March 26, 2013 § 1 Comment
I’m a bit late blogging about this, but better late than never! On the 16th March 2013, the very first Edinburgh Yarn Festival was held literally just around the corner from my flat (the venue was the Old Drill Hall/Out of the Blue, which technically speaking is in Leith, not Edinburgh, but we shan’t get into that now…).
Oh the joys! I have been craving a yarn festival like this in Scotland for so, so long. There was Knit Camp in Stirling a few years back, which I attended, and the market place was great but there were a few problems (ahem, slight understatement) with the organisers and it never happened again. So I was absolutely overjoyed to hear about EYF and I hope it becomes a yearly occurrence.
Needless to say, the festival was absolutely mobbed. I think many were taken aback by the sheer size of the crowds, but I was partially expecting it. I believe many showed up, like me, not only to buy beautiful fibre but also to demonstrate the overwhelming demand for such an event in Scotland.
I tend to get overwhelmed by large crowds, so I didn’t stay very long and never got a chance to catch up with anyone, but I did manage to fight my way through the scrums and came away with some fantastic fibrey goodness (pictured below). I’m so glad the event was a success, and fingers crossed it happens again next year!
February 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I thought it was about time I made a tutorial explaining how to graft in pattern – it’s a technique I use often, and it’s required for a neat finish on a number of my patterns, including Nennir, Cinioch and Tallorcen.
Regular grafting in stockinette – also called Kitchener stitch – is a technique that uses a darning needle and yarn to sew live sts together in a way that perfectly imitates a row of knitting. Done properly, with close attention paid to the tension of the yarn, it can be completely invisible. It also has the advantage of joining sts together without the bulk of a seam, which is why it’s often used to close sock toes. Grafting in pattern – i.e. grafting across a row of mixed knit and purl sts – is not significantly difficult, if you already know how to graft in stockinette. I’m going to assume in this tutorial that you do already know stockinette grafting – if not, I recommend reading this and having a practise before attempting to graft in pattern!
I find that grafting is all about rhythm, and mantra – in stockinette grafting, everything goes fine as long as I repeat in my head “Knit off, purl on… purl on, knit off”. Or even just “Knit, purl… purl, knit,” because once you get into the rhythm of slipping off the first stitch on front and back needle, and leaving the second stitch on, it becomes second nature.
Here’s a condensed guide to how to graft in pattern, which will make more sense once you look at the photos and video below:
(F = front needle, B = back needle)
2 (or more) k sts on F
F: knit off, purl on
B: purl off, knit on
1 k st, 1 p st on F
F: knit off, knit on
B: knit off, purl on
1 p st, 1 k st on F
F: purl off, purl on
B: purl off, knit on
2 (or more) p sts on F
(Reverse stockinette grafting)
F: purl off, knit on
B: knit off, purl on
Firstly, something very important indeed – grafting in pattern will only work perfectly if the direction of knitting is preserved in the two pieces being grafted together. In other words – if you make two separate cabled panels, worked from the CO up, and then tried to graft the live sts together, there will be a half-stitch jog. The cable sections – usually columns of 2 k sts over a purl background – will not align perfectly and it might look a bit strange. Imagine an arrow that starts at your CO edge and points up towards your live sts. If you’re trying to graft two pieces together and the arrows point at each other, you will have the half-stitch jog.
If you start a cabled panel with a provisional CO, work for as long as the panel needs to be, then graft your live sts to the sts held by the provisional CO, then the direction of knitting is preserved and the sts will all align perfectly. This is often the construction used in cabled hat bands, cowls, waistbands, cuffs, etc.
If you’d like to follow along with the tutorial, CO 23 sts using any standard CO (like long-tail) and work as follows for a few rows:
RS: k4, p4, k2, p3, k2, p4, k4.
WS: p4, k4, p2, k3, p2, k4, p4.
Leave the live sts on the needle.
Then CO 23 sts using provisional CO, work for a few rows in the above stitch pattern and BO. Undo the provisional CO and slip the 23 sts onto a needle.
You should have something like this:
After grafting the first few stitches as for regular stockinette, stop when you have a k st followed by a p st on your front needle! It will look like this:
For the transitions between k and p sts, the way in which you insert the needle has to change slightly. So, insert the needle knitwise (and slip st off, not shown):
Then insert needle knitwise (and leave st on, pull yarn through):
On the back needle, insert needle knitwise (and slip st off, not shown):
Then insert needle purlwise (and leave st on, pull yarn through):
After this, it’s reverse stockinette grafting for a few sts. So, like regular grafting but backwards! Purl off, knit on… knit off, purl on. Like so!:
Continue in reverse stockinette grafting, until the next 2 sts on the front needle are a p st followed by a k st. Like this:
This time the pattern needs to be purl off, purl on… purl off, knit on:
And that’s everything you need to know to graft in pattern! Continue to work across the row. Remember: if you have 2 or more k sts next on your front needle, you use stockinette grafting. If you have 2 or more p sts on your front needle, you use reverse stockinette grafting. It’s the transitions between k and p sts that you have to watch out for!
Finished result, after tension has been adjusted a little bit along the grafting line:
As you can see (I hope!), if I hadn’t used a different coloured yarn for the graft, the result would be practically invisible.
Hope this tutorial was helpful and feel free to ask any questions!
P.S. Here’s a video demonstrating the grafting in progress:
February 20, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Another Wednesday, another wanton baring of my messy, messy notebooks… In this particular installment, I am dredging up some equations involving Pi from the murky depths of memory, in order to calculate measurements for a circular shawl knitted from the outside in. Also, some Celtic knotwork doodles (showing a little of the underlying grids used in construction) and some completely unrelated writing in Greek (I’m trying to learn Greek at the moment… as much as I try to keep my notebooks solely design-focused, sometimes other bits and pieces creep in inevitably!)
February 13, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Due to my apparent complete lack of ability to keep this blog updated regularly, I’ve decided to take some inspiration from the wonderful world of Havi Brooks, of The Fluent Self. She has a couple of weekly blog rituals, and I thought it might be fun to do something similar here. When I’m designing, I tend to work stuff out visually, pencil and paper and graphs, and as a result, I have lots and lots of design notebooks filled with drawings, charts, calculations, etc. I am by no means any kind of artist, I like to draw out my ideas, but they are definitely scribbles rather than sketches. I always find it fascinating to see other designers’ notebooks, so henceforth, every Wednesday I shall show you a page or two of my own. It may not always be pretty but I hope it may at least be an entertaining little peek into my designing process.
This page shows me working out the Celtic knotwork panel for Nennir (which was published in Knitty Winter 2012 – probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in quite some time!). You can see that I played with a few different variations of the shape of the knot before deciding on one that I liked best. The pencil sketch in the top left corner shows how I’ve constructed the knotwork – this is a technique I learnt from the writings of George Bain and Aidan Meehan. This is how I usually work when designing Celtic cables – I play around until I’ve drawn a cable I like, then I look long and hard at it and figure how to translate it into knitted cables. Usually I pick a spot in the centre of the knot and work outwards symmetrically. Maybe one day I’ll do a series of posts on my techniques of translating drawn Celtic knots to knitted Celtic knots, but it’s a complex process, so I shall stop there for now!
If any other designers would like to share some pages from their notebooks, I’d love to see them!
November 27, 2012 § 2 Comments
I’m sorry, blog. I seem to be pretty bad at updating you, and I’m not sure why it is. Perhaps just a question of habit? And also I guess the feeling that no one’s out there reading this (which I know isn’t true, but anyway even it was – that’s actually a rather liberating thought!).
So, a random assortment of photographs is called for, I think.
First: new shawl pin! I got this from Nicholas and Felice on Etsy and I’m in love with it. It’s aluminium, so a lot lighter than it looks, which is great for lace shawls! I now want to go and re-photograph all my shawls styled with this pin. Hope to acquire more loveliness from them in the future!
New shawl design, which I have so far utterly failed to announce on this blog! Hildina is a simple top-down shawl inspired by Estonian lace and designed to work with a variety of different yarn weights.
And here’s a photo of the beach near Dornoch (north Scotland, near Inverness!) where I was recently on holiday with my parents…
Despite my lack of updates on this blog, my design work has been going really well. I had a design accepted for publication in a UK magazine next spring (found out a few weeks ago, and I’ve only just got to the point of NOT HAVING TO SHOUT IN EXCITED CAPS!!!), so I’ve been working away on that, and also have a few other things in the works which I think I’m meant to keep secret (but wish I didn’t have to!).
And that’s enough exposure for one post, I think I will go and hide now… but hopefully not leave it quite so long til my next update.
July 15, 2012 § 1 Comment
New design that I’m currently working on… it’s a rectangular stole version of my original Glasgow Rose shawl (inspired by the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh). I’m using some stunningly beautiful hand-dyed cashmere/silk laceweight from K1 Yarns. Absolutely gorgeous to knit with, and lovely drape and stitch defnition.
Because I always find it interesting to see how other designers work, here’s a photo that conveys the general sense of organised chaos that seems to typify my design process:
Usually everything I do starts with scribbles in my notebook. I’m not particularly artistic but I do find that I need to sketch in order to conceptualise things like construction and proportion I work entirely from charts and only work out written instructions right at the very end of writing up the pattern. I do all my maths and draw out basic charts with pencil and graph paper, then knit from these, correcting as I go, and once I have something I’m reasonably happy with, I do a proper printed chart (seen on the right), which I continue to knit from. By the time I have a pattern ready to send out to test-knitters, it’s already been test-knit at least once (sometimes more!) by me.
In other news – quite proud of my handspun merino yarn! This the third skein I’ve spun since I’ve started teaching myself and it’s very exciting to watch my yarn getting more even and fine with each attempt. Hopefully it won’t be long until I’m spinning laceweight, seeing as that’s practically all I seem to knit with these days…
July 1, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I’ve been meaning to get into spinning for a while, so recently I ordered my very first drop spindle from Purely Inspired on Folksy. My first attempt was rather, um, ‘arty’ looking (kind of reminiscient of Rowan’s discontinued Biggy Print yarn, I suppose):
On my second attempt I was spinning some mystery fibre with sparkly bits in it, and I managed to get it a bit thinner, something like an aran weight once plied:
By this time I was thoroughly addicted, so I went rooting through my stash and found loads of merino roving that I’d got ages ago when I was into felting. I’m currently spinning up some of the orange stuff, trying to get it as thin as possible so that when it’s plied it will be lace or fingering weight: