Lindisfarne shawl

Yesterday I was really pleased to finally be able to launch Lindisfarne, the second pattern in Illuminated Knits

Lindisfarne is a large rectangular shawl, with an interesting construction. It’s worked in the round, with a steek, then cut open at the end to produce fringed edges.

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The shawl is worked from one side to the other, starting with a provisional cast-on and the edges are finished with an i-cord cast-off.

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Like the first pattern in Illuminated Knits (the Iona blanket), this pattern makes extensive use of slipped-stitch cable colourwork. I’ve really fallen in love with this technique, because it makes it so easy to get the effects of colourwork without having to resort to stranded knitting or intarsia (having devoted so much time to working with cables and lace, I’m a woefully underdeveloped colourwork knitter, all fingers and thumbs!). I took the technique a bit further with this design, by incorporating cable patterns in both of the shades used to stripe the background. The heavier weight cables are in Malabrigo Sock Marte and the delicate twisted stitch cables are in Malabrigo Sock Persia.

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In the central braid that runs down the length of the shawl, the twisted stitch cables wind in and out of the heavier cables. This is one of those marvellous knitting tricks that looks like it would involve fiddling around in a hopeless tangle with lots of balls of yarn at once – but magically, there is still only one strand of yarn being used on each round. I also managed to write the pattern in such a way that there are quite a few rest rounds – most of the cabling takes place on rounds where Marte is the main yarn, and the cables are worked for the twisted stitch cables by simply slipping them into position. On the next round, all that’s required is to k tbl.

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Above is a close-up of the fringe, after the steek has been cut and unravelled, blocked and then neatly knotted at regular intervals. I really love the effect of the two shades of yarn mingled together; it really gives the effect of a piece that has been woven, rather than knitted.

Another benefit of using slipped-stitch colourwork is that the back of the shawl looks really neat – just like striped garter stitch. There’s something very satisfying about looking on the reverse side of a complex multi-coloured piece, and being surprised by the complete lack of floats!

As with the Iona blanket, this design was an absolute monster to design, plan, knit and write up – it was several months in the making and went through a lot of permutations before settling into its final form. Originally I had envisaged the shawl being covered in a repeating pattern of triangular knots, inspired by a knot from the Lindisfarne manuscript. It was quite late in the design process when I suddenly had the vision of the central braid, with the twisted stitch cables lacing in and out. I had to rewrite the design to fit it in, but I think it was worth it in the end!

Here’s a few pics of the design in progress (note my utter inability to settle on a colour scheme!):

 

Iona blanket + Illuminated Knits

I’m delighted to announce the release of a new blanket pattern – Iona!

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This blanket was inspired by the richly decorated carpet pages of illuminated manuscripts; it’s assembled from individual squares, worked separately in the round from the centre out, and then attached with a three-needle cast-off or seamed together.

The contrasting colourwork effect is achieved by striping yarns of two different colours, and slipping the cabled stitches on every other round.

Whilst the cable pattern that forms the Celtic knot was certainly a challenge to design, I think it was actually more difficult to decide on the colours to use in the blanket! The pattern uses Malabrigo Sock, which comes in a gorgeous array of variegated and semi-solid shades. I love how the subtle changes in colour evoke a faded wash of ink – perfect for a design inspired by illuminated manuscripts.

Here are some of my original colour choices (along with some early sketches of the knot that I scribbled in my faithful Moleskine notebook!)

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Archangel (pink-orange) cable with Tiziano Red (background) – I like the combination but thought Archangel was slightly too variegated for the cable to show

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Lots of different colour squares! Think these are, clockwise from top: Lotus (cable) with Aguas (background); Lotus (cable) with Impressionist Sky (background); Lotus and Aguas again; and Impressionist Sky (cable) with Aguas (background).

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Impressionist Sky (cable) with Aguas (background) – really liked this combination but felt the blue was ever-so-slightly too dark to show the cable

After a lot of swatching, sketching and playing around with coloured pencils, I finally settled on a colour scheme that uses 5 colours for 4 differently arranged squares: Turner (green); Ochre (golden-yellow); Archangel (pink-purple-orange); Aguas (blue-green) and Rayon Vert (purple-green).

Once I’d decided on the colours, it was a lot of fun to work on the individual squares and watch the blanket slowly growing. I particularly love how the shade ‘Ochre’ really pops in contrast to the other colours – I used this shade  for the i-cord edging that completes the blanket.

e-book-coverIona is the first pattern in Illuminated Knits a mini-collection of designs inspired by the rich colours and decorations of Celtic illuminated manuscripts and using beautiful shades of Malabrigo yarn.

The collection will feature three accessory patterns (including the Iona blanket) and one garment pattern. It’s available to pre-order now as an e-book for £8.50 and you will receive the patterns as they are released over the coming months.

If you’d prefer to wait until all the patterns are released before buying the e-book, you can sign up to my newsletter to be notified when the collection is complete!

 

The Book of Haps – Uncia

Today I can finally reveal to you my design for Kate Davies’ The Book of Haps

Uncia is an unusually shaped shawl, based on a 1/12th arc shape and inspired by Gothic and Romanesque cathedral architecture.

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Photos by Tom Barr

The pictures for the book were taken on Calton Hill, Edinburgh (not far from where I live, in fact!)

I developed the cable and lace patterns based on cathedrals I visited last summer whilst travelling around France and Germany (in particular: Koln, Mont Saint-Michel and Carcassonne). It was a very fun challenge to try to capture the essence of these buildings in knitted stitches, and it’s probably something I’ll come back to in the future.

Here’s a few pictures of Uncia that I took myself, to show a little of the detail in the lace edging…

 

It was a real honour to be asked to contribute to this book, and to be featured amongst such a wonderfully varied and illustrious group of designers. Thanks to Kate and Jen, and all the team involved in bringing this book to life!

We’ll be having a book launch at Kathy’s Knits, Edinburgh, on Saturday June 11th (which coincides with the Indie Burgh Yarn Crawl!). Kate, Jen and myself will be there, along with some of the hap samples, and we’ll be signing copies of the book, so if you’re in/near Edinburgh, please do come along!

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Nennir written instructions

5th October 2016: A corrected version of the written instructions has now been attached and can be downloaded here – Nennir-written-instructions-v2-0.pdf

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After getting a few requests for the written instructions to my free pattern Nennir (originally published in the Winter 2012 issue of Knitty), I’ve decided to post the file here so that it’s available to all!

Please note that this is a fairly basic text file, generated straight from my charting program, and as such does not include any explanation of the abbreviations, etc. – you need to refer to the page on Knitty for all the info on how to knit the cowl. This is simply a text version of the charts ‘Cable Pattern Part 1’ and ‘Cable Pattern Part 2’ (you will need to work out the edging chart yourself as it isn’t included in the text file!).

Ishneich pattern release + update on Celtic Cable Shawls book

It’s been rather quiet on this blog for a while – but I’m very happy to announce the release of the 7th (and final!) shawl pattern in my Celtic Cable Shawls collection: Ishneich!

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Ishneich is a top down triangular shawl pattern, designed to work well with a variegated yarn and a contrasting semi-solid (or solid) yarn. The variegated yarn is used in the body, and broken up with stripes of the semi-solid, which is also used for a cable border. I used two gorgeous shades of Malabrigo Sock, which I picked up on a lovely trip to The Yarn Cake in Glasgow, the day before my birthday (back in March). When I picked the shades originally, I wasn’t planning on using them together, as I didn’t think they would match, but once I tried some stripes, I was surprised by how well the colours worked together – it’s funny how that can happen sometimes!

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I wanted to take this opportunity to also give an update on the progress of the book. Celtic Cable Shawls is going to be released in print format (together with an update to the e-book version – so if you already have the e-book, you will also receive the PDF version of the print book, once it’s ready).

I have had many queries asking me about a publication date, and I’m really sorry to say that at the moment, I can’t give an exact date. I am self-publishing the book myself, and doing most of the work myself too, including layout and photography. I’m also working with a graphic designer to produce some tutorial diagrams, as well as with a couple of freelance tech and copy editors.

At the moment, all the photography for the book has been completed, and all the pattern are finished too. The diagrams are in the process of being completed. The main work left to do is all of the layout, all of the final editing, and also some introductory text that I need to write. So, it’s close to finished, but I’m reluctant to give an exact date, because co-ordinating a major project lik this is a bit of learning curve for me – I’m working with Lightning Source to print the book, and I’m not exactly sure how long everythinig will take to get ready once I submit the final file to them.

I will update this blog as soon as I’m able to give an exact date of release (you can also sign up to my newsletter, if you would like to be the first to hear about any news!).

I know a lot of you have been waiting patiently for the print book for quite some time, and I’m really sorry to not be able to give you an exact date yet – thank you so much for your patience, and for your interest in the book too. It’s really very much appreciated!

Kyna shawl + Celtic Cable Shawls – a rather exciting announcement!

I’ve just released a new shawl pattern – Kyna, a sideways triangular shawl with a twisted-stitch cable edging.

Now for the exciting announcement bit – this design is actually the second design in a collection of shawl patterns that I will be releasing in e-book format – and print too! Yep, I’m doing a book!



The e-book version is currently available for pre-order on Ravelry – when you pre-order it, you will get all the patterns currently released (at the moment this includes Taliesin and Kyna), and then you will receive the rest of the patterns as they’re released. There’ll be a total of 7 designs in the completed book.

Because Taliesin was released way before I announced the collection, I have set things up so that if you purchased Taliesin on Ravelry, the full cost of this pattern will be deducted from the cost of the e-book (note that you need to be signed in to your Ravelry account, and click ‘add to cart’ on the e-book source page for this to be applied automatically!).

If you’d rather get this book in print, then stay tuned – I will announce details of the print pre-order soon, and a complementary copy of the e-book will be included with every print book pre-order.

Lots more information here on my website!

The Tale of Taliesin

After a good few months of knitting, charting, testing, tech-editing… Taliesin is finally available!

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This shawl has quite a long back story, and I thought I would tell some of it here… the design is named after the Welsh poet Taliesin, but I will stick to prose!

It’s probably apparent from even a quick glance at some of my past designs that I’m completely obsessed with Celtic knotwork. I learnt how to draw it from the marvellous writings of George Bain (a truly wonderful artist, who inspired so many people with his books) and Aidan Meehan, and I love how the form is underpinnned with mathematical, grid-like structures, yet also allows for a lot of creativity. I don’t consider myself an artist and I’m not very good at drawing, but I can invent my own Celtic knots with relative ease, and I find it very relaxing.

Here are some early sketches of knotwork that I made back in April, with a view to turning them into a cabled shawl… originally my design was a little different.

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This was what my original swatch looked like:

Spot the mis-crossed cable!

Spot the mis-crossed cable!

I decided the different cables were just a bit too fussy, so I went back to the drawing board and simplified things a bit.

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I eventually ended up with the final design, and set about knitting it up with a beautiful skein of Old Maiden Aunt yarn that I got at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March. However, disaster struck when I ran out of yarn halfway through the cast-off!

Every knitter's nightmare...

Every knitter’s nightmare…

Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise though, because the shawl was a little bit on the small side for my tastes, and I wanted to enlarge it, so I got another skein. Even though it was from the same dye lot, the colours seemed a little different, and I was worried it would be obvious, so I striped the skeins a bit and in the end it looked fine.

Here it is blocking:

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This is where things get decidedly bizarre. Somewhat foolishly, given my track record of losing handknitted objects, I decided to wear this shawl to the Beltane Fire Festival on April 30. At some point during all the revelry, I must have dropped my shawl, and didn’t notice until after the event had finished and the security guards were shepherding everyone down from Calton Hill, where the event takes place. I tried my best to get back onto the hill, so that I could look for the shawl, but security said no. They said my best bet was to check with the council next day, as they’d be sending in cleaners to clear up the hill.

Now, I had a sinking feeling in my heart that I would never see my shawl again. It was about 3 am by this point, pitch dark, and I was making my way home. The route back to my flat goes past one of the small roads that leads to the top of the hill. All the roads were blocked off with large metal gates, but I happened to notice that there was no guard on this particular road. So, I might have found myself squeezing past that gate and clambering up a pitch dark hill at 3 am in search of a hand-knitted shawl. Yes, perhaps not the most sensible or safe thing to do. But I was desperate to find it, and also reasonably sure that the only people still left up there would be security guards, and not anyone who would try to murder/rob/violently assault me. So, up I went.

I got up to the top of the hill and was completely disoriented. I couldn’t even remember where I might have been standing when I dropped the shawl. So I picked a spot, figuring I had to start somewhere, got out my phone, switched on the torch function and began sweeping it along the ground. Within approximately 10 seconds, I spotted something like knitted fabric. I think I may have actually shouted, “NO WAY!” in my disbelief, but yes, it was my shawl!

It still boggles my mind how it was that, by complete fluke, I happened to pick pretty much exactly the correct spot where I had dropped my shawl. A bit of Beltane magic, maybe, or just sheer luck. Either way, I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to find something that I thought was lost for good!