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April 2011

Anything to avoid a seam

Baby Having made a couple of top down baby jackets (right) and the occasional jumper in the round, in recent months I've been increasingly contemplating how to reduce the required number of seams in any garment.

This can be reasonable straightforward for the body of any garment that doesn't have any, or very much side shaping, such as this beaded cardigan - I knitted the back and both fronts as a piece up to the armholes.

Beaded 001

Or this man's aran, where I knitted the body plus the arms in the round up to the armpits - it was particularly pleasing this one worked because seaming a man's jumper can be a mamoth task.

Proj 019There is a certain amount of working out to do. I usually reduce a back or front of a jumper by 2 stitches each when deciding to work a jumper in the round to account for not having a seam. For cardigans I reduce the total number of stitches by 4 - 2 for the back and 1 each for the front.

This of course depends on the pattern - if I'm adapting a lace or aran (still to experiment with colourwork) it may be that I only reduce a back or front by 1, as with the men's aran.

Apart from saving on the sewing up there are other advantages - in particular being able to try on the garment as it grows and ensure sleeves are just the right length. This in turn gives an opportunity to go up or down a needle size for bust or waist shaping if necessary.

But it is a matter of trial and error. I'm trying out a ribbed top in the round at the moment but I'm not sure whether  I'll like how the rib increases work/look/sit so may yet be ripped out and I'll be forced to succumb to the seam.

Over time, I am building up a clearer view of what will or will not accept this adaptation and so it will hopefully stand me in good stead both in reducing the sewing up time and in thinking about designing garments.



Spring knits turn to summer mission

A couple of weeks ago I posted that I was temporarily abandoning work on a lovely vintage-style jumper in favour of a short sleeved cardigan due to a tiny glimpse of sun.

Amazingly the cardigan is finished and the sun is still out.

Beaded 001

This little cardie, one of my picks from Knitting 88, was remarkable quick project despite requiring me to thread all those beads on to the yarn. So with the sun out the plan is for more summer knitting while the glorious weather inspires me. Already on the go are two shorts-sleeved little vintage numbers. A cotton lace and cable number is the new sofa knit while a pure wool 4ply ribbed top is the spare knit for when concentration is likely to be difficult eg sitting round with friends in a pub in Northern Ireland when fine lace is not the best option.

Meanwhile 3 or 4 other summer tops are in my sights, using up a stock of cotton, bamboo and silk yarns I have mysteriously accumulated.

5 of 11: Silken treasure

Lace 019

The shawl challenge continues...

In contrast to the fluffy experience of shawl 4, this one is smooth, shiny and almost sharp. 

Knit1 019 Made in pure thrown reel silk, that I bought at randomn at a knitting fair a couple of years ago, this version of Brangian by Bronwyn Parry (and therefore christened Bro's Bran by Bron) was something of an experiment. I had no idea whether this slippery silk which reminded me of embroidery thread would work for lace of indeed knit up at all.

In reality the main issue was the risk of dropping a stitch. The slippery yarn really does run.

Otherwise it worked well for an eyelet heavy lace like this, creating a web with a sheen. The blocked shawl is firm but feather light - perfect for eveningwear.



  • Lace 017
  • Lace 016
  • Lace 018
Lace 018



The Knitter 31: I wouldn't have done it like that

Don't you just hate people who look at something you've done and say very nice but I'd have done it like this. So my apologies to the team at The Knitter because that is the conclusion I've reached about this issue.

image from At first glance I dismissed the magazine as a bit disappointing this month but in some cases I now wonder if it is the styling and colour choices rather than some of the patterns that may be causing that effect.

The most unfortunate victim is Susan Crawford's Anyone for tennis? This cross over front 4ply slipover has a herring bone texture but you can hardly see it. Plus it looks lumpy worn over a striped puff-sleeved frilly blouse. Like many of the patterns this month I look forward to seeing this on Ravelry as other people use different colours and photograph it in other ways.

I have a similar issue with Amanda Crawford's Neopolitan. Picture captions refer to the waist shaping on this sleeveless v-neck top but it is hard to see when worn over a square necked, layered dress. Of course pistachio with lemon and red drop stitch embellishment was never a colour combination that I was going to fall love with. But I think that somewhere here there is a pretty summer top if you can get past the first impression.

The cover pattern Bonbon, like some other Jean Moss magazine pattern, will definitely divide opinion due to the colour choices. Whether or not you like pink and kiwi , the combination of eyelets with a little fair isle detail on the shoulders and feminine shaping does work in this cardigan - although I'm not sure if it will sit well over a large bust due to the old button straining issue.

I've already come across comments on the green and pink double-sided spotty kid's jacket, Toasted Teacake, mainly on the colour. I'm certain my little niece will love this fun piece from Rosee Woodland. It's also a technical challenge using the double knitting technique - which isn't as scary as it sounds.

Headland, a cotton aran cable-patterned t-shirt with shawl collar from Martin Storey, photographs well and has attractive but not to difficult honeycomb cables. So if you wear cotton aran cable-patterned t-shirts this could be a winner. By contrast I can't say how well Sarah Hatton's Dunstan, a DK alpaca slipover, works because it hasn't photgraphed well at all.

And finally a mention for Lightening, another lovely lace shawl from Anniken Allis.I'd recommend it for anyone wanting to take on their first large lace piecebecause the pattern repeat is straight forward to follow and "read" in your knitting.

Knitting 89: Don't judge it by the cover

image from As a magazine editor, I know only too well that choosing your cover and "selling" your content is one of the toughest jobs for each issue. Sometimes they just don't work, May's issue of Knitting being a case in point. 

If I wasn't a subscriber or a regular reader I wouldn't be attracted by the main image which doesn't flatter what turns out to be a glamorous long line wrap cardigan. The "cocktail colours, bright summer knits" with it's multicoloured text makes me think scary colour work in acrylic brights shades,  completely at odds with the subtle and sensuous patterns within.

So I'm very glad I'm a subscriber because I did open the issue and discovered much to love in shapely dresses and flowing tunics - much more cocktail hour than cocktail colour.

I'd add that my favourite garment in the whole magazine isn't on the cover but there was a picture on the blog so I am able to point you in the right direction.

image from  Amanda Jones' cocktail dress is chic and smart, and exactly the pattern I've been looking for. I have a large amount of silk merino mix DK yarn (similar to the Louisa Harding Grace the pattern calls for) that I purchased with to make a dress but for which I've failed to find the right pattern.

This though could be the one - lots of shaping with the A-line skirt should be flattering.The textures add to the sophistication of the dress and will add to the interest in the making. Worth the cover price alone this month.

Until I shift some extra padding developed during an injury enforced exercise ban, I also think the Jones dress will suit me better than the second one this month. The ruched sleeved dress (see gallery below) from Pat Menchini is a plain stocking-stitch column in DK with short textured sleeves. It will be very sexy on anyone without excessive lumps and bumps but that amount of stocking stitch could put some people off. But I would say go for it. Handknit dresses can be very eye-catching in the right way. 

If you are after some looser stylishness then there is a lace sleeve tunic and kimono both from Sian Brown.

 As I've noted before, mohair divides knitters and the silk/mohair mix for the lace sleeve tunic (bottom left) will be no exception. It will give this a-line tunic a lot softness and lightness but the hairiness won't be to everyone's taste. I'm wondering the lace bell sleeves and flowing stocking stitch body would work in a smoother laceweight. (If you do love mohair, the stashbuster project is mohair leg warmers this month).

Kimono is the victim of the unflattering cover. In reality it is lace-edged long line wrapover jacket/cardigan. Made here in a red bamboo DK it will either be dramatic and elegant or look like you are out in your dressing gown depending on your shape and the panache with which you carry off belted knitwear.

I'm more likely to go for Peggy, a Sublime pattern for a sleeveless waist length draping top.Made in bamboo and pearl (yes, pearl sourced viscose) yarn it is plain but shapely apart from a little reverse stocking stitch texture above the bust and a clever twisted neckline. A useful summer top for over a pair of capris with pretty sandals. And as a quick knit with a touch of style it would be a good option for someone wanting the knit their first summer top.

 I've no pattern of doom this month but two I'm in two minds about.

image from I know ruffles are on trend but I'm not convinced by the hip ruff effect of Martin Storey's Bell Frill Cardigan - the rear view picture in the magazine is not what I'd think of as a good look - unless you are a 1970s tennis player. One frill perhaps on this otherwise shapely cotton cardigan?

Another candidate for adaption is the gold edged top (below), from Alison Robson, is a draping loose sleeveless top. It's pretty and simple with a lace edge. I'm just not sure why that edging is in the contrasting gold but then I'm one for stark glitzy contrasts.

Over all Knitting remains on form so don't be put off by the cover.  


image from

In spring every knitter's fancy turns

A couple of weeks ago it was officially spring. A typical British Isles spring, a few brighter days, temperatures creeping into double figures enough for a lighter coat but nothing spectacular. I was thinking fine handknits, smart skirts and trousers and light jackets where my wardrobe mainstays.

So I cast on a certain vintage inspired jumper I'd been raving about in a wool cotton mix.

Proj 026
The the sun came out and I started thinking of floral and floaty dresses and this little number from Debenhams.

image from So while I still want to do the blue jumper, last night,fickle knitter that I am,  I couldn't fit the urge to cast on a cropped, short puffed-sleeved bolero from the same edition of Knitting in Sublime extra fine merino.

Proj 027

With beads - something I'll talk about when I've decided whether I decide it was worth it.

Of course the sun will probably vanish now but at least I have two projects for as my fancy turns.


4 of 11: miles of kidsilk lace

Shawl 020
Well actually a little over 2m of shawl. Because it's in kidsilk spray it feels masses of lace but weighs less than 75g.

I tend to be a bit nervous of working in kidsilk because it can be very difficult to rip back because the mohair tangles up but I only actually had a problem on the crochet finish on the ends.

Shawl 018 Shawl 022







I now need to find it a home - doing 11 shawls I don't want to keep them all. This is very pretty - the pattern is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from "The Knitted Lace Pattern Book," 1850 from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby - but I'm not sure that it will suit me the best of the 11 so this will go to a family member or friend.

Shawl 023 I have also realised that all 4 so far are rectangular stoles (of which I'm keeping 2)  so I've put the planned number 5 on hold (another rectangle) in favour of a pure silk triangle followed by a half hexagon, and then perhaps a circle.


Looking back at knitting and crochet week

image from bromiskelly.typepad.comIt has been a fascinating week reading about how other crafters interpret a theme.

I've learnt a number of things:

1. My knitting is very tied to ideas of family and place - I hadn't really thought about that before, but looking back through the last week's posts there's a lot about relatives and childhood.

2. One person's achievement or aspiration mountain - lace, 4 needles, cable - is another one's day-to-day crafting.

3. The humble freezer bag can really engage knitters.

4. Everyone loves merino yarn but kidsilk can really divide opinion.

5. There don't seem to be a lot of blogging public transport knitters.

It has also confirmed my belief that knitting and crochet are crafts were a few basic techniques can take people in a wide range of directions but give them something to connect over as well.

So thanks to Eskimimi for coming up with the idea and the themes (and get well soon).


Knitting & Crochet Blog Week - Knitting time courtesy of poor train service

6knitbloglogo The train service I travel to and from work on is famous for two things: poor service and delays. 

My problem is that while being regularly late for meetings or stuck shivering on platforms is irritating and frustrating, this poor service regularly extends my knitting time. This is because the hour each way is time I use to listen to podcasts and to, yes, knit and knit some more. 

I'm lucky, I commute in the opposite direction to most folks so have space as well as time and use it productively to craft away the work stress. 

So my fellow First Capital Connect passengers, my apologies if I don't get as irate as you but I could share my way of coping.

Knit 151
My handbag sized knitting kit