Monday, January 9, 2017

New Pattern: Trillick

Trillick is a fitted cowl, worked top-down and in the round. It is shaped to fit over the shoulders using a series of increases. Short row shaping adds an asymmetric triangular wedge, suggestive of a triangular shawl. The cowl features textured stitches, and a garter stitch lace edging, loosely inspired by prehistoric gold artefacts from the National Museum of Ireland. 

The sample is knit using a single ball of Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal; the pattern uses one 400 metre skein of fingering or sock weight yarn.
The pattern includes written and charted instructions for the lace, and has been test knitted.*
It is available to buy now.
Trillick is the last of a number of patterns I had prepared while waiting for our Smallest Human to arrive. I have been swatching and sketching away with other ideas since her arrival, but haven't quite mustered the brain power or time without distraction to actually form proper things from these ideas.  Instead of being frustrated by my lack of productivity, I've decided to start the new year by knitting a garment for myself, which has been in my queue for a long while, using yarn which has been in my stash for a while. It might even fit!!

*once again, I am enormously grateful to text knitting volunteers. Their feedback has been hugely informative, and an extremely valuable learning experience.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Pattern: Lissanover Cowl

New Year, New Pattern! Lissanover Cowl is the second pattern release which takes its inspiration from geometric surface decoration on gold lunulae in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland (Coggalbeg Cowl was the first).  The cowl came into being as a solution to keeping my neck & shoulders warm while writing at home. It has the added benefit of no dangling scarf ends to dip into multiple cups of tea, or get in the way of the odd bit of housework one tends to squeeze in here & there while working at home. 

The cowl is knit back & forth, and top down, using a combination of mosaic knitting and slipped stitch patterns, and only one colour is worked per row. It is shaped to fit over the shoulders using a series of increases, and is finished with applied button bands. The cowl can be worn buttoned as a hood or gathered around the neck, or can be partially unbuttoned to sit lower on the shoulders as a shawl or capelet.
 The sample is knit using Toft DK Wool in Charcoal, and Toft Ulysses DK in Light Grey. I *loved* knitting with this yarn; it is so woolly, and warm, and very sheepy, but still soft enough for wearing next to skin (I am a sensitive soul, and tend to find that anything not-merino and not-superwash can be a bit prickly to my skin).
The pattern includes written and charted instructions for the stitch patterns, and is available to buy now.
The pattern would not have been possible without the generosity of test knitting volunteers, who have been so generous with their time, wisdom and common sense, and have been extremely patient with my sleep deprived brain*. I am so grateful for their support, and that I have realised that 'my' work is much improved when I ask for help. **

*New baby is now 5 weeks old, and sleeps about as well as can be expected, in between working on some very chubby cheeks & thighs!

**I've realised that there is such a thing as 'too independent', that help is forthcoming when one asks for it, partly thanks to This Inspiring Book.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New Pattern: Coggalbeg Cowl

Over the past months, I have spent many hours studying, sketching, and attempting to reinterpret Shiny Gold Things* from the National Museum of Ireland. I'm particularly fascinated by the notion of taking inspirition from high-status, ceremonial and impractical objects, and applying those inspirations to everyday, comfortable and cosy woollen things.

When wandering through the exhibition of gold at Kildare St, I was rather surprised to notion that the lunalae on display featured rather similar decorations. The basic curving shape usually has simple lines along its curving edges, with a concentration of decoration near the pointed ends, featuring combinations of lines, diamond shapes & chevrons. The Coggalbeg Hoard, pictured at the following link, features one example;

Coggalbeg Cowl is the first of a number of patterns inspired by this geometric decoration. The pattern is cast on along its length; it is knit back and forth using a combination of mosaic & slipped stitches, so only one colour is worked per row. The cowl is finished with applied button bands, and can be worn as a scarf, as a long cowl or doubled-up as a short cowl by rearranging the buttons. 
The finished cowl measures 32x31cm / 12.5x51.5" and the pattern includes written and charted instructions. The sample was knit using Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn in Crystal & Graphite. These skeins have been in my stash for some time, waiting for the perfect pattern. The cowl is finished with applied button bands, which have been reinforced with grosgrain ribbon; it could also be finished by sewing the ends closed to make a long cowl.  

Coggalbeg Cowl is available to buy now through Ravelry.

*Shiny Gold Things is our toddler-friendly term for artefacts in the museum; I do like to visit the museum when time allows, & pore over my books featuring prehistoric artefacts when time does not allow. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A picture paints a thousand words...

Introducing our little rainbow baby who arrived 2 weeks ago. She's sleeping & feeding well, and with the help of play school for the Small Human and paternity leave for The Mister, I am actually finding time to knit, shower, and even do a little pattern writing.
After The Storm is a hat & cardigan set, sized for approximately 0-3 months and knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.
The cardigan is a top-down raglan with textured stripes in 5 almost-rainbow contrast colours and with applied button bands. The hat is a bottom-up beanie, worked in the round, featuring matching stripes.
(modelled with the hem turned up on my 8lb newborn, so there is a little room for growing). The pattern is available to download for free.
download now
Ravelry page here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Finished knits, in pairs

In spite of relative silence on the blog, I've been knitting away furiously. Quite a few of my recent knits happen to have been in pairs of some sort.

The first pattern is Blackrock by Yvonne McSwiney of Dublin Dye 
These two vests are for my nephews; the elder nephew likes the idea of matching his little brother, and the little brother is too young to be bothered! The vests are knit in Malabrigo Sock yarn in Ravelry Red. I found the pattern quite wide-fitting, especially for tall, slim nephews, but was easily able to modify instructions to suit the boys' actual measurements. Using their chest sizes to select 'pattern size', I was able to then add extra length to the body and arm sections of the vests to suit.
I really enjoyed knitting these vests; the pattern is clearly written. I find Yvonne's designs use cables in such an elegant & thoughtful way; in this pattern the transition from cable panel to ribbing around the neck is so pleasing. 
My second project is a pair of fingerless mitts, in small-kid size. For in-between weather, I've found that The Small Human's existing full-cover mittens were excessive, and difficult for her to fit over coat cuffs or take off herself. A pair of fingerless mitts would keep her hands warm, without getting in the way. Using scraps of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and Drops Baby Merino, I knit up a pair of striped garter stitch mitts, with short-row thumbs and applied edging. The Small Human is delighted to have her own pair of fingerless 'stripy colourwork' mitts (I think mostly because I wear fingerless stranded colour work Endpaper Mitts), but it is already time to think of full-cover mitts for her little hands. The walk to school has been especially cold this week. 

Next up, a pair of Kilbride Hats designed by Woolly Wormhead, & knit in Malabrigo Sock in Lotus colourway. I made the 19" and 14" sizes, and love to see the difference in colour distribution between the two sizes. The larger size is for The Small Human (smaller one is for the Baby Box); I think she picked this pattern because of the wonderful model Woolly found for the Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids collection. As usual with Woolly patterns, the instructions are clear; the lace pattern repeat is easily memorised; little details like spiral patterns in the crown shaping are very pleasing to knit. As an added bonus, the garter stitch fabric will stretch to accommodate growing heads. I will be knitting more from this collection, but just have to find *the perfect* yarn first!

Lastly, a pair of Wee Owligan cardigans from Kate Davies Designs, knit in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.  I've knit this pattern before, as a gift for my niece, and my own Small Human rather liked it when modelling for photos. I knit the 4 year size (for Small Human) and 6 month size (for the Baby Box), with pre-threaded beads for the owl eyes, and wider sleeve cuffs than written ( I assume that cuffs will be turned up at some point with kids' cardigans)
As with the previous project, I added a little extra length to the larger cardigan (Small Human is growing taller rather than wider). There are plans afoot for matching-cousin-outfit photos in the not-too-distant future, mostly because we can, and the two girls are still quite happy to go along with such things.
The pattern is well-written and very straightforward, and the finished neutral-coloured project will go well with any number of colourful preschooler outfits. Even if the Small Human does pick out all the patterned things in different colours on certain days...

I'm currently working away on some gift knits for December (let's not say the C word yet); they are all small projects & well under control at this point. Let's just hope I don't get carried away & add to my own to-do list at the last minute... (we all know this happens).

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Introducing my latest pattern release; Ka-Boom! This is a variation on the simple boomerang-shaped shawl. It is worked back & forth in garter stitch, with simple mesh lace short-row sections worked in complementary contrast colours.

The pattern was inspired by this wonderful hand-dyed Merino fibre from Hedgehog Fibres, which I spun during this year's Tour De Fleece spin-along. The fibre is wonderfully soft, in a wonderful subtle grey shade with little splashes of bright & bold colour highlights. I wanted to knit something super simple, to allow the colours really pop. 

I chose three shades of fibre from my stash to complement the little splashes of colour in the Hedgehog Fibres Merino. L-R cashmere/merino blend dyed by me; green-yellow hand-dyed by Hedgehog Fibres (from an Itsy Bitsy Fibre bag); two shades of blue Merino from Oliver Twist. These contrasting colours are used throughout the finished shawl in short row wedges in a super-simple mesh stitch pattern. 

While I used handspun yarn, the shawl could of course be knit in any combination of commercial, hand dyed or hand-spun yarns. The finished shawl measures 188 x 30 cm / 74 x 12” at widest points, and used approximately DK weight yarn in the following quantities: 

MC: 300 m / 330 yards DK weight yarn
CC 1 - 70m / 77 yards (deep pink)
CC 2 - 25 m / 27 yards (blue)
CC 3 - 30 m / 33 yards (green-yellow)

I used 5mm needles to knit this shawl, but found that the finished garter stitch object stretches quite a lot under its own weight. My original swatch was closer to 18 st per 10 cm/ 4”, but the finished shawl gauge was 14 st & 34 rows over 10cm /4” in garter stitch after gentle blocking. 
Gauge is not critical for fit, but changes in gauge will affect the size of the finished shawl and the quantity of yarn used

This shawl has been keeping me cosy on the morning walk to play school. I'm a little surprised at myself, someone who usually dresses in mostly-black, taking such pleasure in little pops of bright colour. The pattern is available to buy now on Ravelry.

Monday, September 26, 2016

More FOs from ages ago

Thanks to the recent release of a couple of fantastic new design collections, I've some finished knits from way back to share. 

First off, Wychavon by Woolly Wormhead, from Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids
This was a test knit, in Malabrigo Sock yarn in Ravelry Red, with the addition of two pink buttons previously pilfered from my mother's button tin. In spite of the face she's making, the Small Human has been delighted with this hat, insisting on wearing it on very sunny days. This cloche is a very straightforward knit with character, and the garter stitch fabric is very accommodating of growing heads; I knit the 19" size, which stretches to accommodate The Small Human's 20" head.*

I adore this collection; the hats are wonderful & inventive - full  of character while still being wearable. The photography has just the right mix of clarity (so you can see the pattern) and a sense of the wonderful models having fun. Each pattern makes wonderful use of hand-dyed yarns (sometimes it can be difficult to match busy yarns to suitable patterns) And as usual with Woolly Wormhead patterns, there are a range of sizes from small kid to adult. I look forward to seeing some adult-sized finished projects cropping up on Ravelry. 

The hardest part is deciding what to knit next - I'm a little torn between Allerton & Gorton. I'm hoping to get to see some samples in-person in the not too distant future to help make this difficult decision.**

Knitting With Rainbows by Carol Feller is another recently-released collection which really excites me. This is another collection which focuses on making the most of special yarns. The book discusses gradient yarn types  (one-skein, mini skein or DIY gradient sets using a combination of individual yarns) and how to use them, and includes accessory patterns to illustrate these ideas.

I had the pleasure of knitting some samples for the book using mini-skein sets from Fyberspates.

Probys gauntlets begin with a folded picot hem & use a super-simple but satisfying slipped-stitch pattern to ease transition between colours, and create some visual interest.

Arch Lane Cowl uses a combination of garter & slipped stitches; it includes instructions for two sizes, with additional information on changing the size of the pattern to suit the amount of yarn available. I've been considering knitting another version of this using a mini-skein set combined with a single-colour neutral yarn, though it might have to wait until some deadline-knitting is out of the way... and I have an appropriate gradient yarn.

This is a beautiful book, full of clear information and beautifully shot pattern photographs (I love the use of bright & bold street art as a background for bright & bold yarn combinations). The use of textured stitch patterns adds interest to the individual knits while still showing the yarn to its best. (I would have previously thought to stick to stocking stitch or garter stitch only to avoid yarn & stitch pattern competing). The only dilemma for me is what to knit next from this collection; Half Moon Street and Shanakiel have been calling to me, but I'm also hugely impressed with the DIY gradient effect used in Forge Hill. I suppose I could make time by not sleeping....

*I feel the need to explain my seemingly neglectful parent-knitting; At the time I committed to the test knit, the Small Human was asleep, and I was looking at head measurements from about 6 months before the time of knitting. Kids grow quickly...

**I'm also very very excited about Woolly Wormhead's upcoming workshops in This is Knit. I've been increasingly fascinated by her work since the release of Painted Woolly Toppers & was delighted when these fascinating workshops were announced, having missed her previous visits here in Dublin.  It's been... what seems like forever since I have taken part in a workshop so this is an extra big treat for me! Yay! Learning!!
Both workshops are fully booked, but you could add yourself to the waiting list.