Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New pattern: Cinnamon Stars

Cinnamon Stars is my final new pattern release of 2016, and I must say it's one of my favourites! It's a very soft and cosy tubular cowl with a liberal dusting of colourwork stars. Knit up in the rich hand-dyed colours of Manos del Uruguay's Silk Blend Fino, it looks almost good enough to eat...

This yarn is a luxurious blend of 70% merino and 30% silk, in a single-ply construction which has enough fuzziness to it to produce a great colourwork fabric. I used one skein of 'Gilt' for the background colour and one of 'Ivory Letter Opener' for the star motifs, with plenty left over for swatching since Fino comes in generous 490-yard skeins.

I've been working on my 'travelling cowl' on and off since March - it even came to Europe with me, and kept me busy on the long train ride through the Alps. After taking it to New Zealand a few months later and then back to Australia, I finished it at last! That's what I call a well-travelled WIP. Now, with my northern-hemisphere knitting friends in the midst of winter, it's the perfect time to release a decidedly cold-weather pattern like a tubular cowl.

Doesn't it look great with my speckled Blank Canvas jersey? I think I've found my 'look' for Winter 2017. :)

  • an all-over pattern of colourwork stars
  • knit in the round beginning with a provisional cast on
  • grafted into a seamless loop to finish
  • one size, with easily adjustable circumference
  • requires two skeins of fingering-weight yarn in contrasting colours
  • solid or semi-solid-dyed yarns are ideal
  • pattern includes tips for swatching in the round, a crochet provisional cast on, and Kitchener Stitch or grafting
  • the colourwork motif is charted only. 

I have a couple of tutorial posts coming up for you, on swatching colourwork in the round, the crochet provisional cast on, and Kitchener Stitch. In the meantime, I'll leave you with these tutorials which are all excellent:
Ysolda's 'Swift swatching in the round' tutorial
Ysolda's 'Crochet provisional cast on' tutorial
Knitty's Kitchener Stitch tutorial

You can see all the details and download the Cinnamon Stars pattern via Ravelry, Loveknitting, Etsy, or Craftsy.

The biscuits were a fun little project - edible photo props are definitely the best kind. I used the Cinnamon Stars (Zimtsterne) recipe from one of my favourite baking sources, Ladies A Plate. They were actually easier than I anticipated after examining the recipe, I had no trouble rolling out the almondy meringue dough and cutting out the little stars. They taste amazing too, and the remaining ones are still crisp now, after almost two weeks. Pssst Mum - they're gluten free! ;)

Monday, December 19, 2016

A perfect pair of socks

The Gift-A-Long has been an absolute whirlwind so far, with a whopping 13,000 finished projects as of this morning! I've been busy hosting the Hand & Arm Things thread, plus giving out prizes for project photos each Thursday.

I even managed to finish a GAL project of my own, a pair of Grellow Love socks knit in leftover Vintage Purls Sock. Just to make things tricky for myself, I experimented with making a stop-motion video of my second sock, snapping a frame after each half-inch (very roughly) of knitting:

It came out pretty good for my first stop-motion attempt! I did have a bit of trouble with consistent lighting, since I recorded it over the course of a few days and at different times of day. I used the iPhone app OSnap!, which can also be used to make time-lapse videos. I can tell I'm going to have a lot of fun with this app. :)

Back to the socks, here's what the finished pair looks like - I really love the contrast toes and heels. I have plenty of odds and ends of sock yarn left, so I'm keen to make more pairs using this pattern. It's a nice easy one, especially once you've knit the first sock.

I'm not sure I'll have time to tackle another Gift-A-Long project, since I still have one-third of a giant lace shawl to knit this month. But if you fancy jumping in with a project or two, the GAL is still on until December 31st!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Deco City Revisited

My Deco City shawl pattern, originally published in Pom Pom Quarterly's gorgeous Winter 2015 issue, is now available as a single pattern download on Ravelry. There is one change to the new version of the pattern: this time it includes charts as well as the written instructions. As a chart-lover, I like to include them whenever I can! You can read all about the shawl and its inspiration in my post from last November: New pattern: Deco City.

Before I sent my shawl off to Pom Pom, we did a little photoshoot of our own in Melbourne's St Kilda, which has some interesting Art Deco buildings including the Palais Theatre. It was incredibly windy, so we used the wind to our advantage...

As you can imagine, it takes a lot of shots to get a shawl to look good in the wind, without having the lace design hidden or all of my hair in my face. :)

We also found this amazing architectural confection on the little lawn outside Luna Park:

You can find the Deco City pattern and the whole Winter 2015 issue here on Ravelry, and paper copies of the magazine are available through Pom Pom Quarterly's website and awesome yarn shops.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

It's Gift-A-Long time!

Would you like to join the Indie Design Gift-A-Long? It’s just begun, and the giant pattern sale is go! Over 300 designers are taking part this year, and there are giant searchable Ravelry bundles and Pinterest boards full of patterns for your browsing pleasure.

My own discounted patterns are collected here - they're 25% off with the coupon code giftalong2016, from now until the end of November.

This is the third year I've taken part in the Gift-A-Long, and this year I'm a moderator which is both fun and (so far) really busy. I’m co-hosting the Hand & Arm Things KAL and will also be on Prize Patrol once a week, handing out pattern coupons to people who post project photos at just the right time. ;) Come and join in if you're keen to start a new project!

Here are some of the GAL's stats, in a pretty graphic put together by our stats queen Kimberly Golynskiy:

I have my first project picked out, which is a pair of Grellow Love socks. I've dug out some leftovers and little scraps of Vintage Purls Sock and Knitsch Sock, so I can do crazy-coloured contrasting heels and toes...

Grellow Love by Claire Devine

My main project right now is a secret laceweight wrap, but I think I should have time to at least make some short socks as well. They can be my comparatively-straightforward project to work on in between bouts of lace knitting and GAL chatting. :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Heartpops Revisited

Sometimes I get the urge to re-knit an older pattern and tweak a few things - the colour, the length, various aspects that don't fit my current preference. And sometimes I just really want to add a pompom! My Heartpops hat was released back in February, and I was (and am) super proud of the stitch pattern I invented of 3D hearts in a delicate cabled lattice:

What I didn't love so much, especially when it came time to photograph the hat, was the extremely bright, almost fluorescent colour I'd chosen. It's a fun colour, but it was seriously hard to photograph, especially in sunlight. I also wanted to showcase the hat's other blocking option, which is beanie-style rather than beret-style (blocked over a balloon instead of a dinner plate).

It's the same pattern, but the effect is so different:

First version (Feb 2016)

Second version (Nov 2016)

This second version is much softer and calmer looking, thanks to the change of yarn. This time I used Scout, a lofty DK-weight organic merino from Wool Days, in the colour 'Winter's Day'. The cool neutral grey shows off texture and cables beautifully! Two balls was enough for both hat and pompom.

Another tweak I made was reducing the height of the ribbing a little, because if I'm adding a pompom I want the hat to fit snugly on my head without extra room at the crown - I don't want the pompom to flop around up there. But aside from the yarn change and shortening the ribbing, the pattern is exactly the same as before.

Happily, I still had some of the heart-shaped lollipops left over from the previous photoshoot! If that's not proof of my lack of sweet tooth, I don't know what is. ;)

The updated Heartpops pattern is available on Ravelry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New pattern: Silverwing

I have a new shawl design to share! This is Silverwing, a one-skein lace shawl inspired by the birdlife of the Whakatane river, and the graceful white-faced herons in particular. My parents' house and shop are about a 20-minute walk apart, and the riverbank is by far the most pleasant route between them. There are always pūkeko, shags, swallows, and various gulls to be seen, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to spot a heron or a flock of spoonbills.

During my last visit to Whakatane I knit up this shawl (it's a quick knit for a lace project), and did a photoshoot by the river with Dad...

One of Dad's many amazing bird photos! This one's a white-faced heron.

The yarn is a special gradient-dyed silk blend, Ozimerino Soie (50% merino, 50% silk; 438yds/401m per 100g) from local dyer Dawn of Ozifarmer's Market. This colour is called 'Silver', and it's a subtle, gentle gradient with a lot of shine from the silk. I used up all of the yarn to get the most out of the gradient, and it's easy to change the number of repeats at the end of the shawl so you can do the same.

The lace patterns in Silverwing are simple and easily memorised, making it a suitable project for a beginner lace knitter, or an experienced lace knitter looking for a low-attention project for tv knitting.

I like the way the long tail of the shawl curls around itself.

  • an all-over lace pattern inspired by wing feathers
  • an asymmetrical triangular shape, knit from the narrow point to the opposite edge
  • a stretchy k2tog-tbl lace bind off
  • the lace patterns are intuitive and easy to memorise
  • a one-skein project, easily customisable to suit your available yardage
  • perfect for gradient-dyed yarn, as well as solids and semi-solids. The lace is also simple enough for speckled or lightly variegated yarn
  • one size, easily shrunk or enlarged by changing the number of repeats
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

You can see all the details and download the Silverwing pattern via Ravelry, Loveknitting, or Etsy. Dad's website (with a very pretty photo gallery) is here: Jos's Photography & Framing.

In full sail! ;)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New pattern: Folia Triangle

And that's a wrap! Rounding out my La Folia Collection is Folia Triangle, now available on Ravelry. It's a bottom-up triangular shawl with two size options - I knit the large size, and it's enormous and very snuggly. :)

  • a v-shaped leaf-lace panel on a background of garter stitch
  • a shallow triangular shape, knit from the bottom point upwards
  • a tidy i-cord bind off
  • stitch markers keep track of the lace section's boundaries, so that only a few rows require you to pay special attention
  • for two skeins of fingering-weight yarn, or one high-yardage skein
  • perfect for speckled or lightly variegated yarn as well as solids and semi-solids - the lace pattern is simple enough to take it
  • two sizes (shown in L), easily shrunk or enlarged by changing the number of repeats
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

I used two gorgeous skeins of Revelry Sock from Circus Tonic Handmade, in a speckled colourway called 'Zebra Finch'. All of Circus Tonic's colours are named after Australian birds, which I think is really cool (as a fellow bird lover).

You can see all the details and download the Folia Triangle pattern via Ravelry, Loveknitting, Etsy, or Craftsy. An ebook with all three patterns is also available on Ravelry as the La Folia Collection.


P.S. Here's a tiny video I posted on Instagram a couple of months ago, when I was knitting the bind off on this shawl:

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ombré crochet: How to make a gradient square

I've started a new 'relaxation project'! I really like having something uncomplicated to work on when I want to pay attention to conversations/tv or when I'm tired - I'm all for multiple works-in-progress with a variety of techniques and difficulty levels.

I'm making another crochet blanket, this time made up of squares which I'll seam together later. In each square, the colours will radiate from dark-to-light or light-to-dark, alternating like a chessboard.

My inspiration is a delicate granny square blanket featured in Jared Flood's blog post about the Icelandic Textile Museum. I tried out a few different kinds of squares, and decided to go for super-simple solid crocheted squares rather than classic granny squares.

The small square I made as a swatch (with only one round per shade) is the perfect size for a coaster. :)

I've had some undyed corriedale wool from the Little Wool Company in my stash for a couple of years, which I'd intended for a cardigan but couldn't get gauge for the pattern I had my eye on (as this is quite a thin 4ply). I think a blanket like this will really let the natural sheepy colours shine! I have 200g cones of natural white, oatmeal, and silver. The yarn will be held double, with two crocheted rounds per colour or colour blend.

Here are all the details, if you'd like to make your own gradient squares...

  • 4ply yarn in three colours, about 31g or 140yds total per square. I'm aiming for a 5x7 blanket (about 40"/102cm x 56"/142cm), so I will need about 1200g or 5,472yds of yarn which should include enough for seaming and adding a border. Holding it doubled definitely eats yarn!
  • a 4mm crochet hook (or size that makes a fabric you like).
  • a needle for weaving in ends.
  • a blocking board (optional).

  • If I'm using a wool yarn, I like to crochet over the yarn ends as I go to reduce weaving-in later.
  • It's nice and easy to spit-splice 4ply wool, especially non-superwash. I do tend to dip my finger in my water glass (or tea cup or wine glass) rather than spit, however - I'm prissy like that. :p
  • After I finish each square I wash it, squeeze out the water, and stretch it out on my homemade blocking board: four nails in a piece of scrap wood, with 8 1/2 inches between nails as you go round the square. The corner-holes of the crocheted square go over the nails (see photo below).

Abbreviations (in US crochet terms):
  • ch = chain
  • dc = double crochet
  • sc = single crochet
  • st = stitch
    Note: If you're more familiar with UK crochet terms, there's a handy translation chart here. The relevant terms for this project are US dc = UK tr, and US sc = UK dc.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    How to make a square (about 8"/20cm wide): 

    With colour A held double, make a magic ring OR ch 5 and join with a slip stitch.

    Round 1: Ch 2, 3 dc into ring, *ch 3, 4 dc into ring, repeat from * twice more, ch 3, join to top of initial ch 2 with a slip stitch.

    Round 2: Ch 2, 1 dc into each of the next 2 sts, *(2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc) into corner space, 1 dc into each of the next 3 sts, repeat from * twice more, (2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc) into corner space, join to top of initial ch 2 with a slip stitch.

    Break yarn and fasten off. With colour A and colour B held together, join yarn to any side of the square.
    Rounds 3-4: Ch 2, *1 dc into each st until you reach the next corner space, (2 dc, ch 3, 2 dc) into corner space, repeat from * three more times, 1 dc into each st until you reach the initial ch 2, join to top with a slip stitch.

    Break yarn and fasten off. With colour B held double, join yarn to any side of the square.
    Rounds 5-6: Work as established in Rounds 3-4.

    Break yarn and fasten off. With colour B and colour C held together, join yarn to any side of the square.
    Rounds 7-8: Work as established in Rounds 3-4.

    Break yarn and fasten off. With colour C held double, join yarn to any side of the square.
    Rounds 9-10: Work as established in Rounds 3-4.

    Round 11: Ch 1, *1 sc into each st until you reach the next corner space, 4 sc into corner space, repeat from * three more times, 1 sc into each st until you reach the initial ch 1, join to top with a slip stitch.

    Break yarn and fasten off. Weave in any remaining ends, and wet block the square.

    When the time comes, I'll write a post about seaming the squares together and adding a border. I think picot stitches around the edge could look really pretty - but I'm getting ahead of myself now. 2 squares down, 33 to go...

    Thursday, September 15, 2016

    New pattern: Folia Loop

    Folia Loop is the second design in my La Folia Collection of accessories featuring leafy lace and garter stitch. It's a lightweight cowl that can be worn draped as a long loop or doubled up for warmth. I was lucky enough to have my Mum agree to model it for me!

    It requires only one skein of fingering-weight yarn - I used Malabrigo Mechita in 'Pearl', a soft grey with a pretty tinge of mauve. It's a little more tricky than the Folia Crescent shawl, but aside from the provisional cast on and the final grafting it should be relatively intuitive once you've knit the first section or two of the lace. And the garter section is of course smooth sailing!

    If you haven't tried a provisional cast on before or would like to try a new method, this is my favourite tutorial, using the crochet hook method: Crochet Provisional Cast On.

    • a diagonal leafy lace panel surrounded by squishy garter stitch
    • long enough to wear looped either once or twice
    • knit flat with a provisional cast on and grafted to finish
    • a stitch marker keeps track of the lace/garter boundary
    • a one skein project in fingering-weight yarn, perfect for that precious single skein
    • one size, easily enlarged by working extra garter stitch rows
    • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

    You can see all the details and download the Folia Loop pattern via Ravelry, Loveknitting, Etsy, or Craftsy.

    The remaining pattern in the collection, a triangular shawl, is currently being test knit and will be released in late September. You can find the collection-so-far here on Ravelry: La Folia Collection. The triangular shawl pattern will be added to the ebook once it's released.

    Curious about the name La Folia? I introduced the collection and its musical inspiration in my earlier post, New pattern: Folia Crescent.

    Monday, September 12, 2016

    A tale of two sweaters

    You guys, I finished a sweater... and it only took me two-and-a-bit weeks! For me, that is FAST. It was my big Ravellenics project, so I was determined to get it done before the deadline. I put my other works-in-progress aside for the two weeks and just worked on this whenever I could. Result: a new knitted garment that didn't take me several months. ;)

    The pattern is Ysolda's Blank Canvas, and I used less than five skeins of Longrider DK from Madelinetosh in the 'River Water' colourway. I'm still completely in love with the speckles!

    One thing I would do differently next time is to knit the sleeves on similar needles to the ones I used for the body: I used wooden double pointed needles on the lower part of the sleeves and slippery metal needles on the body, and the gauge is visibly looser on the sleeves. Ooops. 

    I've been wearing it regularly for a few weeks now, and so far the only signs of wear are a few pills under the arms. I still need to block it, but I'm waiting for warmer weather so I won't be without it for long while it dries. <3


    To keep my garment-knitting momentum going, I dug out an old half-finished WIP from 2014 and decreed it my new Weekend Knitting project. The pattern is Laura Aylor's Park Slope tee, and the yarn is Vintage Purls Sock in 'Across the Universe', with subtle swirls of midnight purple and blue.

    I've nearly finished the ribbing at the hem, and then I'll just have the sleeve ribbing and neckline ribbing to go. And then I'll have another new top to wear, just in time for spring.

    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.

    • 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.


    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: