Monday, December 17, 2007

Nearly finished the waistcoat

I have now finished knitting the second front/back of the waistcoat and joined the back seam with a 3-needle cast off on the right side. I just need to finish the edges with a row of I-cord all the way around.

I should be able to post a picture of the completed waistcoat soon.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Multi-directional waistcoat first side finished

I finished the first side a couple of days ago and forgot to take a photo before starting the second front. The lower back section is joined to the upper back section as far as the centre back then the stitches are left on a spare needle.

When I started the second front I chose a ball that nearly match the point I stopped knitting when working the first side so i didn't have to loose much yarn in order to make sure the second front more or less matched the first front. In the photo I have knitted the second front down as far as part way through the short row shaping.

I should finish knitting the main body of the waistcoat by tomorrow, which just leaves the edging.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Multi-directional waistcoat

I have now finished the front of the waistcoat. There are 2 sections of short row shaping to turn the knitting as the underarm and back of the waistcoat is knitted sideways i.e. the knitting runs vertically rather than horizontally.

In the second picture I have just started knitting the lower back section to the upper back section. I should have this part of the back finished soon.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Multidirectional waistcoat and Knit Knit

This is the next picture of the waistcoat. I finished increasing for the front neck and have started doing the short rows to turn the knitting at the bottom of the right front. The short row wedge is repeated twice in total and i have just started the second wedge.

One of the things that does irritate me about Noro yarns is that they join them in the middle of the ball and the two sections don't match. I have just knitted through one of these joins and as the colour sequence was brocken up too much I did continue knitting rather than changing to another ball. As it comes in part of the short row section where the colour sequence does break up I don't thing it shows too much!

I've also been buying knitting books again. As my City and Guilds students know I am always buying new knitting books and my latest addition to my library is Knit Knit by Sabrina Gschwandtner. I had a quick look through the book and it looks really interesting. I particularly like books that tell you a bit about other designer makers and how they work. Heather and Jo I will bring the book to class tomorrow.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Multi-directional knitting

Some months ago I knitted this multi-directional waistcoat in a Lang Yarn. I've worn it quite a few times when teaching workshops or giving talks about knitting and have been asked for the pattern which I haven't written up yet.

I have decided to re-knit the design in Noro Silk Garden Lite before witing the pattern as Noro yarns, as well as being beautiful, are also more readily available than the Lang yarn. I thought I would log the progress of this re-knit on my blog so here is the first picture.

As you can see in the picture I've knitted the upper part of the back, divided for the back neck and started to knit the right front. I'll add another picture when I get to the short row shaping at the bottom of the right front.

A bit of a hiatus

I have had a bit of a break from writing this blog as i have been very busy this autumn. This time of year is usually busy with teaching workshops and talks to knitting groups and guilds but I was also offered some commission work as well at the beginning of October.

I was contacted by Angels the Costumiers to make some jumper for a show. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to do the work. It was interesting and also proved to be a bit more of a challenge than originally anticipated. Initially I was asked to knit 2 jumpers (machine knitting) and some extra rib fabrics to attach to fabric to look like jumpers. They wanted everything knitted in very fine yarn so even the rib pieces took longer than expected. Then part way through making the pieces they asked if I could do 2 more sets of rib bits and could I also do duplicates of everything!

On top of all the teaching work it was a bit stressful but I got all the work done so now I can get back to all the other things I put off in the meantime.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Knitting Workshops and talks

One of the nice things about my job is that I get invited to different parts of the UK to teach or give talks about various aspect of both hand and machine knitting. A couple of weeks ago I spent two days in Southport Lancashire as I was invited to talk to Longton Machine Knitting club in Preston and Southport Machine Knitting club.

The clubs organised for me to stay in a local B&B so I had the opportunity to see some of Southport while I was there. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me so wasn't able to take any photographs. I knew nothing about Southport so was quite surprised by the number of shops along Lord Street, I think it was called, as well as the new shopping centre, particularly the number of expensive jewellery shops. I enjoyed window shopping but that was all!

The two knitting clubs where very friendly and had there where a good number of people at each club. I did a demonstration of open fabric manual techniques to Longton machine knitting club and a talk on surface decoration on knitting to Southport machine knitting club.

This week I was invited to teach a one day workshop on bead knitting in Blackpool. Two small family hotels got together to offer a knitting break, a Monday to Friday break with two one day workshops.

I was invited to teach bead knitting on the Wednesday so travelled up to Blackpool on the Tuesday afternoon (as I live about 5 hours away from Blackpool). When I arrived the ladies where just finishing their Tuesday workshop on 'Hand made not homemade' which they all seem to enjoy. I was made very welcome by Paula, the owner of the Westcliffe hotel where I was staying. Angela runs the King Edward Hotel next door where half the students where staying.

Paula and Angela arrange for a local yarn shop to come over on the Tuesday evening with a selection of their yarns and patterns for everyone to look through. they couldn't bring all their yarns so brought shade cards for people to choose from and deliver the ordered yarn by the end of the week.

On the Wednesday I taught my workshop on bead knitting and hopefully the students enjoyed it. Like any new technique some picked it up quicker than others. Angela took some photos of the workshop so I will upload some pictures when I get them from Angela.

On the Wednesday evening Paula and Angela organised a trip to the local 'Hot Ice' show for those guests who wanted to go. I needed to pack up all my bits so didn't go to the show but did enjoy a walk down to the sea front. The hotels are in the North Beach area, quite close to the seea front so here are a couple of pictures of the sea front near the hotel and a bit further down the road, a view down towards Blackpool Tower.

I came home on Thursday just as the others where preparing to go to Fleetwood market and Freeport for a bit of shopping. I hope the ladies enjoyed their knitting break, I certainly enjoyed teaching them and seeing another part of Blackpool.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Yarn shops

A couple of weeks ago I went to London for the day to meet my City and Guilds students at the V&A Museum, but as we weren't meeting till 2.00pm I took the opportunity to visit Stash Yarns in Putney.

When I arrived I was made to feel welcome by Michelle the owner. Although it is a fairly small shop they have lots of interesting yarns imported from the USA. Muchelle is American so when she goes home to visit family she also takes the opportunity to search out new American yarns.

While we were chatting Michelle was telling me about the knitting circle that meet at the shop, that they are knitting mainly socks or lace shawls and scarves. The shop stocks a number of American yarns used for lace knitting including Fiddlesticks Knitting and Hand Maiden yarns. I was tempted to buy a ball/skein of each.

I bought a ball of Fiddlesticks Zephyr, a fine fingering weight yarn which is 50% merino wool and 50% tussah silk. There is approximately 630yds in the 2 oz ball which should be enough to knit a shawl. I've been commissioned to design a lace shawl using a fine bamboo yarn but I thought this Fiddlesticks yarn would work well as a practice yarn before working with the bamboo as I don't have a lot of the bamboo yarn to play with.

I also bought a skein of Hand Maiden Sea Silk, one of these new yarns that is 70% silk and 30% seacell (which I think is extract of sea weed but it doesn't smell of the sea). The skein has also been hand dyed. It was expensive as the skein was 150gms but should be sufficent to make a lace shawl or garment in a luxury fibre.

I sat knitting and talking with Michelle and her assistant Diane for most of the morning before making my way back to South Kensington to meet up with my students, so had a very enjoyable though rather expensive day.

I will go to visit the shop again but not until I have saved up some money as the yarns are very tempting!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bring a ball of yarn party

I recently had a birthday, one of those ones with a nought on the end, and decided to have a party to celebrate! Quite a few friends have reached the same age over the last few years and had parties, so to make mine a bit different I decided to have a 'Bring a ball of yarn' party.

When I suggested the idea to by hubby Dave his reponse was 'you need more yarn like a hole in the head', but can an obsessive knitter ever have enough yarn! The invites were sent out with instructions to 'bring a ball of yarn'.

Most of our friends do not knit so the first challenge was to find a wool shop but everyone did find somewhere and quite a few people brought more than one ball, so I have quite a colection as you can see in the photo.

The idea is to make a throw as a momento. I plan to knit it as a free form blanket/throw which will be an interesting challenge. I have done quite a bit of free form knitting as I also teach the technique but I think this will be an ongoing project! My intention is to keep a log of the progress of the throw on this blog and you never know I may have finished it by the time I reach the next landmark birthday.

As well as receiving lots of yarn and other presents some of our friends decided to put on some entertainment in my honour. The video can be viewed on youtube at I'm sure you agree it takes knitting and dancing to another level!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Listening to Knitting

or should I say listening to people talking about knitting. I've just listened to the 'More or Less' show on the BBC website after seeing a link from Pat Ashforth about her being on the show talking about knitting and maths. I've know Pat for many years and have her first book 'Woolly Thoughts' which links maths with knitting so it was interesting to hear her talking about garter stitch squares and their mathematical relationship. Sandy Black (knitwear designer and tutor at The Royal College of Art) was also on the programme talking about knitting.

Last year I discovered Podcasts and started listening to Knitcast the podcast by Marie Irshad. She has interviewed lots of interesting knitters and designers over the last couple of years, some from the UK but many of whom live in America; such is the wonder of technology these days. I really enjoyed these interviews as I like to hear about how people got into knitting and designing and how they work. She hasn't produced any more podcasts since August last year but hopefully there will be some more to come.

I also sometimes listen to cast-on put together by Brenda Dayne or at least I do when I can get the computer to download the podcast; I've had problems ever since my hubby got me an iPod shuffle and I had to load iTunes to use it. I think I'll have to try reinstalling iTunes and Quicktime again and see if it works better next time.

Technology is Great! I just wish I knew more about it so I could get it to work when it goes wrong. At least with knitting I know what I'm doing and can figure out a solution when I hit a problem. Back to the knitting then I think.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bead Knitting, talks and teaching

Here I am at the end of another busy week and we're at the end of March already. Yesterday I was invited to talk to the Petersfield branch of the Knitting and Crochet Guild about Bead knitting.

They are a very nice group who meet every other month in a hall in the centre of Petersfield. They don't always have a speaker, I think sometimes members of the group will demonstrate a technique or something.

They where interested in the different ways beads can be knitted as there are several different ways to work beads into knitting e.g. placing the beads between stitches in a garter stitch pattern, using a slip stitch technique to place the bead in front of the slipped stitch and knitting the bead through each stitch.

I have included a photograph of 3 beaded purses I have designed. I do sell purse patterns and as offer them as kits which include everything you need to make the purse. More information about the patterns and kits can be found on my website.

Talking of bead knitting, one of my City and Guilds students, Heather, had her beaded bracelet pattern published recently in Magknits - 'way to go Heather'.

On a slightly different subject I am teaching a couple of 'Learn to Knit' sessions at an advertising agency in London. They contacted me a couple of months ago to teach the sessions. A couple of weeks ago I contacted the Hand Knitters Association to ask about getting some help with yarn and needles for these teaching sessions and explained what I was doing. I was a bit surprised that they where so interested in my getting this 'job' because the company approached me rather than the other way around. They are keen to promote knitting anywhere and where very interested that a company wanted to provide some learn to knit sessions for their staff.

Hopefully I will be able to get some photos of the day and try to post them later in the week.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Felted Knitting

This year is flashing by; its nearly March already!

I have been booked to teach a number of hand knitting workshops for Alton Knitting and Woolcraft, the yarn shop in Alton. One of the workshops I was booked to teach was 'Felted Knitting' and the original date was 10th March.

In the second week of January Marion, the manager, rang me to say there had been a 'cock up' on the dates and the programme said I was doing the workshop on 10th February, (which did in fact happen). Suddenly I had only 3 weeks to make the samples instead of the month and a half I had expected.
At the end of last year there where a couple of articles in Knit Today about felting knitting which proved to be useful. I had done quite a bit of washing machine felted knitting with both hand knitted and machine knitted items but my previous attempt at hand felting had been OK but not as easy as I had hoped. In the Knit Today article they mentioned using protective shelf liner from Lakeland; a plastic mess which comes in a roll. I ordered some and when it arrived tried it out, and I have to say I was very pleased with the result.

It didn't shrink the knitting as much as the machine washed pieces but it did make a very acceptable piece of felted knitting very easily. It worked very well for flat pieces but I think 3 dimensional pieces will felt better in the washing machine.

For the workshop I knitted a bag in Rowan Tapestry and Kid Silk Haze with an eyelash yarn for the top section of the bag. I knitted some leaves to add to the bag as decoration. I also made a flower corsage in Rowan Scottish Tweed. The bag was washed at 40 degrees and felted well and the Scottish Tweed was washed at 60 degrees. (I have tried felting it at a lower temperature but it doesn't work as well).

In the last few months the yarn spinners have also caught onto this idea of felting knitting as both Twilleys and Elle Yarns have a good range of yarns suitable for felting in the washing machine at 40 degrees.

The bag in the picture is knitted in Elle Merino Brights, a softly twisted, singles, merino wool, dyed in long lengths to give a gradual colour change which felts in the machine at 40 degrees. I used a modular knitting technique to make the front and back panels, and short row knitting to shape the side panels. Wherever possible I picked up and knitted pieces together as I would rather knit than sew! I also made a knitted lining for the base so I could use stiff card to keep the base flat.

The pattern should be available soon along with other patterns on my website. I am also teaching the Felted Knitting Workshop again on Sunday 25th March at the Interknit Cafe in Farnham.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

HNC first item made

Having developed ideas for eight textile at the end of last term we were asked to develop one of these textiles into a finished piece. I decided to make something using one of the fabric and knitting ideas.

Due to time pressures (and any other excuse I can think of) I went for the easiest option which was to make a scarf, so the next thing to do was buy some fabric and yarn. I went to John Lewis in West Quay to look for fabric and yarn. Unfortunately they didn't have the type of fabric I originally want ed to get but I decided to buy the fabric shown in the photo opposite. I don't know what it is called but it changes colour depending on the angle of the light and is a creased textured fabric. I also bought some yarn which seemed to go quite well with the fabric

When I got home I decided the fabric wouldn't drape the way I wanted the scarf to drape so went to the sewing shop in Alton to see what they had. There I found a devoured type fabric (as seen in the 2nd photo), so went next door to the wool shop and bought some more wool to go with this fabric. (Well you have to add to yarn stash don't you!)

I used the fabric to make the ends of the scarf and knitted the centre section lengthways in garter stitch stripes. I then had to work out a way to join the fabric and knitting as neatly as possible. I used a running stitch along the top of the fabric which I could knit into. I also picked up along the edge of the scarf to cover the selvedge and knitted the two sections together with a 3-needle cast off.

The last two photos are of the finished scarf. I still have the brown tone fabric and yarns which I still want to use but will try one of the other techniques I used in the samples for another, possibly more unusual scarf.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Keeping track of tension

Before Christmas, like many of you I expect, I had to tidy up to make way for visitors, eating at the dining room table etc. As part of this tidy up I decided to try and put some order into my tension swatches and sample ideas pile of knitting.

Last year my sister gave me a very nice spiral bound sketch book so I decide to use this to keep information about gauges for different yarns, samples of the yarns with their label and samples of some stitch pattern ideas.

As I work out all my own knitting designs I do knit tension swatches. I am also a machine knitter so I've found over the years it is easier to make tension swatches on similar lines to machine knitting even when hand knitting. I don't like knitting a piece and then having to mark out an area 10cm square and trying to count the rows and stitches. It can be quite difficult in stocking stitch let alone a textures stitch or textured yarn. Instead I prefer to use marker rows and marker stitches, and decide how many rows and stitches I am going to measure over to calculate the gauge.

If I am knitting DK, Aran or Chunky yarn I tend to knit 30 rows between marker rows and 20 stitches between marker stitches. In the section below the first two contrast marker rows I also work a number of eyelets to note the size of knitting needle I am using. The stitch markers can be knitted in either on row 15 or rows 10 and 20. Once the swatch is knitted it is quite easy to measure between the inside edges of the two sets of marker rows and the inside edges of the two marker stitches.

To find the stitch gauge divide 20 by the measurement you read from the ruler (in cm) to give you the number of stitches to 1cm, and to find the row gauge divide 30 by the measurement you read from the ruler to give the number of rows to 1cm. If you want to check your tension again that given in a pattern then multiply the rows to 1cm by 10 to get the number of rows to 10cm and the same for the stitches.

As well as an example tension swatch I have included a couple of pages from my sketchbook showing yarn labels, yarn, stitch samples and notes.

Having started the sketchbook I will have to try and ensure I keep adding to it over the next year. It should provide a useful reference for the future