Illuminated Knits book launch!

I’m back from Loch Ness Knit Fest now, and had a really great time (although I’m struggling a bit with the inevitable post-yarn-festival exhaustion + lurgy combination that seems to strike so many of us down after a show… ). I’ve been very busy packing and sending out orders to everyone who pre-ordered a copy of Illuminated Knits from my website. We’re also arranging an official launch at Kathy’s Knits – more info on that in a moment but first, some pics from Loch Ness Knit Fest!

Here’s a quick pic I managed to get of my stand…

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… and here I am with my lovely parents, who made the trip down all the way from Orkney (it was the first time they’d come to see me a knitting show, so they were very excited about it!):

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(My Dad spent most of his time in my stall hiding behind my mannequins – very stealthy!):

I didn’t have time to chat to nearly as many folk as I would have liked to, but I did manage to get this quick snap with Cathy, the programmer behind Stitchmastery software (which I use for charting) and the Knitmastery app (we’re wearing our matching Dunedin shawls!):

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We will be having an official book launch for Illuminated Knits at Kathy’s Knits (Broughton Street, Edinburgh) on Thursday 26th October, from 5pm to 7pm – everyone is welcome to come along! We’ll have all the samples on display and I’ll be signing copies of the book and talking about the designs. Hope to see you there!

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Illuminated Knits now available in print!

I’m delighted to announce that print copies of Illuminated Knits are now available to pre-order!

The book contains four patterns (the Iona blanket, the Lindisfarne shawl, the Durrow shawl and the recently released Kells pullover). There’s also a short introduction where I discuss my sources of inspiration, a general guide to slipped stitch cabling and also a bit of advice on how best to choose colour combinations.

The book also includes a full stitch key, and some hand-drawn sketches of the main cable patterns which can be coloured in to help experiment with different colour combinations – these can both be downloaded for free as PDFs on this page (scroll down to ‘Additional Materials’ at the bottom of the page)

If you already have the e-book collection of Illuminated Knits on Ravelry, you will shortly receive an update that includes the digital version of the finished print book.

I’ll be in Inverness at Loch Ness Knit Fest from Fri 13th Oct to Sun 15th Oct – I’m currently waiting on a delivery confirmation but it looks like I should have some copies of the book available to sell at the festival. Just for fun, I’ve also made up some printed cards with sketches of the cables to colour in – the first 20 copies sold via my site will each receive a set free!

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We’re currently planning a proper book launch to take place at Kathy’s Knits in Edinburgh – more details to come very soon!

Durrow shawl

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It’s been a while in the making, but I’m pleased to announce the third design in the Illuminated Knits collection is finally here – the Durrow shawl!

This design took several months to conceptualise and bring into reality. I think it might be fair to say that it’s the most complex design I’ve ever created – both in terms of the cable pattern itself, and the knitting required to achieve it. I’m very happy with the end result though, and glad that I persevered even when it was completely refusing to make sense!

In keeping with the other designs in the Illuminated Knits collection, Durrow uses a technique of cables mixed with slip stitches to create a contrast colour design – I love this technique, because it gives you the chance to play around with different colours without actually having to use stranded knitting or intarsia. The colour-work is as simple as striping the colours on each round, and remembering to slip stitches when necessary (like mosaic knitting). This is the technique that I also used in the Iona blanket and Lindisfarne shawl.

One slightly finicky thing about this technique is that it does draw the fabric in a little bit (vertically, because of the slipped stitches), and so the fabric becomes much denser as a result. Because cable knitting also a tendency to do this (particularly the type of complex cables I use, where the rate of horizontal travel can be quite extreme), I decided to only use this technique when working in the round. Why? Because when you work in the round, you can change colours on every round, so the contrasting stitches only need to be slipped over one round. When you use this technique whilst knitting flat, you can only really change colours every 2 rows (so that your yarn ends up in the right place to strand up the side), so the contrasting stitches have to be slipped over 2 rows instead – creating even more pull-in and a denser fabric (there are ways of getting around this, so that you can knit flat whilst changing colours on every row, instead of every other row – however this is a bit complicated to describe and not something I wanted to do throughout an entire design; I have used it a little bit in this pattern though… more on that in a bit!).

So, with these constraints in mind, I began to think about how I could use this slipped stitch colour technique in a triangular shawl. It is possible to knit a triangle shape entirely in the round (if from the centre out, for example. by concentrating increases at three evenly spaced points on each round); however, this will produce something more like an equilateral triangle, not the right-angled shape more commonly made (and worn!) by knitters. After a lot of head-scratching, I realised that this problem could be solved by making a border out of modular squares (which can be knitted in the round), with picked up stitches for the body (which can be knitted flat, and shaped like a traditional right-angled triangular shawl).

Here are some of my notebook sketches that show my efforts to work out a suitable square knot for the border (I wanted to use two different coloured cable strands, so I was trying to figure out one knot that could flow across the entire border, and then another self-contained background knot that only occurs once in each square):

I realised that I could make the cable pattern flow all the way across the border if I alternated centre-out and centre-in squares. This helps to avoid the half-stitch jog (illustrated by Joni Coniglio) that will occur if you try to graft/pick up and knit stitches from pieces of knitting where the direction of knitting is opposite. Alternating centre-out and centre-in means that the direction of knitting across the squares, at the edges, is always maintained and so the cable flow perfectly. This picture probably shows it more clearly than I can describe:

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The squares on the far left and far right are both knitted centre-out; then the live stitches at the edges have been used, along with 2 provisional cast-ons, to start the middle square which is knitted from the outside to the centre. If you look closely at the edges of the middle square, you should be able to see how the main cable (in turquoise) flows seamlessly across all of the squares.

Also, you can see in the above photo how I’ve used slightly different colours for the background yarn of each square; this creates a nice gradient-type effect, and is one of the fun possibilities that arises from working the border in a series of modular squares. However, I think the border would also look lovely with only one background colour (the main reason I used three was simply because I couldn’t choose between them!).

This construction schematic shows the order of centre-out and centre-in squares, with the arrows showing the direction of knitting:

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You may remember earlier, when I was describing the problem with using this slipped stitch technique whilst knitting flat… well, I ran into this problem when trying to design knots for the corners (the corners are the bits at either end of the border, shown in both the above and the following schematics):

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I decided to only continue the main cable pattern to the corners, and drop the self-contained background cable (a sacrifice to try to keep the level of complexity down! It would have been possible to include the background cable too, but I tried knitting it myself and nearly tore my hair out, so I figured other knitters might also find it a bit frustrating). The difficulty arises because these corners need to be knitted flat (you start from the outside and work decreases inwards to make the right-angle triangle shape, rather like the body of the shawl but in miniature). So, to get the working yarn to end up in the right place so that you can change colour every row (instead of every 2 rows), you need to work 2 RS rows followed by 2 WS rows. This makes some WS cables necessary, but I was able to write the pattern in such a way that these are kept to a minimum.

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After the border has been knitted, and the body picked up along the edges and worked upwards with decreases towards the neck edge, the top edge is finished with an i-cord cast-off and the outer border edge is finished with a lace edging (both visible in the above photo).

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After spending so long on perfecting the design of this shawl, I felt a sense of melancholy (mixed with a bit of relief!) when I cast off the last stitch. It always feels a bit strange to finish such a large and complex project, but I’m looking forward to diving into my next (and final) Illuminated Knits design.

I will be exhibiting the sample of Durrow (along with most of my other knitted samples!) at the upcoming Edinburgh Yarn Festival (March 10th and 11th). I’ll be at stand J1 in the marketplace, so please come and say hi if you see me!

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Dunedin shawl

Today I’m excited to announce the release of Dunedin as a PDF download!

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Dunedin was originally designed for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016 companion magazine, Wool Tribe, which was on sale at the festival back in March and was a great hit, selling out very quickly. Unfortunately, due to the speed with which we got the magazine together, some errors crept in to the pattern – so I’m very pleased to finally be able to offer a corrected and revised version of this pattern! If you have bought the original Wool Tribe magazine and are having difficuties completing Dunedin, please just get in touch with me at lucy@lucyhague.co.uk and I’ll be happy to send you a free copy of the updated version of this pattern (and to help you with any queries you might have).

This shawl features a cabled border, which is worked first, then a shallow half-circular body which is worked upwards from the border and shaped with a combination of short rows and decreases. The version pictured uses approx. 1 100g skein of 4-ply/fingering weight yarn; this newly edited and revised version of the pattern also includes a larger semi-circular sized shawl, which uses approx. 2 100g skeins of 4-ply/fingering weight yarn.

The design process for this shawl was unexpectedly very difficult (partly due the time constraints!) and involved quite a few sleepless nights as I tried to get all the calculations correct and finish the sample in time for it to be photographed for the magazine. Whilst the cable pattern is pretty simple compared to many of my designs, the short row calculations proved to be something of a nightmare to calculate correctly in order to get the shape I wanted – a very shallow-half circle that curves around the shoulders, somewhere between a scarf and a shawl.

I had to rip out and reknit the body section so, so many times to get it right, but I’m glad I persevered, because the final shape is exactly what I wanted. In fact, I think out of all the shawls I’ve made, this is the one I enjoy wearing the most! If you saw me at Edinburgh Yarn Festival this year, you may have noticed me wearing it.

Which reminds me – here’s a silly picture of my friend Graeme and I at EYF 2016! (I’m wearing Dunedin and he’s wearing a Jayne Firefly hat that I made him for his birthday).

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And, also at EYF 2016, here I am with the lovely Karie Westermann (Karie is wearing her Burnet hat, also featured in Wool Tribe).

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I’d like to close this post by thanking the EYF team for getting me involved in Wool Tribe, and thanks also to Helen of Ripples Crafts for providing the yarn for this shawl (it’s her Quinag Bluefaced Leicester 4-ply in ‘Stormy Seas’ – the most beautiful teal-blue I think I’ve ever seen!).

 

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!