Thursday, May 31, 2018

I have a new website!

You can find it over at - there's a gallery of patterns, and a special page for all my tutorials to make them nice and easy to find. How to block scalloped edges is my latest tutorial, to help you perfect the edges of your Beeswax Shawl (or any shawl with a rippling edge).

The new site is also the new home of my blog. My old blog here won't be going anywhere, but all new posts will be appearing over on the new blog
I hope to see you there! 💛

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Magic loop: yes, it is!

After my success with two-colour brioche for the It's New To Me KAL back in October, I decided to keep up my upskilling momentum and try another new technique that I've been vaguely meaning to try for years: magic loop!

If you're not familiar with it, magic loop is a method of knitting a small circumference in the round; an alternative to using double-pointed needles (which I'm prone to dropping). My favourite thing about it is that the 'ladders' which can appear between needles are a little easier to control - at least for me! And I also like switching needles twice per round instead of three or four times, which keeps things flowing nicely. Another benefit is that you can use the same interchangeable needle tips when switching between standard knitting in the round and magic loop - reducing the danger of a tension mismatch. I have a jersey with visibly different tension in the sleeves where I switched from metal circular tips to wooden dpns...

Candide designed by Noriko Ho, my first magic loop project

I picked a simple hat for my first attempt, thinking it would be easiest to focus on one tricky thing at a time. I got the hang of it pretty quickly, with the help of this photo tutorial on the Tin Can Knits blog: Magic Loop Technique. If you'd like to see magic loop in action, I've included a video below. :)

For good measure, I followed up with another simple hat, this time in reverse stockinette, and then jumped in the deep end with a pair of stranded mitts.

obsidian designed by ash alberg, knit in Malabrigo Rios

Underwing Mitts designed by Erica Heusser

If you followed the saga on Instagram, you'll know the second mitt went missing for a couple of nail-biting days before it was discovered stowing away in some clean laundry! Talk about relief...

It was this pair of mitts that really hooked me with magic loop. This kind of design, with a clear front and back, just makes sense to knit on two needles rather than dividing it up further.

My current magic loop project is a pair of scrappy socks, using some pretty leftovers from a couple of different projects. Because I was knitting at a tight gauge, I found I needed to upgrade my needles to a pair with smoother joins between the cable and the needle tips. I settled on a pair of HiyaHiya Sharps from my LYS Maker Maker, which, true to their name need to be handled with a bit more care than I'm used to.

Simple Socks designed by Emily Bolduan

The gist of the technique is this: you'll begin with half of your stitches on one needle tip and half on the other, with the cable looped between them. Then arrange your needles so that you have one free-floating needle tip in your right hand, and knit across the stitches on your left-hand needle tip. When you run out of stitches, rearrange the cable and start again.

If you'd like to try magic loop for the first time, my top tip is to do what I did, and knit a hat on circular needles, switching to magic loop for the crown decreases - this way you won't need to get to grips with a new technique while you're trying to cast on.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

New pattern: Anagram

I'm so happy to finally be able to share this pair of projects with you! The Anagram Hat & Wrap are part of the new amirisu Winter 2018 issue, along with seven other patterns celebrating texture in knitting.

Photo by amirisu

The Anagram Hat is a cosy beanie with crisp texture, and its sibling the Anagram Wrap is a large dramatic rectangle with an all-over lace pattern. The stitch patterns combine modern geometric lace with garter stitch for texture and squish factor.

Geometric stitch patterns have become a real signature of mine - I find them very satisfying, both in the designing stage and the knitting. Because of the small repeating elements in their stitch patterns, the Hat & Wrap are very rhythmic and meditative to knit. I rearranged the little 'blocks' of pattern, with diagonal lines travelling across the garter stitch background, just like rearranging the letters in a word - so I think of these two stitch patterns as 'anagrams' of each other.

Photo by amirisu

The Anagram Hat & Wrap are both knit in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in the delicate wintery shade 'Thaw'. Arbor's beautifully crisp stitch definition really lets their texture shine. You will need 7 skeins for the wrap and 2 for the hat (including a pompom if you wish).

Photo by amirisu

Hat Features:
  • a cosy textured beanie in modern geometric lace
  • can be topped with a pompom if you wish
  • knit in the round from the bottom up
  • techniques include the long tail cast on, and lace knitting including the occasional double increase and decrease
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid-dyed DK-weight yarn
  • one size, easy to alter by changing the number of repeats around
  • pattern includes full written instructions as well as charts.

Wrap Features:
  • a long cosy rectangular wrap in modern geometric lace
  • knit flat from end to end
  • techniques include the long tail cast on, lace knitting, and a stretchy bind off
  • suitable for solid or semi-solid-dyed DK-weight yarn
  • one size, easy to alter by changing the number of repeats across or lengthwise
  • pattern includes full written instructions as well as charts. 

Photo by amirisu

The patterns are available as part of amirisu Winter 2018, Issue 15. You can purchase a print copy from their website or your favourite yarn shop, or a digital copy from amirisu's website or Ravelry.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How to graft garter stitch

Grafting aka Kitchener Stitch is used to seamlessly join two sets of 'live' stitches together. It's commonly used at the toe of socks knit from the top down, but it's useful for other types of project too, including cowls! Two of my cowl designs, Folia Loop and my new Aether Cowl, are knit flat and then grafted garter-stitch-style.

Aether Cowl

Grafting garter stitch is a little simpler than the better-known method for stockinette, since in this case the steps for the front needle and back needle are identical.

The Method:

When your project is ready to be grafted, prepare by breaking your yarn, leaving a long tail, then thread it onto a darning needle. Unpick your provisional cast on and place the live stitches onto another knitting needle. Ensure you have the same number of stitches on each needle. Hold the needles parallel, tips pointing to the right, with the wrong sides of the cowl together.

Begin grafting by inserting the darning needle into the 1st front-needle stitch purlwise, then into the 1st back-needle stitch purlwise. Now work garter-style Kitchener stitch:

*Front needle: insert darning needle knitwise into 1st stitch and slip the stitch off, insert darning needle into 2nd stitch purlwise, pull the yarn through, and adjust the tension. Back needle: as for front needle. Repeat from * until all stitches are grafted.

Tip: when adjusting the tension of the graft, I like to hold my left index finger under the grafted stitches so I can check that the graft matches the surrounding fabric.

Finally, break the yarn if necessary and pull it through the final stitch to fasten off. If you blocked your project before grafting and you feel the grafted row could do with blocking too, you can now spot-block it using a spray bottle.

For tips on casting on for a cowl which will later be grafted, see my previous tutorial: How to work a Provisional Cast On.