Saturday, 16 January 2016

New Pattern: Syne Shawlette

Just in time for the weekend is the Syne shawlette!

It's inspired by fireworks at New Year, which are particularly beautiful when viewed over the castle in Edinburgh. This shawlette is a one skein knit, inspired by those most giant of explosions which radiate outward to end in further noise and sparkles. 

The yarn!  Oh goodness the yarn.  It's the Lush Light base by Rainbow Heirloom, which is made up of alpaca, silk and cashmere.    It's the most gorgeous shade of green as well, I really fell in love.

Given that you’ve been knitting for others all through December, January might be time for a little something for yourself.   What are you currently making for yourself?
Similar to my previous shawls, it's semi-circular shaped, beginning with a garter tab at the centre top, increasing as you knit down toward the lace border.
Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins
(c) Rainbow Heirloom
Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins 
Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins
(c) Rainbow Heirloom

Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins

Syne Shawlette by Amanda B Collins

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

They're Ready, But I'm Not

Very frequently, when I sit a lovely old lady or gent down with the purpose of breaking some bad news, it culminates in them letting me know, calmly and reassuringly, that they've been ready for this for a while.

And not resigned to it, no bravado or over-exuberance, no shadow of a doubt.  Genuinely ready for it.

There's the brevity of 'well I've had a good run!' - to the genuine, breathtaking calm of a very old man who tells me that:

'life is good and bad, feels short then long, you forget more people than you remember, and if all I have left at the end is my marbles and my family then I'll thank my good luck.  You young folk can't understand yet, but one day you will.  My wife has her marbles, and we have each other, but we are both quite tired now'

He jokes to his wife ("of 69 years and 8 months, since you ask, young one") that 'at least you're leaving before you get fed up with me!'. 

His eyes are welling up, and hers are too.  She calls her family in to say goodbye through her oxygen mask before I've even reached a similar final conclusion, nevermind decided to talk about it with the lady or her family.  

And it's sadder than the saddest song, and sweeter than the sweetest of chick flicks, and more heartwarming than a million fireplaces, knitted stockings, kittens, hot chocolates, children playing and all the 'hygge' in the world combined. 

I hope he doesn't mind me remembering his wife, or that I'm passing on his marble filled brand of wisdom about life and death and love.  I was a bystander in a very private moment, and I am privilaged. 

I'm often scorned by friends because I refuse to watch a sad film, read a book about tribulation and death, engage in deep discussion about troubles around the world.  There is enough sadness, enough death and enough trouble from those I have personally met to keep me occupied for quite some time.  And with this, with the sad parts come the most beautiful insights, rays of incredible joy and kindness, wisdom, bald truth, bright young eyes in old faces.  Incredibly personal insights into how amazing people can be, how deeply we can love and hurt and live and need. 

And I'm not as ready for it as my old gent is.

Occasionally my blog posts take a little slide, and I'm not posting quite as often as I do at other times.  Usually, it's because there's this. 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

From Fibre to Finished Object

Very excited to share this little scarf with you.  Recently I've completed next to no knitting for myself, so when I spotted a little gap in the scheduled knitting, I grabbed my handspun polwarth skein from FiberArtemis which has been sitting in pride of place on my desk for quite a while now.

I've posted about it here before (and on Ravelry here) - the fibre is 100% polwarth from this lovely etsy shop.  It felt dense yet soft, and drafted beautifully.  There's a polwarth/silk mix in my stash from this shop too, so I might make a little time over christmas to spin it up a little finer for another shawl...  

Since I'm being good (and have spent all of my pennies on presents), the pattern is also one previously purchased on Ravelry - this is Artesian by Rosemary Hill. 

The pattern was very easy to follow, employing short rows for shaping.  The chart is laid out in a way I've not used before, so I used the written instructions, which are nice and easy to follow.    

And the yarn?  Oh dear, I loved it so much.  It's all smooshy and soft and, dare I say it, relatively evenly spun and plied throughout... (not that the garter stitch and yarn over pattern would show if it did!).



This is what the lovely fluff looked like when it arrived, and after spinning.   What are you working on at the moment?  I have something quite exciting to show you in a couple of weeks, but it'll have to stay under wraps until then :p


Tuesday, 13 October 2015

New Collection: As Autumn Falls

Autumn is my favourite season, and October one of my favourite months.  I adore the changing colour of the trees, the rapid change from peaceful green to burning reds, oranges & yellows.  As I've mentioned before, we chose our flat because of how close to the Kelvin & botanic garden it is, a lovely river which flows almost unnoticed in the west end of Glasgow through leafy green avenues, passing by a wonderful arboretum. 
I'm not sure if people really realise the arboretum is there, it's always lovely and quiet, even on the warmest of sunny days, tucked away across the road at the back of the botanic gardens.

It's from this changing of seasons, from the turning of the leaves and the crispy drop in temperature, that the Autumn collection is derived (here on rav). 

Front centre of "Baile" cardigan, as below
Comprised of a golden brown/orange cardigan - Baile, two gorgeous hats inspired by hay bales and golden twigs - Bulgurwheat & Slipthatch, and last but certainly not least, the Emmer shawl - a slightly more sombre pink/brown shawl, inspired by empty stalks and leafless branches. 

The entire collection is knitted in beautiful malabrigo yarns; a super soft merino for the shawl, superwash merino for cardigan (sensible), and silky soft merino/silk for the lighterweight hat with a single spun worsted beauty for the heavier weight hat.

Emmer- I wanted emmer to be loghtweight but warm, so used twisted stitches and occasional yarn overs to add detail to this delicate but robust shawl.  Using 150g of 4ply, it's just the right size for wrapping around your shoulder when those cold October winds begin to blow!


Baile - I wanted this cardigan to look complex whilst being very simple to knit, and think we've managed!  The front panels are a short repeat, easily knitted with only basic knowledge of ssk, k2tog and yo. 
Charts are written out as well, so if confused you can always use both!  

Slipthatch - this hat blocked beautifully.  The woven stitch creates a dense fabric in this worsted yarn - this hat is toasty!!  It's inspited by hay bales and thatched rooves and warm autumnal fun.


Bulgurwheat - after that toaster of a hat I needed something more delicate - how about one which reminds me of bare stems and golden stems of flowers long gone? 


On Ravelry the patterns are individually priced.  £9 for the 4-piece collection - I think ravelry adds tax to this depending on where you are! 

If there's enough interest, maybe we could run a wee knit-along in the Ravelry group? 

Which new item is your favourite??  What's your favourite time of year, and if it's Autumn, is it for different reasons to me?

Friday, 4 September 2015

DIY: Kitchener Stitch

Kitchener stitch is a method by which to join two live edges of your knitting.  It's particularly useful for top-down socks, because it doesn't leave a bothersome seam at your toes.  I also use it at shoulders, because this technique gives an almost invisible finish, making the shoulder look like one continuous piece of knitting.  It's not the strongest seam, but I've yet to have any issues with my shoulders unravelling...

To do this technique, you'll need to get set up with:
tapestry/yarn needle
two sets of live stitches on their respective needles, wrong sides facing, with needle points facing the same direction

The first few times you use kitchener stitch you might feel like the tension is completely off, or that it's incredibly uneven.  This will probably just improve with practice, but a good tip is to remember not to pull your stitches too tight - there's a great draw to do this, but don't give in!

Starting - for the first st on each side you want to do the following:

Hold your wrong sides together, with needle points facing the same direction.
1. pop tapestry needle through 1st stitch on closest needle, purlwise.  Pull needle and yarn though, but leave the stitch on the needle.
2. pop needle through first st on back needle, knitwise. Again, leave st on needle and pull yarn through.


Continuing - for the rest of the stitches until the ones on the end, you'll want to do this:
1. Needle into first st on front needle, knitwise.  Slip stitch off needle. 
2. Needle into next st on front needle, purlwise.  Don't slip stitch off needle.  Pull yarn through. 
3. Needle into first st on back needle, purlwise.  Slip st off needle.
4. Needle into next st on back needle, knitwise.  Don't slip stitch off needle. Pull yarn through.

Repeat until 1st remains on each needle.

As you knit, your work will start to look like this in the image below - with a little practice your seam should look like just another row of knitting.  Pause every so often to adjust tension in your stitches, you can always do them loose individually and tighten them at regular intervals by pulling on your working yarn as required.

You want to keep kitchener-ing until you have one st left on each needle.

For your final stitches, you want to do step 1, then step 3 above. 
Now you have all the joy of sewing in your ends left.

Hopefully this was helpful!
I have a new DK cardigan pattern coming out on 1st October which uses this technique - please let me know ( if you'd like to test-knit!

What have you been knitting recently?  Any favourite seams?

Friday, 28 August 2015

Tea-riffic Night Out

I can only apologise for title-punning, but I'm really rather excited about an upcoming event which I wanted to share with you!!

Pictures (c) Clare Devine

Last year, Clare Devine launched a 'Tea Collection' containing several yummy hats.  This autumn she plans to complete the collection with some new hats, which are created in beautiful yarn (as always) hand-dyed by Jess of Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.  

The pair are hosting a Tea Party at Pekoe Tea in Edinburgh.  It'll apparently involve tea, tea cocktails(?!) and nibbles.  The owner of Pekoe tea will be telling everyone about the tea, where it comes from, interesting things etc.  Yarn wise, there'll be lots of hat samples, yarns and patterns to play with!

There are two options to attend, the 'with yarn and patterns & baggie' version, and the tea only version.  I'm tempted to tell you not to be mad and that the second isn't a real option, but in the spirit of equal chances and all that, the two tickets are as follows:

Without Yarn:
 “Tea Tasting Experience” (or a Tea Cocktail of your choice) and plenty of chance to chat to Jon about the magical world of tea.

With Yarn:

The Tea is between 7 and 9pm on the 17th of October, and tickets are available via the Ginger Twist website.   If you'd like more details about the event you can find a lovely blog post by Clare

I'll need to make sure I clear the needles before the middle of October...  
Is anyone else going??

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Book Review: Sockupied Fall 2015

Despite being woken up at the crack of dawn this morning (why are the seagulls in Glasgow?  there's no sea here, gulls), I've ended up having a very pleasant morning reading through the newest copy of Sockupied.  I bagged a chance to review this recently (courtesy of Interweave) and have been looking forward to sitting down with a cuppa & reading it.  

I've been doing a lot of sock knitting recently, and it's always interesting to see what people are making, how they're doing it and what the effects of different techniques are.  Usually I browse the pretty pictures on Ravelry, but a magazine is a welcome change! 

Having never really browsed through Sockupied before, I sort of wonder why!  It has been around for a few years, I've obviously been missing a trick.  Overall, I'd say this is a good issue and definitely worth a look - and I *need* those cover socks.

What it is: a good, solid collection of socks. Provides variety and nice explanations.  Very reasonably priced at £1.27 ($2) per pattern - $11.99 total.  Well laid-out.
What it's not: an instructional handbook. not for beginners.  no standard sizing.  not sock theory.

Sockupied is an e-mag, which was initially created in 2010 for interweave.  I have the PDF version, but when bought through the interweave site/i-store or similar online mag platform, it also includes interactive videos etc. too. 

The Fall 2015 edition, as with previous issues, contains 6 sock patterns and a couple of nice articles/interviews.  The articles are interesting, and I particularly liked the first one from Debbie O'Neill with some sock tips. 

The sock collection in the book mainly consists of the top-down variety - though the construction varies considerably from your 'standard' top down sock, to ones which are knitted all the way down the back and picking up stitches to work your way from the toe up the front to cuff again.  There are a couple of stranded colourwork projects, which could be challenging for some knitters, but these are interspersed with relatively simple sock patterns, so there is something for most abilities.  Importantly (or maybe not, if you like your books on a strong theme) there's a good variety of styles, good for gift knitting or if you're not sure which kind you like to knit!

Sockupied is well laid out, with clear transitions from item to item, and clear subcategories.  The text is easy to read, and the photos are, for the most, attractive and informative.  

The Hominy sock photos are unfortunately not very clear - I can't make out the pattern - and come only in one size, so they're my least favourite of the lot.  I wouldn't ever chose to knit these, which is a shame, because maybe they're nice.

My personal favourite socks from the collection are the ones on the cover (though my loves of both orange and grey are probably clouding my judgement). They come in  many sizes, and both foot and calf circumferences are given, which is useful for knee-high socks!   

As much as I've noted that there's no standard sizing, this can be incredibly difficult with socks due to lace / colourwork repeats, especially when many different designers are involved!  What could perhaps be standardised is whether the 'to-fit' or 'actual' measurements are used. 

There is a nice section at the end explaining common sock starting/finishing techniques, which may serve as a useful aide-memoir to readers, and explains some of the trickier / more unusual techniques in the mag.

In particular, I do adore that the photoshoot was carried out in the LYS - for some reason I feel closer to the idea this way, lets face it, most of us can't afford to go on a nice beach holiday to photograph our socks...

Have you been knitting socks recently?  What resources have you been using?
I worked on a short-row toe video recently to accompany some of the sock patterns, did you find it useful?   


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