Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Simple lace: a love letter

I have a confession to make. Relatively simple lace made up of basic stitches is one of my favourite kinds of knitting! I love to look at complex lace as much as the next knitting-obsessed person, but I really enjoy the process of knitting simpler lace. It just flows off my needles! And you can do a lot with simple lace stitches, with a little inspiration.

I've designed a few scarves and shawls that fall into this category of deceptively-simple lace, most recently my Hextile Wrap:

Its basic elements are garter stitch with some areas of yarn-overs and k2togs, and once you get the gist of the pattern you really don't need to check the chart/instructions very often. The speediness of simple lace means you can see the shapes emerging quickly, which is really satisfying. I find it keeps me wanting to knit "just one more repeat"...

Two of my lace shawls which I think also hit this sweet spot of simple-but-satisfying are Folia Crescent, which has a nice small easily-memorised lace repeat, and Silverwing, which has a closely-related lace pattern elongated into feathers.

Keeping to the bird theme, I have two more examples in my Tailfeather scarf and Kea shawl. Once again, one of these stitch patterns is a variation on the other. Simple stitches; endless possibilities!

These two designs aren't quite as straightforward, since their vertical ribs mean no 'rest' rows on the wrong side, and they also require the occasional double decrease stitch in addition to knit/purl/yo/k2tog/ssk. But they do share my favourite characteristic of simple geometric lace in that you can always tell what comes next, just by looking at your knitting.

I'll be casting on a new simple lace shawl tomorrow. :)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

New pattern: Hextile Wrap

My latest adventure in lace is the Hextile Wrap, a long, versatile wrap with bold geometric patterning. The design gets its name from the tiling pattern of triangles and hexagons in simple lace mesh, and it's based on garter stitch for reversibility, ease, and cosiness.

Equally useful for cool spring or autumn evenings, this wrap has already come in handy! Last weekend Mum and Dad and I visited Napier to see my brother and his crew, and my sister-in-law Colleen modelled my Hextile Wrap on the beach like a pro. The sun went down just as we finished the last photo.

I designed the Hextile Wrap to make the most of two lovely skeins of sock yarn I've been saving - Miss Click Clack's Fenwick Street Flashmerino (made up of 85% extrafine merino and 15% nylon) in 'Melbourne Black'. The wrap's open mesh panels and bias-knit construction work together to produce a surprisingly large wrap from just two skeins.

The stitch pattern is fast, easy, and intuitive once you get the hang of the structure - the mesh is the simplest kind of lace (just yarn-overs and k2togs), and all wrong-side rows are plain knit rows. I found it a great project to accompany tv and podcasts.

  • an all-over geometric pattern of mesh lace triangles
  • intuitive and easy to knit
  • knit on the bias from end to end
  • easy to enlarge by adding extra repeats to the length and/or width
  • requires two skeins of fingering-weight or sock yarn
  • solid, semi-solid, or gradient-dyed yarn is ideal
  • pattern includes full written instructions as well as charts.

You can see all the details and download the Hextile Wrap pattern via Ravelry, Loveknitting, or Craftsy.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Knitted treasure

Have you been following the Yarn Love Challenge on Instagram? I've been doing my best to keep up with the prompts for the last couple of months, and it's been great for sparking ideas for my daily photos and also discovering other yarn-loving people through the hashtag.

The challenge prompt for April 30th was "made for me", which gave me the idea of showing off an amazing sweater which my Mum made for me, almost 30 years ago...

That's me and my brother feeding the chooks!

I'm a big fan of the harmonious colour palette, with its brights toned down with greys and pastels. Isn't it beautiful?

The pattern is 'Outlined Star' from Kaffe Fassett's 1985 book Glorious Knitting. It's one of the gems from Mum's collection of retro knitting books which we get out now and then to marvel over. Some of the 80s books are more valuable as comedy than inspiration right now, but Glorious Knitting still stands up in my opinion! I love the photography and colours, and I'm in awe of some of the designs. If you're keen for some top-notch colourwork inspiration, you might be able to find it at your local library or second-hand bookshop. 

There are certain knitting techniques that are generally considered difficult or advanced at the moment, that weren't so much when I was growing up. This sweater incorporates two of them: stranded colourwork knit flat, and 3-colour stranding. And because Mum was comfortable with these techniques, I didn't shy away from them when I first learned to knit. Thanks Mum!

My first attempt at colourwork of any kind was an Inga Hat, which I tried to adapt for flat knitting, but got horribly confused by the braid at the brim. Later, when I'd learned to knit in the round, my first completed colourwork project was an Opus Spicatum hat in a full rainbow of colours instead of the original two - which resulted in working 3-colour (and even a few 4-colour) rounds. It was a massive challenge, but I managed to finish it with the help of online tutorials and sheer bloody-mindedness. Hooray for adventurous newbies! ;)