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August 2021

Tip of the week: Write out a line of pattern to decode it

8)write out

Did you know you read code?

Knitting patterns are coded instructions on how to do something - a programme for our hands. But between abbreviations, brackets and repeats, sometimes our code breaking skills can let us down.

If that happens, just  grab a pen and paper and write out the line you are stuck on in full, stitch-by-stitch, and it will start to make sense.

As with so many things with knitting, just take your time.

New Pattern: Hemingford lace sleeve sweater

Have you noticed that I like detail? I don't tend to make plain items but that doesn't mean all over pattern.

The Hemingford sweater has a plain stocking stitch body with loose lacy sleeves which add a little glamour.

Hem 2

It is knitted in Cascade Yarns Heritage 4-ply which is one of my go-to fine sweater yarns and the pattern can be found in The Knitter issue 167 out now. The sample is in a very on trend Coral shade but the yarn comes in a wide range of colours so I am looking forward to seeing what people choose.


Tip of the week: Wrangling long cast-ons

7) caston

A quick tip today.

Do the words "cast on 150 stitches" fill you with horror?

Once I get over a certain number of stitches I can lose count as easily as blinking. But there is a simple solution.

As you cast on, pop a stitchmarker or a loop of contrast yarn every 20, 30 or 50 stitches (whatever suits you). Then you only need to count the stitches from the last marker each time. You can take out the markers as you knit your first row. 

If you need any advice or any other help with building your knitting skills or confidence check out my knitting therapy service

Purple party time - a five year design anniversary

Wow what an exciting five years.

Purple rain 2 K159 aut2016

Purple Rain appeared in Knitting magazine five years ago this week.

It was my first every paid pattern for a magazine. Who knew what was going to happen next? I certainly didn't expect it to change my life but it has to some extent.

Now my tally is round about 100 patterns for magazines and growing every month. Plus other collaborations and patterns – and now I am in the midst of a book plan!

I never expected this and, to be honest, I sometimes have to be reminded I am a knitwear designer.


To celebrate I’ve knitted myself a new version of Purple Rain is a gorgeous skein of Olann Sock Lite and republished the pattern - I tucked the original sample away so carefully I can't find it now!. It is a long crescent shawlette where the lace section, featuring nuup raindrops, is knitted straight and then simple short rows in the stocking stitch section creates a curve.

You can find the pattern for half price until 24 August 2021 on Ravelry and in my pattern store plus there is 5% off all my patterns available on Ravelry and Payhip using the code PURPLEPARTY5 during the same period.



Tip of the Week: Find your Knitting Style

5) find your style

Just because your friend is a continental-style knitter it doesn't mean that it will be your preferred style or that you will hold your needles the same way.

Everyone's hands are different - individual like fingerprints - shaped by all the things you do in your life.

For example, I enjoy fencing (the sword type) and how I hold my sabre has had an influence on where the strength in my hands lies and that effects how I hold my needles and what is comfortable for me. I have also knitted every day for a very many years, which means I have had plenty of time to find a knitting style that suits me.

Don't worry if you hold your needles from above or below - choose the way that feels right to you. Think about whether you are comfortable making stitches and whether you like how your knitting comes out - consistent stitch size, good tension, etc. If you aren't happy it is time to adjust your style, otherwise keep going.

Tip of the week: Knitting speed

6)more speed

One question I'm asked a lot is: "How do I knit fast?"

My top tip for getting through your knitting faster is NOT to try to knit really fast. What generally happens is that you can end up dropping stitches, splitting yarn or making other mistakes that mean over all your knitting takes longer.

Rather than thinking about being speedy, concentrate on finding an efficient knitting style. This is a way of knitting that lets you to get into a steady rhythm and requires only small movements to make each stitch. This way each stitch will take a small amount time.

First,  work out what sort of needles you are most comfortable using. This could mean using long needles you can tuck under your arms. Or it could be working on circular needles (even for rows) because you. find it easier only to move the short tips.

There are various styles of knitting and it is worth trying out different methods to see what suits you - I'm going to contrate on two.

Many people say that “continental” style knitting (as in this UKHKA video), where you hold the yarn in your left hand and use the tip of the right needle to pull or “pick” it though each stitch is the fastest. This only requires a small movement so can be quite speedy.

However, if you are more comfortable holding the yarn in your right hand, learning to “flick” the yarn in the way forward.  Knitters use their index finger to move the yarn round the needle without ever letting go of the right hand needle. This allows them to work at a steady rhythm with very little excess movement. I like this tutorial from VeryPink

Experimenting with techniques and practice will help you find the most efficient and comfortable way to knit for you. Once you find it, you will develop your natural knitting speed. And remember this is about enjoyment not racing.

If you need any advice or any other help with building your knitting skills or confidence check out my knitting therapy service

Tip of the week: Yarn substitution

4) yarn sub

If you want to easily replace a yarn in a pattern there are 4 easy steps to success.

1. Yarn weight: If a pattern is written for a DK or an aranweight, you will end up with a very different fabric is you try to knit it in 4-ply. Although you can adapt a pattern, you are best substituting DK for DK, chunky for chunky, etc.
2. Fibre content: For best results, try to use a yarn that is made up from similar fibres as the one in the pattern. Cotton yarn behaves very differently to wool so swapping one for another might give you a very different outcome than you were expecting.
3. Tension: We’re back to the tension square again. You do need to check that you can get the same tension as the pattern with your substitute yarn.
4. Yarn amounts: To work out how much of your new yarn you require, you need to know the meterage (metres per ball) for both the yarn in the pattern and your chosen yarn.
Time for a small sum: If the pattern requires six balls of yarn with 120m per 50g, you need 720m of yarn. The yarn you have chosen has 210m in a 100g ball. Three balls would give you 630m (probably not enough) and four balls 840m.