Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Trio of Owls

Inspired by things autumnal, 'Trio of Owls' is the latest toy pattern from Hand Knitted Things in seasonal muted colours. This cute little family is easy to make with knit and purl stitches in contrasting colours and textures, with the addition of large rustic buttons creating the whimsical character features. 

The colourful body and wings are made with a recent addition to the Batik Elements yarn range called magnesium. This is combined with two solid shades, biscuit and gold. 

Here's some pattern details for this project:

x2 50g ball Stylecraft Batik Elements Magnesuim 
x1 50g ball Batik dk Biscuit
x1 50g ball Batik dk Gold

x1 pair 3mm (US3) knitting needles (small owl)
x1 pair 3.25mm (US3) knitting needles (medium and large owl)
x1 pair 5mm (US8) knitting needles (large owl)

x1 3.5mm (US3) crochet hook for making the feet only
x2 x 20mm diameter buttons (small owl)
x2 x 30mm diameter buttons (medium owl)
x2 40mm diameter buttons (large owl)
x6 decorative 10mm diameter buttons (these are optional added to the front of the larger buttons)
Sewing needle suitable for the buttons
Blunt tapestry needle for sewing and weaving yarn ends
x2 large hands full of toy filling

Finished sizes
small owl - 9cm x 10cm x 6cm (3.5 x 4 x 2.5 ins)
medium owl - 14cm x 14cm x 8cm (5.5 x 5.5 x 3 ins)
large owl - 16cm x 20cm x 4cm (5.5 x 8 x 4 ins)

Skills required to make the owls
cast on 
cast off
make a chain of crochet
basic sewing on buttons and seams

Pattern is available on Ravelry called 'Trio of Owls'.

Buttons were sourced from a selection from The Textile Garden and some already in my collection.

Update: The giveaway is now closed, a winner has been chosen and notified by email. 

Thank you to everyone who entered.

The Giveaway runs from 

Tuesday 4th September to Monday 10th September 2018 

and includes the following:

Digital pattern 'Trio of Owls'

Yarn Pack from Stylecraft containing the following:

x2 50g ball Batik Elements Magnesuim 
x1 50g ball Batik dk Biscuit
x1 50g ball Batik dk Gold

(the buttons are not included in the giveaway)

To enter the giveaway follow the link below, 
enter an email address 
so we can contact you if you win. 
The winner will be randomly selected and notified by email. 


Good luck!

Monday, 27 August 2018

Linen Drape

What a summer it's been with the hot dry weather here in the UK. There's been no need for extra layers and shawls. 

Back in February I had an idea for a design using the new Linen Drape double knitting from Stylecraft. The design was completed in May. Since it's now August, I though to write a short post about it before the summer turns into Autumn.

There are 8 shades currently available (from the top down): Peacock, Sangria, Cranberry, River, Coral, Lime, Wheat, Natural.

Some more yarn details:
70% Viscose, 30% Linen
186m / 203 yds
4mm (US6) recommended needle size
Tension 22sts over 28 rows 10x10cm (4x4ins)
Machine washable at 30 degrees

The fresh clean colours of Lime, Natural and River, were picked when it was snowing in February. I was looking forward to summer, blue skies, fluffy white clouds, green fields. There's certainly been the blue skies but I couldn't have anticipated the heat and the parched brown fields of England's green and pleasant land. 

The shawl is knitted from the top down working a combination of stocking stitch and yarn over knit two together eyelets. So far I haven't written up the pattern for this but hopefully I'll get round to it soon. 

The yarn lives up to it's name, in that it does drape really beautifully when knitted up. It is also lovely to work with and has a silk like sheen to the fibres. 

August is almost at end and the evenings, dare I mention, are drawing in somewhat cooler than of late. I'm looking forward to  wearing this shawl before summer is officially over. As I write it's been the Bank Holiday Weekend and of course, raining! The grass outside is slowing returning to it's more usual shade of green.

The weather forecast for the working week is for blue skies and fluffy white clouds...

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Red Roof Croft House Knitting Kit

After much preparation, I'm delighted the knitting kits for The Red Roof Croft House are now available online from my Etsy shopPackaged in a sturdy cardboard box, this kit make's a lovely gift for a knitting friend or relative.

The pattern, originally published in 2010 was inspired by the house with the red roof on the Applecross Peninsular, west coast of Scotland. 

The kit is aimed at intermediate knitters or confident beginners. Make as a child's toy, add extra weight for a doorstop or bookend.

Knitting skills:
cast on
cast off
knit and purl stitch
knit two stitches together 
pass one stitch over
make stitches with a backward loop
work with changes in colour
pick up stitches

The kit contains everything you'll need:
Printed knitting pattern
Yarn - 3 colours of premium acrylic double knitting yarn
Pair of straight 3.25mm (US3) bamboo knitting needles
Blunt tapestry needle for sewing
100g polyester toy filling

Finished size:
18cm x 30cm x 10cm (7ins x 12 ins x 4ins)

If you already have yarn and knitting needles there's a digital PDF pattern available to download from Ravelry

If you are planning a visit to north west Scotland the lovely cafe  Nanny's at Sheildaig is a short drive away from the real red roof house which inspired the knit. The cafe serves delicious coffee, cakes and also stocks the knitting kits in carry handle bags. 

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Visitors from Scotland

Last week the Knitting and Crochet Guild Archive (KCG) in West Yorkshire welcomed some visitors all the way from Scotland, Carol Christiansen, Shetland Museum curator and Roslyn Chapman from Glasgow University. The KCG archive holds an enviable collection of hand knitted "Shetland" lace shawls. Some of the most interesting and delicate examples had been selected in advance to show the visitors. 

First on the morning agenda customary, tea, coffee and biscuits in the office and a chance to discuss the archive in general.

Carol and Roslyn outlined the purpose of their visit which related to research started in 2016.  It centres around the traditions of Shetland lace knitting, cultural implications, branding and the marketing of "authentic" Shetland knitwear. 

Filmed and broadcast live, a study day held in 2016 about the research gives an overview of the project. The recording can be see here or by clicking on the image below. Background information to this film can be found here on the Shetland Museums website.

Following our refreshments we relocated to the main archive. Much discussion and information was exchanged around each knitted item displayed. Carol and Roslyn shared their in depth knowledge of Shetland lace shawls, haps and garment construction, along with insights on authenticity.  

Members of the KCG team shared information on the history and provenance of items in the collection. Much discussion followed which I haven't included here, but the following images hopefully give a snapshot of some of the lace knitting the team had prepared for the visitors.

The above images show two good examples of large shawl/haps with the knitting pattern for both shown below.

Knitting pattern books dating from the 1800's are held by the KCG archive.  The Edinburgh based author Jane Gaugain wrote extensively on "Shetland" lace knitting. A blog post by Kate Davies  "In the steps of Jane Gaugain" gives an insight into this prolific pattern writer.

Going off-piste at the end of the day, some knitted treats from the archive were retrieved to show the visitors. Three lovely examples of children's Fair Isle jumpers dating from the 1930's to 1950's.

Then some excellent examples of Bohus knitting from the collection. (I wrote a little piece about this style in an earlier blog post here).

And finally the group photo, (unfortunately some of the team had to leave early and are missing from the photo). 
From left to right Trish, Julia, Barbara, Ruth, Carol and Angharad.

Following a very informative and interesting day our visitors left for the long trip back north.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Shetland Lace Knitting

While browsing publications for instructions on lace shawl knitting I came across The Magic of Shetland Lace by Elizabeth Lovick. The  cover indicates the contents include stitches, techniques and projects for lighter than air shawls, just what I was looking for! However, it was the image on the front depicting light difused, delicate lace samples which inspired me to take a closer look inside. 

The book has a stitch directory of essential Shetland lace knitting patterns. These are arranged into four categories: insertions, motifs,  allover patterns and laces.  I particularly like the samples in pastel colours which are photographed on a white background. The directory shows all the samples side by side so you can make comparisons. Each sample is referenced with the number of stitches and a row count. There are charts and written instructions for each design along with a larger image. There's also a "concentration level" guide, from 1 to 3 for each pattern (3 requiring the most concentration).

If you can knit and purl, do yarn overs and knit two togethers, this book claims to show you that Shetland lace knitting is with in your reach.

A very detailed chapter on how to put together a shawl design with helpful guidelines and practical examples gave me the confidence to try this myself.

The yarn I chose was, Jamieson's of Shetland Ultra, (x5, 25g balls shade Waterlily #690) knitted with Knit Pro Symfonie Rose Cubics size 4mm needles. The needles have a square cross section and are supposed to be ergonomically designed for a comfortable grip and produce more even stitches. They were easy to use except the dark rose wood colour, which combined with the dark shade of yarn I had chosen made seeing the stitches clearly more difficult. Once started I persevered, suspecting a change of needles part way through may have altered my knitting tension. Something I need to to bear in mind for the future.

The following is a description of the shawl I knitted along with  the selection of stitches I used from the book. There's no coincidence that they all require the lowest level 1 category of concentration. That said, it was a project I needed to give my whole attention without distractions.

There are 20 edging patterns. Attracted by the word "easiest", I chose Brand Iron Lace for the edging. Described as, "a common, old lace pattern... which works well in any yarn" It's worked over 12 stitches and includes, yarn overs, knit two togethers, cast off stitches. It's not difficult, the crucial thing is to keep count of the rows to maintain the pattern, the effect is quite striking and just as effective as some of the more complex edges requiring more concentration.

Two types of insertion were used, "Ladder" and "Bead" from the total of 13 described. 

Next, the central panel uses an allover pattern called, "Fir Cone". This is worked over 10 stitches and 20 rows. It includes the instruction, knit three through the back loop, (k3tbl) and is much easier than it sounds.

Then, the previously mentioned insertions and edging are repeated on the other side.

While I chose the easiest patterns I liked from the book, the actual knitting required considerable concentration. Several errors remain, unfortunately, uncorrected after being discovered well after the event. 

I'd certainly like to have a go at some of the more challenging stitch patterns but perhaps next time reduce the number of different elements which might help reduce the number of mistakes (and the length of time to complete it).