Test-knitting opportunities (paid)

UPDATE (24th May): Thanks to everyone who applied! The deadline has now passed, so I’m closing the application process and will be sending out invites to the group over the coming week.


Hello all! It’s all been a bit quiet from me lately, but I have lots of things up my sleeve to release in the near future (not least of all my design in Kate Davies’ upcoming The Book of Haps – more to be revealed in the coming weeks!)

I’ve been spending some time thinking about the process I go through when testing and editing my patterns. Due to the complex nature of my designs, I find I get the best results when using a combination of tech-editors and test-knitters from around the world (as I use some non-standard abbreviations and terminology, it’s very helpful to  get a feel for what may be confusing to someone who does not have English as a first language).

I’ve previously used some of the free test-knitting groups on Ravelry (and am immensely grateful to all the test-knitters there who have lent their time and skill to help improve my patterns – you know who you are!); however, I’ve increasingly felt that my test-knitters should be properly reimbursed for their time, and so I’ve decided to set up a private group where I can post paid opportunities for test-knitting.

I should point out that I don’t release patterns particularly regularly, so there won’t be a high volume of designs available to test, but if you feel like you’d be interested in working alongside me as I’m developing new patterns, then read on!

Some things to note:

  • I want to keep the testing group reasonably small, so I will probably not be able to accept everyone who applies (if you don’t hear back from me soon after the deadline, it’s safe to assume your application was unsuccessful – sorry!).
  • If you’re accepted, you’ll be added to the group and get e-mail updates whenever I post a new test. (Note – it’s a Google group, so I think you may need a Google account in order to join. If you don’t have one, you’ll likely be prompted to create one when you get the invitation to the group).
  • If you’ve test-knitted for me before, please mention it on the application form!
  • If you’ve never test-knitted before and are curious about what it entails: I’m looking for eagle-eyed knitters who can spot the kinks in a pattern, comment on anything that seems confusing, give suggestions about what might work better, etc. (You knit up the pattern with your own yarn and keep the finished product: all I need back from you is your feedback on the pattern).

Click here to apply! (Deadline is Tues 24th May).




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!


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!


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!


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.


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.



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:


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!

Knit Now, issue 22 – Arianwen cardigan

I’m really delighted to have a design featured in the current issue (no. 22) of Knit Now magazine!


© Photo copyright Dan Walmsley

Arianwen is a waterfall cardigan, knitted in Rowan Fine Lace – I love the versatility of lace-weight cardigans, and how they’re great for providing a bit of extra warmth and layering, whilst still being thin enough to fold up in a bag when not needed. Whilst I’m a big fan of waterfall cardigans, and love wearing them hanging open for a loose, casual look, I dislike having the wrong-side of a knitted pattern on display, so I deliberately chose a reversible cable for the front panels of the cardigan.


Arianwen sample in progress…

It’s a little tricky to see from the magazine photos, but the sleeves feature a cuff with a matching cable design… here’s a close-up of the cuff from my original sample:


Knit Now magazine is based in the UK, and available in newsagents, supermarkets, yarn shops, etc. You can also buy electronic copies of the magazine! More info on the Knit Now website.

I shall be releasing a single PDF version of this design soon (and I may include some extra options, such as three-quarter length sleeves). If you’d like to be notified of this, or any other future releases, you can sign up for my newsletter!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2013 – the spoils of war!

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!

Victorious spoils of war! L-R: Lioness Yarns King of the Jungle Sock, 'Thoughts'; The Yarn Yard BFL (2 skeins, green and orange); Old Maiden Aunt 100% merino 4-ply, 'Seen the Ocean'; Old Maiden Aunt 80% merino/20% silk laceweight, 'Moody.'

Victorious spoils of war! L-R: Lioness Yarns King of the Jungle Sock, ‘Thoughts’; The Yarn Yard BFL (2 skeins, green and orange); Old Maiden Aunt 100% merino 4-ply, ‘Seen the Ocean’; Old Maiden Aunt 80% merino/20% silk laceweight, ‘Moody.’

Tutorial: Grafting in pattern

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
(Stockinette grafting)

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):

F: Knit off...

F: Knit off…

Then insert needle knitwise (and leave st on, pull yarn through):

F: Knit on...

F: Knit on…

On the back needle, insert needle knitwise (and slip st off, not shown):

B: Knit off...

B: Knit off…

Then insert needle purlwise (and leave st on, pull yarn through):

B: Purl on...

B: Purl on…

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!:

F: Purl off...

F: Purl off…

F: Knit on...

F: Knit on…

B: Knit off...

B: Knit off…

B: Purl on...

B: Purl on…

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:

F: Purl off...

F: Purl off…

F: Purl on...

F: Purl on…

B: Purl off...

B: Purl off…

B: Knit on...

B: 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: