Monday 23 December 2013

Christmas Greetings

Thank you for all the support during 2013. Have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hope to see you all again in 2014 with some yarn, pattern and book reviews, giveaways and other things that catch my eye...

Friday 6 December 2013

Fair Isle Style Book Review

Image  used with permission © Chris Vaccaro

Fair Isle Style - Mary Jane Mucklestone
This is a book of hand knitting patterns combining the traditional colour work technique using two colours on a row with an added modern twist. Mary Jane Mucklestone is well-known for her colourful knitwear and is the author of 200 Fair Isle Motifs and 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs. For Fair Isle Style she has brought together 20 designs from established and upcoming names in the world of knitting.

The designs range in difficulty providing something for a first time Fair Isle project such as the Kulli Cowl by Ysolda Teague to the more complex Mirry-Dancers Yoked Pullover by Cheryl Burke (shown above and also featuring on the front cover of the book).

© Chris Vaccaro
I had to include an image of the these cute Peeri Weeri Booties by Carrie Bostick Hoge. Judging by the comments on the Ravelry projects page they are proving to be a popular gift and user up of spare yarn.

© Chris Vaccaro

I love knitting mittens. There are four patterns for gloves including the fingerless ones by SpillyJane a.k.a. Jane Dupuis called Mushroom Kellimuffs which I chose to knit in Jamieson's of Shetland DK yarn.

Towards the back of the book is a detailed section called 'Design Notebook' with information about: how to knit in the Fair Isle tradition, yarn choice, how to read charts, gauge and swatching, steeks, colour choice and an extensive glossary of terms. Basically everything you need to know to complete a project from the book.

The section on 'Colour Choice' and how to combine colours was useful to me. For my 'Mushroom Kelliemuffs' I had decided to use up some spare Jamieson's of Shetland yarn but had a limited colour palette to choose from. The information helped me decide which colours to use from those I had available.

For my next project, I'd like to make the Morroless Socks by Mary Jane Mucklestone. I like the natural grey main colour with the bright contrasts on the striking star design.

© Chris Vaccaro

Information about each of the patterns is available from the Ravelry Fair Isle Style book page.


Tuesday 3 December 2013

Black Sheep Wools Blogger of the Month

I was delighted to find out I had been chosen as blogger of the month November 2013 on  Black Sheep Wools, award winning Knit & Stitch Blog.  

Here's a quote from their website, "Established in 1983, Black Sheep Wools is a family run knitting & needlecraft retailer, based in the village of Culcheth, Warrington, Cheshire.
Our Craft Barn is the largest knitting store in the country! We deliver workshops and drop in sessions on a weekly basis. We also have recently opened Tea Bags Full – somewhere you can rest your legs with a nice cuppa and slice of cake!"

To read my interview click here.

Monday 28 October 2013

Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester DK Review

I'm half way to completing a crochet hexagon throw using Debbie Bliss's Blue Faced Leicester DK in the colours above. They all have a subtle heather appearance. This is turning out to be a lovely material to work with so I thought I'd share some information about the yarn. I'm using the same size crochet hook as the recommended needle size 4mm (US6).
Here's a close up of the part finished crochet throw - more about this project once it's finished!

  • The Blue Face Leicester DK comes in 108m / 50g doughnut style balls.
  • 100% British wool superwash
  • 22 stitches over 28 rows = 10cm (4ins)

The colour range includes 16 shades, some stronger shades as well as the pastel ones I've chosen.

The ball band includes a silhouette of the Blue Faced Leicester sheep. I found this description and image of the (male) sheep in my  little book called 'Know your Sheep'. It's a native British breed,  has the finest wool and is highly prized by home spinners. I am finding this yarn very soft and easy to handle.

So far so good with the crochet but what about the knitting? Being a bit short of time to make a full size jumper I came across a pattern for these tiny raglan sleeve sweaters by Greens and Jeans on Ravelry. I used 4mm double pointed needles to make these sample sweaters. I like the stitch definition on the tiny cable and on the colour work.

There's a pattern book for the yarn with a range of sweaters for adults and children. I picked out a few that caught my eye. I especially like the Fair Isle style of the sweaters and the simple classic shapes of the blue cardigan and the child's coat.

Image with permission Designer Yarns

Image with permission Designer Yarns 

Image with permission Designer Yarns

Image with permission Designer Yarns

Hope you enjoyed this quick review. 

Have you tried this yarn or made any of the garments in the book?

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Colours of Shetland by Kate Davies - Book Review

I first came across the Edinburgh based designer Kate Davies via the knitting website Ravelry and then started following her blog.  When her book 'Colours of Shetland' was published I was drawn to it immediately. Since I started keeping Shetland sheep anything to do with 'Shetland' catches my eye. Published in 2012 the book features 10 signature hand-knits inspired by the Shetland Islands.
Patterns include:
Stevenson Sweater
Stevenson Gauntlets
Puffin Sweater
Puffin Mantle
Ursula Cardigan
Ursula Mittens
Northmavine Hoody
Northmavine Hap
Scatness Tunis
Scatness Tam

All of the patterns in the book are also available to purchase individually via Ravelry.

What I like most about this book is the combination of pattern instructions with details about how the design was inspired. These include pieces about the Shetland Islands history, colours and textures of the landscape and wildlife all illustrated with wonderful photography and graphics.

Instructions are very clear and detailed along with 'how to' knit swatches for each project to ensure correct size and fit.

Many of the garments have a smaller project in the same design for example a hat or a pair of gloves. You can try out the smaller project before making a commitment to the larger one. I love the Scatness tunic at the end of the book. So I might try the Scatness hat featured on the front cover to try out the pattern design.

So far I've completed the Ursula Mittens. This pattern was inspired by the writer Ursula Venables who lived and worked on the Islands documenting the wildlife, landscape and crofting life during the 1940's. I altered the mitten pattern into a fingerless mit version just because I find this style more practical for me. I love the simple Fair Isle design in the three colour combination.

The other larger project using this design is the Ursula cardigan. It's a classic shape and very much fits in with the vintage styling that is so popular just now.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book featuring traditional knits combined with a modern twist, presented against background information about the Shetland Islands. As if I wasn't already inspired to make a trip to the Islands this certainly has added to my interest to go there one day...

Friday 4 October 2013

Shetland Wool Week 7-13 October 2013

Next week is Shetland Wool Week 7-13 October. On Monday 7th October I'll be letting you know what this little lot of Shetland wool and other goodies is for and how you can win it...have a great weekend...

Friday 20 September 2013

Weekend to do list - A lot of knitting

Missed the Fabric of Britain: Knittings Golden Age programme on BBC4 last evening. Going to catch up on BBC iPlayer over the weekend but first I'll be doing a bit of walking...

...a bit of cake baking (to eat while watching knitting on iPlayer)...

        ...trying to finish my Ursula Mittens by Kate Davis
started back in August

...working on a new Hand Knitted Things design using 
Rowan Felted Tweed Aran...

Have a great weekend..

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Lotta Jansdotta Bella Quilt

Never having made a quilt I was looking for a design that wasn't too complicated but still a bit of a challenge.  Inspiration came from Film in the Fridge's - Innocent Crush Quilt. Then I saw the Lotta Jansdotta Bella fabrics and put the two together. Squares and rectangles with boarders. How difficult could that be....Well I've learned a few things from making this quilt.

Cutting and Measurement
Precise measurement and cutting makes for an easier life later in the piecing together stage.

I made the squares and rectangles a little larger than shown in the quilt block tutorial. Some of my prints needed a slightly larger square to see the design. If I made another quilt like this I would probably try using a smaller pattern print with less directional influence.

I thought it would look quite nice to do the quilting stitch around each square/rectangle. A good idea but in practice this left me with a few problems with fabric shifting, hundreds of loose ends to sew in and on the back the effect not as pleasing as the front. Will remember this for the next quilt.

Binding and Fabric
Some time after purchasing the bulk of the fabric, I was searching online for extra Bella 'yellow dot' fabric to complete the binding. I discovered the range to be discontinued. I will have to plan ahead my fabric purchases (and get on with things instead of leaving them in a cupboard) similar to knitting yarn and discontinued ranges. They always do advise you to purchase enough to complete the project!  In the end decided to settled for making a plain white neutral bias binding to complement the other colours.

Finished Size
46" x 56".

Some of my finishing work could have been executed with more finesse, however, for my first effort I'm please with the result.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Crochet Hexagons and Colour Chart

So far on this Lakeside Forest Blanket I have made 30 out of the (hopefully no more than) 99 hexagons. After completing about 10 hexagons or so I'm weaving in the ends. The prospect of doing all these at the end is very off putting and the only thing I dislike about multi-coloured crochet projects.

I'm doing the hex's in stages, making a batch of coloured centres first, then adding the cream boarder on all of them, then adding the final grey edging.

I planned the colour sequencing by using this custom hexagon graph paper generator. The URL for this gadget was included in the crochet blanket instructions and has proved quite useful.

The paper I generated has a few more than the 11 x 9 hexagons

I'm using five colours for the centres, pink, green, yellow, blue and purple. The paper has helped to organise the sequence and no two colours are next to each other. 

Each hexagon measures 4 1/2 inches (11.5cm) across. Based on this measurement the 11 x 9 hexagons should make a blanket approx. 40 inches by 50 inches - I'll be adding a boarder and maybe some more hex's, I'll see how it looks once I have the 99 sewn together.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

UK Handmade Magazine Autumn 2013

This is a another visual treat from UKhandmade (as always). 

I love the photography in this publication. 

As well as being a visual treat, this season there's lots of interesting articles including:

how to's
craft business know how...


Saturday 7 September 2013

15 Tweed Pins

The weather is cooler and autumn feels like it's on it's way...time to think about warmer clothes and colours...

Click here or on the image to take a look at my 'Tweed' board on Pinterest.

Friday 6 September 2013

New Look

Regular visitors may have noticed a new look to Hand Knitted Things blog. 

Soon (in December 2013) HKT will be five years old. Time I thought, for a change.  

Jennifer from Raspberry Road Design has been working on the graphics and dealing with all the technical things for me. She has been great to work with.  

I'm delighted with the finished look...hope you all like it.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Postcards from the Island of Guernsey

We took a summer break on the Island of Guernsey. We did lots of walks along country lanes, coastal paths and beaches...