Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New pattern: Folia Crescent

The first pattern in my new La Folia Collection is out! It's a sweet, simple one-skein shawl called Folia Crescent. This one was very quick to knit, straightforward and not requiring much attention after the first repeat or two. Watching the lace emerge kept things interesting, and of course knitting with such beautiful yarn is always a pleasure.



Features:
  • a leafy lace panel surrounded by squishy garter stitch
  • easy-to-wear crescent shape
  • a garter-tab cast on and an i-cord bind off
  • suitable for beginner lace knitters
  • stitch markers keep track of the lace section so you don't have to
  • a one skein project in fingering-weight yarn
  • perfect for that precious single skein of sock yarn
  • one size, easily enlarged by working extra repeats
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

I used one skein of Merri Creek Sock yarn from local dyer and colour genius Miss Click Clack. The colour is called 'Ambergris', and it's an absolutely stunning glowing gold. The beauty of a small (6 row) lace repeat in this shawl is that you can keep knitting and use up almost all of your yarn. I'd recommend putting a lifeline in first before doing extra repeats, just in case!



The remaining two patterns in the collection, a drapy cowl and a large triangular shawl, will be released in mid-September and late September, respectively. They feature the same leafy lace and garter stitch combo, put together in different ways to suit the different shapes of the cowl and shawl.


You can see all the details and download the pattern via Ravelry, Loveknitting, Etsy, or Craftsy. An ebook with all three La Folia patterns is also available - the cowl and triangular shawl patterns will be added to the ebook as they are released.

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I chose the name La Folia for this collection partly because folia means 'leaves' in Latin (just right for a botanical lace design), and because it's the name of a famous musical form based on a standard bass line. You can read about the history of the Folia bass line here, and find the sheet music for various versions here.

More than 150 composers have used variations on the La Folia theme in their music, including Corelli, Vivaldi, Marais, J.S. Bach, Handel, Liszt, and  Rachmaninoff. There are all kinds of riches to be found by searching for 'La Folia' on Youtube! Here are a few that stood out to me.

A performance of Vivaldi's variations on "La Follia" (RV 63) with Baroque dancers:


A Folia in the Spanish style performed by the viola da gamba player Jordi Savall:


And the Australian group Latitude 37 recording their own set of variations on La Folia:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The travelling cowl

Most knitters have long-term works in progress. This is the tale of one of mine. Although, to be honest, it's not terribly long-term compared to the half-jumper that I started in 2014 or the blankets I started a couple of years before that! This one's only been around since January.

It's a colourwork cowl which I'm knitting in the round and will eventually graft into a seamless tube. I love the design and the colours, and the yarn is lovely to work with (it's Fino by Manos del Uruguay).

Isn't it pretty?

So what's caused the hold-up? Other projects have: other designs I've been excited about, and time-sensitive projects like birthday presents. Then I realised it would be more sensible to release a pattern for a double-thick tubular cowl later in the year, when most of the world's knitters are heading into cooler weather.

I carried my cowl around Europe with me, without having much time to actually knit any of it. Here's a snap of me working on it on the train from Munich to Florence, back in April. There was some amazing mountain scenery (and snow!) as we passed through Austria:

#placesyoucanknit

After the trip, I put it to one side while I knit a few more shawls and things, and kept feeling kind of guilty that I had a lovely barely-started cowl languishing in its project bag. Finally, I brought it to New Zealand with me where it has at last made it to the top of my priority queue! The photo with the cup of tea shows my progress as of yesterday. :)

This brings me to an idea Willie and I sometimes talk about, the Guilty List: the part of your to-do list that you don't like to think about, that big daunting task, or those small things that get delayed and procrastinated and delayed again. For me, it's often things like cleaning the bathroom or booking in for a flu shot.

Right now, it's getting my Europe Trip photos organised, culled, cropped, processed, and posted to Facebook albums for my family and friends to see. I also want to write a few blog posts with my best photos and stories from the trip, but first I need to sort out the photos.

Here's the way to deal with something on the Guilty List: you can do it, delegate it, delay it, or ditch it. For my photos, it's an easy choice - I have to do it! And I've finally started (the train photo above is proof). My pretty and well-travelled cowl was delayed for months, and now I'm doing that too.

So here's my challenge for you: if you have a Guilty List too, get something off it. Do it, delegate it, delay it, or ditch it. Let me know how it goes!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Up for a crafting challenge?

Like any popular website with a big social element, Ravelry has its own traditions and special events. One of my favourites is the Ravellenic Games, held every two years to coincide with the winter or summer Olympics.

Ravellenics participants choose one or more projects that will be a personal challenge, and try to finish before the closing ceremony. The next Games are coming up in a few weeks beginning on the 5th of August, so if this sounds like fun you still have time to pick your projects. Joining a team is optional, but definitely adds to the fun in my opinion!

Last time around I crocheted a great big rainbow blanket:


I'm still super proud of it, and it's fantastic to have a real wool lap blanket in the lounge when it gets cold.

This time, I'm going to go big again and knit a Blank Canvas sweater. It's DK-weight, with 3/4 sleeves, and using a pattern I've knit before, so it shouldn't be impossible to finish in two-and-a-bit weeks (I hope). But it will still be a stretch for me, since I usually take ages to finish a garment. My plan is to halt all design-related knitting during the Games and concentrate on making myself a new comfy jersey. :)

Swatching ahead of time is encouraged (by analogy to 'training' for an event), so I've begun my quest to get my gauge correct. This is my first swatch in Madelinetosh Longrider DK, which I need to undo and knit again on smaller needles:


Wish me luck!

Monday, July 4, 2016

WARMing up

Have you heard about the WARM project? It's a community textile art project to reflect on climate change and sustainability, which will take the form of two giant pictures made up of small knitted parts, to be installed in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery this September. You can read about the inspiration for the project here.

My contribution is a batch of knitted gum leaves. I've made six small ones so far, which I'll put in the post today. If I have time, I'd like to make another batch of leaves.



I found some fallen leaves and flowers under the gum trees at our train station today, very conveniently for my photos!

If you'd like to knit something to contribute to WARM, you can find the all of the patterns (devised by Georgie Nicholson) here on Ravelry - you can make different kinds of native flowers, or wind turbines, or simple lace squares for example. All items need to be made from 100% wool yarn, and using stash yarn is encouraged. Contributions are due by the 12th of August.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New pattern: Multifaceted Mitts

Presenting Multifaceted Mitts, the fingerless mitts version of my Multifaceted Mittens! Personally, I love mitts. Having my fingers free is so much more practical, plus I get to show off my nail polish... ;)



Features:
  • all-over stranded colourwork pattern inspired by crystals
  • twisted ribbing at the cuffs and mitt-tops
  • short-cuff and long-cuff options (mitts shown with long cuffs)
  • full-mitten version also available (separately or both in an ebook)
  • requires less than 50g of fingering-weight yarn in each colour
  • one size, to fit 7-8" palm circumference
  • pattern includes colourwork charts

Like the mittens, the mitts are knit in Knitsch Sock yarn from Holland Road Yarn Co. This time I chose 'Sweet Pea' for the main colour, a really strong vibrant pink, and 'Silver Lining' again for the contrast colour (because of its shimmering-metal illusion).

The mitts have a few extra little details, like the two-colour ribbing at the top of the thumb. This allows for a decent amount of ribbing while also continuing the colourwork pattern. It's slightly awkward to switch between knit and purl stitches while also switching colours, but it's only for a small area (and the effect is really worth it).



For details, and to download the Multifaceted Mitts pattern, visit its pattern page on Ravelry, Loveknitting, Etsy, or Craftsy. An ebook with both patterns (at a reduced price per pattern) is also available on Ravelry.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

New pattern: Multifaceted Mittens

This one's for my fellow southern-hemisphere-dwellers, where the weather is settling in to proper wintery rain and cold right now. My latest knit design is Multifaceted Mittens, a pair of colourwork mittens with an all-over pattern of crystals, and optional shorter or longer cuffs.

The matching mitts pattern is coming soon, so if you prefer your mittens fingerless I'll have you covered shortly!



I became kind of obsessed with designing a crystalline colourwork pattern after watching some cartoons which had beautiful crystal shapes in their background artwork - here are some examples from Adventure Time and Steven Universe. I like my cartoons weird, and I like them pretty.

Both pics from Steven Universe, found here.

Hmmm, those columns would make an excellent cable pattern...


Features:
  • all-over stranded colourwork pattern inspired by crystals
  • thumb and mitten-top echo the shape of crystal points
  • short-cuff and long-cuff options (mittens shown with short cuffs) 
  • requires less than 50g of fingering-weight yarn in each colour 
  • one size, to fit 7-8" palm circumference
  • colourwork charts 

The crystal pattern lends itself to playing with jewel colours, and the yarn I chose, Knitsch Sock dyed by Tash of Holland Road Yarn Co, comes in a wealth of rich, vibrant colours. I used 'Amethyst' and 'Silver Lining', two semi-solid shades with a lot of light/dark contrast. Solid, semi-solid, and variegated yarns will all work in this pattern, but do make sure you have enough contrast between your main colour and contrast colour - for example you could pair a darker variegated MC with a pale solid CC. One of my test-knitters switched MC and CC around for her second mitten, which looks really cool. :)

Knitsch Sock is a good choice for these mittens because its springiness helps you knit at a tight gauge without discomfort, and it's nice and hard-wearing (which I like for anything I'm going to wear on my hands).



You can see all the details and download the Multifaceted Mittens pattern from Ravelry, Loveknitting, Etsy, or Craftsy. The mitts pattern is in the pipeline - look out for it (and the ebook containing both patterns) next week.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finished project: Royally Striped

You guys, I actually finished a garment! This only happens once or twice a year, I am sloooow when it comes to garment knitting - mostly because I have so many other things I want to knit, and if they're my own designs I prioritise them. Which is totally great! But I think I need to get back to doing purely ME-knitting on the weekends, because I'd love a couple more jerseys and cardies in my wardrobe.

This is my Royally Striped cardie, designed by Stephen West and knit in a combo of Morris and Sons Norway 8ply (the natural charcoal and brown colours) and Vintage Purls Max (the burgundy and golds). The golds are actually the leftovers from my Beeswax Set, now put to good use. :)




Isn't this mural neat? It's across the train tracks from our place, on the side of some storage units. I like the little people climbing around in the eucalyptus branches.

Royally Striped is an all-in-one-piece design, where you knit one section and then pick up stitches for the next section. It's quite magical, the way it grows and grows. I really like the i-cord bind off around all of the edges, it finishes it off really tidily. I did add a big wooden button, but I prefer the way it looks unbuttoned.

The striped short-row wedges were fun to knit - don't they look cool?


Here's a closer look at the back, with its block of colourful narrow stripes:


I do love the cuddliness of garter stitch!



Next up will be another one of these. Not as exciting (especially as I've knit one before), but it will be a great basic super-wearable jersey. And my yarn is speckled, so scratch that - it IS exciting!