New magazine pattern: Anika yoked top
Feb 01, 2022
Knitting magazine issue 227 is out and it's all about texture.
Knitting magazine issue 227 is out and it's all about texture.
Lace seems to be what most knitters associate with blocking. It generally requires a particular blocking method and some tools to get the best results.
A lace project rarely looks that great when it comes off the needles – it’s usually a bit scrunched up rather than looking floaty and ethereal.
To turn it into the finished item you will need something to pin your shawl out on, a lot of pins and if possible some blocking wires.
A lot of people use foam matts as the base for their blocking and I recommend T-pins – these a more robust than sewing pins and easy to see as you adjust your piece.
Collect your pins, wires, matts, measuring tape etc before you do anything else – juggling wet knitting while you look for the measuring tape isn’t that much fun.
Blocking wires are often the item that make people nervous. They are simply flexible wire rods that you can thread through your knitting. The main type are straight and unsurprisingly very helpful when you want to block one or more straight edge – thread them through your straight edge and then use a few pins to place each edge. You can also find finer wires that naturally sit in a curve.
The first step in the wet blocking process is to get your piece wet. Soak it in warm water – and no rinse wool wash if you want – for at least 15 minutes.
Once your knitting has soaked, lay a towel on a flat surface. Gently lift the knitting out of the water – let water drain off but DO NOT wring it out. Gently put your knitting on the towel keeping it as flat as possible. Roll the towel to create a knitting swiss roll and then gently squeeze it to draw the water out of your lace. You will end up with a damp but not dripping piece of knitting where the fibres have been thoroughly wetted through.
Then you are ready to lay out your knitting on your blocking surface. I generally start by threading the wires through the straight edges and pinning those in place then I work on curves, the points on edges etc.
There's a new issue of Knitting magazine is out.
It's where you can find Diamond my new shrug design in King Cole Superfine Alpaca Chunky.
I've been playing with construction again. This starts from the centre of the diamond lace panel on the back and then is worked outwards for the sleeves and rib band. Most of the time it is worked in the round with some short row shaping, so it is an interesting make without seaming.
The pattern is a very relaxed fit coming in two sizes with advice of adjusting it to your preferences.
This is the first time I've worked with this yarn but I will be using it again. It is beautifully soft and great value.
Meanwhile the shrug sample is back with me and I must remember to take some pictures before I am tempted to snuggle up in it.
Off Kilter is a free shawlette pattern that I recently added to Ravelry.
It is written for 100g/400m of striping 4ply - the sort of thing many people will have picked up at a yarn show and have to hand in their stash during lockdown. Although I don't have picture - the shawl is on lockdown with someone else - it is a great option if you have some Zauberball Crazy.
After I put the pattern up, I was sorting my stash and noticed that I had a cake of Stylecraft Batik Swirl DK in the Coral Reef colourway and decided on an experiment - doing a version of Off Kilter in DK.
The Batik Swirl cake is 200g/550m and I used a 4mm needle. Otherwise I did the pattern as written using most of the cake.
The shawl ended up with a wingspan of 164cm and is 60cm deep at the widest point compared with 140cm and 50cm for the 4-ply version.
But if you have something in your stash that you'd like to try this pattern in that doesn't fit these quantities, don't worry, this is a very easy pattern to adapt.
The only other instruction is to enjoy going Off Kilter and to post pictures of your finished object by creating a project on the pattern's Ravelry page or if you are on Instagram tag me in your post @bromiskelly_lapurplepenguin
I have recently had my first experience of one of my designs being used in a knit-a-long.
Having been involved, I would recommend the experience to other designers.
It came about through chats about shawls and shawl patterns with Sara Geraghty of Black Sheep Wools. She had an idea for a Betwixtmas knit-a-long that would start after Christmas days and give people a project for the period between then and the New Year.
She asked me to come up with a shawl that wouldn’t be too complicated for that hazy, lazy part of the year and be something that a first time shawl knitter could tackle, but which would still offer a little bit of a challenge.
With a shawl design, finding the right yarn can be crucial. In this case, it needed to both be right for the shawl and something that would suit Black Sheep’s retail offering.
We settled on Fyberspates Vivacious 4-ply a 100% merino yarn that comes in a range of delicious semi-solid shades. It is perfect for shawl knitting because it blocks well and has a lovely drape.
I swatched and sketched and we finalised on this design for the shawl.
A classic centre out triangle that is about three quarters stocking stitch with a diamond lace edging. This means knitters can get used to the shaping (and in the case of the KAL, recover from Christmas) before tackling the lace pattern.
With the pattern and samples done, my role was to sit back, enjoy the launch and wait for the knitting to start.
The launch was a big hit with 1000s of copies of the pattern being downloaded for free from Black Sheep and many people falling in love with our yarn choice.
And then people started to cast on and share their experiences to the Black Sheep make-a-long Facebook group.
As a designer and pattern writer it was interesting to see the parts that knitters found harder and as a teacher it was enjoyable to offer advice and help to get the through those problems. It will make me think about the notes and support I can provide for future patterns.
But the most pleasure came from seeing pictures of people’s progress and then the finished shawls. And there have been so many, I have lost track a little. Especially when some people cast on their third versions.
Here are just a small selection.
Thanks to Sandy Brown, Alison Locke, Anita Pearson, Chris Clark, Roberta Couchman, Carole Rigby, Sarah Aston, Rita Lee, Hilary Shepherd, Alison Neave, Loraine Walker, Jane Holt, and Marion Beet.
And yes I am now mulling over future knit-a-longs.
One interesting aspect of knitting is that looking at something sideways can give you a new way to create something.
This is the case with the Wayward Paths scarf – a flat fringed scarf that is actually knitted in the round and cut – yes cut.
This means the width of the stitch pattern repeats down the long side of the scarf – that is the rows go right along the scarf. This means you can use stitch patterns in a different way.
I got the idea from my friend Juliet Bernard who used this method to create the stunning Jardin Majorelle colourwork wrap for The Knitter.
I was intrigued by the method but am more of a texture and lace person so started wondering how else it could be used. I happened to have received two sample balls of Debbie Bliss Iris, a chunky wool/cashmere roving yarn, that were crying out to be a soft, comforting scarf. So I decided to experiment.
I chose a garter stitch chevron pattern and worked a section of stocking stitch at the beginning and end of each round. Then I worked until I had used much of my yarn. When I cast off I had a basic cowl with a zigzag lace pattern round the majority of the loop with a shorter section of plain stocking stitch stripes.
The stocking stitch section or “steek” is where the fringes come from. All you do is cut straight up the centre of the steek and unravel the stocking stitch section to create the fringe.
You can see from this picture that when you pin out a piece of stocking stitch there are “ladders” between the column of stitches and in the case of the Wayward Path scarf you cut up the centre ladder of the steek section (here I have used an unneeded swatch).
Once the stitches are cut, unravelling makes a lovely fringe – your knitting won’t unravel but I knot the strands in pairs to feel secure.
I am involved with UK Hand Knitting which this year is encouraging people to share knitting and crochet skills. Because of this, at the moment the Wayward Path pattern is free because a steek fringe using chunky yarn is a fairly non-threatening way to take scissors to your knitting for the first time.
The pattern contains some suggestions for other yarns but any nice chunky will work – so why not step off your regular end to end scarf path and give it a go.
I came late to sharing my knitting designs let alone receiving commissions from magazines and yarn companies.
I have had a long career as a journalist but I still remember the excitement of having a bylined piece in a major national newspaper for the first time. I had to suppress the urge to tap fellow tube passengers on the shoulder, point to the article they were reading and say "I wrote that".
The same sort of thing has happened each time I have had a design on the cover of a magazine. Right now I could happily spend time in various branches of WH Smith rearranging the hobbies shelf so that there are lots of copies of Knitting (issue 172) along the front to show off my Autumn Leaves tunic.
I love the editorial description that the mag team came up with. It sums the pattern up as the perfect mix of challenge and TV knitting because there is some instarsia and plenty of stocking stitch.
It is designed to be a simple flattering piece for over leggings or a skirt that is a comfortable but striking seasonal garment.
Yarn used is Yarn Stories fine merino 4-ply - very smooth with strong colours which work well for this design.
The magazine has come up with some alternative colour combinations that make the leaves seam more like feathers.
I love vintage patterns and have piles of old knitting magazines from the 1940s, 50s and 60s, so I was very excited when Christine Boggis, the editor of Knitting magazine, put out a call for knits inspired by the 40s.
Even more so because for a while I had had a picture of a vintage teapot that I wanted to use as a template for a colourwork jumper and I realised this was great fit for the brief. Colourwork and stripes were popular choices for sweaters in the 1940s because rationing meant people often reused wool and only had limited supplies.
I named my design sketch Tea Time and included the story of the teapot in my submission. Soon Christine cam back to me saying she like the design and could I do a tea cosy to go with it. An unusual request bit fun and one that now makes a lot of sense having seen how the magazine styled its shoot this month.
Tea Time comes in eight sizes and use Yarn Stories Fine Merino 4ply.
The new issue of Knitting magazine is out and it includes my Spring Leaf cardigan. A simple draping cardigan for over a light top or dress.
It has a bolero shape with a curved hem line and the leaf edging is knitted on so the leaves grow up the front symmetrically. The leaf pattern is based on a Victorian edging from the Knitting and Crochet Guild archive.
It is one of those knits that is much easier than it might a appear at first glance at the pattern.
The yarn is Lotus Yarns Tibetan Cloud Worsted - my first time using 100% Yak - which is lovely and soft and very rich colourwise with the right drape for this project.
I love a cable or two. They add interest to both design and the process of knitting and you can use them to aid construction or shaping, so I was very excited a few months ago when the editor of Knitting magazine put out a call for design submissions for a cable special.
I was even more excited when I was commissioned to produce my modern take on a traditional aran-style cable jumper in a natural off-white yarn.
It was a design I'd enjoyed coming up with and it was also a sample I really enjoyed producing (I just need the time to make one for myself).
Given how much I loved this design, it was a true pleasure to see it as the cover garment for the March 2017 issue of Knitting.
The magazine has labelled the design as "advanced" but don't be alarmed, if you have mastered basic cables, all that is happening here is and arrangement of various types, the technique is the same. Take a look at my posts on understanding cable instructions to boost your confidence (part 1, part 2, part 3)
I used New Lanark Aran for the design - an affordable, hard working yarn that I am a big fan of and one that comes in a wide colour palette. Knitting has some suggestions about other colour choices.
I am really looking forward to seeing versions of this cosy jumper.