Saturday, 17 March 2012

Plans afoot!

So the big news of the last few months has been that my better half Andrew has been away working in Antwerp at a new fashion label. The bigger news is that, now his contract has been extended, I'll be moving out there too!

One of the perks of working as a designer in this industry is how transportable it is - I'll be able to design just as much for the same magazines and for myself there as I have here - more so in fact - as due to lower living costs I won't have to work part time! I am SO SO SO looking forward to having a little extra time to cook, read books, garden (we have a tiny balcony) and generally, "play house".

We'll be moving in less than 2 weeks now - the challenge has been finding someone to drive all of our stuff over there (neither of us drive, not that I'm old enough to hire a van anyway) but fortunately Andrew's dad has agreed. We also have to arrange Pet Passports for each of the cats, a breaktaking £160 apiece. We're very lucky, even 6 months ago it would have been a lot more. Thanks to some lovely Ravellers I've almost covered this cost after some extensive destashing!

The biggest task is breaking down three years of acquired stuff into "Keep", "Lend" and "Bin". Andrew and I have quite different opinions on what should go in each pile. I am inclined to get rid of almost everything, either by selling, gifting to friends, giving to charity or recycling. But never mind, we'll get there eventually!

This means my plans to publish several outstanding patterns this month has been temporarily shelved (sorry!) - think of it this way, all the more for over the summer!

Speak soon!

Friday, 9 March 2012


Yesterday's Knitty publication has finally spurred me into some blogging action!

While I haven't been idle these last few weeks (lots of "secret knitting" has been occurring) this blog has been rather neglected. As a treat, I think today shall be the day to unveil the first of my new self-published patterns, Weekend!

Weekend is a 1m/1-and-a-bit yd square throw perfect for use in the home year round - mine is certain to become a picnic blanket come the summer! It uses 4 skeins of Colinette Calligraphy, quite possibly my favourite yarn of the moment. Each skein is 100m and is worked with 12mm needles - this throw really can be knit in a Weekend, mine was!

The throw features a centre panel of knotted openwork that is really simple to execute, each knot is worked over just one row, so it's perfect for highly variagated yarns such as Calligraphy as the short colour runs are contained within each knot, leading to an almost spotted fabric. Upon completion of the centre panel, stitches are picked up around the sides and a provisional cast on is unzipped before the linen stitch border is worked.

Because of the super dense nature of the linen stitch, you will need about half of the total yarn just for the border. However, this is a border that will last forever - after a winter of heavy use and cat love this border has just begun to start to felt together. The edges of throws are the regions that feel the most wear, and in weekend they are reinforced to the max! Clever arrangements of increases at the corners (although I say so myself) allow the pattern to continue uninterrupted.

Speaking of cats (and how can I not, seeing as they make such wonderful models) the real advantage of the centre panel is in it's Natural Cat Resistance. Cat owners know how much they love to "knead" - claw at carpet/your bed/your tummy before settling down to sleep. That beautiful cable and textured afgan you spent two years knittng? Torn to shreds by these guys without proper vigilance! With Weekend, when they try to knead that centre panel all they get is the sofa. Boring! Joey and Elmo had one little go on Weekend and then realised that they'd have more luck with the carpet/bed/my tummy. So I guess this is only a benefit if you value your throw more than your stomach like me (sorry Mam!)

If you want to knit Weekend (it has a great effort to appreciation ratio as a gift) you can purchase the pattern for £2.50. The Ravelry pattern page is here or you can buy now

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Knitty Spring Summer 2012 and Boscobel

So the big secret is that I'm in Knitty! Hooray! Find the free Boscobel pattern here!

I feel like a proper grown up designer now, the whole process has been so amazing! Even my surrogate Mam Kate Heppell (editor of Knit Now) sent me a message to tell me what a proud mum she is!

This shawl has been a long time in the making, and was initially inspired as a side-venture from my collection from this time last year, Leaf Litter. That collection was based on a tree losing it's leaves in autumn and I took a lot of mood-board-style photos of various piles of leaves. The overwhelming feeling was that in reality all of the round leaf shapes I was knitting were just wrong. Leaves aren't round (most of the time), they're funny shapes. In London, we have a lot of Horse Chestnut and Ash trees, which have five parts to each leaf, not a dainty round shape.

So I dusted off my scientist hat and investigated some different leaf shapes. The more I thought about it, the more it became obvious that I wanted to create a stitch pattern that represented oak leaves. It had been the Royal Wedding shortly before I started planning this design, I was spinning Shetland, the most British of fibres, and I had found the most perfectly beautiful silver silk yarn in Paris (from L'Oisieve Thé, blogged here). Everything was pointing to something luxurious, traditional, and British. This, mixed with my obsession with Horrible Histories and the Charles the 2nd rap (please, please, watch it on Youtube) and a pattern based on the Royal Oak was born.

I knit the commercial sample first, convinced my at-best beginner spinning wasn't up to scratch for the likes of Knitty. I began working on the centre panel of the shawl knit in handspun (thus not giving away any of the secret special stitch pattern ;) ) at last year's Knit Nation, perhaps you saw me knitting it? A very kind and supportive chat from Judith McCuin and Merike Saarnit (that I will never forget) at the teachers tea later and I was submitting to Knittyspin!

We took the first set of photos one evening in August, but we lost the light so quickly that, while not awful, these pictures were hardly appropriate for publication! One of the first that we took made it into the final pattern, and it is one of my favourites!

  It was the last week in October that we took the summer photos in St James' Park - we were so lucky that the deck chairs were out! The weather was so glorious it really felt just right for taking such important pictures!

I hope you feel eager to try and knit your own Boscobel shawl, I assure you it's a quick and interesting knit. The leaves are knit in stockinette, so can readily absorb any slightly slubby handspinning *cough* and the edging is so quick (just 6 rows!) you'll be done before you know it!