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May 2016

#WIPWednesday confessions project

In April I decided it was time I went through all my knitting boxes and bags in what I described as a stash shake up.

Part of this involved opening project bags and checking shelves properly. This revealed that I can have a a bit of a scatterbrain when it comes to projects - there were more than a few unfinished objects, including half a man's jumper with no more yarn and no notes, and patterns that I'd started but not enjoyed and set aside.

So I made some harsh decisions and ripped various things out, freeing up project bags, needles and notions. I also thought about how this has happened. I am someone who likes to have a few projects on the go at once because I knit everywhere so I like to have an easy chatting in the pub project, a challenging lace item, a knitting on the move project that fits in a handbag, and so on. But I also knit commission items - my own designs for magazines, samples for other designers and even special commissions for TV costume designers, which means my other knitting can be put aside for a bit and then I forget about them and my magpie brain alighted on something else - a stitch pattern I wanted to try, a sweater idea or some beautiful sock yarn.

I have been enjoying the #WIPWednesday posts on social media when makers share image of their works in progress, so I decided to use this to keep myself on track. So each Wednesday I have been posting pictures of all my current WIPs on both twitter and instagram - rather than admitting to just one. Now I've been doing this for a few weeks I thought it would be interesting to see the impact on my knitting and progress.

Week one of wip

Week one included a second sock that had been languishing
for months, an almost finished jumper and two new projects


Week two of wipBy week two the sock and the blue jumper were off the needles but 
I'd realised I needed I needed a lacy bolero for an event so not much
progress on the new projects from the previous week. Worse I'd
found another abandoned project bag with a red lace tunic that
had been 
on a holiday

Wip wed 2701416By week three there had been progress - the bolero was done and
all the other projects had grown (the red tunic sleeves were started)


Wipwed 040516 collageWeek four looked like I'd been very focused - just two WIPs. In fact I
had completed a commission as well (I knit a lot)


Wipwed 110516 3Week five: So the red tunic was done which gave me the excuse to
cast on a summer top and the yarn arrived for a commission. Of
course this meant nothing done on the other sweater, hence my
reluctance to include the image


Wipwed 180516 3Week six: Virtuously not cast anything else on. Is the project making 
me more focused?

  Wip wed 250516This week - am I loving this project, becoming more focused or just
putting off casting on anything else? A bit of both. In reality I'm waiting
for yarn for three commission projects and I haven't had time to chart
for a couple of shawl ideas.

What has happened though is I have this lovely selection of new knitted items, to catalogue, photograph and perhaps even wear.


 I'm going to continue with project, as a record of what I'm doing and in the hope that no project is orphaned so much in the future. 



Cracking the cable code part 3: Unusual cables

In this third and final post on understanding cabling, well be looking at how to understand more complex or unusual cables which may really be the ones that make you feel the pattern is like this.

image from

In the earlier posts I looked at cables that use just the knit stitch and ones that use both knits and purls and about understanding what stitches go on the cable needle and whether these cross at the front or back of the work. 

I used the abbreviation C for plain cables and Tw for those involving knits and purls. F tells us to hold the cable needle to the front of the work and B sends it to the back.

But the single most important message from those posts is always read the pattern notes and the abbreviations.

This is because even if you think you understand the code/convention used for a cable in a pattern, you should double check because unfortunately not everyone sticks to the same approach when writing patterns.

Some cable instructions need more careful reading because they might need two crochet hooks or as I came across recently to cable stitches already held on a cable needle.

Here I'm going to look at an example using two cable needles to get the stitches in the right order. I use the abbreviation Cr for these cables to indicate they are out of the ordinary. The example is used in these socks to make the cross at the end of each diamond so that the knit stitches cross over but the purl st remains in the centre.

HXsox4Hot cross socks


In this case I have called used the notation "Cr5F" because there are five stitches and the first cable needle is held to the front.

The instruction here is slip the next 2 sts on to the cable needle and hold to front, slip next st on to the second cable needle and hold to back, k2, p1 from the cable needle held at back, k2 from cable needle held at front. 

When you break it down, this is no more complicated that any other cable, except there are two cable needles. The trick is to follow the steps and not worry about the two stitches on the cable needle until the rest of the steps are complete.

The full instructions for this whole cable pattern are:

Round 1: P1, k2, p3, p2tog, yo, p4, k2, p1. (15 sts)
Round 2: P1, k2, p9, k2, p1.
Round 3: P1, Tw3F, p2, yo, sl1 wyif, p2tog tbl, psso, yo, p2, Tw3B, p1.
Round 4: P2, k2, p7, k2, p2.
Round 5: P2, Tw3F, yo, p2tog, p, p2tog tbl, yo, Tw3B, p2.
Round 6: P3, k2, p5, k2, p3.
Round 7: P3, Tw3F, p3, Tw3B, p3.
Round 8: P4, k2, p3, k2, p4.
Round 9: P2, p2tog, yo, Tw3F, p1, Tw3B, yo, p2tog tbl, p2.
Round 10: P5, k2, p, k2, p5.
Round 11: P1, p2tog, yo, p2, C5F, p2, yo, p2tog tbl, p1.
Round 12: Repeat round 10.
Round 13: P2, p2tog tbl, yo, Tw3B, p1, Tw3F, yo, p2tog, p2.
Round 14: Repeat round 8.
Round 15: P3, Tw3B, p3, Tw3F, p3.
Round 16: Repeat round 6.
Round 17: P2, Tw3B, yo, p2tog tbl, p, p2tog, yo, Tw3F, p2.
Round 18: Repeat round 4.
Round 19: P1, Tw3B, p2, yo, sl1 wyif, p2tog tbl, psso, yo, p2, Tw3F, p1.
Round 20: Repeat round 2.

All the cable instructions for this have been covered in the three posts but they can also be shown on a chart.

Hot cross chart

The cable symbols can help you see what way the cables go and what stitches should be at the front when they cross. But even then, with each pattern, make sure you read the instructions careful in case the symbols don't mean what you expect.



The privilege of being one of the first to try a yarn

One of the benefits of both working to promote knitting and crochet in the UK and being a tech editor and pattern writer is that I get to see and (at least) swatch a wide range of yarns.

And recently I was one of the first to work with a brand new yarn - in this case Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock. I was lucky enough to work as Debbie's pattern compiler on a collection of sock patterns for the this colourful new yarn.

Rialot sock collageBobble Lace and First Time socks

This meant I had the privilege to see and work with the yarn before most people which was exciting but I also made working on the patterns very interesting.

Because we were creating the first patterns for this yarn, we didn't have any feedback from other knitters or any past experience about how it would behave as we added cables or lace - an interesting challenge as well as a responsibility. I have described the swatch for a pattern as the "tension square to rule them all because that sets the measurements for the pattern. In this case our first swatches, this really did hold true, so it was very important that the sample knitters were finding the same tension.

The other excitement was seeing the different colourways knit up as socks for the first time. This yarn range has lots of rich colour combinations with a tweedy effect which means that the colours change and blend in interesting ways. I suspect as a result that no two pairs of socks made in the yarn will be exactly the same. I'm looking forward to seeing people's finished projects.