Tag Archives: stranded knitting

Fancy Another Free Pattern?

Fancy another free pattern? Yes?

OK, but before I reveal all, may I just thank you from the very bottom left corner of my heart for the generous comments that you left regarding the chair. However, I am deeply aggrieved that you’ve all sided with Stoic Spouse about whether or not anyone should sit in the thing.

The twinnage certainly can’t be kept away. Here’s one young man and his car park:-

In all the excitement of the chair, I didn’t get a chance to tell you about another project – one that you might actually want to make. Take a look at this cowl:-

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

The design came about after I was contacted by Hobbycraft (the major UK craft store chain) and asked to design something for their website. That was last autumn. And with my usual combination of optimism and stupidity, I set to work designing an autumnal project… which was ready shortly after Christmas.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

So allow me to introduce the Falling Leaves cowl. The FREE pattern is published on the Hobbycraft website, right HERE.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

It’s a stranded knit, but because there are some crazy-long floats, I’ve suggested an alternative way of trapping them.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern oak

Talking of cowls, Rainbow Junkie (love the name) has made a beautiful jewel-coloured version of my All That Jazz cowl. Her rather gorgeous version is here on her blog. I love it!

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It’s Not A Popularity Contest! Oh, Wait, Actually It Is…

Hello blog. Just a short one today.

Thank you for all the kind comments that you’ve left lately, you lovely yarny lot. On Sunday, this blog will be three years old. Three! I can scarcely believe it. In my experience, three-year-olds are obstreperous and independent little spirits, prone to embarking on unhinged adventures and removing all of their clothes on a whim. So read here at your peril.

Talking of the blog, I discovered by chance the other day that I’ve been shortlisted for the British Craft Awards!

British Craft Awards

Good grief! I’d have fallen off my chair in surprise at the news if I’d been sitting on one at the time. Anyway, now that the shortlist is out there, the winner is to be selected by public vote. (Can you tell where I’m going with this? What, you can?!) So I would be hugely honoured and grateful if you popped over to their site in order to wang me a vote. And if you’re in the UK, you stand a chance to win big chunky Amazon vouchers, too, just for the trouble of entering. The link is here. Select the Knitting And Crochet option, and then within the question about your favourite blogger, you’ll see this very site listed as an option. If you’re kind enough to vote for me, I’ll pop round and weave in all your yarn ends as an act of gratitude, because I’m not above a little bribery and corruption when it’s needed. Um, thank you.

So has there been knitting and crochet? Well yes, there most certainly has. There’s also been a fair amount of frogging, but I’ve tried to be all adult about it and tell myself that frogging a dozen hours of work is just bringing me closer to the eventual much better outcome. Unfortunately I’m not falling for that rubbish. I’m busy designing something for the Hobbycraft chain of shops and it just wasn’t working. It looked very nice in my head, but the reality was a little less splendid. So I sat in my usual spot at the twinnage’s music group and began to thread my needle many rows down, ready to rip out a lot of stitches. (For privacy reasons, photo taken whilst all the children were out of shot gathered round the teacher’s piano.)

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Onwards, my friends, onwards. I shall not be defeated by a pesky cowl.

May your crochet and knitting be more successful than mine.

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The Mandala Picture: A Free Knitting Pattern

Another free pattern? Really? Well, yes.

Aeons ago, I designed and knitted this large piece of craziness:-

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I wanted to play with the idea of the mandala, subvert the medium a wee bit, so I knitted a picture of a mandala. The idea of writing up this monster as a pattern was then filed away in Volume XII of the Great To-Do List in the bottom left corner of my brain**, between ‘learn to speak Finnish’ and ‘organize my sock drawer’.

But then a nudging comment on a recent post prompted me to just get on with it. So I did.

Unfortunately my computer then had a temper tantrum, and I lost the lot.

So I typed it in again… all sixteen thousand cells of it, because if it didn’t happen right now, then it was never going to happen. At first, the process was slow and annoying. But then I reached a sort of meditative state of consciousness and all there was in the world was me and the keyboard and that flippin’ chart. It was like the time years ago when my then boyfriend and I took a non-stop bus journey all the way across Canada:** the first fifteen minutes were by far the worst for fidgeting, feeling bored, squabbling, and generally not coping. After that, the remaining four days and intervening nights of the journey were serene and hazy. But I digress.

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So would you like the pattern? You can stretch the finished thing across a wood frame to hang on the wall, or with smaller borders you can use it to make a cushion. With the border, it’s roughly a metre/yard square.

The pattern? It’s RIGHT HERE!

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*As you can see, I put all those years of neuropsychology training to good use…

**And may I just say how stunningly beautiful and fascinating and friendly and diverse Canada is? Or at least it was in 1993…

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Stylecraft Batik Yarn Review

It’s about time I published a review of Batik, Stylecraft’s brand new yarn. (Disclaimer: I didn’t pay for the yarn, so clearly my fickle head has been turned by this freebie and not a single word of the following is to be trusted.)

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I wanted to thoroughly road-test the yarn before I wrote this, so I got the knitting needles out and started designing something that incorporated all sixteen shades:-

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You know what you need in the heat of August? A nice warm, fluffy cowl, that’s what. So I designed one, just in case the sun disappeared behind a cloud and it started to SNOW. Stranger things have happened. The cowl pattern will be available very soon, in case you want one too.

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We were away for ten days, you see, first staying in a cottage in the wilds of the North York Moors, and then – after a seven-hour drive – staying with dear friends in their beautiful old south west Wales cottage. The perfect opportunity to knit without guilt. The perfect opportunity to let my imagination off the lead, so that it could scamper about in the undergrowth and come up with lots of nature-inspired patterns.

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I knitted everywhere.

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And then I re-knitted, over and over again, because I kept changing my mind about the pattern. But that was part of the fun.

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Anyway, let’s talk about the yarn.

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Batik is a DK-weight (i.e. light worsted) blend of 80% acrylic and 20% wool. Just to cover the basics, it’s available in 50-gram balls, with a recommended hook/needle size of 4mm (US size 6), gauge 22 sts per 10cm/4 inches. But that’s not what you came here to read, is it?

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There are 16 shades in the range, and they do work rather well together.

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The yarn has a painted effect, each shade mottling with white. I think this makes it ideal for fairisle/stranded colourwork – much better than solid colours – but the mottling effect is not subtle, so I needed to make sure that for each section of the pattern, I picked two shades that really really contrasted, to avoid the pattern looking like a blurry muddle.

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There’s a high degree of twist to this yarn, which was a deliberate decision by the folk at Stylecraft HQ to create a product that’s ideal for crochet as well as for knitting.

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And I have to say that it’s a pleasure to work with, although I do hope they expand the colour range further. If you want a very affordable (£1.99 in the UK) acrylic-based yarn, I absolutely recommend Batik. It looks good, the colours are rich and intense, and Stylecraft are super-hot on the consistency and quality of their products (I saw their testing lab) so you can trust what you’re getting.

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Right, I’d better go and write up that cowl pattern, hadn’t I? Is it snowing yet?

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Quick And Easy Hack For Controlling Bobbins In Colourwork

In this post, an easy hack for how to control all those bobbins when you’re doing complex colourwork, especially intarsia. 🙂

Colourwork is a fantastic thing in knitting and crochet: it’s like painting with yarn – even painting in three dimensions, should you choose to engage in that level of crazy. I love most colourwork – stranded/fairisle especially, but also, slipped stitch work, and stripes. But I do not love intarsia*. Intarsia hurts my sanity. It’s a technique in which even the tiniest increase in the complexity of motif leads with terrifying speed to an exponential rise in the number of bobbins dangling and tangling in a hideous hairy heap in your lap, and needing to be painstakingly separated from each other every row because they just wanna mingle. Trust me, I’ve been there and I’ve got the fluent facility with swear words to prove it.

Here's a stranded piece that I'm designing at the moment. See? So civilised that you can knit whilst you walk. Bet you couldn't do intarsia whilst on the move.

Here’s a stranded piece that I’m designing at the moment. See? So civilised that you can knit whilst you walk. Bet you couldn’t do intarsia whilst on the move.

Stranded/fairisle work, on the other hand, is a lot more civilized in my un-humble opinion, because even if your finished object is a wonder of many-hued complexity, you only have to wrestle two shades within any given row. Two! I can cope with two. I even have two hands: look! So I’ll leave the intarsia to octopuses and millipedes, thank you very much. Also to spiders, as long as they keep the hell away from me whilst they’re doing it.

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But despite the sanest of intentions, I still occasionally end up making something that involves a lot of different mini-balls of yarn, all at once. I know you can buy or make those mini-bobbins to control your wool, but they’re not much use for larger quantities of yarn and they’ve never completely saved me from the need to de-tangle. Elastic bands or hair bobbles can work quite well for larger quantities, if you remove the band from whichever ball of yarn is ‘live’ and then replace it when you swap to the next colour.

But the easiest technique that I’ve found to control the mess is to use small butterfly hairclips. AND they can cope with both larger and smaller quantities of yarn.

Some people think these are for hair. They're not: they're for YARN.

Some people think these are for hair. They’re not: they’re for YARN.

See?

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Quick to take off and then put back on as you swap each colour in and out, you can even use them to clip the yarn to the actual knitting so that there’s NO WAY it can sneak off for a group hug with its neighbours. Your knitting will still move happily along the cable/needle when you do this. Result! Problem solved!

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So far, I’ve only discovered two disadvantages to this technique. First, when I’m doing intarsia, I CAN NEVER FIND ANYTHING TO CLIP MY FLIPPIN’ HAIR. And second, if you leave your knitting lying around like this, you risk coming back to find all the clips missing, and several small children running around giggling at the clips on their hair, their ears, their noses, the curtains… I haven’t yet found a good technique for managing tangled children, sorry.

And look, you can pick the whole thing up and NOTHING TERRIBLE HAPPENS!

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I still don’t like intarsia, though.

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  • Just in case you’ve never had the ‘pleasure’ (by which I mean ‘soul-wrenching torment’), intarsia in knitting or crochet involves working a picture or motif by swapping in and out different shades of yarn as needed, without carrying them all the way across the work as you would in stranded work. OK, that’s not the best description: go take a look at THIS.

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It’s The Knitting And Stitching Show!

Wow, what a day.

For those of you not in the UK, the Knitting And Stitching Show is the yarn-related event of the year in this country, held amidst the splendour of Alexandra Palace on a hill in London. It started today, and runs until Sunday. May I just at this point thank Stylecraft Yarns for my complimentary ticket – very much appreciated, you kind people.

Settle in, my friends. This threatens to be a long post. With many photos. Help y’selves to some of that wine. There will be moments of amusement, I promise.

So. It might be argued that I walked the twinnage to school with just a little more haste than usual, before running back home to jump in my car and begin the 72-mile drive to north London. Given that it’s a knitting event, it seemed reasonable to apply quite a lot of knitwear to my person:-

much knitwear www.thetwistedyarn.com

Can you tell that I like designing stranded stuff? You CAN?? HOW?!

Now, it takes a lot to tempt me into London, given my feelings about the place. I really struggle with the concept of London. But in case I offend any Londoners who are reading this, I’ll just park that thought there, turn the engine off, and move on. Except… I can’t find a parking space: because it’s London.

Anyway, to the show. Alexandra Palace is rather splendid:-

alexandra palace www.thetwistedyarn.com

…with its views across London:-

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And inside, the grandeur continues:-

alexandra palace. www.thetwistedyarn.com

Clearly they’re more efficient about watering their houseplants than I am about mine.

Would you like to see inside the show? You would? Well, there were many, many stands:-

Knitting And Stitching Show 2015 www.thetwistedyarn.com

So I went to the Knitting And Stitching Show and the biggest surprise was that nobody was knitting. Or stitching. Or even crocheting. Is it me, or is that weird? Following your lovely responses/comments to my last post on knitting and walking, I imagined that at least some folks would be wandering around, needles in hand, click-clicking away. But no.

Anyway, the quirkiest thing that happened was being recognised via the bag I made for the Stylecraft blog tour! Lovely to meet you, friendly people! Thank you for coming up and saying hello.

Of course, the whole thing was a festival of colourful loveliness:-

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And did I mention that Arne and Carlos were there? ARNE AND CARLOS!!!!!! My stranded heroes!

Arne and Carlos www.thetwistedyarn.com

There were walls and walls of tempting colour:-

the knitting and stitching show 2015 www.thetwistedyarn.com

…but being the sort of weirdo who isn’t into stash, I didn’t buy any. My only purchase was a pair of oversized knitting needles. And lunch.

There were so many little details to see. This security guard on the right seemed fascinated (for ages) by the woman teaching a customer to use a drop spindle:-

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And then I went to a brilliant talk by Michele Turner of the Association Of Guilds Of Weavers, Spinners, And Dyers, all about spinning. This is a woman who can make a drop spindle out of a banana!

banana drop spindle www.thetwistedyarn.com

She said it wasn’t quite the right kind of banana, but I was too shy to ask what could have been improved on the fruity front. I’ve been holding out on learning to spin for a long time, because I know it would eat up what little non-yarn life I have left, but there is a bunch of bananas in the fruit bowl not ten metres from where I’m sitting, and it’s very tempting to try this new skill. She also made a more conventional spindle using two CDs, a length of doweling, a hook, and a rubber band. Oh, and she spun some rather fine (in both senses of the word) dog hair:-

spinning dog hair www.thetwistedyarn.com

Impressive, huh?

There were exhibitions, too, of designer knitwear:-

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…And stunning fabric art by DAMSS:-

DAMSS www.thetwistedyarn.com

There is so much else that I could show you, but time was ticking. I popped in to say hello to Annabelle, sales director at Stylecraft. Here she is, getting into the spirit of the event. It was good to see her again:-

stylecraft www.thetwistedyarn.com

In all, it was quite overwhelming. Oh, and I was glad to see a massive range of ages attending, although it seemed that most of the youngest folks were there for the stitching rather than the knitting. But for all that the popularity of knitting is increasing amongst men, it was a heavily female-dominated event. C’mon, blokes: pick up your needles!

Far too soon, it was time to go. But if you’re somewhere near London some time between now and Sunday, I thoroughly recommend the experience. Enjoy!

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The Carnival Bag, And The Stylecraft Giveaway!

Welcome to day five of the Stylecraft Blog Tour! Fancy a free pattern and a chance to win a whole caboodle of yarn, regardless of where in the world you are? Read on, Macduff…

FI bag 1

So, just for the benefit of anyone who is new round these ‘ere parts, (hello at the back, there), a few months ago I co-judged Stylecraft yarn’s competition to find a new shade for their range of Special DK. With me were the editor of Let’s Knit magazine (who waited very patiently in the car park before we went in, whilst I finished knitting the skirt I’d designed and knitted for the occasion), plus Annabelle from Stylecraft and Lucy from Attic24.

Phil (TheTwistedYarn), Sarah Neal (editor, Let's Knit), Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Lucy (Attic24).

Phil (TheTwistedYarn), Sarah Neal (editor, Let’s Knit), Annabelle Hill (sales director at Stylecraft), Lucy (Attic24).

And Stylecraft, being wise, decided to produce a limited edition pack of all ten of the shades that we shortlisted. Hurrah! The duck egg (top right) was the ultimate winner, by the way. The pack will be on sale from 13th October.

Win me! Win me! Win me!

Win me! Win me! Win me!

So… you want to win a pack of all the yarn pictured above? ‘Tis easy! All you need to do is enter here. The link will be live today (29.09.15) from 10.15am until midnight GMT. The competition is open worldwide.

And if you’re new here, welcome! Do have a mooch around, click the button you’ll see beside/below this page to follow the blog, and come and ‘Like’ on Facebook, too. Thank you!

But you’ll need something to make with all that lovely yarn, too, regardless of whether you buy it or win it, won’t you? Hmmm…. Let me think for a minute… How about… THIS SHOULDER-BAG?!!!

www.thetwistedyarn.com shoulder bag

It has a neat flap and a little magnetic clasp to keep it closed:-

www.thetwistedyarn.com shoulder bag

It was a lot of fun to design:-

www.thetwistedyarn.com shoulder bag

Want to knit one? No, don’t look at me like that: it’s actually pretty quick and easy to make, as long as you’ve tried fairisle/stranded knitting before. The front and back panels are worked in the round, starting from the outside and working in with decreases on every round, so there’s no yucky purling fairisle. (Can you tell that I hate purling fairisle?) The strap, sides, and underneath are worked in one big round, too. Only the reverse of the strap and also the flap are knitted flat: but let’s not think about that.

The panels are joined with single crochet stitches (that’s double crochet in UK terms), but if you’re not a hooker, you can always use blanket stitch to attach the pieces.

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I’ve put together a free pattern in case you’d like to make the bag. CLICK HERE TO ACCESS IT! And you’ll find a Ravelry link HERE. And I realize that most people don’t want more than about a million photos in their patterns, so I’m going to put a few photos of the making process here, just to give you a bit of a visual aid. Do comment below with any questions or – horrors! – errata. Here we go:-

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And again. See this lovely mitred corner forming?

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And when things get too tight, we swap from a circular needle on to DPNs:-

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The reverse side looks like this:-

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Beginning the second side:-

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(If you want to crochet your jeans like that, see here.)

And here are all the components, ready for joining:-

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I used single crochet stitches for joining and for edges, all in Duck Egg:-

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Edging the strap makes it neat:-

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It’s worth the effort of lining the bag:-

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And then suddenly, you’re DONE!

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And the blog tour? Well next it’s The Patchwork Heart, so do scurry over there tomorrow morning to look at her design and have another chance at the giveaway.

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The Skirt Post

Ah, the skirt. (And thank you to the kind people in the comments threads who’ve been asking about it.) This post could probably be retitled ‘How not to design a skirt, you fool!’ but it will at least give you a laugh or two, I hope.

For those of you who are new around these ‘ere parts, allow me to elaborate. I decided on a whim to design a knitted stranded skirt and a crocheted bag, ahead of judging the Stylecraft competition. It seemed like a good idea. And whilst the bag was done in plenty of time, I ended up restarting the skirt at the eleventh-and-a-halfth hour, owing to my first attempt turning into a messy ol’ cacophany of colour and stripey chaos:-

Nope. Just wrong.

You see, this is what goes wrong when you try and design a skirt whilst simultaneously playing with toddlers. COLOUR/MOTIF ANARCHY!  Consider yerselves warned. This is a public service announcement by The Twisted Yarn.

I decided to aim for something a bit more serious and muted, second time around. I liked that pattern in the middle that I’d designed, so I modified it only slightly for attempt number two. You can see the design as I drew it out on paper in the picture below. (For once, I broke my cardinal rule about using knitter’s graph paper, but I wasn’t too fussed about the relative height and width of this motif, so it didn’t matter.)

This skirt is quite short

This skirt is quite short

Anyway, here’s what I did. This is more of a description of a process, than a pattern. I hope that’s OK for now?

The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK, which is a fabulous yarn other than for the fact that it breaks if you as much as look at it. Oh all right, I’m exaggerating. You can look at it, but if you frown in its direction then *SNAP!* it breaks. Dear Rowan, I love your yarns, I really really really do, but please make less breaky Felted Tweed DK, yeah? Ta muchly.

All The Yarn.

All The Yarn.

Anyway, where was I?

This skirt was worked in the round from the bottom up. I cast on 203 stitches on 3mm circulars. Then I worked 10 rows of garter stitch, because you don’t want the bottom of your skirt rolling up, do you? Next, I knitted 6 rows of plain stockinette before beginning the motif I’d designed. This design is 29 stitches wide, so I repeated it 7 times to make up my 203 stitches. See, there’s method in my apparently-arbitrary-stitch-count.

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After another 11-or-so rows of plain grey-green, I began a second band of the motif. I say ‘or-so’, because the skirt is currently sitting in the Toddler Twinnage’s bedroom and they’re asleep. And whilst I love you very much, I don’t quite love you enough to risk waking the TT in order to give you an exact row count. Sorry.

Anyway, I finished the second band of colour and worked upwards in stockinette at high speed, as the clock cruelly ticked its way towards Yorkshire Day. The stress! As I worked, I reflected on all the uneaten toddler dinners I’d consumed recently which have had an enormously widening effect on my girth, so I started adding in a few KFBs, slowly increasing the stitch count per round from 203 up to a maximum of 225 at round 139. Obviously this is a highly individual thing, and if you’ve consumed less of your children’s discarded food than I have, then adjust accordingly, you lucky woman. I started decreasing again by one stitch per round from round 140, though, because I didn’t want acres of fabric around my waist. BUT THIS ISN’T MUCH OF AN ANECDOTE, IS IT?!

fairisle knitted skirt by TheTwistedYarn in progress

By the time I set of for Yorkshire last Monday afternoon, the skirt was so far from completion that any attempt to wear it would’ve resulted in my arrest not by the knitting police, but by the real police. I did give the thing a wash before I left, though, and blocked my progress-so-far on the back seat of my car whilst I drove. Resourceful, no?

Sadly, it wasn’t possible to knit and drive. And sadly, I didn’t get caught in any five-hour tailbacks, so there was no more knitting until I reached my hotel room for the night before the judging. The hotel was perfect. Here was the view from my window:-

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But there was no time for views, dammit! There was knitting to be done!

Man, my fingers flew. I have never knitted so fast. I paused only to go downstairs and have dinner with the lovely Annabelle Hill (sales director for Stylecraft) and equally lovely Sarah Neal (editor of Let’s Knit magazine). I felt so shy walking down the stairs towards the restaurant but honestly, they were both friendly and interesting and I needn’t have worried. The food wasn’t bad, either. 🙂

And then it was back to the knitting, up in my room. Round and round and round and round. No, don’t fall asleep: have some more caffeine. Sit up straighter, try to stay awake. Just. Keep. Knitting. It reminded me of undergraduate days, desperately trying to stay awake for most of the night in an attempt to get the weekly essay finished. Oh, those nights: trying to figure out some statistical complexity whilst half mad on caffeine at 5am.

Morning came too soon.

By breakfast time, I had a nearly-decent length, but I needed a waist-band, so I switched to purple and garter-stitched as though my life depended on it. Time was ticking, as the bastard is wont to do.

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I knitted over breakfast at the hotel, and as luck would have it, I bumped into Sarah Neal. My advice to you? ALWAYS have the editor of a major knitting magazine around whilst you break your fast, in order to tap her wisdom as you knit and munch. Her advice? HAIRSPRAY. Yes, you read that right. I’d been moaning about how one of my many uncompleted tasks was weaving in the ends of this colour-splurge, so she suggested hairspray. For the first time in my life, I was grateful that I have hair that has much in common with an undiscovered jungle, because that means that I never travel without industrial-strength hairspray.

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So instead of the responsible knitterly weave-in-and-snip, I hacked:-

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…And then I sprayed:-

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And then back to the knitting. I added the occasional yarnover and k2tog, in order to make holes for a little belt I’d worked half way through the night. May I just formally record here the patience of Let’s Knit‘s Sarah Neal, who waited (and knitted) patiently whilst I worked the last couple of rows at the hotel before we set off for Stylecraft. (She was working on a jumper with gorgeous fan-like stitches. It was beautiful, and she claimed that it was simple.)

So then it was done, sort of. I do want to make the waistband much wider, but I didn’t have time that morning, so here’s how far I got:-

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It’s a little worrying, wearing a skirt that’s basically held together with hairspray, let me tell you. Would it make an audible ‘crunch’ when I sat down? Would it burst into flames if I walked past a smoker? Fortunately it did neither of these things, but I’ve learned an important lesson in life: ALWAYS HAVE THE EDITOR OF A KNITTING MAGAZINE ON TAP AT BREAKFAST.

To my shame, I wiggled out of jeans and into this skirt in the car park of Stylecraft’s mill at Slaithwaite, so I can only hope that nobody was looking out of their office window that morning.

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Here’s the reverse, because you always have to show the back when you’re knitting stranded, don’t you?

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And the weirdest thing (that you probably won’t understand)? I didn’t knit a single stitch for about four days after I came home.

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This Isn’t Going To Work, Is it?

A quick one, my fine friends, because I’m knitting against a deadline. And for now, the deadline seems to be winning. 🙁 I haven’t even drafted this post on paper; just opened the little flap in my brain behind which all the crazy lives, and let it all dribble out uncensored onto the keyboard. Consider y’self warned. And maybe fetch a stiff drink.

So Tuesday is Stylecraft judging day with Lucy from Attic24, and having self-imposed this ridiculous deadline of designing/knitting a new skirt to wear for the occasion, and then re-starting it at the eleventh hour, I’m in a pickle. The sort of pickle that might raise a few eyebrows from fellow judges at the indecent shortness of my attire. It’s just not happening fast enough. You know you’re in trouble when you give serious consideration to dealing with the weaving-in-ends problem by using Superglue. Here’s some progress:-

fairisle knitted skirt by TheTwistedYarn in progress

Ultimately, this is to be a skirt with funky fairisle braces, but that’s not going to happen in time, is it? I’ve been doing my best. I’ll spare you any pictures of the knitting-in-the-bath that’s been going on, but I’ve also been knitting at the bus stop…

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(Marks on hand = number of kfb increases worked so far.)

And I knitted at Oxford’s Museum of Modern Art whilst puzzling over topiary in a wig.

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…And I knitted on the pavement whilst sighing over the loss of part of the top floor of Oxford’s historic Randolph Hotel to fire the other night. Look top middle of this picture and you’ll see the most obvious damage. Sigh. It’s such a beautiful gothic building.

fire at Randolph Hotel

And now, if you’ll be kind enough to excuse me, I have some more knitting to do. Can’t wait to bring you pictures from the mill and the judging…

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Spring! Don’t Jump Out At Me Like That!

WOAH-there. Spring, where on earth did you, um, ‘spring’ from? That was a bit sudden. A few days ago I was pondering whether our log supplies would last the month at our current rate of huddling in front of the log-burner, and whether I could afford another lorry-load of logs, and whether my stinking head-cold was turning to bubonic plague (being prone to diagnostic melodrama), and now I’m sitting in my parents’ Herefordshire garden, enjoying these colours whilst the Toddler Twinnage rampage around pretending to be stegasauruses and sundry other dinosaurs. I still reckon I’ve got bubonic plague, though. This head-cold is vicious.

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The Parent-Garden

Colours in Herefordshire are always vivid. The distant hills take on a blueish hint, the ample rain keeps the grass ultra-green, and even the soil is a rich red-brown from all the Devonian sandstone underneath.

Speaking of colours, I’m working hard on my crochet house-bag design and my knitted skirt design. Look!

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But the flaw in my otherwise happy plan is of course that many colours mean many, many, manydid I mention many ends to be woven/cajoled/sworn in. Look at the reverse side of the house’s front!

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It’s Not Pretty.

So I sit in the parent-garden and weave in the ends. (Did I perchance mention that they were numerous?) Since it’s suddenly spring, the birdage has all gone a bit bonkers around me, and whilst I work, the only thing I can hear from my parents’ otherwise silent garden is about a thousand feathered friends wanting to get very, well, friendly with each other. I am now in a position to reliably inform you that robins, though normally antisocial avians, woo each other by wiggling their bottoms and shuffling their feet in a little dance that’s not unlike your uncle’s efforts on the dancefloor circa 1975. I’ll never ever tire of the fact that the more you stop and the more you stare, the more nature reveals its little quirks to you.

Now, TheTwistedYarn ain’t very good at seasonal festivities, but I’ve heard a rumour that it’s Easter, and I have something immensely cute to show you. My wonderful, kind, creative friend in both real and virtual life (Selma from EclecticHomeLife) put together thoughtful little gifts for the Toddler Twinnage, and the bags containing each of these were tied with little rabbit motifs that she’d designed and crocheted. How adorable? I’m strugglings slightly because I’m not sure how to repay her. Do you think I can measure her feet (for hand-made socks) without her noticing?

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Of course, spring is a time of change, and there’s plenty of change a-coming here. I’ll soon be showing you the column I’ve got starting in a British knitting magazine. And I’m off to Yorkshire in a fortnight to co-judge the Stylecraft yarn competition. The Twisted Seniors are selling their beautiful Herefordshire barn and heading over to our corner of Oxfordshire. And after some careful discussion with the Stoic Spouse, I would like you to know that we’re about to begin our last ever round of IVF. Sometimes it feels as though the new year doesn’t really get properly going until the springtime, and this year has the potential for much development.

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