wanted these knit. I'm very rarely knitting "to order" like this, and I'm glad of that, as these were more of a slog than anything else. But Andrew and I like the end result, which I guess is what really counts!


 Thirdly, and most entertainingly, I knit this dinosaur for our friend Gareth's birthday - Reggie the Veggie Stegosaurus!:


The pattern is from Knit & Purl Pets, a book full of wonderfully cute toys, excellent photography and a lovely, rustic feel. The patterns have some flaws to say the least, and I wouldn't recommend this book to inexperienced toy knitters, but it would be a lovely gift for most knitters this Christmas! In addition to his adventures on the TV, this fellow also explored the top of the wardrobe (beloved of the Elmo cat);


And braved the dark and scary streets of Mile End on the bookshelf (beloved of the Joe cat);






Andrew did the embroidery on his face and feet, and also crocheted Gareth a wonderful aardvark of his own design, which was unfortunately gifted before I could get any photos. His crochet skills are getting better and better at a rapid pace, to think I only taught him this time last year is frustrating - damn him for being so gifted!

Good luck to all those knitters prepping gifts for Christmas this year, may your yarn not run out and your pattern not have errata.

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

NaKniSweMo!

It's NaKniSweMo again! Hooray!

In English that mean's it's National Knit A Sweater In A Month (Month), whereby knitter's the world over try their darndest to knit 50,000 stitches in just 30 days. The "National" refers to the parent concept, NaWriNoMo (National Write a Novel in a Month (Month)) - an American "pastime" where every November people write 50,000 word novels in just 30 days. See the theme?!

Last year I successfully knit this sweater, a super simple in the round yoke neck jumper with a stripe of Sidar Crofter DK - a "fair isle effect" yarn.

Photo by Alex Wakeman, Model Holly
Photo by Alex Wakeman, Model Holly
I love this sweater, it's big and fun and I wear it a lot (it's also machine washable) but there were a number of problems with it that prevented me from writing up the pattern, I didn't like the way the armholes worked, and I don't think knitters really need another stockinette yoke neck jumper pattern!

This year I'm branching out. Knitting 50,000 stitches in a month isn't so much of a stretch for me, I probably do that on an average month. Instead of pushing myself to knit 100,000 (or whatever) I decided that a greater challenge would be to design, knit, write, edit, photograph and publish a new pattern within the time frame.  Eeep!

So I'm using some Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK (bought in last year's Christmas John Lewis Sale) to make Clematis, a soft, wearable pullover with pleated shoulders and scalloped hems.

Please excuse my crappy photo of my crappy sketch!

I cast on last night and have knit the first 4in/10cm of the body so far:


Yes, I know it's curling, and yes, I do have plans!

Pattern writing is going well, schematic is done too. Clematis will be available in 6 sizes, from (if I remember correctly) 28-46in/71-117cm.

If you're interested in joining in, you can sign up over at the NaKniSweMo group on Ravelry. Moderated by Shannon Okey of KnitGrrl and Cooperative Press fame there's a fantastic list of prizes donated for completers. Two lucky knitters will win the complete MichaelaKnits PDF download collection, including all patterns released prior to November 30th this year (and there's some wonders coming out this month!) So what are you waiting for, get knitting!